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The Bible as a Source of Knowledge

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Postby Rhuiden » Tue May 02, 2006 9:16 pm

IreneY wrote:Look, I have not really looked into the First Cause argument so I can't really say whether it is right or wrong. What I'm saying is that it cannot be used as an argument slash proof that there is a God.



Why?
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Postby IreneY » Tue May 02, 2006 9:31 pm

because if the answer to what was the first, un-caused, cause can be "anything" then the First Cause does not prove that it was God who was the first cause (and I realise that doesn't make much sense but I am running a rather high temperature so I just can't do any better)
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Postby edonnelly » Tue May 02, 2006 9:39 pm

IreneY wrote:because if the answer to what was the first, un-caused, cause can be "anything" then the First Cause does not prove that it was God who was the first cause (and I realise that doesn't make much sense but I am running a rather high temperature so I just can't do any better)

But isn't the word "God" really just that -- a word? I mean, if two people fundamentally agree that something (regardless of its nature and regardless of whether it did it by will, or pure chance, or whatever) created the universe, and one person happens to label that something with the word "God," while another says, no, it's not "God," it's something else, is there really a disagreement about anything except vocabulary?

Granted, there can be quite a bit of disagreement about the nature of that something, but I think that's a different (and also interesting) question.
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Postby IreneY » Tue May 02, 2006 9:47 pm

Well, no disrespect to those who believe but I think it wasCaligula who made a deity of his horse? By that I mean that, sure, we can name firmament, goo or whatever inanimate object we 'wish' to place as a First Cause a 'God' but that won't make it one.

While there are many, quite different opinions about what (a) God is, I don't think the (relatively modern so to speak) definitions include inanimate objects
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Postby pyrheraklit » Tue May 02, 2006 10:06 pm

I think First Cause is just a human concept, thought. Isn't it a bit degrading for God to identify Him with First Cause? I find also degrading for faith to mix it with (material) knowledge and vice versa.

Maybe we should try Acquinas, Leibniz to enlighten us...
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Postby edonnelly » Tue May 02, 2006 10:12 pm

IreneY wrote:Well, no disrespect to those who believe but I think it wasCaligula who made a deity of his horse? By that I mean that, sure, we can name firmament, goo or whatever inanimate object we 'wish' to place as a First Cause a 'God' but that won't make it one.

Well, I think we can all agree that if this "First Cause" exists (or existed) it is what is, regardless of what we wish it to be. We may disagree about what we think its nature is, but our thoughts and wishes won't change reality (whatever that may be).

IreneY wrote:While there are many, quite different opinions about what (a) God is, I don't think the (relatively modern so to speak) definitions include inanimate objects

I would submit two things to think about:
(1) It may be possible that "God" exists and that the modern belief of what God is happens to be wrong.
(2) If this "First Cause" does exist, it is certainly outside of our everyday experiences (since we do not witness universes being created). That doesn't mean it has to be supernatural (just like most of the interesting things that are described by Einstein's theories are perfectly natural but outside of our daily experiences). Thus, you may believe it to be an inanimate object, but even if that were so it would be much different from any ordinary inanimate object that we experience in our daily lives and I'm not so sure that such a thought is all that inconsistent with modern beliefs.
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Postby edonnelly » Tue May 02, 2006 10:16 pm

pyrheraklit wrote:Isn't it a bit degrading for God to identify Him with First Cause?

Isn't that what the opening story of the Bible does? The Bible claims that God created the universe. Why do you think that would be degrading?
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Postby pyrheraklit » Tue May 02, 2006 10:33 pm

First Cause is a consequence of a system of though, classical aristotelian logics, medieval philosophy, mechanical philosophy of 17-19th centuries maybe, something totaly human with a beginning and an end. Religion and theology is a different realm. Different and distinct "discours" as the French would say.

For example, I find ridiculous a vast philosopical conversation on the sex of angels and inversely equally ridiculous the Inteligent Design theory. Both are ridiculous and often dangerous for both faith and knowledge (scientific).

