Breaking Down the Argument from Errancy

 


Recently on Facebook, someone posted the following argument against the existence of God. He introduced it by saying that it was an argument that he had not seen very often, but he gave it the moniker “The Argument from Errancy.” The posted argument read:

Premise 1. If the Christian God exists and wants to preserve His Word in the Bible, it is more probable than not that the Bible would be unambiguously inerrant and clearly of supernatural origin.

Premise 2. The Bible is seemingly errant and man-made.

Conclusion 1. Therefore, it is unlikely that the Bible is the inspired Word of God

Conclusion 2. Therefore, it is unlikely that the Christian God would exist.

The author then added these notes about Premise 1 and 2:

P1 seems pretty straightforward. Jesus himself clearly saw Scripture as authoritative, and Paul says that all scripture is God-Breathed. Scripture would allow laymen to understand God.

P2 requires more evidence on the skeptics’ part, but they can appeal to historical consensus. The Bible has books that most scholars believe to be forgeries (Petrine Epistles, Pastoral epistles, etc.). Prophetic books like Daniel and Isaiah are widely believed to be composed partly or wholly after the events they prophesy.

Even if these books are not actually fraudulent, God could make it more obvious they were not. While it does not prove God does not exist, it does seem to be more probable under the hypothesis that the Bible was man-made.

The argument was new to me so I doubt it is a widely-known argument, but the author’s comments notwithstanding, it seems extremely flimsy for several reasons.

Is the Bible God’s Word?

Before diving in, I should note that there is one major assumption in this argument which is ultimately incorrect, but is close-enough to the truth to make these first few comments a side-note. The argument assumes that God’s Word is found in the Bible. Actually, Jesus is God’s living Word (John 1). As C.S. Lewis noted, “It is Christ Himself, not the Bible, who is the true Word of God. The Bible, read in the right spirit and the guidance of teachers, will bring us to Him.”  The Bible is a tool used by God to bring us to the Word through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit – it is not the Word itself. (Note: the Essential C.S. Lewis makes the point that this verse needs to be read in context, so I leave it to the reader to follow up on the exact nature of what Lewis said. I believe I am using his words in the sense he intended.)

Thus, the first clause of the first premise, “If the Christian God exists and wants to preserve His Word in the Bible” fails because God has actually preserved His Word among men through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as amplified through the teaching of the Holy Spirit which is, of course, clearly supernatural. God uses the Bible to convict people and educate us about Himself. 

But it is certainly also true that in another real sense, Christians believe that the Bible is God's Word in the sense that it is the inspired words of God as spoken to us through the inspired writings of the prophets, apostles and others. Thus, I will take it that the argument is seeking to convince that the Bible should be of clearly of supernatural origin and if it is not then God’s existence is doubtful.

Imagining the unspoken pre-argument to explain premise 1

The first premise of the Argument from Errancy seemingly springs out of nowhere with two claims in the IF clause and two assertions in the THEN clause. That, to my way of thinking, makes the first premise suspect in and of itself. But I think it reads as it does because the first premise is actually the conclusion of an unspoken argument that I will call the “pre-argument” which itself contains several truth claims. I believe that if spelled out, the pre-argument would read something like this:

Pre-argument Premise 1: If the Christian God (henceforth, God) exists, then He would have spoken.

Pre-argument Premise 2: The vast majority of Christians claim that God has spoken (beginning with speaking the universe into existence)

Pre-argument Premise 3: If God has spoken, He would want to preserve what He has spoken (what we will call, "His Word").

Pre-argument Premise 4: The Bible is claimed by the Christians to be the place God has preserved His Word.

Pre-argument Premise 5: If the Bible is the place that God has preserved His Word, then God would want it to be unambiguous that the Bible is His supernatural Word and not the creation of men.

Pre-argument Premise 6: If God wants it to be unambiguous that the Bible is His supernatural Word and not the creation of men, then the Bible would be unambiguously inerrant and clearly of supernatural origin.

Pre-Argument Conclusion: Therefore, if God exists and wants to preserve His Word in the Bible, it is more probable than not that the Bible would be unambiguously inerrant and clearly of supernatural origin.   

