Argument of the week
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18-11-2010, 09:41 AM
RE: Argument of the week
True. Christians love to hold up the golden rule as being a biblically significant lesson, but it exists in one form or another in pretty much all pre-Christian dogma.
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18-11-2010, 02:15 PM
RE: Argument of the week
Hi BnW

(17-11-2010 09:54 PM)BnW Wrote:  
Quote:What I see there is you trying to force your narrow view of what the bible is and back that up by saying that some fundamentalists agree with you.
No, not "some" fundamentalists. All fundamentalist. All of them. Find me one who does not. And, that has been the way the bible has been read for a majority of the past 2,000 years (and around 5,000 for the old testament). You expect me to believe that everyone who came before you was just wrong and now, finally, the truth has been revealed to a select few?
I think I need to know how you are defining fundamentalism. There was a certain monk that came up with the ludicrous dating system that got added to the margin of certain KJV translations. You can check the exact point of creation down to the month, day and time.

Fundamentalists are not literalists. The above is an example of literalism taken beyond the absurd.

I'm saying the opposite of what you're saying of me there: I'm saying that the original understanding was non literal. It's only relatively recently that literalism has taken hold. Ironic given the rise of scientific understanding, (perhaps not) that there should be a backlash in the face of evidence.

It's really not hard to check the widespread authority of opinion across the web regarding the correct translation of biblical texts. An absolute literalist interpretation would be very rare, and intellectually unsupportable. I don't think it's very noble of you to try to claim this is the mainstream view.

(17-11-2010 09:54 PM)BnW Wrote:  
Quote:I would agree that fundamentalists do use mental gymnastics to come up with their ridiculous propositions, but the history of Christianity, the Judaic tradition that bore it, and the Mainstream Christian Church disagrees with them.

Ok, two questions here:

First, what history specifically disagrees with the fundamentalist view? Please point me to anything that backs up that claim and I'll happily read every word of it.
http://tinyurl.com/2w8vhs7

http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/probe/docs/hermen.html Wrote:"Prior to the Protestant Reformation in the 1500s, biblical interpretation was often dominated by the allegorical method. Looking back to Augustine, the medieval church believed that every biblical passage contained four levels of meaning. These four levels were the literal, the allegorical, the moral, and the eschatological. For instance, the word Jerusalem literally referred to the city itself; allegorically, it refers to the church of Christ; morally, it indicates the human soul; and eschatologically it points to the heavenly Jerusalem."

(17-11-2010 09:54 PM)BnW Wrote:  Second, what is the "Mainstream Christian Church"? Is this an actual church or simply a group of professed Christians who are trying to squeeze their beliefs and the bible into the modern world? I strongly suspect it's the latter but that doesn't make it legitimate.
I mean all churches who adhere to the Nicene creed. This includes all Catholic and Protestant churches, but excludes Mormans, JWs, Christadelphians etc all of which may be loosely described as Christian.

It is necessary that the timeless text is interpreted for every generation and situation. It's never inaccurately interpreted.

(17-11-2010 09:54 PM)BnW Wrote:  
Quote:We read the bible as it is written - taking all of it as spiritual truth. You're telling Christians what they believe. Let me start telling you what you believe - see if I can come up with as much bullshit as you...

No, you don't take it as it is written. That's the point. If you take it as written then you have to accept creation in 6 days, Eve from Adam, the flood, etc. etc. etc. That is the literal interpretation of how it is written. Go walk into any protestant church and ask them and see what answer you get. I'm pretty sure that, with very few exceptions, you'll get the answer I just set out.
To be overly literalist would be to abandon common sense and reason. I am a protestant and I know such a ludicrous notion would be laughed out of church. I'm not isolated... I mix with very many other Christians of all denominations. I know very well that what you're trying to assert here is pretty wildly off the mark. Don't take my word for it - go look around the web and see for yourself - no bias from me.

(17-11-2010 09:54 PM)BnW Wrote:  And, what exactly did I say that is bullshit? These are not my positions as I don't believe any of it. But, this is what Christians - a group you claim to belong to - believe. That is the religion. You're in or you're out; the bible does not allow for middle ground.
What the Mainstream Christian Church agree on is what's laid out in the Nicene creed. There is no middle ground - you either believe or don't believe. An exact interpretation of scripture isn't forced. Literalists are also Christians - all be it with an intellectually indefensible position.
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18-11-2010, 05:00 PM
RE: Argument of the week
Thanks for the link. I have not yet had time to read all of it but I took a quick perusal through the site. Now, as I have not read all of the site I obviously can't address it all in any detail just yet. However, I think the argument is nonsense for a couple of reasons.

