Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Why does he do that?

I have been trying to find the time to do a full post, but alas …

So as a teaser, I can’t go past the lecture I heard recently by Sam Harris, regarded by some as the more balanced of the big three atheist evangelists. I could and probably should devote a whole post to the nonsense of Harris and his fellow travellers, but for now I will pick one example from the lecture that really lit up my nonsense filter.

Sam Harris is fond of this quoting Luke 19:27 to prove his point that the NT promotes horrors, if your nonsense filter has too fine a setting you can pick it up at minute 17 - or you can play a game of spotting the interweave of truth and deception in the preceding 17 minutes, but it will be boring!

Any sensible reading of the whole parable Luke 19:11-27

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?book_id=49&chapter=19&version=31

makes it obvious that the words in verse 27 are those of the king in the parable and relate to the citizens referred to in verse 14. But not so for Harris who presents them as a decree by Jesus to kill those who do not submit to his rule. Come on … is this an example of the intellectual high ground claimed by reasonable, rational and logical atheists?

Now don’t you just wonder why Sam Harris resorts to intellectual fraud of this type? Why, if the teachings of Jesus are, as he says, evil, does he have to make it up? How is Harris different from the religious fanatics or Christian evangelists he so roundly condemns for using similar tactics?

Perhaps a healthy dose of atheist scepticism would go a long way to revealing the true nature or intent of the atheist evangelists. Should we not be asking what the likely impact on society is of such divisive preaching – or of any divisive teaching for that matter. More so, should we not ask why Harris et al want to discredit the “love thy neighbour” message of Christ and replace it by one of division and intolerance?

30 comments:

Techskeptic said...

Why did jesus relate that particular story? The point was that there are plenty of places in the NT that endorses the OT. There are: would you like me to list them?

BEAST said...

6"He replied, 'I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away. 27But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me."

Regardless whether Jesus was referring to the citizens in that time or the rest of those who refused to be subjugated for all time, don't you think Jebus was a bit too cruel?

Beast

akakiwibear said...

Hi Guys, its good to see your commitment to and faith in Harris.
The point Tech is that to use this quote to "prove" the point is intellectual fraud .. but you ask why Jesus related the story in the first place? You think it was because he was a preacher?

Beast, so Jesus can't have cruel characters is his parables but it's OK for Harris to distort the context? I see both the parable and Harris's argument as being works of fiction so we allow the author some scope - except Harris does not present his argument as fiction, so maybe not.

... should we not ask why Harris et al want to discredit the “love thy neighbour” message of Christ and replace it by one of division and intolerance?

Bless you

akakiwibear said...

Reading my last comment I must have been real grumpy!! Oops, it being a Monday is not a good enough excuse.

It is an interesting parable though. On the one hand some say it alludes to Jesus' own death (going away) and later returning in judgement. I was fascinated that an atheist pointed to this - he did not question that this really was a parable spoken by Jesus, so I guess he was happy to accept the prophetic bit too - a bit tricky for a real atheist!

The other usual view is that it is a reminder to use our talents in worthwhile ways and that there are consequences for our actions. The first bit is easy to see, the second - the consequences opens up the door for the "religious fear" brigade.

Of course the killing of the malcontents by the king in the story is hyperbola to emphasise the point ... but what is the point?

Clearly there are consequences in this world for our actions - exploiting under developed countries by buying sports shoes use made with child labour causes poverty etc - can't blame God, we did it.

Does the parable also allude to consequences in an afterlife? Makes sense to me - we may not suffer any personal negative consequence for buying our sports shoes. So does the parable say it could be tough in the next life?

First you have to believe in a next life - so no future negative consequences for atheists. For me?

Now I don't subscribe to the literalist/fundamentalist view of eternal damnation. I am just a simple soul and will leave whatever any afterlife holds to be revealed when I get there - be good if the forgiveness bit works though and I suppose purgatory has some logic attached to it – but hey who really knows! Compare notes when we get there!

Now I am sure that there are atheists rushing to respond that this parable typifies the counter productive fear syndrome of religion. My reply, in advance, is "get over it - it is reality - screw up & bad stuff happens". If you see this as religion inspired living in fear, then I guess you also see traffic laws as government inspired fear.

I can cope with having to face consequences - sure it would be easier to disregard the possibility of an afterlife - or of an afterlife with consequences.
If we believe that there are no consequences I wonder what our motivation would be for anything other than a hedonistic lifestyle?

