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Profile: CovenantWord
User Name: CovenantWord
Forum Rank: Advanced Member
Gender: Male
Joined: Saturday, May 11, 2013
Last Visit: Monday, August 15, 2016 12:06:13 AM
Number of Posts: 830
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  Last 10 Posts
Topic: This Just In: From the Vatican
Posted: Monday, August 15, 2016 12:06:13 AM
Lotje1000 wrote:

As to definitions:
CovenantWord wrote:
god: any being to whom superhuman powers are ascribed.
God: the Lord of the heavens and the earth, Creator, Providence, Redeemer, Judge.

I respect that you see the hand of God (by your definition) everywhere, including in science's approach to the universe. However, I'd like it if you respected the fact that scientists, Absinthius, myself, and many others do not.

I am unwilling to concede that all scientists disbelieve Providence. Linnaeus and Newton believed, for instance.

I note that I have examined, analyzed, and responded to your viewpoint carefully and thoughtfully. I submit this as evidence of genuine respect.

Even so, I suggest that you are saying the same thing as FounDit is, when he doubts that I am fully committed to the doctrine of tolerance. In response, I claim I respect/tolerate your positions in the sense that I affirm and defend your freedom to believe them; however, I do not concede your moral right to do so. I strongly suspect it is this second part that irritates you two.

The Humanist doctrine is that man is morally and intellectually autonomous. This means that man can believe anything about religion and the paths of faith that he wants to, no matter how internally inconsistent, no matter how contradictory of other religions, and no matter how far out of sync with reality (whatever that might mean) as long as Man is not dethroned as the supreme being.

But this is precisely what Christianity does. God is perfectly righteous and man is radically unrighteous. There is only one way to bridge the unbridgeable gap between God and man, which is Jesus the Christ, Who is perfectly holy, and Who is fully God and fully man.
Topic: This Just In: From the Vatican
Posted: Sunday, August 14, 2016 11:33:02 PM
Lotje1000 wrote:
CovenantWord wrote:

Absinthius: The doctrine that the universe was created orderly does not undermine the objectivity and discipline of inductive reasoning, but rather supports it.

Science does not have a use for this doctrine. There is no proof that the universe was created orderly.

That is correct. As I have repeatedly emphasized in this thread, one cannot prove that the universe was created orderly. Yet, neither can one prove that the universe is disorderly. And, further, one cannot prove that it is uncertain whether the universe is orderly or not. That is simply a belief.

On the other hand, science has provided overwhelming confirmation that the universe is orderly, as is exemplified in the confident and repeated use of the law of gravity in multifoliate new applications. So we have countless confirmations of the orderly nature of the universe where it has been studied and experimented upon, yet we are still unwilling to guess that orderliness is intrinsic to the nature of the universe? That doesn't sound like a very effective use of the data that science has gathered.
Topic: This Just In: From the Vatican
Posted: Sunday, August 14, 2016 12:22:32 AM

As a Christian, I am obligated to stand for truth. I am also obligated to live at peace with all human beings insofar as within me lies. As an individual human being, I desire to preserve the mutual respect that you and I have both worked to build. I was immediately sure that a volley of impassioned assertions would not move the discussion toward any of these three goals, so I cast about for a more edifying alternative.

One characteristic of this thread I found illuminating is that comprehension has been hard to come by. Disagreement is fine; I am content with that, but I have been repeatedly frustrated that several of the ideas I have expressed have been paraphrased or criticized in a way that clearly demonstrated that effective communication had not transpired. In remedy, I suggest a mutual effort to ferret out the original juncture of disagreement, constituting a different approach to the discussion -- one not intended to persuade primarily, but rather to clarify.

My suggestion is this: That we each state our system of morality we have adopted and why. Then, without making any comment about the alleged general superiority of either system, we examine the several points you made in your post from the point of view of both. I would seek to learn the logical progression from your chosen moral system to your conclusion about the ethical question under specific review. And, if you would like, I would seek to communicate my corresponding progression to you.

Would you be willing to conduct such an experiment with me?

