Jesus the Logician (1 of 4)

Logic & Rhetoric — By on February 12, 2007 at 4:08 am

[Note: Two years ago I started a collaborative blog project titled "Jesus the Logician." Although a number of bloggers made invaluable contributions, the idea never caught the imagination of "godbloggers" as I hoped it would. Since I'm working on a writing project that incorporates this theme, I thought it might be worth attempting to relaunch the project anew.]
“The scandal of the evangelical mind,” historian Mark Nolls notes in his book of the same name, “is that there is not much of an evangelical mind.” Almost ten years have passed since “The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind” sounded a wake-up call to thinking Christians and over that time significant progress has been made. Though much work remains, evangelical Christians have regained much of the intellectual ground we have lost.
The real scandal, however, is that evangelicals fail so miserably in their commanded task of “putting on the mind of Christ.” As a group we should be fertile ground for producing intellectuals. After all, we are disciples of the greatest thinker in history – Jesus Christ.
In his essay, “Jesus the Logician”, philosopher Dallas Williard writes:

There is in our culture an uneasy relation between Jesus and intelligence, and I have actually heard Christians respond to my statement that Jesus is the most intelligent man who ever lived by saying that it is an oxymoron. Today we automatically position him away from (or even in opposition to) the intellect and intellectual life. Almost no one would consider him to be a thinker, addressing the same issues as, say, Aristotle, Kant, Heidegger or Wittgenstein, and with the same logical method.

Williard’s article not only explains why Christians should consider Jesus the foremost thinker in history but outlines how he was a formidable logician. All Christians (but especially bloggers, a group which spends considerable effort in expressing opinions) have a duty to think as logically as possible. It is our duty to think like Christ.
For some, logic appears to be a daunting philosophical subject. Others fear it is a form of mathematics, an area in which they lack ability. But a person does not have to be versed in logical theory or know how to draw Venn diagrams, however, in order to think logically. What it requires is the ability to understand and recognize logical relations and to have the will to be logical.


Understanding and recognizing logical relations

The ability to understand and identify logical relations, particularly implication and contradiction, is an essential component of logical reasoning.
Implication – A implies B; If A, then B; B follows from A.
Example: If Socrates is a man then he is mortal.
Contradiction — A cannot be not-A
Example: Socrates is a man, therefore he is not immortal.
These relations can be combined in numerous ways but I want to focus on one form that was often used by Jesus. (See “Jesus the Logician” for a detailed example.)
Enthymemes

If you analyze the discussions Jesus had with the scribes and Pharisees, you’ll recognize that one of the most recurring rhetorical devices he used was the enthymeme. Enthymemes are a manner of presenting a deductive argument in which one of the elements is left unstated.
There are three particular forms that an enthymeme can take:
1. Major Premise plus minor premise: All men are mortal and Socrates is a man.
2. Conclusion plus major premise: Socrates is mortal because all men are mortal.
2. Conclusion plus minor premise: Socrates is mortal because he is a man.
Jesus used enthymemes because they are an especially effective form of argument. In most cases, it identifies the conclusion that is to be accepted and then goes on to identify what it to be argued for (the minor premise). This form, as Williard notes, “enlists the mind of the hearer or hearers from the inside, in a way that a full and explicit statement of argument cannot do.”
Rather than force a particular conclusion upon someone by the sheer weight of logic, Jesus would allow his audience to “connect-the-dots” and discover the insight on their own. This is another example of Jesus’ profound understanding of human nature. People are often resistant to accepting “foreign” ideas but are less hesitant when the conclusion is deduced from their own thought processes.
Jesus purpose was not to score points in a debate or to earn a hollow victory for his position. “Jesus aim in utilizing logic is not to win battles,” says Williard, “but to achieve understanding or insight in his hearers.” By having a thorough understanding of logical relations and implementing them in an effective rhetorical form, Jesus words transformed the world. If our words are to do the same, we would do well to imitate the methods used by Christ.



  • Ludwig

    Jesus the logician huh?…interesting statement concerning the central figure of a cult that is predicated on a fatal self contradicting logical falacy…namely,a god that wants things

  • http://www.absolutedominion.blogspot.com Coram Deo

    Joe – I believe your work is important, but I fear that evangelicals as a group are woefully unequipped for the task at hand. We live in an age of deplorable apostasy within the professing church wherein many (most?) pastors have bowed their knees to the church growth Baal of Rick Warren and his ilk.
    Between the purpose driven madness and the emergent church of ecumenical deceit which are running rampant across the barren, desolate landscape of modern Christianity there are very few “watchmen at the gate” who truly serve the Lord Jesus Christ.
    Furthermore, as I blogged today, I believe it has been a repeated mistake of apologists to approach unbelievers as though their interpretation of certain areas of reality (e.g. “nature”) were quite intelligible in terms of their professed philosophy (regarding reality, knowledge, and ethics) and acceptable as far as it goes, simply needing to be supplemented with some propositions about the “supernatural”. The apologists focus should not be restricted to this “added” dimension, but rather should encompass the entire range of human knowledge. There should be no quarter given to the unbeliever on which he may stand since his reasoning is altogether defective, in fact it is sinful! This is because the unregenerate man has displaced God as the ultimate authority and elevated “Reason” upon the throne of his mind and heart.
    The error of most Christian apologists is to seek a compromise with the natural man’s claim to intellectual autonomy. The apologist hopes for any kind of favorable mention or acknowledgement or superficial agreement from the autonomous mind-set. And in order to “win it over”, it offers to make common cause with its assumptions in a vain effort to show those autonomous perspectives actually support nonautonomous conclusions. The favor of the natural man is thus gained at the cost of reinforcing the unbeliever’s claim to ultimate authority and failing to intellectually challenge the alleged self-sufficiency of his reasoning.
    For you see, the unbeliever’s reasoning is an affront and a challenge to the revealed truth of the Holy Bible and the created order. Sinful man suppresses the knowledge of God in unrighteousness and is without excuse before his Creator and Judge.

