Sunday, December 25, 2016

Ian Boyne | Are The Gospels Reliable?



Ian Boyne invites your comments:

Ian Boyne | Are The Gospels Reliable?
It's that time of the year when the big American media focus on Christianity, alleged contradictions in the Gospels, and the controversy surrounding whether the Bible is really true. Often, the discussion is unbalanced, sensational, and less than fully informed.
There are certain regularly regurgitated views that have not, by any means, been proven beyond reasonable doubt, yet they are taken as dogma in liberal biblical scholarship. Take the view, heard frequently expounded by Mutabaruka on The Cutting Edge, that the Gospels were originally anonymous. You will hear Muta asserting with absolute dogmatism many nights: "Dem seh Matthew, Luke, Mark, and John wrote the Gospels, and Christians in Jamaica don't even know seh that when dem book dey did write, no name never deh pon dem."
Well, that same view is written in perfect English and intoned with impeccable diction every day in scholarly circles. But is it beyond reasonable doubt? And how would one prove that the Gospels originally had no authors' names on them? Well, manuscript evidence would help. If we found manuscripts dated early that were anonymous, that would constitute proof. Yet do you know, despite the fact that Muta's view is, indeed, held by many scholars, that there is absolutely no manuscript evidence that the Gospels were originally anonymous? The earliest Gospel manuscripts discovered had the names Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
To assert that they were added later without supplying proof is intellectually irresponsible. Often, it is a theory that determines a particular viewpoint, not empirical evidence. If the dominant view is that the Gospels are folklore rather than biographical literature, one simply infers that the Gospels were likely anonymous in line with that genre of literature. So in that case, it is the theory that determines the view, not the facts determining the theory.
All the extant copies of the New Testament Gospels date from the second century. The earliest (Papyrus 4) has the title, 'The Gospel According to Matthew'. The oldest Greek copy of the Gospel of Mark, Codex Siniaticus, begins with the title 'The Gospel cording to Mark'. It is felt by liberal scholars that the reason why the anonymous Gospels were later changed to ones with names we know today is because of the need to establish authenticity.
You see, when early Christians began to face competition with different views of Jesus being circulated in the other Gospels about him (Marcionite, Ebionite, and Gnostic), it was necessary to attach the names of apostles or their disciples/companions to our four Gospels to establish their superiority. Remember, liberal scholars see the Bible as theological and political documents, not historical accounts. Their concern is not so much historical accuracy, but faith.
So in the face of the Gospels that eventually lost out, early Christians attached apostolic names to the Gospels. Well, let's test that theory for plausibility. First, why wouldn't the earliest Christians have thought of that from the beginning? Why didn't they attach the names originally to gain authenticity? Were they so dumb that they never thought impostors could arise later to claim authenticity for their rival Gospels? Why circulate anonymously for a hundred years?
But there's more. If the early Christians wanted to attach the names of disciples of Jesus just to confer legitimacy and trump others, why only attach two names - Matthew and John? For, remember, Mark was really written by John Mark, who was an associate of Peter's, and Luke was written by an associate of Paul's. Why wouldn't the early Christians, if they were forgers, as the well-known liberal atheistic biblical scholar Bart Ehrman charges, not attribute all four Gospels to disciples? Why not then have a Gospel according to Andrew or Phillip or Thomas, the Doubting One? (The later forgers did, in fact, name their Gospels after disciples.)

NO EVIDENCE 

If the earliest Christian communities were into deception, why have companions of Peter and Paul (the latter who was not even one of the Twelve) write the earliest histories of Christianity? The anonymous Gospels thesis is implausible. Plus, if the four Gospels were anonymous and later attributed to authors, why is there no evidence of any early controversy or debate over this? There are books in the Bible over which there has been considerable debate about authorship. A number of books attributed to Paul are hotly contested even today.
And there is one book that even conservative scholars admit we don't know who wrote it - the Book of Hebrews. Many thought it was written by Paul, but others have said that it was written by his companion, Timothy, and still others by Barnabas. Church Father Origen in the Second Century famously said, "Only God knows" who wrote Hebrews. There was no such controversy over the authorship of the four Gospels among church fathers.
The Gospels were well attested by all of them. People like Papias (AD 130), who was a disciple of John; Justin Martyr (AD 140-165); Irenaeus (around AD 180); and Clement (around AD 200) all testified to the authenticity of the four Gospels. What about the Da Vinci Code theory that it was pure politics that determined the Christian canon? In other words, that what we have with the Gospels are simply those books that won out in the political struggle?
Why do we have the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and not The Infancy Gospel of Thomas, The Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Judas, and the Gospel of Peter, which were another four Gospels in circulation? There is one historical fact that must be noted: These Gospels that did not make it into the Christian canon were later than the four that did. You would sometimes get the impression in the discussion that they were written around the time of the Bible's Four and just didn't make the cut because of politics and expediency. No.
None of them was written in the first century, and the scholarly consensus is that our biblical four were. They were written well within the lifetime of Jesus, the Apostles, and those who followed them. The Gospels were written between, AD 60s and AD 90s, according to most scholars.
University of Notre Dame Professor Brant Pitre, in his brilliantly argued book, The Case for Jesus: Biblical and Historical Evidence for Christ (2016) says:
"The destruction of the Temple is never mentioned as a past event in any of the Gospels. If the Gospels were written after the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, then why don't the writers emphasise that Jesus's prophecy had been fulfilled? That would be a natural thing to do."
That is exactly what Luke did, as recorded in Acts 11: 27-28 when he wrote that the prophet Agabus foretold the worldwide famine " ... and this took place in the days of Claudius".
So Pitre asks a logical question: "Isn't it strange that Luke would go out of his way to emphasise that the prophecy of a little-known Christian prophet named Agabus had been fulfilled in the days of the emperor Claudius (the 40s AD) but fail to mention that Jesus' prophecy of the destruction of the temple had been fulfilled in AD 70?"
The indications are that Mark and Matthew were written before AD 70 and the recorded prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem was given as a warning for Christians to flee (See Matthew 24:15, 20).   Jamaica Gleaner
- Ian Boyne is a veteran journalist working with the Jamaica Information Service. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and ianboyne1@yahoo.com.

97 comments:

Connie Schmidt said...

I have pondered the idea that the Book of Revelation would make more sense if it preceded the Destruction of the Temple , circa 69AD , than having been written in the 90s as is popularly believed.

Miller Jones said...

