Is the Bible automatically disqualified?

‘Because the Bible says so, that’s why!’  I can sympathize with the frustration the skeptic must feel when he encounters a Christian defending his convictions in this fashion.  It frustrates me too. Why would the Christian expect the skeptic to grant the Bible the same level of authority as does he?  Regardless of how situationally inappropriate this slogan may be, the skeptic’s objection that because it’s the Bible, it’s therefore disqualified from being a source is just as misguided.

This dismissal lacks qualification.  “You only believe homosexuality is sinful because the Bible says so”, or “You only believe in Jesus’ resurrection because it says so in the Bible” are routine responses in the skeptic’s quiver, but what is left unexplained is why because it’s in the Bible it doesn’t count.  The ‘it’s in the Bible so it doesn’t count’ dismissal is applied to nearly every truth claim made by Christians.  Admittedly many Christians do believe certain things on the sole basis that it is written in the Bible without further inquiry, but so what — it’s irrelevant?

This dismissal requires too many unsubstantiated assumptions which must be made explicit in order to conclude that the Bible is not a reliable source of moral or theological information.

  • God does not exist therefore it cannot be a reliable nor authoritative source.
  • The Bible is written by unreliable and or biased authors.
  • Because the Bible is a religious text it is disqualified as an authority.
  • The Bible, due to its age is unreliable.
  • Because the Bible contains supernatural events it is unreliable.

These implicit assumed-to-be-true conclusions must be argued for, not simply presumed.  For some skeptics, these are asserted as though they are undesputed truths.  Just like a witness’ testimony in court must be impeached and shown to be unreliable, so too must be the Bible.

I am not saying Christians who hold the Bible as a reliable authority are free from the expectation to demonstrate why they believe it deserves any authority.  They do.  But when the Christian offers reasons,those reasons must be addressed by anyone who wishes to reject them.  Those reasons must be impeached.  Skeptics aren’t free to dismiss out of hand the Bible as a source simply because it is the Bible without any substantiation.

Comments

  1. Hello John,

    Okay: “But when the Christian offers reasons,those reasons must be addressed by anyone who wishes to reject them. Those reasons must be impeached.”

    Seriously? Offer any and all of your reasons and I will impeach them all.

    • @David

      Two things. Your comments are held in moderation because you dont seem to be able to use ordinary means of politeness. I will only allow your comments if they are offered with a degree of manners void of insults and vitriol. I suggest that if you want your comments to get through, youll have to be nice.

      On to your comment. I have a question. When you say youll impeach anything offered, do you mean youll offer evidence of the falseness of what is offered? Or will you simply gainsay?

  2. “Skeptics aren’t free to dismiss out of hand the Bible as a source simply because it is the Bible without any substantiation.”

    I disagree. If you want to use any book or doctrine as a source of moral authority the person using such material must prove it’s authority, the non-believer has no burden to disprove it.

    For example, do you accept the book of Mormon, writtings by Jahovahs Witness, the Koran, The Origin of Species, or even the Constitution for that matter as a source of moral authority? No! And you have no reason to.

    If someone wants to use something as evidence moral or societal authority they have to have a good reason for doing so. If someone else can point to reasons why they don’t find those reasons acceptable then they can do so too, but that is only necessary as a counterargument.

    • I dont accept those writings, NOT out of hand, but I have reasons. If someone wants to offer those up for an authority, I would challenge that authority with reasons. I wouldnt simply say “nope”. ESPECIALLY since skeptics can ALWAYS gainsay any evidence and argument offered in favor of authority.

      Sorry, no one gets to just dismiss something out of hand and remain credible.

      • If I offer the book of mormon as evidence of moral authority to you, then you have no reason to accept it.

        You can simply say, I don’t find that book credible, thus your argument has no grounds.

        If I then offer you reasons why the book of mormon does in fact have authority, you can then as a COUNTERARGUMENT offer reasons why you do not accept that.

        But you have every reason to at first, off hand, reject my utilization of the book of mormon for moral authority.

        Similarly, atheists, without given an argument to hold the bible as evidence of moral authority, may reject it off hand.

    • Heres an apt illustration. Instead of my avove response, I could have just said youre wrong. I suspect youd say “what makes you say I’m wrong?” If I said “I dont have to say” youd find that very unsatisfactory.

      • Your example does not make sense because we are arguing source material, not a stand along logical argument. If you offer no other logical argument for a stance other than your beliefs come from a book I have no obligation to take that seriously without immediate dismissal.

        If I pull out Harry Potter and say “I don’t like gay people because Harry Potter said” you do not have to accept that as truth. You can dismiss it without any further argument needed. (off hand)

        If I then give you reasons, such as “the author was a great philosopher and we should listen”, then you can give a counterargument.

        You might say “well it is a work of fiction so I do not regard it as supernatural moral authority”. But you had no obligation, without me first providing evidence of the books authority, to provide that counterargument.

        • Was and has Harry Potter been considered non fiction for its entire existence?

          There is a different sense when it comes to religious texts in that they were not written with the intent to be taken as fiction. You might as well compare a presidential executive order with Aesops fables. They are too different in form to compare on the same terms.

          Because religious text is offered as non fiction, it must be impeached just as any other testimony.