  • George

    Coram Deo, I’m assuming from your comment you haven’t read Jesus the Logician. Forgive me if I’m wrong about that, but, in either case, the actual point of the document is unrelated to your concern. If you haven’t read it, please do so. I don’t think you’ll be sorry you spent a few moments on it. I downloaded it in ’05, so my version may have been changed since then, but I think it’s quite good.

  • http://www.absolutedominion.blogspot.com Coram Deo

    George,
    I did read both the article (Jesus the Logician) and Joe’s brief missive regarding the nature of “The Project”.
    In both I was troubled to once again discover the nearly ubiquitous error of modern evangelicalism to which I pointed in my post.
    Sadly upon review Dallas Willard is found to be firmly ensconced in the scripturally unsupported camp which purports that unregenerate man’s reasoning yields perfectly acceptable, reliable and intelligible results, when in fact this position is roundly refuted by scripture.
    See Dallas Willard’s comments below, emphasis mine:
    Jesus’ aim in utilizing logic is not to win battles, but to achieve understanding or insight in his hearers. This understanding only comes from the inside, from the understandings one already has. It seems to “well up from within” one. Thus he does not follow the logical method one often sees in Plato’s dialogues, or the method that characterizes most teaching and writing today. That is, he does not try to make everything so explicit that the conclusion is forced down the throat of the hearer. Rather, he presents matters in such a way that those who wish to know can find their way to, can come to, the appropriate conclusion as something they have discovered–whether or not it is something they particularly care for. Translation, “unregenerate man is capable of reasoning his way to ultimate truth.”
    Really? Is this supported by scripture? Indeed, it is not.
    “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” Yes, and no doubt Jesus understood that. And so he typically aims at real inward change of view that would enable his hearers to become significantly different as people through the workings of their own intellect. They will have, unless they are strongly resistant to the point of blindness, the famous “eureka” experience, not the experience of being outdone or beaten down.
    Again, “(sinful) man’s intellect” is sufficiently capable of apprehending Biblical truth. This defies philosophical example and revealed scripture, both of which refute this absurd contention.
    In effect Mr. Willard claims that Jesus Christ, the eternal God, gave His appeal to the natural man’s reasoning in an effort to invoke acceptance of His claims! At its core this is a statement that God Almighty subordinates Himself to the inspection and acceptance of sinful man’s “reasoning”! Of course it is impossible and absurd to hold that both sinful man’s reasoning (autonomous self) and the Creator God can be ultimate authorities!
    No, sinful man’s reasoning and God Almighty are not co-equal ultimate authorities. Sinful man must submit to the authority of God that he might reason properly. According to revealed scripture unregenerate man cannot reason properly apart from the revelation of the Christian theistic worldview. Man must abandon his wicked worldview in favor of “thinking God’s thoughts after Him”. This requires a radical departure from man’s previous modus operandi, the “putting off of the old man” (repentance) and the assumption of an entirely new worldview (regeneration) or philosophy, namely Christian theism. This of course is not the work of men, but the work of the Holy Spirit.
    Jesus well knew this since it was under divine inspiration that the Apostle Paul gave his Mars Hill discourse wherein he unequivocally proved that unregenerate man’s reasoning is not merely defective needing some “supernatural additive” in order to be whole, but rather that their entire system of reasoning is bankrupt and downright sinful!
    Mr. Willard’s methods are deeply flawed and will result (as I’ve previously mentioned) in “common ground” – so called – gained at the expense of reinforcing the unbeliever’s claim to ultimate authority and failing to intellectually challenge the alleged self-sufficiency of his reasoning. For the Christian apologist this is too high a price to pay.
    I personally believe Mr. Willard’s proposal is a pernicious and deeply defective apologetical method.

  • kwbr

    Coram Deo:
    Using sound logical reason itself does not dictate correct results and no one will come to eternal life by thinking their way to it. Garbage in, garbage out.
    But if reason is the fig leaf behind which the sinner is hiding, removing his misplaced trust in his faulty reasoning can be used to expose his sinful condition and his need for a savior.
    You seem to have your opinions confused with Holy Writ. And you seem to misunderstand the arguments of those apologists whose methods you deplore. Total depravity means that every area of man is affected by his sinful state, not that every area is so depraved that persuasion can bear no fruit.
    “Come let us reason together ,” says God through the prophet Isaiah. God never seems in His Word to oppose reason itself, merely its misuse by sin-distorted minds. You are right that logic cannot be the sum of apologetics. But you go too far and beyond Scripture to assert that it can play no role whatsoever.

