Board index Faith and Knowledge

How do we know what we know, and what is faith all about

Re: Faith vs. evidence

Postby Air Time » Thu Jun 14, 2018 6:40 pm

> You believe that the chair will hold you. Faith? Yes. You've sat in chairs hundreds of times, but you can't be absolutely sure it will hold you this time.

But like you said, you have evidence of the chair being study. Meaning it's not a faith based position. Not to mention you could examine the chair before you sit down.

> That's faith, and it was a conscious choice based on a reasonable body of evidence.

It's exactly not faith, not in the way it's being used in the OP. It's evidence.

> Every time you turn a door knob you are expressing faith

Again, you're still conflating faith with evidence.

> You'll notice in the Bible that evidence precedes faith. There is no "close your eyes and jump off a cliff" and good luck to ya! God appears to Moses in a burning bush before He expects him to believe. He gave signs to take back to Pharaoh and the Israelite people, so they could see the signs before they were expected to believe.

Ok, do you actually have evidence that these stories are based in reality? Because if not, all the "evidence" you're claiming isn't actually evidence. These are the claims. Claims cannot be evidence for themselves.

> When you read the Bible, people came to Jesus to be healed because they had heard about other people who had been healed.

Which might back up your point if you can show it actually happened. Considering the almost entirely non-existent secular history of Jesus, if he really was performing these miracles, or other claims in the bible were true (like Herod murdering tons of babies) we should see some pretty amazing accounts from elsewhere. But there is nothing. So your point falls incredibly flat.

> My belief in God is based on my knowledge of the credibility of those writings, the logic of the teaching, and the historical evidence behind it all.

So, not much if anything. That's getting closer to the faith being discussed. The bible gets plenty wrong. Jesus' incompatible different birth stories being one. The gospels accounts of the deaths and resurrections of Jesus, the most important thing in Christianity, don't line up. And that's just a couple examples out of many.

> But that's not what happened. He walked around and let them touch him, talk to him, eat with him, and THEN he said, "Believe that I have risen from the dead."

Which might make sense, except "doubting Thomas" is a thing exactly BECAUSE he questioned Jesus and it's used as a pejorative. And then entirely contradicts the point you're trying to make.
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Re: Faith vs. evidence

Postby jimwalton » Thu Jun 14, 2018 7:57 pm

> But like you said, you have evidence of the chair being study. Meaning it's not a faith based position. Not to mention you could examine the chair before you sit down.

Exactly. I have evidence of the chair under consideration, and I can examine the chair before I sit down. But it's an act of faith because I can't be certain it will hold me. Chairs do break on occasion, and we've both seen that happen. But I sit down with faith that it will hold me.

> It's exactly not faith, not in the way it's being used in the OP. It's evidence.

Right. The OP isn't using the biblical definition for faith, but something else. Faith in the Bible is always based in evidence, as per my post.

Hebrews 11.1 tells us that faith is the certainty about what we hope for and the evidence of what we can't see. The Greek words are ὑπόστασις, the assurance of actuality, reality in contrast to what merely seems to be; and ἔλεγχος, "Proof; evidence; certainty."

John 17.8 says the disciples the disciples knew with certainty. This was no blind trust, but a knowledge based on evidence. The Greek words are ἔγνωσαν ἀληθῶς: to know fully and truly. Faith is a judgment of certainty based on evidence.

In John 14.11 Jesus says he expects his disciples to believe on the weight of evidence.

And then there's every other example I already gave in the post: Moses, Pharaoh, Jesus—and I could give dozens of others. Therefore I do have an argument, and a quite good one. The Bible defines faith as evidentiary, and so that's what we go by.

> Again, you're still conflating faith with evidence.

Exactly. The Bible has faith and evidence in the same arena. I know the modern world aligns faith more with opinion, but that's not the Bible's take on it.

> Ok, do you actually have evidence that these stories are based in reality? Because if not, all the "evidence" you're claiming isn't actually evidence.

I don't have it, but Moses did, and that's my point. He was not just expect to believe. He was given evidence, and on that basis he was to have faith. Faith for Moses was based in evidence, as is consistent throughout the whole Bible.

> Which might back up your point if you can show it actually happened.

The people of the day based their faith on the evidence they saw and heard, and that's the point. Faith is based in evidence.

> Considering the almost entirely non-existent secular history of Jesus, if he really was performing these miracles, or other claims in the bible were true (like Herod murdering tons of babies) we should see some pretty amazing accounts from elsewhere. But there is nothing. So your point falls incredibly flat.

