Faith vs. Science

This was sent to me by one of my friends.  This is conversation was reported to have actually taken place.  Whether that is true or not, I think it’s a great illustration of the epistemological and metaphysical problems atheists have.

A science professor begins his school year with a lecture to the students, ‘Let me explain the problem science has with religion.’

The atheist professor of philosophy pauses before his class and then asks one of his new students to stand.

‘You’re a Christian, aren’t you, son?’

‘Yes sir,’ the student says.

‘So you believe in God?’

‘Absolutely.’

‘Is God good?’

‘Sure! God’s good.’

‘Is God all-powerful? Can God do anything?’

‘Yes.’

‘Are you good or evil?’

‘The Bible says I’m evil.’

The professor grins knowingly.  ‘Aha! The Bible!’   He considers for a moment.  ‘Here’s one for you. Let’s say there’s a sick person over here and you can cure him. You can do it. Would you help him? Would you try?’

‘Yes sir, I would.’ ‘So you’re good…!’

‘I wouldn’t say that.’

‘But why not say that? You’d help a sick and maimed person if you could. Most of us would if we could. But God doesn’t.’

The student does not answer, so the professor continues. ‘He doesn’t, does he? My brother was a Christian who died of cancer, even though he prayed to Jesus to heal him. How is this Jesus good? Hmmm? Can you answer that one?’

The student remains silent.

‘No, you can’t, can you?’ the professor says. He takes a sip of water from a glass on his desk to give the student time to relax.

‘Let’s start again, young fella. Is God good?’

‘Er…yes,’ the student says.

‘Is Satan good?’

The student doesn’t hesitate on this one. ‘No.’

‘Then where does Satan come from?’

The student falters. ‘From God’

‘That’s right. God made Satan, didn’t he? Tell me, son. Is there evil in this world?’

‘Yes, sir.’

‘Evil’s everywhere, isn’t it? And God did make everything, correct?’

‘Yes.’

‘So who created evil?’ The professor continued, ‘If God created everything, then God created evil, since evil exists, and according to the principle that our works define who we are, then God is evil.’

Again, the student has no answer.

‘Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things, do they exist in this world?’

The student squirms on his feet. ‘Yes.’

‘So who created them?’

The student does not answer again, so the professor repeats his question. ‘Who created them?’

There is still no answer. Suddenly the lecturer breaks away to pace in front of the classroom. The class is mesmerized. ‘Tell me,’ he continues onto another student. ‘Do you believe in Jesus Christ, son?’

The student’s voice betrays him and cracks. ‘Yes, professor, I do.’

The old man stops pacing. ‘Science says you have five senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Have you ever seen Jesus?’

‘No sir. I’ve never seen Him.’

‘Then tell us if you’ve ever heard your Jesus?’

‘No, sir, I have not.’

‘Have you ever felt your Jesus, tasted your Jesus or smelt your Jesus? Have you ever had any sensory perception of Jesus Christ, or God for that matter?’

‘No, sir, I’m afraid I haven’t.’

‘Yet you still believe in him?’

‘Yes.’

‘According to the rules of empirical, testable, demonstrable protocol, science says your God doesn’t exist. What do you say to that, son?’

‘Nothing,’ the student replies. ‘I only have my faith.’

‘Yes, faith,’ the professor repeats. ‘And that is the problem science has with God. There is no evidence, only faith.’

At the back of the room another student stands quietly for a moment before asking a question of his own.

‘Professor, is there such thing as heat? ‘

‘Yes,’ the professor replies. ‘There’s heat.’

‘And is there such a thing as cold?’

‘Yes, son, there’s cold too.’

‘No sir, there isn’t.’

The professor turns to face the student, obviously interested. The room suddenly becomes very quiet. The student begins to explain.

‘You can have lots of heat, even more heat, super-heat, mega-heat, unlimited heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat, but we don’t have anything called ‘cold’. We can hit up to 458 degrees below zero, which is no heat, but we can’t go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold; otherwise we would be able to go colder than the lowest -458 degrees.  Every body or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (-458 F) is the total absence of heat. You see, sir, cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat we can measure in thermal units because heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it.’

Silence across the room. A pen drops somewhere in the classroom, sounding like a hammer.

‘What about darkness, professor. Is there such a thing as darkness?’

‘Yes,’ the professor replies without hesitation. ‘What is night if it isn’t darkness?’

‘You’re wrong again, sir. Darkness is not something; it is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light, but if you have no light constantly you have nothing and it’s called darkness, isn’t it? That’s the meaning we use to define the word.  In reality, darkness isn’t. If it were, you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn’t you?’

The professor begins to smile at the student in front of him. This will be a good semester.

‘So what point are you making, young man?’

‘Yes, professor. My point is, your philosophical premise is flawed to start with, and so your conclusion must also be flawed.’

The professor’s face cannot hide his surprise this time. ‘Flawed? Can you explain how?’

‘You are working on the premise of duality,’ the student explains. ‘You argue that there is life and then there’s death; a good God and a bad God. You are viewing the concept of God as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, science can’t even explain a thought.’  Science uses electricity and magnetism, but we have never seen, much less fully understood either one. To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing. Death is not the opposite of life, just the absence of it.’

‘Now tell me, professor. Do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey??’

‘If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, young man, yes, of course I do.’

‘Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?’

The professor begins to shake his head, still smiling, as he realizes where the argument is going. A very good semester, indeed.

‘Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor, are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you now not a scientist, but a preacher?’

The class is in uproar. The student remains silent until the commotion has subsided.

‘To continue the point you were making earlier to the other student, let me give you an example of what I mean.’

The student looks around the room. ‘Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the professor’s brain?’

The class breaks out into laughter.

‘Is there anyone here who has ever heard the professor’s brain, felt the professor’s brain, touched or smelt the professor’s brain? No one appears to have done so. So, according to the established rules of empirical, stable, demonstrable protocol, science says that you have no brain, with all due respect, sir.’

‘So if science says you have no brain, how can we trust your lectures, sir?’

Now the room is silent. The professor just stares at the student, his face unreadable. Finally, after what seems an eternity, the professor answers. ‘I guess you’ll have to take them on faith.’

‘Now, you accept that there is faith, and, in fact, faith exists with life,’ the student continues. ‘Now, sir, is there such a thing as evil?’

Now uncertain, the professor responds, ‘Of course, there is. We see it everyday. It is in the daily example of man’s inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil.’

To this the student replied, ‘Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God’s love present in his heart. It’s like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light.’

The professor sat down.

To that I say; amen brother.

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20 Comments on “Faith vs. Science”

  1. Price Says:

    There is a logical fallacy known called the “false analogy.” It is when an conclusion is made from a premise comparing two dissimilar concepts. Let’s say I argued that because it takes two years for a car to be made by ABC Co., it will take two years for my mother to make dinner. The only similarity is that something is being “made,” but the construction of a car and the preparation of a meal are dissimilar, and therefore it is a false analogy.

    The argument made by the student above is of the same nature. His false analogy is that assuming the professor has a brain is the same as believing God exists. The similarity, or grounds of appeal, in the argument is that both statements assert the existence of something that cannot or is not immediately visible. But, the assumption that the professor has a brain is based on what we know about human anatomy and the product of the functioning brain: since the professor is talking, walking, and engaging us, and he is human, we can induct that he has a brain. On the other hand, God’s existence has no definitive basis for the assumption: God is, in physical nature, unobservable. There is no evidence that necessarily implies God’s existence and therefore no reason to deduce or induct God’s existence. The student’s argument is a false analgoy because assumptions and faith are dissimilar.

    There is a difference between faith and assumptions. Assumptions are necessary in order for a line of reasoning to be rational. For example, I must assume that I exist in order to show that my existence makes a physical impact on the world. If, however, that assumption does not provide for a line of rational reasoning or logical deduction, it is a flawed assumption.

    Faith, on the other hand, is the belief in a set of principles which is not supported by logical deduction/induction and maintained despite contradictions within the system or with outside truths.

    And, for the umpteenth time, please learn about the theory of evolution. The mechanisms responsible for macroevolution have been observed: DNA, mutations, trait variation, geographical isolation, selective mating, symbiosis, extinction, etc. The only way evolution could be disproved scientifically is if radiometric dating were to be proven inaccurate by some 50,000 to 100,000 years. Despite attempts to do so, no one has been able to successfully prove radiometric dating was inaccurate to this degree.