Your friend, CW
Topic: This Just In: From the Vatican
Posted: Wednesday, August 10, 2016 12:20:48 PM
Romany: Thank you for your effort to clarify the discussion. I was interested in your mention of a few religions. I would like to suggest that Deism was the post from which Secularism, Naturalism, and Humanism were carved. Humanism, to take the religion under discussion in this thread, has elevated the doctrine of the moral and intellectual autonomy of man to be its central tenet.

Absinthius: The doctrine that the universe was created orderly does not undermine the objectivity and discipline of inductive reasoning, but rather supports it. We see this, for instance, in God's giving the earth to Adam as a stewardship; that is to say, He commanded him to systematically learn it, protect it, and bring it to its greatest fruition. Descriptive science is an essential tool thereunto.

Inductive reasoning is essential even on a spiritual level. Consider, for instance: What may be known of God is manifest in [men], for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead. (Romans 1:19-20 NKJ)

As to definitions:
god: any being to whom superhuman powers are ascribed.
God: the Lord of the heavens and the earth, Creator, Providence, Redeemer, Judge.
Topic: This Just In: From the Vatican
Posted: Tuesday, August 9, 2016 9:22:22 AM
Absinthius wrote:
Not everything is chaotic, I never claimed that. Chaos can be absolute, or it can be that we are just not able to make sense of it yet. It is what it is. Science is merely descriptive.

I believe we agree on the meaning of chaos: the condition that lacks an ultimate frame of reference.

According to this definition, then, the Humanist epistemology views as chaotic all things not known by man; whereas the Christian epistemology views as chaotic all things not known by God.

The following observations refer to this difference.

1. Man's knowledge surely must be viewed as an inadequate comprehensive supporting structure, because, though increasing, it remains limited in a number of crucial directions and bodes fair to remain so indefinitely.

2. By all indications, man's knowledge represents but a minuscule fraction of the total knowledge possible. (You hinted at that with your examples taken from smoke and the complexity of the animal kingdom.) Further, man's ability to implement that knowledge effectively is even smaller. Accordingly, the strictly Humanist view must be that virtually the entire physical universe (not to mention anything that might exist beyond that) is in the grip of chaos; whereas, strictly speaking, by this definition, chaos does not exist in the Christian worldview, for God has ordained everything.

3. A primary driver of scientific research is to reduce the apparently disorderly into orderliness; or, more strictly speaking, to discern and summarize (to "describe," to borrow your useful term) the orderliness already present therein. This necessarily implies the (not necessarily conscious) belief that such edifying orderliness is there to be discovered upon the expenditure of a certain amount of talents and resources. (I daresay you are familiar with Einstein's quip: "Raffiniert ist der Herrgott, aber boshaft ist er nicht.")

4. The history of scientific discovery has overwhelmingly confirmed that the intuitive belief outlined in #3 above is amply justified.
Topic: This Just In: From the Vatican
Posted: Monday, August 8, 2016 11:02:12 PM
Lotje1000 (edited slightly for clarity): “How [can] people still claim the word is true and should be followed when it contains orders to kill people if they work on the Sabbath (Exodus 35:2), permission to sell your daughter into slavery (Exodus 21:7) or to stone someone to death for planting different crops side by side (Leviticus 19:19).”

Thank you for the challenge to consider these passages. I will address them in the order you presented them. All Bible quotations are from the New King James version.

Background. The law of Moses is divisible into three parts, by function: the moral law (the Ten Commandments), the ceremonial law (directives for worship), and the civil law (legal directives for the secular life of the nation Israel). Since the Incarnation of Christ, the civil law is no longer operative pro forma, because the Gospel is for all nations, not for just the one, as formerly. However, this civil law is still exemplary for the justice that it reveals, known as equity. The three commands you reference are all drawn from the civil law.

Exodus 35:2. Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh day shall be a holy day for you, a Sabbath of rest to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it shall be put to death.

Keeping the Sabbath holy is a strong theme in both Testaments; it is, in fact, a prominent feature of the moral law (as the Fourth Commandment), because it is the regular time when the people of God rest from their daily responsibilities to remember Him as their Creator (Exodus 20:11) and Redeemer from slavery (Deuteronomy 5:15).

