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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Formative, Normative, and Cultural Doctrines

In the introduction of my book, The Homemade Atheist, I asked, "Why are there so many different doctrines on the same subject from the same book? It has been an enigma to me for years that if God exists and is perfect, and if he indeed has a standard by which all should live, why doesn't everyone understand the truth he apparently meant to convey in the same way?

Wide variations in belief exist in all religious systems partly because of three main methods of scripture interpretations: (1) formative; (2) normative; (3) cultural.
  • The Formative Method, according to some Biblical scholars, includes glossalalia which was not intended to be used throughout the life of the church. Speaking in tongues is only addressed at any length in the Book of Acts (where actual languages seem to have been spoken somewhere on earth to establish the legitimacy of the church) and the first epistle to the Corinthians where "unknown" languages were spoken and interpretation had to be given. These "spiritual gifts" might have been given because there was yet no New Testament. The Formative Method is also sometimes used to explain the deaths of Ananias and Saphira after they lied to the Holy Spirit in the person of Peter. Their deaths, also, may have been recorded to give the new religion God's sanction. And even though lying still goes on in the church worldwide (no pun intended), I don't see wholesale death occuring in "holy" sanctuaries today because of deceit and lying.
  • The Normative Method of interpretation establishes an unchangeable standard or pattern for believers everywhere and at all times. Examples in this case would be proper Christian conduct (especially for women) at home and in communal worship, prophesying and preaching (which many believe are quite different), and the Lord's Supper. (References: 1 Corinthians 11 and Galations 3.)
  • The Cultural Method is used by denominations claiming that the entire Bible was influenced by cultural conditions at the time of its writing such as length of hair for both sexes. And especially concerning women, since females today are most often as educated as males are, it is, therefore, so say some scholars, appropriate now for women to teach, pray, and preach in worship assemblies. But this argument from cultural bias could be used to dismiss anything in the Bible if it does not suit someone's sensibilities in the modern world.

I am not lobbying for either the formative, normative, or cultural methods of interpreting scripture. To me, the real question is whether the Bible is the inerrant Word of God and how one can tell. As I read it, there are many unfulfilled prophecies, scientific inaccuracies including the mention of mythical beasts and the belief that the earth has corners and is flat in this revered work. And a perfect God is its author?


Ralph said...

Again, if you weigh out these processes in terms of the three methiods listed, they are all eliminated by Paul's statements in Romans chapter 8 and 9.

The question, broken down to its simplest definition, is one of legitimacy: where is the legitimate or true church, and would we know?

Paul's answer; we can't. There is no way of knowing. The reasons are stated directly in Romans 8:29-30. Any decisions resulting from any process of human de cision-making, therefore, will, at best be a mere imitation.

That is also the summation of Jesus' statement in Matthew 24:23.

If, at any point in history, someone can define which is the legitimate, true church, then the entire process could be reduced to a decison procedure that is subject to mechanical systems, and therefore equally subject to programming within a computer, thus making the process, according to Alan Turing, universal.

Unfortunately, both Turing and Godel demonstrated that while such computing processes exist universally across all levels of existence, none of them will ever be able to arrive at a complete, consistent understanding of truth.

We are left, therefore, with one inevitable conclusion: you can't get 'there' from "here".

Even if we assume that the bible is the inerrant word of God, we are left with the conclusions reached by both Paul and Jesus that there exists no decision procedure, especially the three you list, that would accurately represent "God" or truth in any complete, consistent fashion.

As to speaking in tongues, paul himself pointed out that withiout an interpreter, the practice served no edifying purpose.

This goes along with discoveries regarding computer programming. If any system of thought can be translated into language, it is subject to algorithms, and it is then subject to computers. But if subject to computers, then it is certainly subject to human thought processes.

Speaking in tongues, unless translatable, thereof, would have no "edifying" purpose, religiously or scientifically. However, meaningful to the individual, it would be jibberish to everyone else.

If the bible is God's word, therefowe, it would have to conform to what we are learning about language and human organizations, and both Paul and Jesus seem to have stated that fact in Romans 8 and 9 and Matthew 24.

Corky said...

How can one tell if the Bible is the inerrant word of God?

"And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died."

During the lifetime of Adam:

"And Zillah, she also bare Tubalcain, an instructer of every artificer in brass and iron: and the sister of Tubalcain was Naamah."

What happened to the thousands of years of the stone ages?

Since Eve was "the mother of all living" - she had to be the first woman to have ever lived and she lived during the early iron age.

Again, what happened to the stone ages?

I know what happened to the stone ages. The inerrant word of God didn't know about the stone ages.

At the time the Bible was written, the stone ages had been forgotten. Their own ancestors and Neanderthal had been forgotten. Far be it from God and his inerrant word to remind them of those things.

When modern, educated people believe Adam lived 930 years and wasn't even created until the late bronze age I don't know if I should scream or puke.

Ralph said...

Precisely why Jesus warned against such nonsense. I got you no matter how you bitch, Corky.

OPbviously the story of Cain and Abel couldn't have been literal, since the ahge of agriculture and shepherds were quite a few generations apart.

That's whyt Jesus was so put out with the religious leaders of his day, who created methods by which the Pharisees and other self professed representatives could rule over the average person.

Byker Bob said...

I believe we would be doing ourselves a tremendous disservice if we narrowcast this to one category. Formative, normative, and cultural are all involved. Why would we need to pick one?

Betty, what you've written up in the formative category is expressed in much the same way as is stated in a comprehensive Christian Handbook that I've been reading recently.

Diversity in Christian beliefs prove that our faith is based on a sincere desire to have a personal relationship with Father God. While none of us is perfect or has it 100% right, a sincere Christian is going to be doing things not to manipulate God, but to please Him. We're all individuals, and have as part of our individual spiritual footprint, specific ways of expressing our worship and awe of our Heavenly Father. To cite a few examples, some of us might be ascetics, others might be Calamity Jane types that God is always needing to rescue, and of course there will be numerous of the classic "Doubting Thomasses". There is great freedom within the basic framework which God has given us, because sincerity can only be guaged by the things which we do willingly.


Ralph said...

A lot of great freedom. 38,000 versions, and Jesus said beware of false Christs. Hmmmm

So, we must all believe on Christ, but once we do, we can believe most anything as long as we're sincere? Hmmmm

What about that Matthew 7:21-24?

At what point would you define the line between "truth" and "blasphemy"? Of course you don't have to judge. God does the judging, but if he does the judging, and all you have to say is "I chose Christ", I wonder about those really nice people who didn;t choose Christ, but were still pretty good?

Or, how about those that claimed to choose Christ, but used it for social reasons? Of course God would know the difference, wouldn't he?

But if he did know the difference, it might just be possible that he knew the difference from the very beginning, and simply made things easy by choosing in advance and working with those whom he chose.

Sounds a whole lot simpler to me than this idea that we have to do something we can't really define or prove, but we have to do it because we don't want to go to hell.

Seems a lot simpler if we just take it the way Paul presented it, and let it go at that.

Betty Brogaard said...

Thanks, BB. I appreciate your non-hostile comments.

Of course, however,I don't agree with you that diversity in Christian beliefs proves that faith is based on a sincere desire to have a personal relationship with God. As I've said many times in both my books and here on the blog, faith is only a synonym for strong hope.

You mention the "basic framework which God has given us." What, in your opinion, is that framework? Are you saying that we have the freedom to decide the "truth" that appeals to and works for us individually as long as we believe there is a God? As we have already established, beliefs differ drastically between sincere believers.

So, again, I ask, "Does not God have a standard of even behavior?" Perhaps you're saying that as long as someone believes in God, the way he or she lives out their lives according to the "truth" they have opted for doesn't matter. I think of all the misguided parents who beat their children and refuse medical care for them because they believe this is what God says they should do in an ancient, humanly generated book. Such activities break my heart.

Ralph said...

BB, your answer regarding the diversity of beliefs coming from our sincere desire to please God.

