Pop Semiotics:
Gnostic Inoculation

Culture — By on April 18, 2006 at 1:50 am

National Geographic dedicated a cover story, a television documentary, and two books on the so-called Gospel of Judas. The New York Times best seller lists includes five nonfiction and two fiction books on various heretical claims.* And Dan Brown ‘



  • http://kauaiterry@yahoo.con Terence Moeller

    Sent this to Gem last week in anticipation of this thread. The message is truncated, but hopefully it might raise the level of discourse. . .
    > The Judas Gospel:
    > Suppose that sometime around the year 3,800 A.D.,
    > someone wrote a newspaper that began: “According to
    > a
    > recently-discovered document, which appears to have
    > been written sometime before 1926, Benedict Arnold
    > did
    > not attempt to betray George Washington and the
    > American cause, as is commonly believed. Rather,
    > Benedict Arnold was acting at the request of George
    > Washington, because Washington wanted Arnold to help
    > him create a dictatorship of the proletariat and the
    > abolition of private property.”
    >
    > A reader who knew her ancient history would
    > recognize
    > that the newly-discovered “Arnold document” was
    > almost
    > certainly not a historically accurate account of the
    > relationship between George Washington and Benedict
    > Arnold. The reader would know that the terms
    > “dictatorship of the proletariat” and “abolition of
    > private property” come from a political philosophy,
    > Marxism, which was created long after Washington and
    > Arnold were dead. The reader would also know that
    > the
    > most reliable records from the 18th century provided
    > no support for the theory that Washington or Arnold
    > favored a dictatorship of the proletariat or the
    > abolition of private property.
    >
    > This Friday’s coverage of the so-called “Gospel of
    > Judas” in much of the U.S. media was appallingly
    > stupid. The Judas gospel is interesting in its own
    > right, but the notion that it disproves, or casts
    > into
    > doubt, the traditional orthodox understanding of the
    > betrayal of Jesus is preposterous.
    >
    > In the March 2 issue of USA Today, ancient Egyptian
    > documents expert James Robinson correctly predicted
    > that the owners of the Judas Gospel manuscript would
    > attempt to release it to coincide with the publicity
    > build-up for “The DaVinci Code” movie, but explained
    > that the “gospel” was part of a genre of
    > pseudo-gospels from the second century onward, in
    > which the authors simply made up the stories. In
    > contrast, virtually all serious scholarship about
    > the
    > canonical gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John)
    > believes that they were written much closer to the
    > events they describe–sometime in the first century
    > a.d.
    >
    > The influential Christian bishop Ireneus, in his
    > treatise Against Heresies, written in 180 a.d.,
    > denounced the Gospel of Judas as the product of a
    > gnostic sect called the Cainites. (Book 1, ch. 31,
    > para. 1.)
    >
    > The “Gospel of Judas” asserts that Jesus asked Judas
    > to betray Jesus so that Jesus’s spirit could be
    > liberated from its earthly body. (“You will exceed
    > all
    > of them. For you will sacrifice the man that clothes
    > me.”) This statement is a classic expression of
    > gnosticism, and for that reason is antithetical to
    > Christianity.
    >
    > Unfortunately, the amazingly mendacious DaVinci Code
    > presents a picture of gnosticism that is wildly
    > false
    >

  • http://blog.burtonia.com Jeff Burton

    Actually, non-Christians like Pagels and Brown are as confused about what Gnosticism was as Christians are. What is being pushed today does not bear much resemblance to 2nd C. Gnosticism. The Gnostic texts are being as pawns to push unrelated or semi-related spiritual agendas.

  • http://dawncaller.blogspot.com Ben Finger

    There has been discussion on the net of how might Christians respond to the Da Vinci Code movie that is coming out. One interesting thought that has been promoted is not to go see or protest the Da Vinci Code movie that is coming out but to go see another movie showing on the sameday or opening weekend of it. The box office watches to see who is the top dog. If another movie can get it or other movies make it look small well it would be a definite blow to the Da Vinci Code movie.

  • http://inkan.blogspot.com pgepps

    Pretty good thoughts, Joe, and thanks for the links.
    I don’t know that I’d actually *advise* reading Brown’s excretions. I *did*, though. If one needs muck, it’s about as worthwhile as Ludlum on a bad, bad day.
    I’m not sure that we *have* to read this dreck, though. One could at least pick up Eco’s The Name of the Rose and answer Brown-related inquiries with, “No, I try only to read real writers.”
    On the Gnosticism/Christianity points, I was here a while ago and came back with more “serious” linkage, and later with some comments from an *excellent* Volokh Conspiracy post.
    There’s gnothing gnew under the sun, but gnonsense is gnot self-answering, either.
    Cheers,
    PGE

  • jd

    The coverage of the Judas Gospel was breathless about the news that Jesus may have actually asked Judas to betray Him. It’s just one more example of ignorance about the real gospel. It’s well known by anyone who has read the story that Jesus said to Judas: “What you are about to do, do quickly” Explain to me why this breathless coverage is a “story.”

  • jd

    One more thought: It’s interesting that it’s Christians who always oppose books like the Da Vinci Code or Harry Potter. I have nothing against reading either of them and am a little frustrated by fellow Christians who try to keep them out of schools and away from the reading public. What’s interesting and ironic is that it’s Christians who are least susceptible to heresies like Da Vinci and occult stories like Potter. Our children are brought up with the truth of the gospel and are, therefore, acquainted with stories of the supernatural. If there is danger in stories like Potter and Da Vinci it is for non-believers.

  • George

    I truly don’t get all the buzz over Dan Brown’s book(s). Based on the popularity of the Da Vinci Code, I did read it. In fact, I waited a very long time for it to become available in my local library. I read it in two hotel evenings and was mightily unimpressed. And I’m a thriller fan. I even like that hack Dale Brown (no familial relationship, I suppose) and Grisham.
    So much for the writing. Now, folks, if I read a Dale Brown novel about spiffed up B-52s blowing up military installations in China, I truly don’t assume that the goobermint is conspiring to keep us all in the dark about a conflict with the People’s Republic. Why on earth would a novel engender such consipracy-mongering? After all, Elaine Pagels has been writing about this stuff for over a decade, and no detectable buzz emerged. Oh yeah, Pagels doesn’t diss the Catholic Church, there’s no ominous international conspiracy, Pagels actually knows what she is talking about, and her books won’t be movies. Sorry, I get it now.
    Having read a bit of gnosticism, I see little difference between those “banned” (chuckle) books – you see, it was a CONSPIRACY not to include them in the Bible (snicker) – and the sort of New Age “let’s go think real hard and all by ourselves, with the right stuff from rock shops and and that quirky kiosk in the mall, we can intuit the Truth” malarkey that has been infecting the Left Coast since Tim Leary, Alan Watts, and Esalen captured the acidheads and congenitally disgruntled. I used to be one of those guys, so I speak with some experience here. The universe is vibrations, man.
    So we may as well settle back and wait for this particular Black Helicopter virus to die a natural death. By the way, did you know that interstate highway signs have reflective stickers (TACMARS) on the back to direct military assets during an imminent takeover of America by minions of the New World Order? Not only have I seen these stickers myself, I have done a numerological analysis of the Book of Judas and it it foretold that America will be enslaved on St Patrick’s Day, 2007. Stock up on bottled water, Beanie Weenies, and ammunition. It’s comin’, man. Really.

  • beloml

    Jeff Burton: “What is being pushed today does not bear much resemblance to 2nd C. Gnosticism.”
    Care to explain?

  • jd

    George:
    In a way, you kind of make my point, ie: goofy ideas like this aren’t dangerous or influential until they are made understandable through popular books like Da Vinci. Then the uninformed think they are part of the inner circle, the knowledgable ones. Can’t it be argued that Da Vinci Code paved the way for “the other gospels” to become big news? I don’t know much about Elaine Pagels, but I’m more interested in what she has to say now that her ideas have been made much more powerful through Dan Brown and the “revelation” of the Gnostic Gospels. You said Elaine Pagels wrote about it ten years ago. That could be, but who knew? Now millions of partially informed people “know” the truth of the gospels thanks to that great scholar, Dan Brown.

  • http://inkan.blogspot.com pgepps

    I’m basically on board with jd and George, I think–hope my irritation with the breathless coverage isn’t going too far to make it sound like I’m in the hyperventilating paranoid camp. I’m just sick to death of this nonsense getting treated seriously by suited nobodies at anchor desks, while real scholarship and serious, long-attested faith traditions get really short shrift.
    Oh, and using “shrift” in that position is definitely a bit interesting.
    By all means, read if you want to, refrain if you want to, but don’t waste your money on a hardback. The Gospel of Judas is old news not worth reading new writing about (go get a copy of the thing free off the ‘Net, read it yourself, and draw your own conclusions with un-addled brain), and Brown’s novel–it’s got the basic elements of airport fiction, and those ridiculous Holy Blood, Holy Grail rip-offs, and a garishly pretentious Barnum for an author, and that’s about it.
    Cheers,
    PGE

  • http://www.gryphmon.com Patrick (Gryph)

    What is and is not included in the Bible was decided by men, not God. They chose what to include, what to add, and what to remove. They were no more guided by the hand of God than Congress is when it decides which lobbyists and special interest groups to reward from Uncle Sam’s pocket every year.
    As such, the idea of heretical Bible passages is silly. To someone, somewhere, its ALL heresy. You either believe, or you don’t.

  • Mike O

    Mt 26:1

  • jd

    Patrick:
    You have stated the point which is an Achilles heel for me, as a Christian. That is, that the books of the Bible were written by men, and then chosen or rejected by men to be in the canon. I’m sure other Christians have doubts along these lines, too. However, my doubts about which books of the Bible are included or excluded do not change the facts of the central story of the gospel. On that, I have no doubts. The difference between me and you is that you don’t even believe the central story, so you can’t even discern which of the gnostic gospels has some truth and which is claptrap. To scholars–honest ones–the gnostic gospels, for many disparate reasons, are not credible in the way that the rest of the Bible is.

  • http://www.centeredwork.com AndyS

    A Catholic friend insisted I read Dan Brown’s book. “It’s simply great!” Like George, I waited for the local library copy and also like him didn’t think Brown was much of a writer, which was apparrent in the first couple of pages. Without all the noise, I’d have set it aside then. Unlike George, I don’t like Grisham either. Yet guys like Brown and Grisham sell phenomenal numbers of books. There seems to be an enormous market for conspiracy theories, especially ones by writers who aren’t that capable.
    Before we all get too worked up about that, notice there are enormous markets for romance (in the sense of bodice rippers) and horror (King, anyone?) as well — and on IMBd’s top 250 moive list Fight Club ranks higher than American Beauty, The Matrix higher than To Kill a Mockingbird, and A Man For All Seasons barely makes the list.
    Brown is going to join Grisham, King, Crichton, and Rowling in the group of wealthiest writers in the history of the world. It should go without saying that what he writes about is not true. It’s fiction for the masses.

  • ex-preacher

    What I find most interesting about all the hoopla over the Da Vinci Code is the way that churches are trying to capitalize on all the media attention. How many books have been written “exposing” the Da Vinci Code? How many sermons have been/will be preached keying off of this subject?
    I’ve seen church marketers (including Lee Strobel, who has put together a massive and slick ant-Da Vinci package) proclaim that this will be a great opportunity to share the “truth” with your friends and neighbors. I suspect these efforts will attract and convert as many non-Christians as did church marketing schemes built around “The Passion” and “The Chronicles of Narnia.” That is, next to none.

  • Jon Gallagher

    Re: The DaVinci Code
    There is one and only one thing that the DaVinci Code teaches its readers. It is the ultimate guide to structuring a thriller. Short chapters, each ending on a cliffhanger or further mystery, short (often misused) words, sacrificing everything to increasing the tempo of the story. It is as much a visceral thrill as riding a roller-coaster.
    But wait. Since it was thrilling and thus evoked an emotional response, suddenly we “know” that it must have a deeper meaning, right? Isn’t that what passes for truth these days?
    Good God people. What part of the word fiction is difficult to understand? How could anyone’s faith be shaken by historical fiction’s equivalent of Tom Clancy? Ditto the Gospel of Judas. Hasn’t anyone else been confronted by an adolescent mind bent on convincing you that settled arguments must be re-opened, science must be wrong, that THEY ARE HIDING THE TRUTH FROM US!!!!
    Or is it just me living too close to the Institute for Creation Research.

  • Greg Forster

    Joe, thanks especially for this:
    “But more often than not we adopt a persecution complex to compensate for a lack of real persecution…what kind of faith do we have if it can

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    > Suppose that sometime around the year 3,800 >A.D., someone wrote a newspaper that >began: “According to
    > a
    > recently-discovered document, which appears to have
    > been written sometime before 1926, Benedict Arnold
    > did
    > not attempt to betray George Washington and the
    > American cause, as is commonly believed.
    Of course if there were only 4 or 5 other documents left in the world that talk about Washington we might just take it somewhat seriously. Add to it a real dispute over whether those documents ‘orthodox documents’ were themselves written before or after 1926 (in any case the only copies of any of these documents date to centuries later).

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Anyway, I don’t take the Gospel of Judas that seriously. I think it is a very important historical find but I don’t see evidence that it should be considered more ‘authentic’ (meaning actually written or directly influenced by people who actually knew Jesus) than anything we don’t already have.
    The issue of Judas betraying Christ is interesting, though. If Judas had not done it then the prophecy would not have been fulfilled. That would seem to have been a serious theological problem…yet Judas is assumed to have had free will. It seems odd, since the crucifixion was so essential if we invented a time machine tomorrow wouldn’t it be wrong to go back and try to stop it? Yet we all agree Jesus was innocent so shouldn’t a good person try to stop it? Any thoughts anyone?

  • http://mugglematters.com Pauli
  • ex-preacher

    I have had the same thoughts, Boonton. According to Christian interpretation of Jewish prophecy, someone close to Jesus had to betray him. If not Judas, then someone else would have had to do it. In some ways, this makes Judas a hero for doing what had to be done. One can be put in a real conundrum when trying to reconcile prophecy with free will. It made my head hurt in seminary. Almost like the whole notion of time travel in science fiction movies. I always hate it because it’s impossible.
    I think it was Alan Dershowitz who said that what Jesus really needed was a good Jewish lawyer. Dershowitz himself said he’s pretty sure he could have gotten Jesus off. This also brings up a big prophecy fulfillment problem. What would Jesus have done if the Sanhedrin had decided to let him go? I guess we would have never heard of him.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    I’m not even thinking of it as a free will problem, what was the right thing for Judas to have done? If he protected Jesus then wouldn’t he really be fighting God’s will which is bad? On the other hand what if he doubted Jesus? If Jesus was just a deluded person then Judas should not let an innocent person be killed by the Romans.
    That isn’t the real point of the Gospel of Judas, though. From the excerpts I read on the NY Times site there’s a lot of that ‘secret knowledge’ stuff that quite frankly sounds more like Scientology than anything profound.

