Saturday, October 27, 2007

Exchange with Loftus

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Lofuts,,,, ,,,,,,,,,vs,,,, ,,,,,Meta





John W. Loftus said...

Joe, I'll probably have several comments to make here, but let me first say that while it's true that anything that happens does so in human history, there is a difference between considering the past as evidence and present day experience. I've suggested several ways for God to reveal himself better than merely doing so in the past.



Meta:
(1) That's presumptuous. We have the evidence we have. History is what happened to the people of the past. IF God did reveal himself now people 2000 years from now would be making your argument.

(2) my point was that revelation hasn't stopped. God is always making it all the time.





10/26/2007 09:39:00 PM
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John W. Loftus said...

Joe said...It would seem part of the definition of "free thinking" is that everyone must think the same thing. Not so!


Meta:
then stop harping on differences between Christians.



10/26/2007 09:43:00 PM
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John W. Loftus said...

Joe said...This is yet another version of the age old strategy "ancient people are stupid and modern progress is anti-God." Again, not so. One of the biggest chapters in my book is where I argue that ancient people weren't stupid, just superstitious.


Meta:
if religious people were superstitious that does not prove that religion is superstition. Modern people are superstitious. argument from sign.




10/26/2007 09:46:00 PM
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John W. Loftus said...

From my book:

History is written from the perspective of the historian, and it’s unavoidable to do otherwise. The question here is whether or not the perspective of the people in the past is preferable to the perspective of the present day historian. This is where the historian’s values unavoidably enter into the picture.


Meta
No that is not the question, to any degree. you are assuming that the persecutive of the author is the point of the text. That is an assumption not in evidence. Understanding the view point of the author helps us to understand the meaning of the text, but it is not necessarily the point of revelation within the text. The revelation is in the catharsis the text evokes, or it can be in the character change of the author. Not all the views of an author are necessarily the point of revleation. Your argument is based upon the "memo from the boss" model of revelation.


Loftus:
D.W. Bebbington (Ph.D., Cambridge) describes the problem of the historian: “The historian’s history is molded by his values, his outlook, and his world-view. It is never the evidence alone that dictates what is written. The attitudes that a historian brings to the evidence form an equally important element in the creation of history. The bias of a historian enters his history. The historian himself is part of the historical process, powerfully influenced by his time and place. The problem of the historian himself nevertheless dictates that two historians presented with the same evidence are likely to reach different conclusions. This is true of people living in the same period; it is more true of people living in different periods. That is why each age writes history that reflects its own concerns.”


Meta:
Yes but he does not lionize that process. I think you are doing that. you ae assuming that history belongs to the historian. That's like the modernism says the text belongs to the writer. But post modernism tells us the ext belongs to the reader. The historian's inability to grow beyond his own time is not necessarily justification for chronocentrism.



Loftus:
According to E. Schillebeeckx, “Historical objectivity is not a reconstruction of the past in its unrepeatable factuality, it is the truth of the past in the light of the present.”



Meta:
but that has nothing to do with your position.If it does I don't see it. In my view, revelation is not static, it is not given once and for all in the bible. God is constantly working in all culture and with all people. the gospel is constantly being upgraded, not that it's truths are changing but in application to the context in which it is lived. The Gospel is not words on paper. the bible is not the revelation. The bible is merley a medium, one medium, that gives us the revelation, which is Chrit.



Loftus
Albert Nolan has argued this point with regard to Jesus: “To imagine that one can have historical objectivity without a perspective is an illusion. One perspective, however, can be better than another, [but] the only perspective open to us is the one given to us by the historical situation in which we find ourselves. If we cannot achieve an unobstructed view of Jesus from the vantage point of our present circumstances, then we cannot achieve an unobstructed view of him at all.”



Meta:
I agree with him, I can't understand why you think that statement is critical of the truth claims of Christianity. that statement does not negate any truth claims of the faith. All it says that is we can't have truly objective understanding of Jesus in his context. That's hardly a problem since we can't have a truly objective understanding of us in our context.


Loftus
According to Bebbington, “Our knowledge of the earlier middle ages depends on a tiny number of written sources that can be eked out by such supplementary material as place-names and coinage.” Furthermore, the evidence is not always reliable. According to Bebbington, “forgeries and misrepresentations, whether from good or bad motives, litter the world’s archives. The historian, therefore, develops a skeptical turn of mind. Original documents may themselves mislead; and what books about the past claim is much more likely to be wrong. History demands a critical frame of mind.” Because of these problems Bebbington states the obvious: “Written history cannot correspond precisely with the actual past.” “To write a value-free account of the past is beyond the historian’s power.