What must be realized is that the diversity generated follows logically from Romans 8:7. No matter how sincer or how well intentioned, it should be remembered that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

The more people ignore definitions of truth in thei efforts to willingly serve God, the more thay are suject to manipulation by those who strand to gain by their willing ignorace of truth.

If it only matters that we believe, but doesn't really matter what is believed, then the stage is set for a homogenous system of world government in which human beings are subject to majority rule, and who can prove the majority wrong if truth is only about "accepting Christ"?

It is this generation of diversity and disagreement that protects us from such willing acceptance. It is actually the absence of a standard of obedience that forces us to seek truth in our belief systems.

Do all sincere desires to worship Jesus represent truth? Not if Matthew 7:21-24 is correct, or if Matt 24:23 is correct.

Yet the constant attempt to pin truth down, to narrow it to that "straight and narrow" path that few enter is actually an impossibility. It canot ever be done, either in a mathematical/logical sense, or in a biblical sense.

If, as Betty suggests in her question, God offers a standard of behavior, that very standard of itself would require a human priesthood, a leadership whose word and nature could not ever be questioned, and we would be in servitude to that system until we die.

But we tried that with HWA. Millions try it with the Pope. Others have some other leader to which they are dedicated.

The basic truth that emerges, once all the rules and dogma are eliminated is this: Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.

And, if you choose to believe in no God, then love your neighbor as yourself, because we see bibically that if you say you love God and hate your neighbor, you are a liar.

Even that seems impossible in a world where we're ready to make a buck off everybiody who trusts too much, who is willing to give the benefit of a doubt, but it's really the only treuth worth pursuing, God or no God.

If there exists no decision procedure to have a special relation with God over anyone else, then it stands to reason there is no decision procedure in the form of government that can in any way substitute its own truth in place of the truth we must find as individuals.

Betty Brogaard said...

Ralph, you made some good observations in your last commnt addressed to BB.

I do not, however, agree that the basic truth that emerges is love God and love your neighbor as yourself. I don't think that's possible. I can care about my neighbor and help him/her as much as possible because I care for humanity as a whole.

My personal "standard" of conduct and dealings with others is the axiom found in just about every religion and philosophy stated in different ways: Do not do to others what you do not wish done to you (as much as possible).

Anonymous said...

Betty, that axiom is known amongst secular humanists as the "ethics of reciprocity", and it is pretty clear that they have evolved, albeit imperfectly, as a result of the early hominids gathering into tribes and small communities.

I say it has evolved imperfectly, because I am sure we can all state instances of those we have known in our lives, who do not function under the aegis of this adaptation at all; are these people, as Neo asserts, "without religion"? Hardly! Some of the most fervent believers I have encountered, do not have this adaptation, nor do they understand why it is a bad thing that they lack it.

As with everything, they fall back on their religious beliefs, as an excuse for why they are so cruel, and inhumane, towards those who do not "measure up" to their standards.

(Please note, I am speaking of people I have encountered IRL, off the Internet, not any of my fellow ex-members I have been engaging on the Internet over the last couple of years.)

Betty Brogaard said...

Thanks, Purple Hymnal. And, yes, variations of the so-called Golden Rule in religion and philosophy have definitely "evolved" over millennia because most people have found that treating others decently is the best and safest way to live. Of course, not any of us get it exactly right nor always "reap rewards" for trying.

Ralph said...

Yes, the idea of recirpocal altruism developed, and can be explained purely within biological concepts.

And, whether you believe in God or not really isn't going to add to the concept.

I read a book by Robert Arrey a number of years ago. Ardrey helped in the idea of Sociobiology, by writing "The Territorial Imperative", and the later book "The Social Contract" was an exploration of reasons why some herd animals actually do practice sacrifice.

For example, Ardrey brings out the example of the Thompson's Gazelle in Africa. When the herd is threatend by a predator such as a lion, if one gazelle sees its, that gazelle will begin jumping up and down in a stifflegged fashion known as stotting.

It warns the other gazelles to get ready to run, but the very action of the jumping gazelle opens it to attack by the lion, as it stays in one place and continues its warning dance.

OTOH, sociobiology tells of types of wasps that burrow holes in the ground and form a kind of colony, but one may steal a burrow from one wasp while it is gone foraging for food and drive it away when it returns. That same wasp, cheatd of the heritage it worked for, may do the same thing to another wasp.

Selfishness and competition.

Ardrey also writes of the stickleback fish who practices a type of homosexuality. A male prepares a home and breeding place for a female, and once ready, begins a mating ritual dance to let passing females know it is in the mood. Another male passes by, responds in the language of a female, acts as a female would, and when the male goes off the find food and feed its new "bride", the male in waiting begins his mating dance and attracts a real female.

When the original male returns, it is driven away by the pretender, who has hs onw wife ready to provide children for the home.

Cheating, stealing, homosexuality, deceptin in many forms, passed right up the line to humans.

Unfortunately, as create organizations that represent our highest standards, we still have those same cheating tendencies programmed into us from lower levels.

Ralph said...

I like the intro regarding Betty's book, above. That's very good, whoever wrote it.

Regarding doctrines, Purple asked me in another discussion iof there's the possibility that my own beliefs are wrong. I must respond unequivocally, "NO".

The reason being that in presenting my arguments, I have stated that there exists no "truth system" such that it can represent God or truth in any absolute sense, which is consistent with Godel's theorem.

Two statements in this regatrd is made by Purple, with which I agree:
1."You can't get 'there' from 'here'
2.There is no "there", there.

How can I believe in God if I agree with that?

First, to conclude there is no "there", there, you must conclude that there exists a "here" from which we can picture a "there". If it ain't "there", it must be "here".

This is merely a form of argument consistent with Aristotle. A is always A. It cannot exist as A and non-A at the same time and under the same circumstances. Existence exists. It cannot both exist and not exist at the same time under the same conditions.

So, if there is no "there", there. We must conclude that there can exist no "there" which is inconsistent with what we know as "here".

Whatever conclusions you make about truth, or whatever decisions you make about God as truth, those conclusions must be consistent with what we can prove from "here".

If God exists as truth, "he" must exist as a continuation of "here". IOW, there can be no "break' from one existence to the other, since all that exists can only exist in complete and consistent form.

Whether you believe in the existence of a God or not, if you pursue truth, you must conclude that God is consistent with that truth should "he" exist.

But the existence of God is not dependent on the existence of truth, any more than the existence of truth is dependent on the existence of God. There is no evidence of such contingency. If anything exists "out there", it must be consistent with what exists "in here".

Unfortunately, what we cannot understand "out there", in "all possible worlds" approaches infinity. Our control over "here" is quite limited and incomplete.

It is logically and mathematically possible for a reality to exist which we cannot prove, but that merely verifies Romans 8:7 and Matthew 24:23.

Byker Bob said...


Sorry to take so long in responding. We've been having some really nice weather here, lately, so, I've been getting some good work done on my little '57 Ford, and refurbishing my pool.

I was one of those victims of the misguided childrearing
"principles" that you mentioned. I realized what this was doing to me, and obtained counselling and therapy about 25 years ago.

My framework, or beliefs run along the lines of traditional, mainstream Christianity, as came out of the Protestant Reformation, which formed the basis for the founding of our nation.

I believe that the Old Testament, or Old Covenant, gives us a sense of Jesus' family tree, and the behavior of mankind leading to a need for Jesus. I believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, who came to earth to live as a man, perfectly, and to die for us to pay our sin debt. I believe that the New Covenant is written "not according to the old,"
Jesus having fulfilled all of the rituals and legalism pointing towards Him. By accepting Jesus Christ as, Savior, Lord and Master, one's name is written in the Book of Life. Christians then "abide in Christ", or "live in the Spirit", our hearts and minds refined and transformed over the duration of our physical lifetime. The analogy of the vine, fruit, branches, and pruning is used because good fruits are produced through Christ in us. Just as a vine cannot decide to produce fruit, neither can we, so all the glory goes to Father God and to Jesus Christ and we cannot brag or consider ourselves to be better than others. The fruit comes from the nutrients provided by God, and is a natural by-product of our personal relationship with Him.