Ian,
After studying the subject at some length, I have concluded that designating who wrote what may be an interesting exercise in speculation, but that it doesn't contribute much to answering the question of whether or not we should accept/reject these writings. The fact that we do not know who wrote the book of Hebrews has not shaken my conviction that it has the hallmarks of God's inspiration. Indeed, I have often said that it is probably my favorite book in the Bible.
In my opinion, however, it is very simplistic to talk about whether or not the Bible is TRUE. The notion that the worth/validity of these documents should be judged by precisely identifying by whom, how, when or where they were written is ridiculous (For the record, I'm not saying that these things are not of intellectual interest or are unimportant). Likewise, the propensity of some folks to accept/reject these documents based on whether or not any errors or contradictions exist within them is also ludicrous. For non-believers, you cannot prove that these documents are holy, inspired or special. Likewise, for many believers, you cannot produce any evidence that would convince them that they are anything less than perfect.
It seems to me that the only really valid test of these documents for a "TRUE" believer is whether or not the Holy Spirit within them discerns truth and worth in them. While I have no problems with acknowledging that the Gospel according to Matthew may have borrowed from the one we call Mark (and may have used earlier writings by someone named Matthew) or entertaining the possibility that it may have been written after 70 A.D. (although, like you, I think that the evidence suggests an authorship prior to that date), the book feels right to me - I can see God's fingerprints on it. Moreover, it seems futile and unnecessary to me to pretend that it agrees with the other 3 accounts in every particular or that every detail reflects what happened or what was said with 100% accuracy.
I understand that that is unacceptable to many believers and non-believers, but it works for me. And, I suspect it works for a few other folks as well.

Byker Bob said...

Define "reliable".

Regardless as to who wrote them, they do contain major nuggets of wisdom and Christian living principles that one would be wise to observe. An author's name will neither diminish, nor enhance the basic goodness inherent in that.

I'm just not sure that one can use them to establish absolute legalism, as was done in our belief system of the past. That would be an unwarranted leap.

BB

James said...

Are The Gospels Reliable?
No.

Black Ops Mikey said...

NO EVIDENCE

Precisely.

Minimalist said...


Ian Boyne appeals to authority:
"..the scholarly consensus is that our biblical four were[written in 1st century]"

But the same 'scholarly consensus' says they were written after 70 and were anonymous!

I have caught out Miller Jones slinging the same inconsistency on his blog!

Anonymous said...

Are the gospels reliable ? Yes. Why ? Because they are witnesses accounts. Why do so many have a problem ? It's a question of faith.

Anonymous said...

No one knows for sure who wrote any of the gospels that are regarded by many to be the inspired story of the birth, life, death and reserection of Jesus. Yet this is the only source that is used to "prove" that Jesus existed since there are no historical sources outside the bible that gives us any evidence that Jesus ever existed. My question is--If the only way to salvation is to accept that Jesus existed and accept him as your personal savior then why didn't he make his very existence so clear and undeniable that most people the world over would be converted follows of Jesus? The fact is that only about 1 billion people or a little bit more are considered Christians. You would think that most of the remaining 4 billion+ inhabitants of the earth would also be converted followers of Jesus if he indeed he came to save "the world" as stated in the very writings that supposedly proves his existence.

Anonymous said...

The bible is basically a description of how the world works. Is it reliable? Well simply observe the world. If the bibles words clash with everyday experiences, it's fake. If it validates everyday experiences, it the truth.
Elementary Watson.

Anonymous said...

well said Ian.

Anonymous said...

Answered prayer in the form of God putting a NT scripture into a persons mind, validates the NT. Atheist cheerleader Dennis and his followers, can go weep and gnash their teeth.

Anonymous said...

why, yes, 9:18! I totally agree. Shaakespeare and Hislop were validated for me during prayer in that same way. I'm so greatful to be given this proof that sets me apart from everyone else. sometimes parts of Mr. armstrong and Mr. Pack's autobiographies come hauntingly into my mind during prayer. it's a wonderful blessing that everyone will one day have.

Opinionated said...

Ian, read "who wrote the bible."
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/102104.Who_Wrote_the_Bible_

Then tell us about the reliability of such a book and why we should live our life's by it.

Black Ops Mikey said...

As Carl Sagan said, exceptional claims require extraordinary evidence.

Pseudoscience and Extraordinary Claims of the Paranormal: A Critical Thinker's Guide by Jonathan C. Smith is a good guide to help with the examination of non evidence of exceptional claims.

Unfortunately, we live in the age of Post-truth (which started in the 1930s with Herbert Armstrong), where feelings and emotions trump evidence and facts: If you feel it's true, it must be true.

Unfortunately, it isn't true.

Time to face reality.

There can be serious consequences if you don't.

Byker Bob said...

For me, the critical issue is the ability to recognize and practice good principles. What do atheists tell us? Many of them have commented that you can obtain the higher principles contained in the Bible from other sources, that they have been identified through the entire history of man amongst all civilized peoples, and are not exclusive to the Hebrews or those who lived in New Testament times. Paul commented that the gentiles often seem to have these resident in their minds as a natural law unto themselves.

So, you can trust recognizable goodness contained in the gospels. If they were about Gandhi, instead of about Jesus, would we even be having this discussion?

The problem or pitfall is the teachers who attempt to force people to modify their behavior and or lifestyles according to those teachers' own interpretation, and who imply punishments and consequences, for which they have no power to impose, and as we've seen and experienced, not even the divine insights to judge. The harsher and stricter, the more enslaving these teachings and judgments become, the more resistance there will be to them. And, the teachers counter that resistance with more self-righteous and pharisaic pronouncements. They attempt to restrict knowledge to what only they themselves teach, and the natural consequence to their actions becomes ignorance. Worse, the "qualifying" as some call it, isn't a natural process permanently refining and uplifting the mind, it is forced behavior caused by great duress that would immediately be shed the moment the duress is no longer a factor. In fact, it was, and has. Had it been transcendent, the results would have been different.

This is nothing new. The basic HWA teaching structure was that you "prove" that God exists. You "prove" that the Bible was God's word. (With his unquestioned guidance and assistance). Once that has been done, you impose all of HWA's interpretations and pet theories regarding God and the Bible on those who have accepted those proofs, under penalty of the Lake of Fire, or if you are in a kinder mood, coming up in the second Rez where you discover that HWA was the gatekeeper, and all this stuff will be imposed on you anyway, and your reward has been diminished.

If Armstrongism were the truth, it would be one thing. Unfortunately, God didn't endorse it back in 1972-75. Had He done that, there could be no question. Because He did not, there is also no question. HWA attempted to impose upon God, failed and came away as a fool, until he bought and paid for recognition amongst the "great" of the world, and wussed out by not even preaching the gospel to them once he had their attention.

BB

Anonymous said...

9.56 AM you can make a living teaching mockery. You're very good. Dave might want to hire you to mock his critics.

Anonymous said...

Read Who Wrote the Bible years ago,Opinionated.I could provide a more updated reading list for you if you don't take your moniker too seriously .Ian Boyne

Anonymous said...

The holy spirit confirmed to me that 918 is still listening to the sound of all the loose marbles in its head.

RSK said...

The header reads "Are the Gospels Reliable?", yet the post seems more interested in a couple of debatable fringe points.

Obviously the names of their (alleged) writers did not carry that much weight in the canonization process, otherwise one would expect one of the Gospels purporting to be written by a major apostle to have made the cut. So, even if they were originally anonymous (or not), how would that answer the questiom of reliability? Same for the pre- or post-70 AD argument.