Each of these premises are uncontroversial until pre-argument premise 5. Premise 2 and 4 have been added to overcome any claims that Premise 1 and 3 are not necessarily true. For example, I suppose it is possible that someone would argue that it is not necessarily true that if God exists than He would have spoken (Premise 1). But Premise 2 basically says, “Look, it is basic to Christianity that God has spoken”, and Premise 4 essentially says, “It is also basic Christian teaching that the Bible is God’s Word.”   

Premise 5 is the first of the problems with the pre-argument: “God would want it to be unambiguous that the Bible is His supernatural Word and not the creation of men.” This raises two questions: (1) What reason do I have to believe that? And (2) What exactly should God have done differently? I want to deal with the second first.

What should God have done differently?

While developing the pre-argument, I planned to add a Premise 7 but got stuck. That premise would have read: “If God wants to make it unambiguous that the Bible is His supernatural Word and not the creation of men, then …” what? This is a big problem with the first premise of the Argument from Errancy: what should God have done that would have made it clear that the Bible is His Word than has already been done? Should He have sent His angels down from heaven with the words on golden plates or tablets that require special glasses to be able to read?   The Mormons claim that’s how Joseph Smith received the Book of Mormon, but that supernatural event is rejected out of hand by skeptics. (For the record, I also reject it, but not out of hand.)

Could God have written the words “I am God and My Word is found in the Bible” in huge block letters on the face of the moon? Yes, He certainly could have done so (He is God, after all). In fact, at least one person has noted that the name of the Islamic prophet Muhammed is written on the face of the moon. But we already know that the writing on the moon would not convince skeptics. After all, “the odds of life-compatible numbers coming up by chance is 1 in 10229,” yet skeptics can clearly ignore the overwhelming unlikelihood that life would arise by chance by hypothesizing the existence of a multiverse. If they can dismiss those types of odds, positing possible explanations for the words on the moon would be child’s play. (For example, a possible explanation would be that what appears to be words formed by the coincidental placement of asteroids hitting the moon in such a way as to give the appearance of words on the moon based on the direction the light hits the craters, and we only read them as actual words because our own language evolved, in part, to give meaning to the shapes on the moon.) And, of course, they wouldn't need to believe that God wrote the phrase "I am God and My Word is found in the Bible" anymore than I believe that God wrote Muhammed on the moon. 



Could God appear to each one of us and proclaim in a stately James Earl Jones voice, “This is my Word”? I am certain that even if each and every person had such an experience, many would put it down to natural causes, a la Mr. Scrooge’s reaction to the ghost of Bob Marley in A Christmas Carol: “You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. There's more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!” It would probably be given a scientific name like “The deus videtur experience” and written off as a psychological phenomenon in much the same way that some dismiss the post-resurrection appearances.

Is it true that God the Bible to be clearly of supernatural origin?

But let’s suppose that we can agree on a truly indisputable way that God could have made it clear that the Bible is His preserved Word. There is still the first and more serious problem: the argument assumes that the single motive that people know that the Bible is God’s word is God’s sole motive. Certainly, God wants to save the whole world and wants all people to come to Him, but the Bible also makes it clear that God says that not everyone is supposed to come to understand what He says. Recall when Jesus noted that He spoke in parables to hide the truth from some. Consider the following from “Jesus’ Parables are Confusing? Good!” by Jeremy Myers: 

Yet confusion was the goal and purpose of the parables. At one point in Jesus’ ministry, the apostles come to Jesus and say, “Why do you speak in parables?” (Matthew 13:10). They were confused by what Jesus said in his parables, and the multitudes who listened to Jesus’ parables were often confused as well by what Jesus was teaching, and so the apostles were kindly telling Jesus that He might do better if He spoke plainly to the people.

Jesus tells the apostles in Matthew 13:11-17 (cf. Matthew 13:34-35; Luke 8:10) that the reason He speaks in parables is so that the people will “see but not see, hear but not hear.”

In other words, Jesus told parables to mask the truth, to hide it, to cloak it, to make it unclear. Jesus’ parables are supposed to be confusing! He wanted them to be confusing!

This is a difficult teaching to absorb, and perhaps I will write on it soon. But in the meantime, know that there are reasons to believe that God has determined for His own purposes that while all are welcome and invited to become part of the Kingdom of God, He is intentionally leaving room for many to not accept His Word.

