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Ch. 3 - ARGUMENTS FOR GOD'S EXISTENCE

#35: Jan. - Mar. 2007 (Non-Fiction)
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Chris OConnor

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Ch. 3 - ARGUMENTS FOR GOD'S EXISTENCE

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This thread is for discussing Chapter 3 - ARGUMENTS FOR GOD'S EXISTENCE.
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Re: Ch. 3 - ARGUMENTS FOR GOD'S EXISTENCE

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But from that passage, Ehrman does seem to have become a sceptic (and we should not confuse 'sceptic' for non-believer).Ehrman even states that:Quote:This is the shift in my own thinking that I ended up making, and to which I am now fully committed.And he seems to be referring to the fact that he was a true believer in the bible and then re-thought his stance. SO I do not see where Dawkins is that far off. Maybe Dawkins choice of the words "massive fallability" is not what Erhman would have chosen, but Ehrman indeed, from this passage, seems to have been awoken to the fact that maybe the bible was not necessarily the word of god and should be approached as not an authoritative text. Some may be kinder in their words, but I say "massive fallability, you (and I mean the 'you' as in the "TomAYto/TomAHto" style) say "the Bible is not this kind of inerrant guide to our lives" or "as I've been pointing out, in many places we (as scholars, or just regular readers) don't even know what the original words of the Bible actually were.". It is just a matter of how you want to present your case. Dawkins took a stronger and more direct stance which, given his position, is fine IMO...just like I feel Ehrman's position is fine for him.Quote:while I don't share Ehrman's belief, he doesn't sound delusional to me.Nor to me. He sounds like a healthy sceptic (not an unbeliever mind you) regarding his earlier beliefs. But he did change... and that is what Dawkins seems to have been saying...to me anyway. I mean, Ehrman even says that his transformation was quite considerable!Quote:My personal theology changed radically with this realization, taking me down roads quite different from the ones I had traversed in my late teens and early twenties.Are you saying that Ehrman did NOT realize that scripture may be fallible as he once thought? Granted, I am only reading the excerpt you posted, but this is what I get from it.I understand that since you have stated that you will not enjoin discussion with me, that this may go unanswered...ah well... Mr. P. Mr. P's place. I warned you!!!Mr. P's Bookshelf.I'm not saying it's usual for people to do those things but I(with the permission of God) have raised a dog from the dead and healed many people from all sorts of ailments. - AsanaThe one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart...Scorsese's "Mean Streets"I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy PiperEdited by: misterpessimistic  at: 1/2/07 1:24 pm
FiskeMiles

Re: Ch. 3 - ARGUMENTS FOR GOD'S EXISTENCE

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I'm going to start by apologizing for skipping around to different parts of the book, which has been occasioned by obtaining from the library various books referenced by R.D. Some of these I like so well I'm ordering copies for my personal book collection. In fact, to my mind, no small benefit of reading The God Delusion is the introduction it provides to other interesting works, frequently by writers who have devoted more time to researching and studying their subjects than Dawkins has to this book.Misquoting Jesus by Bart D. Ehrman is one I'm adding to my collection. Ehrman's intent, which is accomplished admirably in my opinion, is to make Biblical textual criticism accessible to the general public. My own introduction to this sort of textual criticism came more than 20 years ago in the form of a "Bible as Literature" class at the University of Nebraska in Omaha. The idea is to analyze the text to determine how and why it came to its present form, a fascinating and fun project regardless of one's religious orientation. The point I want to make here is that Dawkins outrageously misrepresents Ehrman's Introduction to Misquoting Jesus with the following comment in The God Delusion: Quote:In the introduction to the book, Professor Ehrman movingly charts his personal educational journey from Bible-believing fundamentalist to thoughtful sceptic, a journey driven by his dawning realization of the massive fallibility of the scriptures. (p. 95)Ehrman attests to giving up fundamentalism but nowhere does he even hint at becoming a skeptic. Here is what he actually says (p. 13 ff., Ehrman):Quote:It is a radical shift from reading the Bible as an inerrant blueprint for our faith, life, and future to seeing it as a very human book, with very human points of view, many of which differ from one another and none of which provides the inerrant guide to how we should live. This is the shift in my own thinking that I ended up making, and to which I am now fully committed. Many Christians, of course, have never held this literalistic view of the Bible in the first place, and for them such a view might seem completely one-sided and unnuanced (not to mention bizarre and unrelated to matters of faith). There are, however, plenty of people around who still see the Bible this way. Occasionally I see a bumper sticker that reads: "God said it, I believe it, and that settles it." My response is always, What if God didn't say it? What if the book you take as giving you God's words instead contains human words? What if the Bible doesn't give a foolproof answer to the questions of the modern age -- abortion, women's rights, gay rights, religious supremacy, Western-style democracy, and the like? What if we have to figure out how to live and what to believe on our own, without setting up the Bible as a false idol -- or an oracle that gives us a direct line of communication with the Almighty? There are clear reasons for thinking that, in fact, the Bible is not this kind of inerrant guide to our lives: among other things, as I've been pointing out, in many places we (as scholars, or just regular readers) don't even know what the original words of the Bible actually were.My personal theology changed radically with this realization, taking me down roads quite different from the ones I had traversed in my late teens and early twenties. I continue to appreciate the Bible and the many and varied messages that it contains -- much as I have come to appreciate the other writings of early Christians from about the same time and soon thereafter, the writings of lesser-known figures such as Ignatius of Antioch, Clement of Rome, and Barnabas of Alexandria, and much as I have come to appreciate the writings of persons of other faiths at roughly the time, the writings of Josephus, and Lucian of Samosata, and Plutarch. All of these authors are trying to understand the world and their place in it, and all of them have valuable things to teach us. It is important to know what the words of these authors were, so that we can see what they had to say and judge, then, for ourselves what to think and how to live in light of those words.Does this sound like a person who has given up Christianity? Or is in the least skeptical about it? Or has found that the Bible is "massively fallible" as Dawkins mischaracterizes Ehrman's statements?What Ehrman argues for is a nuanced, subtle understanding of Christian faith and how to apply it in one's daily life. I'll take this a step further and observe that while I don't share Ehrman's belief, he doesn't sound delusional to me. Far from it. He sounds like the sort of thoughtful, considerate person determined to live by high ideals of truth and to help others find their own ways in similar pursuits. I don't know what his positions are on the contemporary problems he mentions in his introduction, but I would be interested to hear them and his explanation for why he believes those positions are just.Fiske
FiskeMiles