Michael said...

And while debate continues over which dead persons actually wrote a few stories about a Roman-era Jew that are otherwise uncorroborated by historical sources, and that we don't have anymore (merely copies of copies of copies), while this debate continues over who wrote what in an age long-gone when humans still thought stars were little lights affixed in the celestial canopy, while all this continues (as interesting as it may be in a purely academic way)...

Real scientific inquiry is leading us to understand the workings of the cosmos, molecular machines, atomic interactions, geological processes, the basics of life and aging and how to technologically overcome death, and to learn about possible other worlds that we might someday inhabit.

Ah, but Mark really wrote the book of Mark, this is important stuff you know :)
By the way, even if it was "Mark" who wrote it, we know nothing about him other than maybe being a "companion" and having the name Mark. It's just a name, call him Fred if you want. Who cares?
If you say a guy named Mark wrote the book of Mark, you still know nothing about him of any import.

Nevertheless, if the majority of scholars who study this stuff every day say the gospels are anonymous, I'm inclined to believe them. Considering it's not of any huge importance anyway.

Anonymous said...

Is the Book of Mormon reliable? Yes. Why? Because it contains witnesses accounts. Why do so many have a problem? It's a question of faith.

Minimalist said...


Hope to pick up Lena Einhorn's hot new book "A Shift in Time" today from local library:

An investigative thesis that traces Gospel fabrication to templates in Josephus.

Although her theory is unique, she's not the first to see parallels in Josephus: Kenneth Humphreys also has research along these lines.

Coupled with Dr MacDonald's groundbreaking book, I see the Gospel sources as Homeric, Josephus, and OT templates.

Ed said...

All of the major religions have their sacred writings. The Hindus, Muslims, Jewish, ect. all are convinced that their own set of sacred writings are the inspired word of their God. Many non-Christian adherents to their religions are just as sure and devoted to the thought that their sacred writings are the only truly Godly inspired writings as the Christians believe. The truth is that none of the sacred writings of any religion are inspired by a God. If so what makes you sure that your religion has the only true set of sacred writings?

Anonymous said...

7:18 AM asks "what makes you sure that your religion has the only true set of sacred writings?" I keep giving the answer. Why wont people believe me. So let me repeat. God is no respecter of persons. Obey Gods laws, study the bible, prayer, and God will answer ones prayers. And it's Christian bible verses that God often puts into people minds in answer to a prayer request.

So, reality test. It's pure science. No faith required.

Retired Prof said...

Religious people tell me that all religions are based on either delusion or fraud--with the exception of their own.

I always agree with such people, without exception.

Black Ops Mikey said...

The truth is that none of the sacred writings of any religion are inspired by a God. If so what makes you sure that your religion has the only true set of sacred writings?

Because WE ARE IN THE MAJORITY!!!!

So there!

[Yet another post-truth statement.]

Opinionated said...

Ian writes>Read Who Wrote the Bible years ago,Opinionated.I could provide a more updated reading list for you if you don't take your moniker too seriously .Ian Boyne

Ok, give me a list. Also, what is the purpose of you asking or surveying on this topic?

Black Ops Mikey said...

Off topic: It's surprising but there were 140 stars who died in 2016.

The world won't be quite the same....

Anonymous said...

10.03 AM
Truth has nothing to do with numbers. You wouldn't have thousands of Christian denominations if people believed that. Why do you make such silly comments?

Anonymous said...

Because of course, no Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, or other adherent can randomly recall a vaguely-related passage from a long-studied "holy" text and cite it as divine revelation for that moment.

Byker Bob said...

I'm thinking of opening a bar in Honolulu for people who have left Islam! I'm going to call it the Aloha Allah Bar!

Bab

Black Ops Mikey said...

Some people have limited reading comprehension.

Do follow the link when one is presented.

Sometimes it provides the answers you seek....

Anonymous said...

"Why wont people believe me. So let me repeat. God is no respecter of persons. Obey Gods laws, study the bible, prayer, and God will answer ones prayers. And it's Christian bible verses that God often puts into people minds in answer to a prayer request."

Besides this person's lack of "grammar skillz", he or she seems to have a deeper problem relating to a lack of cognitive function.

For those prayering[sic], aren't the scriptures that appear in people's heads dependent on the particular holy book that the person's religion is founded on?

Does he really think that "Bible stuff" pops into the minds of "prayering"[sic] people whose holy books are The Holy Quran, The Shreemad Bhagavad Gita, The Upanishads, The Veda, The Tripitakas, The Book of Mormon, The Tao Te Ching, The Guru Granth Sahib, The Torah, The Talmud, The Great Learning, The Doctrine of the Mean, The Analects and Mencius, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, The Agamas and The Kojiki?

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 10:01 writes, "So, reality test. It's pure science. No faith required."

Anon, does this also apply to those Mormons who attribute escaping death when having automobile accidents to their wearing Mormon magic underwear?

Is that, a "reality test"?, "Pure science"?, "No faith required"?

Your concept of "pure science" is sorely in need of an upgrade, even though you'll probably continue to stick to and fondle your delusional religious guns.

Anonymous said...

December 27, 2016 at 12:39 PM,
I hope you realize that BOM was being facetious.
Folks, it was a post-truth thingy!
No one in their right mind believes that majority opinion equals correctness.

(And, conversely, no one in their right mind believes that minority opinion equals correctness, either, lol!)

Anonymous said...

in light of John 6:44, this is thread is silly.

a mind convinced against it's will it of the same opinion still.

Anonymous said...

9.44 and 10.24 PM. I said 'reality test.' Both of you have simply intellectualized. There's a big difference.

Miller Jones said...

Minimalist, for the record, I believe that you are the one who has settled on a date for when the gospels were written - I'm undecided. Of the scant available evidence available to us, I do believe that there is more to suggest a date prior to 70 A.D. for at least some of the material in our Mark and Matthew. Nevertheless, I am still open to the possibility that they assumed their final form after that date. You appear to be very fond of scholarly speculation. Although I too find it interesting, I have never lost sight of the fact that it is speculation. It would be more consistent with your moniker (Minimalist) to be much less dogmatic about the history of biblical and Christian origins.

Miller Jones said...

Anonymous 12/27/2016/10:40, to one convinced of the correctness of Armstrong's theology, this thread would appear to be silly!

Anonymous said...

Obviously few here can discuss and know next to nothing about the actual issues or background of the Gospels and why it might matter.

Anonymous said...

9.44 PM. The parable of the talents tells us that people have differing levels of grammar skillz. You should respect this. Just as others are tolerating your lack of Christian/conversion skillz.

Anonymous said...

To the person who wrote at "December 27, 2016 at 10:40 PM",

I have read John 6:44. Are you saying that God has called you, and not the other commenters here- rendering this thread as "silly"?

