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Monday, February 13, 2006

Critical Analysis of Evolution

In my last blog, How to Think, I urged that people who wish to become sophisticated in their thinking try to develop skills in critically thinking. It seems that the Ohio Board of Education wants that too but only in biology -- in fact, only in the study of evolution. An attorney in the intelligent design trial in Pennsylvania, Mr. Eric Rothschild, is quoted in my morning's Columbus Dispatch as saying
When you see "critical analysis of evolution" you really need to look at what's behind that....Why is there no call for critical analysis of plate techonics?
If I were to have a "Critical Thinkers Hall of Fame" I would include Mr. Rothschild. He has made the two points that most need making, and, of course, beat the crap out of the creationists in court. The first is that "critical analysis of evolution" is code for "introduce creationism/intelligent-design in biology lectures," though he didn't put it that way exactly. The second is that a specific reference to a critical analysis of evolution in the absence of references to a critical analysis of plate techtonics, a critical analysis of the particle and wave theories of light, and so on, is the best possible evidence that someone is engaged in the fallacy of "special pleading," though again he didn't put it quite that way. As The Nizkor Project notes
From a philosophic standpoint, the fallacy of Special Pleading is violating a well accepted principle, namely the Principle of Relevant Difference. According to this principle, two people can be treated differently if and only if there is a relevant difference between them. This principle is a reasonable one. After all, it would not be particularly rational to treat two people differently when there is no relevant difference between them.
The Nizkor Project is concerned that we do not treat people differently who do not exhibit any relevant difference but the same applies to scientific claims. If we are to have a critical analysis of evolution, we must have a critical analysis of the formation of black holes, plate techtonics, the number agreement rule in English ("John and Mary are here" is a well-formed English sentence but "John and Mary is here" is not), and any other scientific claim because there is no relevant difference between these things. In fact this whole notion of urging biology teachers to engage in a critical analysis of evolution should receive a giant "DUH!!!!" Our teachers should engage their students in a critical analysis of every subject they study.

But, of course, that is not what fundamentalist Christians want. The most inane aspect of this is the idea that scientists working on issues in evolutionary theory are not already engaged in a critical analysis of their discipline. Of course they are. The idea that God plopped Adam down on Earth and then in creating Eve took one of Adam's ribs and also gave them a full blown language competence so He can talk to them and they can talk to each other would, of course, be dismissed immediately because there is no empirical evidence for it (books, including the Bible, don't count). That's all it takes to dispatch the creationist theory of the origin of humans to the intellectual dumping grounds for bad ideas.

The idea that the design of humans exhibits an intelligence at work is hard to swallow. The notion "intelligent design" is impossibly vague. To me, if humans were intelligently designed, we would have an immunity to all diseases. If He had done that, we wouldn't have to be worrying about the bird flu. To my claim, it could be countered that the intelligent design of humans would entail giving us a limited life span because of (perhaps) the psychological damage life itself inflicts on us and the lack of a total immunity to disease is one of the mechanisms God uses to limit our lifespans. I would reply, why not simply let the aging of organs ado the trick? No diseases; just the aging of organs, perhaps adding on accidents that take our lives and such things as murders. There is no way to make the notion "intelligent design" substantive because my "intelligent design" might be your "idiotic fantasy," and vice versa.

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40 Comments:

Blogger L>T said...

the thing about creationists arguments that will always frustrate people like you & me is that it has no base other then ideas that are ingrained into western culture about who GOD is, about even the human make-up, body, soul, spirit. about the place of man in relationship to the moses God; A he that sits on a mountain looking down on HIS creation...blab, blah.

They are not so much defending their illogical theroy, as trying to poke holes in another. How can anyone take to seriously something based on 'belief'

They will always have to fall back on emotional blackmail in the end. Unfortunately, it works.

"Scare the 'HELL" out of them" in the end. :)

10:17 AM

 
Blogger J_G said...

