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Christianity, like Shakespeare, never goes out of date

Unlike the pseudo-scripture of our age, the texts are timeless

By on Friday, 2 November 2012

Timeless     Dave Thompson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Timeless Dave Thompson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The gospel for the Feast of All Saints was that of the Beatitudes, the start of the Sermon on the Mount, which is of course the most famous gospel passage of all. It is usually cited by moral theologians as being Jesus’ equivalent of the Ten Commandments, which were delivered through Moses on a different mountain. The Sermon is, like the Ten Commandments, something that does not grow old.

All this reminded me of what Ben Jonson  said about Shakespeare: “He was not of an age, but for all time!” If that is true of Shakespeare – and it most certainly is -how much more is it true of the Gospels.

Again, I was reminded of something once said by Fr Francesco Pierli, the Comboni missionary, at a meeting I attended in Africa. “The Bible,” he said “is a moment in history that illuminates the whole of history.”

Shakespeare and the Bible are both products of their time, that reflect their time; but they are not locked into the culture that produced them. You do not need to travel back to Elizabethan England in order to understand the universal themes of, let us say, Romeo and Juliet. And you certainly do not have to enter into the world of the Ancient Near East to be able to read the Bible, which transcends history, time and place, while being, at the same time, securely anchored in all three. This is why, contrary to the expectations of so many, Christianity simply does not go out of date. So many pseudo-gospels – Marxism being the most obvious example – look very passé now; and quite a lot of modern trends will, fifty years from now, look anything but. But the Scriptures are as fresh now as when they were written.

Like all priests, I went to seminary, and like many I was disappointed by much of the teaching there. Some of it was good, but the part that really let me down, I felt, was the Scriptural part. The approach taken was something like this. To enter into the text, you need first to understand authorial intention; to understand authorial intention, you have to understand the author’s “living situation” (Sitz im leben); and to do that you have to reconstruct as fully as possible the concerns of that long dead person, which will involve understanding the language that person spoke. And so it was, before we could ever approach the Scriptures themselves, we had to spend hours and hours listening to very diffuse talk about the Hittites.

But the truth of the matter is, it seems to me, that people can engage with the text without any preamble whatever, and find it profitable. The text speaks directly. You do not have to know about the Hittites; you do not have to know about the Roman Empire to understand, for example, the accounts of Jesus’ encounter with Pontius Pilate. When Pontius Pilate asks “What is truth?” or says “Quod scripsi, scripsi” or “Ecce Homo”, these things speak for themselves.

Please do not think that I am going down the Lutheran path of Holy Scripture being its own interpretation. Rather I am saying that just as moral experience is at first hand, so too is the experience of God through the reading of the Bible. What that experience means, of course, has to be interpreted by the Church. But the foundational approach to Holy Scripture surely must be that of Saint Augustine: pick up and read. Tolle, lege!

Talking of great literature, consider this, from Book Eight of St Augustine’s Confessions, which is great theology too:

I was saying these things and weeping in the most bitter contrition of my heart, when suddenly I heard the voice of a boy or a girl, I know not which — coming from the neighbouring house, chanting over and over again, “Pick it up, read it; pick it up, read it.” Immediately I ceased weeping and began most earnestly to think whether it was usual for children in some kind of game to sing such a song, but I could not remember ever having heard the like. So, damming the torrent of my tears, I got to my feet, for I could not but think that this was a divine command to open the Bible and read the first passage I should light upon. For I had heard how Anthony, accidentally coming into church while the gospel was being read, received the admonition as if what was read had been addressed to him: “Go and sell what you have and give it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me.” By such an oracle he was forthwith converted to thee.

So I quickly returned to the bench where Alypius was sitting, for there I had put down the apostle’s book when I had left there. I snatched it up, opened it, and in silence read the paragraph on which my eyes first fell: “Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof.” I wanted to read no further, nor did I need to. For instantly, as the sentence ended, there was infused in my heart something like the light of full certainty and all the gloom of doubt vanished away.

