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Thread: What is Truth?

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    Miles
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    Default What is Truth?

    This article is a defense of the Christian theory of truth. Time does not permit me to cover all relevant ground in one piece. I will hone in on the reliability of Scripture, the resurrection of Jesus and the perceived conflict between science and faith.

    Of all the questions that could ever be posed to a mortal man, none has such a bearing on his future as “what is truth?” For centuries, philosophers, scholars, and laymen have debated the answer to this question. In today’s postmodern, morally relative culture, we often hear there is no such thing as absolute truth. Because we are all raised in distinct social settings and family upbringings, it is considered uncivilized and even offensive to suggest absolute truth exists.

    Christian philosopher Francis Schaeffer took the question a step further with his notion of “true truth”. In essence, truth corresponds with reality, and that reality is determined by God. Christ revealed in the Scriptures that He is “the way, the truth and the life”, i.e. truth is embodied in all that Jesus did and said. Although many simple truths exist, the earthly life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ point to a truth above all other truths- “true truth”. Truth of this kind compels us to act and conform in an appropriate manner. It leads to answers for some of life’s other puzzling mysteries, such as “what does it mean to be human?” and “what is our purpose?”

    To further illustrate the relevance of the topic, consider the wisdom of Winston Churchill, Andrei Sakharov and Malcolm Muggeridge taken from Ravi Zacharias:

    Quote Originally Posted by RZIM
    Winston Churchill once said that the most valuable thing in the world was the truth. So valuable is it, said he, that it needs to be constantly protected by a bodyguard of lies. Mr. Churchill made that remark in the context of intelligence and counterintelligence efforts during the Second World War.
    I’ve always thought that the most powerful weapon in the world was the bomb and that’s why I gave it to my people, but I’ve come to the conclusion that the most powerful weapon in the world is not the bomb but it’s the truth.-Andrei Sakharov
    Quote Originally Posted by RZIM
    Yet even so, truth is very beautiful: more so I consider than justice-today's pursuit which easily puts on a false face. In the nearly seven decades I have lived through, the world has overflowed with bloodshed and explosions whose dust has never had time to settle before others have erupted. All in purportedly just causes....The lies on behalf of which our wars have been fought and our peace treaties concluded! The lies of revolution and of counter-revolution! The lies of advertising, of news, of salesman-ship, of politics! The lies of the priest in his pulpit, the professor at his podium, the journalist at his typewriter! The lie stuck like a fishbone in the throat of the micro-phone, the hand-held lies of the prowling cameraman!
    The Resurrection of Jesus

    The Christian faith stands and falls on the historicity of Jesus’s resurrection. So central is it to Christianity that the apostle Paul, when explaining doctrine to the Corinthian church, claimed if Christ did not raise from the grave, we are still dead in our sins and faith is futile. (1) Jesus’s multiple claims that He would be put to death and raised on the third day mean nothing if the resurrection can be disproven.

    To be clear, the resurrection of Jesus is not to be confused with bodily resuscitation seen elsewhere in the Bible, such as Elijah resuscitating the widow’s son in the book of Kings. Whereas a resuscitation involves restoration of life to a mortal body so that death will be experienced again, Jesus was resurrected to an immortal body that would not wither or be corrupted. Such a feat implies an act of God in bringing about the resurrection.

    Surprisingly, since around the 1970s, consensus has emerged in the theological regarding a few gospel claims pertaining to the resurrection events. William Lane Craig offers an illustration:

    But a remarkable change came about during the second half of the twentieth century. The first glimmerings of change began to appear in 1953. In that year, as we have said, Ernst Kaesemann, a pupil of Bultmann, argued at a colloquy at the University of Marlburg that Bultmann’s historical skepticism toward Jesus was unwarranted and counterproductive and suggested reopening the question of where the historical about Jesus was to be found. A new quest for the historical Jesus had begun. Three years later in 1956 the Marburg theologian Hans Grass in his influential Ostergeschehen und Osterberichte subjected the resurrection itself to historical inquiry and concluded that the resurrection appearances cannot be dismissed as mere subjective visions on the part of the disciples, but were objective visionary events.

    Meanwhile the church historian Hans Freiherr von Campenhausen in an equally epochal essay defended the historical credibility of Jesus’ empty tomb. During the ensuing years a stream of works on the historicity of Jesus’s resurrection flowed forth from German, French and English presses. By 1968 the old skepticism was a spent force and began dramatically to recede. (2)
    Even today, most scholars in the field of theology would concede that there was an empty tomb after Jesus had been buried by Joseph of Arimathea. Although we must rely on historical methods of inquiry to discern the gospel accounts of the empty tomb, enough information exists to validate the Christian claims. Michael Grant, a reputable classical historian who did not identify as a Christian, found it implausible to criticize the empty tomb using historical methods. (3) Other scholars, such as D.H. van Daalen and Rudolf Pesch, are in agreement with Grant and point to the proximity of Mark’s source to the events in question.

    The Christian accounts are bolstered by sources independent of the canonical writings. For starters, we have a fairly detailed passage from the Jewish writer Josephus confirming that Jesus was a wise man and had followers that believed He was risen the third day after His crucifixion. Some have disputed the reliability of the passage, but both Jewish and Christian scholars have consensus that what Josephus wrote is credible.(4) As a counter to the belief that Christians have corrupted the relevant text, we have a tenth-century Arabic author named Agapius who quoted Josephus in his native tongue. His quotation still confirms Jesus “was a wise and virtuous teacher” that believed He was the Promised One of God. (5) The historian Thallus, writing not far removed from the life of Jesus, also wrote about the darkness after the death of Jesus which is recorded in the gospels.