"I would advise anyone concerned about developing better critical skills to adopt an adversarial view towards one's own ideas as well as those of others. Don't believe anything anyone tells you unless you can confirm it yourself." Language Guy

The theory of evolution is as easy or difficult to confirm as is the belief in God. There are scholars in the study of both fields. I rarely see anything posted here acknowledging that fact. I see no one here that knows or admits they know anything about Christianity. Christian scholars work hard comparing other historical accounts and archeological finds to accounts written in the Bible both Old and New Testament. The results of those studies exhibit as much credibility as research into the theory of evolution. Research on the Internet or talking with a Biblical scholar will confirm what I say is true. How can a critical analysis occur without knowledge of one of the subjects to be analyzed and compared?

1. Opinion formed beforehand: a preformed opinion, usually an unfavorable one, based on insufficient knowledge, irrational feelings, or inaccurate stereotypes - prejudice

I refuse to hide behind fancy words like "Intelligent Design" because I believe the merits of believing in God stand on its own.

“Learning to defend positions one believes to be true is a very hard thing to do." Language Guy

12:18 PM

 
Blogger L>T said...

j_G, I happen to know a lot about Christianity. I grew up in the church, had a born again experience. Taught sunday school from primary to adult. I have studyed & pondered on religion all my life. I haved looked at it from both sides. Being a humanist now, is like going thro a door & being on the other side.
The 'door' being my religious upbringing. It's the door that I had open to answer religious questions, doubts, etc...For instance, "You never be complete untill..."
Being 'in the room' is embracing said religion; born again experience, studying scriptures, etc..
The 'other side' is looking back & thinking (logically & critically, I hope) about what this religion stuff is all about.

This is how I confirm it myself.

"learning to defend positions one believes to be true, is a very hard thing to do."

Of course it is very hard to defend things you 'believe' to be true. Believing is a choice. How far are you going to go to defend it?
Are the modern day fundamentalists going to defend their theroys as much as the 'Church did in Galileo's time?

2:34 PM

 
Blogger Kelly said...

The point on special pleading I agree with. My agreement ends with you there.

If you want to introduce critical analysis into biology, then it need go no further than the bounds of the natural sciences.

Your entire last paragraph is complete silliness and shows an ignorance of Christian theology. The reason that we are not immune to diseases, in that field of thinking, is sin. You nobly ask us to think about things critically and use logic, but here (and other times you have criticized theology) you fall into the same traps that you try to keep the rest of us out of.

3:00 PM

 
Anonymous Chris said...

Please excuse this interuption, as this comment is not about the post, but a request (I couldn't find a way to contact you privately). I would like to hear your thoughts on back-formation of words, why it happens, what sorts of words or categories of words it happens to, and the like. I've got in mind words like gruntled, ruth, combobulated, etc, where only the antonym is used

5:22 PM

 
Blogger L>T said...

Sorry, but Christian theology is not specifically(?) mentioned in the big dictionary.

Will Biblical theology do?

1.Theology is the study of god & the relations of God & the universe. or:

2.A specific form or system of this study, as expounded by a particular religion or denomination.

which are we expounding? In 'Intelligent design theory' a Christian veiw of creation or a general religious veiw?

Tho Language guy uses the Pronoun 'He' ("If He had done that"; last paragraph, 4th sentence) I wonder if it's just a slip of ingrained dogmatic theology. :)

8:02 PM

 
Blogger IbaDaiRon said...

All the usual suspects, I see. :)

I see no one here that knows or admits they know anything about Christianity.

"No one so blind..."? Like l>t I, too, grew up in the church (United Methodist; supposedly I was saved, but in retrospect I think I was just going through the motions to please those around me...no blinding light conversion on the road to Dimashqu for this Saul, I'm afraid). This background and my interest in languages naturally led me first to the Vulgata in Latin and later to the Hebrew OT (self-study of both in highschool, since they only offered French); I added Greek (and the NT) during my undergraduate years at OSU. I also read a lot in theology and history, especially when I started questioning the basic tenets, less and less as I moved into "apostacy" [read: freedom?]. It's only been the last year or two that I've started getting back into it; I'm brushing up my Hebrew now. (And...I've never been to me?)

I can't quote you chapter and verse anymore without looking things up, but don't just assume that I know nothing about this simply because I disagree with you. That's a bit of prejudice on your part, no, j_g?

