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Book Recommendation: Jesus Skeptic by John Dickerson
In Open Forum
Book Recommendation: Jesus Skeptic by John Dickerson
In Open Forum
Jonathan Schulz
Commentator
Commentator
Jun 15, 2020
Greetings! Perhaps when you wrote previously, it was in another discussion? These discussions have been getting quite complex as of late (with multiple levels of replies and comment and treads), but I don't think it has been deleted. A method that could potentially find the letter you speak of would be the search bar at the top of this page. Hope that helps! You have tried to shore up your explanation for objective morality, but I'm afraid your argument still does not hold up. You say that tribal coherence is of highest value during desperate times, but I counter that desperate times (depending on the nature of the threat) can easily undermine tribal coherence. You indicated that this basis for your morality is well-documented, but I have yet to see this documentation. Perhaps you can show me links to some peer-reviewed scientific sources saying this? Even if you do, however, it seems quite likely to me that their arguments will be unconvincing. As for Exodus, I have a couple of responses. 1. God is patient with sinful humans. 2. I'm really unsure if "just getting rid of the Pharaoh" would have done the trick, as you seem to indicate. I could give my reasoning, but I think I will give you a chance to elaborate on that argument first, if you wish. I will say once again, however, that the aspects of the Biblical narratives that you hyper-focus on are giving you a very incomplete picture. I have said this in the past, but it is currently up to you whether you will look at the Scriptures and see them clearly. I can say whatever I want on this forum (abiding by the rules, of course), but I ultimately have no control over whether you will hear and pursue understanding of my words (and, far more importantly, of God's words). Finally, as for your question, I would say that everything about it hinges on what someone means by the word "own." At this point, I don't know what level of dependence of one person on another would count as "ownership," but it could be far more broad or narrow than you think depending on the definition of that solitary word. For instance, the level of dependence of a young child on his or her parents is so great that it could practically be described as "ownership." However, the relationship between loving parents and their children is one that no sane person would describe as "slavery." The relationship between oppressive parents and their children, however, probably could be described as such. The fundamental nature of the relationships is the same, but, in the second case, the abuse within the relationship turns it into a very evil thing. To be clear, this discussion and this example serves mainly to show the problems that exist within the definition you have presented. If you have further ideas or questions, feel free to share. Keep well!
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Book Recommendation: Jesus Skeptic by John Dickerson
In Open Forum
Jonathan Schulz
Commentator
Commentator
Jun 15, 2020
Thank you for your reply. You say that moral values are inherited for the purpose of survival, but I find this statement to be highly dubious. Matters of survival can very often be desperate, and it is common knowledge that desperation almost always leads to relaxation or altogether abandonment of ethical and moral principles. Furthermore, the moral/ethical thing to do in a given situation may actually be one that jeopardizes survival. I do not accept your logic here, and I think that you would do well to rethink it. Even though natural law does not come from tribalism or survival (as you indicated), it does come from something. The law of God is written on people's hearts. If you take a cursory glance at the Ten Commandments, I think you will see that the vast majority of them are reflections and clear expositions of the natural law. Ultimately, these things are the crux of the entire matter. Without God, morals become completely arbitrary. There is no getting around that (although, to your credit, you did try). When you discuss the things that your moral compass is telling you, it seems to me that you owe much (if not all) of your moral compass to decidedly Christian principles. That is a good thing. The next step is to follow those principles to their source. So far, you have been focusing on the tangled weeds and misty marshes of the jungle below instead of turning your eyes to the clarity and majesty of the mountain towering above all. Concerning Exodus 21, I refer you to my previous post (especially the Luther quote). I also advise you to look over the rest of Exodus and the themes of liberation that permeate that book. Ultimately, I would recommend that you take a look at the entire Bible and see how the themes of liberation and reconciliation permeate the entire book. All of the Scriptures are ultimately about God's love at work to free the slaves and lead them out of the darkness into His marvelous light. I would like to hear your thoughts on this in your next post. It is very good to hear from you, @windar12q!
