Is faith a reliable method for determining truth?

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bluegreenearth
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Is faith a reliable method for determining truth?

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Post by bluegreenearth »

For example:
Hebrews 11:3

3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
There are numerous verses following the one above that equally proclaim, "By faith," something is understood or known to be true. Therefore, in this context, "faith" is being encouraged for use as an epistemology. How does "faith" function to reliably distinguish true claims from false claims or does it fail in that regard? What would demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Christian community that "faith" is not a reliable tool for discovering what is true or false?

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Re: Is faith a reliable method for determining truth?

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Post by Realworldjack »

[Replying to post 333 by marco]
If the Church that ruled the known world decided that certain alternative systems of belief merited death, this is "spring cleaning" in a grand way. It is no wonder that we have the beliefs that the early church endorsed.

This is really funny! How can we know that, "we have the beliefs that the early church endorsed", if there may have been some sort of "spring cleaning" by the Church later on?

However, we can know because we have early church fathers, who quoted a good majority of the NT, and this "spring cleaning" of which you have no evidence for, would have occurred much later, since the Church did not rule the world, during the time of the early Church fathers.

My friend, when Christianity began to rule the world, it is not like they reached back way in time, and brought forth this long dead religion. But alas, we are certainly use to you throwing out these possibilities, without the least bit of evidence
Hearing that someone has been deprived of choice is always sad.
What is "sad" is to hear someone say, they have a "choice" in what they believe? Because you see, if I had a "choice" in what it is I believe, there would be a great number of things, I would choose to believe differently. However, because of the facts involved, I do not have this luxury to choose what it is I believe. Rather, the facts, and evidence determines this for me.
People do get coerced into believing things but where we can we should exercise rational choice.
No! One can certainly choose to believe something no matter the evidence, but when one uses, facts, evidence, reason, and logic, then these folks do not decide what to believe, but rather allow the facts, evidence, reason, and logic to determine what it is they believe.

All you are doing here is to compare how folks make decisions, with some simply choosing what it is they would rather believe, while others choose to use facts, evidence, reason, and logic, and allow these things to determine what it is they believe, which means they have no choice at that point.
That means we reject claims that say a corpse wandered about.
Sure! If one makes the "choice" to only go that far? In other words, if you hear a corpse has come back to life, you can make the choice to dismiss the claim right there. However, there are some who would want to go a little further, and examine other evidence which may be available.

This would be an example of choosing what one would rather believe, and I do this many times myself. In other words, I may hear of claims, that I am not really all that interested in, and therefore I simply decide to have doubts about the claims, because I am not all that interested. However, I would not then go on to claim, that those who believe the claim, have no reason to believe the claim, and I certainly would not go on to insist that the claim would absolutely have to be false, simply based upon my doubts.
Remember, some human beings, from a less advanced age, said this was so.
How this can be a convincing argument to you, is beyond my imagination, and would have not a thing to do with whether what was reported would be true, or false? Next, I will assure you it has nothing whatsoever to do with, "because they said so".
Your choice is: do you believe them?
Again, I do not make such "choices" but rather allow the facts, and evidence determine what it is I believe.
I don't doubt you are a deep thinker, as you say
I will assure you, my saying, "I tend to think a little more deeply than this" by no means insinuates that I am a "deep thinker", because it does not take "deep thinking" to think a little more "deeply" than some tend to think.
and in thinking deeply about a corpse shuffling around you have decided that this is what must have happened.
Well no again. You continue over, and over, to get it wrong. I do not decide what to believe, but rather allow the facts, evidence, reason, and logic to determine this. Next, I have never insisted that, "this is what must have happened", but rather have come to the conclusion that there are facts, evidence, and reasons to support the claims.
You reject deception because human beings, being what they are, would have spilled the beans of deceit somewhere.
Well no, this would have something to do with it, but it goes far deeper than simply this. Because you see, it is indeed a fact that many times when you have someone attempting to hold some sort of deceit together, the truth begins to come out when you add in things such as, interrogation, ridicule, mocking, persecution, prison, and the threat of death, and we have any number of examples of just that.

However, when you begin to add numbers, it becomes even more difficult to hold these things together, as there are more folks facing the same things, and you cannot predict how each one will be able to stand up under the pressure.

But, you are correct, when we look at the claims of the resurrection, and the number of people involved, we do not see any sort of recanting, and, or turmoil among those making the claims that we would expect, when there is deceit involved.

However, this is simply a piece of the puzzle. In other words, one does not stop there, but rather moves on to all the other evidence in order to examine it as well. Because you see, it is not like these folks simply make the claims, and then move on with their lives, very seldom, if ever mentioning these things again. Rather, once they make the claims, they seem to be consumed with the claims, and continue to proclaim these things, loudly, and often, in the face of interrogation, ridicule, mocking, persecution, prison, and the threat of death.

So yes, this would certainly have to be a piece of the puzzle for anyone who is honestly examining the facts, and evidence in this case, and it certainly cannot simply be dismissed as if it were nothing, (not a factor) unless of course one is simply unconcerned with the actual truth of the matter, and simply shrugs this off, as if it were nothing, and continues to insist these claims must, and has to be false, in the face of such facts.