The Bible, both OT & NT, is an incredibly rich amalgam of actual history (much written down from oral tradition), allegory and religious philosophy. Just because we have found and excavated Ur and Jericho does not mean that every incident depicted in the Bible is historically accurate or literally true. Belief (or faith) to that extent is the real silliness.

(By the way, l>t, were you straying close to a Judy Collins moment of your own there with "from both sides"? :)

8:58 PM

 
Blogger L>T said...

Who is Judy Collins? Honestly, I don't know. The both sides 'allegory' is correct in my case.

I taught a great class about the book of Ruth & the handing down of oral history by the jewish people.

When I was Christian, I surmissed GOD choose that race because they were so pedantic about their history. (ya know, the jot & tittle(?) reference; Matt. 5:18)
Interesting stuff.

Don't forget, I spent my youth with a fanatically religious mother. I can't spell. I know the BIBLE, tho.

9:44 PM

 
Blogger L>T said...

BTW, ibadairon? where the heck is Dimashqu? is that Japanese for Damascus?

9:51 PM

 
Blogger Copernicus Now said...

Personally, I find the whole "theory" of Intelligent Design to be great fun. I really am having a hard time figuring out where everybody's sense of enjoyment and interest is on this topic.

First off, to me it makes EVERYBODY look a bit silly. It's a bit like people who debate over the perpetual motion machine. Of course, anybody who spends their life trying to design a perpetual motion machine would seem quite amusing to me. And so would anybody who obviously lays awake at night trying to prove what fools the first ones are. The joke is that these people are themselves the very perpetual motion machine they fight over--each is going in an endless, hilarious circle around the other.

Escape! Escape! It's all silliness.

Vanity, vanity. All is vanity. All is vanity and vexation of spirit.

And speaking of silliness, and vexation, and such. I have a silly question. Is there any place in the tenets of Intelligent Design that say that the designer is omniscient, or omnipotent? Or is that just something we take for granted because we suppose the Fundamentalist bad-guys to be behind all this?

I wonder because of something L_G said. ("...To me, if humans were intelligently designed, we would have an immunity to all diseases..."). That made me laugh because I think most people are a bit misguided about the nature of intelligence. For one thing, they assume that it is the opposite of stupidity. In my view, stupidity is a property of intelligence. It appears to me that stupidity has a tendency to increase with intelligence.

From that point of view, the whole thing becomes very funny to me. There is no reason to suppose that Intelligent Design must also be perfect design. In fact, if Intelligent Design is valid, there should be some unfathomably stupid errors in the process. The stupidity should get more exasperating in proportion to the Creator's intelligence.

Don't know about you, but I find this very amusing. And, in this light, I am tempted to wonder if there really is something to this whole Intelligent Design business.

11:44 PM

 
Blogger IbaDaiRon said...

For myself, it's a bit hard to be amused when considering the potential harm caused by allowing a pseudoscience to stand shoulder to shoulder with real science. (Who's up for a replay of the Dark Ages? Ooh, we got fun! That's entertainment!)

12:20 AM

 
Blogger Copernicus Now said...

Nice, ibadairon! I see you're getting in the spirit.

Overreacting and catastrophizing are both amusing.

1:50 AM

 
Blogger IbaDaiRon said...

: )

It's all academic, just an intellectual exercise for me, really, anyway. I myself will only be around another 40 years at best, I don't believe in reincarnation, and I'm not invested in the future in the form of progeny. (My poor stupid genes: they thought they were building a vehicle to carry them into the next generation...d'oh!)

Of course, the rules of the game don't forbid non-players from kvetching on the sidelines!

7:33 AM

 
Blogger J_G said...

That approach always works. Now I see people showing their hand. It is easy to attack me and my beliefs because I have no qualms about letting people know what they are. Just like my country I will defend my beliefs to the death. There is no shame in that. Just because a person believes that way it does not mean a return to the dark or middle ages when people were murdered for their non-belief. That idea is now being perpetuated on the world by radical Islam.