For myself, I see positive spiritual development as important. That there is intrinsic value in trying to be a good person. Of course the value is only there if we have a spiritual dimension. But if I accept the premise then I guess I have to accept that there may be some pain in the growth/learning phases - whatever and whenever they may be.

There would be some consolation though in the thought of a forgiving judge who lived and experienced life on earth - I can certainly see the appeal of Christianity - not fear driven, but hope driven.

Neil Turton said...

Hi Akakiwibear,

I've been busy for the last couple of weeks, but I'm back now.

I don't see the problem you have with the talk. It's a popular interpretation that the King in the parable represents Jesus and it's reasonable to assume that Harris accepts that interpretation. If we accept for the sake of argument that Jesus did in fact give the parable, it's quite probable that Jesus is predicting his death and coming in judgement. Now, I wouldn't be all that surprised if one of my friends predicted that she was going to die, but I would be surprised if she predicted that she wasn't going to die, so we shouldn't be too surprised that Jesus got the prediction of his death right. As for coming again in judgement, that's yet to happen; Even JWs agree with that. Again, we shouldn't be any more surprised that Jesus predicted that than, say, someone predicting that there's going to be a huge tsunami in 2009. We don't have any evidence as to whether he was right. Is it so unreasonable that Harris accepts these predictions by Jesus?

I really don't think Sam Harris had any obligation to go into the different interpretations of the parable or the question of whether it was an authentic parable of Jesus. He was clearly pressed for time and made his point concisely.

Now, I'm not going to say that he made his point perfectly clearly and in the best way possible, but it seems clear to me that his remarks fit well with a popular reading of Luke 19:11-27. I'm not expecting you to agree with what Harris said in the talk, but why can't you cut him some slack?

Peace, Neil.

akakiwibear said...

Hi Neil, welcome back - and as always with incisive observations. Predicting own death - yea, has to be better than 50/50.

With "why can't you cut him some slack? I was prepared to ...

... BUT why choose a passage which is clearly open to widely differing interpretation? Why present it as 'gospel'?

More importantly, why pick the view that is widely rejected by modern liberal bible students.

Harris has, in my opinion, deliberately presented an argument based on view that I can't seriously believe he acknowledges as correct - he ain't stupid! (is he?) He chose to use it, controversial as it is, to prove a point. Not really honest and that is at the core of my point.

He had the time to prepare his lecture and to do his homework - yet this was the best he could come up with.

For an off the cuff quip he may have earned some slack, but here??

BEAST said...

Hyperbola? Parables?

Lolz. If any secular book were to use such violent words, or even in Hollywood, the christians will be the first to cry hue over the evils of these evil heathens. But when it becomes literal scripture, suddenly it becomes a "hyperbola"?

Stinks of double standards to me!

Beast

Techskeptic said...

LOL,

check out all the chritian hyperbole about The Goldan Compass. Somehow I dont remember any whining from atheists about the Narnia movie coming out.

Neil Turton said...

Hi akakiwibear,

I think you're right. Harris should have picked Matt 13:41-42 to make his point; That would have left far less wriggle room since it's not part of a parable. I'm afraid I don't have a liberal commentary at hand which covers this verse, but no doubt the theologians will still wriggle.

You wrote:
"Now I don't subscribe to the literalist/fundamentalist view of eternal damnation."

Okay. Do you think Jesus subscribed to a view of eternal damnation?

"If we believe that there are no consequences I wonder what our motivation would be for anything other than a hedonistic lifestyle?"

I'm motivated by an innate desire to be a good person.

Peace, Neil.

akakiwibear said...

Hi Neil,
Good point, not quite the point that Harris wanted though (he could not find the passage?) as Matt 13:41 is pure end times stuff ... but it leaves no wriggle room about negative consequences.

The end times writings certainly have a common message and if I acknowledge the bible as being generally the revelation of God's teaching for us I have to take note of it.

There is a temptation to label it as hyperbola, just turning up the heat, if I may pun. That may well be the case.

The starting truth is that we don't know what or how the afterlife works. We have the clues and all religions have had a field day(/month?)sifting it all to form part of their doctrine. Is the catholic idea of purgatory the right one - guess they have the scholarly input to back up their position. Or is it all hell fire forever? Certainly my reading of the bible does not seem to fit with the forever hell concept.

I don't know what lies ahead and I can live quite happily with that. I can also accept that there are likely to be consequences (positive & negative) for what I do, they may be here and now and/or in the afterlife.

I don't need to know the detail - the concept works well enough for me.

