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 polonius »

bluegreenearth wrote: 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?
RESPONSE: It fails repeatedly in this regard. In the first few chapters find that Jesus was born during the lifetime of King Herod the Great (died 4 BC) Matthew.

Or Jesus was born during the 6 AD Census of Judea conducted by the Romans.
Luke

The only rational explanation is that Mary had two sons named Jesus born ten years apart. ;)

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History or embelished history or fiction?

Post #332

Post by polonius »

The Gospels give us exquisite detail about his birth, including the journey of his parents and their circumstances, even detailing their efforts to find lodging. Tho' the chronology is confused, even visitors bringing gifts are mentioned by name. Then their flight to Egypt is chronicled.
Please note that both Matthew and Luke do not have Jesus born in a manger at a stable account. Both do not mention or name the three magi.

"Background of the Magi:

"Church tradition gives us most of what we associate with the Magi. Church tradition says that there were three of them, although the biblical account does not actually provide a number. Over the years, the tradition became increasingly embellished: Names were given to the Magi, they were viewed as Kings, etc. Supposed relics from the Magi emerged in the 4th century. These relics were transferred from Constantinople to Milan in the 5th century and were later transferred again to Cologne in 1162, where they are still enshrined."

"Most of church tradition regarding the Magi is regarded as wild speculation."

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Re: Is faith a reliable method for determining truth?

Post #333

Post by Realworldjack »

marco wrote:
Realworldjack wrote:


Now then, what evidence to we have as far as history is concerned, of these same sort of problems with what was recorded in these personal letters, written to audiences at the time?
Do you suppose that had there been any negatives they would have survived the Church spring cleaning? We killed heretics in the past.

We have stories of a resurrection. We have a choice of whether to believe or not. We have stories of alien abductions. We have a choice of whether to believe or not. You are curiously impressed by the fact that claimants wrote to each other with total acceptance of their stories. That's because they believed them. They were wrong.


Faith steps in where rational deduction goes home disgusted. Faith certainly moves people, if not mountains, and it sometimes moves them to kill other people. I don't think faith should ever gain victory over reason. And in the debate about Christ rising, reason, not faith, should win.

Do you suppose that had there been any negatives they would have survived the Church spring cleaning? We killed heretics in the past.
Do you have any sort of evidence that there would have been any such turmoil as we see with the witnesses of the "golden plates"? Is there any sort of evidence that there may have been any sort of "spring cleaning" performed by the Church, other than the "killing of heretics" that we know about? If not, then the question continues to stand.
realworldjack wrote:Now then, what evidence do we have as far as history is concerned, of these same sort of problems with what was recorded in these personal letters, written to audiences at the time?
We have stories of a resurrection. We have a choice of whether to believe or not. We have stories of alien abductions. We have a choice of whether to believe or not.
Well, some of us may have a "choice"? However, I do not choose what I happen to believe. Rather, I tend to examine the facts, and evidence involved, and in the end, I really have no "choice". I would sometimes rather choose to believe something else, but I rather allow the facts, and evidence choose what it is I believe.
You are curiously impressed by the fact that claimants wrote to each other with total acceptance of their stories.
Well no! What it is I attempt to do is to, determine what all would have to be involved in order for the reports to be true, as opposed to what all would have to be involved in order for the reports to be false.

In other words, I do not simply assume the reports must, and have to be true, but I also do not simply assume the reports must, and have to be false, simply because I deemed them to be, fantastic. I tend to think a little more deeply than this.
That's because they believed them. They were wrong.
Well again, what they may have believed, has no bearing upon what I happened to believe, because I do not take into consideration what "they" may have happened to believe.

However, the more important thing here is the fact that you make the claim, "they were wrong", as if it were a known fact, and I was wondering how you may be able to prove such a thing?
Faith steps in where rational deduction goes home disgusted.
My friend, we continue to have this discussion, over, and over! First, unless you can prove, "they were wrong", and, or, at least have some sort of facts, and evidence to back up your claim which is made as if it were a fact, then you are simply demonstrating "faith" yourself.

Next, what I believe concerning these things is not based upon an ounce of "faith", but rather upon the facts, and evidence involved.
Faith certainly moves people, if not mountains, and it sometimes moves them to kill other people.
Exactly! Which is why it is best not to operate simply upon "faith".
I don't think faith should ever gain victory over reason. And in the debate about Christ rising, reason, not faith, should win.
We have no disagreement here in the least!

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Re: Is faith a reliable method for determining truth?

Post #334

Post by Realworldjack »

brunumb wrote: [Replying to post 308 by Realworldjack]
In fact, let us read what Paul seems to have gained from "becoming the head of this new religion", from his own pen.
The creator of Scientology invented an amazing life history for himself (check out the book Bare Faced Messiah). We have the advantage of being able to examine his past through available records. I take Paul's self-attributed trials and tribulations with a grain of salt.

The creator of Scientology invented an amazing life history for himself (check out the book Bare Faced Messiah). We have the advantage of being able to examine his past through available records.
Why there are folks who continue to want to make such comparisons is beyond me, since one would have nothing whatsoever to do with the other? The question is, "what did Paul gain, or have to gain"?
I take Paul's self-attributed trials and tribulations with a grain of salt.
Opinion noted.

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Re: Is faith a reliable method for determining truth?

Post #335

Post by Danmark »

Realworldjack wrote: Why there are folks who continue to want to make such comparisons is beyond me, since one would have nothing whatsoever to do with the other? The question is, "what did Paul gain, or have to gain"?
1st, the comparison is obvious. Both men created religions.
2d, To gain power, prestige, influence, fame, support of a growing community.