Religious texts are for the soul, not mind. They are symbolical.
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Postby IreneY » Tue May 02, 2006 11:11 pm

Well, I think we can all agree that if this "First Cause" exists (or existed) it is what is, regardless of what we wish it to be. We may disagree about what we think its nature is, but our thoughts and wishes won't change reality (whatever that may be).


I am agreeing only for the sake of conversation. As I said I haven't really looked into that matter. But let's take First Cause for granted.

I would submit two things to think about:
(1) It may be possible that "God" exists and that the modern belief of what God is happens to be wrong.
(2) If this "First Cause" does exist, it is certainly outside of our everyday experiences (since we do not witness universes being created). That doesn't mean it has to be supernatural (just like most of the interesting things that are described by Einstein's theories are perfectly natural but outside of our daily experiences). Thus, you may believe it to be an inanimate object, but even if that were so it would be much different from any ordinary inanimate object that we experience in our daily lives and I'm not so sure that such a thought is all that inconsistent with modern beliefs.


(1) if the definition of God is simply "whatever the first cause was whether inanimate or not, whether supernatural or not" I agree.

(2) By modern beliefs, I meant that the majority of humanity, for the past millenia, has defined divinity as something completely different. When one uses the First Cause to prove there's a God, he/she is talking about an entity like the Christian God, Allah etc.

What I am suggesting is that, even if the First Cause is 'in sync' with the latest developments in scientific and philosophical 'findings', it still does not prove anything other than the fact that there IS a first cause. As such, it doesn't help us much in our quest to find what was that first cause.
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Postby elis » Tue May 02, 2006 11:35 pm

hello.
here's my take on this, I'm sure I'm not saying something original.
It shows that determinism cannot be used to prove God exists.

*
there's nothing without a cause.

or:

All beings have a cause.

the totality of beings exists.

therefore an X must also exist that's the First Cause of beings, itself being uncaused (the causal chains being finite; ananke stenai).

let's say this X is God.

Is God? yes.

therefore God is also a being (since all that is must be a being).
therefore atleast one being exists that is uncaused, God.

therefore not all beings have a cause.

*
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Postby edonnelly » Wed May 03, 2006 1:22 am

elis,

The fact that you encounter a paradox means that either (1) you have made a logical flaw or (2) you have made an incorrect assumption.

I'm not arguing that the First Cause argument is necessarily correct, only that you are making a few errors. You cannot assert both:

"All beings have a cause. " and that there exists a being that is not caused.

I would ask:

(1) Why do you assert that all "beings" have a cause?
(2) Why must the First Cause be a "being?"
(3) How do you conclude that there must be one First Cause? Why must all things that exist derive from a single cause? Could there not, for example, be hundreds of uncaused First Causes, each causing a chain of reactions?
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Postby Rhuiden » Wed May 03, 2006 1:41 am

IreneY wrote:What I am suggesting is that, even if the First Cause is 'in sync' with the latest developments in scientific and philosophical 'findings', it still does not prove anything other than the fact that there IS a first cause. As such, it doesn't help us much in our quest to find what was that first cause.


My whole point in bringing up the uncaused first cause argument was to convince people that there IS an uncaused first cause. The next step in the discussion is to determine who or what it is. You have understood what I was trying to get to.

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Postby Bert » Wed May 03, 2006 2:07 am

Rhuiden, is this reasoning how you came to believe?
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Postby Rhuiden » Wed May 03, 2006 2:40 am

Bert wrote:Rhuiden, is this reasoning how you came to believe?


No, I came to believe because of what God did for me in my life. He changed me. The Holy Spirit convicted me and showed me my need for a Savior and who that Savior was.

I use arguments like the Law of Causality because with many non-believers, if you start with arguments from the Bible, the non-believers will dismiss them without consideration. Once a common ground is established, then I can take the argument more to Biblical grounds.