  2. Eric Kemp Says:

    Price

    I understand what you’re saying. The atheistic answer to the brain analogy is, “Hey, if I wanted to I could drill a hole into the professors head to see his brain. So, where can I drill to see God?”

    However, what you must realize is that you’re misunderstanding the students point. The student isn’t attempting to draw a comparison between the professor’s brain and God. He is attempting to use the professor’s argument against him. The professor made a statement of credulity. That is, he defined his criteria for belief. The “touch”, “taste”, “smell”, “see”, or “hear” argument he used against the Christian is the empirical standard for knowledge is it not? And, as an atheist, this is your standard of knowledge, yes?

    So the professor states that he would only believe in something that he can empirically verify. The student was taking the professor’s own strict definition and applying it to his brain. Sure, you could say that if you drilled into his skull, then you would see it. However, the plain fact remains that you haven’t drilled, and so, as it stands right now, you must take his brain on faith. The student was merely holding the professor to his own empirical standard.

    So the students’ point is still valid.

    But the students’ point doesn’t stop at a silly brain analogy, so on to more important things:

    Faith:

    Ok now you’re just redefining words to suit your own argument. Faith is defined as a belief in something that cannot be logicall proved or have material evidence for. There is no “in spite of physical evidence” clause in the definition of faith nor is faith immune from contradictions; the scope of the definition of faith does not reach either point. You have faith in an assumption, the two are not mutually exclusive. I agree with you that assumptions are necessary, and I’m glad you are self-reflective enough to realize it. However, assumptions require faith, there is just no way around it.

    If you don’t like the word because it has religious implications, that doesn’t mean you get to redefine it.

    Evolution:

    Please, just because I don’t buy the evolutionary worldview doesn’t mean I don’t understand it. I have a four year science degree from a secular university. I’ve taken just as much bio as any other scientific none-bio major, and I’ve done research outside of the classroom. I understand the theory, and where it came from.

    Again, you are missing the student’s point. You say, “The mechanisms responsible for macroevolution have been observed: DNA, mutations, trait variation, geographical isolation, selective mating, symbiosis, extinction, etc”. You have not observed one kind evolving into another. You have not seen, smelled, tasted, touched or heard mutation leading from a reptile to a bird, or an amphibian to a reptile. You just haven’t empirically verified that taking place. You can say that those things give evidence for evolution, that the mechanisms would lead to evolution, and that’s up to debate. But the point is that, by the atheistic empirical standard of belief, you have not verified evolution taking place. If you aren’t self-reflective enough to realize this, then there is nothing left to talk about.

    Ironically, I’m doing a series on evolution where I explore where the theory came from and the metaphysical arguments that support it, basically showing why evolution is not purely scientific. I’m headed in the direction of discussing the specific evidences for evolution, I welcome your comments at any time.

    “The only way evolution could be disproved scientifically is if radiometric dating were to be proven inaccurate by some 50,000 to 100,000 years.”

    Look, Price, you’re a smart guy. Can’t you see how unscientific that statement is? Can science make “only” type statements? Science is observation and experimentation, it doesn’t make conclusive, exclusionary statements. Come now. Once you start making conclusive statements like this, you pass from the scientific realm into the metaphysical realm where you are making statements of faith.

  3. Price Says:

    “I understand what you’re saying. The atheistic answer to the brain analogy is, “Hey, if I wanted to I could drill a hole into the professors head to see his brain. So, where can I drill to see God?”
    However, what you must realize is that you’re misunderstanding the students point. The student isn’t attempting to draw a comparison between the professor’s brain and God. He is attempting to use the professor’s argument against him. The professor made a statement of credulity. That is, he defined his criteria for belief. The “touch”, “taste”, “smell”, “see”, or “hear” argument he used against the Christian is the empirical standard for knowledge is it not? And, as an atheist, this is your standard of knowledge, yes?”

    Granted. The professors argument is not a good one; morality is also subject to the poor premises of the argument. Epistemology, the philosophy of knowledge, is much more complicated than the professor’s argument implies.

    “So the professor states that he would only believe in something that he can empirically verify. The student was taking the professor’s own strict definition and applying it to his brain. Sure, you could say that if you drilled into his skull, then you would see it. However, the plain fact remains that you haven’t drilled, and so, as it stands right now, you must take his brain on faith. The student was merely holding the professor to his own empirical standard.”

    That is where my point of necessary assumptions comes in. Given our empirically verified knowledge of the human anatomy and the functions of the brain, we assume the professor has a brain. Say if we were to drill into his head to see his brain and it there was none: that would be a fundamental anomaly for neuroscience. Just like the law of gravity holds that, essentially, what is propelled against gravity will soon retract as a consequence, it is always possible that it will not. That fact alone fundamentally limits science from making claims of “absolute truth.”

    “Faith:
    Ok now you’re just redefining words to suit your own argument. Faith is defined as a belief in something that cannot be logicall proved or have material evidence for. There is no “in spite of physical evidence” clause in the definition of faith nor is faith immune from contradictions; the scope of the definition of faith does not reach either point. You have faith in an assumption, the two are not mutually exclusive. I agree with you that assumptions are necessary, and I’m glad you are self-reflective enough to realize it. However, assumptions require faith, there is just no way around it.”

    Okay, I take a much stricter version of ‘faith’ than you do. You equate faith and assumptions, that is, that we have ‘faith’ in the validity of an assumption. My definition, however, distinguishes the two in this way: its necessity in developing logical syllogisms to validate a knowledge claim. An assumption, in this sense, is necessary for a deduced/induced conclusion to follow logically from the premises. We maintain the assumption insofar that it is validated in such a way. If, however, it is not, then the assumption is flawed and ought to be discarded. Faith, however, is holding onto an assumption that may or may not be flawed, but is not considered validated by logical deduction or induction. It follows, then, that the subject of faith (the claim that is maintained despite being logically invalid, or as you say, cannot be logically proved) is maintained in light of contradictions and evidence against the validity of the subject. All things are capable of logical and mathematical analysis; the denial (or claim that it cannot be logically affirmed) of this capability is consistent with my claim about faith: that the subject of faith is maintained despite contradictions and evidence against it.

    “If you don’t like the word because it has religious implications, that doesn’t mean you get to redefine it.”

    I am not anti-religious. We all have faith in some thing or another either because we have not thoughtfully analyzed it or recognized its inconsistency. Or because we deny logically validity to be absolute (which is okay).

    “Again, you are missing the student’s point. You say, “The mechanisms responsible for macroevolution have been observed: DNA, mutations, trait variation, geographical isolation, selective mating, symbiosis, extinction, etc”. You have not observed one kind evolving into another. You have not seen, smelled, tasted, touched or heard mutation leading from a reptile to a bird, or an amphibian to a reptile. You just haven’t empirically verified that taking place. You can say that those things give evidence for evolution, that the mechanisms would lead to evolution, and that’s up to debate. But the point is that, by the atheistic empirical standard of belief, you have not verified evolution taking place. If you aren’t self-reflective enough to realize this, then there is nothing left to talk about.”

    I understand your point (or the students). But it is false that speciation has never been observed: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.html

    Regardless, the theory of evolution and natural selection made sense of the fossil record. And, those mechanisms I mentioned provide evidence for macroevolution because they have been observed and provide us with an amazing understanding of how evolution took place.

    “Look, Price, you’re a smart guy. Can’t you see how unscientific that statement is? Can science make “only” type statements? Science is observation and experimentation, it doesn’t make conclusive, exclusionary statements. Come now. Once you start making conclusive statements like this, you pass from the scientific realm into the metaphysical realm where you are making statements of faith.”

    If we want to disprove evolution in vain, that is the only way you could do it. If, however, a better theory were to arise explaining that which evolution is incapable, then it will not ‘disprove’ evolution, but replace it.

  4. Eric Kemp Says:

    Price

    “Epistemology, the philosophy of knowledge, is much more complicated than the professor’s argument implies.”

    And empiricism encompasses more than the student implies.

    Regarding the professor’s brain you said, “That is where my point of necessary assumptions comes in.”

    Absolutely. We must just recognize those assumptions when we make them and recognize they are not empirical.