However, this would not be the only thing that would need to be considered, because there are many other facts, and evidence in this case, that would also need to be studied, and analyzed. So then, it is not as simple as you make it out to be, as if I am simply looking at this factor, when as we have seen, there are many other factors involved as well.

One of the things I have discovered in life, is that, many folks will accuse others of exactly what they are guilty of themselves. As an example, I know of folks who continually accuse others of prejudice, and profiling. However, when you begin to actually examine these folks, you can clearly see, that they are indeed guilty of the exact same thing. In other words, whether they realize it, or not, these folks think like that themselves, and they simply transpose their own way of thinking, onto others. What they are really doing is to say, "this is the way I would think if I were in their situation, and therefore, they must think in the same way I would think".

In the same way, you may have one who makes certain judgments with small bits of information, such as, "corpses do not wander about", and then goes on to simply assume that those opposed to them make their decisions in the same way, by only analyzing small bits of information, without examining the whole.
My axiom is that corpses do not wake up and walk.
And here is a very good example of what I am talking about above. If this is as far as you would like to go, without going on to examine any of the other facts, and evidence involved, then I have no problem with that in the least.

However, there are others who are not satisfied with simply looking at one piece of evidence, and would rather go on to examine any, and all the evidence they can, before making such a judgement. In other words, there are those who are easily convinced, and then there are others, who are not so easily convinced, because these folks understand that what they know, and have experienced in life, may not be all there is, and so they go on past what they think they know, in order to examine all there would be to examine before making such judgments.
To overrule this axiom, you would have to give reasons for that extraordinary decision.
The facts, and evidence we have gives us a reason to believe that axiom, may not hold true in this case.

All you are really doing here is to say, "I know corpses do not get up and walk, and I know that what I know, is all there is to know, and therefore anything that contradicts what I know, must, and has to be false, and therefore, I have no need in examining any sort of facts, and evidence which may support something that I know cannot be true".

With this being the case, it is certainly clear to me, that you do indeed, "choose" what it is you believe, while there are others of us who allow the facts, and evidence to determine what it is we believe.
Paul told me, and somebody wrote to a man called Theophilus - ergo Jesus rose" to my, perhaps simplistic way of seeing things, this is not following rationality.
This right here is another fine example of transposing one's thought process on another.

Listen, there are many former Christians, and it is clear, and some will even admit, that their thinking process was not very good, when they made the decision to become a Christian. Or, you have others who will tell you that they were "indoctrinated" as a child, and when they became older, they really did not think about it all that much, and simply were accepting what they were taught, for years of their adult life.

Then, all of a sudden, the thinking process kicks in, for whatever reason, and these folks come to realize, they have been duped into believing something, for a good portion of their adult life, without really thinking about it.

They then reject what it is they were duped into believing for a good portion of their adult life, and then suppose that anyone who may be a Christian, must, and has to be just like they were, and have never really thought about what it is they believe, or why they believe it, which can cause them to say things like, "Paul told me, and somebody wrote to a man called Theophilus", because they understand that this is the way in which they thought as a Christian.

While it may not be apparent, I will assure you that my thinking process goes a little deeper than this, which means these "cute" little one liners of yours is not going to work in my case. Now, do you really want to talk about a, "simplistic way of seeing things"?
You claim that you were forced into believing what you believe - you had no choice - and I don't know if this merits surprise or sympathy.
Again, what "merits sympathy" is one who chooses what to believe. It would seem to me that one would allow the facts, and evidence to determine what it is one believes.
In any event, I had a choice and I obeyed the working axiom.
Well no! What you are actually saying here is, you allowed the axiom to determine what it is you believe. And of course, this was simply, "corpse do not wander about." Again, if that is as far as you would like to go, then I have no problem with that. But, as has already been mentioned, there are others who would like to go a little further than this, by going on to examine all the evidence involved.
So I can confidently say: Those that thought Jesus rose from the dead were wrong.
Opinion, which is stated as a fact, noted!

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Re: Is faith a reliable method for determining truth?

Post #372

Post by marco »

Realworldjack wrote:

This is really funny!
It might save you a few paragraphs in your dissertations if I take it for granted that hilarity accompanies your reading of my posts. No need to let me know.
How can we know that, "we have the beliefs that the early church endorsed", if there may have been some sort of "spring cleaning" by the Church later on?
Beliefs were amended through the centuries. Last century we had it confirmed that Mary was assumed into heaven, and the century before we learned she was conceived without stain of original sin. In the first few centuries there were many conflicting opinions. We have the works of the ones that prevailed but we know of the others, such as Celsus, from people like Origen who wrote "Contra Celsum", against Celsus, and who extensively quoted works they were refuting. We learn a lot about authors whose works are lost from quotations in extant authors.



My friend, when Christianity began to rule the world, it is not like they reached back way in time, and brought forth this long dead religion. But alas, we are certainly use to you throwing out these possibilities, without the least bit of evidence

I am sure you are making a point here but its meaning eludes me. Christian beliefs developed and found expression in pronouncements from various Councils, some such edicts causing schisms.