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Postby Rhuiden » Wed May 03, 2006 3:39 am

IreneY wrote:because if the answer to what was the first, un-caused, cause can be "anything" then the First Cause does not prove that it was God who was the first cause (and I realise that doesn't make much sense but I am running a rather high temperature so I just can't do any better)


edonnelly has answered this really well

edonnelly wrote:But isn't the word "God" really just that -- a word? I mean, if two people fundamentally agree that something (regardless of its nature and regardless of whether it did it by will, or pure chance, or whatever) created the universe, and one person happens to label that something with the word "God," while another says, no, it's not "God," it's something else, is there really a disagreement about anything except vocabulary?
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Postby Rhuiden » Wed May 03, 2006 3:48 am

edonnelly wrote:
pyrheraklit wrote:Isn't it a bit degrading for God to identify Him with First Cause?

Isn't that what the opening story of the Bible does? The Bible claims that God created the universe. Why do you think that would be degrading?


Wow, edonnelly, you are right on with your posts today. You have answered every point better and more articulately than I could hope to. Well done and keep up the good fight.
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Postby Rhuiden » Wed May 03, 2006 3:50 am

pyrheraklit wrote:Religious texts are for the soul, not mind. They are symbolical.


This is not what the Bible teaches. We are not told to blindly follow but to search out the truth within the text and expose any false teachings that we may find about the text.
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Postby Rhuiden » Wed May 03, 2006 3:55 am

IreneY wrote:(1) if the definition of God is simply "whatever the first cause was whether inanimate or not, whether supernatural or not" I agree.


This is a good start but consider this. How could the First Cause be inanimate or not supernatural? The First Cause, whatever it is, must have the power to cause the first effect. Thus it must be both animate (meaning alive) and supernatural.
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Postby elis » Wed May 03, 2006 6:41 am


I would ask:

(1) Why do you assert that all "beings" have a cause?
(2) Why must the First Cause be a "being?"
(3) How do you conclude that there must be one First Cause? Why must all things that exist derive from a single cause? Could there not, for example, be hundreds of uncaused First Causes, each causing a chain of reaction


edonnelly,

1) I ascribed the law of causality to everything. why? to show that it leads to paradoxes.
2) everything that exists must be a being. If the First cause is not a being, it simply does not exist. Actually, if exists, the First Cause has to be the Being par excellance.
3) It doesn't matter; even if we assume that not one, but atleast one First Cause exists, the same circle comes forth.

ofcourse, there are ways to surpass this circle. It will only show that to prove God one needs to assume much more than the universality of the Law of causality, the finite causal chains etc.
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Postby ThomasGR » Wed May 03, 2006 7:53 am

Rhuiden wrote:
pyrheraklit wrote:Religious texts are for the soul, not mind. They are symbolical.


This is not what the Bible teaches. We are not told to blindly follow but to search out the truth within the text and expose any false teachings that we may find about the text.


I agree completely with this statement "Religious texts are for the soul, not mind. They are symbolical". Religion is aiming the soul. The requirement "search out the truth within the text" is just only needed to trap the intellect and keep it busy solving the unsolvable puzzle, whilst the soul gets freed.

I think the whole discussion got a false direction. The problem religion tries to solve is not WHO created the universe, but for what PURPOSE did he (God or what-ever-else) do that. That question could science not dare to touch, it failed completely to deal with. Science came with obscure theories like "Big Bang" as the first cause, but for what purpose? "Big Bang" is nothing more than a conclusion based on human argumentation, nothing more than God(s). Maybe even less than God, since religion gives also an answer to the purpose-question. Also I failed to understand the word "knowledge" in the thread title and what one means with it. If we use the traditional spiritual (mystical) definition, the knowledge you'll find in the bible will not provide you with knowledge like how world is created. Instead, Bible will help you aquire wisdom and harmony with the surrounding cosmos.
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Postby Bert » Wed May 03, 2006 10:38 am

ThomasGR wrote:I agree completely with this statement "Religious texts are for the soul, not mind. They are symbolical". Religion is aiming the soul. The requirement "search out the truth within the text" is just only needed to trap the intellect and keep it busy solving the unsolvable puzzle, whilst the soul gets freed.