There is plenty of intolerance to go around. Look around you U be, my Father fought the fathers of the people around you. They weren’t always the polite society that they seem to be now. They were once the murderers and rapists of Nan King, Korea, the Philippines, and Singapore. That was only a generation ago. Was that a return to the dark ages of feudal wars or something new? There was no “divine wind” to save them from Khan this time.

I have read the Bible from cover to cover and had to learn what the words meant in Old English on my first reading because all I had available to me was a King James Version. I now own a Parallel Bible that contains the King James, the Modern Language, The Living Bible, and The Revised Standard versions. I subsequently read the other versions with less consternation.

There is a big difference between reading the words and understanding what they mean. My suggestion to you U be is to go back and read carefully the chapter in the Old Testament called “Songs of Solomon”. Those writings certainly do not fit in with what most people think of Judeo-Christian belief. I don’t earn a lot of points with so-called fundamentalists either because I take the Bible as it is intended to be a “living guide”. I am obviously not perfect (just ask U be/Ron). I am however an improvement, formal education not withstanding. Most people that claim to be well rounded and educated know nothing about the spirit inside of them. The Native American Tribes call their personal spirit their “medicine”. Faith is of the spirit, if you do not recognize the spirit that is inside of you how can you have faith?

Ah Saul, the prosecutor I can relate to his experience. I’m by no means what people call in a derogatory manner “a Bible thumper”. I’m more like the grateful recipient of the “Grace of God”. If any of you had not discounted immediately the things that I write because I believe differently than you. You would understand a few of the reasons why I am a grateful servant of God because I have made some of those reasons quite clear. The things that I have done should have earned me the wrath but instead I received grace when I decided to change my ways.

They are some very good observations Copernicus. Not everything is made perfectly. I believe evolution is the process in which things are made better. Intelligent design is an embarrassment and affront to those of us that truly believe. Study and teach about all the things that make the world tick and make things better but don’t hide behind words that are meant to deceive.

10:42 AM

 
Blogger L>T said...

Intelligent design theory must be picked at & attacked, because it won't go away on it's own & it can't be allowed to be used as standard for anything. Which is what some people would like to happen. I wonder if it's already in some doctrines; in the I believe section.

& j-g, please...Who cares about all the versions of the Bible you've read. My point was & is; other people know just as much about it as you. We just have diff. ideas of what it means. You read it from a Christian point of veiw. I did that once. Now I see things from a humanist point of veiw. Being a Christian & having a human spirit does not ness. have to go together. Everyone has faith, but not ness. in GOD. (Esp. the one that religion makes)
Indians are humans too, & there prob. were some religious ones back then. Are you assuming all Indians had this 'magic' awareness? Once upon a time.

Reminds me of a quote, (can't think of the author)
"Man can't make a mite, but, he makes Gods by the score."

11:35 AM

 
Blogger Kelly said...

It has come to my attention that I have misconstrued what the Language Guy was saying. I assumed he was getting at errors in the Christian view of things when he was actually just criticizing Intelligent Design itself. So let's go from there.
Copernicus Now said: "There is no reason to suppose that Intelligent Design must also be perfect design." There you go. If you look at ID in a pure sense, then that's your answer. Very insightful. But if you do assume the designer to be a perfect, omniscient, omnipotent being, then there are any number of different reasons that you could use to explain susceptibility to disease and so forth, from sin to a god that is not entirely "good," to a god that cares about not only humans but also all of the lower forms of life, as well as others I presume.

And j_g, I don't particularly care for any of those versions of the Bible, especially the paraphrased ones like the Living Bible (those not translated from the original languages). NIV is much better.

12:16 PM

 
Blogger L>T said...

FYI, When I was in church the Living Bible was the fav. version of most Assembly of God Church congregations. It was written to be simple to understand. Pentecostal types love it.
My least fav.
Prob. the Bible most decorated w/a gingham & lace book cover.

I liked the Revised Standard. The Phillips(not sure about spelling)Bible is a interesting one if you ever come across it.

12:37 PM

 
Blogger J_G said...

Kelly, The parallel helped me immensely to learn the Language of the King James Version. I'll take your advice and give the NIV a look.

L>T Most people that live that close to nature and to the earth as the Native American did and many of the indigenous people around the world do, understand that there is something bigger than their mere physical being.They also understand that there is something of a spiritual nature inside of them that connects them with that entity.