I've discussed this topic with some people who still practice most of the legalism from classic WCG doctrine, and they believe that because I don't go by their carefully picked and chosen elements of the Old Covenant, that I am "antinomian". But, the laws written into a Christian's heart are the expanded and fulfilled principles which Jesus taught in His "sermon on the mount", and throughout His ministry. They were the principles behind God's original relationship with Adam and Eve, the basis of God's covenants with Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the reason behind the law given to Moses, and God's relationship with all of the people through whom He worked in the Old Testament.

I could go deeper, but it's all relatively simple. It's all based on forming and maintaining loving relationships with Father God, and all of His children.

I know that Christianity appears to have so many internal differences, especially to those of us who came into Armstrongism partially because HWA taught us that "all these churches can't be right", and then proposed his own church as the total solution for us, and encouraged us to consider all of the supposed dissention within Christianity. However, the basic, important tenets of Bible-based Christianity are amazingly similar, unless one has been programmed to exacerbate the differences to support a particular agenda.

What I've found is that, amazingly, Christianity works for me in my life. I never really felt that Armstrongism did, and agnosticism eventually left me unfulfilled, and looking for a greater concept. I've spent the past ten years considering many viewpoints, reviewing a wide variety of materials, and trying to finally get resolution to the many questions which I had. Seven of those ten years, I was examining all of this from an agnostic's or skeptic's point of view, but about three years ago, I reached some totally unexpected conclusions, and life totally changed. I have to say that the change which took place in my life was one that I had been hostile towards. It is something which I never would have chosen for myself, but I'm awfully thankful that my heart got softened up, and that I am where I am today.

Hope that helps.


Anonymous said...

"Regarding doctrines, Purple asked me in another discussion iof there's the possibility that my own beliefs are wrong. I must respond unequivocally, "NO"."

Thanks, Ralph, that really does help me understand where you're coming from. I certainly don't feel that way about my own "beliefs", insomuch as I even have any "beliefs" to begin with. I guess that is what is what ultimately separates the two of us, for better or for worse.

That fact does not separate either one of us, from the human race as a whole, however. We are both on this earth, in the here and now, for but a very short time. I say we make the best of it that we can, and make it the best for others that we can, while we are here! Regardless of what you think/believe/feel may come "after".

Can we agree on that, at least, Ralph?

Anonymous said...

"What I've found is that, amazingly, Christianity works for me in my life."

Good for you, Bob. Where you seem to be missing the boat is, what is working for you, in your life, may not work (Or even work the best!) in the lives of others. I have met many many many many non-Christian believers in my time out of the church; I can tell you that they, by and large, are little different from the Christians I have met, with the exception that they never seem to demand that others bow to their worldview as being any kind of "ultimate truth", as you persist in believing that Christianity is, for everyone else.

That, to my mind, is a last gasp of the old Armstrongite programming in you, Bob; I have known Christians online (none in person), who certainly do not agree with this, and do respect the religions and beliefs of others.

Which, in my opinion, is the ONLY "fruit of the spirit" that seems truly compassionate, and exemplary of the ethics of reciprocity/golden rule, than any other allegedly "Christian" act.

That's where I'm coming from, at least. I'm sorry if you find that unacceptable, and I'm sorry you continue to persist in the mistaken assumption that I am somehow inferior, because I am not now, never have been, and never will be, Christian.

Would you insinuate the same thing, I wonder, in a face-to-face conversation, with a Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, or Jew? I would not recommend it....Or would you even speak of religious matters, to someone you knew to be of another religion, than your own? "Let the dead bury the dead", like that, Bob? I seem to remember that from somewhere, can't quite recall where....

Ralph said...

Unfortunately BB takes a wide swath which says nothing at all, general statements that will never prove anything.

Christianity actually does have many internal differences, so much so that they can't unite under any one idea of truth. The reason being, of course, explained in both Romans 8:7 and Godel's theorem.

BB, it's fine that you believe as you do and it makes you feel good, but the simple fact is, you're wrong.

If one petrson could develp a relationship with Christ, that relationship could be demonstrated in some form other than basic human reason. The fact is, biblically, logically, and mathematically, it cannot. The choice doesn't exist.

Whatever you do choose or believe is merely what you choose or believe. That won't necessarily harm you in the end result of things, but it's basically one of those ideas of "whatever turns you on".

For all your wide sweeping generalities of christianity, you have shown noting that would demonstrate the flaw in Paul's basic statements of Romans 8 and 9.

Until you could do that and prove conclusively why it cancels the logic of Paul's statements, I'm afraid you got nothing other than the fact that you feel good aboput what you're doing. And that's fine, but it ain't truth.

Ralph said...

Purple, what I think/feel/believe comes "after" is irrelevant. There is no proof of it one way or another. Anything that anyone may say regarding such beliefs is simply beyond proof.

If I believe in God, I do so only because what I see logically conforms to the evidence I see around me.

If two people who claim to represent God pointed out 2000 years ago that there exists no decision procedure to get to God, and that there is no reason to follow any person who claims to be Christ, or God, or messiah, or any actual representative of absolute truth, then that is consistent with the physical evidence, and I have no reason not to believe it.

Of course Corky and a number of others, probably including BB, will point to OT teachings as "proof" of whichever point of view they should take.

The point, however, is that Paul himself went to great lengths to show that the nation of Israel really had nothing to do with the promise made to Abraham. Two separate contexts, made according to two separate premises. One by contract, the other by promise.

If the promise takews precedence over the contract at Sinai, and Paul says it does, then there's nothing anybody can do to alter it. It either will come to pass or it won't.

Since there is nothing we can do to alter than promise, in spite of all that BB says to the contrary, there is nothing whatever that we need to do in order to gain a special advantage, since we can't do it anyway.

Ultimately, if you look for truth, you must arrive at some premise that is not dependent on your proclivities or anyone else's. The truth must be the truth regardless of human opinion, logic, or arguments to prove otherwise.

If there is a God who is doing something on this earth, I obviously have no way of knowing or proving what it is, so there is nothing to be gained in the effort, since I might be doing more damage than good, and Hoffer suggests that in "The True Believer".

All I can be is what I am, nothing more, and nothing less. But in the meantime, I can be free from all proposed human authority systems.

The Painful Truth said...


Here is one for you. How does God fit into an alternative universe scenario?

Would God (think Jesus on this one) be the same in a parallel universe?

What if you were a murdering bastard in one universe and a Christian in the other?

Allen C. Dexter said...

This parallel universe thing boggles my mind. There is no way, as I see it, that a duplicate of me could exist in another universe.
So many alternative things would have taken place in the millions of years involved that nothing would be replicated from one universe to the other.

A human race might not have developed in another universe. It could be inhabited by some other type of primate, maybe civilized, maybe not. Or, their might not be civilized, advanced creatures of any kind.

I suspect life is rather pervasive througout this universe and any universe that might be parallel to it. Intelligent, technically advanced life is probably rather rare.

It could very well be true that no other technically advanced form of life exists anywhere else in this galaxy. All kinds of things could have wiped us out before we ever got to anything approximating civilization. We came to a bottleneck that was almost an extinction about 70 milleniums ago. I would assume the same would be true of any parallel universe.

Anonymous said...

"Would God (think Jesus on this one) be the same in a parallel universe?"

Our "Eternal Most High Lord of Hosts" was absolutely different, from the multitudes of gods and goddesses that are worshipped, in this universe. Especially different from the Christian gods, with their peculiar "three-in-one-one-in-three-isn't-it-a-mystery"-ness.

"This parallel universe thing boggles my mind. There is no way, as I see it, that a duplicate of me could exist in another universe."

But apparently, if the changes were any indication, we can, through enough psychological/emotional stress, be moved into another universe.

OK, that's one of my more crackpot personal allegories, I admit....As for ET, I certainly hope the case for extra-terrestrial life is a solid one, as I imagine humans would not be quite so inward-looking, nor quite as focused on Earth-based religions, anymore.