No! One can certainly choose to believe something no matter the evidence, but when one uses, facts, evidence, reason, and logic, then these folks do not decide what to believe, but rather allow the facts, evidence, reason, and logic to determine what it is they believe.
Well it is always useful to learn how information is processed. Much of the material around Christian belief does not involve facts, but it does involve choosing to believe A or B, or accepting the word of writers known to lie. Ergo choice.

In other words, if you hear a corpse has come back to life, you can make the choice to dismiss the claim right there. However, there are some who would want to go a little further, and examine other evidence which may be available.
"And the corpses of many holy men got out of their graves and walked to Jerusalem." There exist people who would just discard this as nonsense. Goodness knows why.
Obviously the emerging skeletons had the word "holy" written on them, for adequate identification purposes. Do you need to "go a little further" with such "facts"?

I will assure you, my saying, "I tend to think a little more deeply than this" by no means insinuates that I am a "deep thinker", because it does not take "deep thinking" to think a little more "deeply" than some tend to think.

True, it doesn't take deep thought to ponder whether to believe the above, but you keep saying you think "a little more deeply." Of course this is a self-assessment.

You continue over, and over, to get it wrong.
I am not too dismayed by your verdict. On the contrary, were you telling me I was right, I might start to doubt myself.


I do not decide what to believe, but rather allow the facts, evidence, reason, and logic to determine this.
You've cobbled together some abstract terms and you say they, not your mind, make decisions for you. Odd. One of the things we have to do is be sure we have "facts". If you say that "reason and logic" influenced your decision on the above statement about walking corpses, then I think we are using different definitions of reason and logic. Logic, in my part of the world, says corpses do not walk. To accept they do is to choose to go against logic. That is your choice, and one you have made regarding the Resurrection.

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Re: Is faith a reliable method for determining truth?

Post #373

Post by marco »

Realworldjack wrote:
So then, it is not as simple as you make it out to be, as if I am simply looking at this factor, when as we have seen, there are many other factors involved as well.
I think we know there are many ingredients in the discussion about the Resurrection. You have carefully analysed them all and concluded the Resurrection is true. That is your choice. Others have examined the matter for many years and reached a contrary conclusion. That is their choice. Ultimately the facts cannot be verified now so reason goes out and faith comes in as I have said before.
One of the things I have discovered in life, is that, many folks will accuse others of exactly what they are guilty of themselves.
Are you an exception to this astute observation?

My axiom is that corpses do not wake up and walk.
Realworldjack wrote:
And here is a very good example of what I am talking about above. If this is as far as you would like to go, without going on to examine any of the other facts, and evidence involved, then I have no problem with that in the least.

However, there are others who are not satisfied with simply looking at one piece of evidence, and would rather go on to examine any, and all the evidence they can, before making such a judgement.
I am assuming you are talking about thanatology. Not my field, but I think it's safe to assume experts would assert that corpses remain still.
Realworldjack wrote:
In other words, there are those who are easily convinced, and then there are others, who are not so easily convinced,
(a) Believers in walking corpses (b) Those who think corpses don't walk

I suspect you have got (a) and (b) confused.

Realworldjack wrote:
Again, what "merits sympathy" is one who chooses what to believe. It would seem to me that one would allow the facts, and evidence to determine what it is one believes.
I wonder in all this "deep thinking" what exactly convinced you to accept the Resurrection. You have listed Luke and his travels with Paul, the nice letters, the suffering and apparent sincerity...but when do we come to the "facts" or the iron statements that convince? You desert logic to accept the word of Luke, who in all seriousness has traced names from Jesus back to Adam. And you say logic is involved. I cannot see it.
Last edited by marco on Fri Nov 22, 2019 6:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Is faith a reliable method for determining truth?

Post #374

Post by Danmark »

Realworldjack wrote:One of the things I have discovered in life, is that, many folks will accuse others of exactly what they are guilty of themselves.
Yes, it is common to 'project' your beliefs and attitudes onto others. Projection is part of basic human psychology. It is not necessarily a bad thing. It enables us to see the humanity in others because we project our own humanity onto them.

But is absurd folly to claim that everyone projects everything. I've watched President Trump and he is an example of almost constant projection of his own faults onto others. It is sad to watch, and transparent (tho' he appears oblivious to how obvious it is).

But to just claim some one is projecting is not convincing without supplemental evidence.

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Re: Is faith a reliable method for determining truth?

Post #375

Post by brunumb »

[Replying to post 368 by Realworldjack]
Or, you have others who will tell you that they were "indoctrinated" as a child, and when they became older, they really did not think about it all that much, and simply were accepting what they were taught, for years of their adult life.

Then, all of a sudden, the thinking process kicks in, for whatever reason, and these folks come to realize, they have been duped into believing something, for a good portion of their adult life, without really thinking about it.
Yep. That's it in a nutshell. Some of those that retain their belief spend all their time retrofitting whatever they can into their belief in an effort to shore it up against any erosion.
Christianty: 2000 years of making it up as you go along.