It's not magic although some societies may use some types of magic to express their spiritual beliefs. You can pooh-pooh that all you want L>T, ever been to Haiti?

Do you think the Egyptians had the technology to lay the Pyramids out in such a way without the help of an entity greater than themselves?

One can only speculate on that quetion.The science that was used to lay the out the Pyramids was lost and only inconclusive attempts have been made since then in understanding how they knew what they did.

Maybe they forgot to turn the book back into the library and had their library card revoked:-)

5:00 PM

 
Anonymous Jagosaurus said...

I think the comments section is damn near as interesting as the entries that instigate them.

I have to agree with ibidairon that we've veering dangerously close to the Dark Ages if we allow nonscientific ideas (such as creationism and intelligent design) to be identified as science. It would be equally wrong to allow any of the sciences (evolution, chemistry, physics, etc.) to be identified as religion. If we start changing the definitions and undermining the rigorous standards that demarcate these categories, then we are doing ourselves a tremendous disservice.

5:19 PM

 
Blogger L>T said...

This is it, my last words.
j_g, we could argue forever about where human ingenuity comes from.
Neither of us really know. do we?

You have choosen to believe it comes from the Christian God.

I don't know God. It is a vague concept to me. I see- human achievements in techology from the time when cavemen made fires w/sticks untill now.

Entity: 1.being; existance
2.a thing that has real & individual existence, in reality or in the mind: anything real in itself.
3.essence; essential nature.
I gather from that it means to know you exsist? But, does it mean you know God exists?
As far as primitive people understanding something besides their own being, I think you are making assumptions.

I don't know if you are familiar with the idea of Magical Thinking. Included in the scope of it is; superstition, miracles, things like that, you know voodoo, faithhealing, etc..
people have been engaging in it for a long time. It comes from a desire to somehow magically change things beyond our control. Gods, primitive & modern fit nicely into making this idea work.

8:20 PM

 
Blogger IbaDaiRon said...

Thanks, j_g, for reminding me of Shlomoh's Song of Songs; one of my favorites, actually...

Ani l'dhodhi, w'dhodhi li. ... "I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine."

Very beautiful, very moving. And erotic as hell. The Xian rereading with the Church as the bride of the Christ is amusing, in that it was the only way to admit soft porn into the Bible. (I forget who established this reading; do you know? More Pauline sexual sublimation, perhaps.)

Your repeated attribution of "politeness" to the Japanese as a society is, frankly, weird; and painfully dependent upon uninformed stereotype. (You should have another long talk with that "close friend" of yours who spent so many years here.) And for an American to point out the wartime atrocities of another people is simply pot & kettle. (I am proud to be an American, but that doesn't mean that I delude myself into believing everything we do or have done as a country is/has been right or for the best.)

But the situation in Japan during WW II is relevant here in a certain sense. The military junta which seized power manipulated the common people through their native/naturalistic belief that the emperor was a living god (reinforced through the establishment of the state religion of "National Shintoism"). This demonstrates both the danger of allowing religious elements an overt role in government and the importance of educating the population to think critically. And yes, compared to the preceding era of "Taisho Democracy" during the first quarter of the 20th century, the early Showa period (1925-1989) did represent a return to a darker, more primitive age.

(PS. I watch with growing entertainment the continuing evolution of my user name. In a different context one might almost suspect some design on the part of an intelligent agent.)

10:18 PM

 
Blogger Language Guy said...

Japanese "politeness" is purely superficial, resulting from very rigid rules of interaction predicate primarily on the "in group/out group" distinction and on hierarachy. The linguistic rules are very hard for an adult who comes to the language to grasp.

English politeness phenomena are quite complex and there is a great deal of flexibility in how we talk to each other. If someone strays a bit from a highly polite form "Wouldy please pass me the salt" to "Could I have the salt" few people get huffy about it.

7:53 AM

 
Anonymous Jagosaurus said...

I'm really very sorry about getting your name wrong ibadairon. It honestly was a typo that I didn't see until I hit publish, and by then, of course, it was too late.