My point doesn't fall flat. The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. I saw a rainbow last week. I can't prove it. I had a conversation with a friend. I can't prove that either. There is no evidence of such things.

> So, not much if anything.

No, not true at all. The writings are quite credible, the teaching is logical, and this historical evidence is substantial. We can talk about these things as you wish.

> The bible gets plenty wrong

Well, this we'll have to talk about. You'll have to give me an example of something that's wrong so we can discuss it. A blanket statement doesn't accomplish anything.

> Jesus' incompatible different birth stories being one.

The birth stories aren't incompatible. They overlap on the basics, and each tells various details the other doesn't. You'll have to explain what's incompatible about them.

> The gospels accounts of the deaths and resurrections of Jesus, the most important thing in Christianity, don't line up.

Again, each author giving the elements that fit their thesis isn't a contradiction. Again, we can't talk unless there are specifics, but I don't agree with your broad brush.

> Which might make sense, except "doubting Thomas" is a thing exactly BECAUSE he questioned Jesus and it's used as a pejorative. And then entirely contradicts the point you're trying to make.

Not a bit. Jesus doesn't say that faith doesn't require evidence. What he says is that many people won't get the benefit of the same evidence that Thomas gets to have. You'll notice that Thomas, like everyone else, needs evidence to believe what he is asked to believe (Jn. 20.25). As I said, faith in the Bible is always evidentiary. And Jesus grants him that, since faith is evidentiary (Jn. 20.26-27). If Jesus just wanted them to believe in his resurrection without evidence, he would have ascended directly from the tomb and expected them to take to heart the words he said. But that's not what he did. He showed up to give them tangible, physical, historical evidence of his resurrection. Thomas wanted that too. No problem.

Jesus says in v. 27: "Stop doubting and believe." Faith because he had seen. Faith because of the evidence. Exactly the point I'm trying to make, and not a contradiction of it in the least.

Then in v. 29 Jesus says, "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." So now is Jesus claiming faith is "belief without evidence"? Impossible. This doesn't necessarily mean there is a dearth of evidence. Some people insist on visible evidence, and to me that's not the only or necessarily even the most convincing option. People can always turn a visual event into wondering if it was a hallucination or a dream. There are lots of different kinds of evidence, but they are not necessarily based in the senses. faith is never blind—the proverbial "leap in the dark". Faith is always based in evidence. It's always a matter of sufficiency of what an individual considers to be convincing evidence so that they can come to the most reasonable conclusion.

That doesn't mean there's no evidence. Jesus knew that very soon he would be leaving the earth and people would have to make a decision based on the evidence of the testimony of reliable witnesses, the historical evidence of the resurrection, and the experiential evidence of changed lives. But it's true they would not get to see. Not everyone gets to see, but visible evidence isn't the only kind of evidence. Even visible evidence can have its drawbacks, in case a particular event was a hallucination or a dream. That doesn't mean faith is blind. The people who believed in the resurrection of Jesus after he ascended were still making a decision based on evidence.

So Jesus's statement is not at all a contradiction to the point I'm trying to make.
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Re: Faith vs. evidence

Postby Air Time » Sun Jun 17, 2018 3:39 pm

> I don't have it, but Moses did

But if you can't prove that he did, then your claim fails, and you just admitted you can't prove he did.

> The people of the day based their faith on the evidence they saw and heard, and that's the point. Faith is based in evidence.

The people of the day that you can't even know existed. And no, they based it on the stories, same as you. You don't even know that Moses was a real person.

> The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. I saw a rainbow last week. I can't prove it. I had a conversation with a friend. I can't prove that either. There is no evidence of such things.

But it certainly isn't evidence for itself. Rainbows exist, and I can ask your friend to corroborate the story. Since we know people have conversations, it's not a farfetched claim. We also know rainbows exist. But you don't know that a burning bush spoke to Moses or that gods even exist. Clear difference.

> The writings are quite credible

Not really.

> the teaching is logical

"A woman shall not instruct a man"

Sure they are.

> and this historical evidence is substantial.

You know, except for things like the Exodus, which is essentially debunked, the flood, which is entirely debunked, the ressurection has no source outside the bible, nor any of the supposed miracles. Sure, there's plenty of historical accuracy if you ignore everything in the book that is important.

> The birth stories aren't incompatible

They absolutely are. Herod and Quirinias weren't both ruling at the same time as Herod died at least 10 years before Quirinias took over. Not ot mention that the census AND the baby billing never happened in either story. There's so many flaws it's asinine to think either are remotely true or even slightly accurate.