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Re: Is faith a reliable method for determining truth?

Post #376

Post by Realworldjack »

benchwarmer wrote:
Realworldjack wrote: [Replying to post 298 by benchwarmer]
GOOD GRIEF! This IS so COMICAL!! You seem to love this debate 'tactic' of exclaiming great grief and then trying to convince others it's funny.
Let us recall what I am responding too? You are attempting to compare the Christian claims to the claims concerning the "golden plates", and claiming "Joseph Smith could present actual signatures of bona-fide witnesses" and going on to claim that I, "have nothing but unsupported claims".

My point is, folks continue to make this argument, in the face of the fact that we have 5 different authors making the exact same claim, of the exact same resurrection, which means the claims support each other. This is exactly why I can say, "GOOD GRIEF".
And I say 'GOOD GRIEF' when you fail to entertain that 4 of these 5 writers might simply be taking a previous written claim and copying/adding details. In other words, copying what someone else wrote is not supporting it.

Let's give an example:

I write a letter that says I saw a purple unicorn in my back yard.

15 years later someone else writes that I saw a purple unicorn in my back yard, but adds the detail that a pink fog descended over the neighborhood beforehand and that a small bowl of skittles was left behind when the unicorn left.

20 years after that (35 years after my letter) another person writes about the purple unicorn, pink fog, and skittles, but adds the detail that the unicorn was wearing a gold cape and actually flew away. Around about the same time (35 years after the fact) another person also wrote about the purple unicorn, pink, fog, and skittles, but it was a large bucket of skittles and there was only pink and blue ones.

Finally, another 5 years later (40 years total) another person writes about the purple unicorn, pink fog, and skittles, but says the unicorn galloped away instead of flying away.

Do these 5 authors make the exact same claim and should thus be considered supporting each other? It's essentially the same thing we have with Paul's writings and the 4 gospels. We have no way to definitively prove if we have natural story telling going on where the story gets grander as time goes on, or if we actually have 5 independent witnesses to the actual event. Given that more detail emerges decades later when it should be the other way around (less detail is remembered 40 years later) it seems we are likely dealing with repeated story telling, not 5 separate witness accounts.

This possibly (and quite plausibly) renders the witness to a resurrected Jesus down to one witness statement. That is my entire point.

As to the entire 'golden plate' discussion, my entire point there is that I have yet to see any of the witnesses actually recant their statement. Your link provided nothing of the sort, only the waffling and confused details I had already mentioned. I only brought this up because you were claiming to be of the understanding that some of these witnesses recanted. I am simply asking you to either 1) provide evidence of this recanting 2) admit there was no actual recanting 3) stick with "I don't know" - which is entirely fair - and admit there may not have been any actual recanting. Or just stick with trying to save face and keep bringing up some changed their tune slightly, thus you consider this recanting their witness of the plates.

When you bring other things up such and the recanting of witness statements in order to bolster your points, don't be surprised when people call you out and expect some evidence of these claims or understandings. Even if it was just to the best of your understanding. How hard is it to simply say "Ya, it was just my understanding, I could find no actual evidence of these witness recanting their statements".


I am not going to respond to the first part of your post here, because it is really the same thing over, and over. So let us get down to where the rubber meets the road.
This possibly (and quite plausibly) renders the witness to a resurrected Jesus down to one witness statement. That is my entire point.
Well, exactly where did you get this idea? How did you come to the conclusion these author must have copied each other? My guess is, this is not something you came up with on your own, but rather something you have heard from others, and it sounds good to your ears, and so you simply run with this idea, instead of really thinking it through?

So then, let us take a moment to attempt to determine exactly how, "possible, and, or plausible" this solution of yours, (well more than likely not yours) really is? Well, since I have already addressed this with other folks on this site, I will simply copy, and paste one of my responses to another member, and keep in mind, this is my own response to this objection. In other words, it is not something I have heard, or read from anyone else, but is rather my response, as I consider the idea there may have been copying going on between three of the Gospel writers.
realworldjack wrote:Sure! You can certainly "consider that copying has happened" but when you sit down to honestly consider this, it does not add up?

The first thing that I will point out to you is, your "scholars" are simply sharing their opinion, and if you will notice very carefully, when they tell you when they believe these things were written, they always use words like, "probably", meaning they cannot know.

Next, we know beyond a reasonable doubt that the author of the two letters to Theophilus would have traveled around with Paul on his journeys. However, your "scholars" date his letters somewhere between 80-90, and if we are very conservative, this would mean that the author would have been 60 years old at the very least, and as "BGE" has pointed out, most folks would not have lived this long.

However, there are some "scholars" who argue his letters would have been written in the late 50's, to early 60's which makes more sense, and it is very reasonable to believe that this author used the 2 years he had, while Paul was under arrest, to write these letters.

Now we can move on to the idea that the "scholars" believe copying occurred. The most common idea is that Mark wrote first, and the others copied from his material. Well, the question is, where did they get these copies?

