Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Laziness, Inc.: Part 1

Some time back I had an article titled “The Clarity Complaint” in which the follow excerpt could be offered as thematic:

John W. "the Liar" Loftus admits in his tell-all biography that while a professing Christian, he had an adulterous affair. He also has complained that the Bible is not clear on certain points. Yet when I asked him on the forum what he found "unclear" about this commandment:
Thou shalt not commit adultery. ...he had no answer.

The typical whiny Skeptic who has problems with comprehension has plenty of excuses, though; let’s look at some of these over the days we do this series.

Even if you are right in pointing us to some context that interprets the Bible, the very fact that you have to do this shows that the Bible sometimes doesn't mean what it clearly says.

How moronic. The objection (“it doesn’t mean what it clearly says”) is little more than a reiteration of the original reading in which contexts were ignored, and it was imperialistically assumed the God should accommodate our unwillingness to do a little legwork. With those contexts, the Bible IS clear – to its original readers who knew the contexts.

This idea that God should have provided explanatory information to cover every possible misreading, every possible language, every possible cultural context, and every possible expression of ignorance, is simply childish refusal to accept a reasonable responsibility. God wants earnest disciples, not couch potatoes, and if the critic wants to be a couch potato – he has selected his own fate.

But why would I need such tools of context to read an inspired document?

Why is it assumed that a document being “inspired” means that it will accommodate the lazy, the stubborn, the ignorant, and the whiny? There is nothing about the semantic contexts of “inspired” – either in English or in Koine Greek – that indicates that inspiration does, or is obliged to, produce a message that is universally understandable in every language and culture, and in spite of ever effort to inform the text with one’s own agenda.

God has the power and knowledge to inspire such a text, so why didn’t He?

God also has the power and knowledge to serve you breakfast, change your TV channels, and wipe for you when you’re on the toilet. However, He has no obligation to do any of these things, and neither does He have the obligation to service the terminally dense and stubborn with their own personal Bible versions.

As I replied to John Loftus in a rebuttal to The Christian Delusion:

Loftus loftily proclaims that “communication is a two-way street,” [182] and he’s right. But what he does here is object that God failed to walk down the street 99% of the way to meet him on the last 1%. Each of the alleged “communication” deficiencies he cites are easily resolved with a few minutes of checking, as we shall see; or else they amount to people being stupid, foolish, or sinful. (We’ll see what he says about that response further on.) But Loftus would rather blame God for not saving him that walking distance, which is exactly what we might expect from someone who rationalizes away and refuses to answer for their own manifest sins. How does that work out with, Thou shalt not commit adultery? We can guess: He probably had some rationalization back then, too, of the Clintonesque “it depends what ‘is’ means” variety.

All “the Bible is not clear” amounts to is the critic saying, “I refuse to walk more than a few steps to achieve the proper understanding. God is obliged to do the rest. Why? Because I say so!”

You said that the ultimate “inerrant” copy of any message of God resides with God Himself in heaven (the Logos). How do you know this?

Gee, how do we know this? It’s sort of a logical step thing, you know? Once we assume God exists, once we assume God is omnipotent and perfect – two steps that are taken for granted at this level of the argument – it stands to reason that whatever messages God transmits are inerrant. The real question regarding inerrancy then becomes whether or to what extent any purported revelation (whether the Bible, the Quran, or Aunt Jenny’s prophecy down at the Assembly of God) reflects either God’s own statements – or the actual truth; for of course, a message need not be inspired by God to be without error. And we determine whether error exists in the same way we would decide if it exists in any other document or claim.

All these informing contexts are fine, but they are not evidence of biblical inerrancy.

Oops, missing a step there, aren’t we? The informing contexts are evidence showing that a claim of error is misguided. This in turn is evidence that particular charges raised against a claim of inerrancy are false. That in turn lends support to the doctrine of an inerrant whole, but no one has ever claimed (unless it is a backwards fundy, or a Skeptic who used to be one) that all by itself one such solution becomes “evidence of biblical inerrancy” as a whole.

Frankly, even if I were an atheist, I would be embarrassed by most of the claims made by Biblical “errantists” – and my replies to them would not change substantially.

I’ll continue this series next week sometime. In the meantime, be on the lookout for Skeptics who palm themselves off as competent critics.

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