    We also have Paul’s writings in 1 Corinthian 15 about the resurrection of Christ. Bart Ehrman, a skeptic of the Christian faith, admits that the creed found in this chapter can be traced to one year after the crucifixion of Jesus. James J.G. Dunn goes further: the latest the 1 Corinthians 15 passage becomes a creed is six months after the crucifixion. This is significant because unlike other ancient historical events where reporting is far removed from the actual events, the gospel writers and especially Paul’s epistles are in close proximity. Since Paul writes that the other apostles preached the resurrection as he presented it to the Corinthians, William Lane Craig believes “the saying stems from the earliest days of the Christian fellowship in Jerusalem.”(6) Craig thinks Paul’s discovery came after visiting Jerusalem to see Peter and James in 36 A.D. based on the Greek word Paul uses for his visit.(7)

    We must not forget the passion of the apostles and the early church in promoting the good news. That eleven of the twelve apostles were martyred shows they truly believed in what they preached:

    The testimonies of the Roman authors Seutonius and Juvenal confirm that within thirty-one years after Jesus’ death, Christians were dying for their faith. From the writings of Pliny the Younger, Martial, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius, it is clear that the believers voluntarily submitted to torture and death rather than renounce their faith.(8)
    According to eighteenth century author William Paley, no similar case exists in history. The apostles had nothing to gain in an earthly sense by following Jesus. Being His disciples meant toil and misery for the most part. That they willingly sacrificed their lives and that the church became a relevant institution within a short period of time deserves explanation. To put it bluntly, no explanation seems adequate except for the idea that the apostles truly did see a resurrected Jesus.

    Reliability of Scripture

    The bedrock of Christian faith and doctrine is the holy scriptures comprising all sixty-six books of both the Old and New Testament. What is to be known about the triune God and the history of His people are found in the canon of the Bible. Despite the accuracy of prophetic records in the Bible, even fundamentalists today are questioning whether the Bible is completely inerrant in all its claims. Skepticism surrounding the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, the historicity of the Canaanite conquests, and dating of various books are fairly common. Not to mention that the Jesus Seminar has ‘cast doubt’ on the sayings, teachings, and miracles of Jesus.

    Some of the supposed issues with the Old Testament have been resolved through elaborate scholarly work. One of the reasons scholars believed Moses could not have written the Pentateuch was because the Semitic language was not around when he lived. We now know that this is false. Also, some of the information given in the Bible corresponds well with the historical information we have around the same period. The Abimelech covenant (and other covenants found in Genesis) match the style of covenants in the Bronze Age. They are not at all like Iron Age covenants, which contradicts the thesis that the Pentateuch was written by Judahites during the Babylonian captivity. The shekel slave price of Joseph and that given in the Mosaic law match what we have for the Bronze period as well. Since Abraham and Moses spoke Akkadian, the Iron Age Israelites couldn’t have known what the proper price would be, further discrediting the likelihood that the Mosaic books were written at a later period.(9)

    Much can be gleaned by observing what Jesus thought of Scripture as it existed in His time. What is most striking is that Jesus, in His ministry, quoted very controversial passages in the Old Testament to affirm the Bible's authenticity, such as the creation story and Jonah being swallowed by a whale. Based on the structure of Genesis 1, it can be inferred that the creation account of Genesis was meant to be read as true history rather than allegory or fictional poetry. According to Hebrew scholar Steven Boyd, preterite verbs are indicative of a narrative text and the ratio of preterite to non-preterite verbs in Genesis 1 shows it is narrative.(10)

    Many have dismissed the biblical account of Jonah because 1) no whale could have swallowed a human alive and 2) Jonah could not have survived in the belly of a whale. Indeed, an arctic whale is incapable of swallowing a human being, but we are dealing with a whale from the Mediterranean. It would’ve been a sperm whale which could swallow much larger things. And it may be admitted that the entrance to a tummy is too small for a human, but between the throat and the tummy is the laryngeal pouch. A man could survive in that pouch for some time.(11) And regardless of what atheistic or theistic explanation is offered for creation, we are left to believe in some form of miracle. Both sides are a little incredible to some degree.

    When He did cite Scripture in conversation, Jesus would say “it is written” which in the koine Greek of the Bible is in the continuous tense, i.e. the words of the Bible have a lasting authority.(12) Jesus went as far as to say that heaven and earth will pass away, but the Word of God will remain. He also said (in a similar vein) that ‘the Scriptures cannot be broken’ which Greek commentators have noted can also mean the Scriptures ‘cannot be unloosed’ or ‘cannot be undone.’(13) In the words of Jesus and the apostles, the Scriptures rest on the authority of God and thus cannot be spoken against.