Let's think about this? If Mark did indeed write first, then he would have sent this letter to his intended audience, which means his audience, would have had the original writing, which would be the only one of it's kind. If they decided to make a copy of this letter, this would have been a very pains taking process, which would have taken a long time, because it is not like they would have a "Kinko's" on every corner, in order to make quick copies.

We also need to consider the type of writing utensils these folks were forced to use, which would mean they did not have pen, pencil, and paper, as we do. With all this being the case, if there were to be more than one copy, there could not have been very many at this time, which means, these folks would not have the luxury to have their very own copy.

Moreover, if the intended audience decided to have copies made, one of the reasons would be, in order to preserve the writing, and not to pass out in order for everyone to have their very own copy.

At this point, you need to attempt to wrap your mind around what I am about to say. You do understand that, even all the way into the 1400's, no one had the luxury of carrying around what we now call the Bible, right? And even if one were to have a Bible, they could not have possibly understood the Bible, because it was in a language that few, and I mean few, could understand. The fact of the matter was at that time, the church was in possession of the Bible, and because there was no way to automate copying, it would have been impossible for very many folks to have a copy, even it they could understand it.

So then, it was not until the invention of the printing press, along with Luther working to translate the Bible into the common languages of the day, was there even a way for one to even have a copy to share.

However, your scholars would have us believe, these authors somehow had their very own copy of another's writing, and even then the scholars understand this is not enough to explain the whole thing, and so then, your scholars are forced to come up with some unknown source, and call it "Q".

The question then becomes, why did the authors not simply send the copies they had, or at the very least copy these other writings word, for word, instead of attempting to piece these things together from the two?

I can tell you this! Any answer you, or your scholars attempt to give in an attempt to answer this question, would have to be purely, speculation.

Now the question to you is, do I have any reason to doubt the opinion of these scholars you seem to have so much faith in? Do I have every reason to trust these scholars of yours, because they are truly honest, and looking out for our best interest, while all these authors who make the claim of the resurrection, must be evil, or somehow deceived, and deceiving us as well, while your scholars could not possibly be deceived, and, or be deceiving?

On the other hand, when we consider, as you, and I seem to agree, that these folks would have been very connected, in that they knew each other very well, spent a good deal of time together, telling each other, and over hearing others being told these same things over, and over again, we can see how, and why they could indeed write the same things, and be very closely aligned, and would have no need to copy anyone at all.

Allow me to explain to you how common this would be. When I was a child, I spent a lot of time with my Grandpa, and he would tell me stories, and I was so intrigued with these stories he told, I would ask that he tell them to me, over, and over again, to the point, I could tell you these stories still today, almost verbatim.

My friend, this could very well explain why, and how they report much the same thing. But, you go ahead, and take the word of the "scholars". They must, and have to be correct, and I see no need in you attempting to determine if what they say could even be possible. I guess some folks simply rely on faith?
So yes, do please go ahead and tell us where these folks got their copies? Because you see, this is a very far fetched story, that the "scholars" have pulled out of thin air, and for one to go on to come to the conclusions that these opinions, are "probable, and, or plausible", without really thinking the whole thing through, speaks volumes!
As to the entire 'golden plate' discussion, my entire point there is that I have yet to see any of the witnesses actually recant their statement. Your link provided nothing of the sort, only the waffling and confused details I had already mentioned. I only brought this up because you were claiming to be of the understanding that some of these witnesses recanted. I am simply asking you to either 1) provide evidence of this recanting 2) admit there was no actual recanting 3) stick with "I don't know" - which is entirely fair - and admit there may not have been any actual recanting. Or just stick with trying to save face and keep bringing up some changed their tune slightly, thus you consider this recanting their witness of the plates.
I really do not know what more you would like me to say? As demonstrated, I purposely said, "as I understand it" because I absolutely knew that I had gotten this information from another member of this site years ago, which again is why I made sure to say, "as I understand it" which clearly means, I am not making a definite statement of fact.

Does it somehow cause you to feel better to know they did not actually recant? Does it cause you to maybe believe they may have been telling the truth? I highly doubt that to be the case.

However, you do admit there was "waffling" going on, and I would say there was also great turmoil among, and between those who claim to have witnessed the "plates. So then I will take that, and still ask the question as to whether we see these same sort of things with those who report the resurrection? Or, does the evidence show, that they continued to believe, proclaim, and live as though what they reported would have been the truth, well into their old age? I really do not see how you are gaining any ground here?
How hard is it to simply say Ya, it was just my understanding
The question is, how many times do I have to say it? I said it when it was originally brought into the conversation. When you brought it up, I brought it to your attention that this is exactly why I said, "the way I understand it". And I have just said it again. Would you like to hear it one more time?

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Re: Is faith a reliable method for determining truth?

Post #377

Post by Realworldjack »

Danmark wrote:
Realworldjack wrote:
One thing we do know about Theophilus, is what his name would mean, which is, friend of God", and some even suggest it would mean, "lovers of God."

Are you seriously suggesting that the name one gives himself has any bearing on his veracity? If one calls himself "lover of God" and then suggests Jesus is not God, is he to be believed because of his name?