> Again, each author giving the elements that fit their thesis isn't a contradiction

The number of people at the tomb is inconsistent, what Jesus said, who he showed up two. One account has zombies flooding the streets which no other account (or ANY other source) describes. So no, you don't get to say they each had their own take.

> Not a bit.

Except Thomas is CHASTISED for doubting. So yes, a bit, because what you're drawing from the story is exactly the opposite meaning.

> "Stop doubting and believe." Faith because he had seen.

Those two sentences mean exactly the opposite things.

> That doesn't mean there's no evidence

There literally isn't any evidence. The bible is the claim, not the evidence. You show me a secular source stating people came back to life and started roaming around Jerusalem and then we'll talk. Until then, no, there isn't any evidence.
Air Time
 

Re: Faith vs. evidence

Postby jimwalton » Sun Jun 17, 2018 4:29 pm

> But if you can't prove that he did, then your claim fails, and you just admitted you can't prove he did.

My claim doesn't fail. I just can't substantiate it. There are many pieces from history that are gone to us now. We can't substantiate many things that are historical references. That doesn't mean my claim fails. My claim is that faith is based on evidence, and in the case of Moses, he was not asked to believe until he had been evidence, so my claim stands. I can't substantiate that evidence, but my assertion that the Bible teaches that faith is based in evidence stands firm.

> The people of the day that you can't even know existed.

Again, my point is that the Bible teaches that faith is evidentiary. While there are many people in the Bible who can't be corroborated from extrabibilical sources, so also there many people from history who are mentioned only once whose existence can't be corroborated from other sources. It doesn't discredit the Bible any more than it discredits thousands, if not millions, of people mentioned in various artifacts and records. I was just reading an article the other day about Aper-El. His tomb was recently found in Egypt. He was Semite who rose to power with the title of vizier. There is no corroboration of this man, and we don't know who authored the artifacts. Do we just throw it out? Of course not. There are many people we know from antiquity who can't be corroborated.

> But you don't know that a burning bush spoke to Moses or that gods even exist. Clear difference.

There are many logical and experiential evidences for the existence of God. His existence is not only possible, but logically probably. And if such a deity exists, his speaking in a burning bush is as easy as lighting a campfire.

> Not really.

Uh huh.

> "A woman shall not instruct a man"

A little research would be of benefit. Paul is writing to a particular city in a particular culture context dealing with a particular problem. This is nowhere near a universal rule, but a solution for a limited problem. There's no more problem with this than firing a particular person from a company because he's a problem, or convicting a politician who has done something illegal. We don't take small solutions and elevate them to universal principles.

> the Exodus, which is essentially debunked

Again, a little research would be beneficial. The Exodus is nowhere near being debunked. There is no positive evidence to substantiate it, but neither is there any negative evidence to debunk it. Much of the information given in Exodus 1-14 is well substantiated, just not the exodus itself. But there is zero evidence that debunks it.

> the flood

Again, a little research is beneficial. The flood was not a global deluge but a massively regional catastrophe. We can talk about this more if you wish, but I can't spend a page giving you the cases for each of your casuals toss-off topics here.

> the ressurection has no source outside the bible

Sure it does. Many of the Church Fathers speak of it.

> nor any of the supposed miracles

A bowl recently discovered in Alexandria, Egypt, dates somewhere from about 125 BC to the first century AD. The engraving reads (in Greek) "dia chrstou o goistais," translated by the excavation team as "through Christ the magician." It is speculated that a first-century magician used it in the work he was doing to invoke the name of Jesus, showing from an extra-biblical source that Jesus was known for his miracles.

> Herod and Quirinias weren't both ruling at the same time as Herod died at least 10 years before Quirinias took over.

First of all, Luke says that this was the "first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria." Since Josephus mentions only one for Quirinius, there obviously is still some information yet to be discovered before we cavalierly brush off Luke. Secondly, while many people are willing to brush off Josephus entirely (since Christians claim he mentions Christ), they are tenacious to hold onto to Josephus's mention of Quirinius. It's a little bit of a double standard. Third, Quirinius is called a "hegemon" by Luke. This is a different term than "governor." Luke may be speaking of something different than Josephus. Fourth, there are different ways to translate "This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria." This is all a much longer discussion, but suffice it to say that your quick toss-off is not so quick and/or settled.

> Not ot mention that the census AND the baby billing never happened in either story.

