12/09/2009

Christianity As A Series of Verifiable Facts

A Christianity Today article piqued my interest: “The Missionary Who Wouldn't Retire: Lesslie Newbigin, born 100 years ago today, launched a new career at age 66 by calling Western churches to act like they were in the mission field,” by Krish Kandiah posted 12/08/2009 10:07AM.

I wrestle often on this blog and others who argue that religion is a matter of “faith,” or personal preference. This “faith” is supposedly opposed to reason and science, which present objective, verifiable facts.

This notion escapes me. I present reasoned arguments for the faith that do not precede from unverifiable assumptions (see this series of posts for an example). I present a Jesus who acted in history, a history that is verifiable in the same way the most important decisions in our culture are: eye-witness testimony and historical witness (see here).

This is in line with Newbigin’s recommendations as expressed in the article:

[Newbigin] challenges the post-Enlightenment separation between so-called objective facts in the public realm (taught at school and presented without the need for the preface "I believe") and the subjective values of the private world of religion and ethics. He argues that the church needs to humbly yet boldly enter the public sphere with a persuasive retelling of the Christian story—not as personal spirituality, but as public truth. He takes the logic for this public dialogue from the scientific community. A scientist does not present research findings as a personal preference, but with hope for universal agreement if the findings stand up to investigation. In the marketplace of ideas, we should likewise present the gospel not as personal preference but as truth that should gain universal acceptance. This allows us to commend the faith with the humble admission that we might not have exhaustively grasped the truth, but that we have truth that needs to be investigated and seriously engaged.


Like it or not, presentation of Christianity as an objectively true, verifiable religion is the best approach we can take.

10 comments:

L P said...

Christianity is falsifiable, unlike other religions. Christianity makes claims about history, this is so different from Budhism.

BTW, I like your Calvin quote.

LPC

C H said...

I think this is a fantastic idea! I relish the forthcomming deluge of objective evidence.

(crickets chirping)

any time now......

(chirping)

you know, eventually.....

(more chirping)

Unfortunately the historical evidence for the "truth" of christianity is about the same as the historical evidence for the truth of Zeus, Thor, or Joseph Smith.

J. K. Jones said...

CH

Try search labels "God Is: The Series" and "Argument from Scripture."

You don't have to look very hard on this blog for evidence.

C H said...

Your evidence is only convincing to someone who already believes as you do.

"Argument from Scripture."

If you come at the question thinking that your scripture is true, there is no reason to form the question in the first place.

All you are doing is trying to tack on a shoddy framework of logic to shore up a belief that you know deep down that your faith isn't enough. Then congratulating yourself on how smart you are to have arrived at the place where you wanted end up.

You tell me to go and read your other articles, most of which only point to other authors. Your unwillingness to simply cut and paste the supposed historical evidence here demonstrates how unconvincing you know the arguments to be.

J. K. Jones said...

CH,

I do not have the time to cut and paste in arguments that I have typed in elsewhere. You are capable of clicking on links, right?

I can easily say the same about you. You start off with the idea that there is no God and Christianity is false. Then you develop a framework of logic to shore up your belief system.

The rational thing to do is to examine the belief system. Leave some comments on the other posts, and we will discuss.

JK

J. K. Jones said...

CH,

What exactly is your belief system, anyway?

It occurs to me that I have assumed much about you.

JK

J. K. Jones said...

LP,

Thanks. The Calvin quote will stay up a while. He does have some good ones.

JK

C H said...

"I do not have the time to cut and paste in arguments that I have typed in elsewhere. You are capable of clicking on links, right?"

That's a fantastic argument. Claim evidence, present none and then declare victory. Congratulations!

Lets see arguments you've typed in elsewhere. You mean this Link Farm here http://jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com/search/label/Argument%20from%20Scripture is what you call an argument? I see it as a good example of what I was talking about before. Articles that point to the writings of others.

"I can easily say the same about you. You start off with the idea that there is no God and Christianity is false."

That's kind of the default position. You can't claim to have studied each and every silly mythological critter thought up by man before finally settling for your Jesus Myth.

Psst, you've been told this before, but Not believing in god is a belief system in the exact same way that Not Collecting Stamps is a Hobby.

"The rational thing to do is to examine the belief system. Leave some comments on the other posts, and we will discuss."

Nice attempt to sidetrack the discussion away from the original point. The lack of evidence.

J. K. Jones said...

There are other people ou there smarter than me. Therefore I quote their arguments. No shame in that. It is called research.

Whether you call it a belief system or not, I can still accuse you of the same thing. You ignore all evidence that does not fit your preconcieved notions.

JK

L P said...

"Your evidence is only convincing to someone who already believes as you do".

I was an atheist once myself so I find this comment circular. What is the basis of this? It must be psychology.

"That's kind of the default position. You can't claim to have studied each and every silly mythological critter thought up by man before finally settling for your Jesus Myth."

I am trying to take this comment seriously. The word "myth" may be taken in positive light or negatively. To look into it negatively, then the comment is suggesting there was no Jesus whom the Romans crucified.

There is only one issue about Jesus - either you believe what he claims for himself, or you do not. The very least you can do is adopt the Jewish position that he was fathered by a Roman soldier etc. But to imply he never existed the same way Zeus never did or to imply the story about him is fable is really... passe. Such position cannot be taken seriously.

Comparative religion is a very subjective, you can see whatever you want to see as similarities between Jesus or Osiris but Osiris is not falsifiable.

The claim of Christianity about Jesus is falsifiable. The writers claim they touched him, saw him, interacted with him, he had brothers and sisters, etc. Just produce the bones of Christ and we can go home and be merry and live the way we want to.


LPC

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