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Saturday, March 18, 2006

Consider this a poll???

Today is seminar day. Myself, my wife and my son are attending conferences today. With time being remarkably short, I thought I would take a poll of commenters/visitors to the site. This is out of curiousity of course. I just wish to mention two books to see if people have read them. Not just heard of them, but actually read them.

1) The Bible authored by various men as moved by the Holy Spirit.

2) Religion and Science by well-known atheist Bertrand Russell.

Post if you have read one (which one?) or both and maybe comment about it appropriately.

28 comments:

Mark K. Sprengel said...

I've read the Bible
I might have read bits and pieces of Bertrand Russell as I've studied.

creeper said...

I think I've read bits of Russell over the years, but not that book.

I've read about a third of the Bible but it's been a while, close to a quarter-century ago I think. Will gladly look up any parts you want to draw my attention to, though I'll let you know that I'm suspicious if you want to present them as any kind of a priori factual authority. The circumstances of the text's composition really do need to be taken into account.

I take the Bible for what it's worth - it has some valuable insights, but it should be clear that the Bible is not meant to be an authoritative history or science textbook - it is a cultural history in parts, an anthology of mythological import, a collection of religious texts - it is first and foremost a religious text, as should be obvious.

I appreciate that this subject is deeply significant to you, Kimbal, and of course that will always be entirely your right, privilege and spiritual realm - and nobody here (to the best of my knowledge) is trying to impinge on that when we discuss the scientific aspects of young earth creationism vs. old earth evolution, and anything in between.

Perhaps, however, you can come around to seeing that there is a difference between spiritual truth and scientific truth, and that it is okay for them to co-exist. Things get very confusing when people try to wedge scientifically unsupportable claims into a realm that simply doesn't work that way.

You've expressed the profound inspiration that you draw from your belief in God in an adjacent post, and so I ask you to re-consider a question that has been posted in one form or another on your blog in the last few weeks:

If naturalistic evolution happens to be true, would you be one iota less inspired by your belief in God? Would you dump your belief in God simply because he created you one way instead of another?


(BTW - Dan S, if you're around, can you drop me a line at creeperzoid AT yahoo DOTTY com?)

highboy said...

"it is first and foremost a religious text, as should be obvious'

Absolutetly. The Bible is in itself so layered with theology that one can never stop gleaning insight from it. God inspired it to be written that way. Otherwise, it would be a dead work with no real value to our spiritual walk. And that's my sermon for the day.

cranky old fart said...

I've read bits and pieces of Russell also over the years. I'm pretty sure it's his own work, and not that of demons.

I've read the Bible from cover to cover. It's painfully obvious that the book is the work of men, some with clear agendas, not the work of an omniscient God.

von said...

I've read the Bible, and have never heard of Bertrand Russell.

Juggling Mother said...

I've read the vast majority of the bible, as written by men, mostivated by, umm, motivation:-)

I've not read Russell, other than bits & pieces here and there. Although I've seen some noce quotes:-)

highboy said...

No one said men didn't write the Bible. They wrote it as they were inspired by God. To say there was some conspiracy or private agenda by the writers (other than doing God's will) is to have the tin foil hat on extra tight.

cranky old fart said...

May I suggest, since Russell is a bit of a slog, the writings of Robert Ingersoll?

Often referred to as "The Great Agnostic", Russell was well known in his day (late 19th century) as a great orator. Copies of his speeches, debates and writings are generally available in bookstores and online.

I might further suggest the lectures of Dr. Bart Ehrman, available on DVD from The Teaching Company, regarding the history of the Bible and early Christianity.

http://www.teach12.com/teach12.asp

cranky old fart said...

Highboy,

The tacked on birth story wasn't agenda driven?

creeper said...

"To say there was some conspiracy or private agenda by the writers (other than doing God's will) is to have the tin foil hat on extra tight."

To claim there was an overarching conspiracy (which wasn't what cranky was getting at), yes - that would probably require some heavy tin foil hattery (a bit like thinking that scientists are all conspiring to keep the "sound science" of ID and creationism (not the same thing, BTW) outside of respected science).

But to pretend that the various authors of the bible were not human beings with different political motivations relative to the period they lived in, and were not in some cases willing to alter the text if it was helpful at the time - to pretend that they weren't that - is to engage in tinfoil hattery in the other direction.

Whether it was God's will, say, to make Christianity more palatable in the Roman Empire is anyone's guess. Highboy, on what basis do you claim that all the authors of the Bible never had any concerns other than doing God's will?

radar said...