  • http://cumlazaro.blogspot.com/ Lazarus

    @Acleron:disqus 

    I’ll repost your comment from below which went into a single column:

    “It isn’t a claim, it is purely logic. But in general, if something is not considered to be true then it is false, George Boole showed us that years ago.But I still don’t see how that has anything to do with your statement, was there a typo?”I think you’ve lost track of your own argument. You’ve been claiming that atheism isn’t a belief but a non-belief. However, atheism involves the belief that theism is false. (A deduction which your general activities here and this comment in particular seem to confirm.)Still going to argue that atheism is not a belief? (And please don’t try and show off by parading Boole as the discoverer of the law of excluded middle. You just end up by looking silly: it’s in Aristotle as well -http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/contradiction/.)

  • aearon43

    The subject of the Bible is God, and God’s role in human history, etc. The Bible was inspired by God but it was not dictated word for word. It is both a revelation of eternal truth and a text situated in a particular time and place in history. Some Protestant sects might believe that the Bible is absolutely inerrant in every detail. Catholics do not believe that.

    Catholics see the Bible, and the Old Testament in particular, as one step in the history of God’s drawing humankind closer to Him and more fully revealing His divine nature. The authors of the Bible used the particular idioms and images that they were familiar with to attempt to express God’s nature in human language. Thus the references to a world created in six days, the world being flat, and so forth.

    The purpose of the divine revelation was not to educate the Israelites in geography or cosmology. It was to express the nature of the divine. But, you ask, if they got the geography right, how can we be sure that they got the theology right?

    We can clearly see how the particularities of geographic or other scientific details do not matter by considering the nature of the God of Israel, and how that God is different from any pagan god. The very interesting book “Before Philosophy: The Intellectual Adventure of Ancient Man” concludes with a chapter entitled “The Emancipation of Thought from Myth,” by Henri Frankfort and his wife H.A. Frankfort. Frankfort was an Egyptologist and not a Christian apologist by any means, and this book was published by the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, a prestigious, secular university. They write:

    “When we read in Psalm xix that ‘the heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmaments sheweth his handiwork’, we hear a voice which mocks the beliefs of Egyptians and Babylonians. The heavens, which were to the psalmist but a witness of God’s greatness, were to the Mesopotamians the very majesty of godhead, the highest ruler, Anu. To the Egyptians the heavens signified the mystery of the divine mother through whom man was reborn. In Egypt and Mesopotamia the divine was comprehended as immanent: the gods were in nature. The Egyptians saw in the sun all that a man may know of the Creator; the Mesopotamians viewed the sun as the god Shamash, the guarantor of justice. But to the psalmist the sun was God’s devoted servant who ‘is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race’. The God of the psalmists and the prophets was not in nature. He transcended nature — and transcended, likewise, the realm of mythopoeic thought. It would seem that the Hebrews, no less than the Greeks, broke with the mode of speculation which had prevailed up to their time.”

    Israelite monotheism was thus an intellectual achievement on par with Greek philosophy because it conceived of a God that was not embodied in any particular being, but was the ultimate source of Being itself. Thus it is not really very important whether the Bible gets certain geographical facts right, because these sort of facts cannot have any bearing on the nature of God. They are merely illustrations intended to point toward the absoluteness of God who exists outside of time and space. The actual points made, such as God as the source of being, still ring true whether or not the particular illustration of instantiated beings remains scientifically sound.

    And of course science itself continues to be refined; it is not “over” yet and likely future generations will look at our conception of science in much the same way that we now look at that of the ancient world. The nature of God, however, will not change.

  • aearon43

    I think you’re overselling your case here quite a bit. Science and religion answer different questions in different ways. I assume you’re familiar with Aristotle’s “four causes;” science answers three of them but by its inherent nature cannot answer the final cause, that is, the purpose of something. It’s definitely highly questionable whether science is really equipped to formulate any kind of ethical system, as well.