Don't you also see your comment as "silly" since it's part of this thread, or, do you see yourself as being "above" the other commenters- as a God-appointed arbiter of silliness?

Anonymous said...

I implore you 6:24 AM to be so kind as to take the further step, and give the unwashed masses here who "know next to nothing" a link or wisdom rooted in God's love that will help the majority here [i'm extrapolating from your "few here" descriptor] who "know next to nothing"
Thank you and God bless.

Minimalist said...

British Dead-Sea-Scrolls scholar J.M. Allegro traces Jesus to an actual historical character 100+ yrs before 1st century called 'The Teacher of Righteousness'

Einhorn also traces Jesus to an historical magician that lived in the 50's she has found in Josephus.

Both scholars attempt to explain why there are no historical references to a miracle-working Jesus in the 30's.

Jim Baldwin said...

Anon 26 December wrote the tiresome bromide: "It's a question of faith". Faith is only a magical non-answer.



A recent critic of such biblicism wrote: "Faith is pretending to know things you don't know".



The Dictionary of Common Philosophical Terms by Gregory Pence writes of faith:

"The belief of the truth of a doctrine that may not be capable of being proven true

by reason or evidence, and which may require suspension of rational judgement

through an act of the will".



Mr. Boyne needs to consider some of the books by Bart Ehrman and Richard Carrier.



Jim Baldwin

RSK said...

It would help if Ian were here to guide the thread to the direction he's looking for, but...

Anonymous said...

Jim(where have you been?) I have read almost every book written by Bart Ehrman and Richard Carrier; the latter of whom is one of my favourite atheists and a most rigorous scholar. There is no sharper mythicist around than Carrier. But there are some others whom you should expose yourself to-- like Darrel Bock, Daniel Wallace, Craig Blomberg, Michael Licona, Craig Evans, Don Carson, and Michael Krueger, for example. I try to read the leading atheistic and liberal Biblical scholars. I suggest, Jim, that you read outside the echo chamber, if you are not already doing so. Ian Boyne

Minimalist said...


Ian Boyne says:
"Why wouldn't the early Christians, if they were forgers,..not attribute all four Gospels to disciples?"

Well for a start, the Gospels were not written by "early Christians" (they were written after 70AD)

Secondly, they were forgers: First Gospel used preexisting narratives & later canonical Gospels used the original document! Double fraudulence!

Jim Baldwin said...

Boyne 28 Dec--

I don't read evangelical books anymore. None can prove God exists.
The last book I read from a believer was by Hans Kung, "Does God Exist?" (1978)
After over 700 pages his conclusion was (wait for it). TAH TAH! "It begins with faith!"

Answer me this, please: You, a theist, claim that Richard Carrier is your "favorite atheist".
How do you hold to your theological position while simultaneously praising an atheist scholar?


Jim

Anonymous said...

The awesomeness of the human mind is proof that God exists. The intellectual firepower of these posts is proof that God exists. Ian, yes why wast your time reading atheist books?

Anonymous said...

In reply to Jim's question as to how I can praise an atheistic scholar while holding to theism, I say unequivocally that atheism is a respectable, plausible philosophical position. Generally in my reading I find the atheistic(more particularly agnostic) intellectuals and scholars far more rigorous than the Christians. Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett and Harris(him less so) lack philosophical sophistication. But non-theists like John Schellenberg, William Rowe, Taner Edis, Graham Oppy, Michael Martin, Wes Morriston, Richard Carrier, Phillip Kitcher are simply brilliant.
But I think the arguments for theism are stronger and more intellectually compelling. Jim, you need to read some of the more serious theists. I can suggest a brief reading list. I am stunned by your admission that you don't read Evangelical and Christian authors. No, no, no you have to be more open than that, Jim. Start with Trent Horn and his book "Answering Atheism" and then try Mitch Stokes' "How to be a (a)theist)
Ian Boyne

Anonymous said...

Re anonymous 12;21, my reading of atheistic literature has demonstrated that the best arguments against theism don't really work. It's not a waste of time to read them for I am far more able to engage atheists and to employ Christian apologetics, having heard the best atheistic arguments and read their finest expositors. Ian Boyne

Anonymous said...

4.17 PM. Ian, excellent answer to my question.

Anonymous said...

Ian-

Thank you for enliving the discussion with the list of non-theists. I'll check them out.

Sorry to see you dismiss the so-called Four Horsemen of Atheism. They have helped many get free of theism.

There was a quote by Dennett's "Breaking the Spell" that spoke well to me: "...discussions of the existence of God tend to take place in a pious fog of indeterminate boundaries". (210) That has been my experience in reading theist literature.

I agree that atheism is a respectable, plausible, philosophical position. Thank you.

I own a copy of "The Cambridge Companion to Atheism". I'll read the article by Michael Martin again and report back.

I'll also read the Horn and Stokes titles at your suggestion.

Thank you again for talking about books. They are not a popular feature in this forum. Of course, that is a carryover from the WCG days. Intellectualism was pretty low on the reading list of the WCG.

Jim

Minimalist said...


Even if Ian Boyne has only read half the books he claims, one has to be impressed.
But how can exposure to all that academia not turn one from fundamentalism?
It reveals an almost zero neural-plasticity!
Can that be possible?
I'm afraid it's all too common:
- consider the static mentalities of Dr Roderick Meredith and Dr Billy Graham!

Anonymous said...

Minimalist
Exposure to differing points of view, doesn't mean one is the slave to these viewpoints. There is such a thing as free moral agency. There is such a thing as the quest of truth. As the book says, 'prove all things.' Choice does not mean 'zero neural-plasticity.'
Not forgetting, lack of mental plasticity (ego dystonic) is a psychopathic trait.

Byker Bob said...

Much depends on why one reads. If you are reading because you are in search of truth, or want to learn, then most likely that's what is going to flow back to you. If you read to deliberately support what you already believe, guess what? It should come as no surprise that your mind will filter out all but the validating information. If you tend to see everything in print as being authoritative, you will probably believe the last thing that you read, meaning that your mind wanders from point of view to point of view. Because these are all human tendencies, it becomes difficult to perform an accurate self-evaluation. For that, you'd need an impartial third party with no agenda. Unfortunately, in an ACOG environment, that sort of neutral evaluatuon, or even second opinions are not part of the training. They tell you to look exclusively to what they euphemistically refer to as "God's ministers". If you comply, you get programming, not truth.

I always get a smile from the beautiful story Gerald Weston shared recently in one of his letters or editorials. I'm paraphrasing here, but Jerry said that all of the ministers have known people who were on fire for Rod Meredith and the LCG, and then they come across some information on the dissident blogs that makes them do a 180 degree turn, virtually overnight. The reason why that is such a beautiful story is that it means that despite herculean efforts at brainwashing, there are always going to be people who can still read and think! And if they can, it means that given the right circumstances, others can as well! So you see, there is hope!

BB

Minimalist said...


It's comforting to know that the world's best intellectuals confirm the veracity of the fundamentalist Gospel according to Garner Ted

Miller Jones said...