8:03 AM

 
Blogger Language Guy said...

The issue of versions of the Bible is an important one. Fundamentalist Christians who have read the Bible only in English need to lear a little about the history of the Bible. They should be reading it in Aramaic.

Translation from one contemporary language like Japanese to English where there are significant cultural differences is no piece of cake. Imagine the difficulty of translating something writen by people some 1800 years ago (well after the Mathew, Mark, and Peter, et al were dead, as I understand it) who had little scientific knowledge. Such a translation involves significant leaps of faith as to what the literal translation should look like. But a literal translation won't fully do the job because language also has a secondary meaning, which is the meaning intended by the writer, that depends on context. See my blog on The Meaning of Meaning. It is the fact that we imply things through what we say that are not directly recoverable from the literal meaning but require a reference to the social/cultural context that makes machine translation virtually impossible and human translation quite difficult.

The origin myth of the Old Testament must have represented the best effort of undeducated people (by contemporary standards) to create a theory of the origin of the universe and us consistent with their religious beliefs. For people to take it literally is sort of sad.

8:11 AM

 
Blogger Kelly said...

The Language Guy has directed me to a web site in support of his claim that Aramaic is the ideal language in which to read the Bible. His point on the difficulties of translation (especially from a language used in a very different culture) is well-taken, but I believe he is mistaken on one point. Make up your own mind--my arguments are contained in my response to him:

"The Prophets and the Apostles have recorded in written form a portion of the oral teaching of the Old Testament in Hebrew and Aramaic as well as the New Testament in Greek. These are the original languages of the Holy Bible from' which all the translations have been derive[d]."
From this site.
So it appears the entire New Testament was written in Greek originally. I knew at least large parts of it were (i.e. the letters of Paul and the book of Luke, which it is thought was written for the benefit of the Greeks). I was not aware that parts of the Old Testament were written in Aramaic . . . but since this is a Greek Orthodox site that may or may not be true if you take only the Protestant canon (which excludes Maccabees, among others, from the OT). Your article claims only that the scribes were writing the "scriptures" in Aramaic, not that those are the original languages. Also, the idea of "scriptures" at the time included much more than what we see in any Bible today, particularly the Talmudic teachings expounded by the rabbis.

[Your] article also correctly points out that the language Jesus spoke was Aramaic, but it was my impression that many people at the time also spoke Greek in addition to whatever other languages they spoke, because it was somewhat of a universal language to facilitate communication in a large empire (as is [was?] the written language of China).

Finally, it says that they "preserved" the New Testament in Aramaic--not that it was originally written in Aramaic. I'm sure the Aramaic translations are indeed very old and "preserved" in that form [and therefore likely very reliable], but they are still translations and therefore not as good as the original Greek and Hebrew.

9:30 AM

 
Blogger J_G said...

Maybe I use the word politeness in the wrong context U be. I was under the impression that the rules for social engagement to be much more formal and clear cut than what typical Americans are accustomed to. Do they not bow when greeting one another as matter of respect for example? I'm sure that over the years the Japanese have adopted some American manners because of the importance of doing business with Americans. I was certain that is the way the Japanese interacted with each other. I guess even I can be wrong.

I suppose I'm also wrong about the Japanese being a much more homegenous society than what most Americans are used to. I just can't get anything right, what a stereotype that is huh? Hmmh, the Chrysanthemum isn't the emblem of the Emperor, oh, it isn't. It's a white Chrysanthemum, I just can't get anything right. I'm glad I have such a good teacher. Maybe you can get me a good deal on an Arisaka 99 with or without the Chrysanthemum. Let me know.

10:16 AM

 
Blogger IbaDaiRon said...

Whoa, j_g, you kinda got your babble thang on there, ain't ya, girl? KEWL! If you're just interested in surface appearances (the superficial, to borrow LG's word), why then, yes, the Japanese are one of the most polite societies on this planet. Happy? (Oh, by the way, you've got one of those white spit flecks at the corner of your mouth.)

