Posted: Apr 22, 2017 8:30 pm
by John Platko
PensivePenny wrote:
John Platko wrote:
PensivePenny wrote:
Thomas Eshuis wrote:
Like Penny, you're conlating interpetation with cherry-picking.
(Re)interpeting a piece of religious text to fit your own worldview, is different from ignoring/dismissing entire texts.
The goal might be the same, but the actions to arrive there aren't.


I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry. Oh, and stop saying I'm "conflating" cherry-picking and "interpretation." ALL cherry pickers, from THEIR perspective, are "interpreting." That is just a fanciful word meaning that they have successfully soothed their delicate sensibilities by justifying their cherry picking. :roll: You call it "interpreting to fit their world view" well yeah DUH! That means they have a conscious destination in mind... (They see the cherry they want) Now, with a little creative "interpretation," they justify picking that cherry. Know what that's called? Confirmation Bias. [u]How [/u]they dismiss entire texts means absolutely FUCKALL! They dismissed some part of the so-called "Word of god." That is cherry picking. Call it fernumberfluven if you want. A rose by any other name...

Bottom line, there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING that can't be interpreted from the bible. There is no rational interpretation of religion or the bible (my opinion). Using one bogus made up scripture to validate or invalidate another and calling it "interpretation" to achieve a desired conclusion is what theologians DO. It is their primary function. Professional cherry-pickers.


There is nothing irrational in my interpretation of the Bible. It's rather simple. People searched for explanations for their experiences and came up with some that to them seemed to fit. i.e. they had explanatory value. The Bible is a compilation of many of these explanations. Some explanations were better than others. In additions to that it contains a bit of history here and there that was communicated by a long chain of telephone tag and misunderstandings. One can gain a great insight into human behavior, the good, the bad, and the ugly through the stories in the Bible. The story of JC is a treasure trove of how humans interact with each other and interpret their experience in the world. If one pays attention you can watch the dynamics of that story play out today in ones own life. One can also learn a lot about human behavior by how various people think about a book.

As for cherry picking - of course everybody cherry picks it - you'd be locked up if you didn't. And yes, interpretation is a more preferred word to admitting to cherry picking but as you point out it obviously amounts to the same thing.


It shouldn't surprise you that I agree with everything you said BUT with the exception of your first sentence. While you may have drawn a series of logical, rational conclusions in interpreting the bible, all "facts" MUST assume that what was written (at least in part) was non-fiction. While your decision making process might have had elements of rational thought, perhaps brilliant even, relying on a specious text to be informative about ANYTHING IS, in my opinion, the very definition of irrational.


One can learn about the thought processes of humans by studying some of the obviously specious interpretations of the Bible. For example, we know that bread and fish can't be made to materialize out of think air. That's a fact. Yet some interpret the Bible in a way where they believe that actually happened. That tells you something about the mental processes of those people. One might also think of how that story could have actually happened and compare that with the more prevalent interpretation. Why the difference? What does that say about people? One could develop a theory of human behavior form that, make predictions of behavior with this theory, and then test it. In short, I'm saying it's not irrational to use irrational text to study the behavior of irrational people.


One cannot possibly believe in any god without accepting a certain amount of irrational thinking. Everything you've said about the bible being a source of "insight" into human behavior is highly debatable. One could make exactly the same claim with regard to Hamlet and would be just as flimsy an argument.


Why do you think that would be a flimsy argument. The fact that people have been drawn to the story of Hamlet for so long suggests something in the story is of interest to people. What is irrational about studying what that is?


Couldn't we say the same about Chaucer's Canterbury Tales?


I don't see why not. I think much of the appeal of he Canterbury Tales is that people recognize the behavior of the characters in the stories. But given the power the Bible has had over vast numbers of people for so long it seems reasonable to me to think that it resonates more strongly with humans than either Shakespeare or Chaucer. I would also say that both Shakespeare and Chaucer were strongly influenced by the Bible and that is reflected in their stories.


There is much to learn by reading something written by a man so many years ago. It tells us of his opinion and perception of the world. It hardly tells us anything about how humans interacted unless we ASSUME the stories are ACCURATE.


Obviously the Bible stories lack accuracy, But we can learn how humans interacted by the inaccuracy in the stories. If someone tells a story about a virgin birth and that story is accepted as true by vast numbers of people there is something to be learned from that. If people tell a story about people who are actually dead coming back to life and believing that story is true then there is something to be learned from that. And there are more basic things to be learned too - how people betray each other, etc. etc.


By that same definition of "insight into human behavior" JK Rawling's Harry Potter can be equally valuable. If one elevates the false notion that Harry Potter's wand actually does possess supernatural power then one may glean an entirely different set of "insights" from the books... all would of course be irrational.


I wouldn't say equal. Although lot of human energy has been put into those stories it's nothing like what has been put into the Bible. But how people interact with the stories could be interesting. I'm thinking most people who read them know they are fiction though. That makes a difference.


I don't intend insult. I hope, if you are a believer, that you might see how the rational person would question the credibility of a compilation of books all making super-incredulous claims.


Super-incredulous claims aren't credible. I would never make such a claim. ;)


Projecting ones own desires and non-supernatural experiences onto any text, especially ancient ones, and somehow finding meaningful value in it makes the bible no more or less non-fictional than Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.


It's not about finding historical truth. I agree that can't be done. It's about learning what one can from the stories we have, how people respond to those stories and error correcting with what we know about physical reality and other observations of human behavior. In the end you can't be sure of exactly what happened but you can separate the more probable from the impossible.


You are right, the one thing we CAN gain insight into is "how various people think about a book." That sword cuts in both directions. If a person actually did think the Sorcerer's Stone was a work of non-fiction, I'm willing to bet the insight you gleaned from how they think about the Rawling book would be identical to the insight I glean from the bible, rather how christians think about the ancient text.


I think that's a bit unfair. The majority of scholars accept that Jesus was a historical figure. I have no reason to believe the story is pure fiction, the complete product of someone's imagination. Given that, I assume something like the basic sequence given happened, nothing supernatural mind you, just intense human behavior starting with a difficult birth scenario and ending with a horrific death -A lot of misunderstanding and perhaps a fair amount of psychosis along the way. I see it kind of like a mystery to be puzzled out.