    Some may object and say it would be impossible for human authors to write a book that is free of error. However, it must be granted that it is possible for man to write an infallible book such as math textbooks or phone number books. Not only that, but the authors of the Bible were inspired by the Holy Spirit to write their texts as they did. As proof, consider what mathematician Peter Stoner found when studying prophetic fulfillment in relation to Jesus Christ. The chance that just eight of the prophecies that found their realization in Christ would’ve came to pass is one in 10^17. To put that into perspective, the chance that a blindfolded man would walk across the entire state of Texas buried in two feet of silver dollars and pick the right coin on the first try approximates one in 10^17.(14)

    The four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John have been the subject of much scrutiny from critics of biblical inerrancy. Any writing on the accuracy of Scriptures would be incomplete without covering gospel contradictions and the reliability of the gospels. One way to gauge the accuracy of the gospels is how their reporting of customs, manners, geography and people mesh with what is known elsewhere of first century Israel. Richard Baukham, author of Jesus and the Eyewitnesses used an ancient source to compare names given in the Bible to names of Jews in Palestine from 350 BC to 200 AD. The results:

    As it turns out, when Bauckham examined all the names discovered by Ilan, he found that the New Testament narrative reflect nearly the same percentages found in all the documents Ilan examined...The most popular names found in the Gospels just happen to be the most popular names found in Palestine in the first century. This is even more striking when you compare the ancient popular Palestinian Jewish names with the ancient popular Egyptian Jewish names...If the gospel writers were simply guessing about the names they were using in their accounts, they happened to guess with remarkable accuracy.(15)
    So it turns out that, in one aspect, the gospels blend in well with our historical understanding. Craig Blomberg, a professor at Denver, offers up other evidence that the gospels contain authentic accounts of the life of Jesus. For one, we know that in the ancient Middle East, variations were allowed in storytelling, so much so that:

    it’s likely that a lot of the similarities and differences among the Synoptics can be explained by assuming that the disciples and other early Christians had committed to memory a lot of what Jesus said and did, but they felt free to recount this information in various forms, always preserving the significance of Jesus’ original teaching and deeds.(16)
    Luke, the Gentile author of one of the synoptic gospels and the author of the Acts of the Apostles, was proven to be an honest historian. Not a single mistake was located in his references to counties, cities and islands.(17) So it turns out there are sound reasons to accept the gospels and their claims regarding Jesus Christ.

    I will mention a few other anecdotal facts that support the reliability of the Bible. For example, since the 90s, several inscriptions have been found referring to king David. Before, scholars cast doubt on his literal existence. Now, ample evidence has been presented to think otherwise. Lastly, Lawrence Mykytiuk, a Hebrew Bible scholar at Purdue University, has studied and confirmed the names of 53 Bible characters in the Old Testament. Time and space do not permit me to delve deeper into the archaeological record that supports the Bible, but suffice to say that it also confirms the accounts of Scripture.

    Science and Religion

    Evolution remains the primary scientific obstacle to belief in God. To a layman, the consensus of the scientific community rules in favor of Darwin’s evolutionary theories as opposed to creationism or intelligent design. Specifically, macroevolution has been adopted as the means of explaining human origins.

    Some hold to the belief that the creation accounts found in Genesis do not contradict the teachings of evolution. For one, the order of creation given in the first chapter of Genesis lines up well with the current scientific understanding.(18) Yet, Genesis 1 clearly assigns the origin of all created things to God. There is no room left for life to evolve from any other source.

    The traditional understanding of scientists and their religious beliefs is not so clear cut. Surveys have been done in the past examining the interplay between the two:

    Many scientists see no incompatibility between faith in God and their work.
    Two famous studies that support this contention were done in 1916 and 1997. The American psychologist James Leuba conducted the first survey of scientists, asking them if they believed in a God who actively communicates with humanity, at least through prayer. Forty percent said they did, 40 percent said they did not, and 20 percent were not sure. In 1997, Edward Larson and Larry Witham repeated this survey asking the very same questions of scientists. They reported in the scientific journal Nature that they had found that the numbers had not changed significantly in eighty years…
    Alister McGrath, a theologian with an Oxford doctorate in biophysics, writes that most of the many unbelieving scientists he knows are atheists on other grounds than their science.(19)
    Deborah Keleman, a professor of psychological and brain sciences at Boston University, believes that even the years of training in scientific discipline that scientists get still cannot erase the belief that there is purpose in the universe.(20)

    Discussions on the origins of science can yield some fascinating insights. Alfred North Whitehead and J. Robert Oppenheimer, neither of whom were Christians, thought science as we know it today could only arise out of a Christian worldview.(21) Since Christians understood that their Creator was a God of reason, it follows that facts and observations can be ascertained through the use of reason.

    According to Darwin, challenges did exist to his scientific theories. Critics of his time were quick to point to the incompatibility of the fossil record with his statements:

    The abrupt manner in which whole groups of species suddenly appear in certain formations has been urged by several paleontologists- for instance, by Agassiz, Picket, and Sedgwick- as a fatal objection to the belief in the transmutation of species. If numerous species, belonging to the same genera or families, have really started into life all at once, the fact would be fatal to the theory of descent with slow modification through natural selection.(22)
    The Burgess shale and the sudden jump from precambrian to cambrian forms of life provided such evidence that worked against Darwin. The cambrian explosion refers to the sudden appearance of many life forms in the fossil record. It would be difficult to account for the phenomenon through traditional evolutionary theory since the latter assumes continuity in the fossil record. According to statistical analysis by Michael Foote, it remains unlikely that any intermediate forms will be found linking the precambrian and cambrian fossils on record.(23)

    There are others that contest the usefulness of using the fossil records to support Darwinian evolution:

    The problem for the Darwinists is that the fossil record cannot establish ancestral relationships. Why not? Because, according to Michael Denton, ‘99 percent of the biology of any organism resides in its soft anatomy, which is inaccessible in a fossil.’ In other words, it’s extremely difficult to discover the biological makeup of a creature by looking at its fossil remains. Jonathan Wells observes, ‘the fossil evidence is open to many interpretations because individual specimens can be reconstrued in a variety of ways, and because the fossil record cannot establish ancestor-descendant relationships.(24)
    And then, even where there are supposed gaps in the fossil record that presumably will be resolved with a future discovery, much is left to be desired:

    There are serious difficulties in crossing some of the gaps that standard evolutionary theory says have been crossed: for example, to get from a reptile to a bird you need to develop a scale into a feather; to get from an amphibian to a reptile you need to develop a different kind of egg; to get from a fish to an amphibian you need to develop a whole new kind of lung.(25)
    What must be stressed is that Christians are not against science per se. Rather, they are against the assumptions made by theories such as evolution: that there is a natural explanation for every effect that can be observed. Naturalism is the philosophy that is being challenged, which states that nature, or matter, is all there is. Thanks to the work of professor Craig Keener in his two volume work titled Miracles, we know that supernatural events that do not adhere to the laws of nature do happen. Kenner looked at pre and post CAT scans, pre and post MRIs, pre and post X rays, and hundreds of cases all over the world. His main argument: we should not call new testament writers naive because they record miracles. To add to Keener’s case, the now increasing scholarly work on near death experiences demonstrates that there is a spiritual world not accounted for by nature.

    Furthermore, if time, matter and chance produced us as naturalists theorize, then there is no such thing as objective truth.(26) Because time and matter are always changing and chance is an artificial construct, there exists no standard by which we can judge something to be true and other beliefs to be false.

    Conclusion

    In order to live the fullest life possible, it is necessary that we both know truth and live by it. We demand that we be told the truth when it comes to our finances, our friendships, our marriages, and our job. Truth is needed for every part of our life. Fortunately, Christianity is not based on a far fetched view of the world or human nature. As I have demonstrated to some degree, Christianity is supported by facts and rationality.

    Given the above, I will offer a comment on what it means to be a person of faith. Too often, we think faith belongs to those who lack proof for their beliefs. Rather, faith in the biblical sense is a yielding trust to what God revealed about Himself in the person of Jesus. Based on the evidence regarding biblical prophecy, the resurrection of Jesus and other narratives in the Bible, the Lord can be fully trusted. His truth prevails over all other truths.

    References

    (1)1 Corinthians 15:14
    (2)William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith, p. 349
    (3) Michael Grant, Jesus: An Historian’s Review of the Gospels, p. 176; cf. https://vridar.org/2013/02/25/the-hi...erdition-pt-1/
    (4) Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ, p. 85
    (5) J. Warner Wallace, Cold-Case Christianity, pp. 196-7
    (6)William Lane Craig, The Son Rises: The Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus, p. 47
    (7) Ibid., p. 48
    (8) Ibid., p. 29
    (9) CrossExamined Podcast
    (10)David DeWitt, Unraveling the Origins Controversy, p. 89
    (11)Taken from David Pawson’s commentary on Jonah
    (12)This insight is from Norman Geisler
    (13) https://www.studylight.org/commentary/john/10-35.html
    (14) Peter Stoner, Science Speaks, Chapter 3
    (15) Wallace, pp. 192-3
    (16) Strobel, p. 46
    (17)Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe, When Critics Ask, p. 385
    (18) David Pawson, Unlocking the Bible, p. 33
    (19) Timothy Keller, The Reason for God, pp. 89-90
    (20) Art Jahnke, “The Natural Design Default: Why Even the Best-Trained Scientists Should Think Twice”, cf. Douglas Axe, Undeniable: How Biology Confirms Our Intuition that Life is Designed, p. 19
    (21) Francis Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live?, p. 132
    (22) Stephen Meyer, Darwin’s Doubt, p. 17
    (23) Ibid., pp. 70-1
    (24) Norman Geisler and Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, p. 153
    (25) C. John Collins, Science & Faith: Friends or Foes?, p. 275
    (26) This point has been made by Ravi Zacharias

  2. #2
    basics's Avatar Praeses
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    Default Re: What is Truth?

    Duptar,

    What a winderful explanation about truth especially as it refers to our Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ in Whom is all truth. We see that from the Scriptures when certain leaders found it easier to lie about Him than accept the truth He spoke of. From your posting I can already see and feel the uproar from those still dead in their sin. That said, the truth will shine in glorious Light the day when, " Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord." God bless you.

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    swabian's Avatar igni ferroque
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    Default Re: What is Truth?

    The concept of truth is a philosophical artifact. What is probably sought for in this thread are the terms "verifiability", "consistency" and "plausibility".

    There is no method of thinking that can determine what the "real truth" is. However, religious attempts at finding the truth are the least verifiable, the most inconsistent and the least plausible.

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    basics's Avatar Praeses
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    Default Re: What is Truth?

    Quote Originally Posted by swabian View Post
    The concept of truth is a philosophical artifact. What is probably sought for in this thread are the terms "verifiability", "consistency" and "plausibility".
    There is no method of thinking that can determine what the "real truth" is. However, religious attempts at finding the truth are the least verifiable, the most inconsistent and the least plausible.
    swabian,

    Hardly least plausible when there are more documents about Jesus Christ than there ever was about any of the so-called Greek masters and yet these guys get most of the credit for just about anything by academia. Jesus Christ not only claimed to be the Truth, the Way and the Life yet according to Voddie Baucham some six thousand writings of Him still available are avoided like the plague. These writings were not made hundreds of years after Jesus' death and resurrection, rather by eyewitnesses some of whom were still alive long after they were written. The problem with man is that he thinks he can tell the difference between truth and untruth yet he falls for lies every other day of the week, large or small.