First, this is taking the position that the literal view of the bible has not been the prevailing view of the bible for most of the history of Christianity. Sorry, but that is simply not true. Historical writings make pretty clear that until science started to blow holes through some of the beliefs in the bible people absolutely took it to be literally true. There is a very good reason that Copernicus did not go public with his theories on the motion between the sun and the Earth: he feared for his life. The view of the Church at that time was that the Earth was fixed and immobile and and the sun revolved around it. The 16th Century Church was still burning heretics at the stake so Copernicus kept his mouth shut until he was almost on his death bed, and then he published his findings. People not as cautious as Copernicus paid a steep price. Giordano Bruno is one example of this (although there is evidence to suggest that he wasn't burned at the stake just for his views of the universe but also for his view on interpreting the bible. I don't think those details detract from the point, though).

Anyway, by the time Galileo came along a few decades later, the Church basically knew that the Earth was not fixed and immobile, that it revolved around the sun, and that the stellar parallax was a big problem for the Church's view of the universe. They went after Galileo not for proving that Copernicus was right but for challenging the Church's authority on setting forth the rules of the known universe (if you've interest in the topic, I recommend reading "Galileo's Mistake" by Wade Rowland. Rowland is a bit of a Church apologist in my opinion but he lays out the politics of the story pretty well and fairly in my view).

So, now we are in the full swing of the Protestant Reformation and suddenly, Houston, we have a problem: certain parts of the bible are now proven to be factually wrong. So, what do we do? Easy, we create this whole "hermeneutics" study to come up with a way of interpreting the bible so some of it is actually metaphorical instead of literal. And, we'll just claim no one but an "expert" can know the difference. Slowly, over time, some of the facts of science (like the Earth is not fixed and immobile) have become accepted by the Faithful, but not all of it. And, I still think you are way off base on the numbers of people who take the bible literally. Something like 50% of Americans believe the Earth is under 10,000 years old.

Quote:It is necessary that the timeless text is interpreted for every generation and situation. It's never inaccurately interpreted.

How do you know it is never inaccurately interpreted? The Catholics said you could not eat meat on Friday and then suddenly you could (and yes, I realize this came from a Pope and not from the bible direct but the Church claimed biblical authority). Rules change all the time. Did god change the rules or did the interpretations change. If all interpretations are correct then how do you explain the difference between your view of the bible and the view of someone who takes as the literal word of god? Clearly one of you is wrong.

Quote:To be overly literalist would be to abandon common sense and reason.

Could not agree more with you. However, the book is real or it is not. Trying to squeeze it into the modern world is cheating, for lack of a better word. It's just making shit up as you go. And, it all started when the Church realized that the universe was not as set forth in the bible.

Shackle their minds when they're bent on the cross
When ignorance reigns, life is lost
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18-11-2010, 06:29 PM (This post was last modified: 18-11-2010 06:32 PM by fr0d0.)
RE: Argument of the week
Hi BnW

I don't deny the periods of gross abuse of Christianity mostly from the 4th Century onwards. One of my hero's is the Irish monk who pointed out that the heresy accusation was anti faith - many were put to death over that like he was. Christians doing bad things =/= Christianity being bad. It's an aim (to be like Christ) and not a magical cure where you can do no wrong.

Sure there have been some pretty stupid claims from Christians/ Christian leaders. Although they might use their understanding of what the bible said to support those views, I find nothing in the bible to contradict current scientific knowledge. I also personally believe that religion has absolutely no place in government.

What I assert is that hermeneutics is actually what the original interpretation employed. I can't look at the text without that being obvious to me. I appreciate that some Christians disagree with my view. That just doesn't gel at all for me and what I'm convinced is too for the majority of sane Christians - tho' of course majority proves nothing.

Sorry - that was a stupid thing for me to say. Of course the bible is interpreted incorrectly at times.

