FRDB Archives

Freethought & Rationalism Archive

The archives are read only.


Go Back   FRDB Archives > Archives > Biblical Criticism - 2001
Welcome, Peter Kirby.
You last visited: Today at 05:55 AM

Notices

 
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 03-19-2001, 06:18 AM   #11
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Post

Polycarp:

Here are some standards for the evaluation of holy books posted a while back.

Some of the standards could be used for the evaluation of historical "records"/writings: no historical inaccuracies; no archaeological inaccuracies; etc.

Standards for the Analysis, Evaluation and Judgment of Holy Books

Without standards for analyzing/evaluating/judging [A/E/J or a/e/j] people/things/events [P/T/E or p/t/e], anything goes, emotionalism reigns: if it feels good, it must be true/if it feels bad it must be false; if it is wanted, it must be true/if it is not wanted, it must be false; etc.

Here is a list of standards for the analysis, evaluation and judgment of holy books:

1. The gods, if they exist, must be subject to the same laws of logic as are men.

2. Holy books not only in their original form but all copies and translations must be inspired, written, guided, etc. by gods, not written by men.

Eyewitness books/reports ought to be separate from holy books, clearly marked, and their authors clearly biographed.

As men write, we might expect them to make mistakes; but when the gods inspire/write/etc., we should be able to expect that they should not make any mistakes.

3. The presence of contradictions of any kind in a book shall be evidence that the book was not inspired/written/guided/etc. by gods and is therefore not an holy book.

Contradictions shall include (1) differences of temporal sequences; (2) exclusions/inclusions wherein details excluded in one story or account are included in another story/account, and vice versa.

Holy books should not contain multiple stories of the same people/things/events existing/occurring at the same timepoints and in the same locations. Multiple stories are unnecessary; one story should be sufficient to give all the details which are true.

The presence of multiple stories containing contradictions concerning the details of the same p/t/e's existing/happening at the same timepoints and location logically means (A) one story is true and (B) all others are false or all stories are false, because all (C) stories which contain conflicting/contradictory details could not possibly be true. Thus, the presence of conflicting/contradictory multiple stories shall be proof/evidence that they were written by men and not inspired by gods.

4. The presence of historical inaccuracies in a book shall be evidence that the book was not inspired/written/guided/etc. by gods and is therefore not an holy book.

5. The presence of archaeological inaccuracies in a book shall be evidence that the book was not inspired/written/guided/etc. by gods and is therefore not an holy book.

6. The presence of hypocrisy by the gods in a book shall be evidence that the book was not inspired/written/guided/etc. by gods and is therefore not an holy book.

Hypocrisy shall be (A) saying one thing [setting standards/guidelines/commandments/etc.] and doing another or (B) doing one thing in one situation and something else in other similar situations.

Gods should be logical and free of hypocrisy. They should be consistent in all that they say and do. Inconsistencies shall be clear and obvious evidence of the hypocrisy of the gods, or else that the stories/accounts in which inconsistencies of the gods are presented are written by men and not inspired by gods.

7. The gods should inspire/etc. the writing of holy books in a simple form comprehensible to all people of all cultures/ethnic groups [so any translations would have the exact meaning] so that any possibility of having to be a scholar of ethnic literary devices as a qualification for who should be able to read accurately and effectively holy books is eliminated--so normal people [nonscholars] would be qualified to read the holy books, not just priests/scholars.


[This message has been edited by Bob K (edited March 19, 2001).]
 
Old 03-19-2001, 06:31 AM   #12
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Post

Omnedon1:

I like your ideas re: different standards of Xns re: biblical scholarship.

Your words: "However, when we study other historical documents, the approach is different. When we encounter an area that is "murky", we simply shrug our shoulders and say that there is insufficient evidence either way. We put the issue on a shelf, and we don't let it bother us. Time goes by, and perhaps new evidence or new methodology comes to light which can resolve the accuracy of the passage.

"But with christianity, the perfectly reasonable answer that a given point may be unknown, or even permanently unknow-able, is generally unacceptable to theists.

"In addition, we routinely reject tales of miracles and magic in other historical texts, no matter how solid the textual criticism or the archaeological evidence is. Yet for some reason, theists want that approach suspended for their particular holy book."

I sense that you are correct, that Xn's do insist on different standards for biblical scholarship.

There is, however, a sense of urgency in all this. If the biblical theology should be correct, then we would need information concerning the gods and what they want from us gathered as best possible and decisions concerning human directions to take made as best possible--but we would certainly be helped if the gods would show up and give us some modern directions and eliminate all the confusions and doubts.

The fact that the gods have not chosen to do so is not necessarily proof that gods do not exist, but it certainly does not encourage anyone to believe they do exist.
 
Old 03-19-2001, 07:12 AM   #13
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Post

The problem of methodology is a pretty serious one in apologetics; that's why Crossan set about developing one, since there really isn't one. Of course, he foundered on miracles as well.