  • college guy

    AndyS:
    “A Catholic friend insisted I read Dan Brown’s book. ‘It’s simply great!’”
    Are you serious? Must have had a sense of humor =)
    ex-preacher, Boonton:
    “I have had the same thoughts, Boonton. According to Christian interpretation of Jewish prophecy, someone close to Jesus had to betray him. If not Judas, then someone else would have had to do it. In some ways, this makes Judas a hero for doing what had to be done. One can be put in a real conundrum when trying to reconcile prophecy with free will.”
    Those are the funnest questions IMHO. :)

  • Rob B

    Jon Gallagher,
    Yes, it’s fiction. I hope and think everyone gets that. However, some may forget that author Brown went on a publicity tour for the book stating emphatically that he believes as reality the theories about Christianity espoused in his work of fiction. So, it’s easy to understand folks feeling some friction here…

  • http://www.JeffBlogworthy.com Jeff Blogworthy

    Boonton, ex-preacher:
    Your comments suppose that God is some kind of cosmic pool player, calling the shots, then falling under duress to make them happen. This is not necessarily the case.
    C.S. Lewis uses the illustration of the piano. If one imagines time as linear, each key on the piano would be a unit of time that we can occupy before we must move on to the next key. Human beings are confined to the linear concept of time, but God is not; He has access to all of the keys at once. If God sees someone do something how is it that He is making them do it or in any way infringing on their free will? To know that someone will do certain actions it not to make them do anything.
    That is my summation; Lewis no doubt says it better. I fail to see how any of this poses any serious theological problems.
    By way of example, if Peter had failed to deny Jesus three times then one would have conclude that Jesus was not who He claimed to be, since the requirement for validating a prophet according to scripture is 100% accuracy in future predictions. Of course, that did not happen. Why suggest that Jesus coerced Peter or had to set him up in some way? It would be both unnecessary and a distortion. Playing “what if” is completely beside the point.

  • Mike O

    Since Einstein we know that time is a dimension and this should make us better able to understand the “what ifs” or the Calvanism vs Armenism argument because they both are basically predestination vs. free will. It’s certainly possible for God to say this will happen in the future and then cause it to happen. It is also possible for God who is outside the constraints of time to simply know what will happen in the future without the necessity of causing it to happen. Though God has the right to do what He wants with His creation, since God through James tells me that He does not tempt man with evil I’ll vote for Judas’ actions to be done of his own will and God knowing beforehand that he would do them.

  • ex-preacher

    Alert the press! Today at EO, the problem that has bedeviled the world’s greatest theologians and philosophers for thousands of years has been solved!

  • Mike O

    Ex-preacher
    I can understand why you are an ex-preacher. I have a little more difficulty with how you got a church to hire you but I can believe it. What really puzzles me is why you became a preacher in the first place. Were you simply unable to move up the line to get a PHD so I could watch you on the Discovery or History channel?

  • Eric & Lisa

    I recently took a flight from San Diego to Washington D.C. with a lay over in Dallas. While I was in the Dallas Airport I went to the bookstore to buy a magazine or something to read on the flight.
    There on the shelf was a hardback copy of The Da Vinci Code. It was filed under Non-Fiction. I was a bit surprised as I had just recently heard about this controversy on the Hugh Hewitt show.
    So I picked up the book and opened it up to the first few pages to see if there was anything inside that declared it to be fiction or non-fiction.
    One of the very first pages, before the book started, declared that a bunch of stuff in the book was factual. I don’t recall exactly what was declared as factual, but it gave a short laundry list, like, “The following mentioned people, places, events, etc.” are all factual.
    Had I been unaware of the controversy, I would have assumed that the book was a work of non-fiction, chalk full of real facts that were properly researched and to be believed.
    Suffice it to say, I didn’t purchase the book, but I do wonder how many of those “facts” are in error. I also wonder why the book was in the very clearly labelled non-fiction section of the bookstore.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    It’s a possible answer to the free will problem but doesn’t really address my point, what was Judas supposed to do? Was he doing wrong in betraying Christ or helping him fulfill the prophecy. If Judas really believed Christ was who he said he was then he should have betrayed him because that is the will of God…at least per the prophets. If Judas thought Jesus was just a regular guy then he shouldn’t let him get himself killed in a misguided belief that he was the Messiah.

  • Terry

    Isn’t this Judas & free will issue less complicated than it appears? If Judas was an instrument of God in betraying Christ, how is that different in kind than thinking that any bad person is doing God’s will by doing evil?
    If we believe, as Christians, that evil was introduced to the world as the inevitable result of a freely chosen fall, how can the fault for anyone’s wickedness be God’s?

  • Gordon Mullings

    Joe, Terence and others:
    Been a bit busy over on the now closed five-leg dog thread. I think the cite from Locke there in my last comment is worth thinking about here:

    Men have reason to be well satisfied with what God hath thought fit for them, since he hath given them (as St. Peter says[cf. 2 Pet 1:2 - 4, cf 1 - 11]) pana pros zoen kaieusebeian, whatsoever is necessary for the conveniences of life and information of virtue; and has put within the reach of their discovery, the comfortable provision for this life, and the way that leads to a better. How short soever their knowledge may come of an universal or perfect comprehension of whatsoever is, it yet secures their great concernments, that they have light enough to lead them to the knowledge of their Maker, and the sight of their own duties . . . It will be no excuse to an idle and untoward servant [i.e. of God, cf Rom 1 and 2], who would not attend his business by candle light, to plead that he had not broad sunshine. The Candle that is set up in us [Prov 20:27] shines bright enough for all our purposes.[Essay on Human Understanding, Intro section 5.]

    The point is, that God has given us enough light that we have no excuse if we prefer darkness instead. Worse yet, if we get into thinking darkness is light.
    In Jesus’ words:

    MT 6:22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

    To that, let us add Paul’s acid comment and sober warning:

    EPH 4:14 [When we have been matured through sound leadership, guidance and instruction etc in the church] we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ . . . .
    EPH 4:17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.
    EPH 4:20 You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. 21 Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

    Here, JD on April 17 or 18 hit the nail square on the head:

    goofy ideas like this aren’t dangerous or influential until they are made understandable through popular books [I add: and movies] like Da Vinci. Then the uninformed think they are part of the inner circle, the knowledgable ones. Can’t it be argued that Da Vinci Code paved the way for “the other gospels” to become big news?[ I add: and the Jesus Seminar's media profile too]

    The point is, that the game is to create a perception of conspiracy and fraud by the church over the centuries, a conspiracy to suppress “the true early Christianity,” thus poisoning the well. That way, a geat many people will think you are ignorant or deceptive if you try to witness to the NT gospel, and will close their minds tot he actual truth.
    In short, we now have to first fight to have the gospel message seen as the authentic message of the historically credible authentic CHristian C1 faith, before we get to the level of actually telling people what it is, i.e. the 55 AD 1 Cor 15: 1 – 11, that echoes the C8 BC Isaiah 52 – 53 in detail as fulfilled prophecy:

    1CO 15:1 Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you . . . .
    1CO 15:3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared [to over 500 witnesses:] to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. . . . . 11 Whether, then, it was I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

    Further to this, I think it is no accident that all of this is in a time when Bible-believing CHristian faith is uder assault in the USA by those who wish to radically secularise and/or repaganise the culture, and this campaign is backed by major institutions of influence and power, including a huge swath of the major media and a major wing of one of your main political parties. Not a conspiracy, just a vast, well-funded and powerful cultural movement with a core of agenda-driven agitators of various stripes.
    Now, I have actually waded through something like four books by Mr Brown — all in our tiny public library here in Montserrat [the 4 copies of DVC seem to tbe the most borrowed books in the collection], and I can see a trend of development:

    1. Early phase: He began to pull together his characteristic themes about codes and artwork or cultural matters, hero-professors aided by pretty young heroines, conspiracies in institutions of trust led by high officials turned bad, and disabled assassins, by the time of his Digital Fortress. The Sci-Tech side comes in via a code breaking and email snooping NSA supercomputer, but I note that his books need a serious technology and science edit, as well as basic fact checking on background. [But then, DVC would never have made it off the ground.]
    2] In that early work, too, he began to hint at his hostility to the Catholic Church by putting in a one-liner that suggests a drunken bishop. No great sales, it seems.
    3] Angels and Demons introduces his chief hero and villains: His Semiotics Professor Langdon, vs. corrupt Vatican officials. Here his heroine is an adoptive daughter of a murdered Priest-Physicist, with decidedly New Age leanings. No great takeoff it seems.
    4] The key techno element is the idea of this physicist at CERN playing games with creating a new big bang in a bottle as a new energy source, which both ties intot he sort of multiverse ideas we see these days, and is “the bomb in the vatican” that turns out to be set by the demented biological son of a murdered pope and a nun by artificial insemination, in a mockery of the virginal conception of Jesus.
    5] DVC is actually a sequel, with Langdon being called in to solve the murder of the curator of the Louvre, by a French detective whose strategy is to call in his chief suspect and get him to incriminate himself. Thre themes are notorious: the CUrator and his granddaughter turn out to be the descendants of Jesus’ daughter Darah was it, it is an expose of a vast Catholic COnspiracy, refuted by four trunks of documents that never turn up, the Gnostic Gospels — snippets really — expose the truth, etc etc. THIS one takes off, asnd I think the wave of revuslsion in the aftermath of the hyped scandals caused by a nest of homosexual pedophiles in the church and failure to deal with it firmly and promptly, have something to do with it, as it suggests conspiracies of silence and cover-ups.
    5] In Deception Point, he turns on agencies of the US Govt, and discusses a fake meteorite found in an ice field in Greenland, which seems to prove panspermia. I guess this exhoes and twists the 1996 NASA fiasco withtheoir announcement of martian microbes in a rock found in an ice field in Antarctica.
    6] Something more is forthcoming.

    Where does one start to refute such half-baked speculation, conspiracy theorising and hostility? [Here, note since FVG begins sith an aannouncement led by the word FACT, and claims that refterences to organisations, works of art and documents are true, we must reckon with this issue.]
    My answer:
    1] Get the basics on working with historical and factual evidence straight, starting with Greenleaf’s well-known Ancient Documents Rule:

    THE ANCIENT DOCUMENTS RULE: Every document, apparently ancient, coming from the proper repository or custody, and bearing on its face no evident marks of forgery, the law presumes to be genuine, and devolves on the opposing party the burden of proving it to be otherwise. [Testimony of the Evangelists, Kregel Edn p.16.]

    –> Do I need to say again, that the NT documents easily pass, and the Gnostic ones comfortably fail here?
    2] In that context, note the actual provenance of the NT: C1. For instance, here is Barnett on the chain of custody as at the turn of C2, i.e. within living memory of the composition:

    On the basis of . . . non-Christian sources [i.e. Tacitus (Annals, on the fire in Rome, AD 64; written ~ AD 115), Rabbi Eliezer (~ 90's AD; cited J. Klausner, Jesus of Nazareth (London: Collier-Macmillan, 1929), p. 34), Pliny (Letters to Trajan from Bithynia, ~ AD 112), Josephus (Antiquities, ~ 90's)] it is possible to draw the following conclusions:
    1. Jesus Christ was executed (by crucifixion?) in Judaea during the period where Tiberius was Emperor (AD 14 – 37) and Pontius Pilate was Governor (AD 26 – 36). [Tacitus]
    2. The movement spread from Judaea to Rome. [Tacitus]
    3. Jesus claimed to be God and that he would depart and return. [Eliezer]
    4. His followers worshipped him as (a) god. [Pliny]
    5. He was called “the Christ.” [Josephus]
    6. His followers were called “Christians.” [Tacitus, Pliny]
    7. They were numerous in Bithynia and Rome [Tacitus, Pliny]
    8. It was a world-wide movement. [Eliezer]
    9. His brother was James. [Josephus]
    [Is the New Testament History? (London, Hodder, 1987), pp. 30 - 31.]

    –> In short, ever since within living memory of the date of composition, we have credible chain of custody on the NT documents.
    –> Further to this, the archaeologically confirmed detailed accuracy of the NT documents ever since Ramsay et al, is a major factor in understanding that they could only have been composed in the C1.
    –> It is worth noting too that by the first circle of writing fathers 96 – 110 AD, 25 of 27 of the NT focuments we use are cited or alluded to as scripture by leaders in major letters. Only 2 real short ones hapapen not to be in this circle. This too, Barnett aptly summarises. As I note:

    (as Barnett goes on to observe, pp. 37 – 41) in the very first cluster of writing sub-apostolic church fathers — Clement of Rome [c. AD 96], Ignatius [c. 108] and Polycarp [c. 110], 25 of the 27 books in the New Testament are cited or alluded to, as authentic and authoritative scripture [only the two rather brief works, 2 Jn and Jude, are not cited or alluded to]; so the subsequent textual history of the NT documents begins in the 90′s, i.e. within living memory of the Apostles, and it continues in an unbroken chain of custody to the origin of printing.

    3] The NT documents also make the only explanation capable of accounting for the origin of the church and its success against all odds, as the Morison challenge summarises:

    [N]ow the peculiar thing . . . is that not only did [belief in Jesus' resurrection as in part testified to by the empty tomb] spread to every member of the Party of Jesus of whom we have any trace, but they brought it to Jerusalem and carried it with inconceivable audacity into the most keenly intellectual centre of Judaea . . . and in the face of every impediment which a brilliant and highly organised camarilla could devise. And they won. Within twenty years the claim of these Galilean peasants had disrupted the Jewish Church and impressed itself upon every town on the Eastern littoral of the Mediterranean from Caesarea to Troas. In less than fifty years it had began to threaten the peace of the Roman Empire . . . . Why did it win? . . . . We have to account not only for the enthusiasm of its friends, but for the paralysis of its enemies and for the ever growing stream of new converts . . . When we remember what certain highly placed personages would almost certainly have given to have strangled this movement at its birth but could not – how one desperate expedient after another was adopted to silence the apostles, until that veritable bow of Ulysses, the Great Persecution, was tried and broke in pieces in their hands [the chief persecutor became the leading C1 Missionary/Apostle!] – we begin to realise that behind all these subterfuges and makeshifts there must have been a silent, unanswerable fact. [Who Moved the Stone, (Faber, 1971; nb. orig. pub. 1930), pp. 114 - 115.]