    “Okay, I take a much stricter version of ‘faith’ than you do. You equate faith and assumptions, that is, that we have ‘faith’ in the validity of an assumption.”

    Correct. But the definition of faith that I explained (absent of logical proof and no material evidence) is from the American Heritage Dictionary. Not that they are the authority on all things, and it wasn’t the only definition of faith they had, but my definition is not something I pulled out of thin air.

    “My definition, however, distinguishes the two in this way: its necessity in developing logical syllogisms to validate a knowledge claim. An assumption, in this sense, is necessary for a deduced/induced conclusion to follow logically from the premises. We maintain the assumption insofar that it is validated in such a way.”

    However, there aren’t a single set of assumptions that works with a single set of logic that leads us to the singularly viable conclusion. For instance, you and I are looking at the same physical evidence for evolution, yet, because my starting assumptions (presuppositions if you will) are different than yours, I come to a completely different conclusion.

    “If, however, it is not, then the assumption is flawed and ought to be discarded.”

    So if I was to show how your conclusion can’t follow from an assumption, would you then discard the assumption?

    “Faith, however, is holding onto an assumption that may or may not be flawed, but is not considered validated by logical deduction or induction. It follows, then, that the subject of faith (the claim that is maintained despite being logically invalid, or as you say, cannot be logically proved) is maintained in light of contradictions and evidence against the validity of the subject.”

    There are a few problems with that.

    1. This is a definition of faith that suits your argument. That is, it allows you to say, “Yea, I have assumptions but I don’t have faith”. Your definition of faith is not how the dictionary defines faith, nor is it how Christians define faith. It seems that this is a definition of faith that you’ve been taught by philosophers/scholars who are attempting to put faith lower than other philosophical assumptions used to arrive at conclusions.

    2. You are saying that faith is, or can be, inherently illogical. That is, faith is equated with irrationality regardless of how sound the logical proof, following the item of faith, is.

    So, my question is this; if I take a faith stance and the logical premises afterward are sound, what’s the difference between my faith stance, and your “required assumptions”? You can use a different word all you want, but if it looks like a duck . . .

    “All things are capable of logical and mathematical analysis; the denial (or claim that it cannot be logically affirmed) of this capability is consistent with my claim about faith: that the subject of faith is maintained despite contradictions and evidence against it.”

    This leads to another question: What scientific experiment or logical deduction led you to the conclusion that “All things are capable of logical and mathematical analysis”? Or is that itself an assumption?

    “We all have faith in some thing or another either because we have not thoughtfully analyzed it or recognized its inconsistency. Or because we deny logically validity to be absolute (which is okay).”

    Again you are using your definition of faith, with no regard for an alternative definition that leads the door open for faith to be confirmable through evidence, logic, or revelation. Just as your assumption that you exist is confirmed by the existence of your thoughts.

    “I understand your point (or the students). But it is false that speciation has never been observed:”

    Molecules-to-man evolution doesn’t require just speciation, it requires massive cross-phylogenic change. Hence me mentioning “kinds into other kinds” and amphibians becoming reptiles. This has never been observed, and that’s the student’s point.

    “Regardless, the theory of evolution and natural selection made sense of the fossil record. And, those mechanisms I mentioned provide evidence for macroevolution because they have been observed and provide us with an amazing understanding of how evolution took place.”

    My series on evolution is showing how the science for evolution is not convincing on it’s own, and must be accompanied with metaphysical and negative theological arguments to make evolution a provocative idea.

  5. Neil Says:

    Faith, on the other hand, is the belief in a set of principles which is not supported by logical deduction/induction and maintained despite contradictions within the system or with outside truths.

    That is not the biblical definition of faith. The Gospel presentations in the book of Acts, for example, pointed to specific fulfilled prophecies and Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Followers were never told to believe in spite of evidence.

  6. Eric Kemp Says:

    Neil

    Exactly. This is a definition of faith that secular society has developed so that they may equate faith with irrationality.

  7. Price Says:

    “That is not the biblical definition of faith. The Gospel presentations in the book of Acts, for example, pointed to specific fulfilled prophecies and Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Followers were never told to believe in spite of evidence.”

    Look, again, “biblical faith” is an extension of “faith,” or perhaps more accurately, the ‘Christian’ defined version of faith. But that doesn’t define the meaning of ‘faith,’ rather, it is what constitutes the Christian’s ‘faith.’

    What is it that Muslims have with their belief in Islam? Buddhists in Buddhism? It is faith, but faith in something else.

    “Exactly. This is a definition of faith that secular society has developed so that they may equate faith with irrationality.”

    What? Eric, come on man, it isn’t the world versus Christianity. I’m an atheist, but I don’t exhaust myself in an effort to destroy religion. Instead, I’m concerned with claims like yours here: you seem to identify/accuse a group of people of trying to destroy you. But that isn’t the case; the majority of Americans identify themselves as Christians. Practically all elected officials are ‘Christians.’ But, they also know that government should not operate as a religious or moral authority, particularly due to the subjectivity of religion (different religions, different denominations, different interpretations of religious texts, etc.). Religious beliefs and the doctrines which are called Holy have no standard for interpretation where consensus by all parties may agree, as evidenced by even fundamental disagreements on the nature of Christ. That subjectivity is why ‘secularism’ exists: there is no fundamentally agreed upon interpretation of religion that can be used as an objective source for government. Secularism is the separation of religion from government (and vice versa).

    But more on the point, the definition of ‘faith’ that I provided is not some manipulated Newspeak designed against the religious. Religious belief IS irrational by every definition of rationality. But, YOU tend to equate irrationality with stupidity, ignorance, bad, or evil. It is that very problem with Christian fundamentalists that is concerning; trying to incorporate modernist words with a traditionalist movement. Even if you say religion is rational, it still isn’t. But that’s okay, irrationality is not a bad thing. Just like rationality can turn something good bad, irrationality can turn something bad to good.

    The irrationality of religion, in my opinion, makes it such an interesting and often beautiful thing. But when the religion tries to deny itself that beauty by forcing terminology and modernism to somehow appear as though they are not contrary to religion, then it loses its true meaning, its pure form, its beauty and hope that provides comfort in an often meaningless world.

  8. Neil Says:

    Hi Price,

    Religious belief IS irrational by every definition of rationality.

    Have you read the book of Acts or Romans? They point to evidence and logic.

    If Jesus really rose from the dead (among other things) then believing in him is most rational.

    Yes, Muslims have faith, but I question their evidence. For example, virtually all historians agree that a real person named Jesus died on a cross roughly 30 A.D. (even though they may not believe He rose from the dead). We have evidence for that inside and outside the Bible written within decades of the event.

    Then we have the Koran, which was an alleged revelation to one guy that it wasn’t Jesus on the cross. This was written over 500 years later. I suppose it is possible in a hyper-technical that the Muslim version is accurate, but by the standards used to evaluate historical documents it isn’t even close.

    its beauty and hope that provides comfort in an often meaningless world

    But if it isn’t true then it isn’t beautiful or hopeful at all. False beauty isn’t beauty. False hope isn’t hope.

    Paul even says in 1 Corinthians 15:17-19 “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.”

    So it is part of the Christian view that if Jesus didn’t really rise then we have made a big mistake. To paraphrasing Homer Simpson, we’re just making the real God madder and madder every week 😉

  9. Eric Kemp Says:

    Price

    “Look, again, “biblical faith” is an extension of “faith,” or perhaps more accurately, the ‘Christian’ defined version of faith. But that doesn’t define the meaning of ‘faith,’ rather, it is what constitutes the Christian’s ‘faith.’”

    You missed the point. The point is that Christianity, per what is expressed in the Bible, isn’t demanding “blind” faith. In fact, the contrary is expressed many times. Heck, the entire religion is based upon the life and Resurrection of Jesus Christ as God, which He proved through “many convincing proofs”, an idea that runs rampant through the Scriptures.

    “Instead, I’m concerned with claims like yours here: you seem to identify/accuse a group of people of trying to destroy you.”

    I never said anything of the sort. Secular society ignores that they need, and have, faith, or they call it by other names (“assumptions”) and define faith as being equal with irrationality so that when religious people make faith based or faith requiring claims, they can disregard them at the outset. It’s a epistemological parlor trick.