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    Quote Originally Posted by basics View Post
    swabian,

    Hardly least plausible when there are more documents about Jesus Christ than there ever was about any of the so-called Greek masters and yet these guys get most of the credit for just about anything by academia. Jesus Christ not only claimed to be the Truth, the Way and the Life yet according to Voddie Baucham some six thousand writings of Him still available are avoided like the plague. These writings were not made hundreds of years after Jesus' death and resurrection, rather by eyewitnesses some of whom were still alive long after they were written.
    Yeah, ok. You believe your stuff. I actually find it kind of respectable with what diligence and endurance you defend your belief system and i don't see a reason to destroy that. But you know that you are not in an environment here that confirms your belief, that's not why you are here. You are a challenger. And that is the problem.

    The problem with man is that he thinks he can tell the difference between truth and untruth yet he falls for lies every other day of the week, large or small.
    Man has to try and tell the difference between truth and untruth. This is our curse. It certainly is a pain in the arse, yes. Why do we have to therefore believe in what you propose as the only way out?

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    Default Re: What is Truth?

    One of the deepest messages of Christianity is that truth does not belong to human beings, but we belong to truth. This is a source of annoyance to the strong and the wannabe-strong, who reject objective truth in favor of power, but how freeing it must be to the weak. It's no accident that Christianity has always appealed mainly to slaves, women and the poor.

    When Pilate asked him, "What is truth?", Jesus remained silent, because he, the truth, was staring Pilate in the face. In the same way, the truth is apparent to all who hear it today, but not everyone is ready to accept it. The reason they don't accept it is because they're afraid of giving up power over themselves and others, which they mistakenly believe to be more valuable than the truth.

    "In Pilate's world, truth and justice were the fruits of Caesar's sword. In Jesus' kingdom, truth and justice were alternatives to Caesar's sword." - Miroslav Volf

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    Default Re: What is Truth?

    The idea of empirically proving anything related to acts and ideas of faith at a minimum misunderstands what faith is. For example, absent the following premise, trying to argue the independent veracity of any of the central tenets of Christianity, namely the divinity of Jesus, is an errand in unfalsifiable sophistry:
    Quote Originally Posted by 2 Timothy 3:16-17
    16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
    If you don’t believe the Bible is divinely inspired, you’re not gonna consider it an arbiter of truth. Attempting to reverse engineer the latter from secular sources merely concedes the argument that secular and scientific sources are de facto more authoritative than the Bible. At that point, the one ostensibly asserting the truth of Christianity has in fact lost the plot. For example, one can prove the divinity of Jesus based on the premise that certain Biblical passages are prophetic and accurate. Under this premise, the historical record speaks for itself. Without that premise, nothing means anything.

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    Default Re: What is Truth?

    Quote Originally Posted by Prodromos View Post
    One of the deepest messages of Christianity is that truth does not belong to human beings, but we belong to truth. This is a source of annoyance to the strong and the wannabe-strong, who reject objective truth in favor of power, but how freeing it must be to the weak. It's no accident that Christianity has always appealed mainly to slaves, women and the poor.

    When Pilate asked him, "What is truth?", Jesus remained silent, because he, the truth, was staring Pilate in the face. In the same way, the truth is apparent to all who hear it today, but not everyone is ready to accept it. The reason they don't accept it is because they're afraid of giving up power over themselves and others, which they mistakenly believe to be more valuable than the truth.

    "In Pilate's world, truth and justice were the fruits of Caesar's sword. In Jesus' kingdom, truth and justice were alternatives to Caesar's sword." - Miroslav Volf

    Yes, that would all be fine and dandy if the nice story of uncle Pilatus were true. He only wanted to tame the foolish local provincials as a Roman figure of authority and justice to overshine all the centuries to come.

    The thing is that Jesus of Nazareth was actually a very simple explanation: he was a Jewish rebel, representing an uprising against brutal oppression.
    He might have been actually pretty unwise, angry, fanatical, petty, etc. Hell, maybe he simply was a rambling schizophrenic with some charisma and the ancient society of the time could not handle it otherwise.

    Hower howitzer, he quite obviously was a simple rebel against Roman oppression. If he existed at all, that is. There is reason to believe he did, but that has nothing to do with religion.

    So why did he become such a symbol, nay idol and subject of worship?

    Because the Romans were incredibly and utterly ridiculously cruel. If hundreds or even thousands of people are being crucified at once for example, the minds of normal people snap, as they literally have to watch how everything they hold dear and love squeals and wails in agony, exposed on a hill or mountain, where everyone can watch.

    Roman civilization my arse! Apart from very few exceptions, only the very capital of Rome benefitted. Hardly anybody else. Rome was a freaking, overrated parasite that quite literraly sucked the life out of the Mediterranian. All wealth, all progress, all knowledge, everything went to the city of Rome, together with untold of numbers of slaves.

    Rome didn't even smell good. It stank. The public baths were septic cesspools, the hygienic effect of which was psychological at best.

