Friday, January 21, 2011

The Bible Tells Me, So What?

My Spring semester began this week, and i started reading yesterday for the Philosophy class I am taking. The class is geared more towards "Christian Evidences" and deals with apologetics of the Christian faith. The first chapter is titled, "Knowing Christianity is True", and deals mostly with trying to convince the readers that you can KNOW (as if proven) that (among other things) the Bible is true... And how can you know? Well the Bible says so, of course. This is called circular reasoning. (the authors are arguing the need for apologetics, which I also don't agree with... But that is neither here nor there.)

Do you think one can KNOW that the Bible is true?

this question is more complex than it looks because first you would need to explain and define the question itself. What does it mean for the Bible to be true? Is it historical fact? Can it be true and fiction at the same time? In other words, your idea of what "true" means may be different than another's.

For example, what does it mean to say that the story of Adam and Eve found in Genesis 3 is true? For some, it must be historical in that there once had to have lived two literal people who were fooled by a real talking snake in an enchanted garden that no longer exists. To some if the historical event didn't happen then it can't be true.

While some find truth in the story's meaning and symbolism rather than believing in an actual historical event or actual historical people. (I've heard people claim that if you deny a real Adam then you deny Jesus.)

What do you think? Can one KNOW the Bible is true as my text book argues?


Anonymous said...

I don't think the idea of what is "true" is as complicated as you make it seem. Everyone knows what "true" means, but that doesn't mean that something that is not "true" is necessarily a "lie." eg. I could ask you if the story of the Odyssey is true and you would say "no"... That doesn't mean that you believe Homer was lying. Its just a story.

So its stupid to convolute the idea of "true" in the Bible. So if you don't believe that the Genesis one account is historical, its useless to say its "true." Saying it is a allegory or a poem is the same as saying it is not a true story. Just like Homer's. That doesn't mean that you don't think its good or helpful, it just means you don't think the author intended it as history.

There's is no reason to defend your position by advocation unhelpful and pointless uses of language. That being said the reason someone said that if you deny a real Adam then you deny Jesus is most likely because Jesus' line was traced back to adam in the Gospel of Luke, and its rare for a person to be a descendant of a poem.

Regarding knowing the Bible is true. I would say there is evidence that it is reliable, but I wouldn't say that one could KNOW just based on circumstantial evidence. Faith is involved in following Christ. "Without faith it is impossible to please him."

Sorry I was so long.

Jkub said...

I disagree. Saying something is not historical doesn't mean it isn't true and JUST a story. The story can still convey truth just as, and if not more, than an historical event sometimes.

And as far as truth goes... Maybe everyone knows ( or thinks they know) what "true" means but that doesn't make something true or not and it doesnt mean one can know what is actaully true or not. As was just demonstrated in the above conversation... "Something that isn't historical isn't true." I know many who would disagree that something has to be factual/historical in order to be difined as true.

So what does it mean to claim the bible is true? Does that mean that every thing in it has to be historically accurate?

Anonymous said...

I understand that a story or an allegory or a poem can (and will) have TRUTH to it. That is the point of telling the story—the draw connections to that which is TRUE or real and help someone understand something. "The story can still convey truth just as, and if not more, than an historical event sometimes."

eg. when Nathan told the parable to David: it expressed truth, but it was not actually a historical story.

I feel like we are making up excuses to use words that another person wont understand. The goal of communication is to transfer what is in your mind into another person's mind with as much accuracy as possible. So if someone was to ask you "do you believe the story of Adam and Eve is true?" it would be completely unhelpful for you to answer "yes" because the common use of the word "true" in that context means "historical."

I believe that the Bible is completely true according to its authorial intent (II Tim 3:16, Ps 12:6 etc). In other words we can't misinterpret the Bible and then claim it is truth because we found it in the Bible. So if you could convince me that Genesis 3 was intended by the author to be a poem or allegory that I would have to believe that, and therefore believe that it was not a true (historical) story. (and there is nothing wrong with that because poetry and metaphor is a common use of language.)