This came up in conversation;
May 15th, 2007 at 5:44 am
So you have some way of judging which supernatural claims to believe.
How do you decide?
Hans Mast Says:
May 15th, 2007 at 5:58 am
I have verified in my own experience that its claims are true.
May 15th, 2007 at 6:02 am
What do you mean? Tell us more.
Hans Mast Says:
May 15th, 2007 at 6:36 am
God’s Spirit makes us sure that we are his children.
(Romans 8:16 CEV)
I have no doubt that Christ dwells in me. I not only have a close relationship with Him, but He also has done many miracles in my life. One, for instance, is this one (starting at sentence “After that we went back to Elijah’s cave for the evening.”).
Other ones include dirty shirts miraculously becoming clean for choir programs, having a friend that was unable to speak because her throat was so bad being able to sing a solo on recording day, etc.
Just tonight I was searching for my wallet. I searched for nearly 20 minutes. Finally I stopped and prayed that God would help me find it. I had searched the floor near my bed 4 times already, but after I prayed, I looked again by my bed and found it within 15 seconds.
Don’t try to tell me that it is a psychological matter. I am well aware of the tendency of engaging in the subconscious fallacy of remembering only the times something works and not the times it doesn’t, etc. I watch out for that in my life and I am quite skeptical of many supernatural claims. I would guess 99% of supernatural claims to be fakes.
I graduated from high school at age 16 with honors and a 97.73% grade average. I am not a person that accepts orthodoxy blindly. I challenge it instantly via the wide array of data available to me via technology.
May 15th, 2007 at 6:52 am
So how do you decide which things to believe and which things not to believe?
Hans Mast Says:
May 15th, 2007 at 9:14 am
At the most basic level? Reason and probability.
Since I have used reason and probability to determine that the Bible is true, I use it as my basis to determine truth. I have found it to be reliable in the past throughout history, even when man thought it false.
If you look at the shape of the earth, the scientific consensus was that the earth was flat, but the Bible (Isaiah 40:22) said all along that it was round.
It has been proven accurate many times in archeology.
It has been proven many times in prophecies it containing coming true.
Many of these things are exhaustively documented in the following books:
A Ready Defense by Josh McDowell
The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell
The Historical Reliability of the Gospels by Craig L. Blomberg
The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel
The evidence is all there. What’s stopping most people is ignorance, blind faith in the scientific establishment, or a lack of willingness to examine the evidence because of what they might find. You owe it to yourself to look into it.
I will buy some of those books and have them sent to you if you promise me to read them and send them to me after you are done with them. I can tell you are man who wants to know truth and then will passionately ensure that that truth gets out.
May 16th, 2007 at 10:00 am
I sent you a reply yesterday but it doesn’t show on the blog - I’m not sure why.
I am pleased to see you listing reason as part of your thought process, it’s a favourite of mine.
I don’t give out my personal address on the web. How about you reading “The Blind Watchmaker” and I will read one of your your recommendations, then we can compare notes?
Please can you tell me how your selected your particular religion? I am aware that other religions claim just as much evidence in their favour as does your own.
Did you try a few and pick out Christianity?
Hans Mast Says:
May 19th, 2007 at 4:25 am
It probably got nabbed by my spam filter. Weird.
I would love to read The Blind Watchmaker. Drop me an email at hansmast at hansmast dot com and we’ll exchange addresses.
My parents were Christians.
So here we go. Swallowing my misgivings about funding fundy book sales, by rationalising that "just one book won't hurt", and balancing this with the fact that a creationist is going to read a scientific classic in return I will now throw myself into "A Ready Defence".
The first chapter simply gives you all the benefits Josh feels he got from converting. This is the logical fallacy called "The argument from benefit." i.e. this doesn't make what he believes true - there are very good psychological evidence that all kinds of "known to be false" false beliefs make us feel better. Josh gives us no actual evidence in this chapter to confirm his belief is true.
Of course in passing I should also note that the followers of every other religion out there make exactly the same claims as Josh does for his. I assume that Josh would not accept these kind of statements from them as evidence that their god was real.
Chapter 2; He sets it up this way "The only reason the bible can be relevant today, as well as at all other times, is if it is true.". Just to be clear, he is arguing from the premise that if the bible is relevant then it is true.
Clearly this is a false premise as well as an unsupported assertion. For example I can write true things which are not relevant (many would point to my blog as primae facia evidence of this) and we can all make up "relevant" lies. So I must admit this particular chapter of evidence rather lost me at this point. I just kept thinking that even if he did go on to convince me that the bible is relevant today then so what? What would that prove anyway?
Well actually he is now asks if the bible itself "gives evidence" that it is from god? Again basic circular logic that kids start to pick each other up on by the tome they attend primary school. Disappointing, who is going to be convinced by this?