Thus, I believe that the pre-argument Premise 5 is not sound and should be rejected thus making premise 1 of the Argument from Errancy unsound, too. But there are still two more difficulties with the Argument from Errancy.

The use of vague terms in the argument

The first is found in what I call the “squishy” language of the two premises. Note, the language of the THEN portion of the first premise reads, “it is more probable than not that the Bible would be unambiguously inerrant and clearly of supernatural origin.” Premise 2 reads: “The Bible is seemingly errant and man-made.” I get why the author of this argument used these squishy words. The first is to cover up the fact that she knows it is unlikely that she can make a strong case that God would necessarily want to be unambiguous. The second is to acknowledge that there are those of us who defend the inerrancy of the Bible and it is far from certain that the Bible is not inerrant. (Note: I will erase comments on the Bible inerrancy issue because that is not the main point of this post and will lead too far astray from the point being made.) 

The bottom line is that when an argument contains squishy statements like “it is more probable than not” and ”seemingly,” it gives the impression that the argument has been proven when, in fact, it only shows that the argument may be true but may just as equally be false. If the premises had been written without the squishy language, it would be stronger but more easily proven or disproven.

The second problem is the biggest problem with the Argument from Errancy and it is very common problem with syllogisms like this one, but I will reserve that for a future blog (probably next week, but it depends on what else the Spirit inspires me to write).

 

Comments

Anonymous said…
I have to say, this is a good, well-reasoned argument. However, I do have some issues....

BK: While developing the pre-argument, I planned to add a Premise 7 but got stuck. That premise would have read: “If God wants to make it unambiguous that the Bible is His supernatural Word and not the creation of men, then …” what? This is a big problem with the first premise of the Argument from Errancy: what should God have done that would have made it clear that the Bible is His Word than has already been done?

God could have produced a Bible that is "unambiguously inerrant". It says that right in premise 1, as you quoted.

Transmission: For example, all translations would be identical because all the translators would know exactly what the original meant. There would be no transcription errors, because God would be guiding the copyist (eg, was Jehoiachin eight or eighteen when he became king). There would be no later additions, such as the ends of Mark and John, or the passage of the woman caught in adultery.

Morality: Given it is a moral guide, we would expect that guide to be right. And yet it says chattel slavery is allowed (Leviticus 25).

Factually: We would expect it to get the number of legs an insect has right (Leviticus 11:20). And do not get me started on the firmament, sun orbiting us and flat earth.

Theology: I discussed the trinity recently with Joe. If that is the true nature of God, why is it not clear in the Bible? The Bible is at best ambiguous on it, and frankly, I would say it is flat out wrong - assuming the trinity is true.

BK: After all, “the odds of life-compatible numbers coming up by chance is 1 in 10^229,” yet skeptics can clearly ignore the overwhelming unlikelihood that life would arise by chance by hypothesizing the existence of a multiverse.

Minor point, but the writing on the moon would be a very different situation. The multiverse is a possible explanation for the unlikelihood of life because of the selection process. If there are an infinite number of universes then we must necessarily exist in one capable of supporting life. That selection process would not apply to writing on the moon.

BK: Certainly, God wants to save the whole world and wants all people to come to Him, but the Bible also makes it clear that God says that not everyone is supposed to come to understand what He says.

What does that actually mean? Are you saying God has selected some people who he does not want to understand him? Are they destined for hell, just because God happened to decide they were in this group of lesser people?

I think this point does defeat the Facebook argument, but it leaves us in a theological mess (or perhaps highlights an already-existing mess). God has allowed the Bible to become flawed because he wants to put obstacles in our path.

How many billions are being tortured in hell right now because of his choice? Billions, I would imagine.

BK: The bottom line is that when an argument contains squishy statements like “it is more probable than not” and ”seemingly,” it gives the impression that the argument has been proven when, in fact, it only shows that the argument may be true but may just as equally be false. If the premises had been written without the squishy language, it would be stronger but more easily proven or disproven.

Your objection here is exactly what I object to when Joe claims "rational warrant".

Pix
you wrote a fine piece about a very dumb argument. That argument is a study in question begging.
I have to say, this is a good, well-reasoned argument. However, I do have some issues....