    –> Onlookers should note that his goes to the central warranting argument of the Christian worldview, and that in this blog, it is consistently unmet: once we expose selectively hyperskeptical tactics, skeptics as a rule have no serious argument; as Greenleaf remarked.
    4] By sharpest contrast, the Gnostic books that are now surfacing have provenance in C2 at best, i.e. ~ 100 years after the event, are deriviative of the NT books, and fit in all too well with the Greek worldviews of the time, rsather than the facts we can substantiate from C1. They also have in them a lot of just plain trashy and confused remarks — that they never came up for serious consideration when the NT was formally compiled as a unified whole,as they had neither the track record if use in the churches since C1 nor the quality to be even considered is a no-brainer. It was simply NOT a conspiracy! [The books that were consisdered but did not make it are works like Didache and Shepherd of Hermas, which are more or less orthodox, though Shepherd has its moments of questionable teachings -- mostly on issues of perfectionism and sexual sin.]
    5] But, we live in a world today where the general level of education on logic is poor, and the knowledge of history is worse — and our churches have a lot of fault in the matter.
    +++++++++
    Grace, open our eyes
    Gordon

  • Gordon Mullings

    H’mm:
    Crossed a couple of wires there:
    1] On chain of custody, see barnett’s summary of the first circle of writing Fathers.
    2] On corroboration by independemnt, often hostile sources, see Barnett’s summary from the pagan and Jewish sources.
    GEM

  • http://inkan.blogspot.com pgepps

    re: prophecy and freedom. It’s not so hard, if you study out what’s actually prophesied. Simply stipulate that God isn’t bound to anything except exactly what He said (and note the non prediction-verification nature of much prophecy-fulfillment) and it does begin to work out.
    re: needing a good Jewish lawyer. You’re probably right that Christ could have gotten off. He could also, in the words of the song, have “called ten thousand angels / To destroy the world and set Him free”–but He didn’t ever intend to get off. He was quite intent on being convicted, and never made the slightest effort to change their minds–only to ensure that He was speaking the truth in the process.
    Geez, folks, what–you think Jesus was so dumb He didn’t know a way or two to get off the hook? He gave ‘em the slip more than once before the end, and then He actually *waited* for ‘em to come.
    The problem with the Gnostic gnonsense isn’t the notion that Jesus intended to be executed by the Sanhedrin at that time and place. It’s that it represents a falsification of the facts as an occasion to discredit authentic Apostles and substitute damnable heresies for their witness to the Truth Himself.
    Take care,
    PGE

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Terry,
    Isn’t this Judas & free will issue less complicated than it appears? If Judas was an instrument of God in betraying Christ, how is that different in kind than thinking that any bad person is doing God’s will by doing evil?
    I don’t doubt that God could choose to use an evil person to do his will. I’m also as not as concerned on the free will question as ex. I see how a person can have free will but nevertheless another person can predict what their decisions will be.
    What I’m curious about here is what Judas should have done. Imagine he was your friend and came to you, what would you tell him he should do? This is why I’ve been pointing out that the more Judas actually believed Christ was who he said he was the more important it seems to be to have turned him in. Ironically it seems as if not to turn him in would have been a lack of faith.

  • college guy

    Hmm, it seems to me that Judas should not have betrayed Jesus, and that, if I had lived at that time and he were my friend, I would have advised him not to betray Jesus.
    But it also seems that the Bible’s point is that Judas was set in his mind to betray Jesus and that though he, in some sense, might have betrayed Jesus because he had faith in him, he actually betrayed Jesus because he had decided he didn’t like Jesus/wanted money/insert bad motive here.
    Apparently, it’s all about what was going on in his heart. Judas wasn’t thinking how you’re thinking Boonton :)

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    I guess we’ll never really know. It doesn’t exactly say he wanted money and he certainly didn’t seem very happy to get it. Others can confirm this but there isn’t much I recall in the Bible about the reaction of the other aspostles…nothing about them getting mad at Judas, beating him up etc. although they do get mad enough to cut off the ear of one of the slaves to the Romans who arrest Jesus.
    On the other hand Jesus does say to Judas you betry the son of man with a kiss….pretty harsh sounding. Not like “I know that was tough for you but it had to be done, thanks”.

  • http://www.JeffBlogworthy.com Jeff Blogworthy

    Boonton,
    Of course Judas should not have betrayed Christ; it was an evil thing to do. It is an example for us that no matter how much light and truth come people are exposed to, they will reject it in favor of the darkness. The point is not whether Judas beleived Christ – the point is that his selfishness and avarice outweighed any sense of belief of or loyalty to Christ Judas may have had. Judas put himself first and everybody else last, as evidenced from his pilfering from the disciple’s treasury and his obsession with how the money was spent. If extended exposure to the teachings of Jesus failed to impact Judas, it is hardly likely that a “friends advice” would be any more effective.
    Ironically it seems as if not to turn him in would have been a lack of faith.
    That is quite a twist on the facts and represents why imperfect human reasoning is so often the path to heresy. Judas was not “duty bound” to betray Christ for the sake of prophecy. Prophecy was true because it was rightly predictive that Judas was going to exercise his free will to betray Jesus.

  • ex-preacher

    Perhaps the conflict between omniscience and free will isn’t as impenetrable as I have thought. I do think it’s a little trickier than you guys admit. I remember as a teenager trying to think of ways I could do something that God didn’t expect. But then, he knew I would do that didn’t he?
    It is one thing to suppose that God could see all of the future and somehow be apart from it. The more difficult thing is when you also suppose that he could intervene at any point and in the smallest way (think butterfly effect) to completely alter the outcome. According to the Bible he often did intervene and not just in small ways. Although the Old Testament, particularly the early OT, depicts a God who sometimes seems surprised by the course of events (ala Open Theism), an all-knowing God is never surprised.
    I suppose the biggest issue all of this raises is – what’s the point of life as we know it? If God knew the exact outcome and could slightly manipulate events to achieve whatever outcvome he wanted, why bother? If you knew not only the score of the game, but also had helped determine the outcome and had seen everything that would happen, would you still bother to go see the game? If God knew everything that would happen, all the choices every person would ever make, down to all of your misspellings why would he care to still play the game? Why continue to run his experiment in a world with so much pain when he already knows what will/would happen?

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    If God knew everything that would happen, all the choices every person would ever make, down to all of your misspellings why would he care to still play the game? Why continue to run his experiment in a world with so much pain when he already knows what will/would happen?
    Except the experiment seems like a big deal to you, to an infinite beign it’s literally less than a blink of the eye. Also considering how huge the universe is who is to say the experiment doesn’t have other purposes than just humanity on earth. In fact, if the point of the whole universe is to give a field for humans to grow and play on then it’s amazingly wasteful…even if you want to assume a long period of time for humans to expand and Star Trek like technology the universe is still way too huge for that purpose…sort of like getting ownership of all of Austrailia as part of a research grant to study fruit flies.

  • ex-preacher

    But why run the experiment at all when you know with perfect knowledge what the exact outcome will be?

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Good question unfortunately all we can do is speculate as to what an infinite beign might have in mind. When someone builds a model they know what the end result will be yet they do it anyway. Perhaps that is the reason.

  • Terry

    I’ve never read ‘The DaVinci Code’, but I did read, many years ago, the ‘Holy Blood, Holy Grail’ conspiracy book that inspired Brown’s novel. I’ve read reviews of “The DaVinci Code’ (none praised Brown’s writing style) and while reading Gordon Mullings long post on ‘The DaVinci Code’ and Biblical historicism it suddenly occurred to me that in both ‘The DaVinci Code’ and ‘Holy Blood, Holy Grail” the physical progeny of Christ takes the place of the Holy Ghost of the Bible; the paraclete is made human, trapped in time and subject to man-made history.
    I can’t be the first person who’s noticed this.

  • http://www.centeredwork.com AndyS

    Gordon, as is often the case, hits the nail on the head:

    … it is no accident that all of this is in a time when Bible-believing Christian faith is under assault in the USA by those who wish to radically secularise and/or repaganise the culture, and this campaign is backed by major institutions of influence and power, including a huge swath of the major media and a major wing of one of your main political parties. Not a conspiracy, just a vast, well-funded and powerful cultural movement with a core of agenda-driven agitators of various stripes. [emphasis mine]

    But note how easy it is to rephrase this from the secular point of view:

    Rewrite: “… it is no accident that all of this is in a time when science and secular institutions of long standing are under assault in the USA by those who wish to radically introduce specific religious notions and faith-based initiatives into the culture, and this campaign is backed by major institutions of influence and power, including a huge swath of the major media and a major wing of one of your main political parties. Not a conspiracy, just a vast, well-funded and powerful cultural movement with a core of agenda-driven agitators of various stripes.

    Both the original and the rewrite have significant supporters. Seems to me this is part of a historical pattern not only in the ebb and flow of religious and secular thought, but in most things political. One side gains ascendency long enough to energize it opposition, then the opposition uses this new energy to better organize and push its agenda forward.

    Several writers point to path followed by conservatives and evangelical/fundamentalist Christian groups over the last (roughly) 25 years to create a grassroot movement that’s affected the composition of school boards, state legislatures, and more visibly the House of Representatives (1994 Contract with America), the Senate, the Executive branch (2000), and most recently the Supreme Court. Mr. Brown was incredibly fortunate that his book got published relatively recently. The same book published in 1985 or 2015 wouldn’t have caused a stir.

    Liberals like me sometimes look at the pendulum swing up the conservative-religous arc and, projecting the path into the future, worry about theocracy. From our point of view, the collective power held by the opposition and the momentum behind the pendulum swing is scary; we wonder what might happen next, how far the swing will go. As conservatives often point out, it only takes a few national policies and SCOTUS decisions to change the nature of our nation. In the 1960′s and early 70′s Johnson and Nixon took aim at poverty and environmental protection. More recently Reagon and GWB have been reversing that direction.

    That the pendulum is about to swing the other way is alluded to in the public reaction to the Schiavo fiasco and highlighted in two recent phenomena: the Dover decision on teaching evolution and the South Dakota law banning abortions. Dover shows that even a GWB judge can rule against GWB’s base given a fair process. South Dakota will energize the liberal base like nothing else GWB has done. Coathangers are designed only for the hanging of coats and other clothes.

    Liberals don’t have to fear a theocracy, the pendulum is about swing the other way.

  • Mike O

    As most here are aware there seem to be two Messiahs in Old Testament prophecy. A suffering servant and a conquering king. The Israelites of that time were looking for the conquering king. Many times in their recorded history God had raised up a champion for them. If we look at the conversation on the road to Emmaus with two desciples Jesus first gets them to tell Him of what’s been happening then says “Lu 24:26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? Lu 24:27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. I doubt that Judas understood the need for the Messiah to die as a sacrifice for sin.
    Also we always forget the angels. Perhaps God has let this play out for a few thousand years so that all the parties involved, both angels and men, can see the result of sin.

  • ex-preacher

    And why does God need to prove anything to the angels?

  • http://thebronxblogger.blogspot.com Matthew Goggins

    Ex-preacher But why run the experiment at all when you know with perfect knowledge what the exact outcome will be?
    Boonton Good question, unfortunately all we can do is speculate as to what an infinite beign might have in mind. When someone builds a model they know what the end result will be yet they do it anyway. Perhaps that is the reason.
    Life is not an experiment, there is no grand experimenter.
    Life is, rather, a fact of life.
    We ourselves are all little experimenters in our own individual domains. But there is no over-arching intelligence that set the ball rolling way back when, or who interferes when things get a little bit off-track, or who observes everything that happens.
    The challenge is to accept life on its own terms. It can be very hard to do this with a religious upbringing.
    Religious training indoctrinates us with the idea that all meaning flows from God. To have this idea challenged can lead to a vacuum of meaning that is either scary or depressing. But the vacuum is actually just an artifact of a myth that now seems hollow.
    If you can get beyond the loss of what was supposed to have been divine meaning, there is meaning a’plenty to be found in our entirely mundane lives and existence. It might not be the meaning you were brought up to expect, but it’s meaningful meaning just the same.

  • jd

    “Liberals don’t have to fear a theocracy, the pendulum is about swing the other way.”
    Tell that to your liberal friends. I think they fear us more than they fear bin Laden. I know they think Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson are just as bad. From the rhetoric of liberals you’d think that the theocrats were handing out coat hangers to pregnant women to be ready for the imminent reversal of Roe vs. Wade.
    Speaking of coat hangers, there’s a straw man if ever I heard of one. I doubt that anyone could ever show that back-alley coat hanger abortions ever took place.
    One of these days, liberals will wake up and say: “I used to get energized in favor of abortions? Seems like there should have been SOMETHING else I could have carried that stupid sign around for.”

  • http://www.centeredwork.com AndyS

    It’s a shame to have to support the contention that coat hangers were/are used to abort.

    In the years just before abortion became legal in 1973, hospital wards were filled with women seeking abortions—who either had been injured or become sick obtaining an illegal abortion under dangerous conditions, or who had tried to induce the abortion themselves.

    Desperate women used a number of dangerous means to terminate pregnancies. Some sought abortions from back-alley abortionists, with usually humiliating and sometimes deadly results.

    Other women tried to induce abortions with homemade means — such as a bleach douche, or inserting sharp instruments into her cervix. This is why the now almost forgotten image of the wire coat hanger became the symbol of the abortion rights movement.

    “In Chicago, at Cook Country Hospital, there were about 5,000 women a year coming in with injuries bleeding resulting to illegal abortions, mostly self-induced abortions,” Leslie Reagan, the author of When Abortion Was a Crime, said in an interview. “They had an entire ward dedicated to taking care of people in that situation. Those wards pretty much closed up around the country once abortion was legalized.”

    jd: From the rhetoric of liberals you’d think that the theocrats were handing out coat hangers to pregnant women to be ready for the imminent reversal of Roe vs. Wade.

    No, the coat hangers are being mailed to South Dakota legislators who supported the abortion ban to remind them of the consequences of their actions.

    … your liberal friends. I think they fear us more than they fear bin Laden.

    Because I respect international law and the many nations that support it, because I’m sure US agencies like the FBI and CIA are tracking Al Qaeda, because I’m dead certain that the world won’t tolerate chaos, I don’t fear bin Laden that much, because, we are after him, we are tracking his followers, we won’t let 911 happen again.

    But I do fear that my country, a nation founded on republican principles, might be politically dominated by a religious minority. I see the effect in every branch of government.

  • http://www.JeffBlogworthy.com Jeff Blogworthy

    Men can become so desperate to justify their evil deeds and wish so badly to escape the accountability of the judgment to come that they invent “just so” stories about how everything came from nothing and life is its own creator. “There is no such thing as God’s law,” they tell themselves.
    They exchanged the truth of God for a lie , and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator

  • jd

    andys:
    sorry, but your reference is not proof. I am aware that there was much hysteria about coat-hanger back alley abortions, but I am very sceptical about the actual number. I doubt that the number, as a percentage of the population, comes anywhere near the number of abortions we have now.
    Part of my scepticism is just the idea of women being so desperate and hateful that they would actually be able to do something so violent to themselves. It’s hard to imagine a normal woman wanting to do such a thing.

  • http://thebronxblogger.blogspot.com Matthew Goggins

    Jeff,
    Maybe you are right, that there are some who seek to justify their evil be rejecting God and traditional morality.
    And maybe the converse of your point is true as well, to the extent that there are some who find goodness and strength in their faith in God.
    But for those who are find themselves deeply unsatisfied with traditional religion, I am saying they should not be afraid or depressed or confused. Life without theism is not a desperate nightmare or a leap into depravity.

  • Gordon Mullings

    All:
    I will remark on a point or two
    1] First, from B:

    I’ve been pointing out that the more Judas actually believed Christ was who he said he was the more important it seems to be to have turned him in. Ironically it seems as if not to turn him in would have been a lack of faith.

    This of course picks up on a theme in the Gnostic Pseudogospel, Judas, as if it is well, err, “Gospel truth.”
    Given what the other major esarly source has to say on its Cainaite authors, I think we should take a loooong pause before giving such a document — 100 years too late and reflective of C2 not C1 thought – credit. Here is Irenaeus, from his Against Heresies — which BTW, the Gnostic document discoveries since 1945 continue to affirm as consistently accurate on matters of fact:

    Others [i.e. the so-called Cainites] again declare that Cain derived his being from the Power above, and acknowledge that Esau, Korah, the Sodomites, and all such persons, are related to themselves. On this account, they add, they have been assailed by the Creator, yet no one of them has suffered injury. For Sophia was in the habit of carrying off that which belonged to her from them to herself. They declare that Judas the traitor was thoroughly acquainted with these things, and that he alone, knowing the truth as no others did, accomplished the mystery of the betrayal; by him all things, both earthly and heavenly, were thus thrown into confusion. They produce a fictitious history of this kind, which they style the Gospel of Judas. [Against Heresies I.31.1l NB: Irenaeus, trad. bishop of Lyons France, circa AD 180, was a disciple of Polycarp, who in turn was a disciple of the elder (i.e. Apostle) John. Thus, he was in every position to know which history was authentic, and which was fictitious. His Against Heresies, until the discovery of the Nag Hammadi Gnostic trove, provided the most complete picture of Gnosticism. (NB: he seems to have had an odd view on the chronology of Jesus' ministry.) Of course, the advocates of GOJ wish to cite him to show its C2 date, then wish to dismiss the substance of what he has to say without first responsibly addressing the quality of his testimony.]