Now he loses me completely with this reality shaker; "Where the bible speaks on matters of science it does so with simple yet correct terms devoid of absurdities."
I think this is utter tosh.
I could write a whole blog just on this one topic but instead here are just a few holes in his assertion;
- the bird's blood cure for leprosy - pretty ludicrous and whilst I am not aware of any medical trials I am fairly sure even Hans and Josh must accept that it won't work.
- the fact that the moon is created as a separate light in the sky - we now know it shines with light reflected from the sun
- the flood story (McDowell actually quotes this as an example in his favour) - Where did all the water come from? If the answer is "shazzam" then that is certainly not devoid of absurdities.
Anyway - lets soldier on to chapter 3.
Chapter 3; The uniqueness of the bible. The author now lists loads of things about the bible's continuity. When you read them they are just a list of who wrote different bits of it, over what time frames (not all independently verifiable), in different times and places. The author then recounts how these facts alone converted a book salesman who called at his house one day.
My observations about this evidence would be; "The facts don't show continuity and anyway the text contradicts itself too much."
Again I will restrain myself and just quote a couple of examples, just little things like;
- Should we kill gays or just banish them? Which is it? You need to know to avoid an eternity of torture you know - guess wrong and its the lake of fire for you.
- How about not the not killing bit in the commandments (either version) versus "blessed shall be they who smash their [god's enemies] babies on the rocks"?
Next we get lists of lots of other things about the bible as if they proved something - agnever get an explanation of how or why these things prove anything. Things like "Survival", "Translation", "Teaching", "Influence".
His conclusion states that this doesn't prove it is the word of god but that it is unique - again I ask "so what?" - this blog is unique. He then quotes an unnamed authority figure "a professor" commenting that clever people know that "the Bible has the truth in it.".
- - -
Hans - this really is very childish stuff - is there a particular part of this book you found persuasive? Could I skip to that bit?
Oh well, a deal is a deal and I will read the whole thing if you insist but I sure hope it picks up a bit.
- - -
Duty gets the better of me and I soldier on again . . .
Chapter 4; Who decided what went into the bible? Rather than repeat his "evidence" he has made things slightly easier for me here by giving us an actual conclusion.
"It is as though a handful of people in an auditorium are given the same message to spread to everyone else in the auditorium. Every person has the freedom to verify with others what the true, original message was. Under these circumstances, one would expect that those who wanted to get the message right certainly could."I will just list the logical errors in this little analogy and some ways in which it fails by not being a true or fair analogy in very important ways.
- You would have to remove the original tellers of the message from the auditorium after they gave their message. They did actually die you know, and the first document he quotes (i.e. date of the copy/whisper is 850AD re the New Testament)
- You would also have to have everyone else primed to disseminate other competing messages, some very similar to the message itself e.g. Mithras, other sects and religions etc. and others very different.
Also please note that the original message givers are no longer around, and many other messages are also being passionately attested to at this time.
Josh has elsewhere claimed that the bible is true because it has been printed the most times. It would appear that in his imaginary auditorium, the true message was similarly taken to be the most common message. Full stop end of thought. When you take my point above into account you realise that the original message has very little chance at all of being the answer judged to be the most popular.
Josh also makes some other huge assumptions right here when he says; "those who wanted to get the message right".
First of all he only "knows" that "those" (i.e. his priests) actually wanted to get it right because they said so. How does he know this is true?
Furthermore he does not even consider that people of the time would have been involved in the power struggles and political machinations of the day. These factors could easily have lead to them distorting the message deliberately, or even subconsciously to suit their own ends. How can we tell if this did happen? We can't. He offers no evidence regarding this at all.
Secondly, you can't judge the accuracy of a claim based upon the self claimed desire for truth of those giving the message. So what if A said he really really wanted to find the truth and B only really wanted to. It does not automatically follow that A is right and B is wrong.
From what I can see in the contents section of this book this chapter is fairly fundamental to his whole case.
If he can't persuade me that everything in the bible is an accurate account of what happened and that nothing true was left out, and that no possible human bias either intentional or not has influenced the contents, then any arguments he makes based upon those contents melt away like clouds in the sun.
Guess what? N0 I am not persuaded of any of these things - the author barely seems to have made a serious attempt.
He lists things he found persuasive and tells me of other folks who found them persuasive. He never even mentions anything other than very simplistic objections to his arguments. Perhaps he hasn't heard them? I doubt it. He leaves logical holes all over the place and doesn't even attempt to address them.
Before I get accused of making vague negative value judgements I would like to point out that clear examples of these faults and short comings are given above and I can throw more into the pot if you require.
I am going to post this now and let Hans know it is here.
I have only read 4 out of 60 sections but it would appear from the contents section that the rest of the book builds upon the foundation laid in the first few chapters.
Hans let me know if there are other bits of this book you find persuasive and why - I will happily read them and give you some feedback.