  • Brian

    Ludwig,
    From Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians
    18For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written:
    “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
    the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”
    20Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

  • Anna Brown

    Coram Deo -
    So how *do* we bring people to Jesus if we can’t reason with them? Do we not witness at all?

  • Anna Brown

    Ludwig,
    Are you trying to say God’s not omnipotent if He wants things?
    There’s nothing un-omnipotent about God desiring things. If He needed things He could not provide, He would not be omnipotent. But God doesn’t need. He *does* desire. He may choose not to force the fulfillment of those desires (ie, He doesn’t force us to choose Him). But, that is not un-omnipotent. He simply chooses not to do something that He could do.
    Where’s the contradiction?

  • http://www.absolutedominion.blogspot.com Coram Deo

    kwbr said: But if reason is the fig leaf behind which the sinner is hiding, removing his misplaced trust in his faulty reasoning can be used to expose his sinful condition and his need for a savior.
    kwbr,
    Again it must be understood that sinful man is not to be seen as hiding behind anything like “reason” – so called. His arguments against Christian theism in the name of reason aren’t to be taken as legitimate or founded, but rather they should be dealt with as they are, merely expressions of of his pre-existing condition of unbelief. The Apostle Paul was very clear about this fact in his Mars Hill discourse, which someone here has already posted.
    My position is that the unregenerate must be given no quarter or assumption of valid reasoning but rather they should be exposed in their folly i.e. holding to a worldly false knowledge against the revealed truth of God as found in the Holy Bible. They are guilty and in need of repentance. Of course genuine repentance is by the drawing of the Holy Spirit unto the Savior, Jesus Christ.
    kwbr said: You are right that logic cannot be the sum of apologetics. But you go too far and beyond Scripture to assert that it can play no role whatsoever.
    Actually this is not my position and I don’t see where I made this statement and I apologize for my lack of clarity. Rather what I’m advocating that when the unregenerate are approached with the truth of the Gospel – which is imminently logical and coherent, and in fact is the only intelligible system whereby man can make sense of the universe in which he finds himself – the Christian apologist must utterly demolish the philosophical foundation from whence the unbeliever attempts to make his stand. This method is in contradistinction to the “common ground” or “evidentiary” approach which is often attempted by evangelicals that attempts to “add to” the presumed existence of sinful man’s acceptable reasoning capability (with respect to the things of the Spirit).
    Anna Brown said: So how *do* we bring people to Jesus if we can’t reason with them? Do we not witness at all?
    AB – of course we faithfully witness to the lost according to The Great Commission. The Holy Spirit will do His work as we’re faithful to do ours, the key point is not to fall into the myriad “foolish disputes” or lend credence to worldly “knowledge so-called” by accepting the false position that the unregenerate are capable of proper reasoning; they aren’t.
    You might read this post for additional information.

  • http://cesareborgia.com/blog/ cesare

    coram deo: is it an implication of your view that C.S. Lewis’s apologetic writings that try to make christianity “reasonable” are worthless?

  • Ludwig

    “Are you trying to say God’s not omnipotent if He wants things?”
    Thats exactly what i m saying…nothing that is omnipotent CAN want
    “There’s nothing un-omnipotent about God desiring things. If He needed things He could not provide, He would not be omnipotent. But God doesn’t need. He *does* desire. He may choose not to force the fulfillment of those desires (ie, He doesn’t force us to choose Him). But, that is not un-omnipotent. He simply chooses not to do something that He could do. ”
    My dear,one can only desire what they want and can only want what they dont have. An omnipotent being HAS EVERYTHING,therefore cannot want or desire anything…there is simply no way around that,although i imagine that like most religionist you will deny this self evident truth because the doctrine of your entire cult is predicated on your god wanting which only you can provide and provide effortlessly…your servitude and your worship. and in exchange for that pitance,you are granted the one thing that most people believe they actually want…eternal life in a blissfull paradise. Of course if your childish irrational cult beliefs help you get through the day with a smile on your face then power to you…they are serving the only purpose they really have…but please refrain from pushing the comedy to the truly grotesque by claming that they are in any way LOGICAL…
    “Where’s the contradiction?”
    The contradiction lies in the fact that God and Want are 2 diametrical opposite.

  • Ludwig

    Brian,
    like every religionist that came before you,you use long winded biblical quotations to say nothing of any worth.

  • http://cesareborgia.com/blog/ cesare

    there is actually a respectable pedigree to ludwig’s statement. Aristotle and Plato actually believed the same: that logically, God must be a self-subsistent and completely complacent being, who is indifferent to the fate or actions of human mortals. From their perspective, the Christian/Jewish God is, like they thought of the traditional Greek Olympic gods, too anthropomorphic.
    Just a historical note.

  • http://johncoleman.typepad.com John

    Way to kick things back off, Joe.

  • Brian

    Ludwig,
    That the passage I quoted says nothing of any worth to you, proves its wisdom and truth. You cannot comprehend it because the truth is hidden from you and live in darkness.
    I will pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth of God’s plan to save the world through his Son, Jesus Christ. Hopefully, your eyes can be opened and your spirit can be liberated from the yoke of sin and death!

  • j

    Ludwig,
    “An omnipotent being HAS EVERYTHING,therefore cannot want or desire anything.”
    Where did you get this definition? It might be helpful if you expand on what “HAS EVERYTHING” means.