    –> Here it is very clear that the Cainites were trying to turn the Biblical storyline on its head, so the attempt to “rehabilitate” Judas we see here is no surprise.
    –> On the broader point it seems plain to me:

    a] Judas plainly did not think the betrayal was going to go as far as Jesus being put to death — “I have sinned and betrayed innoccent blood.” [Perhaps he had in mind that a wonder-worker like that would have simply showed his power and presto, all would hail him as messiah, and Judas would have a tidy sum from the opposition for "helping out" his master?]
    b] The free will issue is overblown: our wills are not free beyond all limits and constraints. In particular, pentitent response to God, in the biblical worldview, is only possible where God by his Spirit stirs our hearts with conviction of sin, righteousness and judgement. Beyond a certain point, based on Jesus’ remarks on the point, whether at physical death for most, or for those few who have so resisted, grieved and ultimately blasphemed the Spirit that he withdraws, their wills have lost all further opportunity to repent.
    c] In the case of Judas, he knew enough to plainly know he was doing wrong, but had has a track record of sticky-fingered, shady dealings even with the common purse. [John's remark to that effect maybe 60 years later still bristles on it!] Beyond a certain point, one is trapped in the consequences of what one has done. Sadly, that happened to Judas even while in Jesus’ inner circle.
    d] I think we should see this as God triumphing over satan’s worst through a classic Judo move: turning your strongest move into the basis for your downfall.

    –> JB has said it well: Judas was not “duty bound” to betray Christ for the sake of prophecy. Prophecy was true because it was rightly predictive that Judas was going to exercise his free will to betray Jesus.
    2] Ex: It is one thing to suppose that God could see all of the future and somehow be apart from it. The more difficult thing is when you also suppose that he could intervene at any point and in the smallest way (think butterfly effect) to completely alter the outcome. According to the Bible he often did intervene and not just in small ways.
    –> The point of the butterfly effect is precisely that our lack of knowledge of the exact values of variables is rapidly amplified through the system leading to unpredictability because of the sensitive dependence on initial conditions. But, even among humans, short term prediction is not wholly lost — e.g. we can predictt he weather several days ahead, maybe even a week to two weeks in some circumstances, but that is about the upper limit we hope for.
    –> As tot he “God is surprised” by events, I think here we need to be real careful about overextending analogical and phenomenological language in reference to God. That is, the philisphical study of the idea of God warns us by its subtlety and unexpected twists and turns, that our abiility to understand God and to correctly interpet interactions with him is strictly limited.
    –> Far safer is to let God speak for himself and respond to that, in aggregate and with humility that we are seeing though a glass darkly.
    –> Having said that, I am interested in the analogy of a chess master vs a newbie: the master sees maybe 5 – 6 moves head, and can respond tot he newbie in such ways that he in effect controls the flow of the game, even though the newbie is freely playing for himself, and playing for all he is worth.
    –> I also think we are importing into the claim “God knows” an inferentiality that the Bible does not really lend itself to: in him we live, move and have our being holds across all space and time. That is, God is immediately aware of all of spaciotemporal history, but that does not make it all into a boring game.
    3] AndyS: note how easy it is to rephrase this from the secular point of view . . . . “… it is no accident that all of this is in a time when science and secular institutions of long standing are under assault in the USA by those who wish to radically introduce specific religious notions and faith-based initiatives into the culture . . .”
    –> First problem, this reverses the long run of history over the past 500 years, as is diecussed in the other thread linked above, i.e the material evidence supports the conclusion that the JudeoCHristian worldview and its adherents and those deeply influenced by it had much to do witht he rise of both science and modern liberty. In short, it is the usurpers who wish to wroite out the truth in their retelling.
    –> Second, it is plain that over the past 50 – 80+ years in the US and maybe 150 – 200+ in Eurpope, there has been an accelerated process of secularisation that has led to secularist dominance of major social institutions. In hsoret the key institutions surrounding the public square have been seized and held for decades by those whose worldview is hostile tot he roots of the civilisation whose fruits we now enjoy. Now, they have begun to try to uproot the tree from which the fruit have come that so enrich thepublic square.
    –> A movement from the fringe that responds and challenges this uprooting in the teeth of the sort of opposition that is so obvious on your campuses, in courtrooms, in the major media and other locations in defense of the tree in the middle of the square from which we all subsist, is a movement of resistance not an attempted usurpation.
    –> Further to this, Andy, you are a philospher by basic training, so you understand that inthe end all worldviews are faith-based, just the specific faith varies. INthis case, we therefore are seeing comparative difficulties across competing faith-systems, which compete on a best explanation basis.
    –> Therefore your use of “faith-based” as a label of dismissal is loaded and unfortunately misleading, especially in the subtext: irrational. FOr reason can be subverted to serve a bad cause, where worldview level issues are ducked.
    –> At that level, over the past months in theis blog, we have seen that evolutioary materialism is properly challenged on coherently explaining the credibility of mind, the evident design in life and the cosmos, and in partrifcular on the basis for morality other than relativistic schemes that end up at: might makes right. By sharpest conterast, the CHristian theistic scheme is capable of coherently explaining all these things and the associated facts, without being either simplistic or an ad hoc patchwork.
    –> In short, there is not a mirror-image similarity here. Nor is there a “you’re another.” Indeed, the overblown, well-poisoning resort to “theocracy” is a disappointing resort, as there is abundant evidence that the religious tradition in question is a major root [indeed arguably the tap-root] of the liberty tree, and if that root is pulled up, we will all suffer the consequnces — secularist and neopagan usurpation and tyranny are far more credible threats than some notion of “theocracy.”
    –> As has been abundantly shown in earlier threads, the DOve r decision is exactly an instance of secualarist judicial overreach ternding to tyranny. THe Schaivo case is an instance of worrying loss of respect for life, and the death toll osf 45+ million abortions anc counting would worry me agreat deal in light of the force of Rom 1 adn Deut 8 on reprobation and the destruction of societies that turn their backs on GOd.
    4] MG: Life without theism is not a desperate nightmare or a leap into depravity.
    –> It seems to me, on the contrary, adn sadly, that your history over the past 50 years or so is proof positive that Paul was dead right in Rom 1 – 2 etc.
    –> Kindly engage the classic is-ought gap of secularist ethics:

    However we may define the good, however well we may calculate consequences, to whatever extent we may or may not desire certain consequences, none of this of itself implies any obligation of command. That something is or will be does not imply that we ought to seek it. We can never derive an

  • http://www.JeffBlogworthy.com Jeff Blogworthy

    Excellent comments, Gordon.

  • Rob Ryan

    GM: “Kindly engage the classic is-ought gap of secularist ethics”
    If one were a theist, one could simply invent a patch or adopt a patch provided by others and say, “Look! No gap!” But the gap remains; inventing a source of objective truth, grounding the concepts of good and evil in a fictional being in no way closes the gap. Isn’t it better to honestly contemplate the gap and acknowledge that WE must decide what is right and what is wrong? There is nothing to say that what we settle upon can’t have a broad correlation with the precepts of your faith (though some would argue that it has actually worked the other way, that the precepts of your faith simply reflect societal conclusions about right and wrong that predate Judaism and Christianity).
    Hare: “…subjectivism reduces imperatives to statements about subjective states…”
    Hare says this as if it is a bad thing; I think it is merely honest.

  • http://www.JeffBlogworthy.com Jeff Blogworthy

    Gordon:
    My thoughts on Andy S’ comments mirror yours. Humanist Manifesto I was written in 1933. It has much in common with its older brother, the Communist Manifesto, written in 1848. Both having their roots in Darwinism, H.M. I was a shot across the bow of the The Christian Worldview. At least H.M. I was an honest shot, calling itself a “new religion”:

    In every field of human activity, the vital movement is now in the direction of a candid and explicit humanism.

    While this age does owe a vast debt to the traditional religions, it is none the less obvious that any religion that can hope to be a synthesizing and dynamic force for today must be shaped for the needs of this age.

    These same adherents are now in denial mode, insisting that their point of view reflects not religion, but reality. As such, they are becoming increasingly militant and forceful.
    The U.S. has been on a continual, essentially uninterrupted move leftward since around that time. Among the other things you mentioned, we are currently seeing the abolition of the propertied class happen right before our eyes. If the pendulum swings in an opposite direction, it will certainly not be a swing leftward. It is very difficult for me to understand how rational human beings can desire continue to move in our current direction. The handwriting is on the wall and the horrible consequences seem so clear. Are not the stark examples of recent history enough? Andy has to be delusional.

  • jd

    Matthew Goggins wrote:
    “But for those who are find themselves deeply unsatisfied with traditional religion, I am saying they should not be afraid or depressed or confused. Life without theism is not a desperate nightmare or a leap into depravity.”
    I don’t know what you mean by traditional religion, and I can’t say I’m excited about theism (but then, who is?). But I can say that life without Christ was, for me, a desperate nightmare. C.S. Lewis wrote about this subject, basically saying that he doesn’t understand how anyone can live in this world without facing despair. In fact, I sometimes listen to this liberal talk show host and I think how I would have felt listening to this guy before I accepted Christ. My thought is that I would have been more inclined than ever to kill myself. Incidentally, I was a liberal at one time, and in fact, I was still politically liberal for many years after I became a Christian.
    I think it would be an interesting study to see how many former liberals have become conservative versus the other way around. I’m quite sure I know the trend. LIBERALS OF THE WORLD, DESPAIR!!

  • http://thebronxblogger.blogspot.com Matthew Goggins

    Jd,
    By traditional religion, I mean any religion that believes in God and/or the supernatural.
    Politically, I wouldn’t describe myself as conservative or liberal. I am a very big fan of George Bush, and have been a registered Republican for many years. But I don’t evaluate every issue through a prism of politics — at least I try not to, and I think I’m pretty successful at not being a partisan ideologue.
    If Christianity has saved you from despair, then I’m not going to knock that. Religion can be a very positive experience. A religious community can serve as a warm and supportive family, and a religious credo can provide direction, grounding, and meaning. But it’s not for everyone.
    I wish you every success and well-being as a Christian, and I encourage you to support others in the way that you have been supported.
    Gordon,
    … [our] history over the past 50 years or so is proof positive that Paul was dead right…
    As you might suspect, I disagree with your historical analysis.
    As I mentioned before, religion can be a very powerful force. Sometimes it is the source of great good, and sometimes it is the source of something else.
    But the way I evaluate it personally is not just how well it works or doesn’t work for various people. I evaluate it on whether or not it seems to be true.
    Kindly engage the classic is-ought gap of secularist ethics…
    I believe the is-ought gap can be closed, and I agree with Rob Ryan that passing the buck over to God does not serve to close it in any case. Delegating moral authority to God would not close the gap even if God existed and claimed to be the moral authority of the universe. We would still have the duty of evaluating God’s morality and verifying that it is indeed moral and good.
    However, closing the is-ought gap is, from my perspective, more of an interesting project in moral philosophy than something with a lot of a practical merit for our everyday lives.
    Let’s assume that we know philosophically that the is-ought gap has been closed, either from my atheist or from your Christian perspective. That still doesn’t relieve us from the burden of figuring out the right choices in any particular real-life moral dilemmas. And it still doesn’t relieve us of the burden of motivating ourselves to do what seems to be the right thing, even after we have determined the apparent moral course of action.
    At least that’s the way I see it.
    After many interesting and fruitful discussions about the is-ought gap on the Evangelical Outpost, I have concluded that the best way for me to discuss morality and ethics with someone who disagrees with my morality is to put it in terms of a conditional morality: if such-and-such is good, then we can conclude that this over here is good and this over there is bad; if such-and-such is bad, then this other thing is good and this other thing right there is bad.
    The way I usually put it is as follows. If we assume that helping people is good and that hurting people is bad, then a lot of morality flows from that. If there are some people who disagree with those two premises, then they have no right to impose their morality on any of us, and we can deal with them in any way that seems appropriate. And if we can’t persuade someone that helping people is good and hurting people is bad, then you can try adding God into the mix, but that is not something I would do myself.
    Feel free to disagree!
    Cheers,
    Matthew

  • ex-preacher

    Gordon writes: “Having said that, I am interested in the analogy of a chess master vs a newbie: the master sees maybe 5 – 6 moves head, and can respond tot he newbie in such ways that he in effect controls the flow of the game, even though the newbie is freely playing for himself, and playing for all he is worth.”
    God as chess master? Perhaps I am a little slow, but this analogy does not seem to resolve the essential problem I raised, and indeed it raises new questions.
    The analogy fails pretty early, as the omni-max God does not just see what the possibilities might be 5 or 6 moves ahead. He knows exactly what every move will be for both players for the rest of the game. He already knows the results of every game that will ever be played by anyone.
    The analogy also fails because God supposedly created everyone and everything. Instead of playing a newbie, he’s playing a computer program he wrote. He knows not only every move the newbie will make, but all the alternatives he will consider and why he will reject each one. Further, he knows he could have intervened earlier in the newbie’s life to cause him to choose different moves.
    In your analogy, who is God playing chess against? Humans, angels, the devil, himself?
    So, my main question remains: what is the point of all this for God?

  • ex-preacher

    And for your further consideration . . .
    Does God ever do something that he didn’t expect? Does he ever surprise himself?
    The early OT contains a number of episodes where the text plainly says that God changed his mind. I realize that Christians have since devised explanations that this doesn’t really mean what it seems to mean, since God can’t change his mind. He was just appearing to change his mind.
    Aside from those passages, is it theoretically possible for God to change his mind?
    Does God have free will?

  • sam

    ex-preacher
    I was wondering if you could give examples of God changing his mind.

  • ex-preacher

    Here’s one example from Genesis 18:
    - – - – -
    16 When the men got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. 17 Then the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? 18 Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. 19 For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”
    20 Then the LORD said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous 21 that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”
    22 The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the LORD. [e] 23 Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare [f] the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing

  • ex-preacher

    One more thing about that passage. It certainly gives the impression that Abraham is more merciful than God and has to talk him into doing the right thing.
    All in all, this is one doozy of a passage.

  • http://www.centeredwork.com AndyS

    jd,

    sorry, but your reference is not proof. I am aware that there was much hysteria about coat-hanger back alley abortions, but I am very sceptical about the actual number.

    One is too many, isn’t it?

    Part of my scepticism is just the idea of women being so desperate and hateful that they would actually be able to do something so violent to themselves. It’s hard to imagine a normal woman wanting to do such a thing.

    I wish we lived in a world were women would never feel that sort of desperation.

    Consider this from Wikipedia:

    The laws restricting abortion in El Salvador are among the strictest in the world, and are enforced against the mother. Article 1 of El Salvador’s constitution protects life from the “moment of conception.” Abortion is forbidden for rape, incest, fetal malformation, or threat to the life of the mother. Ectopic pregnancies cannot be treated until the embryo dies or the fallopian tube bursts. Women can get 2 to 8 years in prison, or 30 to 50 years if the fetus was viable, and some women are in prison for up to 30 years.