Faith is for the whole person.
No trapping of the intelect. As far as "searching out the truth within the text" is concerned, I think that is a poor choice of words.
It implies that there is both truth and untruth in the text.
We do have to search the scriptures to gain understanding. It depends on the nature of the text how it should be interpreted. Is it poetry? Prophesy? Narative? ect.
And we have to test the spirits. That is: The spirit of the time, ideologies, even interpretations of science.
ThomasGR wrote:
If we use the traditional spiritual (mystical) definition, the knowledge you'll find in the bible will not provide you with knowledge like how world is created.

Knowledge in the sense of, what we know.
It says in the Bible that God made heaven and earth.
That gives me knowledge. Now I know who created the world.
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Postby Bardo de Saldo » Wed May 03, 2006 9:42 pm

The cause of God? That's a no-brainer: The Mother of God.

The New Testament was put together by the Catholics. Do you mean, you Heretics, that the Word of the Papists is the Word of God?
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Postby ThomasGR » Wed May 03, 2006 10:23 pm

Bert wrote:Knowledge in the sense of, what we know.
It says in the Bible that God made heaven and earth.
That gives me knowledge. Now I know who created the world.

Knowledge in religion and philosophy is different than knowledege in science. God created the earth, but what is heaven? Today's Heaven is different than of gospels' times. Aside form that, that knowledge is totally useless. Whereas the knowledge that the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist helps you get united with God is most helpful.
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Postby GlottalGreekGeek » Wed May 03, 2006 11:23 pm

I have always been amused by the Ancient Egyptian approach to the creator of the creator - Ra, the god who created the universe, is older than his father. Actually, the entire Egyptian creation myth is fascinating in the way it describes how nothing created something, but you all can research it on your own if you're paticularly interested. Not that that it's any more plausible than the Bible, of course.
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Postby Bert » Wed May 03, 2006 11:27 pm

ThomasGR wrote: Aside form that, that knowledge is totally useless.

Then this discussion is useless.
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Postby pyrheraklit » Wed May 03, 2006 11:54 pm

Bert wrote:

Faith is for the whole person.

Trully. Reformulated as "Religious texts are for the soul, not intellect exclusively" sounds better.


Bert wrote: As far as "searching out the truth within the text" is concerned, I think that is a poor choice of words.
It implies that there is both truth and untruth in the text.


Critical. Scientific theories can be true or false, religious texts cannot. They are not meant to be true or false empirically, they cannot be falsified or verified this way.


Bert wrote:We do have to search the scriptures to gain understanding.


I' d say "...to gain salvation by understanding".

Bert wrote:It depends on the nature of the text how it should be interpreted. Is it poetry? Prophesy? Narative? ect.
And we have to test the spirits. That is: The spirit of the time, ideologies, even interpretations of science.


This sounds like philology, not the reading of a believer.

Bert wrote:Knowledge in the sense of, what we know.
It says in the Bible that God made heaven and earth.
That gives me knowledge. Now I know who created the world.


The Bible says that God created the world (in seven days). For me, the important thing for a believer is not the knowledge of who created the world, but to feel (to "know") that by creating it, he is prior and beyond this world and he is omnipotent. No Bing-Bang theory can falsify these.
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Postby Rhuiden » Thu May 04, 2006 1:22 am

ThomasGR wrote:Knowledge in religion and philosophy is different than knowledege in science. God created the earth, but what is heaven? Today's Heaven is different than of gospels' times.


Knowledge is knowledge. Can you give me an example of knowledge that is one but not the other.

Also, on what do you base the statement that Heaven today is different than Heaven in the Gospel times. God tells us that He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. That would seem to suggest that Heaven is the same today as it was during the days of Jesus.
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Re: The Bible as a Source of Knowledge

Postby annis » Thu May 04, 2006 1:26 am

Rhuiden wrote:Annis, I do not question the sincerety of your beliefs. I appologize if I have given that impression. I have never thought that your comments were intended simply to be difficult, I cannot say that for others whose posts I have read in the past.