In that last statement I see an interesting distinction between myself and many of the atheists that I read. It is personality rather than anything else, but some of us don't need all the i's dotted and t's crossed. I detect that many atheists are people who are less comfortable with uncertainty and have a stronger need for things to be 'black' or 'white' than I do.

Hamba khale

Neil Turton said...

Hi akakiwibear,

I thought he was talking about end times. The point Harris was making is that it is brutality which is sanctioned by God. It doesn't really matter whether it's in this world or the next. Now, some people might respond to that by taking the matter into their own hands, but again I don't think Harris was talking about that. Other people might respond by attempting to save others from this horrific violence which God is going to hand out to those who don't comply with his will. The thing is it's possible to justify minor offences to save someone from a large danger.

If someone is on a train track and a train is coming, I would be justified in bruising their arm in an attempt to get them off the track. Likewise, if someone really is in danger of spending eternity in hell, perhaps an infinite punishment, I'd be justified in giving them a serious injury in order to save them from the larger danger. And if someone is walking around tempting people into hell then it might be that the best course of action is to "eliminate" them for the benefit of the community at large. It's called tough love.

I don't think these arguments are new. The thing is that the violence handed out by those seeking to save others from the fires of hell is proportional to the violence promised by Jesus. If Jesus had opted for a celestial rehabilitation centre then there would have been no Spanish inquisition. I guess that would be a bit like purgatory but would include those who were not in a state of grace.

"Is the catholic idea of purgatory the right one - guess they have the scholarly input to back up their position."

The scholars came up with purgatory as a place for those who were not going to hell. If you don't accept an eternal hell like the scholars did, how can you use their learning to justify purgatory? By rejecting the doctrine of eternal hell, aren't you in effect saying that the scholars are starting from a false premise?

"The starting truth is that we don't know what or how the afterlife works. [...] Certainly my reading of the bible does not seem to fit with the forever hell concept."

I don't see where you're coming from. The Bible seems to spell it out in graphic detail. There's a furnace of fire and there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. The smoke will rise up for ever and ever. They shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. Is it all just hyperbole?

Peace, Neil.

akakiwibear said...

The next world, heaven, purgatory, hell whatever …my point is that we don’t know and while some ideas have more appeal than others I am not at a point in my spiritual development that needs an answer right now.

That said I can see the rational behind an incentive scheme to guide us towards morality. I have to prefer the theist position that there is an absolute morality as stated in Christ’s "Love each other as I have loved you" ahead of the atheist lack of absolutes which implies a make it up as you go morality.
If the reality turns out to have a hot place forever, so be it. We do have the freewill to choose what we do and if the consequences are uncomfortable, again, so be it.

I do find it interesting though that atheists like Harris tend to blame God for everything that goes wrong, not withstanding humanities role in it, but I have yet to hear Harris complement God on that which is good, not withstanding any role humanity played.

Techskeptic said...

The next world, heaven, purgatory, hell whatever …my point is that we don’t know

No its worse than that. There is no evidence it exists at all. It isn't like there was some little evidence somewhere, like 1000 people saw a castle in the sky at the same time. There is nothing at all, but an old story book.

Purgatory disappeared last year as it was deemed to be not a useful construction anymore. Perhaps when they decide christianity should be monotheistic instead of having two gods (God and Satan) they will get rid of hell too. Its obviously totally arbitrary. Why bother with the made up heaven stuff?



That said I can see the rational behind an incentive scheme to guide us towards morality.

I propose a better one. One that guides us as a way to lower suffering for all humanity, regardless of race or religion. One that requires us to consider free will. It has nothing to do with god, as this too is an old outdated construct.

the atheist lack of absolutes which implies a make it up as you go morality.

Eh? So you are saying that creating purgatory, and then getting rid of it isn't make it up as you go. Endorsing the crusades and then condemning it isn't make it up as you go? The splitting off of 1000 different forms of christianity, each focusing on various aspects of the old stroy book isnt make it up as you go?

At least atheist morality considers humanity and our need to be able to find peace throughout the world population. This WILL change as we get more and more globalized, new technolgies become available, and new environmental conditions arise.

It should change and adapt to these things. But the change and adaptation should be based on debate, which in itself, should be based on evidence and not conjecture. If we get stuck in old dogma we are always destined for war and increased suffering. Perhaps Christians don't think increasing suffering is sinful. Atheists do. Religion and resources are the two main causes of conflict and suffering.