BK: While developing the pre-argument, I planned to add a Premise 7 but got stuck. That premise would have read: “If God wants to make it unambiguous that the Bible is His supernatural Word and not the creation of men, then …” what? This is a big problem with the first premise of the Argument from Errancy: what should God have done that would have made it clear that the Bible is His Word than has already been done?

God could have produced a Bible that is "unambiguously inerrant". It says that right in premise 1, as you quoted.

Transmission: For example, all translations would be identical because all the translators would know exactly what the original meant. There would be no transcription errors, because God would be guiding the copyist (eg, was Jehoiachin eight or eighteen when he became king). There would be no later additions, such as the ends of Mark and John, or the passage of the woman caught in adultery.

Not the way language works. why should God circumvent langue?

Morality: Given it is a moral guide, we would expect that guide to be right. And yet it says chattel slavery is allowed (Leviticus 25).

The Bible is a collection of different works from various time periods. That one is from a period before humanity had evolved sufficiently to outgrow slavery

Factually: We would expect it to get the number of legs an insect has right (Leviticus 11:20). And do not get me started on the firmament, sun orbiting us and flat earth.


God used human agents, his purpose was not to write rulebook. It. a series of testimonials. It is marked by human weakness,

Theology: I discussed the trinity recently with Joe. If that is the true nature of God, why is it not clear in the Bible? The Bible is at best ambiguous on it, and frankly, I would say it is flat out wrong - assuming the trinity is true.

theology is a human idea that's why it has academics

BK: After all, “the odds of life-compatible numbers coming up by chance is 1 in 10^229,” yet skeptics can clearly ignore the overwhelming unlikelihood that life would arise by chance by hypothesizing the existence of a multiverse.

Minor point, but the writing on the moon would be a very different situation. The multiverse is a possible explanation for the unlikelihood of life because of the selection process. If there are an infinite number of universes then we must necessarily exist in one capable of supporting life. That selection process would not apply to writing on the moon.

BK: Certainly, God wants to save the whole world and wants all people to come to Him, but the Bible also makes it clear that God says that not everyone is supposed to come to understand what He says.

What does that actually mean? Are you saying God has selected some people who he does not want to understand him? Are they destined for hell, just because God happened to decide they were in this group of lesser people?

that would be a contradiction since he said God wants all to e saved

I think this point does defeat the Facebook argument, but it leaves us in a theological mess (or perhaps highlights an already-existing mess). God has allowed the Bible to become flawed because he wants to put obstacles in our path.

that is an erroneous conclusion that is based upon not having faith in God

How many billions are being tortured in hell right now because of his choice? Billions, I would imagine.
o you agree God exists you jut like the way he does thing?

BK: The bottom line is that when an argument contains squishy statements like “it is more probable than not” and ”seemingly,” it gives the impression that the argument has been proven when, in fact, it only shows that the argument may be true but may just as equally be false. If the premises had been written without the squishy language, it would be stronger but more easily proven or disproven.

Your objection here is exactly what I object to when Joe claims "rational warrant".

Pix

Bullshit! Just because someone says an argent is true that does not make it true; neither is it rationally warranted just you say it is.
Anonymous said…
Joe: Not the way language works. why should God circumvent langue?

It is not the way language works, but it is the way we would expect God to work. We would expect him to be there guiding the hand of every translator and copyists - virtually all of whom would have worshiped him and prayed to him every day. In fact, they probably prayed for God to guide their hands while they worked.

Either god chose not to or God does not exist. I am guessing the latter.

Joe: The Bible is a collection of different works from various time periods. That one is from a period before humanity had evolved sufficiently to outgrow slavery

That is the atheist view, certainly.

The Christian view is that the Bible comes from God, who transcends time. Either God has changed his mind on slavery, or God thinks chattel slavery is fine in some cultures and not in others. Or the verse was made up by man, and God had nothing to do with it.

Joe: God used human agents, his purpose was not to write rulebook. It. a series of testimonials. It is marked by human weakness,

Actually, Joe, much of it is a rulebook.

And the fact that it is marked by human weakness strongly suggest it is the work of man, not God.

Joe: theology is a human idea that's why it has academics

And therefore we would not expect God to make clear the nature of the trinity? What is quite a reach!

Joe: that would be a contradiction since he said God wants all to e saved

Exactly.

Pix: God has allowed the Bible to become flawed because he wants to put obstacles in our path.