    And it is not merely an irony, but a sick perversion, that this stinking, murdering, slaving cesspool of "civilisation" made it so that the poor, poor Aramaic man they tortured to death for the purpose of intimidation later became their freaking idol.

    It is probably all Paulus, modern Christians are actually worshiping. He was in a position of authority and made up a sob story to benefit himself. And maybe he was a bit of a cultist-like psychopath who simply enjoyed the power to mess with peoples minds. He certainly wasn't a good guy at all.

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    Default Re: What is Truth?

    Christianity, at its core, is Platonism for the masses. The truth behind all of the appearances is simply unknowable/indemonstrable. We are in the cave of shadows and there is no way out. Those who claim to have escaped the cave all disagree; Christians, Existentialists, Hindus, Animists, Materialists, Naturalists, Thomists etc.

    Evolution remains the primary scientific obstacle to belief in God.
    That's not true. It's only an obstacle to a peculiar species of Christian that is dogmatically opposed to science as a core principle. It is not an issue for the vast majority of Christians or Christianity in general.

    The idea of empirically proving anything related to acts and ideas of faith at a minimum misunderstands what faith is. For example, absent the following premise, trying to argue the independent veracity of any of the central tenets of Christianity, namely the divinity of Jesus, is an errand in unfalsifiable sophistry
    Absolutely, 100%. Religion cannot and should not endure the realm of objectivity, not only is it a perversion of the essence of faith, it is also an avenue for misrepresentation of religion that inevitably and irreversibly damages the reliability of religion in the collective psyches of mankind.
    The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are so certain of themselves, but wiser people are full of doubts.
    -Betrand Russell

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    Default Re: What is Truth?

    Himster,

    Believing on the Lord Jesus Christ is not a religion rather a faith endowed to the believer by Jesus Christ at the point of new birth. One isn't born into it, one cannot ask into it, because it is solely an act of God Who in His Three Persons makes it all happen. As Christians were are never asked to take over a nation, no not even part of a nation, never mind rule the world, what we are asked to do is be good citizens to whichever power rules in the land we live. Our purpose in doing so is to show people the light of Christ in us and wherever possible to tell of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In other words ole Himster son, I am to love you as I love myself.

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    Quote Originally Posted by basics View Post
    Believing on the Lord Jesus Christ is not a religion rather a faith endowed to the believer by Jesus Christ at the point of new birth.
    Well, if it's not a religion then it's a cult. I tend to be more generous with my interlocutors, but of course if you wanna be in a cult I won't stand in your way. I accidentally joined a cult once too.

    In other words ole Himster son, I am to love you as I love myself.
    Unearned affection isn't worth the paper it's not printed on. That's one of the key issues I have with Christianity: "universal love". Not only is it impractical and ingenuine in the extreme, but it also conceptually dilutes the value of love to the point of worthlessness. Once diluted so, it becomes a routine empty gesture.
    I love you like a crazy uncle because that is the feeling you induce due to your actions: Spouting archaic nonsense while being occasionally charming.
    The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are so certain of themselves, but wiser people are full of doubts.
    -Betrand Russell

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    Quote Originally Posted by Prodromos View Post
    ...When Pilate asked him, "What is truth?", Jesus remained silent,
    John 18:38 is bloody amazing. Robin Lane Fox makes a fair case that John is an eyewitness and probably the "beloved disciple": there's a few details like the description of a weird double portico (rethought to be a typo but excavated in the 20th century) and the technical term for Pilate's judgement seat that persuade me John or his amanuensis wrote that Gospel, albeit decades later when the Kingdom had not appeared for some decades and new truths were manifesting.

    Quote Originally Posted by Prodromos View Post
    because he, the truth, was staring Pilate in the face. ...
    This point is supported by John 14:6, it may well be this is the crux of John's narrative. John's crucifixion reads very plainly, he does not preach from the cross but rather dies like a man, thirsty and mindful of his mother.

    Many have tried to explain Jesus' silence here. Francis Bacon says Pilate was jesting and left before Jesus could answer. I think Jesus did not preach to gentiles. The text does not explicitly say though. There's a tendency for theologians to explode the text into minute fragments and paste them together to cobble up whatever theology they like.

    I think your interpretation is probably what John intended.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Himster View Post
    Unearned affection isn't worth the paper it's not printed on. That's one of the key issues I have with Christianity: "universal love". Not only is it impractical and ingenuine in the extreme, but it also conceptually dilutes the value of love to the point of worthlessness. Once diluted so, it becomes a routine empty gesture.
    I love you like a crazy uncle because that is the feeling you induce due to your actions: Spouting archaic nonsense while being occasionally charming.
    The Christian concept of love is not to be understood as superficial affection; it recognizes and extols the intrinsic value of humanity.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cope View Post
    The Christian concept of love is not to be understood as superficial affection; it recognizes and extols the intrinsic value of humanity.
    Indeed. It’s an altogether inspiring and humbling concept. I can’t pull it off myself. I’m too much of a cranky, judgmental “old” man.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agape

    Quote Originally Posted by 1 Corinthians 13
    Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
    2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
    3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
    4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
    5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
    6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
    7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
    8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
    9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
    10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
    11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
    12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
    13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
    Spoiler for personal note

    This concept of Biblical, Christian love has always been a complete mystery to me. It was only when I met my wife and got married that I began to contextualize specifically who I am capable of loving and who not. If I love my atheist wife so much that I want to be with her always, in life and death, do I not love her more than the God who has condemned her to damnation? Especially given she has a far bigger “heart for others” than I, who know the Bible, ever will. Seems massively insecure on God’s part. Maybe not, of course. My bias here is that I’m not sure I’m mentally capable, in my “heart of hearts,” of being convinced that God physically exists to begin with. I am just a human and cannot understand things as God understands them, but that, frankly, seems to be the fundamental injustice of it all, at least from the perspective of the unrepentant sinner that I am.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Himster View Post
    Well, if it's not a religion then it's a cult. I tend to be more generous with my interlocutors, but of course if you wanna be in a cult I won't stand in your way. I accidentally joined a cult once too.