    Reducing religion to “making stuff up” really shows a lack of education, to be honest. It’s a pretty juvenile thing to say and shows a lack of respect for Christendom’s role in establishing, for example, the European university system and the scientific method, and for the many distinguished scientists, generals, and businessmen today who are Christians.

    Do consider the irony in your attacking Christians for “making stuff up” when you yourself seem to be doing the same thing with regard to Christianity. I remember reading some psychological study that examined how people are often most critical in others of the faults they are guilty of themselves.

  • aearon43

    Boole was a Christian anyway.

  • JabbaPapa

    It’s perfectly hilarious that he’s claiming that Boolean logic might somehow be a framework for defining atheism as not being a positive disbelief in God !!!

    As an extensive method of strictly binary logic, the Boolean system accepts either presence or absence, with no room for any kind of middle ground like this (BTW perfectly ludicrous at the cognitive level) “absence of belief” that they harp on about so tediously…

  • JabbaPapa

    I remember reading some psychological study that examined how people are
    often most critical in others of the faults they are guilty of
    themselves.

    I’ve been attempting to lead these people to the realisation of that more indirectly, but I suppose you’re right to just state it, baldly like that.

  • Acleron

    Increasing and varying the selection pressure on a species leads to variation. If anything, that is the central point of the theory of evolution. Domesticated animals are selected for various traits and hey presto different variations appear. 

    But know you introduce the fact that Darwin toyed with Lamarckism. This is another and different claim, different from your first in case you think you got away with a bait and switch. Now this one happens to be true. It is also true that he was tantalisingly close to discrete inheritance. The fact that Darwin didn’t know the mechanism of inheritance doesn’t alter his conclusions or that part of his theory.

    ‘Oh, and your description of the genesis and evolution of Scripture is laughably inept in its inaccuracies !!!’

    Any evidence for this, or is it just your usual proven inaccuracies.

  • Acleron

    Now I understand you.

    But no, I don’t agree with that. The prime part of the definition is the lack of a belief. I don’t have to have a belief to counteract someone claiming to have a belief, I can merely ask for evidence for that which appears an extraordinary hypothesis. As no evidence is ever forthcoming, I can continue not considering the proposition.

  • Acleron

    ‘The first thing that God does in the narrative is to create “Heaven and Earth”‘
    And then goes on to describe, how he did it.

    ‘Your literalist interpretation is perfectly unacceptable from every point of view — no culture or religion has ever considered that cosmogonic myths of the origins are meant to be interpreted literally’

    So complain about the people who claim it is an accurate description of big-bang theory.

    ‘No but really — do you think that Jabberwocky should be interpreted literally ?’
    Gosh, you’ve learned another word, now put it back in your little bag of words before you wear it out, that’s the second time you used it that I’ve seen.

  • Acleron

    No, I don’t take fiction seriously, I can enjoy it, after all that is what it is designed to do.

    I can also imagine the nomads out in the desert enjoying the tales of the story teller around a camp fire. It was when they started believing the fiction, the trouble started.

  • Acleron

    You should learn what the big words like bigot mean.

    You really trying to claim that as the bible was translated from one language to another it wasn’t changed; that as it was edited certain gospels were included and others left out?

    Really? 

  • TreenonPoet

     A well-written comment. It almost hides the fact that, although you acknowledged the problem of knowing which bits of the Bible to believe, you do not give a satisfactory solution. For example, regarding the nature of God, are we to believe that there is an image which shares the attributes of man and God, or are we to believe that God is nothing like man at all. Are we to believe that God is all-powerful, or that he is fairly impotent regarding the behaviour of mankind? Etc. If God only inspired the bits that point to the nature of God, then I see the nature of this hypothetical God as incompetent, which might be a depressing conclusion for some, especially if His nature will not change. That may be a good reason not to devote too much time to scripture, but instead to stop worrying and enjoy life.

  • TreenonPoet

     I agree that people are often most critical in others of the faults they are guilty of themselves (possibly because there is a natural tendency to interpret how other people think based on our own thoughts). Purely rational thought would avoid this problem in these situations. I note that you think I am making stuff up.