Joe: that is an erroneous conclusion that is based upon not having faith in God

And yet that is what BK said, quoting Myers:

In other words, Jesus told parables to mask the truth, to hide it, to cloak it, to make it unclear. Jesus’ parables are supposed to be confusing! He wanted them to be confusing!

Pix: How many billions are being tortured in hell right now because of his choice? Billions, I would imagine.

Joe: o you agree God exists you jut like the way he does thing?

I meant hypothetically, if God exists. I had hopped that would be obvious.

Joe: Bullshit! Just because someone says an argent is true that does not make it true; neither is it rationally warranted just you say it is.

It is every bit as much "rational warrrant" as the BS you spout Joe. The only difference is you do not want this to be true.

Pix
Joe: Not the way language works. why should God circumvent langue?

It is not the way language works, but it is the way we would expect God to work. We would expect him to be there guiding the hand of every translator and copyists - virtually all of whom would have worshiped him and prayed to him every day. In fact, they probably prayed for God to guide their hands while they worked.

why should God do what we expect? You only expect that because you've been conditioned to expect it by sloppy inerantist readings,

Either god chose not to or God does not exist. I am guessing the latter.

you can always bail out of belief in God but to do so to cover bad exegesis is pretty silly.


Joe: The Bible is a collection of different works from various time periods. That one is from a period before humanity had evolved sufficiently to outgrow slavery

That is the atheist view, certainly.



nothing particularly atheistic about it, the problem is you know nothing about theology you have an old-fashioned and distorted idea of inspiration,

The Christian view is that the Bible comes from God, who transcends time. Either God has changed his mind on slavery, or God thinks chattel slavery is fine in some cultures and not in others. Or the verse was made up by man, and God had nothing to do with it.


No passage says slavery is good. It merely fails to say it's bad (until the NT).People in that day were not prepared to hear that slavery was bad.



Joe: God used human agents, his purpose was not to write rulebook. It. a series of testimonials. It is marked by human weakness,

Actually, Joe, much of it is a rulebook.

No it; not. Just because it hands down a few rules doesn't make it rule book.

And the fact that it is marked by human weakness strongly suggest it is the work of man, not God.


that's bull shit. God became a man; This is how we know God understands and cares


Joe: theology is a human idea that's why it has academics

And therefore we would not expect God to make clear the nature of the trinity? What is quite a reach!

God guides even theologians when they remember to place faith in him




Joe: that would be a contradiction since he said God wants all to be saved

Exactly.

Pix: God has allowed the Bible to become flawed because he wants to put obstacles in our path.

That's stupid. He is using human agents to tell the story, so no need to plan in mistake; humans will make the mistakes.




Joe: that is an erroneous conclusion that is based upon not having faith in God

And yet that is what BK said, quoting Myers:

In other words, Jesus told parables to mask the truth, to hide it, to cloak it, to make it unclear. Jesus’ parables are supposed to be confusing! He wanted them to be confusing!

I'll let BK defend his words. I am sure you are screwing over what he said.

Pix: How many billions are being tortured in hell right now because of his choice? Billions, I would imagine.

Joe: o you agree God exists you jut like the way he does thing?

I meant hypothetically, if God exists. I had hopped that would be obvious.


Have there been billions of hypothetical people? Since God knows our hearts I am sure he judges rightly.

Joe: Bullshit! Just because someone says an argent is true that does not make it true; neither is it rationally warranted just you say it is.

It is every bit as much "rational warrant" as the BS you spout Joe. The only difference is you do not want this to be true.




prove it by logic
BK said…
Pix,

First, thank you for your response. Believe it or not, I found it very helpful for writing about the final objection to the argument.

Second, I expected someone (most likely you since, while we have multiple readers, you are the only one commenting on any regular basis) to do exactly what you did: post one or more ideas of what God could have done differently. But that leads me to a question: Let's suppose God did everything you suggest (i.e., make all translations identical, removing transcription errors, set forth a morality agreeable to 21st Century Western culture in all things, state that insects crawl on all six legs, stated in the Bible "I am a trinity"), would you then concede that the Bible was supernatural and unambiguously from God? While I hate it when people assume what I will say, I strongly suspect you would not. I am certain that the problems you listed (all of which have been answered, by the way) compound the problem for you and make it less likely that you will believe, but I sincerely doubt that these objections are the deciding factor in your lack of belief in God. So, much as I actually appreciate your response, it really doesn't answer my question of what God would have done to make it unambiguous that the Bible was His Word and of a supernatural nature.