Oh, good. As no doubt religious people can probably point to examples of debaters telling them that they really believe something else, all too often I've been told by the would-be apologist that I don't really believe what I say. When you said "The question seems more to be a way of avoiding the issue that there must be something (the uncaused first cause) that created everything" I got a bit of a whiff of that. I may be oversensitive to this particular aroma.

Rhuiden wrote:Mere Christianity is on my reading list. I plan to get to it someday. I have heard it is an excellent book.


I'm going to be reading that some time soon, probably this summer. Another reading group! :lol:
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Postby Rhuiden » Thu May 04, 2006 1:30 am

pyrheraklit wrote:
Bert wrote:We do have to search the scriptures to gain understanding.


I' d say "...to gain salvation by understanding".


Salvation is gained by Grace through Faith. What you are saying constitutes a works based salvation and that is entirely contrary to the teachings of the Bible.


pyrheraklit wrote:The Bible says that God created the world (in seven days). For me, the important thing for a believer is not the knowledge of who created the world, but to feel (to "know") that by creating it, he is prior and beyond this world and he is omnipotent. No Bing-Bang theory can falsify these.


Actually, the Bible teaches that God created the world in 6 days. He rested on the 7th day. It is important that we know who created the world because that person is the one who has the ultimate authority. Our feelings about it may come into play but do not compare the the knowledge of who we owe all honor and praise to and why.
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Re: The Bible as a Source of Knowledge

Postby Rhuiden » Thu May 04, 2006 1:35 am

annis wrote:When you said "The question seems more to be a way of avoiding the issue that there must be something (the uncaused first cause) that created everything" I got a bit of a whiff of that. I may be oversensitive to this particular aroma.


This was meant more as a general comment, not necessarily directed at you personally.
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Postby pyrheraklit » Thu May 04, 2006 9:04 am

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Postby ThomasGR » Thu May 04, 2006 9:51 am

Bert wrote:
ThomasGR wrote: Aside form that, that knowledge is totally useless.

Then this discussion is useless.

If we discuss getting scientific knowledge from the bible, yes it is useless to talk about that. For in the Bible one finds only spiritual values.
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Postby ThomasGR » Thu May 04, 2006 10:10 am

Rhuiden wrote:Also, on what do you base the statement that Heaven today is different than Heaven in the Gospel times. God tells us that He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. That would seem to suggest that Heaven is the same today as it was during the days of Jesus.

What was meant by Heaven in those times and what is today? Heaven and sky was the same. Heaven was conceived as dome around the earth, with the stars like candles lighting the night. Heaven was also the place where people's soul go after we have died, something like paradise or hell. Today we conceive Heaven quite differently. For a scientist, Heaven are the suns / stars, the dark matter that is filling the empty spaces far way, and all the different galaxies which we measure their distance from our sun (or galaxy) in light years. For religion, Heaven kept the meaning as the paradise / hell and as a kind of life after dead, though one may argue if it is still up there in the sky and not down here on earth. In Jesus' times it was always up in the sky. That may also answer your question and give an example of what is understood under knowledge in religion and science. In science that knowledge should one be able to prove with every expreriment and reaffirm the theory. For religion it is enough one's belief. You believe that heaven exists, or you don't. It's basic dogma, not a scientific theory.
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Postby Rhuiden » Thu May 04, 2006 11:36 am

ThomasGR wrote:What was meant by Heaven in those times and what is today? Heaven and sky was the same. Heaven was conceived as dome around the earth, with the stars like candles lighting the night. Heaven was also the place where people's soul go after we have died, something like paradise or hell. Today we conceive Heaven quite differently. For a scientist, Heaven are the suns / stars, the dark matter that is filling the empty spaces far way, and all the different galaxies which we measure their distance from our sun (or galaxy) in light years. For religion, Heaven kept the meaning as the paradise / hell and as a kind of life after dead, though one may argue if it is still up there in the sky and not down here on earth. In Jesus' times it was always up in the sky. That may also answer your question and give an example of what is understood under knowledge in religion and science. In science that knowledge should one be able to prove with every expreriment and reaffirm the theory. For religion it is enough one's belief. You believe that heaven exists, or you don't. It's basic dogma, not a scientific theory.