    A modern day example of the sort of thinking that I am criticising is in the pronouncements by preachers of the causes of Hurricane Sandy (such as it being Obama’s fault). The same sort of thinking is demonstrated in the first verse of the Bible. I am not saying that all, or even most, Christians are guilty of this, but it is what I have referred to as the religious method as compared to the scientific method (and I am no more reducing all of religion to the religious method than I am reducing all of science to the scientific method). What have I made up?

    Do you have an example of a question that religion has answered, other than with a made-up answer?

  • Peter

    Acleron said “The bible did not predict the universe was made from nothing. ”
    See II Maccabees 7:28

  • Acleron

    Just about everyone was christian at that time, they had to be to a) get an education because the major educational establishments were controlled by religion and b) a lot used it to get an income from a sinecure. When neither of those were extant or necessary, christianity started to decline.

  • http://cumlazaro.blogspot.com/ Lazarus

    So you have no view on whether theism is true or not?

    I confess I find this all a little odd. Colin McGinn (atheist and philosopher) puts it (rightly) like this: 

    “What is the state of belief of an atheist? An atheist is often defined as someone who does not believe in God. It is quite true that an atheist does not believe in
    God, but that is insufficient to define the state of belief of an atheist. A tree or a rock or a lizard does not believe in God either, but it would be bizarre to describe such
    beings as atheists. This is because they are not believers at all, in anything. And even a dog or a chimpanzee, which plausibly does have beliefs, is hardly to be
    characterized as an atheist. Furthermore, an agnostic does not believe in God either, since he suspends belief on the question. What is missing, obviously, is the fact that an atheist disbelieves in the existence of God: he believes that there is no God. He doesn’t merely lack belief in a divinity; he positively believes in the absence of a
    divinity.” (See Ed Feser for link to McGinn’s paper: http://edwardfeser.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/reply-to-steve-fuller.html

    When I was an atheist I wouldn’t have denied having a belief: I would just have argued that the belief was warranted in the way that belief in God wasn’t. I can’t imagine why you’re twisting yourself in knots to avoid this obvious truth.

  • JabbaPapa

    As an ex-agnostic, I concur with your analysis.

  • JabbaPapa

    oooooh look, yet another fact-avoidance tactic by MISTER Acleron !!!

  • JabbaPapa

    Purely rational thought would avoid this problem in these situations

    Purely rational thought does not exist.

  • JabbaPapa

    That may be a good reason not to devote too much time to scripture

    One can only hope, given your general incompetence, that you will soon be following your own advice …

  • JabbaPapa

    Acleron : Domesticated animals are selected for various traits and hey presto different variations appear.

    As you should be aware, there is a great difference between the selective breeding that you describe and simple domestication.

    Variations in this case appear as a result of deliberate action by humans.

    Domestication as such is not a mutagen.

    (starts counting down to the next time you’ll post that I’m “wrong”, and wondering how far you’ll take your irrational desire for general contradiction this time round)

  • JabbaPapa

    Me : ‘Oh, and your description of the genesis and evolution of Scripture is laughably inept in its inaccuracies !!!’

    Acleron : Any evidence for this, or is it just your usual proven inaccuracies.

    You don’t need evidence to denounce somebody else’s craptastic pseudo-scientific methodology.

    If you weren’t so useless at interpreting the contents of statements, you’d not have failed to see the evidence already provided. AKA, the *entire* lack of material evidence that Scripture has been deliberately tampered with by anyone other than Protestants.

  • JabbaPapa

    Acleron : But know you introduce the fact that Darwin toyed with Lamarckism. This
    is another and different claim, different from your first

    cripes your basic reading skills are inept !!!

    The only thing that I said in regard to this theory of Darwin’s was that it was “wrong” — I can’t help it if you invented inside your own mind whichever craptastic notion of why I said so, but the reason why it was wrong is precisely as I have said.

  • JabbaPapa

    Acleron : ‘The first thing that God does in the narrative is to create “Heaven and Earth”‘
    And then goes on to describe, how he did it.