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Book Recommendation: Jesus Skeptic by John Dickerson
In Open Forum
Jonathan Schulz
Commentator
Commentator
Jun 14, 2020
Hello! Here is something you have to understand about Christians and the Old Covenant/Mosaic Law. The moral law of the old testament is believed by Christians (that is, the ten commandments). However, the civil and ceremonial laws found in the books of Moses are a different story. This quote from Martin Luther may be helpful: “We will regard Moses as a teacher, but we will not regard him as our lawgiver—unless he agrees with both the New Testament and the natural law. . . . Thus where he gives the commandments, we are not to follow him except so far as he agrees with the natural law.” So, ultimately, the laws of Exodus that you cite are not prescriptive in the way that you think. Ultimately, if you are going to try to bring down the Bible, you are going to have to do a better job of viewing and interpreting it in the same way that Christians do. I don't think you will convince anyone of the truth of your position by treating God and the Scriptures with the highly simplistic, cherry-picked, and practically caricatured interpretations you have been offering us here. When I introduced the idea of, as you say, "different levels" of slavery, my point was not at all to "excuse" slavery. My point was to expand this discussion and show that the problem is a bit more nuanced than it may originally appear. The slavery found in exodus was different from the Greco-Roman slavery found in the New Testament which was different from the slavery in the American South which was different from the other concepts of slavery which we may consider today. In the end, we must ask ourselves what exactly "owning another person" means. I agree with you that slavery is wrong. I have never contested this. All I am saying is that we should devote some thought to the nuances of the topic and how they relate to what is right and wrong. In your last post, you accuse God of being morally wrong, and say that today's moral compass is better than his. However, that can only remain a purely subjective opinion within your worldview. In Atheism, there is no objective grounding for morals, and people are free to believe whatever they desire about right and wrong, and moral judgements are rendered meaningless. There is no getting around that. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on my (hopefully coherent) reply!
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Book Recommendation: Jesus Skeptic by John Dickerson
In Open Forum
Jonathan Schulz
Commentator
Commentator
Jun 14, 2020
First off, I never made any claims about the faith or lack thereof of the protesters. The point I was attempting to make was that faith is not necessarily the driving ideological force behind the protests. Once again, I definitely agree with you that slavery is odious and wrong. However, we once again run into issues with definitions such as "slavery equals owning another person." Even though I would be so bold as to say that it's relatively easy to see what and where slavery is and to see that it is wrong, I think that it is very difficult (in a purely abstract sense, that is, for the purposes of a definition) to find what exactly it means for someone to "own" someone else. Even though slavery has been officially abolished (at least, in the places we live in), people's free will can be vastly restricted by myriad concerns, especially their employment (at least, in America). Also, in past societies (Greece and Rome come to mind), it was possible for some slaves to achieve decent levels of freedom, even while maintaining that status. Although that did not happen in all cases, such instances draw interesting parallels with the present and merit some thought. That aside, though, I think that you are buying into an overly simplistic understanding of the Scriptures. I could have a very lengthy discussion with you about "descriptive vs. prescriptive" in the Bible, and other important principles of exegesis, but I will only delve into that if you are interested. Ultimately, when you look at the overall themes (and even specific themes) and principles within the Scriptures, you will see that Christians spoke out against slavery because the Bible got it right. They were standing with the Scriptures when they made their moral pronouncement. As for the atheists, they have no objective grounding to claim that slavery is or was wrong. Everything is variable based on their own subjective values. A more humanistic atheist might speak out against slavery, as you have, but an equally probably outcome could very well be the utilitarian atheist who has no problem with the practice. With no objective grounding for morals, there is no true and rational way for the modern atheist to say that either of these positions (the humanist vs. the utilitarian) is right or wrong over the other. Ultimately, @windar12q, your conscience comes from somewhere. Actually, Someone. Without even getting into the historicity of the Exodus story, I was pointing out that a strong theme of liberation exists in the Bible (and I gave examples other than the Exodus story as well). I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on all of those examples and how they relate to the larger argument. Thank you! I look forward to hearing your thoughts!