Third, your response to the second part of my objection that God's objective is not necessarily to make it unambiguous that the Bible is His Word elicited a response that essentially pointed out how awful God must be not to make it sufficiently clear that He exists. What you say may be true and it may not be true (those seem to be the two options), but just because you conclude that God is awful for doing this, that in no way changes what Jesus said about the fact that He speaks in parables "because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand." The consequences of that position is a discussion that my post does not deal with, and I certainly don't agree with your viewpoint. But even if your viewpoint is correct, it doesn't change that Jesus made it clear (unambiguously clear?) that making His teaching unambiguous was not his first or only priority.

Finally, I think that the rational warrant argument is something I will leave to Joe who is much more adept at it than I am. Needless to say, I don't agree that I am arguing against rational warrant in this post. I am merely saying that the author in this particular case chose the squishy words that were used because she knew the argument wouldn't stand on its own. At least, that's my belief.
Anonymous said…
Joe: why should God do what we expect? You only expect that because you've been conditioned to expect it by sloppy inerantist readings,

I expect it because God supposedly is all-knowing and all-powerful, and therefore has the capability to ensure perfectly accurate transmission, and God supposedly wants to gets his message to us so is motivated to ensure perfectly accurate transmission.

Tell me; why do you NOT expect God to do this?

Joe: No passage says slavery is good. It merely fails to say it's bad (until the NT).People in that day were not prepared to hear that slavery was bad.

The Bible explicitly says chattel slavery is allowed. Far worse than merely failing to say it is bad.

Joe: No it; not. Just because it hands down a few rules doesn't make it rule book.

So what is your point here? Are you arguing there are no rules in the Bible? That is clearly nonsense.

No one is suggesting it is nothing except rules; that would be another straw man.

Pix: And the fact that it is marked by human weakness strongly suggest it is the work of man, not God.

Joe: that's bull shit. God became a man; This is how we know God understands and cares

I have idea how that relates to my comment. I am guessing you do not either.

Joe: God guides even theologians when they remember to place faith in him

So what happened with the copyists and translators? Are all those mistakes because they failed to put their faith in God? The vast majority were Christians, and I would imagine they all prayed for guidance.

Joe: Have there been billions of hypothetical people? Since God knows our hearts I am sure he judges rightly.

If God hypothetically exists, then there are - hypothetically - billions of people he is torturing in hell.

Joe: prove it by logic

I do not have to; it is rational warrant.

Pix
Anonymous said…
Joe: why should God do what we expect? You only expect that because you've been conditioned to expect it by sloppy inerantist readings,

I expect it because God supposedly is all-knowing and all-powerful, and therefore has the capability to ensure perfectly accurate transmission, and God supposedly wants to gets his message to us so is motivated to ensure perfectly accurate transmission.


the transmission is not inaccurate

Tell me; why do you NOT expect God to do this?

If it's just words on paper that breeds legalism. God deals in the human hart not so much in rules and strictures. at least not as the main expression of his will.



Joe: No passage says slavery is good. It merely fails to say it's bad (until the NT).People in that day were not prepared to hear that slavery was bad.

The Bible explicitly says chattel slavery is allowed. Far worse than merely failing to say it is bad.

allowed is not necessary good. God did not want Israel to have a king but he allowed them to have one because the people wanted it.

Joe: No it; not. Just because it hands down a few rules doesn't make it rule book.

px So what is your point here? Are you arguing there are no rules in the Bible? That is clearly nonsense.


rules are secondary the lesser vehicle to barrow from Buddhism.


PX No one is suggesting it is nothing except rules; that would be another straw man.

stock to the point. My point is why God does not take the inerrentist position.

Pix: And the fact that it is marked by human weakness strongly suggest it is the work of man, not God.

Joe: that's bull shit. God became a man; This is how we know God understands and cares

Px. I have idea how that relates to my comment. I am guessing you do not either.

your thinking is so small. Look Einstein. you say dealing with human weakness shows it's wrong, it shows it; about helping people. The reference to Jesus is obvious it shows that the central feature of Christianity is God became man and experiences human weakness so he can understand our struggles.