Then again, the team would probably be made up of primarily Dominionist Americans, who would try to convert their way across the face of any new planet they conquered, just like their forefathers did centuries before, in the Americas....

Ralph said...

PT, you start this thig off with the general question of "What if?"

This is a variation of a syllogism that begins with "If...then". Assuming there exists parallel universes, and rules of reality apply, what rules would apply "in all possible worlds"?

First, we are arguing something similar to parallel universes when we argue an "afterlife".

Here I present the philosophical conclusion: if truth is consistent with all truth, then there can exist no reality inconsistent with this reality, not as we humanly define it, but as it exists metaphysically.

If you exist within this reality of complete and consistent truth, is there another reality in which you can exist?

The answer would be no, since any reality not connected to this reality would have to be inconsistent with this reality.

The argument of Many Worlds Theory, generally, is that if you make a decision in this reality, that doesn't collapse the wave function, but actually splits into another universe with another you.

In all these infinite scenarios, with infinite possibilities, including universes where you don't exist and never will, can God exist as a complete, consistent entity who is all knowing in just one of those universes?

The answer would have to be no, since the unity of that knowledge would make unnecessary any other parallel universe. Whatever you decide have specific consequences, Schroedinger's wave function collapses into one reality, and that's the end of it.

I suppose we can explore it from quantum physics and the double slit experiment etc., but that is part of the nature of Godel's theorem. If you follow any mathematic string far enough, you must end with an infinity of undecideable propositions, which must then be reconciled into a more consistent system, as in Kuhn's description of "The Structure of Scientific revolutions".

Which leads us back to the simple biblical truth. You live, and you die, and the penalty, the full punishment for all your mistakes, is death, and that's it.

We can claim an infinity of alternate realities, and say "my experience cancels your experience" etc., but at some point, all our experiences are cancelled in death.

It is appointed to men once to die, and after that, judgement.

Reality cannot exist in contradiction to itself. Whatever existence we experience "here" weill always be "here". If it's "there", we must show som process by which realit can divide itself into that which is inconsistent with itself.

Ralph said...

I actually spend a lot of time in other groups discussing this stuff. I just saw another thread on that asked if Jesus was have sacrificed himself on other planets.

The answer, assuming there are other planets with different cultures, is whether or not they developed concepts of law and order in the same sense as we did.

Did whole societies form around single unifying concepts, giving way to god-kings that ruled over subjects with unquestioning authority?

In or own evolution, we had the god-kings that sprang up around territories and developed forms of government that allowed them to expand over other territories.

However, two religions, Judaism and Islam, developed from nomadic cultures that really had no valuable territories that allowed for growth and development.

It is likely that the harshness of YHVH in their cultures developed as a result of scarcity and the need of a fierce God that would force them obey in whatever circumstance they found themselves, as their tendency would be to get the hell out as soon as possible.

Due to the harshness of their desert environment, it seems likely that their culture would evolve around a God who enforced identity within their culture, so that they would not forget, wherever they found themselves.

Their story of wandering forety years in the desert supports this idea, being "born" in a desert test tube or petri dish that forced them to "hardwire" laws so that they would never forget in any environment.

Unlike cultures of empires and god-kings who developed around fixed environments, Israel and Jews have a history, whether real or imagined, in which their culture developed in a reversal of conditions, where they found themselves wandering as kind of amalgam of cultures needing to unite in order to survive.

As they found themselves constantly as strangers in other cultures, it stands to reason that they would modify their laws gradually so that the legal system became more inclusive of all races, castes, or levels of society. Maimonides developed his concepts of due process around this idea, with the idea of equality being the basis for all laws.

The emergence of Paul has evolutionary significance, since he was born in Tarsus, the "New York City" of its day, with exposure to many religions, philosophies, and cultural ideas.

Paul himself was a Roman citizen using law to his advantage, trained in Jewish monotheism, and Greek philosophy and science.

His brilliance lay in the fact that he took this idea of Jesus as paying the penalty for sin(lawbreaking)nad making his death a substitution, so that those who believed would not suffer the consequences of such lawbreaking.

Paul then took the idea of the promise to Abraham and by-passed the covenant with israel altogether, saying that those born of God were actually born as Isaac, and were not physical descendants(Romans 9:7-11, Galatians 3:29, 4:28), but actually foreknown children.

The implications of this is that there is no organization of human authorioty that can truthfully represent God over other men.

The problem is, human governments don't like to acknowledge freedom, so it was quickly imitated.

This has evolutionary significance, and there is no reason to think it would not follow similar models in similar cultures.

Anonymous said...

"The emergence of Paul has evolutionary significance...."

Sure, it does, if you believe "Paul" ever existed in the first place....Biblical scholarship suggests otherwise.

Ralph said...

Again, Purple, whether or not Paul existed is irrelevant, as is the existence of one called Jesus.

The issue is based on a principle of truth.

Can any natural mind, by any known reasoning process, be subject to God? The anwswer, from every evidence we can derive, must be no. Therefore Paul's statement is true.

here is both the historical and evolutionary evidence surrounding Paul's conclusions:

As the Jews began organizing their concepts of God, they also developed a mass of surrounding ideas in the form of Mishna, Gemora, and Talmud.

In applying thse texts, however, the Jews faced much the same problem we face today in trying to reconcile original intent of the Constitution in terms of the thousands of laws and statutues that have sprung up around it.

Along comes Hillel, who proclaims with a very brilliantly developed "Seven Laws of Thought" that one can develop complete and consistent knowledge that allows the disciplined mind to interpret and understand Gd's laws properly.

The rabbinical priesthood raced to accept this idea, with themselves(Pharisees) as the official interpreters and representatives of Gd's law.

Jesus, however, came along and said "bullshit! There are no rabbis, no masters, and no fathers(Matthew 23)".

In that same chapter, Jesus condemned the Pharisee for "shutting up the kingdom of God" to the people, claiming themselves as the authorities and closing off judgement of the Israelites by the Israelites.

Paul claiming to be a converted Pharisee(or someone claiming to be Paul), stated that the natural mind cannot be subject to God's laws, which directly slapped the Pharisees in the face.

Was the statement true? Can you, Purple, show me any proof that your mind is somehow subject to God, or even that God exists?

You keep throwing out these nuggets of bullshit that prove absolutely nothing, while I patiently point out that the logic of the statement, whether there existed a Paul or not, is correct.

I can keep showing the logical consistency of the statements as long as you insist on making emotional statements that prove nothing.

Byker Bob said...

Whether or not Jesus or Paul are relevant may not be clear to some today. But, for those of us whose faith and hopes are in the restitution of all things, both are very relevant. But, then again, I take my Bible straight up, not shaken, not stirred. Not filtered through Godel, and certainly not subjected to Gnosticism.

At one point or another in my life, I realized that man, man's logic, and man's knowledge can only take one so far. As Hank Jr. was once heard to remark, "Waylon, most folks don't know a damned thing!"

But, I realize that seeking the Lord and His ways is not what happens in everyone's house.
As my old buddy Stinger always used to say, "your mileage may vary!"


Anonymous said...

We've been had, bigtime! Godel's Theorem is a carefully crafted bit of quasi-logic or rhetoric specifically designed to invalidate, derail or confuse any attempt to systematize or define virtually anything at all. It makes the knowable unknowable! Is there any doubt as to why there have been so many comments regarding not being able to understand a single thing that Ralph posts?

We've been letting this guy get away with jacking us all off for the past three months! I'm sorry, but this is just plain confusion!

Ralph said...

Anonymous, if you wish to combat my conclusions, then simply show me a truth that can be compressed into a sigular process of truth.

If I have been jacking you all off, then it seems to me you would be able to show me the flaws of my statements.

What, exactly, would you propose as the blanket truth that can lead us out of confusion?

If you realize that there exists no human authority, then you are free, and in no need of looking among the thousands of such "authorities" both church and state, that try to seduce you to a certain perspective.

OTOH, if you are determined to follow some human leader, some perspective that can actually desctribe truth both completely and consistently, you wil probably have an endless search.