    Interpretation. Not fact.

    So complain about the people who claim it is an accurate description of big-bang theory.

    Strawman — why do you insist so MUCH on claiming that members in here might be in any way agreeable towards such ridiculously caricatural interpretations of Scripture ???

    Gosh, you’ve learned another word, now put it back in your little bag of
    words before you wear it out, that’s the second time you used it that
    I’ve seen.

    M-word.

  • JabbaPapa

    You should learn what the big words like bigot mean.

    They refer to those like yourself who let prejudice, closed-mindedness, and arrogance dictate their every public statement.

  • JabbaPapa

    You’re a joke.

  • JabbaPapa

    You really trying to claim that as the bible was translated from one
    language to another it wasn’t changed

    Translations do NOT in fact require those that provide them to destroy the original text.

    In fact, those texts remain in our possession, in the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.

    that as it was edited certain
    gospels were included and others left out?

    As already pointed out, your understanding of the textual genesis of Scripture is both incompetent and ignorant.

    The current philology is that the New Testament was completed by about AD 65 at latest — it is unsurprising that any 2nd or 3rd or 4th or 5th century writings should not in fact belong to it ; no more than it is unsurprising that various Harry Potter fanfic writings are not included in editions of Joanne Rowling’s children’s novels.

  • TreenonPoet

     It depends on the level. I am referring to thoughts at the highest level of consciousness and inclusive of thought aids such as scribblings. If you used to develop software, I am sure that you would agree that one can create rational thoughts. But yes, not pure if included with other contemporaneous thoughts.

  • Acleron

    So it does, well done.

  • JabbaPapa

    No, not even software nor pure mathematics nor formal logic are purely rational, because they are all of them motivated.

  • JabbaPapa

    Evidence ?

    No ?

    Haven’t got any ?

    Thought not …

  • Acleron

    McGinn is entitled to his opinion, I have a different one.

    One of the problems in this area is that there are two types of belief.

    There is the deep belief held by people like yourself with no evidence for it. Then there are trivial beliefs based on evidence. So I can say that I believe there is no money in my pocket based on memory of not having put any there, I can test that belief by putting a hand in the pocket. This type of belief in no way compares to yours. Unfortunately the two types of belief are conflated. For that reason I tend not to use the word belief and can merely say I accept something and and can offer the evidence for that acceptance. My non-belief in any supernatural phenomena is based on such a trivial but evidenced belief although, by necessity, the evidence is purely negative.

    Because I do not hold the type of belief that you have, I can say I do not believe in a deity, not as Jabba and presumably you would like, that I have a belief in the non-existence of a deity. In fact, what I actually accept is that the lack of any evidence whatsoever for the supernatural places the existence any such thing in the category of being extremely unlikely, so unlikely that apart from debates such as this, it never even crosses my mind.

  • Acleron

    ETA. That theism exists is not in doubt, it’s the supernatural behind those theists which is extremely unlikely.

  • Acleron

    You don’t need to shout to get attention Jabba.

    And the majority wasn’t christian? The educational establishments weren’t mostly controlled by the religious? Sinecures were not gained by getting qualifications in those religious establishments?

    Please say all of that is untrue Jabba.

  • Acleron

    1) Domestication requires selection. If you don’t understand that, go pat a wolf on the head.

    2) You are the one who confused mutation rate with variation rate, so you are capable of learning at least something.

  • TreenonPoet

     If, by any chance, you were to reply ”No, not even software nor pure mathematics nor formal logic are purely rational, because they are all of them motivated” I would say that the motivation precedes the thought and has no bearing on the rationality of the thought itself.

  • http://cumlazaro.blogspot.com/ Lazarus

    Let’s try a slightly different tack. There are all sorts of beliefs that I possess -but which don’t really animate me. So, for example, I believe that the Emperor of Ice Cream is not in my house and I believe that Richard Dawkins in not in my house -but these beliefs play no real part in my life. Let’s call these merely formal beliefs.