Systematic violation of the Sabbath is no longer a capital crime under the Gospel, although it remains a sin that will be called to account on Judgment Day.

Equity. This law shows the centrality of worship to human life, and it also exemplifies the health benefits of cyclical release from remunerative work, the desire for which benefits underlie the prohibitions against employee overwork that are built into the health and safety laws of Western civilization even today.

Exodus 21:7. And if a man sells his daughter to be a female slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do.

The Mosaic regulation of a certain kind of action did not necessarily imply divine approval of the morality causing the action. For instance, Jesus instructed the aggressive Pharisees that God never approved covenantal divorce, but He permitted it in the law of Moses “because of the hardness of [their] hearts” (Matthew 19:8). Within this permission, the LORD regulated divorce, for the civil protection of the wives being put away.

As I intimated in my comments on the previous passage, an essential element of God’s covenant with His people Israel was their physical and spiritual freedom. It was only as they defied that covenant that they suffered financial poverty, civil oppression, and defeat by their enemies in consequence.

When a family fell into poverty, the legal structure of Moses' law permitted mortgaging the land or selling the family into slavery to a neighboring Israelite, both for a preset period of time. However, the slave was not only accorded the civil rights of all Israelites, but was additionally granted several protections specific to his situation. Perhaps the most important of these was the right of redemption from slavery, the price of which decreased year by year, until the Year of Jubilee released all persons to return to the land of their family inheritance as owners. Furthermore, the passage immediately subsequent to your referenced verse afforded especial protections for women. To draw an analogy from American history, the situation of such persons in ancient Israel was closer to that of an indentured servant than of a slave.

Equity. This complex of laws sets a precedent for the legal protection of property, of financial transactions, and of employee workers. They also provides guidance for public welfare assistance, to arrange dignified work for the recipient where possible. This particular law justifies legal protection against sexual harassment.

Leviticus 19:19. You shall not let your livestock breed with another kind. You shall not sow your field with mixed seed. Nor shall a garment of mixed linen and wool come upon you.

A couple of corrections to your inquiry, if I may. First, the prohibition here is not of “planting different crops side by side,” but rather of mixing two kinds of seed within the sower’s bag, as the context within the verse shows. Second, there is no mention, either here, or elsewhere, of “ston[ing] someone to death” for disobedience. In fact, there is no specific punishment listed at all.

This directive strikes me as sensible, because would not a mixed crop lead to complications at harvest time? Be that as it may, the main idea here is that the Israelites, in their daily work activities, were continually reminded that they are to avoid cultural admixture, remaining a people wholly dedicated to their LORD. This was an important reminder, for religious syncretism eventually caused the downfall of the nation.

The command for this religious purity included, as revealed in the earlier context of the chapter, detailed prohibitions against theft, slander, abusing handicapped persons, deep hatred, and unrighteousness in official judgments.

Equity. The verse, within its context, demonstrates the comprehensive simplicity and thoroughgoing righteousness of the Christian walk.

Truth value. These three verses reveal that the standard for self-control is much higher for Christianity than it is for Humanism. I can’t see why that shows that the Bible is not true. If anything, it demonstrates that the Bible is true, seeing that, despite raising an unpopular moral standard, it has exercised a powerful world wide influence, which continues today, as exemplified, for instance, in the "equity" comments above.
Topic: This Just In: From the Vatican
Posted: Sunday, August 7, 2016 12:16:47 AM
Absinthius wrote:

CovenantWord's post seems to imply that science proposes order in nature, something that is certainly not universal, it may describe trends. I am in no way a mathematician, so I will not try to argue with your numerical example. I can, however comment on biological topics. So allow me to use evolution by natural selection as an alternate example of acceptable chaos.

Evolution has been irrefutably proven, that is the fact part of the theory, no assumptions are left. The proposed driver of evolution is natural selection. This is a process, the 'rules' are constantly changing, characteristics that are beneficial now may be detrimental in a thousand years. The amount of variables playing a role are virtually infinite. Utter chaos, and to make matters even more complicated, mutations that drive changes in the characteristics of organisms occur in a random nature as well. Yet, through all this chaos, scientific research, retrospective analyses, predictions followed by experiments and many very smart people trying to make sense of all this; the scientific process has resulted in a very comprehensive scientific theory that has held up ever since.