The idea is confusing only if you persist in assuming that anyt human being, including myself, can actually define truth in such a fashion that we should all follow it.

If you realize that no one can, and you are therefore free, and that in fact Godel's theorem demonstrates this mathematically, where is the confusion?

Paul said there exists no such decisin procedure to organize in God's name, jesus said there is no point in following anyone who says "here is Christ", and further pointed out that if you persist in such pursuits, it will only lead to further dsivision and confusion(matthew 10:34-38).

Therefore, the truth is utter simplicity. You don't have to follow anyone.

That's confusing? How exactly am I deceiving you?

Ralph said...

Toclarify Godel's theorem in regard to basic facts, the theorem applies only to those subjects that would pertain to infinity.

For example, 2+2=4. This is a finite statement that is evident to anyone with a rudimentary understanding of math. Nothing within mathematics in regard to finite categories of thought is challenged.

Anything you wish to develop qand organize within thos finite categories such as engineering, physics, economic, etc, are fully within organizational capacities, but none can ever be used to represent truth in its complete, consistent aspects in regard to infinity.

For one thing, infinity is largely undefined. Infinity + infinity =infinity.

Is there a definition for "infinite reality"? If so, then we could define truth in all its completeness and consistency, but truth, in terms of the relatonship of all things, is subject to changing understanding.

Seth Lloyd, referring to the work of gregory Chaitin, states that we have computing ability now that could create information equivalent to the universe. The problem is, we can't identify all the necessary information that comprises the universe. For example, we can develop informatio strings that accurately reptreent many part os the universe, but there are also parts that appear as randomness.

If we could identify all those parts that are random, and all those that are information, we could simply compose a program that would insert random strings where necessary, and information strings where necessary, and we have a universe that exists within a computer program exactly like the one in which we live.

But what if the random string is actually information and we don't recognize it? If we insert a random string in the program where it should include a necessary information string, we have a departure from the universe. Since such apparent randomness would approach infinity,programming the universe is still quite a bit of a problem.

Within that reality, however, we are free as far as we know to define bits of information in a near infinity of processes, but none of them can ever represent truth in any complete sense, because complete, consistent truth would have to be powerful enough to properly identify the difference between actual information and actual randomness.

Another question: if the universe is fully consistent and complete, would there actuall exist random "parts", a kind of junkyard of the universe?

Once a large part of the human body was composed of what we considered "junk DNA", but now we realize that the "junk" is actually a collection of foprmer viruses that have become a very necessary part of our adaptive process, so they are not random, but are information.

Godel's theorem says we cannot simple set up a matrhematical "program" that will proceed flawlessly to develop endless information strings that perefectly represent complete, consistent truth. The string, at some point, collapses into undecideability because it is self referential, and must operate correctly from feedback within its environment.

That's why religion tends to speciatre infinitely. The mid can only accomodate a limited range of decisons that help it adjust to feedback from its environment, and no miond is equipped to respond to infinite truth(s).

Ralph said...

Mathematical systems reach undecideable propositions, and religions tend toward infinite speciation into cults. The most probable reason is that the mind operates within the principles of Godel's theorem. We cannot p[ursue an infinite system of processes and live a meanignful life, so we divide our meanings into chunks, just as we "chunk" information in computers to provide algorithms and decision procedures.

Like computer systems, the mind tends to use hierarchial, recursive, self referential systems that tend to resemble parent systems. Offshoots of the catholic church tend to maintain similarities of form and decision-making. Cults sp;litting from parent religions will tend to seek meaning within the same general framework. Look at the WCG splinters.

The adaptive hardware of the brain functions pretty much the same, as BB and Purple show, by using exactlyt the same form of argument to arrive at opposite conclusions.

This would indicate that the brain seeks to develop "survival strategies" that are consistent with personal needs, rather than understanding of truth by which all systems should operate.

The reason for that is explained by entropy. The greater organization in one area, the greater resulting chaos in related areas, because one area must borrow energy from related areas. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed, so organized energy in one system is reduced, therefore resulting in increasing chaos.

This reduction of the mind to specific survival strategies operate in favor of both intelligence and evolution. The purpose of Romans 8:7, therefore, becomes obvious from that POV.

Anonymous said...

Wow. You should incorporate all of that stuff into Armstrongism, and start your own church: The Godel Church of God! Can you work us up a kind of satire as to how an Armstrong church would appear and act if it were governed by Godel?

The Painful Truth said...

Anonymous, try posting under a name with an e-mail address which can be verified.

Anonymous said...

"Godel's Theorem is a carefully crafted bit of quasi-logic or rhetoric specifically designed to invalidate, derail or confuse any attempt to systematize or define virtually anything at all."

That may be so, but Ralph is using it instead, as a blunt instrument, to try and hammer home the importance that he thinks Pascal's Wager (begging the question) has for everyone else; were Ralph simply to say, "Hey, this is what I think, I could be wrong," I don't think we would have had the unending conversation we have had, with Ralph, that consistently ends up turning back on itself like the Ouroborous snake, despite all attempts we make, to try and break through Ralph's self-imposed exile.

The truly sad thing is, he's doing it to himself. And there's not a damned thing in the world we can do about it, unless and until he decides to change his own perspective, unless and until Ralph actively wants to broaden his horizons.

But, then, the same thing can be said of other commenters on these threads as well....

Ralph said...

Purple, I'm not wrong. I stated a mathematical theorem.
Second,m in your comment,m you hgave said absolutely nothing, as usual, to refute the statement, and you can't.

Shall I go into it quote by quote, or shall I just attach the usual, "ad hominem fallacy"?

My self imoposed exile? Of what, a stated and proven theorem consistent with the logic of Paul and Jesus? An exikle that says we have to follow no person, and it stands as mathematically proven?

An exile of what? Ding! Ding! Ding! there goes the ad hominem bell!

Doing what to myself? Declaring that I'm free from the authority systems of all humans? Your statement is an opinion, not even clearly stated about something meaning absolutely nothing to anyone.

Ding! Ding! Ad hominem bell again!

Purple, when are you ever even going to show the intelletual ability to even challenge me?

Ralph said...

Anonymous, Wow, you should be able to make some sort of intellectually challenging statement to prove the falsehood of my claims. Bzzzz! Ad hominem buzzer!

Anonymous said...

"Ding! Ding! Ad hominem bell again!"

But "You only bitch and nag," directed at me, isn't an ad hominem attack? Why aren't your personal insults ad hominem attacks, Ralph? I really do want to know, why there seems to be such a grating double standard on this blog, that is allegedly supposed to be free of personal attacks by ALL the posters here.

Retired Prof said...

Betty, besides the three you mention, there is another way of interpreting texts, which became fashionable in literary circles some years back. It is called deconstruction, and it is built on ideas set forth by Jacques Derrida. When I try to define it myself, I lapse into oversimplifications that have been derided as straw men; if you want to avoid my bias, Google the word. You will get lots of hits, but you might as well start with the definition at the beginning of the Wikipedia article.

I don’t keep up with theologians, so I don’t know whether any have deconstructed biblical passages or not. What strikes me is this: what Ralph does, based on ideas about math proposed by Gödel, is very much like what deconstructionists do, based on ideas about language put forth by Derrida. He stressed that language, both in syntax and in semantics, can carry so many alternate meanings that a text always contains internal contradictions that keep it from communicating a straightforward meaning. “The text,” as Derrida puts it, “deconstructs itself.” (The French verb phrase “se déconstrue” can also be translated “falls apart,” which is the way I would do it. But who am I? Derrida invented the term and translated it himself.)

Here is a sort of kit for deconstructing the minimal text “Please pass the salt.” You can assemble it for yourself.