  • http://discoveringhope.blogspot.com Caleb White

    I thoroughly enjoyed this article, and look forward to future installments.
    I would point out to Coram Deo that this apologetic work is not merely useful as a means of refuting unregenerate reasoning — it’s a great encouragement and tool of the believer! By understanding Jesus’ logic and methods, we aren’t just aiming to win debates against atheists. I think learning these things will help Christians to think differently about their faith, and to examine more thoroughly their worldviews. So if you oppose this as an apologetic work, think of it as a tool for Christians instead.
    Soli Deo Gloria,
    ~ Caleb

  • http://cesareborgia.com/blog/ cesare

    brian:
    I understand how your reasoning works, but it is circular, like Freud’s theory of repression: based on your reasoning, there is no way of disproving the theory.
    Fortunately, however, there is a way of casting reasonable doubt on the claims of scripture. To start with, Paul and Jesus both believed that the end of the present age and the coming of the Kingdom of God were going to happen within their lifetimes. Paul, for example, advised people to stay unmarried if they could in anticipation of it (1 Corinthians 7). Jesus claimed that the gospel would not even have to time to be proclaimed through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes (Matt 10:23). He also proclaimed that “there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom” (Matt 16:28). There are other examples. reference
    The great Christian apologist C.S. Lewis, to his great credit, conceded that these and similar verses do indeed show that Jesus was mistaken as to the time of the full-on apocalypse and arrival of the Kingdom of God, and misled others (including Paul) into the same mistake. primary source
    But while C.S. Lewis somehow maintained his Christian faith despite these embarrassments and clear errors on Jesus and Paul’s part, others, like the widely published New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman, lapsed in their faith as a consequence. (Ehrman started out as an evangelical, and is now a staunch agnostic. I highly recommend his book, Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet for the New Millenium.) Geza Vermes is another New Testament scholar who started out as a Catholic (a priest, actually), and then lapsed as a result of his scholarly work on the New Testament. Vermes also agrees with Ehrman, and a lot of other secular experts on the New Testament, that Jesus was a mistaken apocalypticist.
    I think these facts about the New Testament are very important to discuss, debate, and publicize, because they can lead to more constructive dialogue, and less out and out dogmatism and vituperation between evangelicals and secular-minded people. The case for Christianity and the inerrancy of the Word is not airtight, and neither is the case for agnosticism or anything else. We are all human beings, muddling through the best we can and each trying, according to our best lights, to find meaning and purpose in the universe and in life. Let’s respect that on all sides.

  • Eddie Greene

    To Coram Deo:
    The unregenerate mind cannot understand many things about God. However Romans 1 seems to indicate that what the unregenerate does understand is sufficient to condemn him.
    Does this not indicate that in some manner, the unregenerate mind has the capability to know that God exists and that man is meant to worship him?

  • Brian

    cesare,
    I’m not sure I understand your comment. I wasn’t attempting to reason with anyone. The scriture I posted was challenge and illustration.
    I’m curious about you and where you are coming from in your own spiritual walk. Could you give me a little background?

  • Anna Brown

    Ludwig,
    I drew a distinction between NEED and WANT that you completely ignored. And drop the condescension – I know you think it’s fun to mock believers (I was in your shoes once) but it’s childish and not useful.
    God doesn’t NEED anything. However, He does WANT something – namely, love, which definitionally must be chosen and cannot be forced. He desires us to desire Him, and that’s why He came and died to make it possible.
    It’s ludicrous to assert that God must be a complacent being that doesn’t care about anything – to say that is to say that *He* doesn’t love, which He most certainly does. To love is to care about and want the best for the other – and that best is for us to choose to love Him in return. And to that end He came and died. “For God so loved the world…”
    Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone.

  • jared

    Ludwig:
    You commented that “if it helps you through the day.” This is not a logical statement. Your atheism might help you through the day as much as my belief. Whether or not a belief helps a person psychologically does not inform us as to the accuracy of their beliefs. Many famous atheists had issues with their fathers/father-figures and thus a good motivation to be “helped through the day” by disbelieving in the ultimate father figure. Does this disprove atheism?

  • bill

    As to Ludwig’s comment:
    To claim that God does not want anything is to make a categorical generalization. If a single counterexample is produced, then it fails.
    drawing from Plantinga’s Free Will defense …
    (if it’s unfamiliar, see God, Freedom, and Evil by Alvin Plantinga)
    By definition, God cannot cause a free being to freely choose any action x. If libertarian freedom (the aforementioned sort) is possible, then there are some circumstances under which actions are not under God’s control. In any case where an action is not under God’s control, if God desires the contrary of what is chosen by the free agent (knowing a few free agents myself, I find that this is probably the majority of free choices we make), then God can have unfulfilled desires – wants. More can be said, of course – for instance, why God might desire a world with free agents, but a number of able philosophers and theologians (see Plantinga and Richard Swinburne) have argued this – so I just refer you to the literature.
    This seems to me a fair defense to the classical position that God cannot want.