    “there is no fundamentally agreed upon interpretation of religion that can be used as an objective source for government. Secularism is the separation of religion from government (and vice versa).”

    Correct, you are operating under the assumption that there must be a general consensus among men in order for government to function. I’m operating under the assumption that following God’s Word is the only thing that “must be”.

    “Religious belief IS irrational by every definition of rationality.”

    Don’t you see what you just did? I explained that faith or belief is not necessarily irrational and you respond with, “Yea but it just is!” How do you find THAT rational?

    But more conducive to discussion; could you please define “rational” and explain exactly how faith can’t be included in that definition?

    “It is that very problem with Christian fundamentalists that is concerning; trying to incorporate modernist words with a traditionalist movement.”

    Ok, so Christianity should keep to itself and not bother anyone else? Christianity should be removed from American society even though America was founded by almost all YEC born-again Christians?

    ” Even if you say religion is rational, it still isn’t.”

    And if you say it isn’t, that doesn’t make it so. You’ll have to show it.

    “But that’s okay, irrationality is not a bad thing. Just like rationality can turn something good bad, irrationality can turn something bad to good.”

    I honestly don’t know what this means.

    Look Price, this most recent comment from you is light years away from what we were discussing, both in content and in tone. What’s the reason for the change? As Neil alluded to, the entire book of Romans is a logical proof of the Christian faith. In fact, to this day, Paul is considered to be the greatest Greek writer in the history of the language. Are you saying that becaus Paul had faith, therefore he has no choice but to be irrational? Also, are you content to claim this irrationality and leave it at that, or do you have a reason/explanation for why “faith” is inherently irrational?

  10. Price Says:

    “Have you read the book of Acts or Romans? They point to evidence and logic.

    If Jesus really rose from the dead (among other things) then believing in him is most rational.”

    You are missing the point. Jesus rising from the dead (even if it did happen) is an irrational concept because it doesn’t follow from the principles of rational deduction. Things happen in the world that are irrational; some may lead to a kind of truth, but that doesn’t make them rational.

    “Yes, Muslims have faith, but I question their evidence. For example, virtually all historians agree that a real person named Jesus died on a cross roughly 30 A.D. (even though they may not believe He rose from the dead). We have evidence for that inside and outside the Bible written within decades of the event.”

    That’s fine; the historicity of Jesus is not an issue of faith. Faith comes in with the belief that Jesus rose from the dead, died for our sins, is the son of God/ is God, etc. The object of faith is that which cannot be justified by rational (or say logical) truths.

    “Then we have the Koran, which was an alleged revelation to one guy that it wasn’t Jesus on the cross. This was written over 500 years later. I suppose it is possible in a hyper-technical that the Muslim version is accurate, but by the standards used to evaluate historical documents it isn’t even close.”

    Well Mohammed is much more historically identifiable since he fathered an empire and in his lifetime impacted the human race as a tyrannical emperor.

    “But if it isn’t true then it isn’t beautiful or hopeful at all. False beauty isn’t beauty. False hope isn’t hope.”

    I’m going to write a blog post about ‘truth.’ There are many different kinds of ‘truths:’ there is religious truth, scientific truth, historical truth, pragmatic truth, etc. A universal religious truth does not mean that it is scientifically true, and neither does a scientific truth mean it is also a religious truth. For example, a natural law is universally true within the domains of naturalism; the law of gravity does not apply to Mary’s ascension into Heaven because Mary’s phenomenon is a religious truth in a supernatural world (the domain is not scientifically applicable). Just because the supernatural world is excluded from science doesn’t mean there isn’t a supernatural world.

    “I never said anything of the sort. Secular society ignores that they need, and have, faith, or they call it by other names (”assumptions”) and define faith as being equal with irrationality so that when religious people make faith based or faith requiring claims, they can disregard them at the outset. It’s a epistemological parlor trick.”

    No they don’t. The founders of our country were secularists, but they believed in a God and many believed in the Bible. Secularism is not equivalent to atheism or denial of faith; it is strictly a concept of civil government concerned with the relationship between government and religion. That is all secularism is…

    An ‘assumption’ is not synonymous with faith. An assumption can be invalidated, but faith cannot. Faith is indifferent to logical/rational validation.

    “Correct, you are operating under the assumption that there must be a general consensus among men in order for government to function. I’m operating under the assumption that following God’s Word is the only thing that “must be”.”

    Isn’t that fundamental theory of civil government? Government is a social contract among community members meant to protect the rights and needs of participating parties. The social contract is therefore a ‘collective vision,’ or collection of principles agreed upon, for government. Government is the product of consensus. So, how can religion be appropriate for government when there is no consensus on the principles and truths of its doctrines?

    “Don’t you see what you just did? I explained that faith or belief is not necessarily irrational and you respond with, “Yea but it just is!” How do you find THAT rational?

    But more conducive to discussion; could you please define “rational” and explain exactly how faith can’t be included in that definition?”

    Oxford English Dictionary– rational: based on or in accordance with reason or logic. The very idea of a God or gods is not in accordance to logic or reason. That is why religion is in a category of its own. The basic objects of faith are contrary and contradictory. Religion is irrational. But again, that doesn’t make it ‘bad.’ Love is irrational, emotions are irrational, but they are important and generate positive, as well as negative, consequences.

    “Ok, so Christianity should keep to itself and not bother anyone else? Christianity should be removed from American society even though America was founded by almost all YEC born-again Christians?”

    I didn’t say that. I said Christians shouldn’t try to manipulate words or concepts that are contrary to their belief system in order to make them seem as if they do. The same goes for science. Science cannot say there is no God just like it can’t say there is a God. People like Richard Dawkins shouldn’t try to make it seem like it can. That’s my point.

    “But that’s okay, irrationality is not a bad thing. Just like rationality can turn something good bad, irrationality can turn something bad to good.”

    “I honestly don’t know what this means.”

    Say you fall in love with someone who is dying. Love is irrational (its an emotional connection) but it will incline you to help out the person you love. Your irrationality (the inclinations following your love) may help the person live longer because you helped them.

    “Look Price, this most recent comment from you is light years away from what we were discussing, both in content and in tone. What’s the reason for the change? As Neil alluded to, the entire book of Romans is a logical proof of the Christian faith. In fact, to this day, Paul is considered to be the greatest Greek writer in the history of the language. Are you saying that becaus Paul had faith, therefore he has no choice but to be irrational? Also, are you content to claim this irrationality and leave it at that, or do you have a reason/explanation for why “faith” is inherently irrational?”

    No, just because someone has faith doesn’t make him completely irrational. I don’t think any person is capable of being a completely irrational being. Rationality is definitively human, but humans are completely rational about everything we do, think, and feel. Faith is inherently irrational because it maintained despite rationality. I don’t really know what you don’t understand. If you believe something to be true within a perspective that it cannot be true, where logic and reason contradict it, you have faith. We all have faith something. We are all humans, we are capable of rational and logical thought, but none of us are 100% rational and logical in everything we do.

  11. Price Says:

    Correction from last paragraph of my post: Rationality is definitely human, but humans aren’t completely rational about everything we do, think, and feel.

  12. Neil Says:

    Hi Price,

    Thanks for the follow up.

    That’s fine; the historicity of Jesus is not an issue of faith. Faith comes in with the belief that Jesus rose from the dead, died for our sins, is the son of God/ is God, etc. The object of faith is that which cannot be justified by rational (or say logical) truths.

    Yes. Virtually all historians agree on the following:

    – Jesus died on a cross
    – his disciples believe He rose from the dead
    – that the Apostle Paul converted from persecuting Christians to becoming Christianity’s greatest advocated, including writing romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, and more
    – Jesus’ brother James went from being a skeptic to a believer

    That, and more, provide plenty of evidence to me for my faith. It is possible that I drew the wrong conclusions? I suppose so, but under no circumstances is it blind faith, and it isn’t irrational.

    Well Mohammed is much more historically identifiable since he fathered an empire and in his lifetime impacted the human race as a tyrannical emperor.

    Not sure what the point of that is. It certainly doesn’t make him more believable as an authority over 500 years after the fact regarding whether Jesus died on cross or not.