Both the verb and the noun have multiple meanings that call into question your probable first image: someone uttering the sentence at a dinner table. “Salt” can refer to an open dish to hold the substance as well as the crystals themselves, so even in the dinner table scene it might have two slightly different meanings. Furthermore, “salt” is applied to other chlorides besides NaCl, plus a vast array of fluorides, bromides sulfides, sulfates, nitrates, and so on. It can mean “wit or pungency” It can refer to a veteran sailor. Capitalized, it is an acronym for Strategic Arms Limitation treaty. “Pass” doesn’t just mean “hand over,” but also “move past,” “expel from the body,” “enact into law,” “decline,” “successfully complete,” and (according to a compilation on at least two dozen other actions. Mix and match the various meanings of the two words, and you can come up with a fog of potential interpretations from the banal to the surreal, suggesting scenes far different from a social dinner.

I am no fan of deconstruction. I call it “a program of intentional misreading.” For all the irritation their efforts cause, however, deconstructionists do remind us that accidental misreadings are bound to happen. When those accumulate for a couple of thousand years, there will be consequences. With the original writers unavailable to answer FAQs, we have no way to check which misreading of their work is closest to the mark; successive readings drift farther and farther away. So none of the three historical interpretive strategies—Formative, Normative, or Cultural—can possibly provide a coherent, consistent interpretation of scripture that everyone can agree on. On top of that dissonance, of course, the warring proponents within one approach will all disagree even more violently with those of the other two than they disagree with members of their own group.

No help for it, then. Ralph, as he never ceases to remind us, is right. The refrain in these discussions is worth repeating: “You can’t get there from here.”

Ralph said...

Purple, you bitch and nag. I can't make it any simpler. I;ve patiently tried to show you the ad hominem fallacy, and you continue to ignore it. I've repeatred my arguments, their source, their logical foundations. You ignore them.

I've gone to great lengths to show why the ad hominem fallacy is useless in refuting any argument, and yet you continue the same garbage over, and over, and over... in simple language, that's bitching and naggig.

It's what you do, it's what you specialize in. I've challenged you, Purple, from the very beginnng, with one simple challenge: PROVE ME WRONG.

What you're doing, Purple, amounts to little more than bitching and nagging.

You go to great lengths to deny truth, which is a fallacy, because the very statement "there is no truth" must itself be a truth. That, in itself, shows you have nothing of any logical foundation to offer.

Purple, you bitch and nag. If you want to shut me up, simply PROVE ME WRONG. Otherwise, your protests are little more than bitching and nagging.

Ralph said...

BTW, Purple, ad hominem is defined basically as an attack 'to the man" rather than his argument. If I say your argument amounts to little more than bitching and naging, that is stating the tenor and and strength of your argument, not you. Basicaly, i's not ad hominem.

OTOH, your statements that I personally am "exiled" IS an ad hominem attack "on the man" while ignoring the nature of his arguments.

Also, by labeling the idea of Godel's theorem as "Victorian math" is to take the artgument itself and try to belittle it while offering no proof whatever as to why it's wrong. That is part of what is recognized generally as ad hominem fallacy.

Classic example that most who watched the Bush/Quayle re-election campaign:

"I qworked, with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. You, sir, are no Jack Kennedy".

Who, in fact, did that statement challenge? Did it show any flaw in Quayle's argument(I wasn't a fan of Quayle or Bush. I'm simply using it as an example)?

It was highly effective, yet it established nothing factual, except that the vice presidential candidate happened to know Jack Kennedy.

That, Purple, is the nature of your arguments. They are statements of no factual value. I'm in "exile"(to what)?

"Victorian math"(So? Math is math)

To borrow from "retired prof", your statements don't need de-construction, because they offer nothing of factual or intellectual value in the first place.

To have value, ythey should say "alph is in exile because....and then you present actual statements to show why my conclusions are wrong.

But you can't Purple, because you have already denied the possibility of exploring truth. You've said there is no such truth.

You logically cancel your own ability to even produce a valid argument. Therefore, the only possible authority we are allowed as to the truth of your statements is the fact that they are your statements, which is exactly the same argument finally used by HWA as "God's apostle".

Ralph said...

Retired Prof, I'm no fan of deconstructionism either. I agree with your conclusions on that point.

The difference between Godel's theorem and deconstructinism, however, is that Godel never challenges the validity of axiomatic statements. He merely points out that we cannot develop a string of theorems proceeding from axioms in a formal "non-thinking" manner, such that they will lead, purely in self referential manner, to a complete and consistent truth.

The breakdown that led to Godel's theorem was the attempt by mathematicians, not to challenge mathematical proofs or its truth, but to show in a formal process that the mathematical system was complete and consistent, thus eliminating the many errors of human thought(and my typing and spelling).

In essence, what the mathrematicians were talking about, was a computer. Could there be an automatic, formal process by which axiomatic truths would produce theorems that led authomatically to truth in a complete, consisten sense?

The factual nature of the axioms were not then, and are not now, in question.

For example, the first four of Euclid's postulates or axioms were accepted without question. But that fifth postulate regarding parallel lines, well, it dealt with infinity, amd Euclid himself seemed unsure about it, so he left it for last.

Was it true as an axiom? Yes and no. If left to plane geometry, yes. If applied to other shapes and forms, no. Those other shapes and forms, in which parallel lines tend to intersect, is now called non-Euclidian geometry.

But if Euclidian gdeometry yielded non-Euclidian geometry, is it possible that mathematics in general would yield such unsolvable dilemmas?

Along came Georg Cantor, who actually believed that God was speaking to him and showing him the nature of infinity. Instead of unity, Cantor, in dealing with infinity, showed that there is not only an infinity, but an infinity of infinities!

Not only that, but the real numbers, such as pi, or the square root of 2, etc, could never be listed!

Gaping holes were appearing as a result of infinity, and David Hilbert set all mathematicians on the goal of finding the proof of math as a complete, consistent system.

But here is the problem as finally established by Godel: In order to prove the completeness and consistency of mathematics, there must be a way of thinking about mathematics, a system of itself, powerful enough to show that math was in fact complete and consistent. The system had to have equal power to mathematics, but it could not be contained within mathematics. For example, if Iwanted to know whether or not HWA's doctrines were true, I would have to ask someone other than HWA.

If I want to know whether the whole system of math is consistent and complete, I would have to use something other than math as a standard.

Ralph said...

To continue, in order to know the truth, qwhether or not math is complete and consistent, there must be a way of thinking about the system from outside the system. This process became known as formalization. If the proces of thinking "about" math could be shown powerful enough to demonstrate the complete and comnsistent nature of math, then we could simply eliminate the error of human thinking. All we had to do was to develop a formal process capable checking itself so that it avoided contradictions.

But here is the basic flaw: how can a thinking process subject to contradiction develop a system of thought NOT subject to contradiction? How do we develop a process that proves the completeness and consistency of math, when it is our thinking process itself that causes the problems arising from or contemplation of math?

or more simply: is any system powerful enough to do what it cannot do?

Godel demonstrated that even using math itself as a model by taking the axioms of math(adding, subtracting, dividing, multiplying, etc) and turning them into numerical equivalents of themselves, called Godel numbers, he demonstrated that the system, referencing itself, produced a statement which said "I exist, but cannot be proven withn this system".

What Godel demonstrated is that there is no way of thinking about mathematics as a system that will ever demonstrate the completeness and consistency of the system.

Or to paraphrase Gregory Chaitin, you can't prove a dollar theory with a fifty cent theorem.

This, in essence, is what quantum physics is about, what Purple mentioned as "the observer effect". We are "inside" the system of measurement. If we measure an electron as a wave, it must behave as a wave. If we measure it as a particle, it must behave as a particle. But it can never be both, because our way of thinking about it is incomplete. It will yield one or the other, but never both.

This is true in several areas of mathematics. The measurement of one aspect will not yield its complement. For example, "position" of an electron can be measured, but not it's velocity at the same time. Measurement of one makes the other impossible.

A is always A.

This very limitation on measurment makes it impossible to define truth in a complete, consistent form. If no truth, then no God.

Purple denies truth. Yet in order to establish these facts, we must work from the position of mathematical truth.

Can there be any decision procedure, any organizatin, any predictive system, by which we can get from "here' to "God", or "here' to "truth"?