Some folks really need to attempt to pay a little more attention to the conversation more closely. It is not me who is saying that this name has any bearing at all! Rather, that would be those opposed, who are desperate to find a way in which the author of these two letters, would not have been addressing these letters to one individual, but to a wider audience. Therefore, they use the name, which is suppose to mean, "lover of God" and claim the author used this name to address, all those who love God.

So then, these folks are "seriously suggesting" that this author uses the name Theophilus, with the title, "most excellent" in front of it, which would be a common name at that time, and he was using this name, not to address an individual by the name of Theophilus, but rather used the name, in order to address all those who may love God.

This would be the whole context of the sentence of mine which you quote. Maybe you will read it all this time?
realworldjack wrote:One thing we do know about Theophilus, is what his name would mean, which is, friend of God", and some even suggest it would mean, "lovers of God." So, how do we know this would be the meaning of this name? Well, that is because we have those who are desperate enough to suggest that the author would have been addressing a wider audience, and not simply one individual. So, why would they want to do this? Well, that is because they clearly understand that this would mean that this author sat down to write, not one, but two long and detailed letters to one individual, and if this is the case, then this author cannot be accused of writing these letters in an attempt to persuade the masses.

In other words, what we would come to understand is, this author would have spent decades traveling around with Paul on his missionary journeys, which would clearly demonstrate this author would have been alive at the time of Jesus, would have known the Apostles along with the claims they were making from their own lips, and after traveling with Paul for decades, this author sits down to write, not one, but two long, and detailed letters to one individual, out of concern for this individual, and there are those who are desperate to find a way in which to cast doubt upon this idea, otherwise, there would be no need in questioning whom the audience may have been.
Last edited by Realworldjack on Fri Nov 22, 2019 7:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Is faith a reliable method for determining truth?

Post #378

Post by Realworldjack »

Danmark wrote: [Replying to post 352 by Realworldjack]
In other words, what we would come to understand is, this author would have spent decades traveling around with Paul on his missionary journeys....
What is it about the scholarly information on Theophilus that you don't get?

1 Theories about who Theophilus was

1.1 Coptic view
1.2 Roman Official
1.3 Honorary title
1.4 Paul's Lawyer
1.5 Jewish priest
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theophilus_(biblical)

You claimed you did not claim to know who Theophilus really was
I never said a thing about who Theophilus may have been
yet you reiterate he "spent decades traveling around with Paul on his missionary journeys."

Do you, or do you not claim to know who Theophilus was?

You claimed you did not claim to know who Theophilus really was yet you reiterate he "spent decades traveling around with Paul on his missionary journeys."
Did I? Or, did I say, "THE AUTHOR OF THE TWO LETTERS TO THEOPHILUS, would have traveled with Paul on his missionary journeys"?

Now, when you read this, please explain to me how you can come to the conclusion, that it would have been, Theophilus that I would have been referring to who would have spent decades with Paul of these journeys?

I'm sorry, but this seems to sort of demonstrate one who does not have a very good working knowledge of the thing they are so critical of, because one with any sort of knowledge at all of the NT, would know that I could not possibly be referring to Theophilus as having traveled along with Paul, seeing as how the two letters addressed to Theophilus takes up a pretty good portion of the NT?

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Re: Is faith a reliable method for determining truth?

Post #379

Post by benchwarmer »

Realworldjack wrote:
This possibly (and quite plausibly) renders the witness to a resurrected Jesus down to one witness statement. That is my entire point.
Well, exactly where did you get this idea? How did you come to the conclusion these author must have copied each other?
Must? If you read more carefully you will see I said "possibly (and quite plausibly)". That doesn't mean 'must' where I come from. It means this is a situation that COULD have happened. The evidence and facts also show it is quite likely, but as with many things in history, there really is no 'must'.
Realworldjack wrote: My guess is, this is not something you came up with on your own, but rather something you have heard from others, and it sounds good to your ears, and so you simply run with this idea, instead of really thinking it through?
Well, you sure do like to impugn the thought processes of others which ironically shows your own thought process. Of course I first heard of these ideas from others. Much like you heard the idea that some guy that was dead for a number of days rose up and flew off into the sky. Was that your original idea? Not sure what your point here is.

What I did was read this idea, then go look at what research has been published on these ideas as well as go read my own Bible again. What do you know, it makes sense. Your guess that I just read this and ran with it because it was pleasing to my ears is wrong. Much like most of your 'guesses' about people you don't know.
Realworldjack wrote:
So then, let us take a moment to attempt to determine exactly how, "possible, and, or plausible" this solution of yours, (well more than likely not yours) really is? Well, since I have already addressed this with other folks on this site, I will simply copy, and paste one of my responses to another member, and keep in mind, this is my own response to this objection. In other words, it is not something I have heard, or read from anyone else, but is rather my response, as I consider the idea there may have been copying going on between three of the Gospel writers.
And why would I care what your non peer reviewed, non academic ideas might be about the subject? It's amusing to me for sure, but hardly credible in any way.
Realworldjack wrote: Sure! You can certainly "consider that copying has happened" but when you sit down to honestly consider this, it does not add up?