BB, well said. I've been following the reading list comments without commenting, but it's been hard not to say anything. Motivation is always important. One has to also consider the possibility that reading lists can also be employed to impress/intimidate others. If my credentials are more impressive than yours, you may be more likely to give attention/credence to my views. Which, of course, is another way of saying that someone may be reading to reinforce/strengthen the point which they are attempting to make. Please note Ian's response in this thread: "It's not a waste of time to read them for I am far more able to engage atheists and to employ Christian apologetics, having heard the best atheistic arguments and read their finest expositors." --Hmmmmm

Anonymous said...

Miller Jones
Your Hmmmmmmmmm is well founded since Ian is a social justice warrior. Social justice clashes with the bibles 'you reap what you sow' thingy.

Byker Bob said...

Wrong, 11:30. Social justice has to do with the ways in which people are treated by authority figures, or the general public. Correct social justice excludes special "respector of persons" treatment.

Reaping what you sow involves the things you bring upon yourself as a natural consequence of your own behavioral patterns, not your social status.

These are two separate influences, two separate Biblical concepts or paths, and have no interrelationship with one another. One involves equal respect for all, while the other is karmic.

BB

Anonymous said...

We Armstrongites cannot win in the face of the tenacity of prejudice and stereotype.We are all accused of being dunces and having no exposure to scholarship ,which would debunk our silly Fundamentalist views. So when one of us suggests that he has done some reading outside of HWA's little booklets, there is incredulity as to whether he has read even half of what he has claimed; whether that's not just confirmation of "zero neurol-plasticity", and ,worse still, whether it is not just an attempt to show off and intellectually intimidate. Or ,more benignly, just a matter of reading for confirmation bias. If I say that I am up now at two am in my study looking through several recent published books on the trinity as well as several papers and a doctoral thesis looking at the process of the WCG's changing to Trinitarianism, my integrity might be questioned .For ,you see, it has been determined a priori that it is IMPOSSIBIE for an Armstrongite to be well read and genuinely intellectually open and still remain an Armstrongite ? Isn't that a fact? Ian Boyne

Miller Jones said...

Ian,
I applaud the fact that you are well-read/informed about things religious. And, yes, reading outside of ACOG booklets is a notable difference from most Armstrongites. Moreover, the fact that you have rejected British Israelism demonstrates that you have at least some "plasticity." However, Byker Bob's point about what motivates one to explore is an intellectually valid observation (especially in light of your "apologetics" statement referenced in my comment). Are you reading to better equip yourself to defend Armstrongism or not? --Lonnie Hendrix

Anonymous said...

BB. I have spent decades reading socialist left wing newspapers and publications to try to understand why billions are attracted to these ideologies. Any claim they make such as it excluding 'respecter of persons' is only Pharisaic window dressing in my view. I came to the conclusion that these ideologies are wolves in sheep clothing, the wolves being the irresponsible of the world. They believe that they can come out ahead by getting something for nothing. They believe they can prosper by stealing. My bible by contrast, says they cannot ('God is not mocked, a man reaps what he sows').
Put another way, every time a person steals, a part of him/her dies. Manifestations of this is a negative self image (feelings of inferiority, worthlessness, self hatred, self condemnation etc) and a mental weakening showing up as black and white thinking (it takes mental strength to think in terms of probability or likelihoods).

Every time you sin, a part of you dies. Trying to get something for nothing is Alice in wonderland thinking.
So don't sin folks, teach your children not to sin, and if you value your life, ignore Ian's 'social justice.'


Anonymous said...

Ti Ian on books--

I've decided not to read Horn's "Answering Atheism". I thought it was online. I read the Amazon reviews and was turned off.

Here are some quotes from Horn:
"Doesn't convince of the existence of God..."
"Defines atheism wrong..."
"Devout atheist still unconvinced..."
"No answer to evil..."
"Aquinas' five ways fails..."
One writer suggested reading Victor Stenger.

You kindly suggested several atheist authors for which I thank you again.

I'll suggest you read one theist book of note, "Why Christianity Must Change or Die" by the retired Episcopal Bishop John Spong. How he can keep his pension is question I have after hi-lighting many atheist-supporting quotes.
"We are that silent majority of believers who find it increasingly difficult to remain members of the Church and still be thinking people." (4)
"...this God would be revealed as hopelessly ignorant." (6)
"No doctor would treat an epileptic child today by ordering the demon out...in the name of God." (7)
"...we need to ask about the meaning of 'Almighty' when it is applied to God." (8)
"...it is impossible for me to find a believable faith." (14)
"Almost every detail of the resurrection of Jesus appearing in one Gospel is contradicted in another Gospel." (15)
"Indeed, many seekers today do not act as if the Church will ever be a place where God can be fruitfully sought." (21)
"...the steady and relentless advances in knowledge altered forever our ability to believe in the God content that stood at the heart of our sacred tradition." (29)
"But when the modern age began to dawn, a new understanding of the shape of the universe began to grow and God's place as the heavenly director of human affairs began to totter." (31)
"That strange thing called 'creation science' is nothing more than ignorant rantings reflecting a frightened and dying religious mentality." (37)
"Scholars such as Carl Sagan began to tell us just how much of the traditional religious meaning of the past was no longer valid." (40)
"The God we once worshiped had been obliterated before our eyes." (40)
"We are forced to to recognize that other gods have died in human history before this generation." (40)
"We wonder if deicide is happening again, only now to our God."
"We must discover whether or not the death of the God we worshiped yesterday is the same thing as the death of God." (41)
"There is an increasing sense among believers that the word 'God' now rings with a hollow emptiness." (45)
"As theism begins to crack and die, we can see ever more clearly the process of 'God Creation' that we humans have always pursued." (49)
"The God of theism came into being as a human creation."
"The theistic God is all but unemployed." (54)
"Human beings have evolved to the place where the theistic God can be and must be cast aside."
"God has died." (55)

I did that casting aside in 1995. This book by Shelby has a secure place on my atheism shelf. His "The Sins of Scripture" is next to it. Remember, he is a Christian, a theist.

You should read the outcry among the theists on the Amazon review pages.

Now to a recent atheist book attempting to stir up the discussion called "New Atheism". "The Arrogance of Religious Thought" by Zingrone. This is one I will read later.

Right now I am rereading "Breaking the Spell" by Dennett. I read that 6 years ago. Last night I was reading what he said about being ignorant of your own ignorance. Been there, done that.

Jim



Retired Prof said...

Anon at 11:30, Byker Bob is right; you conflate two separate principles.

What's more telling is that you changed the subject and criticized Miller for ideas he has expressed elsewhere instead of the one his "hmmmmm" indicates he is bemused by. In context it is clear Miller is commenting on Ian's determination to learn new stuff only to more effectively defend the opinions he already holds. Miller has made it clear elsewhere that he believes scholarly researchers should relentlessly follow where the evidence leads, always willing (however reluctantly) to change their opinion. That is the idea at issue here. Miller's political stance is irrelevant.