The anwwer, mathematically, factualy, truthfully, is NO.

Can the human mind be subkject to God as truth? Paul says no.

Betty Brogaard said...

Thank you, Ret. Prof, for reminding me about deconstruction/ deconstructionism. I remember that my husband Fred and I discussed that a few times. Like Ralph, I'm not impressed by that method either.

BB, I'm sorry if I gave the impression that only one method of scripture interpretation is used by a denomination or an individual. That was not my intention. I realize that all of these methods can and sometimes are used by the different belief systems and individuals. It seems that different methods are used to enhance chosen lifestyles and are based on certain biases of groups and individuals.

Purp. Hym., I also find it distasteful that on this blog personal attacks are sometimes used. This appeal to the emotions and not to reason (one of the definitions of "ad hominem")defeats the purpose if we expect to learn from one another.

Ralph said...

Yes Betty, and if Purple, had not started out using personal attacks, trying to censor my statements, accusing me of "shoehorning" before even hearing what I tried to say, comnstanlty using the same tired arguments over and over again with no attempts to even try and refute the arguments themselves, I might not have simply, in total exasperation, simply accused Purple of bitching and nagging.

Double standard? Purple hides behind ad hominem, them deines it, then does it over and over again, and then denies it again.

The purpose should be plain enough, Purple hopes that with enough bullshit, I can be convinced to simply shut up or leave.

There is no double standard. I've stated my position plainly. I've backed it up continually with statements by accomplished mathematicians. I've gone into great and unnecessary detail just to illustrate one single point.

If Purple has anything other than bitching and nagging, then Purple should present that argument.

Byker Bob said...


Why should we even care whether you are right or wrong? Who, except for perhaps a few "elite" had even heard of these theorems prior to your introducing them to us? I mean, it's not as if we need them to live, and it is not as if knowing them will improve the quality of our lives, spawn greater achievement, or produce wealth.

I trust God's word, the Holy Bible, for the important things in my life. Of course, I analyze it, and think about it as I read, but I'm not about to sift it through some man-made theory, for good or for bad.

Ever hear of an intellectual bully?


Ralph said...

BB, you're still proving my point.

Whether you know them or not is irrelevant, UNLESS you actually try to prove that what you believe is true in any absolute sense.

THEN you will need them.
IOW, what you're saying BB, is that you got nothing.

BB whether I'm an intellectual bully, a son of a bitrch, a military experiment gone bad, total asshole, or whatever, it is irrelevant to the truth or falsehood of the argument. Either my statements are true, or they are false.

Paul has said it plainly. It is not a man-made theory, but part of something you claim to believe, I assume, as truth. You say I quote the bible, but the bible doesn't say what I say it does.

Who, then is the authority? Out of over 38,000 versions and growing, exactly what is the truth? Majority rule? Then why aren't you catholic?

BB, you have no answer for my statements, so you resort to implying the fault somehow lies with me. I've already acdcepted every possible insult and added a few self insults of my own.

If you have a belief, that's well and good, but don't try to represent it as truth, because you simply have no proof.

If you want to believe something, fine, but donlt try to convince people you have something they can logically choose as truth, because they can't.

You've already given partial reasons as to why you believe as you do. YTou want to be loved by everybody. That's all well and good. If that's your goal, nobody should judge it, but that is not truth.

HWA even pointed out in his autobiography that he wanted to be "somebody". he was driven by ego pride, vanity. His wife came along and gave him exactly what his ego needed.

If you look for truth, it must be realized that truth is not dependent on your nature or needs, or my nature or needs. It is true because it is true. If it stands to reason, it is true untl and unless one can prove otherwise.

All arguments against the person, that person's nature, good ior bad, loved or unloved, is irrelevant to the truth. Either it is true, or it is not.

I have pointed out a mathematical truth and shown why Jesus' statements and Paul's statements logically conform to that truth, and ytou have not shown a refutation. Apparently, I am right.

So how does that affect one's status nbefore God? It can't, since if you cannot decide, you cannot perform 'works" to getr you there. In more modern terms, you cannot develop a system of algorithms by which you can get from "here" to "God", and that's what Paul has plainly said.

That's the fact, it conforms to what we cand demonstrate, and until someone can prove better, that's the way it stands.

Whether I'm an intellectual bully or not is irrelevant.

If Purple actually was able to argue from a superior position logically, Purple would no more be bothered by my accusation of "bitching and nagging" than I am of being called a military experiment gone bad. I'm right, Purple is wrong. I'm right, you're wrong, unti you prove otherwise.
It's that simple.

Corky said...

It's not like everyone is predestined, Ralph. You know, the chosen or the elect? "The Lord knoweth them that are his".

Part of Paul's theology also says:
1Cor 8:3 "But if any man love God, the same is known of him."

So, there is a choice.

Unless, of course you are predestined as Isaac was, as Pharoah was, as Jacob was etc. etc.

The way it reads is that some are chosen by election (predestined) to be vessels of righteousness or vessels for destruction - not by choice. However, there is that free will thing.

Everyone, most everyone, assumes they have free-will but on the other hand, every choice has a cause - therefore free-will is actually an illusion.

Paul was, if he existed, a preacher of the gospel and his message was for anyone who would listen. His followers weren't necessarily predestined but they did make a choice to believe.

Jesus said, "repent ye, and believe the gospel."

That's by choice. However, he did not give the twelve disciples that same choice but said, "follow me" and, "ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you".

Some are predestined and the rest are not. Eleven were chosen to preach the gospel but Judas was chosen to be the vessel of destruction in this case - and predestined to betray Jesus to the authorities. That's how Jesus knew who would betray him.

There was an "out" though, he could have repented after the deed was done - just like Pharoah could have done and Esau could have done. Oh yeah...Esau did.

Ralph said...

Corky, easily answered. 1 Cor 8:3.
God loves everyone. Nothing about salvation by choice there. Assuming there is a choice, a choice of what? Believing in Christ? Fine, let's say you have freewill choice to believe. believe what?

I would assume, based ion thge total absence of any doctrine which we could choose, they only correct choice you can make is to be free from the doctrines of all men, as Jesus pointed out in Matthew 24:23.

I assume now you're talking about Romans 9:21: Vessels of wrath fitted to destruction. What kind of destruction? Going to hell? Burning forever?

"What if Giodk, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known..."

Look at Romans 1:19: "Because that which may be known of God is manifest of them, for God hath shewed it to them."

Shown it to whom? Deuteronomy 4:35: "Unto thee(anciemnt israel) it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the Lord he is God..."

So there you have a reference between Romans 9, Rom 1, and Deuteronomy. A look at Amos 3:2 shows trhat the "vessles fitted to destruction(death) was ancient israel.

Yes, free will is actually an illusion, since whatever yu choose, you are merely choosing according to what you believe, and there are over 38,000 versions in Christianity alone.

Let us assume that Paul was a preacher of righteousness who taught his listeners and they had the right to believe, but to believe what? 1 Cor. 7:21: Ye are bought with a price. Be not ye the servants of men".

What's that? servants of men? So, if you believe in Christ, you do not need to follow men, correct? isn't that what jesus said in Matthew 24;23?

Or 1 Cor.9:19: "For though I be FREE FROM ALL MEN, yet have I made myself servant to all, that I might gain the more". To what? Maybe freedom from all men, as Paul was?

Jesus said "Repent ye and believe the gospel"" What gospel? maybe the gospel saying you are free from all men?

Can you choose to have a special relation to God closer than others? Can you choose to be 'elect"? Not according to Paul.

But since you can;'t choose to be a part of that group, you CAN choose to be free from the stupid power structures of men, and since God already has decided on his elect, there is no way you can organize in God's name, so therefore you have no reason to follow any man. Logic.

Who are the "vessels fitted for destruction"? By Paul's own statements, it was ancient israel, who were punished because they refused to listen. Have you heard any special messages from God? has he revealed himself to you in a flame on a mountaintop?

And what happens to those "vressels fitted for destruction, in Paul's words?