    On the other hand, there are beliefs that do play an important role in my life. These include, most certainly, a belief in the existence of God. Let’s call these substantive beliefs. 

    So, your claim is that you have a merely formal belief in the non-existence of God, but not a substantive belief. And you equally have a merely formal belief in the falsity of theism, but not a substantive belief.

    And yet you hang around Catholic sites, indulge in Somme like struggles over the minutiae of theology, and posture in claiming knowledge of  philosophy and science… And all the while claiming that your belief that theism is false is a merely formal one?? 

    One of us is deluded -and it ain’t me!

    [Your own analysis confuses warrant for a belief with the strength and psychological importance of a belief. I'm afraid you're clearly deluding yourself about the strength of your belief in the falsity of theism: the question of whether or not that belief is warranted is a separate matter where we will clearly disagree. I have absolutely no idea why you are in denial about the importance of the belief in atheism to you. It is extremely odd.]

  • Acleron

    So now you are admitting that someone plays with the text. 

    In fact, your bible is lacking books found in the Eastern Orthodox bible.

     Still going to maintain that your lot hasn’t left out any books?

  • Acleron

    ‘Interpretation. Not fact.’

    Exactly. Just the same as your biblical scholars, they interpret.

    But you claim it’s poetry. More likely it is an old story telling method called ‘setting the scene’.

  • JabbaPapa

    Just the same as your biblical scholars, they interpret

    The first sensible thing you’ve said on the topic so far.

    EVERY act of reading is an act of interpretation — including your reading right now of this very internet post.

    The so-called “literalist” approach towards the interpretation of Scripture is therefore quite perfectly absurd, as it is based on the cognitive impossibility that any text could be comprehended externally to whichever individual or collective interpretation thereof. It is a very ignorant approach to a textual analysis.

    Even the most perfectly expressed Word of God can only be interpreted in a flawed manner, because interpretative flaws are inherent to human cognition.

    The Bible authors were (in their writings) and are (in our readings) subjected to and restricted by the exact same cognitive and interpretative limitations.

    NO coherent and cogent interpretation of Scripture can be in ignorance of these fundamental principles of hermeneutics.

    Revelation is therefore provided by God ; NOT by the Scripture alone.

  • JabbaPapa

    You first claimed that Darwin was wrong to say that variation occurred on domestication

    No I did not, I said that Darwin’s suggested *cause* of that variation was wrong.

    Again, you are poorly placed to comment negatively on the reading skills of others.

  • JabbaPapa

    Domestication requires selection

    Wrong — it nearly always *involves* selection, but the one is not a strict requirement of the other. Not every circumstance whereby an animal will enter into a domesticated environment with reproductive consequences will be a deliberate selection of that individual.

    You are the one who confused mutation rate with variation rate

    I didn’t even *mention* mutation, you’re just inventing stuff out of thin air again…

  • JabbaPapa

    My point was that you’re concentrating on an irrelevance — rather than on the rather obvious counterpoint that there is no philosophical nor other “contradiction” between Boolean logic and christian thought.

  • JabbaPapa

    TreenonPoet : If, by any chance, you were to reply ”No, not even software nor pure mathematics nor formal logic are purely rational, because they are all of them motivated” I would say that the motivation precedes the thought and has no bearing on the rationality of the thought itself.

    That would be an irrational counterpoint — thought, being provided by the mind, can only be motivated by the contents of that mind, and such contents cannot realistically be described as being availed of rational purity — particularly given that these contents will necessarily and unavoidably include variable bio-chemical and bio-electric imbalances, false information, disinformation, lack of information, various emotional contents, as well as (from a Christian perspective) one’s soul (which transcends the rationality in the first place). Et cetera.

    And this is without even examining the inherent limitations provided by the grammatical and other structures of each individual language, that both restrict and constrain the logic of any possible statements made using that language, as well as ruining any chance for such purity, given the bewildering multiplicity that exists of languages, dialects, and idiolects.