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Mr. P:Although I don't anticipate reaching an agreement with you about this issue, I will nevertheless provide a response to your arguments, along with an email I have received from Bart D. Erhman regarding this subject. (I have permission to post his response on BookTalk.)Quote:But from that passage, Ehrman does seem to have become a sceptic (and we should not confuse 'sceptic' for non-believer).This is semantics and not all that convincing considering that you suggest Dawkins does not intend his reader to understand "skeptic" as one who doubts the existence of God when the entire section is devoted to discrediting "The Argument from Scripture" (section title). Here is Dawkins' first sentence in the section: "There are still some people who are persuaded by scriptural evidence to believe in God." (p.92)If Dawkins had qualified his statement to something like "Professor Ehrman movingly charts his personal educational journey from Bible-believing fundamentalist to one who is thoughtfully skeptical of Biblical accuracy" your argument might have been more plausible, but of course that is not what he said. And even then, nothing Ehrman says in Misquoting Jesus can be fairly characterized as his finding the Bible to be "massively fallible."My objection to this is identical to Irish's objection to the misrepresentation of various American court cases. Putting forth evidence that supposedly supports one's argument, when in reality it does no such thing, is intellectually dishonest. It doesn't matter whether the misrepresentation is deliberate or merely from a lack of research. Authors who cite the work of others have an ethical responsibility to get their facts straight.You will note in Ehrman's response to my email that he has, in fact, left the Christian faith and now considers himself to be an agnostic. This STILL doesn't exonerate Dawkins for his reference to Misquoting Jesus as demonstrated by points Ehrman makes in his email: 1) he does not assert a skeptical position in the book, and 2) his reasons for leaving Christianity are not based on issues surrounding Biblical inerrancy but rather on the problem of suffering.It also occurred to me that the new book he is writing might be an interesting subject for BookTalk.Fiskewww.fiskemiles.comResponse from Bart D. Ehrman (January 2, 2006)Quote:Thanks for your note. I'm glad you've enjoyed the book (so far!). My response is necessarily a bit ambivalent. On the one hand, you're absolutely right, I do not come out with a skeptical position in my book (with respect to God: that's Dawkins issue of course), but leave open an entire range of possibilities
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Re: Ch. 3 - ARGUMENTS FOR GOD'S EXISTENCE