Romans 11:32 "He hath concluded them in unbelief, that he might have mercy on all".
Romans 11:26: "And so all Israel shall be saved...."

Paul's own words. So, from simnply looking at Paul's own reference points, you see that no one actually goes to hell.

Certain people are selected as Isaac was, born as isaac was, predestined as isaac was, Israel was "fitted for destruction(death) becuase they were an example to us, but they will be saved, same as everyone else.

No sweat. Romans 5:18: Therefore as by the offence of one judgement came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the FREE GIFT came upon ALL men unto justification of life".

THAT, is actually the basis of law as it developed from the Puritans in the USA. Presumption of innocence, free gift of salvation, right to be protected by the death of Christ. No right of church or state to judge men, because no man can organize in God's name, since God already knoqws his elect. Everyone else, therefore is already free, and only has to choose the freedom s/he already has. Simple stuff.

Ralph said...

Damn, my spellcheck wants to eraswe my whole statement. probably Satan;s way of keepng me from writing a decent paragraph. :)

Can't do the spellcheck and my eyessight sucks.

The Painful Truth said...

Purple Hymnal said...

"Ding! Ding! Ad hominem bell again!"

"But "You only bitch and nag," directed at me, isn't an ad hominem attack? Why aren't your personal insults ad hominem attacks, Ralph? I really do want to know, why there seems to be such a grating double standard on this blog, that is allegedly supposed to be free of personal attacks by ALL the posters here."

Sometimes it is more reasonable to walk away from a fight before you can't walk and save face Purple.

Ralph and I went back and forth a bit before I understood his point. Some here thought he was promoting religion when he was the editor back in February. It took time to digest his material.

If you are having difficulty at this time may I suggest taking a break or changing the subject. We should try to stay focused on our guest editor's last blog. That is the least we can do.

These are new ideas and learning the concept is not exactly easy.

Allen C. Dexter said...

Right. Let's stick to the point. It took me some time to grasp what Ralph was trying to get across and found I had no real argument with him. He just communicates on a level not familiar to many of us, but his overall rasoning is sound.

Betty's done a good job this month, and I hope we can have a piece or two more from her. I really don't think anyone means anything like ad hominem attacks, but strong opinions can come across like that.

Retired Prof said...

When some blog comment gets my goat so bad that I feel the blood rush to my head, I remind myself, "Pixels on a screen. Pixels on a screen. Ain't nothin' more than pixels on a screen."

Sort of like "sticks and stones" updated for cyberspace.

Allen C. Dexter said...

Retired Prob, I like that approach. That's really all they are.

Ralph said...

That's no fun! :)

Ralph said...

I would much rather have a detached discussion without the attempt to dominate. I like to explore ideas, and Godel's theiorem for me was an amazing process of mathematical thought that actually verifies every human's right to be free!

I presented the idea to a group devoted to Ayn Rand, thinking they would really be excited, and they insulted and attacked me, not because the idea was wrong, but because it seemed to challenge what they believed were Rand's teachings.

I showed them why the two ideas were compatible, but they were silent. Same thing when I was asked to join the Libertarian Party and run for office.

I've been asked to join the Libertarian Party and the Constitution Party, and I discovered that in both cases, they wanted my money, but had no concern for my two cents' worth.

Seems like everybody has an agenda.

The Painful Truth said...

Ralph said...

"I presented the idea to a group devoted to Ayn Rand, thinking they would really be excited, and they insulted and attacked me, not because the idea was wrong, but because it seemed to challenge what they believed were Rand's teachings."

All it takes is one to digest and accept your premise. From that point on, your idea spreads to many.

Allen C. Dexter said...

Ralph, you said: "That's no fun."

I see your point because I recognize that you are by nature a scappy sort of guy who enjoys a good verbal or literary "dust up." I've been a little like that myself at times, but I found it not as productive as I would like most of the time.

There's a little of the scrappy Celt in me too, and I think it would be enjoyable to share a few beers and spirited conversation with you. Too bad your marine career didn't pan out. I think you would have been one helluva career marine.

Ralph said...

No, I was a crappy marine. I was riding around with a friend of mine at Pendleton, when the car was pulled over by MPs. The flashed a bright light on us and told us with a loudspeaker to hold our hands out the window. We did.

I was handcuffed, cuffs so tight they cut off circulation. I complained, and an MP laid a military Colt .45 against my temple and said "Give me one reason to shoot you, any reason at all!"

This didn't register fear with me, only rage, because my hands were bound and I couldn't take his pistol and shove it up his ass.

Turned out to be a false alarm, our car looked like one involved in a B&E.

A couple of weeks later, that MP who stuck the pistol I my temple suffered a case of sever diarrhea from eating a double fudge mocha cake.

I only know this because he ate the cake at a chow hall where I happened to be chief baker.

Anonymous said...

"All it takes is one to digest and accept your premise. From that point on, your idea spreads to many."

It certainly worked for the End-Time Elijah, now didn't it!

Ralph said...

Anybody who's stupid enough to send their money to me will get no argument from me.

Anonymous said...

I do agree with Allen on the other post, Ralph; when you tell us about your life experiences, those are far more interesting, and easier to engage with, than when you are promoting your, personal, individual, "truth" as "ultimate truth" that you appear to think everyone must be convinced of (or so your repeated commenting about it indicates, to me, at least).

I really, truly, have no problem with the fact that you engage yourself in Pascal's Wager, by way of Godel's Theorem Ralph; but I am far more interested in hearing about you, as a person, than I am in engaging with your personal, individual truth, one which does not particularly speak to my circumstances, nor does it suit either my environment or my psychological equilibrium. That it suits all of these things for you, is fine, not a problem, gravy! That's wonderful, it really is, Ralph.

In short, by telling us more about your girlfriend and her experiences (And your wonderful family; glad to hear your step-grandkids adore you; I bet you spoil them rotten, don't you? :-D) and your formative experiences as a child, Ralph, I think you're really starting to make some connections, real connections, that you may not have made up to this point. Which can only be a good thing, right?

Ralph said...

Nope. I'd rather be right and win every argument.
And it ain't my personal indiviodual truth. It is a mathematical proven fact that i challenge you to prove wrong.

Ralph said...

As to my grandkids, they're spoied by their parents. My girlfriend says I don't need to be so hard on them, so I keep my mouth shut and let them kill their little spoiled selves if need be. I'm not in the habit of compromise.

I'll tell you a story of when Sharon and I were first dating for about a year. Her ex husband had already committed suicide, hanged himself in his mother's garage, right after he confronted her and said his whole life was her fault. Sweet guy. He may have been right, I don't know.

Anyway, her son was living with his parents, and they spolied him rotten and told him he didn't have to do a thing she said.

he faked a sucicde, and she had him sent to a state mental institution, first to see if there were mental problems, and second, if not, to scare him out of trying that crap again.

They tested him, found there was nothing wrong with him. He was normal in every respect but wanted attention, which is what I told her when it happened.

She asked me to come with her to visit him. Said she was going to emancipate him so he could live with his grandparents. I said that wqas a mistake, but she was determined. I suggested that I not go along, because I was apprehensive about what was going to happen.

Sure enough, as she and I sat there with his counselor, she said she was going to emancipate him and he started laughing. She bagan to cry, as I knew she would.

The counselor said nothing, so I spoke, "Don't laugh at your mother".

he laughed again. He figured there was nothing I could do with people watching.

"I said, don't laigh when you;re mother's crying".

He smirked at me and laughed again. I should state that he was no little child. he was taller than me. I slapped him three times before anyone could move, and then said "You wanna laugh again?"

The counselor, who sat silently while he laughed, was suddenly galvanized to call security. Two men came running, and I tunred and looked them in thne eye. They backed away.

Ralph said...

To continue the story above, and to make it short, I found out something interesting about NC law, where I live.

Had I been his father, and actually disciplined him for laughing at his mother, I would have gone to prison for at least two years. Since I was no relation, I paid a hundred bucks and cost of court.

He never laughed at his mother in my presence again.