Polycarp, your complaint that rejection of miracles constitutes close-mindedness is absurd. You know perfectly well there are many miraculous traditions much better-attested to that Christianity. The Toaist canon alone is more than 1,500 texts, not including sundry other Chinese writings, from dynastic histories to works of fiction, all attesting to the miraculous powers of Taoists (the latest of which would be Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). Numerous Taoist miracle workers wrote of miracles they had either done with their own hands or witnessed others doing. I have written a feature article on this for the II which they tell me is going to go up soon -- you can get on my case when you read it . I haven't even mentioned the Buddhist canon, which dwarfs the Christian one. Of course, if you get on the net, you can find multiple attestation and all the other criteria, for modern miracle workers like Sai Baba, Uri Geller and John Edwards.

The miracles create huge problems for Biblical scholarship. We can redaction-criticize from now until the cows come in and demonstrate nothing about them either way. The fact is, with the exception of obvious silliness like Meier's six criteria, NT scholarship is carried out with much the same methods other forms of ancient history use. I have no quarrel when some expert announces, based on writing style and paper composition, that papyrus X is a manuscript from Alexandria in the 2nd century. That is solid scholarship. But proving when something was written does not prove the content true.

All miracles must be dismissed as fiction because:

1) all miraculous claims investigated today are proven fictions, and we have no reason to assume that the universe was radically different in the past.

2) miracles have no specifiable properties and so cannot be investigated rigorously.

3) Jesus miracles are consistent with the miracles performed by other miracles workers of the same age in many places around the world. Jesus left us no interesting miracles (imagine if he had raised a pyramid of plastic blocks that floated in the air, moved the city of Jerusalem to a position outside what is now Chicago, Illinois, or actually, brought world peace). That is powerful evidence perfectly natural events were going on.

4) miracles are impossible under the natural laws as we understand them today.

and so on. You get the drift.

Finally, history OF COURSE may be investigated using the principles of science. What are geology, paleontology, archaeology and many other disciplines but the history of earth, life and humankind? Scientific examination can prove or disprove historic events and claims, as well as open up new views on history. Which way did syphyllis go across the Atlantic? Settled by science. Was Maine blown up, or did it suffer a coal-dust explosion? And so on.

Michael
 
Old 03-19-2001, 09:04 AM   #14
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Post

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Bob K:
Here are some standards for the evaluation of holy books posted a while back.

Some of the standards could be used for the evaluation of historical "records"/writings: no historical inaccuracies; no archaeological inaccuracies; etc.
Quote:
</font>
Bob,

I was involved in that discussion, so I'll repeat what I said there. You're doing what's known as "special pleading". You want to set up this separate category for documents with a religious bent in order to give them a different standard than other documents. We aren't discussing the claim that the Bible is inspired by god. You want to set up this straw man that in order for a book to be inspired of god it must meet your set of standards.

Let's stick to the topic. I'm not claiming any miraculous inspiration of any writing. So let's hear your criteria that should be used for historical study.

Peace,

Polycarp

 
Old 03-19-2001, 09:29 AM   #15
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Post

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by turtonm:

All miracles must be dismissed as fiction because:

1) all miraculous claims investigated today are proven fictions, and we have no reason to assume that the universe was radically different in the past.

2) miracles have no specifiable properties and so cannot be investigated rigorously.</font>
Given point #2, how did you determine that point #1 was true?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">3) Jesus miracles are consistent with the miracles performed by other miracles workers of the same age in many places around the world. Jesus left us no interesting miracles (imagine if he had raised a pyramid of plastic blocks that floated in the air, moved the city of Jerusalem to a position outside what is now Chicago, Illinois, or actually, brought world peace). That is powerful evidence perfectly natural events were going on.</font>
Hmmm... LOL!!!

Michael? You don't believe the BIG miracles, so why even bring this point up? You merely demonstrate yet again that you want to create a no win scenario for the theist (IOW, if the miracle is stupendous, it didn't happen, and if it isn't, it's no big deal and didn't happen). This is too funny.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">4) miracles are impossible under the natural laws as we understand them today.</font>
Why do you believe in natural laws, and where did they come from?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">and so on. You get the drift. </font>
Yes, I really want to see you reconcile points 1 and 2 above. This should be interesting.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Finally, history OF COURSE may be investigated using the principles of science. What are geology, paleontology, archaeology and many other disciplines but the history of earth, life and humankind? Scientific examination can prove or disprove historic events and claims, as well as open up new views on history.</font>
Scientific examination can prove or disprove that a person was born of a virgin? Or rose from the dead? Or walked on water?

Just because you ain't never seen it, doesn't make it impossible Michael, only highly improbable. And given that the Christian miracle claims are one time only events, that seems to be consistent with the definition of highly improbable.

Cool eh?

Nomad
 
Old 03-19-2001, 09:30 AM   #16
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Post

You guys remind me of young earth creationist trying to explain away all the tools of modern science.

 
Old 03-19-2001, 09:43 AM   #17
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Post

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by turtonm:
The problem of methodology is a pretty serious one in apologetics; that's why Crossan set about developing one, since there really isn't one. Of course, he foundered on miracles as well.