If the reality turns out to have a hot place forever, so be it.
We do have the freewill to choose what we do and if the consequences are uncomfortable, again, so be it


Exactly. If living right, in a way that promotes humanity, doesn't keep you out of a totally arbitrary and made up afterlife, nothing will.

I do find it interesting though that atheists like Harris tend to blame God for everything that goes wrong, not withstanding humanities role in it

Sorry...WHAT?!? That is the opposite of what he says. He only blames humanities role . Humanities role IS their religious beliefs. humanities role IS our innate desire to beleive ina giant father figure for which there is no evidence for. He never blames God. How can you blames something that doesnt exist? That was a big strawman I have heard often from religious folks.

akakiwibear said...

tech, oops you are right Sorry...WHAT?!? That is the opposite of what he says. He only blames humanities role . Humanities role IS their religious beliefs. Harris does tend to confuse religion with God and he blames religion, not people.

No its worse than that. There is no evidence it exists at all. we have been there, there is the evidence its just you won't accept it because it's not big enough to devour a dragon.

I must admit to being puzzled by your idea of 'extraordinary evidence'. What makes evidence extraordinary - I always thought evidence was just that, evidence.

I assume an extraordinary event, like destruction of millions of people would rate as needing extraordinary evidence:
a) that it actually occurred (sort of like event denial - are some events so extraordinary that they require evidence of such extraordinary proportions that we could never assemble it? how many people would we have to kill to get to that level of extraordinary?)

b) of who did it - first hand eye witnesses would be ordinary (when does an eye witness become extraordinary - three eyes?)a finger print on the button would not be extraordinary (when is a fingerprint an extraordinary fingerprint?)- heck how do war crimes trails manage without extraordinary evidence!

But if the crime were an ordinary war crime, say killing only 10 people that would not be actually extraordinary, so you could accept ordinary fingerprints and ordinary eye witness accounts - right?

Perhaps my example and questions are unfair. What if you are right that extraordinary events require extraordinary evidence. Then I guess that supernatural evidence would be extraordinary enough for supernatural events - or are supernatural events not extraordinary enough and require only ordinary this world evidence?

My thanks to Bill for the latter train of thought!

Hamba kahle - peace

Techskeptic said...

I'll take any measurable evidence that can't be explained by a natural cause or statistical anomoly. For example, if Michael Behe turned into a frog today, I would most certainly say there was a god. If God pulled this off, it would be a true end to atheism.


Then our conversation would be about whether there is only one, and if so, should we follow him at all?

J.L. Hinman said...

I still say 90% 0f the problem atheists have is that they are science types and not literary types. they want to criticize a book which basically a literary work but they want to criticize it not as literature, which they don't understand, but as science.

when atheists learn what literature is and how to read it the bible will seem like a much different book to them.

Neil Turton said...

Hi J.L. Hinman,

You wrote:
"when atheists learn what literature is and how to read it the bible will seem like a much different book to them."

You mention that I shouldn't read the Bible as science, but I don't read it as science anyway... What in particular do I need to learn about how to read it?

Peace, Neil.

Neil Turton said...

Hi akakiwibear,

You wrote:
"The next world, heaven, purgatory, hell whatever …my point is that we don’t know and while some ideas have more appeal than others I am not at a point in my spiritual development that needs an answer right now."

That's okay. You don't have to believe everything that's in the Bible. After all, I don't.

"That said I can see the rational behind an incentive scheme to guide us towards morality. I have to prefer the theist position that there is an absolute morality as stated in Christ’s "Love each other as I have loved you" ahead of the atheist lack of absolutes which implies a make it up as you go morality."

I'm quite happy with the idea of consequences in the next life based on actions in this life providing the consequences are based on morality. If God were to put forward the rule "harm your neighbour as much as possible", that wouldn't be moral and I wouldn't be happy with those consequences. Only an evil God would do that. Neither of us believes that there's a God who has done that, but that's not the point.

The point is that we can determine whether God's law is moral or immoral. If that's the case then you don't have an absolute morality either. At least not if you base it on what God says. All you have is the morality which God prefers.

I think claiming to have an absolute morality with consequences in the afterlife is pretty dangerous anyway because it's too easy to start thinking that anyone who lives by a different morality is immoral and needs to be saved from themselves. Cue the crusades etc...

Having said that, I don't actually think there will be any consequences in the next life because I don't think there is a next life. That's a different issue though.

Peace, Neil.

Neil Turton said...