  • Ludwig

    “I drew a distinction between NEED and WANT that you completely ignored. And drop the condescension – I know you think it’s fun to mock believers (I was in your shoes once) but it’s childish and not useful.”
    I ignored it because there is no distinction where omnipotence is concerned…you can only need or want something you dont allready have and by definition,if you re omnipotent you all ready have everything…and please forgive the tongue in cheek tone….but you re right i do get some sinfull pleasure in pointing out the ridicule of religious beliefs
    “God doesn’t NEED anything. However, He does WANT something – namely, love, which definitionally must be chosen and cannot be forced. He desires us to desire Him, and that’s why He came and died to make it possible. ”
    There are so many false premises in the previous statements that one is hard pressed to know where to begin but they do illustrate the fatal flaw of your thinking and that of most christians…you think of God in a purely human framework. Love,which you say God desires,is not a magical ethereal force…it is a biochemical reaction that occurs with an animal brain,same as fear or anger. Its not even certain that all animals are capable of experiencing that emotion. And like all emotions,it serves a very real very well defined BIOLOGICAL function and thats it. I know it is very poetic to believe that love somehow trancends the bonds of the flesh but that belief is bourn of childish wishfull thinking,not of logical analysis…to an omnipotent non biological entiry,love serves absolutely NO PURPOSE WHATSOEVER…as for love being forced,yes it can be forced and often is…the right chemical can induce the feeling of love in an animal brain. sorry to spoil your delusions there.
    “It’s ludicrous to assert that God must be a complacent being that doesn’t care about anything – to say that is to say that *He* doesn’t love, which He most certainly does. To love is to care about and want the best for the other – and that best is for us to choose to love Him in return. And to that end He came and died. “For God so loved the world…”
    Once again we descend into childish wishy washy. If you hope to ever understand anything about the divine,the very first thing you must do is abandon your human frame of reference because it tells you nothing about God…humans are frail,imperfect creatures bound to a fraction of linear time who’s vision almost always exceed their reach whereas God is all knowing all powerfull and timeless…there is no common point of reference between the two and as such they can have NO TRAITS IN COMMON,PERIOD.

  • Ludwig

    bill
    your argument proceeds from a false assumption that there is such a thing as “free will” in human beings from the perspective of God…there isent. All the choices you can ever make were created by God and all the impulses in your brain that would cause you to choose any one of the options available were also created by God…therefore,every choice you make is dictated by God to some extent…in order to have TRUE free will,you would have to be able to choose options that were NOT created by God using a brain that was not designed by God…something that cannot occur in a universe created in its entirety by God…hence your counter argument carries no force of weight…try harder

  • Ludwig

    “You commented that “if it helps you through the day.” This is not a logical statement. Your atheism might help you through the day as much as my belief. Whether or not a belief helps a person psychologically does not inform us as to the accuracy of their beliefs. Many famous atheists had issues with their fathers/father-figures and thus a good motivation to be “helped through the day” by disbelieving in the ultimate father figure. Does this disprove atheism? ”
    First of all it would be helpfull for you to perfect your reading skills somewhat,as it is self evident from my every posts that i m no athiest. You re point however is valid but not really contradicting anything i ve said…i never claimed that the fact a beliefs may help you fare better in life defacto invalidates that belief…as far as christianity is concerned,it is invalidated by the mountain of self contradictions and logical falacies contained in christian doctrines and stories,only a few of which i pointed out here.

  • Brian

    cesare,
    I did some research regarding Christ’s view of the coming end of the age. I don’t think your interpretation is accurate at all. As far as Paul goes, he, and indeed most early Christians, believed that Christ’s return was imminent. I don’t really see the problem with this because many Christians throughout history hold this view. Since we are told that no one know His time of return, Christians use the uncertainty to be diligent about spreading the gospel, and keeping their hearts prepared for the return of Christ.
    Finally as far as Jesus is concerned. The passages your are talking about have a double meaning to Christ. They refer to the destruction of the temple in 70, which those present would have indeed been alive to witness. As in so many other prophetic sayign in the Bible there are often different events being spoken of that may be seperated by large amounts of time, but be similar in character. I.e. the destruction of the temple and sacking of Jerusalem, and the tribulation prior to Christ’s return
    Thanks you for your challenge, I enjoyed my exploration of the topic.

  • Ludwig

    “Finally as far as Jesus is concerned. The passages your are talking about have a double meaning to Christ. They refer to the destruction of the temple in 70, which those present would have indeed been alive to witness. As in so many other prophetic sayign in the Bible there are often different events being spoken of that may be seperated by large amounts of time, but be similar in character. I.e. the destruction of the temple and sacking of Jerusalem, and the tribulation prior to Christ’s return”
    that is completely absurd as there is absolutely no scriptural basis to your claim that when Jessu said to his apposltes that many of them would not taste death before his return he was talking about the destruction of the temple…i m sorry but you just fished that one right out of your @ss but your comical statement is actually very symptomatic of christians and their so called holy scriptures which they can and do interpret however the hell they feel like at any given moment…which in turn renders the bible completely useless as a means to increase human wisdom.

  • Brian

    Ludwig,
    Perhaps I was being unclear and not directing my comments to the passages you are thinking of. In rereading my response it doesn’t address Matthew 16:28 as you point out.
    In reality I think your misunderstanding of the passage has to do with Christ’s position after his ascention. I would submit that when Christ says that some who were present wouldn’t die before He came into His kingdom. Christ is aware the after his death, resurrection and ascention, he would indeed begin His reign. We are living under it right now, although some of us are unaware of the fact. So yes, many of those present would be alive at the time of Christs crucifixtion, resurrection and ascention to His heavenly throne.
    This is supposed to shake the foundations of a Christians faith? I don’t get it. I appreciate having the opportunity to clarify myself and apologize for the earlier confusion.