Russell is rather basic to the evolution movement of his time, kind of outdated now I guess. Mainly it was a treatise that outlined atheism.

Creeper, I came to faith without being certain of the science involved and that faith would handle new scientific fact that made me rethink my understanding of the book of Genesis. I can only go on what I know for now. I do believe that the facts work for a young earth and you do not.

I do have to say that these dialogues between YEC and Darwinists have been instructive and hopefully we are all learning a bit even though it is mainly "how the other side thinks."

The New Testament did not adjust itself to Roamn thinking or the opinions of Caesar with one exception: Revelations. The Revelation of St John, which is the last book in the Bible, was written (largely) in symbols and codes so that believers could read and understand it's message.

In my opinion, this is because Nero was simply insane and both feared and hated Christians. He did believe the predictions of the scriptures to an extent and of course he went on a tangent against believers, going so far as to hang them on poles outside Rome and lighting them at night as lamps, with the body's natural fats augmented with tar so that the fire would last for awhile. This would be a terrible death. Of course, he also used them in his games, to be ripped apart by beasts or slaughtered by gladiators.

Revelations was, I believe, a book to let the believers of the time know when Jerusalem would fall and by whom it would fall. It instructed them what to do and when to flee the city and why. Nero's name was encoded into the book. The events stated in the book did happen in 70 AD when the city and temple were attacked and razed, and the massacre was infamous in those times as one of the bloodiest and cruelest ever known.

By the way, that Christians of the first century were quite prepared to die unbelievably horrendous deaths simply for their faith is a real testimony to the testimonies concerning Christ. People who saw him both before and after He was crucified were quite willing, if necessary, to die in the course of spreading the faith. This faith was against the faith of their fathers and certainly against the teachings of Rome. But I suppose if you saw Jesus raised from the dead and subsequently be raised up out of your sight into the heavens, it leave on you a tremendous impression.

highboy said...

"Highboy, on what basis do you claim that all the authors of the Bible never had any concerns other than doing God's will?"

I didn't say that. My claim is that the authors had no other agenda when writing God's inspired Word than writing God's inspired Word. Of course they were all human, and had human concerns.


"and were not in some cases willing to alter the text if it was helpful at the time - to pretend that they weren't that - is to engage in tinfoil hattery in the other direction."

True. They could have, but there is absolutely no evidence of that whatsover. There are only assumptions drawn by conspiracy theorists that because the authors were human who wrote things that conflict with humanistic ideal, that they changed things. Feminazis abroad think the Bible is false, and written by sexists (that is what they claim of Paul) because of its portrayel of women, for example. They don't like it, so its not true, or not divinely inspired. There is no evidence that any author of the Bible distorted anything.

creeper said...

"Of course they were all human, and had human concerns. "

All right then, on what basis do you claim that those concerns (including political ones) could not have flowed into the text they were writing?

"By the way, that Christians of the first century were quite prepared to die unbelievably horrendous deaths simply for their faith is a real testimony to the testimonies concerning Christ."

I'm inclined to take that with a grain of salt, if you don't mind. We see certain fundamentalists go to unbelievably horrendous deaths in this day and age as well, and mere fanaticism doesn't convince me of the Truth of their faith one bit.

Highboy, isn't Pontius Pilate somewhat controversial, in that the account of his role in Jesus's crucifixion may have been softened for political reasons at the time?

creeper said...

"I do believe that the facts work for a young earth and you do not."

Regarding both the plausibility of a young earth and of Noah's flood, you're short a lot of answers, Radar. I was wondering if you'd simply conceded all those issues, but apparently not.

You mentioned in some earlier comment that when faced with a rebuttal, if you knew the rebuttal had already been rebutted, you simply didn't respond to it. That's a rather unusual method, since of course it leaves us with the impression that you have no valid response.

creeper said...

Highboy,

"There are only assumptions drawn by conspiracy theorists that because the authors were human who wrote things that conflict with humanistic ideal, that they changed things."

What conspiracy theory would this have been in support of? Could you give us an example?

Anonymous said...

creeper - aol is being aol and not working (yes, yes, I know, why I don't have gmail or something, I dunno) - will try again in a bit.

-Dan S.

Anonymous said...

" Feminazis abroad"

is that a pun?

Anonymous said...

"Russell is rather basic to the evolution movement of his time"

Are you sure about this? He was into all sorts of things - from logic to anti-nuclear activism to morality to philosophy of science, but . . .