The fact that our definition or understanding of Heaven has changed does not in any way mean that Heaven has changed. Only our understanding of it may have. We are flawed creatures so it is to be expected that our understanding is also flawed and subject to better more current information.

The search for truth is the goal of both religion and science. There are not separate truths for each. They should overlap and merge into one at some point in time. If there is an apparent conflict between the two, then one is obviously wrong. The question then becomes which do we trust....religion or science. Religion should be based on the One who created everything and thus knows all while science is based on man's understanding and men are flawed. Which should we rely on, a perfect God or flawed men?

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Postby GlottalGreekGeek » Thu May 04, 2006 2:25 pm

Well, as flawed creatures, we can misinterpret God's word too (and I would be surprised, Rhuiden, if you have never come across examples of that). After all, the only ways to read the Bible are to, after learning a language, to a) listen to it being spoken with our ears b) learn how to read and use our eyes c) learn braille (or equivalent) and read it by touch. Therefore, it seems to me that God's word is also subject, to some degree, to our imperfect human senses, not to mention the imperfections of human language.

Though I am neither atheist nor agnostic, I'm not a terribly religious person. I am very bad about observing the Sabbath. However, I still take solace in the fact that God rested on the seventh day, and I try to remember that God made/wants me to work and rest, not just to work.
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Postby Rhuiden » Thu May 04, 2006 3:59 pm

GlottalGreekGeek wrote:Well, as flawed creatures, we can misinterpret God's word too (and I would be surprised, Rhuiden, if you have never come across examples of that).


I am not sure that I completely understand your point about my not seeing examples of people misinterpreting God's word. It happens all the time. That is why we are to gather together to discuss/learn/teach God's word, we can correct and instruct one another.


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Re: The Bible as a Source of Knowledge

Postby Rhuiden » Thu Jun 01, 2006 4:35 pm

annis wrote:
Rhuiden wrote:Mere Christianity is on my reading list. I plan to get to it someday. I have heard it is an excellent book.


I'm going to be reading that some time soon, probably this summer. Another reading group! :lol:



Let me know when and how this reading group would work. I have never been part of a reading group before but I am interested. Should be some good discussions. I bet there would be others who would be interested as well.

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Re: The Bible as a Source of Knowledge

Postby annis » Fri Jun 02, 2006 12:38 am

Rhuiden wrote:Let me know when and how this reading group would work. I have never been part of a reading group before but I am interested. Should be some good discussions. I bet there would be others who would be interested as well.


Rhuiden, actually I was joking when I mentioned the reading group — that there should be one, not that there was one. That'd be way outside the usual Textkit study groups.
William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
τίς πατέρ' αἰνήσει εἰ μὴ κακοδαίμονες υἱοί;
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Postby PeterD » Fri Jun 02, 2006 4:22 pm

Are we all talking about the same god that "talks" to the American president?

God told me to strike at al Qaeda and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East.

If so, then this particular god sucks.
Fanatical ranting is not just fine because it's eloquent. What if I ranted for the extermination of a people in an eloquent manner, would that make it fine? Rather, ranting, be it fanatical or otherwise, is fine if what is said is true and just. ---PeterD, in reply to IreneY and Annis
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Postby Bert » Fri Jun 02, 2006 11:32 pm

When Peter D posts something, it has to involve American politics and/or some sort of Bush-bash. :)
How much stock do you put in something that was reported from memory, what was heard from a translator, and than translated back into English, and then denied by the original reporter?
(In addition to that, Bush also denies having said it.)
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