  • Ludwig

    Brian…
    well as i indicated,christian texts can say just about anything you want them to say and you ve just provided another exemple of that. The afformentioned text clearly implies the return of Jesus on the PHYSICAL world,otherwise known in christian doctrine as the second coming,in which all the elements of the book of revelation are to be realised,all of this BEFORE the death of the last of the 12 appostles…furthermorethe text invalidates your claim in that Jesus said SOME would still be alive for his return,implying that most would be dead by the time said return occured…since according to you that return would have occured upon Jesus’s ascension,only Judas was dead by that time,while all the other 11 were still alive and kicking…now if i were argueing with an intelectually honest person,i would now be expecting you to concede here but as a christian with a whole litany of abstract biblical verses to interpret however you please,i wont be holding my breath.

  • Brian

    Ludwig,
    Your biblical knowledge is questionable, so I feel like I wasting my time trying to argue with you. I mean, you are arguing how many some is, and trying to torture the interpretation so badly to prove Jesus is lying.
    The weight of Christian tradition and interpretation of the passage is on my side. And since I am the bible-believing Christian arguing about Christian doctrine with a non-believing pagan, why should your argument hold any water to me? You do not have the Spirit in you and therefore the text remains a mystery to you.

  • Rob Ryan

    “You do not have the Spirit in you and therefore the text remains a mystery to you.”
    What a cop-out! At least it has this benefit: it makes your position unassailable, at least in your own mind.

  • Brian

    Rob,
    Take it how ever you will. May I remimd you we are interacting on a blog called the evangelical outpost! I’ll debate interpretation with anyone, but I have to take their relationship with the Holy Spirit into account when I do. It is clear in the Bible the the Spirit leads and grants wisdom to believers reading the text.

  • re: 25 by ludwig

    Ludwig writes:
    “your argument proceeds from a false assumption that there is such a thing as “free will” in human beings from the perspective of God…there isent.”
    Free will may be a contentious issue, but it isn’t obviously absurd. Let’s look at your stated justification for this claim:
    “All the choices you can ever make were created by God and all the impulses in your brain that would cause you to choose any one of the options available were also created by God…therefore,every choice you make is dictated by God to some extent…”
    I’m not sure I understand, firstly, what it means when you claim that my choices were created by God. If you mean that God has actualized the chemical impuleses in my brain that causally determine my decisions, then I simply deny your claim. God didn’t cause the chemicals in my brain to be the way they are, they owe their constitution to the acts of other free agents, at least in part the free decision of my progenitors to get about the business of progenitating (not a word, I suppose, but you get my drift). You need an additional assumption of chemical determination of my choices.
    I deny this. That’s part of what libertarian free will is about. My choices are not caused by anything else. I’m sure that you won’t like a theory of libertarian freedom, but I’m willing to bite the bullet of a difficult to explain theory rather than attempting to understand moral responsibility without libertarian freedom. I’ll cite Timothy O’Connor’s Persons and Causes as worth reading for a defense of the view.
    “in order to have TRUE free will,you would have to be able to choose options that were NOT created by God using a brain that was not designed by God…something that cannot occur in a universe created in its entirety by God…hence your counter argument carries no force of weight”
    Why think that? True free will is simply to act in a way that is uncaused (or at least not sufficiently caused) by anything else. That is consistent with the design of a free being by God in a universe created by God. Certainly, our options are limited by the physical and mental constraints of our constitution: I cannot choose to fly by flapping my arms nor can I choose to see a pink elephant in the room (unless I am able to purchase and transport one).
    I don’t see any reason to grant these latter claims.
    “…try harder”
    But of course!

  • Ludwig

    “Take it how ever you will. May I remimd you we are interacting on a blog called the evangelical outpost! I’ll debate interpretation with anyone, but I have to take their relationship with the Holy Spirit into account when I do. It is clear in the Bible the the Spirit leads and grants wisdom to believers reading the text.”
    Well that was very expected of you…i dont see the meaning of the text because the magical white bird is not sitting on my left shoulder…even though christians are notorious for their ability to read anything within theri “holy” scriptures,they are at least consistant in one thing…their evasive tactics.

  • Ludwig

    25 by ludwig writes
    you are forgeting in your argument that element of linear time and the fact that God is not a part of it…in that respect,nothing is uncaused by God. If God created the universe,then he also created time and then aplied the mesure of time to the universe. time would only appear to move forwards from the perspective of someone living within linear time but not to something that exists outside it, meaning that every instant of every day of every year of every century of every millenia from the begining of time till the end of it is all the same thing from he perspective of God…and as such,every interactions that seem to occur of their own volition within the timeline were actually created by God all at the same instant…it cant be otherwise.