    I’m going to write a blog post about ‘truth.’ There are many different kinds of ‘truths:’ there is religious truth, scientific truth, historical truth, pragmatic truth, etc. A universal religious truth does not mean that it is scientifically true, and neither does a scientific truth mean it is also a religious truth. . . . Just because the supernatural world is excluded from science doesn’t mean there isn’t a supernatural world.

    I think we agree on some important things there. Truth is that which corresponds to reality. If a religious truth corresponds to reality then it is just as true as a material truth demonstrated by scientific testing.

    BTW, I am not familiar with any persuasive evidence that Mary ascended into Heaven.

    Oxford English Dictionary– rational: based on or in accordance with reason or logic. The very idea of a God or gods is not in accordance to logic or reason. That is why religion is in a category of its own. The basic objects of faith are contrary and contradictory. Religion is irrational.

    I don’t see how your conclusion follows from your premise. You just dogmatically state that religion is irrational. Seriously, go read some of Paul’s writings and tell me how irrational he is. I think we are getting disconnected because you are defining “rational” much differently than I do – or at least applying it differently.

  13. Eric Kemp Says:

    Price

    “Jesus rising from the dead (even if it did happen) is an irrational concept because it doesn’t follow from the principles of rational deduction.”

    Your most basic problem Price, is that you make assertions and feel like they need no explanation. To say that something doesn’t follow the rules of logical deduction requires a logical deduction! You require a logical deduction for Christ’s Resurrection but none for His none-Resurrection. You define words so that they exclude the supernatural a priori, is this rational?

    “An ‘assumption’ is not synonymous with faith. An assumption can be invalidated, but faith cannot. Faith is indifferent to logical/rational validation.”

    I never said an assumption is synonymous with faith. As I said in another comment to you; assumptions require faith. Included in what you are assuming is a certain measure of faith in what you’re assuming. As you have defined faith, “absent of logical proof or scientific evidence”, so assumptions come BEFORE logical proof and scientific evidence. So to assert that faith and assumptions are separate from each other, that assumptions don’t require faith, is ridiculous.

    But that’s what you’re doing. You’re admitting that assumptions come before logical proof and scientific evidence, yet ignoring the irrationality of the assumption itself. Sure, you can assert that as long as logical deduction or scientific evidence follows the assumption then the assumption is valid, and I would agree with you. Faith is the same way, and to claim it’s not you’re going to have to show it.

    “The basic objects of faith are contrary and contradictory. Religion is irrational.”

    This is another assertion without logical deduction or scientific evidence. In fact, I would love to hear your rational explanation for this statement if you have one.

    “Love is irrational (its an emotional connection) but it will incline you to help out the person you love.”

    How about if someone died for you. You didn’t ask them to, they just sacrificed themselves for you for no reason except they loved you. Isn’t loving that person back them most rational response given the circumstances?

    Our point about Paul is this: the entire book of Romans is a logical deduction for the Christian faith (and how we should act and why). This deduction was written by a man who had a command of the Greek language the world hadn’t seen before or since. In order to say that the Christian faith is itself irrational, you’d have to show how Paul’s deduction is irrational.

  14. Price Says:

    Your most basic problem Price, is that you make assertions and feel like they need no explanation. To say that something doesn’t follow the rules of logical deduction requires a logical deduction! You require a logical deduction for Christ’s Resurrection but none for His none-Resurrection. You define words so that they exclude the supernatural a priori, is this rational?

    Sure I could apply one to Christ not being Resurrected.

    P1: No dead humans physically rise from the dead. (This is a true premise, unless it can be shown false)
    P2: Jesus was a dead human. (True premise)
    ::: Jesus didn’t rise from the dead. (The conclusion, which must be true when both premises are true).

    With trying to prove that Jesus was Resurrected, you have to prove, logically, the supernatural events can occur within the laws of nature (which is a logical contradiction since that which is observed in the natural world is/must be natural, and therefore not supernatural). You have to logically prove why Jesus was not subject to the laws of nature governing organic systems (which would be impossible since you cannot go back in time and see the event taking place, or study Jesus’ physical anomalies). And, you need to logically show how that Jesus was capable of such a feat. It isn’t logical because it is bound contradictions and unverified truth claims.

    What words am I defining that exclude the supernatural when it should be included? Faith? Is faith believing in something supernatural? So, is the Christian faith equivalent to the belief of a child that ghosts are in his room? Tell me what words you’d like me to define which somehow include supernaturalism. Perhaps you think that the way a word is defined makes it impossible for the word to be applied to supernaturalism. But, that’s a big problem. If the word “rational” cannot be successfully applied to support supernaturalism, why should we change the word? Because we want it to be inclusive?

    Look, if the premise that a human can rise after several days of being dead can be found true (which would require observation and an agreement on the standard from which the observation/premise can be justified as physically true), then perhaps Jesus rising from the dead can follow logically. But since such a phenomenon cannot be reproduced, cannot be justified by empirical observation, and no human has ever been observed defying natural laws in modern times, there is no way to logically justify it. We cannot take the Bible at its word as a justification of the premise because it was written by fallible men, there is no agreement among Christians on the matter, and it was written at a time when people believed all sorts of things that we know aren’t true today. It just doesn’t work in any logical model.

    St. Thomas Aquinas tried to do it, but he was left with a “designer” but not a Creator. His offered a ‘creator-designer,’ but the premises (and necessary assumptions) used to justify/validate a ‘designer’ required that the Creator also be a product of another designer.

    I never said an assumption is synonymous with faith. As I said in another comment to you; assumptions require faith. Included in what you are assuming is a certain measure of faith in what you’re assuming. As you have defined faith, “absent of logical proof or scientific evidence”, so assumptions come BEFORE logical proof and scientific evidence. So to assert that faith and assumptions are separate from each other, that assumptions don’t require faith, is ridiculous.

    But that’s what you’re doing. You’re admitting that assumptions come before logical proof and scientific evidence, yet ignoring the irrationality of the assumption itself. Sure, you can assert that as long as logical deduction or scientific evidence follows the assumption then the assumption is valid, and I would agree with you. Faith is the same way, and to claim it’s not you’re going to have to show it.

    Right, the assumption is validated if it provides a logical foundation for other epistemological effots. An assumption is disposed of when proven incapable of justifying further logical claims.

    Eric, what is your definition of faith, here? Is faith simply the belief in something? Do you really want Christian faith to be equivalent to my belief that a professor is going to cancel class because it snowed? I don’t think so. But what I am saying is that Christian faith is not equivalent to 2+2=4; the assumption behind 2+2=4 is that we are capable of applying numerical values to subjects. The assumption is justified when we have two pairs of oranges and we put them both in a basket and see there are four. That is the fundamental difference between faith and assumptions.

    “This is another assertion without logical deduction or scientific evidence. In fact, I would love to hear your rational explanation for this statement if you have one.”

    Why don’t you give me the rational explanation behind religious beliefs? Just because a God exists, it does not follow that Christ was the Son of God. Moreover, just because Christ rose from the dead, it doesn’t logically follow that there is a God, that he is the Son of God, or that he died for our sins.

    If a genetic mutation occurs in DNA replication in an organism and it results in a new physiological feature, giving the organism an advantage in obtaining food, it logically follows that the organism is better suited for obtaining food than those without the feature due to a genetic change. That is logical.

    “How about if someone died for you. You didn’t ask them to, they just sacrificed themselves for you for no reason except they loved you. Isn’t loving that person back them most rational response given the circumstances?”

    Not necessarily. Is it true that: P1: If a person dies for you, they love you. P2: If the person loves you, you love them. Conclusion:: If a person dies for you, you love them.

    If both P1 and P2 are true, then the conclusion must be true.

    Our point about Paul is this: the entire book of Romans is a logical deduction for the Christian faith (and how we should act and why). This deduction was written by a man who had a command of the Greek language the world hadn’t seen before or since. In order to say that the Christian faith is itself irrational, you’d have to show how Paul’s deduction is irrational.

    I am pretty sure most interpretations of Romans assert that it is a justifaction for salvation by faith. It doesn’t logically justify faith except in light of salvation, neither does it justify salvation except in light of faith. The argument doesn’t independently validate faith or validate salvation; it validates the assumption that salvation can only be met by faith. The argument doesn’t make faith or the idea of salvation rational, just ‘salvation by faith’ rational.