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Easter
In Open Forum
Jonathan Schulz
Commentator
Commentator
Apr 12, 2020
Christ is risen! Below is the text of the hymn "Awake my Heart with Gladness." If you prefer, you can listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vkwarcV5kI. Awake, my heart, with gladness, See what today is done; Now, after gloom and sadness, Comes forth the glorious sun. My Savior there was laid Where our bed must be made When to the realms of light Our spirit wings its flight. The foe in triumph shouted When Christ lay in the tomb; But lo, he now is routed, His boast is turned to gloom. For Christ again is free; In glorious victory He who is strong to save Has triumphed o'er the grave. This is a sight that gladdens-- What peace it doth impart! Now nothing ever saddens The joy within my heart. No gloom shall ever shake, No foe shall ever take The hope which God's own Son In love for me hath won. Now hell, its prince, the devil, Of all their pow'r are shorn; Now I am safe from evil, And sin I laugh to scorn. Grim death with all his might Cannot my soul affright; It is a pow'rless form, Howe'er it rave and storm. The world against me rages, Its fury I disdain; Though bitter war it wages, Its work is all in vain. My heart from care is free, No trouble troubles me. Misfortune now is play, And night is bright as day. Now I will cling forever To Christ, my Savior true; My Lord will leave me never, Whate'er He passes through. He rends death's iron chain; He breaks through sin and pain; He shatters hell's dark thrall; I follow Him through all. He brings me to the portal That leads to bliss untold, Whereon this rhyme immortal Is found in script of gold: "Who there My cross has shared Finds here a crown prepared; Who there with Me has died Shall here be glorified." Source: Lutheran Service Book #467
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Dr. Jay Wile Provides A Source Of Topics For Discussion/Debate During the Covid-19 Quarantine
In Open Forum
Jonathan Schulz
Commentator
Commentator
Mar 31, 2020
@windar12q, thanks a lot for explaining this further! I'm beginning to see what you mean concerning "evolution (and the universe) as a 1 energy system," but it is my impression that this idea or view is not exactly common (I don't think I've heard it from anyone else, actually). I must say that I don't blame Dr. Wile if he misunderstood your point. I am largely unfamiliar with the term "biological energy" and (although it is a real term) I don't think I have heard it used in the way that you have used it in your post above. Also concerning your post, you have outlined a theory, but I would appreciate it if you could provide some examples to demonstrate your theory and help me to understand it further. For instance, you talk about life being connected. What does this connection look like? What is this connection? How are we connected to this system? How could we function without the system? How, in your view, would the universe look different if it was not a one-energy system? These are just a few of the questions I have (and I am genuinely interested in hearing your thoughts on them). It is interesting that you agree on design and purpose in nature (it is also interesting to see what exactly you attribute this design and purpose to). Considering your answers, I am curious to know where you think the laws of physics came from, and how exactly their impact on the universe could count as "design." I would not say that "design" per se is something that exists without a conscious intelligence. Otherwise, we could very well be forced to call the Grand Canyon of the Southwestern United States "designed" (alongside any other natural feature around the world). I'm not denying that there is design in nature (I'm a Christian, after all), but I am curious to hear what conscious intelligence to which you attribute the design present in the universe (if you deny this intelligence, that opens up a new line of problems). It could also be interesting to discuss how exactly "design" is defined. For instance, why are Stonehenge or Mount Rushmore designed while the Grand Canyon is not? Regarding Dr. Hoffman's ideas, It would seem to me that his ideas are far from demonstrated and proven. I thought that Dr. Wile had a reasonable critique on that front. Also, I was reading the article from Psychology in Action that Dr. Wile sent you. In this article, it seemed to reference some form of panpsychism as part of Dr. Hoffman's thesis. I would be curious to know what you think of panpsychism... Finally, concerning your ideas on design and purpose, @windar12q. You say at one point that where the design and purpose in nature will lead us is anybody's guess. How can you be sure that they won't lead us to God? Thanks for considering my myriad questions! Stay well!
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Dr. Jay Wile Provides A Source Of Topics For Discussion/Debate During the Covid-19 Quarantine
In Open Forum
A few thousand not billions of years since creation.
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Dinosaur DNA?
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Jonathan Schulz
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