No, I do not hold that science "proposes" orderliness in the natural world, but rather presumes it. For instance, to take the example that you outlined: Yes, life on earth is vast, varied, complex, and interdependent. However, the "many very smart people" that you refer to apparently do not agree with your analysis that this situation is chaotic, because they are "trying to make sense of all this," which implies they believe that sense can be made of it, and it is worth the effort to attempt to do so.
Topic: This Just In: From the Vatican
Posted: Saturday, August 6, 2016 3:45:21 PM
Lotje1000 wrote:

Additionally, assumptions associated with religion and faith tend not to evolve with the time, grow or even be subject to change as that would undermine the fundamental faith of the religion in question.

By contrast, scientific 'assumptions' are extrapolations made based on objective observation that can be tested, repeated and adjusted. If something is proven wrong, it's dismissed and science moves on, building stronger theories.

Certain objections to your conclusions come to mind:

1. You use two very different definitions of assumption. For religion, you employed the word as a fundamental structuring belief; but, for science, as data extrapolation. Thus, they are not directly comparable.

2. Change is not intrinsically superior to non-change. The value of either depends on context.

3. At the philosophical level, which is what we are discussing, science is very conservative. You rightly extol the empirical scientific method, but that has been around since at least Francis Bacon, and in inchoate form, long before that. It shows no signs of going away, nor should it.

4. Christianity's understanding of the Bible and of God has been extending and deepening for centuries, and this growth continues unabated to this day. As God is infinite, and as He has promised to love His people for all eternity, this growth does not seem likely to cease any time soon.
Topic: This Just In: From the Vatican
Posted: Friday, August 5, 2016 11:49:15 PM
FounDit wrote:
I do not understand your use of “religious tolerance” as directed towards one who has power over citizens. Is this what you meant when you referred to the Apostle Paul as saying Christians should honor and pray for civil leaders? This doesn’t equate in my mind with the tolerance I proposed.

Yes, we are to pray for and honor the civil leaders.
Regardless of their religious predilections, we are to obey those leaders, as long as they do not require us to disobey the Ten Commandments.
We are not to advocate using the power of the state against our neighbors, for reasons of religious belief or actions, insofar as such actions are not disruptive of civil order.

I think it is safe to say that a religion that condemns any non-believer to an everlasting punishment in Hell, or seeks to kill the same in this life, qualifies as intolerance for Humanist belief.

I notice that you are using a different definition of tolerance here. Before, it concerned peaceable civil functioning in society; here it refers more to the integrity of a belief system. This change is fine, as long as it is clear that it has been made. Yes, Christianity, in common with all religions, is intolerant (not according to the first definition, but according to the second) of violations of righteousness, as it defines it. Humanism, too, is likewise intolerant of viewpoints incompatible with its own. For instance, a major sin in the Humanist creed is the teaching that moral accountability is to be found somewhere other than in Man.

0ne should not use a faulty application to illustrate and indicate the assessments of Christianity.

You correctly observed that worshiping an idol does not accurately represent Christianity. I would be interested to know, from a Humanist perspective, where the fault lay in the middle-school exercise I related, allowing for the usual difficulties of administration.

It is the “foundational presumptions of the logic” of Christianity and Humanism that must be examined. However, Christianity itself declares that logic, or reason, has no part in faith; that faith is that which is hoped for, and the existence of faith is the only evidence for that which is unseen.

I find this claim to be extraordinary, in light of the fact that reason and logic spring from Christian doctrine. All the Christian discussions I have participated in have rather insisted on the faithful use of logic and reason.

We can, therefore, examine Humanism from the perspective of logic, reason, and evidence, but Christianity will not admit to any of these, declaring that one simply must believe, or suffer the consequences.

I wonder whether the following schematic might clarify.

Christianity claims that God is the creator of all things and the final judge of the righteousness of all actions and attitudes.
The authority for this claim is the Bible, which is a revelation from God.
This reasoning is not subject to logical proof, because it is circular.