The first thing that I will point out to you is, your "scholars" are simply sharing their opinion, and if you will notice very carefully, when they tell you when they believe these things were written, they always use words like, "probably", meaning they cannot know.
Well no kidding. All history should be framed with "probably". I like how you quote the word scholars. It seems to indicate your disdain for subject matter experts. Maybe you should give them a chance? Many of them are Christians themselves.

Of course they cannot know with 100% certainty. Neither can you. Who's ideas should I listen to and take more seriously as I consider the topic? Disconnected scholars in the field on both sides of the debate or random internet posters on DC&R? Well my thought processes choose the first one.

I realize it's awfully inconvenient for your particular personal beliefs that some of these authors where very likely copying/modifying the earlier works of others, but as with most story telling this seems to be the case.

In other words, your suggestion that there are 'many' or 'multiple' witness accounts is not convincing in the least. In fact, even if the gospels were actually written independently with no copying (which seems highly unlikely), not a single one of them says who they are or claims to be a direct witness to the events. Only Paul is known and claims to have seen something. Those are the facts in evidence.

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Re: Is faith a reliable method for determining truth?

Post #380

Post by Realworldjack »

marco wrote:
Realworldjack wrote:

One thing we do know about Theophilus, is what his name would mean, which is, friend of God", and some even suggest it would mean, "lovers of God." So, how do we know this would be the meaning of this name? Well, that is because we have those who are desperate enough to suggest that the author would have been addressing a wider audience, and not simply one individual.
Let me reply to this suggestion, since I endorse the idea that Theophilus is used figuratively. The use of proper names to illustrate qualities is called antonomasia. "A Daniel come to judgment" is Shylock's use of the figure.

People in literature can be given names to suit their character. Theos is god and the suffix -phil is .. lover of. Phil can be used as a prefix, too, as in philanthropist: lover of people, or Philadelphia, brotherly love. In Dostoyevsky's novel Crime and Punishment the main character is Raskolnikov, whose name suggests breaking away, as "raskol" means just that in Russian. His friend Razumikhin is an intellectual and his name is built on "razum" meaning reason or intelligence.

So you may have "those who are desperate..." but you also have some who know perfectly well what they're talking about.


Let me reply to this suggestion, since I endorse the idea that Theophilus is used figuratively.
Okay? Since you claim to "endorse" this "idea", I will take it to mean that you think that we all should be under the impression that the author here had no intention of addressing one particular individual, but was rather using this name in order to address those who would have had the same, "qualities" as the meaning of the name, correct? If so, allow me to ask you a few questions concerning this "idea that you endorse"?

1. Do we know this to be a fact? In other words, do we have, facts and evidence which would demonstrate beyond any doubt that this author was using this name figuratively, and could not have been addressing one individual?

2. What would be the facts, and evidence involved which would indicate, this would have been the case?

3. What other examples which are contained in the Bible, which would do this very thing?

4. Do we have any examples in history of an author writing a letter, and addressing what would clearly seem to be one individual, when in fact, he clearly never intended this to be the case, but rather used a common name, in hopes the recipients would have understood the meaning of the name, and would have understood that this meaning would have included them no matter who they may have been, as long as they had the "qualities" to fit the meaning of the name?

5. Would the name Theophilus have been a common name at that time?

6. Why does it even matter who Theophilus would have been?

I could continue on with the questions, but it seems sort of strange how we should have to question many of the ways in which these letters contained in the NT would have been naturally written?

The reason we must do this is because those who are opposed clearly understand that if this author was indeed addressing one individual, then he cannot be accused of writing out this information in order to persuade the masses, since he clearly only seems to be concerned with one individual.

Moreover, we have very good evidence from the second letter that this author would have indeed traveled with Paul for decades on his missionary journeys, and this evidence comes to us as this author uses the words, "we", and "us" when describing the events of the journeys of Paul, and this author ends this second letter with Paul being under arrest for some 2 years.

Then of course, we have a letter in which the author identifies himself as the Apostle Paul, which is addressed to someone by the name of Timothy, which clearly seems to have been written while Paul would have been imprisoned, and in this letter, Paul tells Timothy, "only Luke is with me", which gives us clear evidence of who this author would have been, and also giving us an understanding that this author could have very well used the two years of Paul's imprisonment, to write these two letters to, Theophilus.

But no! We cannot read any of these things as they seem to be naturally written? Rather, we must assume, with no evidence whatsoever, that the author of the two letters to Theophilus, would have been using this common name to address a wider audience. Then, when we arrive to the passages in the second letter to Theophilus, which use the words, "we", and "us", we cannot assume this would be an indication that the author would have been present to witness the events, but rather would have been using another literary device. And of course, when we arrive to the letters of Paul, which would indicate very clearly that this author would, not only be present with Paul, but would have actually been, the only one with Paul, then we have to assume, that Paul was not the actual author of this letter, and it must, and had to be a pseudonym.

This is absolutely amazing. I mean, all this time we have been under the impression that we could read these letters the way in which they would have been naturally written, only to come to understand that these authors were writing in some sort of code, and, or, using fake identities?