I mean, I've never heard any such claim, and don't see much evidence for it. I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that he'd written about evolution, but "rather basic to the evolution movement of his time"? Morgan, Dobshansky, Mayr, Fisher, Haldane & Wright etc . . . sure. Russell? This doesn't make sense.

Remember evolution and atheism are different things . . .

-Dan S.

Anonymous said...

Dobzhansky, I mean. Always get that wrong, too . .

-Dan S.

highboy said...

"All right then, on what basis do you claim that those concerns (including political ones) could not have flowed into the text they were writing?"

Again, I didn't say they couldn't. But unless you have evidence that they did, innocent until proven guilty.

"Highboy, isn't Pontius Pilate somewhat controversial, in that the account of his role in Jesus's crucifixion may have been softened for political reasons at the time?"

No. The New Testament has been consistent that the Romans were not the enemy of Christianity. Even after Jesus' death the Romans found the Christians to be much easier to deal with. Businesses flourished, and communities embraced Romans and Jews alike. This is also illustrated in Paul's house arrest for 2 years in Rome, where he converted Romans to Christianity, and they treated him with respect and dignity. His epistle to the Romans also illustrates Rome's acceptance and tolerance of Christianity. Pilate saw no reason to kill Jesus, it was not him that Jesus made to look foolish.

"What conspiracy theory would this have been in support of? Could you give us an example?"

Example: Unitarian women for example, assert that the Bible is flawed because it was written by man, and that is why it is so "sexist", because men wrote it that way to further subjugate women and oppress them under their heel. This theory also shows a fundamental lack of understanding of anything the Bible teaches.

" Feminazis abroad"

"is that a pun?"

Hahahaha.

creeper said...

"But unless you have evidence that they did, innocent until proven guilty."

So until I get into my time machine and strap a mindreading device onto the authors, we must take every word of what they say at face value? Clever, that.

"Unitarian women for example, assert that the Bible is flawed because it was written by man, and that is why it is so "sexist", because men wrote it that way to further subjugate women and oppress them under their heel. This theory also shows a fundamental lack of understanding of anything the Bible teaches."

Not sure if it amounts to a conspiracy as such but hey; the Bible simply reflects its authors, which were males in patriarchal societies.

me: "Highboy, isn't Pontius Pilate somewhat controversial, in that the account of his role in Jesus's crucifixion may have been softened for political reasons at the time?"

you: "No. The New Testament has been consistent that the Romans were not the enemy of Christianity."


Hmm. And wouldn't the political reasons at the time the New Testament was composed have dictated exactly that - to curry favor by not portraying the Romans as the enemy of Christianity, at a time when Christians were not finding life particularly easy, shall we say, in the Roman Empire?

highboy said...

"So until I get into my time machine and strap a mindreading device onto the authors, we must take every word of what they say at face value? Clever, that."

Have you personally drilled into the Earth's surface to observe the geologic column? Or do you take every word scientists say at face value? Have you personally seen the evidence of the Holocaust? Or are you taking things at face value? How do you take any historical account dating back that far into account? Were you there when Julius Caesar was assasinated? How do you know he was stabbed to death? Did you see the body? Believe what you want, but if you are going to claim that the authors of the Bible put their own agenda-driven twists on things, you should at least have proof.

"Hmm. And wouldn't the political reasons at the time the New Testament was composed have dictated exactly that - to curry favor by not portraying the Romans as the enemy of Christianity, at a time when Christians were not finding life particularly easy, shall we say, in the Roman Empire?"

Do you have proof of this? Or are you just assuming to be able to judge the hearts and mindsets of men who existed 2,000 years ago? By the way, explain to me how life for Christians were particularly uneasy at the hands of the Roman Empire before the persecution of Nero, who did not come into power until after the New Testament was written? The only people oppressing Christians were the Jews themselves. Paul's trials at the end of the Book of Acts are prime examples.

creeper said...

Highboy,

No, I don't have "proof" of those things, nor am I terribly fussed about them. I won't discount the possibility though.

"explain to me how life for Christians were particularly uneasy at the hands of the Roman Empire before the persecution of Nero, who did not come into power until after the New Testament was written?"

Nero came into power in 54. None of the Gospels were written before the 60s. Nero's persecution of the Christians began in 64. Seems to me that timeline would support what I said.

highboy said...

"None of the Gospels were written before the 60s."