    Not even a programming language is purely rational, because any decent software programmer can, when it might become necessary, violate the most basic underlying principles of that language in order to obtain results that the internal logic of that language completely denies — because the programmer’s motivations require it.

  • TreenonPoet

     I had already pointed out that I was referring to high level thoughts. These are the thoughts that can be shared with others (as in the example of using rationality rather than projective emotion to criticise what somebody else has said). I was not referring to intermediate products of the neurological thought process.

    I agree that the languages that we speak, not least English, are often an impediment to conveying those thoughts. That is not a fault of the thought itself, but it is a caveat regarding my suggestion of using rational thought to avoid unfair criticism. Sometimes it does not matter how hard one tries to be unambiguous, the listener (for example, my girlfriend) can take it the wrong way. This can manifest itself in computer programming where the programming language does not do exactly what it says on the tin (the programming manual), where the compiler or interpreter does not match the original specification, or the specification itself was at fault, but once these ‘bugs’ are ironed out, I think that pure rationality is possible there.

  • Acleron

    You have obviously missed the pertinent part of a very short post, par for the course for poor Jabba. Just to indicate where you can find it, I’ll give it to you again. ‘I can clearly imagine’. 

  • Acleron

    You have a belief that shapes your life and is totally without evidence and you accuse others of being deluded? Oh dear.

    I keep an eye on this site because occasionally it is the source of the most vile vituperations about people. I don’t particularly enjoy it but look upon posting here as a contribution to the society which gave me the opportunity to understand how the universe works, a far greater experience than worrying about living my life to mirror a 2000 year document.

    My lack of a belief for a deity is totally trivial, it is the religious that worry me. Having been able to believe one impossible thing apparently leads on to others, such as you have a right, based on your belief (unevidenced) that you can not only pronounce on others but force them to live your way. For many years, if not centuries, you were able to convince the general population of many countries that you should in some way be protected from criticism. You still maintain that hold in some countries, but in the UK your protection is slipping. Put up with the criticism or change your ways, your choice.

    And it is obvious that believing that atheists have some deep belief is more important to you than me. I can partially see why this is so but am disinclined to delve further into such minds

  • Acleron

    ‘Even the most perfectly expressed Word of God can only be interpreted in a flawed manner, because interpretative flaws are inherent to human cognition.’

    If your god is so perfect, omniscient and omnipotent just why can’t he express himself in a way that everyone can understand?

    ‘The Bible authors were (in their writings) and are (in our readings) subjected to and restricted by the exact same cognitive and interpretative limitations.’

    So now you finally admit that misinterpretation occurs, therefore repeated copying will be subject to ‘Chinese whispers’, therefore what you have is a flawed copy of something that may but probably didn’t come from a supernatural being especially as a lot of it is obviously cribbed from earlier stories.

    ‘Revelation is therefore provided by God ; NOT by the Scripture alone.’

    And this is the big get out. As your supernatural being doesn’t clearly communicate with you, you choose which bits are what you follow.

  • Acleron

    ‘Wrong — it nearly always *involves* selection, but the one is not a strict requirement of the other. Not every circumstance whereby an animal will enter into a domesticated environment with reproductive consequences will be a deliberate selection of that individual.’

    Any examples of this and be aware, we are talking about domestication, not ‘entering into a domesticated environment’?

    ‘I didn’t even *mention* mutation, you’re just inventing stuff out of thin air again…’

    Of course you didn’t, you confused variation with mutation.

  • Acleron

    Jabba said:-’The only thing that I said in regard to this theory of Darwin’s was that it was “wrong” — I can’t help it if you invented inside your own mind whichever craptastic notion of why I said so, but the reason why it was wrong is precisely as I have said.’

    And now Jabba says:- ‘No I did not, I said that Darwin’s suggested *cause* of that variation was wrong.’

    But what did Jabba say originally?:-’Charles Darwin once claimed that that merely by domesticating animals, we increased the rate of new variants of these species appearing — WRONG !!!’

    Doesn’t seem to be any mention of causes there, perhaps it requires magic spectacles.