Humanism claims that Man is the final judge of the righteousness of all actions and attitudes. Humanism (apparently) also affirms the doctrine of Naturalism that all things came into existence spontaneously.
The authority for these claims is that man strongly tends to believe them.
This reasoning is also not subject to logical proof, because it is circular as well.

However, both belief systems state, or at least imply, certain propositions concerning the nature of the physical universe and the condition of man. These propositions are experimentally testable, the results of which confirm or do not confirm the underlying postulates.

I'm not sure I agree with your implied exegesis of Hebrews 11:1. Elegchos there literally means proof, or more precisely, that by which something is proved or tested. In other words, faith is not the passive object of a test, like evidence adduced in inductive reasoning, but the active agent doing the testing, like the reasoning itself. The implied analogy of the verse is that, just as the eye is the organ of examination of that which is seen, so faith is the organ of examination of that which is unseen. Faith is the awareness, the taking to heart, of the certainty and eternity of the unseen. The author presents this as the motive of the feats of faith commended throughout the chapter.

Is Humanism supposed to be universally agreed to for it to be a valid philosophy? If so, then should there not also be one universal religion, Christianity, on the particulars of which all agree?

No, truth need not be universally agreed upon to be true, at least in Christian doctrine. I can't speak for Humanism on that point. Yet, every moral system, in order to be coherent, must look to a final authority, but mankind as a whole is simply too fractious to ever hope to serve in that capacity. Accordingly, I keep wondering who, precisely, this final authority is for Humanism. Is it Humanists themselves? I suppose it must be. If so, which Humanists? How are disagreements settled?
Topic: This Just In: From the Vatican
Posted: Friday, August 5, 2016 9:47:03 AM
Lotje1000 wrote:
As for mistranslations in the bible:
In the original Hebrew, the 10th Commandment prohibits taking, not coveting.

Chamad describes an intense desire to take. An example of this is when Aachan confesses his sin of stealing the devoted things: "I coveted them and took them" (Joshua 7:21 NKJ). He distinguishes between coveting and taking; yet, he also admits that his attitude of coveting led to his action of theft.

Since the Commandments already include a command for good stewardship of one's property and a respect for his neighbor's property, the Sixth, there would be no need for an duplicate command.

Actually, the placement of this Tenth Commandment leads to another exegetical-pastoral observation, that coveting motivates all the external manifestations of sin. The Tenth Commandment forbids the attitude of self-centered, grasping lust toward all that God has given one's neighbor -- his life, his marriage, his property, and his reputation. This is a prominent example that motive is central to the Old Testament as well as to the New.

The biblical Jubilee year is named for an animal’s horn and has nothing to do with jubilation.

In Leviticus 25:9, the LORD commands the sounding of the shophar, the ram's horn used to introduce public announcements. In the next verse, the ram's horn wind instrument is referred to as the yobel. The jubilation refers to the nationwide release of agricultural mortgages and terms of indentured servanthood.

The pregnant woman in Isaiah 7:14 is never called a virgin.

Almah can mean either young woman or virgin. The Septuagint translates it as parthenos, which means a virgin or unmarried woman. This is the version quoted in Matthew 1:23, announcing Jesus' birth.

Psalm 23 opens with an image of God’s might and power, not shepherding.

"The LORD is my shepherd" is the literal translation of verse 1. A shepherd, and by analogy, the LORD, exercises both the tool of discipline (the rod) and of rescue (the staff), mentioned in verse 4.

And the romantic Song of Solomon offers a surprisingly modern message.

Perhaps not surprising, in light of the fact that the message of the Bible is eternal.

From source.

The original texts of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) and Christian Scriptures (New Testament) were written in Hebrew, Greek, and occasionally in Aramaic. Unfortunately, relatively few adults in North America can read any of these ancient languages. So most of us have to rely upon English translations.

The reader cannot always trust the translators. Bibles contain many inaccuracies and errors. Some appear to be intentional.

An accusation needs specifics to be persuasive.

From source.