    Unearned affection isn't worth the paper it's not printed on. That's one of the key issues I have with Christianity: "universal love". Not only is it impractical and ingenuine in the extreme, but it also conceptually dilutes the value of love to the point of worthlessness. Once diluted so, it becomes a routine empty gesture.
    I love you like a crazy uncle because that is the feeling you induce due to your actions: Spouting archaic nonsense while being occasionally charming.
    Himster,

    The concept of love for a Christian is that if the heart is really changed then he or she can put up no barriers towards anyone at all. Many of us find that hard always to do as particular circumstances can be quite repulsive for us to accept. The overcoming factor for us though is that we remind ourselves of what we once were until Jesus Christ came into our lives and changed our hearts and if we emulate Him as best as we can He will always be there by our sides to show love rather than revulsion. Christianity spread on the love of Christ for it cannot stand on anything else. So, is it a cult? No it is not, not in the sense that we talk of cults, why? Because Christianity is built on the Supernatural for those that will become supernatural the day they come face to face with Jesus Christ.

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    Default Re: What is Truth?

    This concept of Biblical, Christian love has always been a complete mystery to me.
    Counter-Intuitively, it's what makes the most sense to me. Albeit it can be (understandably) a challenge for many.

    If you want romantic love or close family love (unless it's a dysfunctional family) then a few Tabloids and/or some village-level gossip should do the trick.
    I fall in love with the local blonde (or brunette) or the local guy (in case I play in the other team). Bam that's it, you'll have plenty of love overflowing, both romantic/eros type, or both.

    I love a certain song/celebrity/brand/team/country/person wtv else not mentioned. Let's suppose even a friendship type of "love", as in affection and respect.

    All the above types of love are extremely intuitive and even obvious, regardless of level of education. You don't need one year of school, you just need to know basic vocabulary on the level of a child.

    This is exactly why this type of "love" is literally part of your mammal bonding instincts and sense of reproduction. It's in your genes. Regardless if you enjoyed it or not, how much Free Will did you actually have? Your expectations of Love since you were born were most of them born out of species survival-instinct. I can understand it's more intuitive for most, but where's the Free Will in such "love"? That's just obeying survival instincts masked with some nice artistic aesthetics.


    Now the reason the known modern "love" is (personally) counter-intuitive to me is the sheer amount of Deterministic weight involved, and the approval it gets.
    But who am I to judge? I'm not in the mood to throw the first stone. Let people live as they prefer, I guess.


    Now, do you really need a 2,000 years old Scripture and a Messiah to repeat to you the obvious intuitive that comes from living a normal life?

    Scripture-Christ type of Love is supposed to be something outside of the box - and by the box I mean at least the mammal part of the brain. At least that.
    If it was something obvious, why would the Messiah's words be recorded and defended into such ways?

    It will be seen that, as used, the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless. In conversation, of course, it is used even more wildly than in print. I have heard it applied to farmers, shopkeepers, Social Credit, corporal punishment, fox-hunting, bull-fighting, the 1922 Committee, the 1941 Committee, Kipling, Gandhi, Chiang Kai-Shek, homosexuality, Priestley's broadcasts, Youth Hostels, astrology, women, dogs and I do not know what else.

    -George Orwell

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cope View Post
    The Christian concept of love is not to be understood as superficial affection; it recognizes and extols the intrinsic value of humanity.
    Then it's not love in any meaningful sense, rather it is meeting the bare minimum requirements of human decency.


    Quote Originally Posted by Basics View Post
    The concept of love for a Christian is that if the heart is really changed then he or she can put up no barriers towards anyone at all. Many of us find that hard always to do as particular circumstances can be quite repulsive for us to accept.
    Forced love or obligatory love or love in spite of repulsion is an oxymoron. It is a twisted perversion of one of the few things all of mankind can agree approaches the divine. A misuse of the concept that crosses beyond the obscene.
    The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are so certain of themselves, but wiser people are full of doubts.
    -Betrand Russell

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    Default Re: What is Truth?

    Himster,

    The two great commandments are, " To love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind," and the second, " To love your neighbour as yourself." That's what a Christian born again of the Spirit of God is expected, nay obligated, to do. To the old nature that's quite foreign yet with the new nature it gets easier to do. With the old nature ME always comes first yet with the new nature ME takes second place. So the love one had for himself or herself becomes secondary to the love one shows to his or her neighbour. Instead of being served one bcomes the servant not in some things but all things just as Jesus Christ demonstrated. You look at the cross and that Body hung on it and you might begin to see what Love really is.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Himster View Post
    Then it's not love in any meaningful sense, rather it is meeting the bare minimum requirements of human decency.
    I can't agree there. I think you and I share a very deep distrust of clericalism and hypocrisy in religion (and I think like me you're no believer, is that alright to ask?) but the Christian idea of altruistic love (and the meditations on love) has been instrumental in making altruistic affection and decent treatment of all a more common aspiration.