Meta
you are just multiplying examples. you need to face the fact that historical revelations is not our only clue. Your argument is really geared to fudnies. It doesn't really apply to my view of the faith.



Lofuts
One school of thought headed up by Leopold Von Ranke actually sought to do this. Their goal was to write history “free from prejudices,” and in so doing write the events of the past “as they actually happened.” But most all modern historians think this is impossible to do.

Meta:

Right, yes I've read Ranke.that whole nineteenth century posativistic thing started by Compte.



Lofuts

Some thinkers like Carl Becker have gone so far as to deny that we can know the past with any objectivity at all—that historical facts only exist in the mind, and they advocate a historical relativism with regard to the events of the past.

Meta:
In my view there is no objectivity. Objectivity is a pretense. But something happened in the past and in some sense part of it i can have meaning for us now.


10/26/2007 09:51:00 PM
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John W. Loftus said...


Joe said...Like most of the NA's that I find Loftus is doing battle with the fundies, while ignoring the direction of Christian theology over the last 500 years.

Caleb Wimble recently at DC described why we have chosen to debunk evangelical Christianity in these words:

Not only is fundamentalist Christianity the greatest threat in the United States to science, tolerance, and social progress, but it is also the most prevalent form of Protestant Christianity to be found in our nation, whether you like it or not. It is the fundamentalist religious right that holds the reigns of the Republican party (which currently controls the nation, in case you didn't realize), and it is this same fundamentalist religious right that lobbies for the teaching of lies in public school and fights against funding for embryonic research that could potentially save the lives of millions.

Meta:

It suits me fine if you just attack the fundies. But you should qualify your statements instead of habitually speaking as though they are the only Christians. Otherwise your argument just boils down to "we only want the easy targets." Not only are you missing the real direction of Christianity in the modern world, but you are also limiting yourself to the group that is easiest to pick on.



Loftus
Whether you like it or not, it is this flavor of Christianity that makes the loudest, most obnoxious, most dangerous impact on the world today, giving us plenty of good reason to direct the brunt of our attacks in its vicinity.


Meta:
that's like saying "I only fight five year olds because they are the loudest and most obnoxious members of the enemy camp"



10/26/2007 10:05:00 PM
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John W. Loftus said...

One last thing for now, I am not a New Atheist. Again, I am not a New Atheist. The only thing new about my atheism is that I have adopted that viewpoint about three years ago, prior to the New atheist books.

Meta:

I see. how do you distinguish what's "old" about your view from the new?


10/26/2007 10:20:00 PM
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John W. Loftus said...

As far as C.T. McIntire and Van Harvey's books go, I have read them through and even used them for my M.A. thesis when discussing Barth's distinction between Urgeschichte and Geschichte. But both of these authors are doing theology, not apologetics. That is, from the standpoint of faith here is how to view history. What they do is not unlike what Ronald A. Wells, does in History Through The Eyes of Faith, and what David Bebbington does in Patterns of History.

Meta:
apologetics, the good kind, should be nothing more than theology pressed into defense of the faith. This stuff is the bedrock of modern Christian thought, or at least some of it. So it has to be dealt with. Sure the fives year olds don't know about it. You go fight the five year olds and I'll fight the men (lol)



Loftus
The question I raise is why should a person adopt the Christian view of history in the first place. I argue that doing so is circular. For in order to see the Bible as historical one must first adopt a Christian set of assumptions to do so. Where do these assumptions come from except from the Bible itself?


Meta:
what Christian view of history? You can see from the McIntire book they are all different. The things you say, all the arguments you make are loaded with assumptions about what Christians think and they are assumptions of just one camp. You are begging the question when speak of "fist adopt a Christian set of assumptions..." which Christian set of assumptions?

where do Christian assumptions come from accept the bible? come on now! They come from a modern living tradition. that's what a religious tradition is for, it's a conversation that's been going on over time. The conversation is still going. That's why we pay theologians and why we have seminaries.

The phrase "seeing the Bible as historical" is loaded and your assumptions about that limited to a very prescribed view. We need to discuss that as a topic of its own. do we see the bible as historical? all of it? in what sense? is part of it not historical? what does it mean to be "historical?" If you would like a clue as to what I might say on some of these issues, please see my page on Biblical revelation.

10/26/2007 10:43:00 PM

9 comments:

John W. Loftus said...

It suits me fine if you just attack the fundies.

Good, then we'll have no troubles.