Polycarp, your complaint that rejection of miracles constitutes close-mindedness is absurd. You know perfectly well there are many miraculous traditions much better-attested to that Christianity.
Quote:
</font>
Its debatable whether the miracles you mentioned are better attested than the resurrection. We have to take into account the gap between the time of alleged writing and the age of the manuscripts in existence. Are you aware of the age of the oldest manuscripts for those writings? The fact that someone 3000 years ago claimed to do a miracle is certainly not enough evidence to justify belief in said miracle.

But all that is beside the point… I NEVER claimed that Christianity was the only religion in which miracles occurred. I’m not following that red herring, and we’re not discussing whether or not miracles are possible.

My comment about “closed-mindedness” was in response to someone who seemed to be claiming that information contained in writings with a “religious” aspect should only be accepted if verified by a “non-religious” document. This claim is absurd and you know it. We’d be throwing out 95% of history prior to 1500 C.E.

The topic is about which criteria should be used to do history. Nobody has given a thorough list of criteria they would deem adequate and justification for those criteria. All you guys want to do is complain about the criteria used by current historical scholars. You missed my whole point about the “scientific method”. The “scientific method” is the study of things which are repeatable AND verifiable. History is NOT repeatable. You’re confusing the term “scientific method” with “science”. If you doubt me, then please list the definition of “scientific method”.

So are you going to list your own criteria and tell us why they’re better OR will you just continue to complain about the criteria used by nearly all scholars because you don’t like the results ?

Peace,

Polycarp


 
Old 03-19-2001, 10:18 AM   #18
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Post

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
I agree with you on independent lines of evidence from different disciplines and that we should be value-neutral, but your idea about the scientific method is just plain wrong. By definition, the scientific method deals with what is repeatable. History is not repeatable. You’re asking for the impossible.
</font>
You have a faulty understanding of the scientific method. It's the same faulty understanding that creationists have, by the way.

The S.M. only requires that the results of experimentation be repeatable. So if I take a carbon-14 sample from the Shroud of Turin, the results that I get match what you (or anyone else) gets. The historical events surrounding the Shroud of Turin (regardless of whether it was Christ's or not) are events that will never repeat themselves in history. However, we are not prevented from making scientific statements about that artifact, merely because history never repeats itself. If that were the case, then we could make no statements about the Revolutionary War or the life of Napoleon.
 
Old 03-19-2001, 10:29 AM   #19
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Post

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
However, let me call your bluff right off the bat. It seems as though you are not practicing what you preach. You call for value-neutrality, yet you seem to reject the possibility of miracles before any investigation takes place.
</font>
I do not reject it a priori, but the evidentiary bar is extremely high. Why is that? Because we have no hard evidence at all for their occurrence. Zero. Zip. Nada.

It's a common and well-repeated phrase: "extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof." The miracles that theists propose do not even have an average level of evidence, much less extraordinary evidence.

I'm just imploying the Scientific Method here. Your claims do not meet the bar.


Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
That’s hardly an act of being “value-neutral”. Each miracle claim should be evaluated on its own merits. I’m open to miracles in other areas besides Christianity. Just give me an example of some that have better supporting evidence than those of the resurrection of Jesus.
</font>
I'm going to let others deal with the so-called "evidence" for the resurrection of Jesus.

The only reason you are open to miracles outside of christianity is because you realize the inconsistency of not taking that position. It's like the creationist who claims to be open to other religious ideas about creation. In reality, he only takes that position in order to get the public schools to permit creationism in the door. After which, he will howl loudly when a Hindu tries to present the Bhagavat-Gita version of creation.


Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
I've told you why I think your rules stink. The scientific method can NOT be applied to history.
</font>
Yes, and you were wrong about that.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
This leaves you with your only other critera of "value-neutrality" upon which we agree. I've already demonstrated how you do not even practice this criterion.
</font>

No, you asserted it and pretended to have hard evidence.


Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
It looks like you need to keep working on the rules needed for historical study unless you have some other ideas that you haven't shared.
</font>
Actually, it appears you need to go back and try again.



[This message has been edited by Omnedon1 (edited March 19, 2001).]
 
Old 03-19-2001, 10:33 AM   #20
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Post

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Which ancient document does not make any religious claims? Toto's gonna be throwing away almost all of our history. Poor Toto...
</font>

Only a theist, with a flawed binary view of the world, would concoct such a strawman.

There is no requirement to throw away all of history, merely because certain sections of it are clearly myth or fantasy. We do not throw away all of Herodotus, just because he talks about winged serpents. But this requires an adult approach to the topic, weighing the evidence from various independent sources.

Just the approach that theists are clearly afraid of, because they realize that with such an approach, their bible becomes just another book in history, instead of privileged territory.
 
 

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 12:18 PM.

Top

This custom BB emulates vBulletin® Version 3.8.2
Copyright ©2000 - 2015, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.