As far as we know, Rome took censuses every 14 years. We know of one in AD 6, which means the previous one would probably have taken place in 8 BC. Since Jesus was probably born in 6 or 5 BC, and since censuses took several years to execute, a census in Palestine in 6 or 5 BC is warranted. Second, Luke doesn't use the word "census," but rather "registration." third, we have from official records that Caesar Augustus laid down requirements for an ongoing process, not one massive poll taking. Evidence from Egypt shows an ongoing census at the time of Christ’s birth with 14-year intervals for enrollment. Birth records from the early second-century in Egypt indicate that the census was still in operation, and it gives us a look at the method used for organization of the census. I addition, *The Deeds of the Divine Augustus* (paragraph 8, lines 2-4) confirms that Augustus himself ordered a census in 8 BC —a census that sounds empire-wide in scope (with 4 million citizens in an empire in which most people were not citizens). In a world without the ability to travel and communicate nearly as speedily as ours today, it would be expected that it might take such an endeavor years to unfold and come to both fruition and completion. In other words, it's not nearly as clean cut and settled as you seem to think. These are vast, ongoing research and conversations.

As far as the baby killing (I assume you mean baby killing, not billing), you're right that history doesn't record this particular slaughter. Again, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Documents were often written for archives, generally either of an economic or legal nature. There is no reason to think that a furtive jealous raid on a tiny village (10-15 killed) would make it to the official annals. Herod's murderous practices, however, are well documented.

At the same time there are at least two references in ancient writers that make one wonder if the event was known. The Jewish pseudepigraphal Testament of Moses (6.4), which contains other after-the-fact “prophecies” about Herod the Great, makes an elliptical reference to the fact that “he will kill both old and young, showing mercy to none.” Since Josephus narrates no murders of children, might the young here refer to the incident in Matthew? The Latin writer Macrobius (Saturnalia 2.4.11) in the late 4th century states more plainly, “When it was heard that, as part of the slaughter of boys up to two years old, Herod, king of the Jews, had ordered his own son to be killed, [Augustus] remarked “It is better to be Herod’s pig than his son.” The fact that Macrobius mentions it more tangentially makes it less likely to have been invented. He could have known it from Matthew’s Gospel, but since he was not a Christian he may have had no cause to believe it from that source alone.

> The number of people at the tomb is inconsistent, what Jesus said, who he showed up two.

Yes they are, but not contradictory. Suppose there's a big party at my house, and when talking to someone the next day I say, "My two best friends were there." I am not implying that's all who were there. The Gospel accounts of the resurrection are in the same vein.

> One account has zombies flooding the streets which no other account (or ANY other source) describes.

Matthew's narrative of the "zombies" (your casual toss-off) is worthy of a deeper discussion. Suffice it to say, a little research is of benefit.

> Except Thomas is CHASTISED for doubting.

Yes, Thomas is chastised. All of his fellow apostles unanimously told him they had seen Jesus. That should have counted for something. He should have respected them enough to at least wonder.

> So yes, a bit, because what you're drawing from the story is exactly the opposite meaning.

No, not at all. The exact meaning of the text is Jesus giving evidence of himself to various people in various places at various times. Thomas is part of that narrative. The point of the Thomas pericope is not "Faith means believing things there's no evidence for," but rather that Jesus was flesh-and-blood resurrected from the dead giving evidence of such in numerous ways, places, and times.

> Those two sentences mean exactly the opposite things.

A little research would be of benefit. What Jesus said is μὴ γίνου ἄπιστος ἀλλὰ πιστός: "Stop becoming disbelieving but instead believe." The Old Testament Scriptures point to the resurrection. Jesus had predicted his death and resurrection to the disciples at least a half a dozen times (verbal evidence). Repeatedly they had seen Jesus do miracles, even raising the dead (physical evidence). Thomas has had the unanimous testimony of his fellow apostles (experiential evidence, eyewitness testimony). Of course Thomas is being chastised. He has had enough evidence to make an assumption of truth based on enough evidence to show that the assumption is reasonable. It certainly doesn't mean that faith is believing in things for which there is no evidence.

> The bible is the claim, not the evidence. You show me a secular source stating people came back to life and started roaming around Jerusalem and then we'll talk. Until then, no, there isn't any evidence.