BTW which view of revelation do you hold to? Did I miss it?

J.L. Hinman said...

Anon had a comment saying he liked the new format. I approved it and it's not here. don't know why but thanks man.

J.L. Hinman said...

"BTW which view of revelation do you hold to? Did I mis it?"

Avery Dulles notion of dialectical retrieval in the book Models of Revelation.

John W. Loftus said...

A Barthian! Cool. I did my master's thesis on Barth. The title of it was, "Karl Barth's Doctrine of the Word of God."

I argued that without a "point of contact" between God and us that God could not communicate to us. Barth argued that there was no "aufknupfungspunkt" or "point of contact" between God and man to be found in creation, in history, or in language itself, since there was this infinite distance between us. Therefore I argued there was no basis for God to speak to us.

I haven't re-read what I wrote since becoming an atheist, but without revisiting the issue I'd have to agree with what I said. I mean, really, how else can God do it?

J.L. Hinman said...

yea but Barth still found a way to say that the bible was the word of God. Avery Dulles uses the dialectical retrieval thing as a point of contact. I think there are several; Christ,t he spirit, supernature.

John W. Loftus said...

Christ, the spirit, or supernature???

I understand that's what dialectical theologians want to say, but Christ was in history; the [Holy] Spirit, being God, is infinitely different than us, and supernature is creation itself.

I don't think there is another way, especially for Barth.

Besides, what can possibly be the propositional content of the "revelation" itself, even if it is possible? You end up with little more than ineffable religious experiences which serve as no evidence for your belief at all, especially to outsiders, since alternative natural explanations have more plausibility, like wish fulfillment. You end up with no evidence for your faith and no particular beliefs at all, just uninterpreted experiences of the "moment" when you claim God speaks to you, which contains no propositional content and cannot be duplicated by you if you try to communicate your experiences to someone else, for only God can reveal himself, even in preaching.

You also have the further problem of why God doesn't reveal himself to me, even in a Russian flute concerto?

Surely you understand these critiques. How do you answer them?

J.L. Hinman said...

Christ, the spirit, or supernature???

I understand that's what dialectical theologians want to say, but Christ was in history; the [Holy] Spirit, being God, is infinitely different than us, and supernature is creation itself.


No! Supernature is the power of God, the gruond and end of the natural. This translates to god's "energies" in eastern orthodox.

Christ is the union of god and man in one being. Supernature and the spirit are united with us in mystical union.


I don't think there is another way, especially for Barth.


He did not say the Bible s crap.

Besides, what can possibly be the propositional content of the "revelation" itself, even if it is possible?


why do we need propositional? Its' phenomenological and existential.



You end up with little more than ineffable religious experiences which serve as no evidence for your belief at all, especially to outsiders, since alternative natural explanations have more plausibility, like wish fulfillment.


Obviously an erroneous assumption. that's only after you guys ruin them on anything but positivism and reductions. I say it's "obvious" because people do get saved. I was an atheist and I got saved. I got saved through my little ineffable experiences. More people do that than not. Almost no one ever gets save through argument.



You end up with no evidence for your faith and no particular beliefs at all, just uninterpreted experiences of the "moment" when you claim God speaks to you, which contains no propositional content and cannot be duplicated by you if you try to communicate your experiences to someone else, for only God can reveal himself, even in preaching.


my experience arguments are some of the profound God arguments you will never hear. btw to prove this I challenge you to debate on them. I wanted to lead off with pro God arguments anyway,.

You also have the further problem of why God doesn't reveal himself to me, even in a Russian flute concerto?

that's no problem at all. you rejected it. He did, you turned it down.

Surely you understand these critiques. How do you answer them?

I answer them well, but not here. we need more room than a comments box. let's have a real debate. that would be the best place to have lots of room.

I have message board on my blog. which do you prefer?

John W. Loftus said...

Joe said...why do we need propositional? Its' phenomenological and existential.

Isn't that a propositional statement about the content of your revelational beliefs?

Joe said...I challenge you to debate on them. I wanted to lead off with pro God arguments anyway.

Well, as I said, get in line. But if you'd like to debate me then do so on this proposition: "The Christian faith should be rejected by modern civilized scientifically literate people." I have already made my opening statement in my book! Take it on chapter by chapter and I'll respond.

I'm not interested in merely debating the existence of God, since what you must defend is the existence of YOUR Christian God.

Cheers.

J.L. Hinman said...

I am going to respond to your last comment in the main blog spot.

it will take a few days to get my God arguments up because I want to deal with another article first.