Since "Anonymous" is such a pervasive screen name around here, I can't tell whether you are one of the two anonymous commenters who squabbled over redirection on another thread, nor which of the two you might be. Either way, this is another case.

Thing of it is, when I, Hoss, Byker Bob, James, Connie Schmidt, Miller Jones, Martha, or other commenters with regular screen names fall into a distracting and disruptive pattern, we can be called to task for it. Hard to maintain the required continuity when so many individuals can be identified only by their latest post as tagged with a date stamp.

Byker Bob said...

I quit reading so voraciously and widely and got on with my life probably about 3 years ago. At that time, I concluded that I'd finally mopped up the whole mess and had put it to bed, that there were no further profound answers to come from human sources.

The conspiracy theory elements of Armstrongism are based on wild leaps and speculations, in many cases easily dubunked. Since there is neither scriptural, nor secular validation for them, belief in them is totally based on whether one accepts HWA as God's Apostle, and his every word as having been inspired by Jesus Christ. Gerald Flurry, for one, actually insists on baptisimal candidates affirming this prior to further participation in the entry ritual.

The essence of the Armstrongism arguments pro and con boils down to interpretation of New Covenant vs Old Covenant amongst believers, and, much more basically, whether God actually even exists in the first place for the agnostic or atheist. Each view has amassed strong support over millennia, and has also created strong rebuttal for opposing views. Highly educated people of strong intelligence are not only believers in and proponents of each of these points of view, but also regularly hold court for the benefit of us, the extended jury.

The key to all of this would seem to be validation. If there is no God, then human death cannot provide any answers. Simply stated, nobody will know. How could they? What has happened with the Armstrong prophecy mold, just over the past 4 decades, has served as a sort of anti-validation, negative validation, or, invoking God in our thought processes, the withholding of validation for the Armstrong movement. Plus, the body to which the scriptures regarding open doors which no man could shut were applied has followed an entropic path, proceding towards total diffusion, or confusion. Hello, Gamaliel! No miracle has caused it to be reconstituted even to pre-1986 levels, let alone possessing the power of the message (if it was ever even the correct message) from the 1950s thru '70s. This is not a Laodicean thing, it is total dissipation. All participants brand the other participants as Laodicean anyway, so the word, even if there were church eras, has become meaningless.

Winning an argument or intellectual exercise, special "gnosticism", does not constitute good fruits. It can also never substitute in any way for validation. Good fruits, and Godly ethics in the treatment of fellow man would seem to be the only validation available to our very limited human perception. (God = good). The level of that varies from individual to individual, and is present in varying degrees in all faith groups and across the broad spectrum of humanity.

Some claim to have received special, non-human revelations. These are generally meaningless to all others who would hear them, unless there is further, more personalized confirmation or validation. They are also time and date-sensitive, so contemporary repetition would logically be required in order for them to be effective.

All of this still leaves each of us to walk that long lonesome valley, finding clues that have personal meaning to us along the way, sometimes sharing and borrowing from others as we travel. Unfortunately, though some may know more than we do, no human living today has all the answers. We may not always know what is right, but generally we can discover what is wrong. That has been the history and evolution of mankind.

BB

Anonymous said...

Retired prof,
I cannot read Millers mind. I responded to the 'Hmmmmmm' as it came across to me. Miller and others are free to use more words to make their point clear.

The issue of anonymity has often been debated on this site. There are legitimate reasons such as safety from spying slivers, that warrants its use. I recall one atheist repeatedly 'demanding' a certain anonymous's real name. That can only mean evil intent. If you recall, Christ often hid from His enemies in the NT.
I see no way around this issue.

Anonymous said...

BB people receiving 'special, non human revelations' is rampant amongst devout Christians. Typically the revelations confirm a truth, warn away from a wrong belief or dangerous behaviour. Yes, these revelations are meaningless to others, but that is not their intent. My point is that God is a prayer answering God who does communicate directly with His children. Please God, and everyone can experience this. Reality test. Failure to do so is the proverbial 'your blood be on your own head.'
Just saying, there is a way out of all this doubt.

Byker Bob said...

7:14~ You think social justice is the welfare system? Or socialism? Something for nothing? That's your sum-total? OK, then I guess I can partially see where you are coming from, but that's not what Christians are talking about when they use that phrase, and I don't believe everyone else is, either, although widows, orphans, the gleaners, etc were taken care of by Old Covenant law, and the Jewish Christians lived communally in the NT, and Paul took up collections for them amongst his Gentile churches. To equate social justice with socialism is a perversion of the concept. Social justice is inherent in the Magna Carta and the US Constitution and Bill of Rights.

You must be "Trading Guy", right?

BB

Miller Jones said...

Retired Professor,
I appreciated your comments.
Byker Bob is right to draw a distinction between social justice and socialism.
And, I would add a point which I have made over and over again: God is not a capitalist or a socialist. Frankly, if one is appealing to the Bible as his/her guide, we find elements of both systems (even elements of communism). All man-made systems, like our religions!

Anonymous said...

BB
You obviously haven't read the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Early American presidents would not even give federal money to charity cases such as ship wreck or fire victims, pointing out that it's nowhere authorized in the constitution. So much for social justice being in the constitution. Charities until recently, have been privately run in America.
A words definition is determined by majority vote/common usage. Your definition is not the common understanding of the word.
Yours is the dishonest ploy I often encountered in the church. That is, change the common definition of a word (as in a straw man argument), attack this twisted definition, than change back to the original meaning. This is outright Orwellian deception.
As far as I'm concerned, your evading the real definition of social justice, is a confession that you understand it's moral flaws.
No wonder God doesn't answer your prayers, and you think it strange when others claim that they do.

Retired Prof,
Anonymity is a right. It should be respected rather than questioned because someones rights 'disadvantages' you. You sit on your rights? no?

Byker Bob said...

I've witnessed a superabundance of error inherent in that process which you seem to believe applies to you, 5:14. Caution ia definitely warranted. Closest that I can come to it is that all things ultimately work out in the Christian's favor. God often allows people to stumble in the dark as they wait for Him, because that is how faith is developed. He also works on a need to know basis, and frankly we don't always need to know.

BB

Anonymous said...

BB asks "You must be "Trading Guy", right?" Please be aware that comments under the name of Trading Guy has been banned by the blog owner.

Byker Bob said...

PS, if you misread or get it wrong, you can also lead others into error. Even if I thought God had given me a personal prophecy (which He never has) I wouldn't share it.

BB

Anonymous said...