    Master Kung may have expressed the idea earlier with his "golden rule" and the followers of Gautama seem to have also promoted the idea of selfless love (I think thats the notion of Bodhisattvas denying themselves Nirvana for our benefit) but in Europe that concept has been a real focus of the Churches. Its been a good thing the laity were encouraged to do. people are even encouraged to love their enemies, maybe an impossibility but as an aspiration it is a mind-altering statement to consider.

    While popes bishops and false preachers disgrace every faith the ordinary Christians toiling away for their sisters and brothers find an inspiring message.

    Compared with say the moral degradation of say Norse religion "kill enough people and you get to keep killing for eternity" or the crass self indulgence of Hellenic deities "heaven is literally for a handful who do what they feel like to humans, the rest go to Hades realm, even Achilles" the Christian concept of helping others helps build community in a very lovely way. The child abuse in Athens was an upper class sport in Athens and Rome, at least the Catholic Church (and others) felt obliged to hide the evil ways of child rape.

    Quote Originally Posted by Himster View Post
    Forced love or obligatory love or love in spite of repulsion is an oxymoron. It is a twisted perversion of one of the few things all of mankind can agree approaches the divine. A misuse of the concept that crosses beyond the obscene.
    I think you may be twisting it a bit there. I know a lot of good Christians who take that idea of loving everyone to contribute to society in a very nice way. If the main religious voices get behind that human urge to sustain the community that strengthens society in my view (its the same spirit that animates the good aspects of communism, another "faith" that is so often betrayed by its leaders).

    Of course Christianity was imposed with the sword in many places but it also spread in just as many by believers living good lives and seeking to help others. The example of British missionaries in Ireland is apposite, Erin was a relatively prosperous and independent bunch of kingdoms whose warriors often captured Christians as slaves. They were converted by them not at the sword's point or because their system was failing but because something about the message of love overthrew the established Gaelic faith system Likewise the Irish sailed off to the Norse and German lands and converted them, not with swords but with lives well lived.

    Unfortunately there is a worse side to love in Christianity. The attitude to sex in Judaism (they were pretty hard on gay people which is horrible but at least sex was seen a a blessing) is given a very harsh twist in Christian theology. I think some rotten Manichees crept in, probably St Augustine was one, and that body hate and women=evil (a theme from the OT with its opposition to foreign Goddess cults) was played up into a very unnatural and destructive part of most churches thinking.
    Jatte lambastes Calico Rat

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    They were converted by them not at the sword's point or because their system was failing but because something about the message of love overthrew the established Gaelic faith system Likewise the Irish sailed off to the Norse and German lands and converted them, not with swords but with lives well lived.
    Thats a christian myth.

    In reality anglo-saxon missionaries converted with help of the sword tips of the Franks the germanic tribes north of the Rhine.

    According to the vitae Boniface felled the Donar Oak, Latinized by Willibald as "Jupiter's oak," near the present-day town of Fritzlar in northern Hesse. According to his early biographer Willibald, Boniface started to chop the oak down, when suddenly a great wind, as if by miracle, blew the ancient oak over. When the god did not strike him down, the people were amazed and converted to Christianity. He built a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter from its wood at the site[17]—the chapel was the beginning of the monastery in Fritzlar. This account from the vita is stylized to portray Boniface as a singular character who alone acts to root out paganism. Lutz von Padberg and others point out that what the vitae leave out is that the action was most likely well-prepared and widely publicized in advance for maximum effect, and that Boniface had little reason to fear for his personal safety since the Frankish fortified settlement of Büraburg was nearby.[18] According to Willibald, Boniface later had a church with an attached monastery built in Fritzlar,[19] on the site of the previously built chapel, according to tradition.[20]

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_...sion_to_Frisia

    And frankish Kings like Charlemagne completed the conversion with the sword.

    In his first campaign, in 773, Charlemagne forced the Engrians to submit and cut down an Irminsul pillar near Paderborn.[71] The campaign was cut short by his first expedition to Italy. He returned in 775, marching through Westphalia and conquering the Saxon fort at Sigiburg. He then crossed Engria, where he defeated the Saxons again. Finally, in Eastphalia, he defeated a Saxon force, and its leader Hessi converted to Christianity. Charlemagne returned through Westphalia, leaving encampments at Sigiburg and Eresburg, which had been important Saxon bastions. He then controlled Saxony with the exception of Nordalbingia, but Saxon resistance had not ended.

    ...

    He returned to Saxony in 782 and instituted a code of law and appointed counts, both Saxon and Frank. The laws were draconian on religious issues; for example, the Capitulatio de partibus Saxoniae prescribed death to Saxon pagans who refused to convert to Christianity. This led to renewed conflict. That year, in autumn, Widukind returned and led a new revolt. In response, at Verden in Lower Saxony, Charlemagne is recorded as having ordered the execution of 4,500 Saxon prisoners by beheading, known as the Massacre of Verden ("Verdener Blutgericht"). The killings triggered three years of renewed bloody warfare. During this war, the East Frisians between the Lauwers and the Weser joined the Saxons in revolt and were finally subdued.[72] The war ended with Widukind accepting baptism.[73]

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlemagne#Saxon_Wars

    At least in Germania the conversion to Christianity was forced by violence.
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