Hi akakiwibear,

You wrote:
"I must admit to being puzzled by your idea of 'extraordinary evidence'. What makes evidence extraordinary - I always thought evidence was just that, evidence."

I assume that he meant extraordinarily strong evidence rather than evidence which is especially strange.

Peace, Neil.

akakiwibear said...

Evidence is evidence. Which is the stronger - fresh DNA at the crime scene or the blond he chatted up at the bus stop while the crime was being committed - or would that be extraordinary evidence that he was in two places at the same time?

Hamba kahle - peace

Neil Turton said...

Hi akakiwibear,

I don't know which is stronger. You only told me about the type of evidence. However, they are both indirect forms of evidence so they are very unlikely to be strong enough to show that he was in two places at the same time. You'd really need scientific evidence for that.

If those two pieces of evidence were given in a court of law, the judge would either decide that the DNA evidence was strong enough to convict the man or that it wasn't, taking into account the evidence which suggests the man is innocent.

You seem to think that there's no such thing as strength of evidence. How do you think the judge would make his decision? Do you think it's likely that he would say "there's evidence that he was in two places so he must have been in two places"? Or are we just arguing over semantics here?

Peace, Neil.

akakiwibear said...

Hi Neil,
Certainly some evidence may be construed as stronger than other evidence. In the example I gave our science focused society would most likely take the DNA evidence ahead of the eye-witness on the basis that the one is independent of possible personal biases where as the personal witness may be lying.

Superficially this may appeal but implicit in it is very subjective value judgement - science is right, people may not be.

Both of us could dream up scenarios in which a specific "true" explanation favours one type of evidence over the other in my little example. But we do not know for certain and we bring our preconceptions and prejudices to the decision - and that is my point - you can't automatically reject evidence because it does not suit your case.

You reject the idea that the person could have been in two places at once because it does not fit your frame of reference (or mine for that matter), but that is not a good enough reason to reject evidence - we have to be able to dismiss one piece of evidence or the other based on objective criteria relevant to that specific evidence.

My point is that tech seems to have set a different standard for evidence that disagrees with his stated beliefs than for evidence that aligns with his beliefs - his standard reply to pro-God evidence is that it is not extraordinary - my point is why should it be extraordinary, just evidence should work.

Hambe kahle

Neil Turton said...

Hi Akawikibear,

You wrote:
"Certainly some evidence may be construed as stronger than other evidence."

I'm glad we agree on that.

"Superficially this may appeal but implicit in it is very subjective value judgement - science is right, people may not be."

You can choose to make that judgment subjectively if you like, but like you say, it is better to make it objectively. The next question is how to be objective about it. One thing that you can do is to compare the success rate of predictions based on science with the success rate of predictions based on people's word. Another thing you can do is find out how often science contradicts science and how often people contradict other people. If you do either of those, science wins hands down. Based on this, science is a more reliable source of knowledge than people's word.

"Both of us could dream up scenarios in which a specific "true" explanation favours one type of evidence over the other in my little example."

Yes, so there will always be cases where the science is wrong and the person is right. Those cases will be in the minority though.

"you can't automatically reject evidence because it does not suit your case."

That's true. However, it's also true that you can't overthrow strong evidence with weak evidence. If someone said to me that they saw a friend walking down a corridor, I might be prepared to say that I knew that, but I'd recognize that it was knowledge based on moderately weak evidence. If someone said that they saw a friend walking down the ceiling of a corridor, I would reject that because it contradicts a much larger/stronger body of evidence.

"You reject the idea that the person could have been in two places at once because it does not fit your frame of reference"

No. I reject it because it does not fit with a large body of strong evidence called science. Being in two places at once is not the sort of thing which happens. I might be wrong about that and I would be prepared to change my mind with sufficient evidence.

"My point is that tech seems to have set a different standard for evidence"

I'll get back to you on that.

Peace, Neil.

Neil Turton said...

Hi akakiwibear,

Tech's point seems to be that the pieces of evidence which we do have can be explained as statistical anomalies and natural events. If this is the case then they don't really count as evidence for the existence of God even if they are actually caused by God.

If I find a broken branch in a forest, that's not evidence for the existence of a yeti even if the branch was actually broken by one. The branch could easily have been broken by another animal so the evidence can be explained by a more natural cause. The case of Father Pytel's could be a statistical anomaly, so the evidence can be explained by a more natural cause. If I met the yeti face to face, that would be a different issue. Similarly, it would be different if we had more substantial evidence that God exists.

