Monthly Archives: February 2010

Having your cake and eating it too

While reading Bart Ehrman’s Jesus, Interrupted, I came to realize how atheists often wish to have their cake and eat it too. The sad part? It often works.

Ehrman discusses some of the contradictions that can be find in the Bible, which are mostly minor and do not cause any change in doctrine no matter how you look at them, and says this is reason to believe that the Gospels are all wrong and contrived for evangelical purposes only, and not for writing an accurate history. But for some reason, most scholars agree that when stories are too similar to each other with no variation, this is a tell-tale sign of them being forged because it shows that the authors were probably collaborating. just like if I were to ask 20 who saw a crime to describe the suspect was and they all said 6’4″, about 250 lbs, white male with a blue shirt that had an outline of a woman on it and he was wearing white Nike’s and some straight leg Hollister jeans, I would be pretty naïve to think that it was merely a coincidence that they all said the exact same thing. So some variation is necessary to be considered legitimate…

But wait a sec, isn’t that what Ehrman is complaining about? Some slight variations? At one point he even discusses how they used different wording of what Jesus said. Duh? Can we really expect them to say verbatim what He said based on their memory or even a witness’ memory? And if they used the exact wording, surely he would jump on that and say that they were working together and that they are therefore unreliable. Please people, get your heads on straight and quit being so obstinate. You can’t have it both ways.

Now that’s what I call having your cake and eating it too, which would be nice if you could, but you can’t, and we (atheist and theist alike) need to point this out when anybody tries to do so.

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Challenge

Recently, I “officially” started a challenge that really began in ’06 that consists of reading both atheistic and theistic books as to find the truth, which happens to be the purpose of my blog. I will give updates a few times a month, probably at the end of each book read, and give some comments and feedback on each one.

Check back for more.


Emergentism

It may or may not be something you have heard of, but its worth some consideration. I speak of it in regards to philosophy of mind, and in this case, it seems to be nearly the opposite of reductionism. Reductionism being the idea that consciousness and other seemingly mental states can be reduced to physical brain states, at least as their causes.

On the other hand, there is emergentism. The idea that the sum is greater than its parts or at least that some property/properties of the sum are not identical to that of any of its parts. So lets take the brain. We have an entirely physical entity made of matter. And then the soul/mind/conscious (which I will use interchangeably), which is non-physical, if I may, or immaterial and seemingly not made of anything (I will not resort to substance dualism). This mind seems to have intentionality, or the ability to “be” or think “about” things that matter seemingly cannot. We can see that these differences seem to emerge from nowhere and simply are.

I don’t really know if I support this idea entirely, as then one could be led to a mind-brain type identity theory that minds are not really anything more than brain processes, but that from the processes the mind emerges. For I want to espouse the idea of an immortal mind that is indeed separate from the body but is able to interact with it to a degree.


What exactly do I mean by “Inspired, Inerrant?”

For some, the idea of biblical inerrancy is a pretty big issue. Obviously, scribes made errors while copying the words down for other manuscripts. So does this mean that the Bible contains errors and is therefore not inerrant? i would say that their idea of inerrancy is a bit faulty. Yes, some denominations do teach that the Bible is entirely free from errors at all and at all times… But this is clearly false, given the numerous mistranslations of the original King James Version and the scribal errors that we see in different manuscripts, not to mention that historians, event the best historians, make mistakes, so we can presume that the history presented could contain errors as well. So we move on realizing that if we wish to hold to inerrancy, it must be something else.

I would say that inerrancy does indeed mean that the Bible is free from errors. But yet I just denied this, right? The Bible IS free from errors, but doctrinal errors are the ones I speak of. Jesus did die and rise for our sins, we are to remain abstinent until marriage, we are to submit our lives to God, heaven and hell are BOTH real, many people will not be saved, etc. Does the misspelling of a word change its meaning? If I said “Chalk is wite.” Would you knwo what I meant? Did you notice I misspelled “know” too? So if it doesn’t change the idea of a sentence, it surely wouldn’t affect the doctrine associated with it. So even with scribal errors, we can still figure out the original wording in nearly every case, and for sure at least close enough to preserve the point and idea of the sentence of passage.

But some wish to say that since God is omnipotent, that He should have been able to preserve the original texts and words and prevented any errors at all. He could have prevented humans from making human mistakes, right? I would say yeah, he could have. But saying that He would have done so if He could seems very presumptuous. How do we know what He would want? For someone who often accuses the Christian of claiming to know the mind of God, what would they call this? So why involve humans at all? It seems that the God of the Bible wishes to interact with humans and allow us to be, well, human. In doing so, it may be necessary to allow them to make minor errors here and there in the texts, although it wouldn’t change the meaning or message of the texts. He seems to actually value us for what/who we are, you know, the way a relationship is supposed to be, rather than trying to change us into something we aren’t. Given this, it seems very plausible that He may really want to involve us to a degree that would cause misspellings or incorrect grammar here and there. But being God, he made sure the message stayed the same through and through, and we receive inerrant ideas in this manner.