  15. Price Says:

    Yes. Virtually all historians agree on the following:
    – Jesus died on a cross
    – his disciples believe He rose from the dead
    – that the Apostle Paul converted from persecuting Christians to becoming Christianity’s greatest advocated, including writing romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, and more
    – Jesus’ brother James went from being a skeptic to a believer
    That, and more, provide plenty of evidence to me for my faith. It is possible that I drew the wrong conclusions? I suppose so, but under no circumstances is it blind faith, and it isn’t irrational.

    Can you justify, from those historical facts, that Jesus is the Son of God, the Bible the inspired Word of God, and any other elements of the faith? Christians don’t have faith in the fact Jesus was crucified, they have faith in that his death saved man from his sins. It doesn’t follow that because the man was crucified that he is also the Son of God and he opened the door to salvation.

    Not sure what the point of that is. It certainly doesn’t make him more believable as an authority over 500 years after the fact regarding whether Jesus died on cross or not.

    My point is that historical facts provide no logical justification for the content of the belief system; it seemed like you were trying to justify your beliefs on the fact the Jesus existed so I responded by saying that Mohammed’s life is much more historically documented that Jesus’, but you don’t believe in Islam.

    I think we agree on some important things there. Truth is that which corresponds to reality.

    Well, there are different ‘realities’ per relative perspective of epistemology. You mean objective truth, something that is true across all domains of perspective reality. Unfortunately, that is incredibly difficult to validate since we are all bound by the human perspective (that is, we cannot know truth, or anything, as a nonhuman).

    If a religious truth corresponds to reality then it is just as true as a material truth demonstrated by scientific testing.

    No, scientific truth is only true in the scientific and its related perspectives. Religious truth is only true in the particular religious perspective. It is not cultural relativity, which would force us to say that a person who believes that killing innocent people is moral is not wrong about morality. It is perspectivism, which holds that scientific truth is not/cannot be Islamic truth (even if Islam incorporates scientific truth into its system, it is not Islamic truth it is still scientific truth). A scientific truth, therefore, is not necessarily as TRUE as a Christian truth (and vice versa).

    For example, if a Christian system believes that Creation is true (and therefore the best answer) with regards to biodiversity, it is not as true as the scientific truth of evolution. Why? Because Christian Creation in this since is directed towards explaining a subject of science, but it is unable to explain biodiversity scientifically, and it is thus not as true (it is false in science).
    It works the same the other way; science may say it is true that humans are predisposed genetically to personify nonhuman events. In Christianity, however, the sight of the Virgin Mary is accepted as an actual visitation of Mary. While it may be a scientific truth that humans are proned to see things that aren’t really there, it is not as true as the Christian truth that Mary visited a person. Why? Because the Christian perspective holds that Mary can visit us, but science cannot validate that.

    BTW, I am not familiar with any persuasive evidence that Mary ascended into Heaven.

    I apologize; it is called The Assumption of Mary (that Mary was, in body and soul, subsumed by the Heavens), and it is one of only two Dogmatic and Infallible Doctrines in the Catholic faith (the other being the Incarnation).

  16. Neil Says:

    Can you justify, from those historical facts, that Jesus is the Son of God, the Bible the inspired Word of God, and any other elements of the faith?

    I didn’t realize I only got four lines to use to outline the foundations of the Christian faith ;-). Seriously, those are just a starting point. If nothing else, they annihilate the claims of those who accuse us of having “blind faith” or faith without reason. I investigated a set of facts (and more) and drew a conclusion. It is possible that I’m wrong, but I reject any notions that I’m not thinking critically.

    Do you agree with those historical facts? I like to put those out for starters. I think that the best explanation for those facts is that Jesus really rose from the dead. All the other scenarios I’ve heard of – the “swoon” theory, the disciples stole the body theory, etc. all have huge gaps.

    My point is that historical facts provide no logical justification for the content of the belief system; it seemed like you were trying to justify your beliefs on the fact the Jesus existed so I responded by saying that Mohammed’s life is much more historically documented that Jesus’, but you don’t believe in Islam.

    Based on the first sentence I am seriously concerned that future dialogue with you will be completely unfruitful. That statement is transparently false.

    To clarify the point re. Mohammad and Jesus: The existence of these two beings is not what is in dispute. I can and do believe that Mohammad lived, but that is irrelevant to my point.

    My point was that by any historical standards the evidence for Jesus’ death on the cross (many witnesses, sources inside and outside the Bible, etc.) is radically superior to the evidence for Mohammad’s view that Jesus did not die on the cross (one guy with an alleged revelation, zero eyewitnesses, 500 years after the fact, etc.). Let me know if that is unclear.

    Re. religious vs. scientific truth: I don’t follow your example. If Jesus rose from the dead, then that is a true statement. It doesn’t matter if you can prove it scientifically. It is true or it is not true.

    Unfortunately, that is incredibly difficult to validate since we are all bound by the human perspective (that is, we cannot know truth, or anything, as a nonhuman).

    That sounds to me like you are mixing truth with experience or opinion. A non-human perspective on the resurrection is pretty irrelevant, anyway. And if Jesus really rose from the dead it wouldn’t matter what my dog thought of it, would it?

    I apologize

    No apology necessary. I was just clarifying. I’m not Catholic and don’t seek to defend their dogma.

  17. Price Says:

    I didn’t realize I only got four lines to use to outline the foundations of the Christian faith . Seriously, those are just a starting point. If nothing else, they annihilate the claims of those who accuse us of having “blind faith” or faith without reason. I investigated a set of facts (and more) and drew a conclusion. It is possible that I’m wrong, but I reject any notions that I’m not thinking critically.
    Do you agree with those historical facts? I like to put those out for starters. I think that the best explanation for those facts is that Jesus really rose from the dead. All the other scenarios I’ve heard of – the “swoon” theory, the disciples stole the body theory, etc. all have huge gaps.

    But, I am saying that historical facts do not validate your conclusion. I could say that my mother died in car accident, but it doesn’t follow that she rose from the dead neither does it validate my claim that she rose from the dead.

    I’m not saying you have blind faith; but ‘critical thinking’ means engaging the opposing argument to the point that you might be able to argue the opposition’s argument as if it were yours.

    Based on the first sentence I am seriously concerned that future dialogue with you will be completely unfruitful. That statement is transparently false.

    To clarify the point re. Mohammad and Jesus: The existence of these two beings is not what is in dispute. I can and do believe that Mohammad lived, but that is irrelevant to my point.

    My point was that by any historical standards the evidence for Jesus’ death on the cross (many witnesses, sources inside and outside the Bible, etc.) is radically superior to the evidence for Mohammad’s view that Jesus did not die on the cross (one guy with an alleged revelation, zero eyewitnesses, 500 years after the fact, etc.). Let me know if that is unclear.

    I’m not debating the historicity of Jesus’ death on the cross. Crucifixion was the ultimate penalty for those considered ‘treasonists,’ and by any account it would seem that Jesus was viewed as such by his own people (fellow Jews) and the Roman guard who saw Jesus bringing together a large group of followers. Based on biblical evidence and the nature of the Roman penal system, it is quite likely that Jesus did die on a cross.

    Re. religious vs. scientific truth: I don’t follow your example. If Jesus rose from the dead, then that is a true statement. It doesn’t matter if you can prove it scientifically. It is true or it is not true.

    It’s a religious truth, certainly. It is required that Jesus rose from the dead to validate the truth claims of your faith. It isn’t a scientific truth, but if it were available to scientific scrutiny, then the scientific conclusion could be a scientific truth. As for now, you are correct, the claim is not subject to scientific scrutiny.
    “That sounds to me like you are mixing truth with experience or opinion. A non-human perspective on the resurrection is pretty irrelevant, anyway. And if Jesus really rose from the dead it wouldn’t matter what my dog thought of it, would it?”
    Nietzsche proposed the theory of ‘perspectivism.’ A perspective is, roughly, a paradigm through which we engage experience. It is a set of ‘rules’ and ideas through which we compose our experience. Opinions are a subset of claims within a paradigmatic truth. If Jesus really rose from the dead, different ‘perspectives’ will give it different meanings.

  18. Neil Says:

    Hi Price,

    I could say that my mother died in car accident, but it doesn’t follow that she rose from the dead neither does it validate my claim that she rose from the dead.