    And the consequences reported in 2001:

    a year and a half after El Salvador’s new abortion law took effect in 1998, 69 cases involving illegal abortions had been brought before courts. Most involved poor, under-educated, young women who self-induced abortions by using clothes hangers, ingesting very high doses of birth control pills, antacids, caustic liquids or cytotec pills. In 23 of the cases, hospital personnel turned the women over to police after they arrived for medical treatment following incomplete abortions.

    You can read about horror stories occuring in the USA here. “They are underage or poor women mostly, and a few daughters of pro-life families…”

  • http://www.JeffBlogworthy.com Jeff Blogworthy

    Andy:
    One is too many, isn’t it?
    Indeed. One abortion via any method you care to name is too many. So we can prevent .0001% of women from breaking the law, we are required to accept millions upon millions of abortions of innocent children. Bravo. Another brilliant decision foisted upon us by the supremecists.

  • http://www.JeffBlogworthy.com Jeff Blogworthy

    Incidentally, women who have had abortions say it’s not quite the groovy experience it’s chalked up to be.
    “…a state task force on abortion took testimony and collected nearly 2,000 statements from women nationwide, 99 percent of whom said their abortions caused them pain, emotional damage and health problems and shouldn’t be legal.”
    Source

  • http://www.centeredwork.com AndyS

    Gordon,

    the material evidence supports the conclusion that the JudeoChristian worldview and its adherents and those deeply influenced by it had much to do with the rise of both science and modern liberty.

    I accept the “much to do with” qualifier. It just when you extend it as in:

    in short the key institutions surrounding the public square have been seized and held for decades by those whose worldview is hostile to the roots of the civilisation whose fruits we now enjoy.

    I think you overstep. As others here note, the JudeoChristian worldview has as much to do with the endless series of wars our “civilization” has engaged in as it does in providing the good things we enjoy.

    —> Further to this, Andy, you are a philospher by basic training, so you understand that in the end all worldviews are faith-based, just the specific faith varies. INthis case, we therefore are seeing comparative difficulties across competing faith-systems, which compete on a best explanation basis.

    —> Therefore your use of “faith-based” as a label of dismissal is loaded and unfortunately misleading, especially in the subtext: irrational. FOr reason can be subverted to serve a bad cause, where worldview level issues are ducked.

    I was thinking of W’s “faith-based initiatives” when using that term — quite common in the USA and not, I think, in itself (e.g. without nonverbal or other cues) a perjorative.

    Actually this is a bit humorous. Just the other day I was engaged with a group of atheistic scientist types some of whom had a problem with the world “belief.” They didn’t want to say they believed in science or atheism because they feared people would take that to mean they had “faith” in the same sense an evangelical had faith. Some on either side are expecting common terms to be used perjoratively.

    so you understand that in the end all worldviews are faith-based, just the specific faith varies

    Yes, but this is rather in the sense of all human life is based on carbon and water. It’s a true statement that hides all the interesting detail. Naturalism is not faith-based in the same way evangelical Christianity is, which leads us to this:

    At that level, over the past months in the is blog, we have seen that evolutioary materialism is properly challenged on coherently explaining the credibility of mind, the evident design in life and the cosmos, and in partrifcular on the basis for morality other than relativistic schemes that end up at: might makes right. By sharpest conterast, the Christian theistic scheme is capable of coherently explaining all these things and the associated facts, without being either simplistic or an ad hoc patchwork.

    I appreciate your enthusiasm, but we have seen nothing of the kind. I’m not aware any of us on the naturalism side of the discussion have been swayed the least bit from our position — nor vice versa. Speaking for myself, my biggest take away has been understanding that your side of the discussion is more nuanced and thought out than I had previously imagined, but that’s not to say I agree with its conclusions — or even many of the premises.

    As has been abundantly shown in earlier threads, the Dover decision is exactly an instance of secualarist judicial overreach trending to tyranny.

    Perhaps abundantly shown to your satisfaction, but I point to my previous paragraph and repeat: It was not abundantly shown to me.

    I see secualarists saying, in effect, everyone is free to practice their religion in whatever way they see fit but when arguing your case for a particular public policy you don’t get to cite the Bible. In the abortion debate you don’t get to say “it’s the equivalent of baby killing because we say so.” Similarly in end-of-life decisions like Schiavo or the Oregon law, you can’t expect to be heard when saying “God says it’s a sin.” The legislatures and courts are not there to make decisions based on religious arguments. If they were, that would be some sort of theocracy. Whose religion is the right one?

    43% of women obtaining abortions identify themselves as Protestant, and 27% identify themselves as Catholic. (2002 link) So 70% of all abortions are by self-identified Christians. The implication is that not all Christians agree with the mainstream evangelical view. Thus you have one religious group wanting to change the law (and being successful in SD) to enforce their religious views on others of their own belief system. One could note pro-choice Christians and unaligned Christian groups to make the same point.

  • http://www.centeredwork.com AndyS

    Jeff,

    The U.S. has been on a continual, essentially uninterrupted move leftward since around that time [1933, when Humanist Manifesto I was published]. Among the other things you mentioned, we are currently seeing the abolition of the propertied class happen right before our eyes. If the pendulum swings in an opposite direction, it will certainly not be a swing leftward. It is very difficult for me to understand how rational human beings can desire continue to move in our current direction. The handwriting is on the wall and the horrible consequences seem so clear. Are not the stark examples of recent history enough? Andy has to be delusional.

    Thinking I’m not unduly delusional, please point to some of the “horrible consequences” that “seem so clear” and some evidence for “the abolition of the propertied class happen[ing] right before our eyes.”

    I really can’t grasp “the abolition of the propertied class” being a concern of anyone in the USA in 2006. Are you from another country? It is the sort of language used in the early 1900′s when there was much concern about socialists, trade unions, and Communists taking over the country.

    You might also want to read the three versions of the Humanist Manifesto: 1933, 1973, 2003. You’ll find radical statements like:

    We assert that humanism will: (a) affirm life rather than deny it; (b) seek to elicit the possibilities of life, not flee from them; and (c) endeavor to establish the conditions of a satisfactory life for all, not merely for the few.

    The preciousness and dignity of the individual person is a central humanist value. Individuals should be encouraged to realize their own creative talents and desires. We reject all religious, ideological, or moral codes that denigrate the individual, suppress freedom, dull intellect, dehumanize personality. We believe in maximum individual autonomy consonant with social responsibility. Although science can account for the causes of behavior, the possibilities of individual freedom of choice exist in human life and should be increased.

    We are committed to treating each person as having inherent worth and dignity, and to making informed choices in a context of freedom consonant with responsibility.

    I had never read these documents before. Thanks for prodding me.

  • jd

    Matthew Goggins wrote:
    “If Christianity has saved you from despair, then I’m not going to knock that. Religion can be a very positive experience. A religious community can serve as a warm and supportive family, and a religious credo can provide direction, grounding, and meaning. But it’s not for everyone.”
    It wasn’t religion or a religious community that saved me from despair. It was not the warmth and support of a family or some religious credo providing direction, grounding and meaning. It was accepting the absolutely outrageous IDEA that Jesus Christ died for me. Explain how THAT’S not for everyone.

  • nedbrek

    Do not come to Christ for comfort. You will receive tribulation. You must recognize:
    You are not “good enough” to be with God. If you have broken one of the ten Commandments (even just in your mind), it is like breaking them all. God cannot just overlook that, the price must be paid.
    Jesus has paid the price for us. He does not want us to just believe in Him (even demons believe He is the Son of God). We must trust in Him for all things. We must turn over our lives to Him. Then we can have right standing with God.

  • Gordon Mullings

    All:
    Several remarks:
    1] RR: grounding the concepts of good and evil in a fictional being in no way closes the gap.
    –> This of course first begs a very big metaphysical question by assuming that there is no God, then dismissing references to God as “fictional.” The root ewrror is to fail to address the comparative difficulties on the live option worldviews first, before drawing conclusions from any paericular view that another is “obviously” false.
    –> And, on the part of the CHristian worldview, note onlookers, that the central warranting argument, the resurrection of Jesus and its aftermath, is simply ducked. I point to the still unmet Morison challenge, yet again:

    [N]ow the peculiar thing . . . is that not only did [belief in Jesus' resurrection as in part testified to by the empty tomb] spread to every member of the Party of Jesus of whom we have any trace, but they brought it to Jerusalem and carried it with inconceivable audacity into the most keenly intellectual centre of Judaea . . . and in the face of every impediment which a brilliant and highly organised camarilla could devise. And they won. Within twenty years the claim of these Galilean peasants had disrupted the Jewish Church and impressed itself upon every town on the Eastern littoral of the Mediterranean from Caesarea to Troas. In less than fifty years it had began to threaten the peace of the Roman Empire . . . . Why did it win? . . . . We have to account not only for the enthusiasm of its friends, but for the paralysis of its enemies and for the ever growing stream of new converts . . . When we remember what certain highly placed personages would almost certainly have given to have strangled this movement at its birth but could not – how one desperate expedient after another was adopted to silence the apostles, until that veritable bow of Ulysses, the Great Persecution, was tried and broke in pieces in their hands [the chief persecutor became the leading C1 Missionary/Apostle!] – we begin to realise that behind all these subterfuges and makeshifts there must have been a silent, unanswerable fact. [Who Moved the Stone, (Faber, 1971; nb. orig. pub. 1930), pp. 114 - 115.]

    –> In short, onlookers, RR has no right to his first inference.
    –> But of course, secondly, the key point on the implications of morality is that the intuitive sense that ewe are bound by moral law — which comes out as soon as we quarrel (i.e. try to show one another in the wrong) — that is itself a strong pointer to God. pOnlookers cf. here.]
    –> The major point conceded in this fallacious rebuttal, is that indeed, secularist, evolutionary materialist systems face a major is-ought gap . . .
    2] Isn’t it better to honestly contemplate the gap and acknowledge that WE must decide what is right and what is wrong? . . . . Hare: “…subjectivism reduces imperatives to statements about subjective states…” Hare says this as if it is a bad thing; I think it is merely honest.
    –> The other shoe drops: radical relativism results on values, just as Satan argues in the Garden of Eden: “WE must decide what is right and what is wrong . . .” As Schaeffer long ago pointed out, that “we” is very troubling: the tyrant, the elite oligarchs, the manipulated public opinion and votes. This of course immediately and fatally exposes the erosion of values and particularly of rights: might makes right, so if you or your ancestors lost the fight, you have no complaint or appeal, other than to emotions.
    –> Thus we see the exact absurdity that results when we dismiss the Creation-anchored point made by the Hebraically influenced US founders: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are Created equaql, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that Governments are instituted among men to protect these rights etc. Those who value rights should observe where the radical secularisation is headed.
    –> SUch a resort is honest relative to aqcknowledging the implications of evolutionary materialist thought — and BTW, there is also the issue of accounting for the credibility of the mind here . . . — but it begs the worldview question before it gets there, and it seeks to dismiss strong evidence that points to God by attempting to embrace an absurdity: as soon as we quarrel we acknowledge ourselves bound by a moral law, but we are ourselves the “lawmakers” in question. But if this is so, then quarrelling makes no sense: why is it that most of us do not simply blow off the attempt to “impose” standards on us, and insist on being laws unto ourselves, at individual and community levels?
    3] JB: [citing HN I]“While this age does owe a vast debt to the traditional religions, it is none the less obvious that any religion that can hope to be a synthesizing and dynamic force for today must be shaped for the needs of this age.” [Commenting] These same adherents are now in denial mode, insisting that their point of view reflects not religion, but reality. As such, they are becoming increasingly militant and forceful.
    –> Excellent point. Interesting how intolerant the champions of tolernance can be when estsablishment is in their grasp, isn’t it? Mystery Babylon simply cannot shake her habt of getting the kings and merchants drunk on her foaming winde and enticing them to do her oppressive bidding . . .
    –> Looks like we need to learn again the point made by the Dutch people onthe eve of their DOI, 1581, on kings and preiests [including priests of secular religions!]:

    [On learning of Philip II's intent to impose bishops and Inquisition on Holland] This being come to the knowledge of the people gave just occasion to great uneasiness and clamor among them, and lessened that good affection they had always borne toward the king and his predecessors. And, especially, seeing that he did not only seek to tyrannize over their persons and estates, but also over their consciences, for which they believed themselves accountable to God only.

    4] JD: Incidentally, I was a liberal at one time, and in fact, I was still politically liberal for many years after I became a Christian.
    –> Interesting how a word has been again come to mean almost the oppositite of its original meaning . . .
    5] MG: As I mentioned before, religion can be a very powerful force. Sometimes it is the source of great good, and sometimes it is the source of something else.
    –> Exactly, and Mystery Babylon in her latest disguise of evolutionary materialism driven secular humanism, is the same old bloody-minded oppressive prostitute.
    –> In short, my point is, that we are all struggling sinners, so penitence and fenewal leading to reformation of life, family, community and its key institutions should be our watchwords.
    6] Delegating moral authority to God would not close the gap even if God existed and claimed to be the moral authority of the universe. We would still have the duty of evaluating God’s morality and verifying that it is indeed moral and good.
    –> The classic answer to this classic debate point is of course that: (1) the finite could not detect deception on the part of the infinite in any case so the issue is really one of trust not proof, (2) the character of God is manifest in his works, and these are supremely those of the GOd who loves and redeems, so is infinitely trustworthy, (3) this last is shown to us by the life, atoning death, resurrection and exaltation of Jesus, i.e. refer to the Morison challenge.
    7] closing the is-ought gap is, from my perspective, more of an interesting project in moral philosophy than something with a lot of a practical merit for our everyday lives . . . . [it] still doesn’t relieve us from the burden of figuring out the right choices in any particular real-life moral dilemmas. And it still doesn’t relieve us of the burden of motivating ourselves to do what seems to be the right thing, even after we have determined the apparent moral course of action . . . . I have concluded that the best way for me to discuss morality and ethics with someone who disagrees with my morality is to put it in terms of a conditional morality: if such-and-such is good, then we can conclude that this over here is good and this over there is bad; if such-and-such is bad, then this other thing is good and this other thing right there is bad.
    –> In short, let us appeal to “consensus” and ignore the underlying sense of ought adn commonality of core morality [Cf Rom 2 here . . .] in terms of its root. Nor is a this-world, implicitly utilitareian horizon of evaluation a way to avoid question-begging unless the key issues discussed above on RR’s points are addressed.
    –> More interestingly, this implies hte same radical relativisation and hte issues therewith as raised above, so the issue IS very “practical.” [THis comes out in debates over rights, the 45_ million aborted unborn babaies inthe US since 1973, the putting to death of the crippled i.e. so-called happy'good death, eugernics and racism, and issues of the attempted "redefinition" of marriage, etc etc. Absent the image of God in us, we have no basis of value to claim raights.]
    8] Exthe omni-max God does not just see what the possibilities might be 5 or 6 moves ahead. He knows exactly what every move will be for both players for the rest of the game. He already knows the results of every game that will ever be played by anyone.
    –> In short, we are now at the threshold of middle knowledge relating to counterfactuals . . . and the issues of omniscience coupled to creating creatures with the power of virtue, i.e. of real choice. [Hint to onlookers: that God omnisciently knows though being "there" that we can do a, b, c, d, e etc, and has countermoves to bring the system back unot order, many of them built in, and knws that in fact we will select D, does not change the factt hat we have a choice and the power of virtue, thence the responsibility over our loving/selfish choices!)
    9] The standard Christian interpretation is that God was going to agree to save it for the sake of ten from the beginning, but he wanted to teach Abraham a lesson. That interpretation is plainly at odds with a common sense reading, indicating that Abraham bargained with God and got him to change his mind.
    –> Of course, there is an immediatel brakdown in the context of God’s eterity and immediate presence in all of space-time: in him we live and move and have our being. In hsort, you are projecting from an inadequate dimensionality like the Flatlanders speculating on 2-d objects.
    –> the passage in question is of course a classic on intercessory prayer, and it shows that the intercessor is able to discuss with GOd who takes his request seriously into the account. But God is not confined to the linear progressive before/after time domain we face. Hence the significance of the CHess game analogy.
    10] AndyS: As others here note, the JudeoChristian worldview has as much to do with the endless series of wars our “civilization” has engaged in as it does in providing the good things we enjoy.
    –> A lot of questions lurk under the surface of these remarks:

    a] It, first, is fair comment for me to note that I have repeatedly and publicly pointed to the fact that ALL of us struggle with basic morality, not at all exceptring Ckristians, including in this blog and very recently too. SO this is a bit of an overdstep on your part. In particular, I have pointed out that the Protestant reformers were ironically also prone to the temptations of inappropriate use of influence on the state to get their ends, e.g. specifically John Calvin. [Well do I recall my long debates with Jamaica's no 1 street calvinist on that!)
    b] War, per se — and in light of Romans 13 etc — is not an absolute bad to be avoided in all instances: sometimes the alternative to war now is war later on worse terms, and with the prospect of massacre ofr enslavement if one suffers defeat. The civil authority does not bear the sword in this fallen world for nothing. Thence, the issue of the just war, justly conducted on the whole with discipline and accountability on the part of participants. [WWII was a case in point of am arguably just war on the part of the Western Allies, but with troubling questions on why Hitler was not stopped earlier and on things like bombing etc etc etc.]
    c] In a fallen world full of wilfull evildoers, that an “endless” series of wares with determined evildoers foreign and domestic happens is inevitable — and here,the war against the criminal calsses is simply that “endless” war on a lesser scale of operations.
    d] The credible objection is that CHristians and those influenced by the CHristian worldsview have often been implicated in unjust wars and/or wars carried out unjustly. Safly, true. However, agsain, this simply isslustrates the need to recognise our falleness and to look seriously at the warning Gamaliel gave in Ac 5, etc.
    e] That the NT accurately describes that Christians too struggle with evil should not be helagaist it, apart from a fair-minded reckoning withthe reforming tendency in the biblical religion, which is exactly what is a major, material contributor to the rise of modern liberty. And that is my complaint!

    –> And, BTW, again, the above points show the force of the point on the moral incoherence of evolutioary materialism. On the issue of lacking a basis for accounting for mind, onlookers can track back over he past several months, and will see that the balance of the merits is not a tall witht he advocates o=f evolutioary materialism, e.g. see here for comments by the author of CS Lewis’ dangerous idea.
    –> I am not at all interested in this or that person’s judgements or openess or otherwise to be persuases on the merits — I am well aware that generally persuasion is shaped by many forces, the weakest of which is an actually sound argument.
    –> Let us hear Aristotle again, in his The Rhetoric:

    Of the modes of persuasion furnished by the spoken word there are three kinds. The first kind depends on the personal character of the speaker [ethos]; the second on putting the audience into a certain frame of mind [pathos]; the third on the proof, or apparent proof, provided by the words of the speech itself [logos]. Persuasion is achieved by the speaker’s personal character when the speech is so spoken as to make us think him credible . . . Secondly, persuasion may come through the hearers, when the speech stirs their emotions. Our judgements when we are pleased and friendly are not the same as when we are pained and hostile . . . Thirdly, persuasion is effected through the speech itself when we have proved a truth or an apparent truth by means of the persuasive arguments suitable to the case in question . . . .[Cf discussion here.]

  • Rob Ryan

    GM: “RR has no right to his first inference.”
    What an outrageous claim! Of course I have a right to my inference; it is more solid than yours.
    GM: “I point to the still unmet Morison challenge, yet again”
    You can point to the “Morison Challenge” until your keyboard-weary fingers fall off, and it will never be more than an argument from incredulity, and rather a weak one. There are many things harder to believe than what Morison presents in your excerpt: how did Mormonism ever catch on?; how did the United States defeat Great Britain in the War for Independence?; how can intelligent people take Scientology seriously? A group of determined, oppressed people seized upon an ideology and used it to subvert the dominant paradigm. Do you really think that is harder to believe than virgin birth, resurrection, Loading two of each animal on an ark, a couple of bears killing dozens of boys for yelling “Baldy” at some old man? Not in my world, Gordon. You and I clearly have different ways of resolving “comparative difficulties”.
    “As Schaeffer long ago pointed out, that “we” is very troubling: the tyrant, the elite oligarchs, the manipulated public opinion and votes. This of course immediately and fatally exposes the erosion of values and particularly of rights: might makes right, so if you or your ancestors lost the fight, you have no complaint or appeal, other than to emotions.”
    Because you don’t like its implications, you assume it is false. This is the philosophical equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and babbling. The Grand Canyon is still there even if you cover it with shelf paper.
    “The major point conceded in this fallacious rebuttal, is that indeed, secularist, evolutionary materialist systems face a major is-ought gap ”
    And your worldview DOESN’T face the is-ought gap; it hangs a painting over it, but it still exists. The bridge from “is” to “ought”, like it or not, is you and me. Now, where shall we place the footing for the “ought” side?

  • http://thebronxblogger.blogspot.com Matthew Goggins

    Jd,
    It wasn’t religion or a religious community that saved me from despair. [ ... ] It was accepting the absolutely outrageous IDEA that Jesus Christ died for me. Explain how THAT’S not for everyone.
    Some people share your beliefs, and some people don’t. The idea that Jesus died for you and me is not an idea for those, like myself, who don’t share your beliefs.
    Gordon,
    The classic answer to this classic debate point is of course that: (1) the finite could not detect deception on the part of the infinite in any case so the issue is really one of trust not proof…
    I agree with you 100%, Gordon. The issue is really one of trust or faith and not proof.
    You believe that God is infinitely trustworthy, and I believe God doesn’t exist. I think this is the heart of our disagreement.
    That said, we share a lot of common ground and we respect each other, so I actually don’t think this is the biggest of big deals, that our religious beliefs appear to contradict each other.
    Cheers,
    Matthew

  • Gordon Mullings

    All:
    As I promised, notes on points raised, replacing what was clipped off.
    1] Gryph: According to this assumption, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes have an inherently better marriage and are inherently better parents than say, Joe Carter’s ex-wife and her partner . . . . some dogs are indeed born each year with five legs instead of four. They do not cease being dogs. And they are just as worthy and capable of giving and receiving love as any other dog.
    - > Simply put, Cruise and Holmes are man and wife, reflecting the natural, creation order. If they then go about a foolish distortion of how man and wife should behave,t hat says nothing tot he legitimacy of the creation order itself.
    - > That some dogs are born with a fifth LEG is irrelevant to the attempt to decree by saying magic words in a courthouse or legislature or even a referendum, that a TAIL is a leg. And, that was Lincoln’s point, as JC aptly cited.
    - -> In the case that is under consideration, homosexuals are not inthemselves incapable of love, nor havet ey ceased to be human. Only, the attempts to “redefine” marriage by saying magic words, reflexct a disordered view of what is the nature of human sexuality and the associated requisites of child birth and child rearing.
    2] RR: secularism is not a religion, despite misguided attempts by some to define it as such. secularism: noun; indifference to or rejection or exclusion of religion and religious consideration. Thanks to Merriam-Webster for the foregoing definition.
    - – > Here we first see an attempt to divert the discussion, for the core point is as was aptly summed up by JC in his earlier thread on the subject:

    In order to define the term in such a way that it is neither too broad nor too narrow, we must list all of the features that are true of all religious beliefs and true only of religious beliefs.* While this may appear to be an obvious point, we are often surprised to find what has been pruned when a definition is stripped to its essential components . . . . Having excluded gods and worship from our definition [by way of Brahmin Hinduism, Theravada Buddhism as examples of (a) religion, but withoug (b) gods, and (c) liturgical worship], we are left with very few features that all religious beliefs could possibly share in common. As Roy Clouser asks, “What common element can be found in the biblical idea of God in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, in the Hindu idea of Brahman-Atman, in the idea of Dharmakaya in Mahayana Buddhism, and the idea of the Tao in Taoism?” The answer, he argues, is that every religious tradition considers something or other as divine and that all of them have a common denominator in the status of the divinity itself.
    While many religions disagree on what is divine, they all agree on what it means to be divine. The divine is simply whatever is unconditionally, nondependently real . . . . Clouser uses this common element to formulate a precise definition: A belief is a religious belief provided that it is (1) a belief in something as divine or (2) a belief about how to stand in proper relation to the divine, where (3) something is believed to be divine provided it is held to be unconditionally nondependent.
    The conclusion we can draw from this definition is that everyone holds, consciously or unconsciously, a religious belief.

    - – > Thence, we see that when a set of worldview linked beliefs has an identifiable divine element, then finds systematic and institutional representation, we may properly see it as being of sufficiently religious character that the matter of its being a quasi church within the meaning of the issue of establishment of a religion applies. (As indeed has come up before the USSC, and has issued in the conclusion that secular humanism is in fact just such a religion in the relevant sense.) On this, for evolutionary materialism-anchored secular humanism, we should take pause to see Dewey’s remarks that teachers are in effect priests of a new religion; i.e. education systems can become captive to a new religious – htough in theis case non-liturgical and non theological [in fact a theoilogical] – establishment dedicated tot he proposition that matter in some form or other is the ultimate independent reality that is therefore in effect sovereign.. And, as we shall just now see, for excellent reason, for as JB notes overnight over in the other parallel thread:

    [Humanist Manifesto I:] In every field of human activity, the vital movement is now in the direction of a candid and explicit humanism. … While this age does owe a vast debt to the traditional religions, it is none the less obvious that any religion that can hope to be a synthesizing and dynamic force for today must be shaped for the needs of this age.

    - – > In short, secular humanism has in it sufficient of the characteristics of a religion to give one pause.
    3] Mullings’s statement is particularly loathsome in that it seeks to establish that a state religion is inevitable, in that LACK of a state religion constitutes a state religion. Of course what follows is that the state religion should be determined by the majority . . . . It’s a good thing that Mullings is not allowed to change the definitions of words unilaterally. Secularism is not a religion, but an approach to government, the only religiously neutral one available
    - – > What is particularly loathsome in this excerpt is that RR wishes to project the claim that secularism is “neutral” regarding theistic religion, when in fact we are seeing just he opposite in action on the ground: the “neutrality” is simply a pretence, as the tolerance and neutrality extend only as far as others go along with the agendas of the secular humanists. (Then, as RR tries to do in his comments, they proceed to blame the victim for complaining about this.) Not far behind is the inference that I am single-handedly and question-beggingly attempting to impose a definition, given that I had pointed to the earlier discussion that shows just why this is not exactly a new point. [And, a point where the USSC apparently agrees with me to boot!]
    - – > Further to this, RR here shows that he is failing to reckon with the point that law is always ethics-relative and worldview-relative. What has been demonstrably happening on the ground is that the elites of the USA and other major western powers have for some decades now been increasingly dominated by secular humanists, and are trying to impose their views on law and morality on the public, twisting constitutions, laws and powers of courts and parliaments in the process.
    - – > As to the establishment of Islamist religion, I would find it just as objectionable as the establishment of secularist religion, once there is tyranny over the conscience. There is, sadly, a long islamic history on that.
    .
    4] Teague: the message some Christians proclaim is that a truly theocratic kingdom already exists, such a malign disenfranchisement may bring needed clarity to the relationship between citizens of the theocratic kingdom (as vessels of grace) and the kingdoms of this world (as instruments of God’s wrath). Until then, any who grapple for the powers of this age must appear a threat to those who are, indeed, under wrath.
    - – > First, welcome, and we need to hear more from you!
    - – > Now you here raise an important point, on the Lordship of Christ. Here, we need to hear Paul:

    COL 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
    COL 1:21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation– 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

    - – > Here, the point is established, that the Christian faith sees government as being under God, and that the state is accountable to God in the end, who has established it to promote justice, i.e. to render to each his due – hence, given the value of the individual human being as made in the image of God, to protect rights. But this mandate holds just as much for a Nebuchadnezzar as for a Moses or a David. Indeed, the book of Daniel as is discussed in my notes on Government under God, has just that as a major theme. For that matter, here is Huguenot Duplesis Mornay on that point, in his Vindiciae:

    But what shall we say of the heathen kings? Certainly although they be not anointed and sacred of God, yet be they His vassals and have received their power from Him, whether they be chosen by lot or any other means whatsoever. If they have been chosen by the voices of an assembly, we say that God governs the heart of man, and addresses the minds and intentions of all persons whither he pleases. If it be by lot, the lot is cast in the lap, saith the wise man, “but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.” It is God only that in all ages establishes, and takes away, confirms, and overthrows kings according to His good pleasure. In which regard Isaiah calls Cyrus the anointed of the Lord, and Daniel says that Nebuchadnezar and others have had their kingdoms committed unto them by God: as also Saint Paul maintains that all magistrates have received their authority from Him. For, although that God has not commanded pagans in express terms to obey Him as He has done those who have knowledge of Him; yet, notwithstanding the pagans must needs confess that it is by the sovereign God that they reign, wherefore if they will not yield the tribute that they owe to God in regard of themselves, at the least let them not attempt nor hinder the sovereign to gather that which is due from those people who are in subjection to them; nor that they do not anticipate, nor appropriate to themselves divine jurisdiction over them, which is the crime of high treason and true tyranny, for which occasion the Lord has grievously punished even the pagan kings themselves

    - – > Thus, the Christian, as the Jew before him, is not disrespectful to a legitimate ruler who does not share his convictions, nor does he seek to impose on other men’s consciences, only to bear witness to the truth. Indeed, we have in Ac 25 – 26, where in a supremely significant courtroom move, Paul appealed from Judaean jurisdiction to Caesar, on a point where he was convinced that the Jews unjustly sought his life for his witness to the truth of Jesus and the resurrection.
    +++++++++++++
    Grace, open our eyes
    Gordon
    PS RR has made a post, I will briefly remark: to apply the standard that a definition should apply to all and only cases of “religion” is not overly broad. RELIGION, onlookers, is simply broader than theitic and/or liturgical religion. Once we see that, we see how secularism, on the excuse that since it is non theistic is non-religious and allegedly “neutral,” can in fact become tantamount to a state church of hte USA and other societies, exactly as has been warned of by the USSC in a ruling it has made. RR is simply “wrong but strong” on this.
    Similarly on the Morison challenge, RR’s lack of “right” to the inference is in the context of lack of warrant. In particular, his examples do not hold water when held up tot he issue of the confrontation between the Galilean peasants at the core of the Christian movement and the Judaean elites, bearing in mind that in the end the leading missionary was the former sword of the Sanhedrin, who would have known of any knockdown argument against the Christian faith if there was one, namely Saul of Tarsus, later known as Paul the Apostle. In short, we have to address thespecifics of the case not distract attention through red hereings that do NOT appeal tot he sort of objective evidence as a nempty tomb inexplicable other than on the basis of resurrection. Onlookers, note the consistent ducking of the issue of providing such a cogebt alternative explaation, guess why.
    As to his attempt to defend might makes right, it is its own refutation. Similarly, observe that he simply insists that a view tracing to the good God who makes us in his image i.e. with that candle within which speaks to the issue of virtue, exhibits an is-ought gap!
    Okay, let’s post for now.