Jim, I am sorry you have decided not to read Horn's book simply because of some negative Amazon reviews. I wonder whether our old WCG socialization in narrow-mindedness and impulsive thinking(or non-thinking) still affects us even decades after. All right, I suggest another book which I hope you will buy: Frank Turek's "Stealing from God: Why Atheists Need God to make Their Case". Believe me, it's some of the finest theistic thinking you can find. Do check it out, along with that Mitch Stokes book I recommended.
It is very important, Jim, especially considering the temptation of confirmation bias, that we read outside our ideological sphere. And certainly NOT, Lonnie, for confirmation. That's futile reading and I wouldn't waste my time.
I could easily see myself rejecting Armstrongism and accepting agnosticism(not likely atheism which is more philosophically problematic.) I told Gavin this years ago and almost every Sabbath I repeat it to my congregation. I always tell them I could "fall away". I am open. I hold to Armstrongism seriously, but provisionally. New evidence could disconfirm it. So I continue reading. So far I have found no unmistakable defeater. Prophetic disconfirmation, which is an obsession of BB, means absolutely nothing philosophically and the undeniable corruption and immorality of HWA and other leaders does not disqualify the movement ; no more than the corruption of Biblical heroes disqualifies Christianity. I have not found those arguments against Armstrongism as compelling as those on these blogs do. And I have read every Ambassador Report and EVERY SINGLE book written on the movement. Armstrongism has to be defeated on philosophical and theological grounds, not practice.

Re John Shelby Spong,I have read a number of his books, including "Why Christianity Must Change or Die", which you quoted extensively. In fact, I have interviewed Spong on my television programme "Profile" . Spong is more sensationalist than scholarly. Far more sophisticated is former British Anglican Don Cupitt. Keep your intellectual options open, Jim. Don't become such a dogmatist--swapping Armstrongite dogmatism for atheistic dogmatism, as far too many have done. Ian Boyne

Byker Bob said...

PPS, I have no doubt that Ron Weinland, Don Billingsley, and Dave Pack get their prophecy confirmations in the same way as you claim to. Can you begin to understand our concerns?

BB

NO2HWA said...

Anon January 3 @5:14 wrote:

"BB people receiving 'special, non human revelations' is rampant amongst devout Christians. "

The problem when this is used in conjunction with Ron Weinland, Bob Thiel, James Malm and others is that they are not Christians. All of the dreams and visions in the world that they claim to receive are not from God. All three of them are liars.

Byker Bob said...

Anonymous, let me just say this one more time: Social justice is not socialism, it is not charity, and it is not something for nothing. In cases of need, these things can be a small part of the reinforcement of social justice.

Another of the three founding documents of our country is the Declaration of Independence. It does not give or mandate rights like the Bill of Rights, but it recognizes inalienable rights that are not created by man's law, but are inalienable rights given to all human beings, and which all governments have the duty to protect. That, my friend is the basis for social justice. These documents set up a structure for the fair and equal treatment of all citizens. I have no idea where you are getting the idea that social justice is some sort of illicit giveaway, or theft. Dude, that's just plain fractured and messed up! Just trying to help you here a little because your lack of understanding, your irrational world view, is eventually going to cause you unnecessary grief, and might even destroy you.

BB

Byker Bob said...

Right on Gary. I think 5:14 is a relatively new poster, too, or he'd know how frequently I've cited answered prayers and occasional miracles, and have been "teased" about it from time to time (My transmission is still working!) I don't question the relationship of Father God to his children through prayer. Any contention that I do is 5:14's made up strawman. My contention is that no way does God confirm the elements of the Armstrong prophecy mold to people in their prayers, because God doesn't confirm false prophecy. If he got the captivity of English-speaking peoples confirmed in his prayers for sometime during his lifetime, then Satan has been jamming his prayers just like those of the ACOG leaders whom we both cited as examples.

BB

Anonymous said...

BB
Your comment of "all things ultimately work out in the Christian's favor" is based on a mis-translation of Romans 2.28 :

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.


A correct translation would be something like "God is with us in all our trials." As a matter of observation and personal experience, all things DO NOT work our for the best for Christians. Evil ministers and people love this mis-translation, because it means evil isn't really evil. So why complain about sin.
Sin by definition is that which destroys. God allows this, and the consequences are often permanent. God does not sit on His thrown, waving some magic wand, wiping out the consequences of peoples sins.

Anonymous said...

BB, I don't believe God answers the prayers of Ron Weinland, Don Billingsley, and Dave Pack and similar, and are liars as HO2HWA points out. Proverbs says that it's to a kings honor to search out a matter, so typically God confirms something I have read, or a conclusion I have drawn. The second most common answer is God warning me away from a dangerous course of action, such as not rebuking a violent person. New revelation regarding prophesy, I have never experienced.
In John, Christ tells us that we are His friends if we obey His laws. So answered prayer is in the context of a personal friendship. It's purpose isn't to convert outsiders. So your concerns BB are warranted, because it is not proof to outsiders. It is not meant to be.

Anonymous said...

BB
Claiming that Satan jams peoples praying is living dangerously. I even had a minister once tell me that Satan is answering my prayers. That is not the world God created. Satan powers are defined and limited. God does not allow such confusion.
Prayer is fundamental to a Christians life, so claiming Satan jams prayers could invoke a reaction from God. It's a dangerous claim to make.

Byker Bob said...

You're kidding, right? Prince of the power of the air broadcasts attitudes which can impede prayer. That's the way prayer gets jammed. Vanity, anger, lust, revenge. He's probably broadcasting ego to some of the false prophets who aspire to be our leaders right now to cause more misery and false prophecies. They probably don't realize they are missing some of the armor.

BB

Minimalist said...


Hey potential proselytes:
Did we tell you that our superphantasmagorical messiah could see into the future and
"predicted the destruction of Jerusalem ~40 years before the event"?

Why don't scholars accept this?
Why don't they believe in miracles?
Why do they demand evidence?
Why do they date Gospels to after event...casting doubt on authorship?

Anonymous said...

Ian--

Author Turek cannot prove God. Neither can you. The Amazon reviews were mainly laudatory for clarity of writing. But no one praised his proving a God does exist. One writer says he was unconvinced of God after reading. I am just tired of reading what Dennett colorfully describes as the "pious fog of indeterminate boundaries."

You describe Spong as a sensationalist. Sure, he is a retired Christian scholar and an important basher of Christianity. I'm not surprised he turns you off. How about you giving me your undeniable proof God exists. That would be sensational at least on this forum. All those on this forum having proof of God are invited into the fray.

If anyone could prove God exists that would win a Peace Prize.

I may read Culpitt. His Wiki entry reports he "recognizes the gradual disintegration of religious belief and supernatural views." What I praise is the recognition of theists admitting that religion is slipping. Again the Wiki reports: "Culpitt reports Religion will continue to liquidate" while naturalism will gain more ground. Did you point to Culpitt in error?

I came into Armstrongism with no religious belief. My parents were unchurched and that stood me in good stead until I listened to The World Tomorrow during a difficult time in my life in my mid 20s. Ted was bashing established Christianity. I sent for the Plain Truth and my first three booklets: 1975 in Prophecy, Proof of the Bible and Does God Exist?. After some 5 years I was baptized as a newly-arrived cash cow accepting Christian absurdities. Eventually I was a "True Believer" and eventually another of Armstrong's yes men. For 16 years I was an unpaid preacher of the madness to my fellow fools in the example of the unlearned teaching the ignorant to do the impossible as one WCG minister's wife described it on her way out the door. God bless her.