But it presents a false question to imply there is only a single motive or that such people are purely logical.

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Re: Is faith a reliable method for determining truth?

Post #336

Post by marco »

Realworldjack wrote:
Is there any sort of evidence that there may have been any sort of "spring cleaning" performed by the Church, other than the "killing of heretics" that we know about? If not, then the question continues to stand.
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.

We have stories of a resurrection. We have a choice of whether to believe or not. We have stories of alien abductions. We have a choice of whether to believe or not.
Realworldjack wrote:
Well, some of us may have a "choice"? However, I do not choose what I happen to believe. Rather, I tend to examine the facts, and evidence involved, and in the end, I really have no "choice". I would sometimes rather choose to believe something else, but I rather allow the facts, and evidence choose what it is I believe.
Hearing that someone has been deprived of choice is always sad. People do get coerced into believing things but where we can we should exercise rational choice. That means we reject claims that say a corpse wandered about. Remember, some human beings, from a less advanced age, said this was so. Your choice is: do you believe them?
Realworldjack wrote:
In other words, I do not simply assume the reports must, and have to be true, but I also do not simply assume the reports must, and have to be false, simply because I deemed them to be, fantastic. I tend to think a little more deeply than this.
I don't doubt you are a deep thinker, as you say, and in thinking deeply about a corpse shuffling around you have decided that this is what must have happened. You reject deception because human beings, being what they are, would have spilled the beans of deceit somewhere. Of course they might have done and got their heads cut off but that is outrageous surmise. Better the rational idea that the corpse tells an angel where it is heading and the angel informs the visitors to the tomb.



That's because they believed them. They were wrong.
Realworldjack wrote:
However, the more important thing here is the fact that you make the claim, "they were wrong", as if it were a known fact, and I was wondering how you may be able to prove such a thing?
I wonder if you have ever tackled any Euclidean proofs. They are based on axioms that apply to geometry of the plane. They work. My axiom is that corpses do not wake up and walk. It is an axiom as good as any of Euclid's. To overrule this axiom, you would have to give reasons for that extraordinary decision. "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. 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. In any event, I had a choice and I obeyed the working axiom. So I can confidently say: Those that thought Jesus rose from the dead were wrong.

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Re: Is faith a reliable method for determining truth?

Post #337

Post by marco »

Danmark wrote:

But it presents a false question to imply there is only a single motive or that such people are purely logical.
One would, sadly, have to examine the mental state of Paul, if that were possible after all these years. We hear that he was heading to Damascus and what he thought was a deity screamed at him, from the sky of course, causing him to fall and maybe lose consciousness during which state he apparently was questioned as to his reasons for going to Damascus, by the deity. Overcome with fear, he decided to join the group that backed his divine assailant.


If someone today offered this as an explanation I think we would feel sorry for them and perhaps have them placed in medical care. We would not accept what was said. It is hard to say why 2000 years changes this state of affairs: we don't accept it now, but we might accept it happened in a world where gods were all over the place.

Paul, having regained his sanity, does write well, with the obvious belief he is disseminating divine guidance. If faith can move mountains, it can easily allow folk to believe what Paul says.

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Re: Is faith a reliable method for determining truth?

Post #338

Post by Danmark »

[Replying to post 334 by marco]
Thanks! That's a good summary of Saul/Paul's experience, putting it in a modern perspective. We can do the same with other religious traditions, inventions/visions. What comes to mind is a discussion of the religious mood in 19th Century America, detailed in Early Mormonism and the Magic World View by D. Michael Quinn.

The early 19th Century America is representative of other times and places in the history of man where religious fervor and magical belief systems were accepted as standard reality. These have been fertile fields for the birth of religions based on a fantastic foundation.

I suspect L. Ron Hubbard is more likely to fall on the charlatan side of the continuum than either 'Paul' or Joseph Smith, the latter being somewhere between the two. One may just as easily ask RWJ's question of Smith as of 'Paul;' "What did he have to gain?"

This is reminiscent of the phony 'trilemma' posed by C.S. Lewis about Jesus being either 'Lord, Lunatic, or Liar.' The choice is not so simple. Histories of genius and madness being closely related are common.

My own thought is based on a sympathetic view of Jesus the man. As I mentioned before, I still love the Jesus I came to know as a youth. I prefer to think the more outrageous claims attributed to him come from others, like Paul, 'John' and other early church writers. Much of this thinking is reinforced by the masterful account by Thomas Sheehan, available for free:
https://infidels.org/library/modern/tho ... rstcoming/

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Re: Is faith a reliable method for determining truth?

Post #339

Post by benchwarmer »

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".

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Re: Is faith a reliable method for determining truth?

Post #340

Post by marco »

Danmark wrote:


My own thought is based on a sympathetic view of Jesus the man. As I mentioned before, I still love the Jesus I came to know as a youth. I prefer to think the more outrageous claims attributed to him come from others, like Paul, 'John' and other early church writers.
I was also in love with this mystical philanthropist who waited with a pierced heart for me in empty churches and in cold December was transformed into an innocent baby. His portrayal as the suffering victim on the cross, with the wise and incomprehensible adult words: "He died for you and your sins" is irresistible to childhood.

But he is the product of a billion hands and his immortality owes as much to Renaissance art as to John's definition that he was the "logos". In art we can focus on a bearded, handsome individual and I'm sure that most people, who contemplate Christ, see him as Hollywood saw him. Is it any wonder, then, that early writers, in the first dawn of admiration, painted him in exaggerated colours - particularly the hysterical Matthew. We fell in love with a phantom. I think Ingrid Bergman had the same effect on cinema goers.

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