  • Jared

    Ludwig:
    I have not read your posts much at all, so I suppose I am guilty of insufficient research in concluding that you are an atheist. Mea culpa.
    For someone who so loudly trumpets logic, I’m still trying to figure you out.
    1) You admit that a person’s psychological response to their beliefs neither confirms nor refutes their belief system. So why make a comment like “If it helps you through the day”? To be dismissive? Rude? Just have fun?
    2) You note that love can be traced to chemical reactions. But to assert that this is ALL that love is, is to prove a negative. Which it is impossible to prove a negative. I don’t deny the symbiotic relationship that exists between my soul and my physiology. However, for you to observe the physical interaction and state that this categorically proves that is the only relationship that exists is not a logical proof.
    I have not done much Ludwig research, but I’m not impressed by the logic (so far) of someone who claims to be so very offended at the lack of logic in those he disagrees with.
    jared

  • bill

    re: 36 by Ludwig
    “you are forgeting in your argument that element of linear time and the fact that God is not a part of it…”
    While there is a time-honored tradition of Christian philosophers and theologians who would agree with you on this, this is hardly an uncontroversial claim today. I’m inclined to disagree.
    “in that respect,nothing is uncaused by God.”
    I don’t see a logical connection on the face of this claim, but presumably what follows is your justification.
    “If God created the universe,then he also created time”
    Maybe. Some like Newton, I think, believed that God existed eternally in time. I believe that this is the view of Padgett and Swinburne at Oxford (albeit with some elaboration). But let’s suppose we grant this.
    “and then aplied the mesure of time to the universe. time would only appear to move forwards from the perspective of someone living within linear time”
    Actually, this begs the question in favor of a “static” view of time. There are two major competing theories in philosophy of time: the “static” view and the “dynamic” view of time. The static view holds that time is simply ordered in terms of earlier than, later than, and simultaneous with. On the other hand, there is the dynamic view, which holds that time is also (or rather) ordered in terms of will happen, did happen, and is now happening. On this later view temporal becoming is objectively real. If this is so, then God would know what time is now, because it is an objective fact to be known, and any theory of omniscience worth its salt holds that all objective facts (or true propositions, if you favor that terminology) are known by God. So, given that i believe that I have as good reason to believe in the reality of temporal becoming as nearly anything I believe, there is no reason to grant this part of your argument.
    “but not to something that exists outside it, meaning that every instant of every day of every year of every century of every millenia from the begining of time till the end of it is all the same thing from he perspective of God…”
    If by the “same thing” you mean, has the same tensed status to God. However, even on a static view of time, God knows the temporal ordering of events, so they are not exactly the same.
    “and as such,every interactions that seem to occur of their own volition within the timeline were actually created by God all at the same instant…”
    But granting, as I am not inclined to do, that a static theory of time is correct, I still don’t think the conclusion follows. Let’s distinguish between two ways you could mean “created”.
    1) Strongly actualized by God – God’s action is necessary and sufficient to bring into being and fix everything in existence.
    2) Weakly actualized by God – God’s action is necessary, but not sufficient to bring into being and fix everythign in existence.
    You clearly need 1) for your argument to succeed. However, the problem is that it begs the question against free will. If God strongly actualizes the world, then libertarian freedom does not exist. But, assuming the conclusion to argue for it is bad form.
    2) doesn’t beg the question, but clearly, your argument cannot work if you adopt it, because it is consistent with freedom. If God weakly actualizes the world, then creatures may be part of the tenseless unfolding of the world, though their actions are temporally ordered in terms of earlier than, later than, and simultaneous with. No problem for free will.
    “it cant be otherwise.”
    It can and is (I think):
    1) God need not be atemporal
    2) A dynamic theory of time may be true
    3) Either “created” means strong actualization (in which case the question is vigorously begged) or weak actualization, in which case your conclusion does not follow.

  • Ludwig

    “1) You admit that a person’s psychological response to their beliefs neither confirms nor refutes their belief system. So why make a comment like “If it helps you through the day”? To be dismissive? Rude? Just have fun?”
    No…its merely a way of saying that religious beliefs are a means through which the human mind learns to cope with its own insignificance. Believing you have some benevolent divine daddy figure watching over you from the heavens above distracts you from really examining how precarious our situation is as a species but more importantly,how little the universe would be affected if we were all to disapear tomorrow. I think thats what humans fear the most…even more then death,they fear unimportance. And along comes a conveniant religious creed that teaches folks that this whole universe was all created just for them…that they are its only reason to exist and that if and when divine daddy figure decides to close the show on humanity,he ll close the show on the rest of the universe as well…i think most religionist find much more confort in that thought that they would ever care to admit.
    “2) You note that love can be traced to chemical reactions. But to assert that this is ALL that love is, is to prove a negative. Which it is impossible to prove a negative. I don’t deny the symbiotic relationship that exists between my soul and my physiology. However, for you to observe the physical interaction and state that this categorically proves that is the only relationship that exists is not a logical proof.”
    well,one can only proceed with what he or she knows…I know that love is a chemical reaction that occurs in the brain…i dont know weather or not we have a soul…but more to the point,neither do you…so i dont see any point in speculating about the possible interactions between what i know does exits and what i dont know to exists…of course you can reply that even though one cant prove the existance of the soul that doesnt mean its not there…to which i would reply that just because i cant prove the existance of invisible pink unicorns it doesnt mean that they are not floating about all over the place…and we can go on ad infinitum like that till one of us realises that if we just decide that absence of evidence does not mean evidence of absence for any of the many figments that crosses our imagination,we lose the ability to distinguish between fantasy and reality. So to make a long story short,i know that love occurs as a result of a working biological brain and i have been given no logical or rational reason to believe that it exists beyond that.