    Technically that is true, but I don’t think that is a fair analogy.

    Did your mother predict that she would rise from the dead? Did she have a large following that insists that she rose from the dead? Did they risk their livelihoods, popularity, freedom and even their lives for the claim that she rose from the dead? Did she have a brother that rejected her teachings until after her death, when he then became a believer and who claimed she rose from the dead. Did he die for those beleifs? Did a person like Paul persecute her followers, even to jail and death, just for their beliefs and then convert himself and spread her message? And on and on.

    If you want to draw a comparison I think it should more closely parallel the Biblical claims. I still submit that the resurrection best accounts for the historical facts.

    I’m not saying you have blind faith; but ‘critical thinking’ means engaging the opposing argument to the point that you might be able to argue the opposition’s argument as if it were yours.

    That’s a reasonable definition, but you seem to be implying that I haven’t done that. I went from skepticism to belief in my late 20’s. That doesn’t make me right, but the fact is that I have examined the evidence for Christianity and the claims against it.

    If Jesus really rose from the dead, different ‘perspectives’ will give it different meanings.

    I appreciate your clarifications and think we agree on much of that. While people might disagree on their perspective of what Jesus’ resurrection means, I think it is rational to conclude that the best meaning would be found in the Bible: He died for our sins and proved his divinity by conquering death as He predicted. If we trust in him our sins are forgiven.

    Peace,
    Neil

  19. Eric Kemp Says:

    Price

    I’ve responded to the first half of your comment in my latest article. This is my response to the second half. Feel free, of course, to combine the two when you respond.

    If the word “rational” cannot be successfully applied to support supernaturalism, why should we change the word? Because we want it to be inclusive?

    Which is more rational: making the absolute negative statement, “The supernatural cannot be rational” or the statement, “The supernatural could be rational”? That’s all I’m saying. You’re making the former, I’m making the latter. When your statement to exclude the supernatural from rationality, is in itself irrational, then your position is invalidated.

    Look, if the premise that a human can rise after several days of being dead can be found true (which would require observation and an agreement on the standard from which the observation/premise can be justified as physically true), then perhaps Jesus rising from the dead can follow logically.

    This is exactly what we have with the Resurrection of Christ. Observation and historical evidence.

    But since such a phenomenon cannot be reproduced, cannot be justified by empirical observation, and no human has ever been observed defying natural laws in modern times, there is no way to logically justify it.

    This is where your bias shows up again. What does the phenomena being reproduced have to do with it happening? Can you give a “valid truth claim” that proves that something must be recreated in modern times in order to be valid?

    The ironic part of this Price, is that you believe in a myriad of things that have never been reproduced or observed in modern times. An amphibian turning into a reptile (and any other such cross-phylogenic change)? Abiogenesis? A Godless beginning to the universe? So why do you apply a strict empirical standard to the supernatural, but not to your own naturalistic “just so” stories? The answer is your antisupernatural bias.

    We cannot take the Bible at its word as a justification of the premise because it was written by fallible men, there is no agreement among Christians on the matter, and it was written at a time when people believed all sorts of things that we know aren’t true today. It just doesn’t work in any logical model.

    Really? Using the “it was written by men” fallacy? Ok, I’ll take the obvious response. Origin was written by a fallible man. Why do you believe him? Isn’t it about the content of the book that makes it viable? Sure, so just as Origin proves itself to be a good scientific argument put forth by a smart man who claims to have written the book, the Bible proves itself to be the Word of God and itself claims to have been written by God.

    So because people in that day didn’t know the chemical make-up of DNA therefore they would have gotten the Resurrection of a man wrong? C’mon, you’re really grasping at straws here. This was the time of the skeptic, the Greek philosopher, logic, the Pharisees who had the entire Old Testament memorized. These were not country bumpkin nincompoops. As was already pointed out to you, Paul had the greatest command of the Greek language the world has ever seen. A guy like that makes up the resurrection of a human being, and then devotes his life, unto death, to that which he knows is a lie?

    Eric, what is your definition of faith, here?

    I already explained that to you. Faith is a belief that is absent of logical proof or scientific evidence. Similarly, assumptions come BEFORE logical proof or scientific evidence. That is why assumptions require faith.

    The assumption is justified when we have two pairs of oranges and we put them both in a basket and see there are four. That is the fundamental difference between faith and assumptions.

    Look, Price, honestly brother, you just haven’t shown this. You haven’t shown that faith can’t be 2 + 2 = 4. And that’s your position, that faith CAN’T BE rational (and I showed the irrationality of that statement in my article). And it’s that position that’s the problem. Is ALL faith rational? Of course not. Are all assumptions rational? Of course not. As you said, it’s the premises and observations that follow and how the faith/assumptions explains them that matters.

    You haven’t shown that faith CANNOT have logical premises that follow. In fact, in your defense, it’s not your fault as this is an indefensible position. Your making an indefensible, absolute negative statement. Don’t you see how you can’t defend this statement and be rational at the same time?

    Why don’t you give me the rational explanation behind religious beliefs?

    I’m not interested in defending “religious beliefs” in general. I am only attempting to show you that you cannot have a logical deduction that faith “cannot be rational”. That statement itself is irrational! Plus, I asked first.

    Moreover, just because Christ rose from the dead, it doesn’t logically follow that there is a God, that he is the Son of God, or that he died for our sins.

    Actually, that’s exactly what it means! What would your explanation be if a man rose from the dead? Especially if he claimed to be God!

    If a genetic mutation occurs in DNA replication in an organism and it results in a new physiological feature, giving the organism an advantage in obtaining food, it logically follows that the organism is better suited for obtaining food than those without the feature due to a genetic change. That is logical.

    Whoa! Who ever said that those two things aren’t compatible? When have I ever argued against observable Natural Selection?

    But what you don’t understand, and I have a feeling you’re blatantly ignoring, is that your unspoken conclusion of “Therefore we all came from a common ancestor” does not follow from the evidence just as much as you claim the Resurrection doesn’t follow from the evidence.

    I am pretty sure most interpretations of Romans assert that it is a justifaction for salvation by faith. It doesn’t logically justify faith except in light of salvation, neither does it justify salvation except in light of faith.

    You haven’t read Romans and you have no idea what it says. This isn’t an insult, I’m just telling you that you’re not even close to understanding Paul’s reasoning for the Christian faith. My point isn’t to get you to understand, because I know you have no interest. My point is that Christianity is anything but void of logical deduction in it’s defense. Paul is the best of us, but as you’ve seen I’ve given you a logical run for your money. How can I do this if I have all this faith?

    My point isn’t that I’m right and you’re wrong. My point is that you cannot make the statement “Faith is inherently irrational” and still be rational yourself at the same time.

  20. Price Says:

    Which is more rational: making the absolute negative statement, “The supernatural cannot be rational” or the statement, “The supernatural could be rational”? That’s all I’m saying. You’re making the former, I’m making the latter. When your statement to exclude the supernatural from rationality, is in itself irrational, then your position is invalidated.

    Again, rational means that which is based on reason and logic. It is illogical for the supernatural to exist in a natural world because simply by doing so, that which we ‘call’ supernatural is no longer that, it becomes natural (and therefore must be subject to the conditions of the natural world). Now, if you want to say that a supernatural being can intervene/interact within the natural world but remain supernatural (i.e., he’s God, he isn’t subject to the conditions of the natural world), you are making an illogical, and therefore irrational statement.

    This is where your bias shows up again. What does the phenomena being reproduced have to do with it happening? Can you give a “valid truth claim” that proves that something must be recreated in modern times in order to be valid?

    I believe that if we want to say that a phenomenon can occur, it’s nice to be able to show that it can occur.

    The ironic part of this Price, is that you believe in a myriad of things that have never been reproduced or observed in modern times. An amphibian turning into a reptile (and any other such cross-phylogenic change)? Abiogenesis? A Godless beginning to the universe? So why do you apply a strict empirical standard to the supernatural, but not to your own naturalistic “just so” stories? The answer is your antisupernatural bias.