Peace, Neil.

akakiwibear said...

perhaps the point about the evidence is that while there may be a case to cry "statistical anomaly" or "unknown natural cause" we see evidence that follows a pattern and shares a common explanation - God.

Now we can can ignore the common thread and plead lack of proof or we can actually make a judgement call. If you find enough broken branches, sooner or later you start to think yeti. Yes you explain some away as elephant or things that go bump in the night, but when people start to say "we made the yeti call and next day there were lots of broken branches", well yeti is certainly not proven, but as they say "even a blind man would see it".

Hamba kahle - peace

Neil Turton said...

Hi Akakiwibear,

You wrote:
"perhaps the point about the evidence is that while there may be a case to cry "statistical anomaly" or "unknown natural cause" we see evidence that follows a pattern and shares a common explanation - God."

Perhaps I'm being a bit stupid, but I don't see it. Can you point out this pattern for me?

Have you any more thoughts about the relative merits of science vs. people's word?

Peace, Neil.

akakiwibear said...

science vs people's word? horses for courses seems the most apt reaction.

I accept people's word ahead of science when it comes to interpretation of economics, history, art, philosophy, fashion etc. Science has its place but is not the universal panacea.
You would not want a philosopher to validate your physics, so why a scientist to validate your religion?

What qualifies science to validate religion? What laboratory test would you subject Paul to, to validate his conversion experience?

Part of the validation of religious experiences must be the word of those involved. The remainder of the validation surely has to do with:
- the integrity of the people involved
- possible witness accounts (& their integrity)
- the circumstances and possible motivations of those involved
- the absolute uniqueness of the occurrence, by that I mean is have similar events occurred before, is there a pattern etc ..

Certainly you are free to poke the borax at my reply, but I would be interested to hear what science you would apply to Paul's conversion.

hamba kahle - peace

Neil Turton said...

Hi Akakiwibear,

I'm sorry if I sound like I'm making fun of your replies. I'm not. I'm just trying to have a rational discussion.

It's true that science is not a panacea, but people's words are not a source of knowledge. Humans didn't find out about economics by being told about it - they studied the behavior of markets. People's word always needs to be combined with some other method of knowledge.

We study the universe in many ways, but the universe itself is not divided. I would actually expect a philosopher to validate my physics, at least an analytical philosopher, because analytical philosophy tells us about how we acquire knowledge. I would expect physics (and pretty much every other subject) to validate continental philosophy to some extent because in order to know the meaning of something, you need to know what it is.

Should science validate religion? It should while religion posits metaphysical realms which interact with this one. Science does have a say about how things behave in a metaphysical realm. All we need to conduct science into the metaphysical realm is an object which can interact with it. According to religions, we have one of those - a human body.

Your list of criteria is good for a start. I think it needs extending a little.

"- the circumstances and possible motivations of those involved"

This is aimed at eliminating deliberate falsification. What about mistakes?

"- the absolute uniqueness of the occurrence, by that I mean is have similar events occurred before, is there a pattern etc .."

I don't think this says anything about whether the experience is associated with a metaphysical realm. If there is a metaphysical realm then we might expect the events to be similar. However, if humans have a common psychology then we would also expect the events to be similar. But we know that humans have a common psychology, so the evidence is explained without a metaphysical realm.

How would I apply science to Paul's conversion? Broadly speaking, I wouldn't. I'd apply textual criticism and historical analysis. I might use psychology and physiology to try to explain the nature of the experience, but that would play a minor role.

Peace, Neil.

akakiwibear said...

Hi Neil, no criticism was intended, I sometimes get flippant.

but on a serious note ... How would I apply science to Paul's conversion? Broadly speaking, I wouldn't. I'd apply textual criticism and historical analysis.

we are in agreement that science is inappropriate here. I am interested in your "textual criticism and historical analysis" of the conversion and where it may lead us.

Hamba kahle - peace

Neil Turton said...

Hi Akakiwibear,

You wrote:
"we are in agreement that science is inappropriate here. I am interested in your "textual criticism and historical analysis" of the conversion and where it may lead us."

I did that previously and the discussion was continued here. I even presented two alternative explanations. The basic problem is that we don't even have a first hand account of what happened at the time of Paul's conversion and hearsay (Luke's account in Acts) can only be used in addition to other sources according to the historical method. My conclusion is that we don't really know what happened to Paul.

Of course I can never prove that we don't know what happened. There might be some evidence that I've missed but I can't take that into account until I know about it. As such, my conclusion is provisional.

Peace, Neil.