Irrelevant. First, Acts was written before the Nero persecution. Second, the Gospels MAY have been written after the 60s, but the setting of the story takes place well before the persecution. Romans didn't kill Christians for being Christian when Christianity didn't exist yet. We don't see Romans persecuting Christians in any of the Gospels. We do however, see corrupt Jewish leadership persecuting Jesus. So the timeline doesn't support what you said.

creeper said...

"First, Acts was written before the Nero persecution."

What does that have to do with the Gospels, which contain the potential controversy I had asked about?

"Second, the Gospels MAY have been written after the 60s, but the setting of the story takes place well before the persecution."

Not terribly relevant if the subject under discussion is not what actually happened, but how the events were later recounted/interpreted/possibly edited. The time of their composition matters, not the time of the events they refer to.

"Romans didn't kill Christians for being Christian when Christianity didn't exist yet. We don't see Romans persecuting Christians in any of the Gospels."

I had mentioned possible controversy regarding Pontius Pilate (representing the Roman authority) and Jesus. So in that way we do see Romans persecuting Christians in the Gospels (albeit in a very softened way), or in this specific case one particular Christian, Jesus.

"We do however, see corrupt Jewish leadership persecuting Jesus."

Quite possibly, but what does that have to do with anything?

"So the timeline doesn't support what you said."

Does too.

Anonymous said...

"None of the Gospels were written before the 60s."

Well, that explains it!! And you know about the 1960s . . .

]giggle[

". The New Testament has been consistent that the Romans were not the enemy of Christianity."

Now, what probably actually happened was that - while the degree of political persecution varied - Christian leaders realized that any kind of institutional survival depended on staying in the Roman Empire's relatively good graces. Meanwhile, many Jews strongly rejected this new offshoot, words were said - you know how it is in families . . .
So, quite naturally, we have a tradition that absolves the Romans and puts not just the blame but The Blame on the Jews, setting up things for centuries of pogroms and ultimately Holocaust.

Pity.

Anyway, Elaine Pagels writes about this in The Origin of Satan, but I don't know much about New Testament scholarship, so I'm not sure what position this view has within the academy.

-Dan S.

radar said...

Well, the Christians at the beginning were all Jews! So you had Jews who believed in Christ and Jews who followed the old ways to whatever extent. The leadership of the old way Jews had abandoned all but the pretense of following God as they had allied themselves with Rome in order to have power and security.

The "old" Jews persecuted the Christian Jews and in fact Paul the Apostle was originally a man charged with seeking out and punishing Christians, even having them put to death. He converted and became one of the most famous and influential apostles of the first century.

Anyway, blaming Jews for persecution is foolish because both sides of the equation were Jews! Jesus was a Jew! The writers of the Gospels were Jews. Any "Christian" who believes Jews are evil or were a source of evil back then is not only being ungodly he is just stupid.

Paul spearheaded the movement to convert Gentiles to Christianity, although Peter and others also began doing this. By the time the Gospels had been written (by people who were eyewitnesses, keep in mind) Paul was preaching and Gentiles were being reached. Rome became uncomfortable with some of these events.

Nero was the first emperor to make a point to hunt down and torment and kill Christians but he would not be the last. Again, I believe Revelations was written by John before the fall of Jerusalem to warn believers, again primarily Jews, to be ready to flee Jerusalem, why they had to, when they should go, and what was about to take place. All the prophecies in Revelations concerning Jerusalem took place in AD 70. It would be a long discussion to nail down why Revelation was written before 70 and what evidence there is....that is another discussion.

Suffice it to say that persecution was happening one way or another almost from the beginning for Christians and the vast majority of those Christians were Jews.

highboy said...

Jews (who late become Christians) were not being hunted down and killed until Nero. Now while you may deem it plausible that the Gospels take a soft approach at Rome for political reasons, there is no evidence to support this, even in secular history. Most Romans did not see Christianity as a threat. Jewish leaders (Pharisees, Sadducees) were the people bent on shutting Jesus up, because they were the ones twisting the Scriptures, oppressing the people, and they are the leaders that had the most to lose had Jesus' teachings take effect. (and boy did they!) The only reason why Rome tried Paul at all was because Paul himself appealed to Caesar. Luke-Acts were written together for a Roman. But Luke and Matthew both got most of their material from Mark, the first Gospel written, and the simplest and most detailed. All three synoptics point to another Gospel, which most scholars entitle "Q". This book is no longer in existance, but internal evidence supports this book.

""We do however, see corrupt Jewish leadership persecuting Jesus."

Quite possibly, but what does that have to do with anything?"

Nothing.