    I believe that what we have observed in the natural world, including the mechanisms behind trait distribution and natural selection, microevolution (the evolution of viruses such as HIV, bacteria, and smaller animals), comparative anatomies, the discovery of DNA, and domestic breeding, provide all the necessary conditions for macroevolution to occur. It is, of course, possible that ‘evolution’ is not responsible for the speciation of the higher animals, so we can only speculate. However, the theory has been thus far been successful in generating substantial explanatory and predictive power with regards to biological systems. No other theory, belief, or idea has come close to making sense of the world and mechanisms we observe; only evolutionary theory, and that includes macroevolution. Now, the value I place on scientific truth is simply that it aims to make sense of phenomenon in such a way that it can be verified and reproduced consitently, building up evidence either for it or against it along the way.

    Really? Using the “it was written by men” fallacy? Ok, I’ll take the obvious response. Origin was written by a fallible man. Why do you believe him? Isn’t it about the content of the book that makes it viable? Sure, so just as Origin proves itself to be a good scientific argument put forth by a smart man who claims to have written the book, the Bible proves itself to be the Word of God and itself claims to have been written by God.

    On one hand, you are taking the records of men’s experiences from just short of 2,000 years ago, interpreted more than hundreds of times throughout various languages, and believing them to be true (although they cannot be verified or tested, or subjected to the standards of science which we use today) while denying advancements in human knowledge (advancements which have shown themselves to be more reliable and capable of explaining worldly phenomenon). On the other hand, you have a theory proposed to an age old dilemma in observed biology (“how” does evolution occur) which is then, and continues to be, subjected to scientific scrutiny and inquiry. Evolutionists, unlike devout religious folk, have found major errors in Darwin’s original theory (the tree of life, it turns out, is more like a web), have consistently updated and expanded on Darwin’s theory where he was wrong and/or inaccurate, and have made advancements in areas that Darwin neither knew existed nor was aware to be a possibility. He was just the smart guy who made a powerful connection: that traits vary among a population which are passed onto offspring; some offspring are more suited to survive than others which results in competition; those that survive pass on their traits to the next generation (natural selection). That passing of traits from generation to generation (those traits being more common than those that did not get passed on) combined with geographical isolation (different foods, different environmental factors, etc) leads to the conclusion that organisms can speciate. If it is true that organisms speciate, we can predict that there will be similarities between different species: doesn’t it make sense that those with the most similarities are the most closely related while those with distant similarities are the least?

    Point being: Darwin made a rather simple, but powerful, observation which has sense been corrected where needed and expanded upon drastically. Darwin’s theory is but a primitive, simplistic idea in light of the major advancements and changes that have been made to the theory since Origin was published. The Bible is apparently inerrant, and, as we can see with the YEC movement and other biblical literalist movements, not subject to being updated, changed, or built upon at its most fundamental level.

    So because people in that day didn’t know the chemical make-up of DNA therefore they would have gotten the Resurrection of a man wrong? C’mon, you’re really grasping at straws here. This was the time of the skeptic, the Greek philosopher, logic, the Pharisees who had the entire Old Testament memorized. These were not country bumpkin nincompoops. As was already pointed out to you, Paul had the greatest command of the Greek language the world has ever seen. A guy like that makes up the resurrection of a human being, and then devotes his life, unto death, to that which he knows is a lie?

    No. But since Christ’s Resurrection story is among hundreds of thousands of miraculous stories written before, during, and after it, one might suspect that we are capable of coming up with fairy tales, and without a standard from which to judge the validity (or reality) of that event, a lot of people could believe it. Doesn’t it seem odd now that bible literalism, which doesn’t stand up to squat when it comes to hard facts and verifiability, finds itself in tough-to-defend positions in presence of our standards of scientific truth? Isn’t it strange how movements try to discredit the scientific method (practically never to any avail) and naturalism? Is it not because people are trying to make something as true as a scientific theories, but they fail, and so now the solution is to try and discredit the entire scientific enterprise? Sorry to rant, but I have to say what I hate saying in these conversations, but biblical literalism is ignorant, backward, and flat-out stupid. I can’t help it and I don’t mean to be offensive, but BLs are simply trying to hold on to something and force it to make sense in a world where bible stories are no longer needed for explaining the physical world. BLs refuse to adapt their system to the changing world.

    I already explained that to you. Faith is a belief that is absent of logical proof or scientific evidence. Similarly, assumptions come BEFORE logical proof or scientific evidence. That is why assumptions require faith.

    Again, if I believe that there is an elephant in my room, even though there is no evidence of it and it would be downright impossible for the animal to crawl up my stairs and enter my room without breaking the walls down, then I have faith that there is an elephant in my room. Is your Christian faith the same thing as my supposed faith in an elephant being in my room?

    Look, Price, honestly brother, you just haven’t shown this. You haven’t shown that faith can’t be 2 + 2 = 4. And that’s your position, that faith CAN’T BE rational (and I showed the irrationality of that statement in my article). And it’s that position that’s the problem. Is ALL faith rational? Of course not. Are all assumptions rational? Of course not. As you said, it’s the premises and observations that follow and how the faith/assumptions explains them that matters.

    Eric, man, I don’t know if I’m just poorly explaining my point or if you are simply failing to understand. I make the assumption that mathematics can depict something to which I apply it. Thus, mathematics shows that 2+2=4; if I have two pairs of oranges, one in each hand, and I put them together in a basket, I see that I have four oranges. Thus, it logically validates my assumption. If, however, it turned out that putting together two pairs of oranges gave 35000 oranges, then my assumption is invalidated.

    Now, you believe that Christ is the Son of God who has relieved mankind of his sins. So, to show this you have to (1) prove God exists, or else he surely cannot have a son, (2) show that Jesus is actually the prophesized Messiah–and, help me if you can, I have no idea how you prove that, (3) show that being Resurrected from the dead is directly related to being divine/a son of the monotheistic Jewish god/the prohesized messiah, and (4) that sins are capable of being relieved by the death of an individual. Can you show that? If it is the Bible that the evidence is based on, you have to show how you know the Bible has the correct information/that conclusions about the actual world can be drawn from it/and a whole bunch of other information about it.

    If you can do that in the same way that my assumption about math and the real world is validated, then I will not take back my claim and probably convert to Christianity.

    You haven’t shown that faith CANNOT have logical premises that follow. In fact, in your defense, it’s not your fault as this is an indefensible position. Your making an indefensible, absolute negative statement. Don’t you see how you can’t defend this statement and be rational at the same time?

    No, I don’t know. I must not be able to conclude that anything is irrational; it must not actually mean anything.

    Actually, that’s exactly what it means! What would your explanation be if a man rose from the dead? Especially if he claimed to be God!

    Sure, if it happened right now I’d be a little blown away. But whether or not it blows me away, that doesn’t mean because he said he was God that he actually was. I’m not sure anyone knows who/what God precisely is; and if you don’t know, how in the world are you going to be able to identify him?

    Whoa! Who ever said that those two things aren’t compatible? When have I ever argued against observable Natural Selection?

    I’m not sure if I want to engage you here. I mean, I just sort of assumed that since the God of the Bible created fixed forms, and was therefore the only force that could change it, natural selection wouldn’t float your boat.

    But what you don’t understand, and I have a feeling you’re blatantly ignoring, is that your unspoken conclusion of “Therefore we all came from a common ancestor” does not follow from the evidence just as much as you claim the Resurrection doesn’t follow from the evidence.

    The logic behind common descent:

    P1: Organisms have geographic distributions that cannot be explained by local adaptation (turtles throughout the world).
    P2: The diversity of life is not a set of completely unique organisms, but rather organisms that share morphological similarities (chimpanzees and humans are good examples)
    P3: Vestigial traits with no clear purpose resemble functional ancestral traits (such as the human tail bone; in other organisms, and in the fossil record, we see that bone has a function, but not for us.)
    P4: Organisms can be classified using these similarities into a hierarchy of nested groups, based on the quantitative and qualitative relationship of those similarities.

    So, how do we explain that?

    My point isn’t that I’m right and you’re wrong. My point is that you cannot make the statement “Faith is inherently irrational” and still be rational yourself at the same time.

    Eric, it is important in all discussions of this nature to break down the meaning of your words. Clearly, the way I define faith and use the term in my discussion is a definition that inherently paints faith as irrational. If yuo can show me that faith is rational, that it is based on logic and reason, then I will concede the point. But your definition of faith needs work, unless you actually want to equate your faith in the divine savior Jesus Christ to my belief that an elephant is in my room.


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