  • Gordon Mullings

    All:
    As I promised, notes on points raised, replacing what was clipped off.
    1] Gryph: According to this assumption, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes have an inherently better marriage and are inherently better parents than say, Joe Carter’s ex-wife and her partner . . . . some dogs are indeed born each year with five legs instead of four. They do not cease being dogs. And they are just as worthy and capable of giving and receiving love as any other dog.
    - > Simply put, Cruise and Holmes are man and wife, reflecting the natural, creation order. If they then go about a foolish distortion of how man and wife should behave,t hat says nothing tot he legitimacy of the creation order itself.
    - > That some dogs are born with a fifth LEG is irrelevant to the attempt to decree by saying magic words in a courthouse or legislature or even a referendum, that a TAIL is a leg. And, that was Lincoln’s point, as JC aptly cited.
    - -> In the case that is under consideration, homosexuals are not inthemselves incapable of love, nor havet ey ceased to be human. Only, the attempts to “redefine” marriage by saying magic words, reflexct a disordered view of what is the nature of human sexuality and the associated requisites of child birth and child rearing.
    2] RR: secularism is not a religion, despite misguided attempts by some to define it as such. secularism: noun; indifference to or rejection or exclusion of religion and religious consideration. Thanks to Merriam-Webster for the foregoing definition.
    - – > Here we first see an attempt to divert the discussion, for the core point is as was aptly summed up by JC in his earlier thread on the subject:

    In order to define the term in such a way that it is neither too broad nor too narrow, we must list all of the features that are true of all religious beliefs and true only of religious beliefs.* While this may appear to be an obvious point, we are often surprised to find what has been pruned when a definition is stripped to its essential components . . . . Having excluded gods and worship from our definition [by way of Brahmin Hinduism, Theravada Buddhism as examples of (a) religion, but withoug (b) gods, and (c) liturgical worship], we are left with very few features that all religious beliefs could possibly share in common. As Roy Clouser asks, “What common element can be found in the biblical idea of God in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, in the Hindu idea of Brahman-Atman, in the idea of Dharmakaya in Mahayana Buddhism, and the idea of the Tao in Taoism?” The answer, he argues, is that every religious tradition considers something or other as divine and that all of them have a common denominator in the status of the divinity itself.
    While many religions disagree on what is divine, they all agree on what it means to be divine. The divine is simply whatever is unconditionally, nondependently real . . . . Clouser uses this common element to formulate a precise definition: A belief is a religious belief provided that it is (1) a belief in something as divine or (2) a belief about how to stand in proper relation to the divine, where (3) something is believed to be divine provided it is held to be unconditionally nondependent.
    The conclusion we can draw from this definition is that everyone holds, consciously or unconsciously, a religious belief.

    - – > Thence, we see that when a set of worldview linked beliefs has an identifiable divine element, then finds systematic and institutional representation, we may properly see it as being of sufficiently religious character that the matter of its being a quasi church within the meaning of the issue of establishment of a religion applies. (As indeed has come up before the USSC, and has issued in the conclusion that secular humanism is in fact just such a religion in the relevant sense.) On this, for evolutionary materialism-anchored secular humanism, we should take pause to see Dewey’s remarks that teachers are in effect priests of a new religion; i.e. education systems can become captive to a new religious – htough in theis case non-liturgical and non theological [in fact a theoilogical] – establishment dedicated tot he proposition that matter in some form or other is the ultimate independent reality that is therefore in effect sovereign.. And, as we shall just now see, for excellent reason, for as JB notes overnight over in the other parallel thread:

    [Humanist Manifesto I:] In every field of human activity, the vital movement is now in the direction of a candid and explicit humanism. … While this age does owe a vast debt to the traditional religions, it is none the less obvious that any religion that can hope to be a synthesizing and dynamic force for today must be shaped for the needs of this age.

    - – > In short, secular humanism has in it sufficient of the characteristics of a religion to give one pause.
    3] Mullings’s statement is particularly loathsome in that it seeks to establish that a state religion is inevitable, in that LACK of a state religion constitutes a state religion. Of course what follows is that the state religion should be determined by the majority . . . . It’s a good thing that Mullings is not allowed to change the definitions of words unilaterally. Secularism is not a religion, but an approach to government, the only religiously neutral one available
    - – > What is particularly loathsome in this excerpt is that RR wishes to project the claim that secularism is “neutral” regarding theistic religion, when in fact we are seeing just he opposite in action on the ground: the “neutrality” is simply a pretence, as the tolerance and neutrality extend only as far as others go along with the agendas of the secular humanists. (Then, as RR tries to do in his comments, they proceed to blame the victim for complaining about this.) Not far behind is the inference that I am single-handedly and question-beggingly attempting to impose a definition, given that I had pointed to the earlier discussion that shows just why this is not exactly a new point. [And, a point where the USSC apparently agrees with me to boot!]
    - – > Further to this, RR here shows that he is failing to reckon with the point that law is always ethics-relative and worldview-relative. What has been demonstrably happening on the ground is that the elites of the USA and other major western powers have for some decades now been increasingly dominated by secular humanists, and are trying to impose their views on law and morality on the public, twisting constitutions, laws and powers of courts and parliaments in the process.
    - – > As to the establishment of Islamist religion, I would find it just as objectionable as the establishment of secularist religion, once there is tyranny over the conscience. There is, sadly, a long islamic history on that.
    .
    4] Teague: the message some Christians proclaim is that a truly theocratic kingdom already exists, such a malign disenfranchisement may bring needed clarity to the relationship between citizens of the theocratic kingdom (as vessels of grace) and the kingdoms of this world (as instruments of God’s wrath). Until then, any who grapple for the powers of this age must appear a threat to those who are, indeed, under wrath.
    - – > First, welcome, and we need to hear more from you!
    - – > Now you here raise an important point, on the Lordship of Christ. Here, we need to hear Paul:

    COL 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
    COL 1:21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation– 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

    - – > Here, the point is established, that the Christian faith sees government as being under God, and that the state is accountable to God in the end, who has established it to promote justice, i.e. to render to each his due – hence, given the value of the individual human being as made in the image of God, to protect rights. But this mandate holds just as much for a Nebuchadnezzar as for a Moses or a David. Indeed, the book of Daniel as is discussed in my notes on Government under God, has just that as a major theme. For that matter, here is Huguenot Duplesis Mornay on that point, in his Vindiciae:

    But what shall we say of the heathen kings? Certainly although they be not anointed and sacred of God, yet be they His vassals and have received their power from Him, whether they be chosen by lot or any other means whatsoever. If they have been chosen by the voices of an assembly, we say that God governs the heart of man, and addresses the minds and intentions of all persons whither he pleases. If it be by lot, the lot is cast in the lap, saith the wise man, “but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.” It is God only that in all ages establishes, and takes away, confirms, and overthrows kings according to His good pleasure. In which regard Isaiah calls Cyrus the anointed of the Lord, and Daniel says that Nebuchadnezar and others have had their kingdoms committed unto them by God: as also Saint Paul maintains that all magistrates have received their authority from Him. For, although that God has not commanded pagans in express terms to obey Him as He has done those who have knowledge of Him; yet, notwithstanding the pagans must needs confess that it is by the sovereign God that they reign, wherefore if they will not yield the tribute that they owe to God in regard of themselves, at the least let them not attempt nor hinder the sovereign to gather that which is due from those people who are in subjection to them; nor that they do not anticipate, nor appropriate to themselves divine jurisdiction over them, which is the crime of high treason and true tyranny, for which occasion the Lord has grievously punished even the pagan kings themselves

    - – > Thus, the Christian, as the Jew before him, is not disrespectful to a legitimate ruler who does not share his convictions, nor does he seek to impose on other men’s consciences, only to bear witness to the truth. Indeed, we have in Ac 25 – 26, where in a supremely significant courtroom move, Paul appealed from Judaean jurisdiction to Caesar, on a point where he was convinced that the Jews unjustly sought his life for his witness to the truth of Jesus and the resurrection.
    +++++++++++++
    Grace, open our eyes
    Gordon
    PS RR has made a post, I will briefly remark: to apply the standard that a definition should apply to all and only cases of “religion” is not overly broad. RELIGION, onlookers, is simply broader than theitic and/or liturgical religion. Once we see that, we see how secularism, on the excuse that since it is non theistic is non-religious and allegedly “neutral,” can in fact become tantamount to a state church of hte USA and other societies, exactly as has been warned of by the USSC in a ruling it has made. RR is simply “wrong but strong” on this.
    Similarly on the Morison challenge, RR’s lack of “right” to the inference is in the context of lack of warrant. In particular, his examples do not hold water when held up tot he issue of the confrontation between the Galilean peasants at the core of the Christian movement and the Judaean elites, bearing in mind that in the end the leading missionary was the former sword of the Sanhedrin, who would have known of any knockdown argument against the Christian faith if there was one, namely Saul of Tarsus, later known as Paul the Apostle. In short, we have to address thespecifics of the case not distract attention through red hereings that do NOT appeal tot he sort of objective evidence as a nempty tomb inexplicable other than on the basis of resurrection. Onlookers, note the consistent ducking of the issue of providing such a cogebt alternative explaation, guess why.
    As to his attempt to defend might makes right, it is its own refutation. Similarly, observe that he simply insists that a view tracing to the good God who makes us in his image i.e. with that candle within which speaks to the issue of virtue, exhibits an is-ought gap!
    Okay, let’s post for now.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    After thinking about it and reading some of the posts here it seems the right thing for Judas to have done would have been to not betray Jesus. If Jesus need prophecy to be fulfilled then Judas should have insisted he instruct him directly to betray him.
    What was in Judas’s mind seems difficult to determine. If it was just money then why get so upset when he got his 30 pieces? If Judas thought Jesus was going to show everyone how powerful he was by putting him in a spot where he’d have to use his powers as God then that undercuts the money motive. Was Judas really thinking Jesus was going to shoot lightening bolts out of his eyes, destroy the entire Roman Empire but overlook him and his pieces of silver?
    On the other hand maybe Judas thought Jesus was going to put on a show as God but then started doubting Jesus after he betrayed him. Then the guilt set in not because Judas realized he betrayed God but because he thought he betrayed an innocent but deluded man.
    I don’t think we’ll ever know but I doubt the Gospel of Judas’s depiction of Jesus ordering Judas to betray him plus the Scientology-lite show that comes with it.

  • nedbrek

    Boonton:
    Would you like to create a discussion in the EO forum?

  • http://www.centeredwork.com AndyS

    Gordon,

    I followed the links to what you labeled “parallel threads.” I hadn’t read them before. [note: the link you have in "as JB notes overnight over in the other parallel thread" goes to this thread, not some other; a copy/paste error?] At least I’ve now found out what happened to Larry Lord: banned from commenting. Too bad, I guess the more moderate tone he had taken a while back didn’t stick. I support Joe in maintaining a level of civility.

    Back to this thread….

    Jeff and Gordon both claim, reacting to the Humanist Manifesto I of 1933:

    These same adherents are now in denial mode, insisting that their point of view reflects not religion, but reality. As such, they are becoming increasingly militant and forceful.

    To which Gordon adds: Interesting how intolerant the champions of tolerance can be when estsablishment is in their grasp, isn’t it?

    Naturally, I’d say we are intolerant of intolerance but would rather not just play with the words. Instead look what the Humanist Manifesto III of 2003 has to say:

    Humanists are concerned for the well being of all, are committed to diversity, and respect those of differing yet humane views. We work to uphold the equal enjoyment of human rights and civil liberties in an open, secular society and maintain it is a civic duty to participate in the democratic process and a planetary duty to protect nature

  • Gordon Mullings

    All:
    My apologies — it seems that I had some crossed wires as well as the problem of difficulties with posting yesterday, I kept getting error messages. The double post which properly belongeed with the Theocracy thread resulted, go here to see the onward development.
    Sorry on the mess.
    Andy let me know. Thanks to him.
    I will come back here later to comment on points.
    Gordon

  • Gordon Mullings

    All:
    Okay, a few remarks on points in this thread since yesterday morning, with some excerpts as I am being subjected to strawman attacks:
    1] RR: I have a right to my inference; it is more solid than yours . . . . You can point to the “Morison Challenge” until your keyboard-weary fingers fall off, and it will never be more than an argument from incredulity, and rather a weak one . . . . You and I clearly have different ways of resolving “comparative difficulties”.
    –> Onlookers, kindly observe: the solidity or otherwise of a competing explanation of a given situation is a mattter of the evidence relative to factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power, not mere assertion without actually engaginfg the issue. [And, the notion that the unseen plates, golden spectacles and provably plagiarised novels by Smith compare with the NT is beyond the pale! (Fair warning: I have in hand Martin's Kingdom of the Cultes, witht he elling parallel columns . . .) FOr instance, let RR first explain Saul of Tarsus' career change, as a first step to factual adequacy.]
    –> Let us hear Craig’s summary on the actual balance of the case among informed scholars, and where that leads us:

    . . . we agree that the historian’s task is very much like that of the trial lawyer: to examine the witnesses in order to reconstruct the most probable course of events . . . . I propose to defend two basic contentions in this debate: (1) Any adequate historical hypothesis about the resurrection must explain four established facts: Jesus’ burial, the discovery of his empty tomb, his postmortem appearances and the origin of the disciples’ belief in the resurrection. (2) The best explanation of these facts is that God raised Jesus from the dead . . . .
    I want to share four facts that are widely accepted by New Testament scholars today.

    Fact 1: After his crucifixion, Jesus was buried by Joseph of Arimathea . . . .
    Fact 2: On the Sunday following the crucifixion, Jesus’ tomb was found empty by a group of his women followers . . . .
    Fact 3: On multiple occasions and under multiple circumstances, different individuals and groups of people experienced appearances of Jesus alive from the dead . . . .
    Fact 4: The original disciples believed that Jesus was risen from the dead despite their having every reason [i.e. it was counter to their interests and even safety] not to . . . .

    In his book Justifying Historical Descriptions, historian C. H. McCullagh lists six tests used by historians to determine the best explanation for historical facts. The hypothesis “God raised Jesus from the dead” passes all these tests.

    1. It has great explanatory scope. It explains why the tomb was found empty, why the disciples saw postmortem appearances of Jesus and why the Christian Faith came into being.
    2. It has great explanatory power. It explains why the body of Jesus was gone, why people repeatedly saw Jesus alive despite his earlier public execution [his death being certified by the executioner and accepted by the governor, who then released his body for honourable burial] . . .
    3. It is plausible. Given . . . Jesus’ own unparalleled life and claims, the resurrection serves as divine confirmation . . .
    4. It is not ad hoc or contrived. It requires only one additional hypothesis — that God exists . . .
    5. It is in accord with accepted beliefs. The hypothesis . . . does not in any way conflict with the accepted belief that people don’t rise naturally from the dead . . .
    6. It far outstrips any of its rival theories in meeting conditions 1 through 5. . . . various rival explanations have been offered — for example the conspiracy theory, the apparent death theory, the hallucination theory and so forth. Such hypotheses have been almost universally rejected by contemporary scholarship. No naturalistic hypothesis has attracted a great number of scholars . . . .