This source does a decent job of outlining how different words mean different things in different cultures. And in this source we can compare some translations of a specific (controversial) bible quote:
New International Version
I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.
New Living Translation
I do not let women teach men or have authority over them. Let them listen quietly.
International Standard Version
Moreover, in the area of teaching, I am not allowing a woman to instigate conflict toward a man. Instead, she is to remain calm.
Jubilee Bible 2000
For I do not allow a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over a mature man, but to be at rest.
Young's Literal Translation
and a woman I do not suffer to teach, nor to rule a husband, but to be in quietness,

In those cases, should I be 'quiet' or 'remain calm'? Or should I just 'listen in silence'?

Hesuchia does not refer to an absence of oral communication so much as to a peaceable attitude, stillness of soul. We see this for instance, when Paul exhorts the Thessalonians with the same word:

We urge you brethren . . . that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business (1 Thessalonians 4:10-11 NKJ).

In general, it is good to note that there is a fundamental difference in translation philosophy between paraphrases and literal translations. For study and for devotions, I generally use the New King James version, as it is a high-quality, literal translation.

Is it instigating conflict with regards to teaching that's the problem, or is it assuming authority in general? Also, is it assuming authority over a man, a mature man or just my husband that's the problem?

Regardless, we should get rid of Hillary and any woman every who assumed office, held a job as supervisor over men and any female teacher.

The passage you quoted (1 Timothy 2:12) is written in the context of instruction for public worship. There is no biblical prohibition of the feminine assumption of authority in a secular context.

About deliberate mistranslations or "corrections" to the bible:
However, the text of the Bible itself defies attempts to harmonize its diverse traditions and viewpoints, and its apparent meaning is frequently at odds with sectarian doctrine. The solution of the NIV translators, in many of the passages that challenged their doctrines and belief in inerrancy, has been to change the Bible itself — altering the offending words and phrases to say what they think it ought to have said. In most cases of mistranslated NIV passages, there is a clear “problem” with the original text related either to doctrine or to biblical inerrancy.

From source.

Again, specifics would be required in order to respond helpfully. However, I will note that the NIV is a paraphrase. The critic you quote seems to be judging the NIV by the standards of a literal translation.

About honest mistakes and deliberate "corrections":
Further, the Byzantine text in 1 John 2:23 makes a rather clear blunder in that the last half of the verse (“everyone who confesses the Son also has the Father”) is omitted in the Byzantine tradition. The reason is not due to sinister motives, but to common oversight: the last three words of the first half of the verse are identical with the last three words of the second half (“has the Father”); the original compiler of the Byzantine text skipped over an entire line of text (a common enough occurrence among scribes).

The advantage of the very extensive attestation of the original New Testament is that clerical oversights are readily corrected.

Thus, those who wish to use inerrancy as a methodological starting point are half blind in this endeavor, for they quickly and quietly dismiss the problems in their own preferred tradition while accusing the other traditions as errant.

One is reminded here of the seventeenth century German scholars who felt that the Holy Spirit would not have inspired the writers of the New Testament to pen their works in anything but good, classical Greek; hence, these same scholars ‘fixed’ the text in hundreds of places in which they thought the manuscripts had erred!

From source.

The text used as the basis of modern translations has been carefully studied and examined by a large number of scholars from a wide variety of theological perspectives, which effectively culls out prejudicial scholarship errors.

This source lists bible copies that have gained value because of their misprints.

As for "My religious tradition requires that pastors be conversant with the original languages", I personally know no pastors who are conversant in Greek, Aramaic or Hebrew.

I'm sorry to hear that. Were you able to drop in on our presbytery meetings, I would be happy to introduce you to an assembly hall full of them. Having visited the UK, I met a few there as well. I don't happen to know any such pastors now serving in Belgium, but, if you are interested, I could probably locate a few.

As for "we know a great deal about the people and the cultures of the time of the original writings, to provide background", that doesn't explain how people still claim the word is true and should be followed when it contains orders to kill people if they work on the sabbath, permission to sell your daughter into slavery or to stone someone to death for for planting different crops side by side.

Did you have specific references for the passages you find offensive?

Those might have been relevant back then, but I'd like to think we've culturally evolved since then.

Casting the mind over the widespread viciousness and vast destructiveness of the wars for the past century or so, one might doubt that man's cultural evolution has enjoyed unalloyed success.