Those sites linked to in kelly's comment are interesting...in every sense of the word. Aramaic was the lingua franca from the east coat of the Mediterranean through Mesopotamia and further east. For over a thousand years. It eventually replaced Hebrew as the everyday language of the Jews, the latter then becoming the language of liturgy and scholarly discourse. Alexander's conquests spread Greeks and their language throughout the area, but the rapid break-up of his empire following his death left the language too little time to consolidate its hold; it took reunification under Roman rule for Greek to make serious inroads against Aramaic, which persisted nonetheless until it was finally replaced by Arabic in the 7th century.

Jesus would have spoken Galilean Aramaic as his native language, would have known some Hebrew if he could read, may have picked up some Greek, probably knew no Latin. (Of course if he switched on his God Mojo he could have spoken any language of men and angels, right?) The Apostles had different backgrounds and this would have been reflected in their language capacities; they would have picked up more Greek as they spent more time in urban areas. Paul was a Hellenic Jew and probably more comfortable in Greek, as were most of his converts and supporters. (After all, it was Paul who opened up the Church to the goyim.)

Barring the discovery of an new first-century source manuscript in Aramaic, I'd have to disagree with LG here and say the Greek versions are the most authentic for NT study.

(kelly's second site also contains this: God's inspiration is confined to the original languages and utterances, not the many translations. That's a basic tenet of Islam regarding the Qur'an as well, which I find interesting. Converts have to learn enough Arabic to do the basic prayers and affirmations.)

12:09 PM

 
Blogger J_G said...

For u IbaDaiRon

http://nowforsomethingdifferent.blogspot.com/

12:23 PM

 
Blogger L>T said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:53 PM

 
Blogger Lil said...

*applause* to you, lt. This is one of the greatest things that I think we all need to learn. If something is different from what we believe, it does not mean that it is wrong. It's just different. I work on this one every day. I liked seeing it in black and white.

Funny how nearly every time I visit LG, I find myself thinking of Sam Harris' book "The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason."

It asserts that religion is not the only way to have faith and spirituality in our lives. It speaks of those who call themselves moderates and ponders whether these folk are just as dangerous as the fundamentalist extremes: if you do not believe in a religious text (i.e. the Koran the Bible, and etc.)literally, then you are interpreting it, and this is obviously very subjective and one person could not hold their interpretation over another's as being superior.

The moderate, in this way, becomes dangerous because he/she holds judgement over others using purely subjective ideas. This becomes even more dangerous when the moderate theory uses its subjective interpretions as excuses for invasion, judgment, war, oppression, you name it. More danger arises when the interpretation constantly changes due to political and economic climates (see the many versions of the Bible listed above).

Those who believe in the literal truth of religious text are at least more predictable and seem less hypocritical; in a sense, you can predict what they will do because, well, there's a book that they are holding as their law.

Interesting stuff, this.

2:14 PM

 
Blogger L>T said...

interpretations have had to change because of scientific knowledge also. tho,the religiuos powers that be fight it. I think this has something to do w/the whole 'intelligent design' thing. At some point the church has to ackowledge science(look at poor Galileo) But, they don't do it easly. They would rather say they came up w/some divinely inspired theory...

We had some very literal fundementalists friends when I was in church, who refused to believe in dinosuars. They would come up w/the wildest reasons for dinosuar bones. Usally, It was that God put them there(the bones) to test us, or the devil put them there to trick us. Because of course the earth is only like 10,000 years old(according the Bible). And lil, you are right these silly people are not the dangerous ones. It's the ones trying to stick us w/Intellegent Design.

3:13 PM

 
Blogger Language Guy said...

Lil, reading any text literally will normally lead to misinterpretations, especially if it is an old text and therefore from a time with very different levels of knowledge (of physics, including astrophisics, and biology, in particular) and superstition as well as different connotations for words than we would noramally assign to them.

To me, a candle is a candle, nothing more or less. But to some religous groups, a candle is more than a candle for it plays a role in religious ceremonies so references to candles in a text in which the people writing it had only a utilitarian attitude about candles might be misinterpreted as a sign that something activity had religious significance when it didn't. This is, perhaps, a poor example, but perhaps my point is made.

7:35 AM

 
Blogger L>T said...