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Fiske:Knew you could'nt stay away! Quote:This is semantics I am using semantics? I think I am taking every word and statement at face value here. You do know the meaning of the word skeptic right? We have also debated the word 'Freethinker' here in the past. The consensus is that Freethinker can be applied to theists as well as atheists. I see this same possibility with skeptics. So which one is it?All I am saying is that when I read the items you posted, I did not infer from Dawkins words that Ehrman was an atheist now. With your additional post, I was sure of this. Yes Dawkins is trying to refute the argument from scripture, but that still does not make every statement he may make turn everyone he quotes into an atheist. I take it like this: Even people who follow the christian religion do not take scripture as a basis for determining a god exists. See?All I am saying is that I bring my own intelligence into a reading. I interpreted what I read a little different than you. Thats all. And a little more literally I think to. I think you may be reading more into Dawkins words because you are on a rail against the book.In any event, I am glad to see that Ehrman left the christian faith!!! Congrats to him! Maybe Dawkins was more on the money with his call about Ehrman than even he, and Ehrman, may have realized...huh? I still see, in the passages your quoted put aside Dawkins quote that there was skepticism regarding the Fundamentalist faith Ehrman once professed. But that is what happens when quotes are taken out of context. Mr. P. Mr. P's place. I warned you!!!Mr. P's Bookshelf.I'm not saying it's usual for people to do those things but I(with the permission of God) have raised a dog from the dead and healed many people from all sorts of ailments. - AsanaThe one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart...Scorsese's "Mean Streets"I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper
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Re: Ch. 3 - ARGUMENTS FOR GOD'S EXISTENCE

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Fiske--The word "sceptic" can refer to atheists and agnostics, it is true, but it can also refer to other disbelievers. For instance, if I disbelieve in astrology, I am a sceptic.The point, then, is that Dawkins is not using the word to mean "atheist", but instead to mean "one who doubts". And the author of Misquoting Jesus certainly DID become a sceptic--he began to doubt the literal truth of the Bible. In other words, he became a "sceptic" about the Bible.
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Re: Ch. 3 - ARGUMENTS FOR GOD'S EXISTENCE

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Thats exactly my point Gas. And as I said, we have discussed this confusion in the past about the word "Freethinker". In the definition of Freethinker, there is no exclusion, per se, for thiests or believers. I tend NOT to use Freethinker for theists or any who believe in a god. Skeptic has a similar definition in that it states: "a person disposed to skepticism especially regarding religion or religious principles " (Webster.com). It tends toward religious skepticism, but not outright disavowal.I read up to this chapter last night. Nothing in it suggested that Dawkins was trying to make the theists he quoted or referenced into percieved atheists!! lolAny new cartoons Gas?Mr. P. Mr. P's place. I warned you!!!Mr. P's Bookshelf.I'm not saying it's usual for people to do those things but I(with the permission of God) have raised a dog from the dead and healed many people from all sorts of ailments. - AsanaThe one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart...Scorsese's "Mean Streets"I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy PiperEdited by: misterpessimistic  at: 1/4/07 8:31 am
Saint Gasoline

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The word "freethinker" is much tougher to define, for some reason. You don't hear it used to much in reference to theists, unlike sceptic, which is used almost uniformly for one who dsibelieves a particular thing. This is why I generally don't like to describe myself as a freethinker. Although it does conjure up Englightenment values and such, which I generally support.I've made quite a few new cartoons, Mr. P. Been putting them out almost at a rate of one a day, but in my haste I've been letting the drawing deteriorate--they resemble little more than a third-graders attempt at drawing horsies. Most of them are mocking religion, as I am just in a theism-mocking mood of late.You need to make some more cartoons yourself, Mr. P. Any Bush-hating liberal atheist comic is my cup of tea!
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Re: Ch. 3 - ARGUMENTS FOR GOD'S EXISTENCE

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For what it's worth, Misquoting Jesus is a splendid read.I took Dawkins' reference to Ehrman becoming a "sceptic" to be a reference to his increased scepticism about the reliability of the Bible, which seemed appropriate in the context of a discussion of the use of scripture as a "proof" of the Christian god's existence. It should be noted that Ehrman's email indicated he had become an agnostic eight or nine years ago. Misquoting Jesus came out in 2005. I doubt Dawkins knew that. I only mention it in passing.Is it fair to say that the Bible-believing fundamentalist probably was deluded but the thoughtful sceptic (and agnostic) he has become is not?George "Godlessness is not about denying the existence of nonsensical beings. It is the starting point for living life without them."Godless in America by George A. Ricker
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Re: Ch. 3 - ARGUMENTS FOR GOD'S EXISTENCE

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Garicker:I agree that faith positions based on the Biblical infallibility are delusional.Also, I've checked out 3-4 additional Ehrman books from the library and he is terrific. His writing style is lucid and concise, his research and knowledge is impeccable, and he knows how to tell interesting stories and bring difficult concepts to life.I'm rapidly becoming a fan...Fiske
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