So then, could it really be, that the author of the two letters to Theophilus, never intended his letters to be addressed to one individual, but was rather using some sort of code name, in order to address a wider audience? Is this really the way in which you would naturally read these letters?

Could it really be that when this author begins to use the words, "we", and "us", that he is not intending that it should be understood that he would have been present to witness the events himself? Would this be the way in which you would naturally read these sections?

Could it really be that, when we arrive to a letter in which the author clearly identifies himself as the "Apostle Paul", and it is abundantly clear this letter would have been written while Paul would have been imprisoned, and this author just so happens to mention, "only Luke is with me" that this letter would not have actually been written by Paul?

Seriously? Why are we asked to jump through all these hoops? Why is it that we cannot simply read these letters, just as they were written? Is it that the evidence points in this direction? Or, is it that, those opposed clearly understand how damaging a natural reading of these things would be, and are therefore forced to come up with some sort of alternative?

Because you see, if as the evidence suggests, that Luke would have indeed been the author of the two letters to Theohilus, and this Luke did indeed travel with Paul for decades of these painful journeys, as the evidence suggests, then it is very difficult to comprehend this author sitting down to write, not one, but two long and detailed letters to one individual, clearly claiming that it would have been out of concern for this one individual, and for this author to have written out what he would know to be, false information, as opposed to him using the name, Theophlius to address a wider audience. In other words, it becomes far more understandable for one to spread false information in order to sway the masses. It makes little sense for one to go to this sort of trouble in order to convince just one individual.

And of course, when we arrive to the "we", and "us" passages in the second letter, along with the other evidence that would demonstrate this author did indeed travel with Paul, those opposed understand that this would be damning to their case, because this would demonstrate clearly, that this author would have indeed been alive at the time of Jesus, and would have known the Apostles, along with the claims they were making from their own lips, which would clearly demonstrate that this author could very well have, "investigated everything from the beginning" as he assured Theophilus, that he had.

Then of course there is the letter of Paul, which lends evidence to this author traveling around with him on these journeys, but again, we cannot simply assume this author would have been Paul, but must assume that it would not have been Paul, when in fact there is very good evidence inside the letter, that it would have indeed been Paul.

Now, if anyone can look at all these things, and not come to the conclusion that, there may indeed be some sort of predigest, and, or bias involved, then I can only imagine this would have to be because this person has some sort of predigest, and, or bias themselves, because it does not demonstrate any sort of bias, to read the letters just as they are written, without insisting that we jump through all these hoops?

As we move on, the name Timothy means, "one who honors God". So then, are we to assume that this author who addressed this letter to, Timothy, would have been in order to address all those who would "honor God"? Or, would this only apply to the two letters addressed to, Theophilus?

Next, we do have letters in the NT, that would be addressed in a way as to address a group of people, which do not use common names, such as,

"Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours"

And then,

"Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen"

And then,

"To those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ"

The question of course here is, why would the author of the two letters to Theophilus, not address his audience by saying, "to all those who love God" instead of using a common name in hopes folks would understand that he was not addressing an individual, like these other examples would demonstrate?

Also this letter as well can be found in the NT, which begins by saying,

"The elder to the beloved Gaius"

Now, should we attempt to determine the meaning of this name, in order to understand who the audience may have been? Or, do we take it to be, one individual who is being addressed?

It should speak volumes to all, when there are those who insist that we jump through all sorts of hoops, in order to rightly understand these things, instead of allowing these things to be read, in exactly the way they were written.
"A Daniel come to judgment" is Shylock's use of the figure.
Okay, would this have been in a letter? In other words, was this name used in such a way in a letter, in order to address anyone with these qualities? Do we have any such examples of this in all of history where we can know a letter was addressed to a common name, when the author did not intend it to be addressed to one individual, but to a wider audience, who may posses the qualities in the meaning of the name? Or, would the two letters to Theophilus, be the only example of this type of thing?
People in literature can be given names to suit their character.
Correct! What, besides this, would be evidence to suggest that Theophilus would have not been an individual?
Theos is god and the suffix -phil is .. lover of. Phil can be used as a prefix, too, as in philanthropist: lover of people, or Philadelphia, brotherly love.
Right! So, we are jumping through hoops to come to this understanding. The question is, would Theophilus have been a common name at that time, and do we know of anyone bearing this name at that time?
In Dostoyevsky's novel Crime and Punishment the main character is Raskolnikov, whose name suggests breaking away, as "raskol" means just that in Russian. His friend Razumikhin is an intellectual and his name is built on "razum" meaning reason or intelligence.
Okay, so this would be in a novel. We have evidence this author was writing letters to this individual. What evidence do we have which would suggest this author was writing some sort of novel, and intended his writing to be fiction?
So you may have "those who are desperate..." but you also have some who know perfectly well what they're talking about.
Do we really? In other words, do we have someone "who knows what they are talking about" when it comes to literature? Or, do we have someone "who knows what they are talking about" when they seem to be insisting, that this was indeed the intention of the author of the two letters to Theophilus would have been?

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