I think the book is real. I also think the books actual meaning is very often allegorical, and that fact undeniable. It's a small minority who are extreme literalists IMO. Reading justification for 100% literalist interpretation makes your eyes bleed.
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18-11-2010, 07:39 PM
RE: Argument of the week
Quote:What I assert is that hermeneutics is actually what the original interpretation employed.

But, based on what? Remember that the old testament was written around the Bronze Age or so. There is no reason to believe that the early Hebrews did not believe that was the actual truth of creation. There is a period of several thousand years where people absolutely believed that was exactly what happened.

Quote:I can't look at the text without that being obvious to me.

Ok, but you're looking at it from the perspective of someone living in the 21st century. Someone in the 11th century, however, has no reason to discount any of this as anything but the literal truth. That's why I said that once man started to make the first steps towards really understanding the nature of the Universe, the Church had to do some very serious back-peddling. I may be wrong about this - and feel free to point out if I am - but I believe the concept of hermeneutics first made an appearance around the 16th century or so, and also around the time that Copernicus published his theories. I do not think the timing is at all a coincidence. Now, if I've the timing wrong and this really started during an earlier period, then maybe you've got an argument, but I'm pretty sure it was around the time of Copernicus that biblical interpretation really got started.

Quote:I think the book is real.

Fair enough, and that is certainly your privilege. I obviously disagree, and even if I wasn't an Atheist I was raised Jewish (sort of), so if it makes you feel any better, we were never going to agree on the validity of the new testament.

I think you and I have probably taken this discussion as far as it can really go. I'm happy to continue but I'm not sure there is a point. I've enjoyed the discussion, though.

Shackle their minds when they're bent on the cross
When ignorance reigns, life is lost
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18-11-2010, 08:26 PM
RE: Argument of the week
BnW is correct, When the fields of Geology and tectonics first began to suggest an age for Earth in the millions if not billions of years, even the scientists making those discoveries thought there must be a mistake since it falsified the bible.
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19-11-2010, 01:08 PM
RE: Argument of the week
Hi BnW

The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate By John H. Walton is a great source on the subject. Extract here: http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=6qZLA...&q&f=false

"Through the entire bible, there is not a single instance in which God revealed to Israel a science beyond their own culture. No passage offers a scientific perspective that was not common to the old world science of antiquity"

"There is no concept of a "natural" world in ancient Near Eastern thinking. The dichotomy between natural and supernatural is a relatively recent one." "As a result we shouldn't expect anything in the bible or in anything from the ancient Near East to engage in the discussion of how Gods level of creativity actively relates to the "natural" world (ie what we call naturalistic process or the laws of nature)."

A reviewer Wrote:Then in spring of this year I discovered a book by John Walton called The Lost World of Genesis 1: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate, published by InterVarsity Press (from the Westminster Theological Seminary bookstore), in which he provided an interpretation of Genesis 1 that was so thorough and sound that it was impossible to deny, an historico-grammatical exegesis that all young-earth literature was missing which also proved that the conflict with science was pointless—because, as he shows, Genesis 1 is not about material creation in the first place. That is, although we know from Scripture that God is the creator of the material cosmos, Genesis 1 itself is not that story. Both young-earth and old-earth creationists mistakenly view the text as being about material creation because their ontology is brought to the text (eisegesis), not derived from it (exegesis). As Walton shows, the Israelites of the ancient Near East did not view ontology in material terms; they had a 'functional' ontology and Genesis 1 describes creation in those terms, of God creating functions and functionaries in a literal seven-day cosmic temple inauguration (literal week consisting of 24-hour days). In our thinking, causing something to exist (i.e., to create) is about giving it material properties, whereas for the ancient world causing something to exist was about giving it a function and a role. Thus the narrative of Genesis 1 starts with no functions—not with no matter—and assigns functions and functionaries by separating and naming.

It is a groundbreaking, detailed, and scholarly exegesis that unlocks the message of Genesis 1 like no other literature on the subject ever has, whose temple motif reflects Old Testament theology and God's ongoing role in the world as its sovereign. As such, I am therefore accepting this view in tentative and provisional steps as I cross-check and research his ample footnotes and references from both historical and biblical scholars, in addition to auditing his debates with emerging critics (e.g., Vern Poythress).

Thankyou BnW I've benefited for our conversation. Wink
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