Another theist of note is Francis S. Collins in the "Language of God." He wrote,"...no scientific observation can reach the level of absolute proof of the existence of God." (78)
"...rational argument can never conclusively prove the existence of God." (164)"
"The theistic evolution perspective cannot, of course, prove God is real as no logical argument can fully achieve that. Belief in God will always require a leap of faith." (201)
These sensational statements from a leading scientist and Christian speak to me in my unbelief.

Just give me your best argument for the existence of God without the "pious fog". And please keep in mind that atheism is lack of personal belief in the light of "indeterminate boundaries" to quote Dennett again. Atheism is not a religion or a system of belief. I can prove my atheism--just ask me. I do not believe in God and that is the truth.

Please excuse the quotes but there should be more when they are so pithy.

Jim

Anonymous said...

Jim, you want shortcuts . You don't want to do the hard intellectual work. You want magic formulas, terse statements rather than involved argumentation that requires THINKING. It is this avoidance of serious scholarship and reliance on other people's reviews of scholarship which leads to so much shoddy thinking (or lack thereof) in this Twitter Age.
Herbert Armstrong was both wrong and simplistic: There are no indisputable "Seven Proofs of God's Existence". The arguments for God's existence don't have to be ineluctable or even coercive to provide epistemic warrant or justified belief. Have you ever heard of the phrase, "Inference to the Best Explanation(IBE)"? Or heard of the prudential , pragmatic reasons for belief given by Kierkegaard, Pascal and (William) James? They have made quite a formidable case for meta-cognitive reasons for belief.
I am not suggesting there is no intellectually or scientifically sound argument for God's existence. I think the Kalam Cosmological Argument is, as is the argument from fine-tuning and the Anthropic Principle.

What I am inviting you to, Jim, takes work and you seem intellectually averse to that. You are too accustomed to the old WCG booklet-form reasoning and Seven Proofs of this or that. That used to satisfy me too 45 years ago when I came into Armstrongism . I outgrew that. Respectfully, I don't think it is too late for you, Jim. Ian Boyne

Anonymous said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPkFsuutl0o
A short video showing some problems with the "eyewitness" claims

Anonymous said...

Ian-

I am sorry I'm not intellectual enough to converse with you in this forum. But I would pose that there is something wrong with your communication skills if you cannot relate to the common man who doesn't carry his unabridged dictionary with himself.

I am not a Twitterer or a facebook subscriber.

Yes, HWA was an ignorant man as well as a false prophet. I was not taught in public school that there were people like him who would lie, cheat and steal in the name of God.

I'm sorry you cannot prove your god exists. But at least I did know that admission was coming. Well, I opened the door for you in this public forum and you have slammed it shut as far as the two of us are involved.

I already have a theist standing by who is ready to insult me out of Christian love. He cannot prove God exists, either.

Jim

Anonymous said...

Jim, I am sorry if you feel insulted. That was not my intention at all. I apologise unreservedly if any of my comments was taken an offensive. Do forgive me Ian Boyne

Anonymous said...

Ian-

I accept your apology.

Jim

Anonymous said...

To the Banned forum:

It is interesting to me that the Christians on this spot have been unable to prove the Christian God exists. Then why does theism continue? There are explanations. But the student of the subject has to read widely on the explanations. They don't come through osmosis.

I was religion free upon entering the WCG back in 1967. Then I continued my indoctrination that had been going on for about 5 years while a subscriber to the Plain Truth and sending for all the WCG booklets and books.

I spent 25 years in the WCG going from neophyte to unpaid Local Church Elder volunteering to speak in several churches in New England. I loved public teaching and leading the Spokemans Club for several years while other men were being raised to lead.

In my 25 years I never was challenged to question theism. I was the "True Believer", borrowing the title from Eric Hoffer's amazing book of 1951. My pastor, Dan Rogers told me about its popularity on the WCG campus during the church's troublesome times of the mid-1970s when many ministers and members jumped ship. I only knew what HQ allowed me to know. I continued to teach as I'd been taught and no one ever asked me about my beliefs. I knew little about atheism. Before I was raised to the office of the ministry Dan Rogers only asked me one question: Are you faithfully tithing? Blindly I was. I even refused gas money for my visits around New England filling in for other pastors. I was the classic example of the valued cash cow. I was taking what I wanted and I was quite willing to pay for it as the old Spanish saying observed: 'Take what you want and pay for it'. Think about it. I was unquestioning until 1972 when Ted was sent away as being in "the bonds of Satan" according to the Apostle of God, Herbert Armstrong. I don't believe in spirit beings but later I found
Ted was a serial adulterer.

(To be continued.)

Anonymous said...

Wow...I'm glad I read this thread all the way to the end. Jim and Ian, you guys just demonstrated an allusive but powerful truth about life and all of its possible meanings, something that I learned from Carl Whitaker.

"Anything worth knowing, can't be taught. It must be experienced! So, create experiences worth sharing."

Anonymous said...

Someone unthinkingly quipped, "Anything worth knowing, can't be taught."

Daniel Dennett's book, "Breaking the spell: Religion As A Natural Phenomenon" deals with that claim.

Jim

Retired Prof said...

Jim, I haven't read Dennett's book. I've got my own take on that adage, though. There's maybe a nugget of truth to it, but the emphasis is skewed.

Human language evolved in our species because it helped us teach each other what we need to know to navigate our world. That body of knowledge is called culture. In teaching it, imitation is powerful and sometimes all that is necessary, but it goes only so far. When coupled with instruction it goes much farther.

And stories. We tell stories because our relation to our environment, especially the social aspect of it, is so complex and varied. Our adolescent learning period is longer than that of any other animal I know of, but still it is not long enough for us to amass all the experiences to navigate our world. We evolved the habit of telling stories because they supply virtual experiences. They do not replace real-life experiences, but at least they give us a dry run so we are better prepared to handle the real thing.

Anonymous said...

Jim said,"Someone unthinkingly quipped, "Anything worth knowing, can't be taught.""

Jim, look at it from a different angle. According to Dave Pack, Flurry, and those types, they have THEE MOST IMPORTANT KNOWLEDGE available for ALL of mankind. Yet, they can only at best, barely even manage to crawl across the dirty ground to get to anything worthwhile of their stated claims. I'm talking about authentic behaviour hear, not authority. You could supposedly authorize things with a stamp, but I can tell you for certain that there will always be mislabeling of some sort, especially if the label maker falls short of GAUTO, or the Grand Architect Of The Universe!

Stories, and stories about stories, will always leave behind information to write new ones, even better ones.
Everything is subjective.

DBP

Anonymous said...

8.37 AM
Please finish your interesting post.