    [W]hy, we may ask, does Dr Ludemann [as a representative among many other modernist-influenced scholars] reject the resurrection hypothesis? As you read his book, the answer becomes clear: the resurrection is a miracle, and Dr Ludemann just cannot bring himself to believe in miracles. He states, “Historical criticism . . . does not reckon with an intervention of God in history.” Thus, the resurrection cannot be historical; the hypothesis goes out the window before you even sit down at the table to look at the evidence . . . He says, “Hume . . . demonstrated that a miracle is defined in such a way that ‘no testimony is sufficienrt to establish it.’ ” The concept of a resurrection, he says, presupposes “a philosophical realism that is untenable since Kant.” [Excerpted, Jesus' Resurrection: Fact or Figment?, Eds. Copan & Tacelli, IVP 2000, pp. 32 - 38. Links and parentheses added; italics in original. NB: Subsequent to this debate, Dr Ludemann became an atheist.]

    –> If RR is to avoid tilting at strawmen, this is the ground he must fight on.
    2]
    Because you don’t like [evolutrionary materialism's relativistic] implications, you assume it is false. This is the philosophical equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and babbling. The Grand Canyon is still there even if you cover it with shelf paper.
    –> A strawman — AGAIN! — based on putting into my mouth exactly what I have NOT done. As onlookers may eadily see in the excerpt below, I first summarised why evo mat is credibly held to be self-referentially incoherent, then addressed its implications, including might makes right:

    to many, macro-evolution “must” be true

  • http://www.JeffBlogworthy.com Jeff Blogworthy

    Q

  • http://www.centeredwork.com AndyS

    Gordon,

    —> Your comment on the early title of the 1933 HM is the revealing one: The Religious Humanist Manifesto. And of course, you live up to your track record on fairness — but kindly give a source!

    Thanks for asking for a source. I was flatly wrong. Two things of note: (1) in HM33 the phrase religious humanist is used several times, apparently to set off those principles which don’t apply to secular humanists; (2) the claim about the original title came from William P. Wilson in a commentary in what appears to be a fundmentalist Christian newsletter — he gives no evidence for his claim.

    You might be interested in The Genesis of a Humanist Manifesto, especially remarks made by Dr. Arthur E. Morgan who did not sign the document. Indicating he thinks/wants humanism to be a religion, he says, Religion should instill a hot partisanship for life which shall set for science the task of finding significance or of creating it. But check out his complete remarks which highlights things both of us are passionate about.

    —> My key point is that worldviews take views on religious themes, and these shape society including government and law, sometimes in oppressive ways.

    I agree with this general statement.

    —> For instance I count it as oppressive to suppress the contribution of Christians and those influenced by that faith to the rise of modern liberty, and I count it as part of a well-poisoning game that as soon as these facts are adduced, there is a denial and an attempt to palster the record over with cases where Christians and Christian influenced communities have erred indeed sinned on the matter.

    I can’t speak for others, but sometimes this is merely a reaction to your doing exactly the same thing with respect to naturalism/materialism — for example, by pointing to failed communist states or atrocities and implying that therefore materialism is doomed to produce those kind of results when I doubt that any of the naturalists commenting here are socialists let alone communists and in any case naturalism/materialism is a philosophy, not a political system.

    I think too it happens in response to over-generalization. You, Joe and others often make claims that Christianity is this or that, which to me ignores the obvious, that Christianity in the ordinary use of the term consists of a large and diverse collection of sects, each with differing beliefs. Even the sects have subsets with differing views.

  • http://www.centeredwork.com AndyS

    Jeff,

    In an attempt to put the two threads back in their proper place, my response to your last comment is over there.

  • ex-preacher

    I think it is important to distinguish between humanism (whether religious or secular) and secularism.
    I’m going to rely on our old friend, Wikipedia, to set things straight.
    “Humanism is a broad category of active ethical philosophies that affirm the dignity and worth of all people, based on our ability to determine what is right using the qualities innate to humanity, particularly rationality. Humanism is a component of a variety of more specific philosophical systems, and is also incorporated into some religious schools of thought.”
    In contrast, “Secularism is a form of governance that is not affiliated with any particular religion. . . . In government, secularism means a policy of avoiding entanglement between government and religion (ranging from reducing ties to a state religion to promoting secularism in society), of non-discrimination among religions (providing they don’t deny primacy of civil laws), and of guaranteeing human rights of all citizens, regardless of the creed (and, if conflicting with certain religious rules, by imposing priority of the universal human rights).”
    Of course some people use secularism when they mean humanism, but I think the key point here is that people are using these very different meanings as if they were interchangeable.
    Humanism, and specifically seculasr humanism, IMO can be defined as a religion (though it is often used in a very broad way that escapes close definition).
    Secularism, at least the way I think it is being intended by those here who advocate it, is not a religion. It is the principle that the government ought not to favor any religion(s) over another one or even the lack of religion. It is the notion that as far as possible, the government should remain neutral on religion.

  • ex-preacher

    I now realize that I should have posted the previous comment at the other thread. Sorry.

  • jd

    “…I doubt that any of the naturalists commenting here are socialists let alone communists…”
    I can’t prove it at the moment, but I would bet that most of the naturalists commenting here are socialists (excluding Matthew Goggins). They just don’t call themselves that. Most liberals don’t call themselves liberals anymore, either; it’s progressives.
    I also think there’s a big difference between Christians and other devoutly religious people who participate in politics, and liberals/progressives/secular humanists for whom government/politics/social action IS religion.
    I often sense that democracy and “good government” are ends in themselves for the left. Pure democracy is the savior for this country and the world. Likewise, pure socialism is the highest form of economic system and would bring about utopia on earth.
    On the other hand, Christians are in a very real sense “not at home” here. We profess to store up our treasures in heaven. For us, democracy and “good government” are not the saviors of the human race. Capitalism is not sent down from heaven as the biblical way of life. Democracy and capitalism are simply the only things humans can be trusted with (and we’re not proving too trustworthy with them, either.)
    Materialists have much more invested in the trappings of this world than Christians–this world is all there is.

  • http://www.centeredwork.com AndyS

    jd,

    Socialism, democracy, even Christianity are really big labels. The propper question is always “which/whose version?”

    Materialists have much more invested in the trappings of this world than Christians—this world is all there is.

    Would that this were true! Check the net worth of the televangicals, megachurch ministers, or any of a number of Christian business owners and executives — and their lifestyle. However, materialism doesn’t imply gross hedonism any more than Christian implies aceticism. Clearly greed for material things is ecumenical.

  • Patriarch Verlch

    What is and is not included in the Bible was decided by men, not God. They chose what to include, what to add, and what to remove. They were no more guided by the hand of God than Congress is when it decides which lobbyists and special interest groups to reward from Uncle Sam’s pocket every year.
    As such, the idea of heretical Bible passages is silly. To someone, somewhere, its ALL heresy. You either believe, or you don’t.
    Posted by Patrick (Gryph)
    The bible was written by men, inspired by God. Don’t think for a moment that the God that allowed a human from conception to birthing increases in weight 1,500 million times. Could not have used men to put His book together.
    http://www.jesusplusnothing.com/prophecy.htm
    After reading that, please do not think for a moment that the God that made the 300 billion neuron connectors in your brain alone, the same one that if humans could populate the universe shoulder to shoulder and head to foot, would not all be unique individuals, no two alike. All with different voices, eyes, finger prints and brain waves.
    We are alot more than cosmic accidents.

  • Patriarch Verlch

    Now the Gnostic texts say the real christ was in a tree laughing at the fake Christ laughing at him, and calling him a fool, on the day of the Cruxifion of our Lord and Savior.
    Sounds to me like they watched too much of Britney Spears and the Crusa Fixin’ show she had on her last TV show appearance.
    The gnostic texts also say we are evolving to the New Age of Aquarius. That soon technology will be our New Age Savior, and we will leave this world to be with our ascended masters. To leave the world created by the Archean bad God (old testament Creator, Our God the FATHER) who bound us to this horrible material world.
    Our ascended gods(demons) are there waiting for us, where the ‘Great Architect of the Universe (Satan) is waiting for us to give us our spirit bodies with no material universe and laws to hamper us.
    I think God has a place where he keeps all of his creation’s spirits, where he knows us before we are born, void of the material world perhaps. Satan hates God so much he doesn’t want to be a part of reality. Soon he will get what he wants, life in the “Bottomless Pit” forever and ever. He wants all of us to join him in all his glory. No thanks!

  • Gordon Mullings

    All:
    Perhaps we should try to focus this thread on the issues of Gnosticism, I again apologise for my posting error.
    Now, on several points:
    1] JB: Secular Humanism etc
    –> Taken up in the other thread, by Andy and again by myself. Thanks for some key points.
    –> I do note that the temptations of Big Government, statism and socialism are in fact a predictable pattern in a worldview that sees that spontaneously evolving matter is utimate reality and Science is its Prophet, with the creation of a cradle to grave welfare state and saving the earth as its soteriology, will tend to socialistic ways of thought.
    2] Andy: Two things of note: (1) in HM33 the phrase religious humanist is used several times, apparently to set off those principles which don’t apply to secular humanists; (2) the claim about the original title came from William P. Wilson in a commentary in what appears to be a fundmentalist Christian newsletter

  • jd

    “Would that this were true! Check the net worth of the televangicals, megachurch ministers, or any of a number of Christian business owners and executives

  • http://www.centeredwork.com AndyS

    jd,

    You said: Christians are in a very real sense “not at home” here. We profess to store up our treasures in heaven.

    And: Materialists have much more invested in the trappings of this world than Christians—this world is all there is.

    I remarked that it’s clear many Christians are storing up plenty of material treasure right here on Earth. Of course, many materialists do that as well.

    I wrote: However, materialism doesn’t imply gross hedonism any more than Christianity implies aceticism.

    That was my way of saying you are generalizing inappropriately. There are many kinds of materialists and many kinds of Christians. Apparently you took my statement to mean “no materialist is a gross hedonist” and somehow it damns religious folk as being materialist too. Sorry, I just don’t see that. Materialism is a philosophic position on the mind/body problem; it has nothing to do with — does not logically entail — spirituality or greed; the concepts are orthoginal.

  • jd

    andys:
    Please make up your mind. You say that televangelists have wealth here on earth and therefore they must be materialists. Then you say that “materialism is a philosophic position on the mind/body problem.” Your arguments are extremely frustrating.
    Over and above that, you are avoiding my original point: “Materialists have much more invested in the trappings of this world than Christians–this world is all there is.” Materialists don’t believe in anything beyond the material world, right? Therefore, they necessarily have more invested here. How you can make this about televangelists who have more money than you is delusional.

  • http://www.centeredwork.com AndyS

    jd,

    I think I see where the confusion is coming from. When I say something like many Christians aquire wealth, you take it to mean I’m saying all Christians are greedy. That’s just not fair.

    Then there is notion of materialist which can be used in two different ways. Sometimes it used informally like this: “look at all the stuff he’s aqcuired, he’s a materialist.” I’m using it — and thought you were as well — in the formal sense:

    One who denies the existence of spiritual substances or agents, and maintains that spiritual phenomena, so called, are the result of some peculiar organization of matter.

    Perhaps it’s better to look at definitions of materialism:

    1. Philosophy. The theory that physical matter is the only reality and that everything, including thought, feeling, mind, and will, can be explained in terms of matter and physical phenomena.

    2. The theory or attitude that physical well-being and worldly possessions constitute the greatest good and highest value in life.

    3. A great or excessive regard for worldly concerns.

    Since this all started with my statement — …I doubt that any of the naturalists commenting here are socialists let alone communists… — I assume that definition #1 is the significant one (i.e. naturalism is a form of materialism in the philosophical sense).

    In fact the more complete quote was

    I doubt that any of the naturalists commenting here are socialists let alone communists and in any case naturalism/materialism is a philosophy, not a political system.

    Your statement — Materialists have much more invested in the trappings of this world than Christians

  • http://www.JeffBlogworthy.com Jeff Blogworthy

    Andy S:
    Thinking I’m not unduly delusional, please point to some of the “horrible consequences”…
    Reply to you on other thread.

  • Gordon Mullings

    All:
    Interesting where the interest lies – mostly on the theme that belongs to the other thread . . .
    Some brief remarks:
    1] Andy: To Gordon’s point (and other’s), I can also understand seeing humanism as exposed by some people as religious in nature, but only if you are willing to acknowledge the nuances in that view. That is, not all humanists are religous and only a few small groups (like the one the SCOTUS gave a tax exemption to in the 1950′s) act in any way as a religion in the normal meaning of that term.
    –> Secular humanists — and here I use the term more broadly than the few dozens who signed up to the Manifestos and their specific circles, or the specific groups in view in the SCOTUS rulings — are in effect adherents to a worldview that has in it creedal elements that when coupled with institutional influences and agendas, makes the system tantamount in its impacts to a more traditional religion.
    –> In terms of the core confession of secular humanism, with apologies to any Muslims out there: “spontaneously evolving matter is ultimate reality, and ‘Science’ is its prophet.”
    2] I think relatively very few people are religious in the best sense of that term. Most people, by far, go through the motions, repeat things they are told, and rarely reflect on what really is the basis of their beliefs, the motivations of their actions, and the nature of the world around them. It’s quite a rare blessing to have the time and encouragement to go beyond one’s compelling need for security, family, and ordinary enjoyment.
    –> Ot is a commonplace that underlying metopahysical commitments are at heir most powerful when they are not consciously held in the face of competing gaiths, but when they appear under the guise of “that’s the way the world IS.” [Thus, Socrates' "The unexamined life is not worth living."]
    –> Thus, I beg to differ on the concept that such a creedal element and associated social and institutional influences and agendas are the less powerful because they are not the result of a process of formal or even informal critical reflection at the level of dialectic. (And here I am implying that rhetoric in service to agendas can be very powerful indeed, and potentially destructive.)
    +++++++++
    Grace to all
    Gordon

  • Terence Moeller

    This bit of levity today from Scrappleface . . .
    The Christian world was rocked today by the release of the recently translated Gospel of Judas. The document proves that the disciple who betrayed Christ was actually the Lord

  • Gordon Mullings

    Hi Terence
    Worth a laugh or two.
    But seriously, a LOT of people are perfectly willing to go along with Brown Baigent et al, as in xome cases they do not know better. In other cases, they are credulous, as this stuff tells them what they wish to be true/want to hear,
    I think the M D Roberts link by Joe above is a solid mouthful. For those who want a slightly shorter and easier read, maybe this from Probe will help — it makes a good tear off and send summay too.
    I went though the MDR stuff and compiled it in a single web page then made two PDFs, one with one withoug pics, for my personal use — the PDFs are 54 pp long, a short book, and the non pic one is 233 kB. I found the read well wotthwhile, never mind theusual point or two of differeence — e.g. I highly doubt that Thomas has a C1 provenance on the very simple grounds of its contents and focus on characteristically C2 themes.
    Have fun all
    Grace
    Gordon