  • j

    re 39 Ludwig
    “I know that love is a chemical reaction that occurs in the brain”
    Ludwig, how do you know this? Aren’t your thoughts about this just chemical reactions too? How do you know your thoughts are true rather than determined chemical reactions?
    How does anyone know this? Doesn’t the person having the chemical reaction have to tell the observers what the reaction they are having relate to? How would you know that what they are telling is true?

  • Ludwig

    An MRI machine can track thoughts bein formed in the brain by mapping the movements of neurones and the formations of synapses as a result of various stimuli to which the brain owner’s being studied is subjected…as far as i know,no one has ever tracked the thought paterns of a disembodied “soul” but perhaps you can point me to any research that was performed on that subject?

  • jared

    Ludwig:
    Insisting we give you MRI evidence of a soul is not a logical request.
    Claiming that no one has ever given you any reason to believe that a soul exists either means that you’ve never studied much philosophy or if you did, you did so with a closed mind.
    Your pink unicorn example creates a straw man that I did not state. I did not say you should believe in anything I could think of. You stated that the chemical reactions associated with love AUTOMATICALLY PRECLUDE the existence of a soul. I’m glad you love your MRI machine so much, but your observations do immediately prove that something immaterial is not also in play. We could discuss the pros and cons of the arguments for the soul, but you pretending that the physical sciences must add much to that conversation is only a red herring (and I think you know it).
    There is nothing in your paragraph about the psychological effects of religion that could not also be said about any other belief system. And we’ve already been over that ground. Your insistence that this comment is worth anymore than a random jab is NOT LOGICAL.
    jd

  • Ludwig

    “Insisting we give you MRI evidence of a soul is not a logical request. ”
    Insisting that i give any credance to your claims that the chemical reaction called love that occurs in the brain is actually the physical manifestation of an otherwise uncorporeal soul without any evidence to that effect is not only illogical…it borders on insanity.
    “Claiming that no one has ever given you any reason to believe that a soul exists either means that you’ve never studied much philosophy or if you did, you did so with a closed mind.”
    I did study philosophy to some extent and i dont consider it a symptom of closemindness to view statements such as the ones you made without the slightest shred of evidence to back them up with a healthy dose of skepticism…its just common sense.
    “Your pink unicorn example creates a straw man that I did not state. I did not say you should believe in anything I could think of. You stated that the chemical reactions associated with love AUTOMATICALLY PRECLUDE the existence of a soul. I’m glad you love your MRI machine so much, but your observations do immediately prove that something immaterial is not also in play. We could discuss the pros and cons of the arguments for the soul, but you pretending that the physical sciences must add much to that conversation is only a red herring (and I think you know it).”
    I did not preclude the existajnce of anything…i merely consider the addition of unknowables (souls) to a discussion of physical elements that dont require them (chemical reaction of love) to be an exercise in futility because on the soul,we dont have ANY common point of references,making any intelligent discussion on the subject between us completely useless. Incidently,while i can point the obvious benefit of the feeling of love as a positive coesive force among the members of homo sapien species,can you name me ONE benefit that love would have in a disembodied soul?

  • j

    Ludwig,
    How do you know what those chemical reactions are about? For example, how do you know they correspond to love without something/the subject interpreting them?
    Second, what causes them?

  • Ludwig

    “How do you know what those chemical reactions are about? For example, how do you know they correspond to love without something/the subject interpreting them? ”
    Well,not being an expert i can only explain it to you in laymen terms but from what i understand of it,they show the individuals hooked to the mri various pictures of things which they say their either love of hate or fear ect…then with the mri you observe the chemical interactions of neurones and synapses in the brain that are associated with specific images…repeat the process with enough different people giving all similar results and that creates a reliable model you can build a working theory on.
    “Second, what causes them?”
    Chemical reactions in the brain are caused by either external perceived stimuli (things you see,hear,smell,touch or taste) or internal stimuli (memories).

  • Wolfgang

    Your ignorance of neurology is stunning Ludwig.

  • Ludwig

    “Your ignorance of neurology is stunning Ludwig.”
    Mmmm…is there more or is ad hominem the extent of your intervention?

  • Motzart

    Well to begin you are completely misrepresenting the capabilities of MRI scans. Second, You are greatly simplifying how thoughts and emotions are created.

  • Ludwig

    “Well to begin you are completely misrepresenting the capabilities of MRI scans.”
    No i m not
    “Second, You are greatly simplifying how thoughts and emotions are created. ”
    yes i am…i ve learned from experience you have to do that with chrildren or christians…:)

  • Fred

    I saw on TV this woman going to college with an entire hemisphere of her brain gone. Forgot which one, the left brain or the right brain.
    And another person had a thin layer of brain material which coated the inside of the skull and everything else was fluid. He was janitor who wasn’t retarded, only had some speech and motor skill problems.
    Atheists and leftists don’t use logic. Look at em foaming at the mouth hating Christians. Maybe they are possessed.

  • Fred

    I saw on TV this woman going to college with an entire hemisphere of her brain gone. Forgot which one, the left brain or the right brain.
    And another person had a thin layer of brain material which coated the inside of the skull and everything else was fluid. He was janitor who wasn’t retarded, only had some speech and motor skill problems.
    Atheists and leftists don’t use logic. Look at em foaming at the mouth hating Christians. Maybe they are possessed.

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