Joe: God guides even theologians when they remember to place faith in him

So what happened with the copyists and translators? Are all those mistakes because they failed to put their faith in God? The vast majority were Christians, and I would imagine they all prayed for guidance.


you have demonstrated no mistaking. inducing the wrong material is not inaccuracy in translation. But the idea that God is is going to miraculously make then translate it right violates the point of using human agents,

Joe: Have there been billions of hypothetical people? Since God knows our hearts I am sure he judges rightly.

If God hypothetically exists, then there are - hypothetically - billions of people he is torturing in hell.

God really exists

Joe: prove it by logic

I do not have to; it is rational warrant.

the point of warrant is logic, you have to establish warrant by logic, what does not establish warrant is basing a lot of bad arguments upon failure to understand Christian theology
Anonymous said…
BK: Second, I expected someone (most likely you since, while we have multiple readers, you are the only one commenting on any regular basis) to do exactly what you did: post one or more ideas of what God could have done differently. But that leads me to a question: Let's suppose God did everything you suggest ..., would you then concede that the Bible was supernatural and unambiguously from God? While I hate it when people assume what I will say, I strongly suspect you would not.

I probably would not, because there are other issues that suggest otherwise. However, I would struggle to explain it.

To be honest, the Facebook argument is like most of the arguments on Cadre. If you want to believe the conclusion, you are willing to overlook the flaws. It gives rational warrant, which is to say, it is a way to rationalise your existing beliefs, rather than a reason to change them.

Kind of an aside, but there is a legend that when the Torah was translated for the LXX, the guy sponsoring it was amazed to find that all 70 or 72 translators had produced identical translations, despite working in isolation. That is what I would expect, and the fact that this legend appeared indicates that that is what people 2000 years ago expected too.

BK: Third, your response to the second part of my objection that God's objective is not necessarily to make it unambiguous that the Bible is His Word elicited a response that essentially pointed out how awful God must be not to make it sufficiently clear that He exists. What you say may be true and it may not be true (those seem to be the two options), but just because you conclude that God is awful for doing this, that in no way changes what Jesus said about the fact that He speaks in parables "because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand." The consequences of that position is a discussion that my post does not deal with, and I certainly don't agree with your viewpoint. But even if your viewpoint is correct, it doesn't change that Jesus made it clear (unambiguously clear?) that making His teaching unambiguous was not his first or only priority.

Either God wants us to readily understand his message or not.

If he does, then this argument standards. We would expect him to be there guiding the copyists and translators to ensure every version was perfect.

If he does not, then he is choosing to put up obstructions to our understanding - and this seems to be what Jesus says in the verse about parables. If this is the case, then the Facebook argument loses its force. God is not guiding the copyists and translators because he wants his message garbled. I think that has huge - and not pleasant - theological implications.

BK: Finally, I think that the rational warrant argument is something I will leave to Joe who is much more adept at it than I am. Needless to say, I don't agree that I am arguing against rational warrant in this post. I am merely saying that the author in this particular case chose the squishy words that were used because she knew the argument wouldn't stand on its own. At least, that's my belief.

Personally I think what you could "squishy words" is just honesty. If you are not sure, then it is dishonest to present your opinion as though it is fact. If you read scientific papers, you will always find these "squishy words" because that is how it is.

Pix
Pix have you ever taken a language class? you don't seem to understand the concept of translation.
If he does, then this argument standards. We would expect him to be there guiding the copyists and translators to ensure every version was perfect.

that is just sadistically negligent. The intricacies of translation are such that the two translation can be very different and yet both be very good. But you have et to even demonstrate a credible problem.


If he does not, then he is choosing to put up obstructions to our understanding


raviolis assumption. There's a lot of ground between problems happen and problems a are placed purposely.


- and this seems to be what Jesus says in the verse about parables. If this is the case, then the Facebook argument loses its force. God is not guiding the copyists and translators because he wants his message garbled. I think that has huge - and not pleasant - theological implications.

More of your tendency to take the opposite extreme to avoid reasoning about the issue; if God Doesn't specifically forbid murdering your dentist then it must be mandatory to murder your dentist. If God doesn't guide the copyist hands then he doesn't care what they wright? That' stupid.

What it really means is God has more faith in human expression than you do.

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