Well, if that's your only criteria, no wonder you don't want to talk. A wiser course, in my opinion, would be for you to open your mind a little bit to a wider scope of knowledge. There are many things to learn here, and they don't all depend on secular corroboration that dead people walked around Jerusalem. But we can't talk about that, as you wish.
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Re: Faith vs. evidence

Postby Ella Real » Sun Jun 24, 2018 1:52 pm

The walls of Jericho were broken by the earthquake long before Israel crossed Jordan. The priests made a dramatic impression and made the people believe that the walls crumbled by their intercession with God. Now may I aske a question, did God really killed all firstborn of Egypt?
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Re: Faith vs. evidence

Postby jimwalton » Sun Jun 24, 2018 2:09 pm

> The walls of Jericho were broken by the earthquake long before Israel crossed Jordan.

I don't know which hat you pulled this out of, but there's no evidence of what you're saying. There is no historical or archaeological evidence of this claim. Kathleen Kenyon and John Garstang's excavations of Jericho revealed no such fact. What's your source?

> did God really killed all firstborn of Egypt?

Yeah (conditionally, explained later), but I don't what that has to do with the price of eggs in China. We were talking about faith (originally), then about "supernatural" vs. "natural" categorizing of miraculous events. I said some were natural events deemed miraculous by the timing. I don't understand what's behind your question of "Did God really kill all the firstborn of Egypt?"

We learned from previous plagues that "all" doesn't necessarily mean "all." In the first plague (blood, Ex. 7.20), Moses turns "all" the water in Egypt to blood. Then we read the Egyptian magicians mimicked it (7.22). How could they turn water to blood if all the water already was blood? "All" doesn't necessarily mean "all."

In the 5th plague, "all" the animals of Egypt die (9.6), and then in the 6th plague "all" the animals of Egypt broke out in boils (9.10). How is this possible if ALL of the animals are already dead? Then a plague of hail killed all the animals out in the field (9.19). We come to understand that "all" is a kind of category showing tragedy but not ultimate completeness. From that we take that very possibly not "all" of the firstborn of Egypt died, but those in a category to do the particular job so well that the word "all" was used. It's the same with the Flood story, which does not describe a global flood despite the use of the word "all," and also the alleged Canaanite "genocide" under Joshua. There was no global flood, and there was no Canaanite genocide. The first is a conditional "all"; the second is warfare rhetoric.
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Re: Faith vs. evidence

Postby Ella Real » Mon Jun 25, 2018 4:28 pm

All that means there are no miracles. The bible is the word of god and everything is true, or you can interpret things as they suit you and then nothing is the word of god.
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Re: Faith vs. evidence

Postby jimwalton » Mon Jun 25, 2018 4:28 pm

It doesn't mean at all that "there are no miracles." It means that miracles take different forms. Some are miracles of timing, some use natural forces, some seem to be contrary to nature (walking on water, resurrection), and some seem to be nature on a different time scale (like fast forward). Let's see...my comment was about the plagues of Egypt. My claim was that possibly not all of the firstborn children of Egypt were killed, but just the ones that mattered to what God was doing. From that you conclude that "there are no miracles." That's a non sequitur. It just doesn't follow.

The Bible certain is the Word of God, but we have to understand it in its cognitive environment, and that the Bible often uses hyperbolic rhetoric to make its theological point. (This was a common literary technique in all of the ancient Near East.) For you to jump from that to "that means there are no miracles" is a mistaken interpretation.
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Re: Faith vs. evidence

Postby Ella Real » Wed Jun 27, 2018 3:54 pm

If you really believe that that Jesus walked practically on water, I am not inclined to discus this matter any farther, it seems that you are interpreting the way it suits you the best and so do I.
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Re: Faith vs. evidence

Postby jimwalton » Wed Jun 27, 2018 3:56 pm

My belief that Jesus walked on the water is one of the last pieces in the chain of things, not first nor even in the middle. In our scientific understanding it is impossible, and yet there are water spiders that walk on water and are able to do so because of surface tension. The scenario of Jesus walking on the water is painted in a different light, since it was a stormy scene, and therefore not a placid situation where a miraculously increased surface tension could explain it. I'm left with the chain of logic that says (1) if Jesus was God incarnate, and (2) was the maker of heaven and earth, and (3) was capable of supernatural occurrences, and (4) displayed that capability on numerous occasions, then (5) walking on the water was possible for him.

Since faith is based on evidence, and there is evidence that Jesus was God incarnate, that he was capable of supernatural occurrences, and that he displayed that capability, my belief that he walked on water is not just a blind leap in the dark but an assumption of truth based on enough evidence to make that assumption reasonable.

So I guess you're not inclined to continue the discussion, but I'm not just interpreting the way it suits me. That sounds so random and without though, but only with prejudice.

Thank you for the conversation. We can discuss other things as you wish.
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