In looking at the 'Discovery Institute' (on Wikipidias site) & their Wedge strategy<---scarey stuff & their philosophy of 'Theitic realism'. No matter the content of any of it, they are proposing that it is the Christian God of the Bible who is the creator of everything & to go along w/'Intellegent design' you've got to believe that. Kinda exclusive I say, doesn't even include the rest of the religiuos world & no science involved; according to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

How could something so biased even be considered to be taught(even as a theory)in a public school in America?

10:35 AM

 
Blogger IbaDaiRon said...

Basically I think they believe there is a need for balance. They question why their religion cannot be taught if it's OK to instill in children the "religion" of secular humanism (a.k.a. "materialistic atheism").

The theory of evolution is a convenient target because so few people understand it (whether as a result of poor presentation by educators or individual intellectual lethargy).

When I was given to such speculations, I used to wonder if there wasn't some way of reconciling the scientific theory with religious belief, envisioning God intervening to push evolution in the Desired direction.

The eventual problem with this, for me, was the callous caprice it implied as a characteristic of the Deity.

1:07 PM

 
Blogger FARfetched said...

LG, you touched on code words here. Would you consider discussing the code words and phrases used by the extreme right to make their agenda seem more palatable? This is something that really gets on my nerves as a Christian, because the extremists are tarring us with their brush and making us all look bad.

The extremists have learned from hard experience that they can't get anywhere with an honest profession of their agenda, especially when it (especially things like Young Earth theory) are so easily debunked or are simply repugnant to the vast majority of people. So (for example) instead of Young Earth, they profess "Intelligent Design." Instead of racism, they speak of crime (often couching it in Old Testament terms to appeal to less extreme Christians). Instead of honestly advocating relegating women to property status, we hear about "the sanctity of life."

I expect I'll be called an idiot, or something similar in softer terms, because I openly dare to disagree with certain other visitors. Oh well.

3:27 PM

 
Blogger Language Guy said...

Funny you should ask about right wing Christian rhetoric. I blogged early on on the language of the abortion controversy. I was prompted years ago (well before Roe v. Wade) to start speaking up about that because I ran across a religious tract in which an opponent of allowing legal abortions stressed that the foetus should never be referred to as a 'foetus" but instead as a "baby" or "infant."

The blog that follows this focuses on the idea that gay marriage is a threat to the institution of marriage, which is a phony an issue as I can think of.

You are right that the right wing Christians are giving you a bad name. However, it is less up to me than to you and other Christians to do battle with them. It is you that is being made to look like a fool not me.

I would love to see moderate Christians descend on fundamentalist churches and protest what goes on there. But it ain't gonna happen.

3:49 PM

 
Blogger FARfetched said...

Good point about the "doing battle" part. I suppose by posting here, I've at least made a start at it. I really wasn't asking you to fight my battle so much as thinking you could provide some insights beyond my own.

3:50 PM

 
Blogger Pastry Chef said...

LOL... I haven't read the comments on this post, even though some of your more astute readers may also have some excellent points to make.

I just wanted to tell you I laughed out loud at that last sentence. What a zinger!

1:41 PM

 
Blogger Kelly said...

Yikes! I forget to check this post for a while and someone suggests that pro-life advocates want to "relegat[e] women to property status." That is not the case at all. I will not take issue with your characterization of intelligent design, because I think it's true, and I will not take issue with your characterization of the way people talk about crime, because I think it's true in some (or many) cases. But that is not at all why people oppose abortion. You should go to a pro-life rally or protest some time. You'll find that the majority of people there are women. Just for a moment accept the view of the pro-lifer--that a fetus is a human--and then you will realize they are worried about protecting life and preventing murder. Then you can go on back to whatever your view is, but at least try to understand the position of your opponent rather than mischaracterizing their views. Read this post because that kind of thinking is not going to get anyone anywhere.

10:11 AM

 
Blogger Tyler said...

Why is everyone fighting about intelligent design and evolution? Why does only one have to be true? Is it not possible that a creator formed the universe, and, through natural processes, we were created?

After all, there is some evidence that the universe was created. Several theories in quantum physics, such as Entropy, can only work if a being created the univers.

5:52 PM

 

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