    • The Bible as a source of moral authority in the United States is in fact reliable, since Judeo-Christian values influenced the founding of this nation and most of its people throughout most of its history. We must balance those values with the right of others to live how they want, yet another Christian notion.

      • The US was founded on secular values that allowed for religion. The moral authority was based on liberty and democratic republic political ideology. Just because some of those values happened to align with Christianity doesn’t mean it is “Christian Morals”. They are just morals that Christians also agree with.

        An untold number of the founding fathers were admitted deists or closet non-Christians. Instilling Christian values in the nation was not a priority for the majority of the founding fathers.

        But I think we are going off on a non-relevant tangent here.

        • That is completely untrue and obviously the stupidest comment so far this week. A nation founded on secular values doesn’t pay tribute to God in its founding documents. John has written extensively on this. The posts are available on this blog.

        • Atticus, you are severely mistaken on this.

        • Atticus, do you have any documentation for your claims? Because theres lots of documentation for mine on this issue.

          • Sure I’ll grab some stuff. Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, John Adams, James Madison, George Washington, and Thomas Paine all write about their non-Christian views. Most were probably deist, but not believers in a personal or Christian God. They also downplayed their religious beliefs (or lack there of) because it was politically unpopular. Most of them described God as the initial cause and nothing more and described this in detail in their personal writing and letters. I am sure there are many others, but those I can be sure were not Christians.

            Here is an article I wrote on Thomas Paine: http://blogtruth.net/2013/12/10/thomas-paine-on-god-and-religion/

            To say that this is a Christian nation is a fabrication. Were many of the founding fathers practice Christianity which probably had some affect on their way of thinking? Yes. But there is a major distinction between those two statements.

            Furthermore if you read what religious leaders were saying at the time they complained that none of them were “real Christians”.

            For example, Episcopal minister Bird Wilson of Albany, New York, protested in October 1831: “Among all our presidents from Washington downward, not one was a professor of religion, at least not of more than Unitarianism.” (http://freethought.mbdojo.com/foundingfathers.html)

            The founding fathers were students of the age of reason and Enlightenment period.

            • Atticus. I hope you cull from more than just the half dozen to dozen who make your point. There were more tham 100 men who are considered founding fathers.

              • I agree that Christianity had an influence, just not that this country was founded as a Christian nation. Also, there is a reason the ones I mention are the founding fathers everyone remembers. Also the first three presidents. That dozen had arguable more influence than the other 100 combined. All great men though, no doubt about that.

              • Atticus, where the heck do you get this from? Even the Library of Congress has a section dedicated to Christianity being the influence. I document the charters and state constitutions requiring Christianity and Christians to be the driver of Government. Many of those men who were involved with the federal gov constitution were involved with those state constitutions.

                You are buying a revisionist rendering of history based loosely on a handful of qyotes from a handful of founders. When you look at the majority of the writings and the majority of founders you get the truth of the matter.

  3. Hello John,

    You say, “Your comments are held in moderation because you dont seem to be able to use ordinary means of politeness. I will only allow your comments if they are offered with a degree of manners void of insults and vitriol. I suggest that if you want your comments to get through, youll have to be nice. ”

    I am under no obligation to be nice to a person who engages in censorship on behalf of ideas which you certainly do know are indefensible. You have demonstrated yourself to lack the character and intellect necessary to defend Christianity from a passing cloud much less any sort of scholarly, intellectual, scientific or historical argument.

    But it is just as well. It isn’t like it makes a bit of difference to me if you prefer ignorance to knowledge and prefer boasting about your own self delusions rather than living in reality.

    As you should know by now, your side is losing and your side is suffering a demographic collapse. Christianity clings desperately to power but its day has passed. The future belongs to the non-Christians and it is a good thing indeed.

    I need not waste any more talking to a dishonest and dishonorable opponent who has expressed his own racism, bigotry, xenophobia, prejudice, hatred and overall horrible personality. There is no place in Heaven for you … mainly because Heaven doesn’t exist but even if Heaven did exist Jesus would never choose to spend eternity with you.

    You don’t love Jesus. You don’t follow his teachings. You don’t follow his lifestyle. You are about as different from your own god as a person could ever be and yet you claim, against all evidence otherwise, to love him.

    Every time I meet a Christian I feel so much pity for Jesus. It seems that Jesus died on the cross so that he might save the worst possible humans in the worst possible manner. I’d much rather spend eternity with Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, agnostics, atheists and even the Catholics than with people such as yourself.

    Not that that is an option for anyone. Once you’re dead you’re gone forever. Once Jesus died he ceased to exist. There is no eternity for humankind just as there is no eternity for any of the gods that humans have created. If the Bible says otherwise that is only because the Bible is a book filled with lies.

    So you can go on living as you are living and being such a horrible person to yourself and others and you need not worry about the afterlife because there is none. There is no God up in Heaven nor any Devil down below in Hell. Humankind is all alone in the Universe and there is no other home for humankind except the Earth, and humans are going to lose this home as our species cannot help but drive itself extinct.

    A Universe without humankind is a perfectly fine Universe. The Earth without humankind is better than any Earth with humankind. If God truly existed He would have drove humankind extinct in Genesis 6 as He intended to do, but the god of the Bible was foolish and a failure and the Bible is nothing more than a story about god’s many failures, incompetence and sheer stupidity.

    God’s greatest failure in the entire Bible was and is the cross. If God actually existed he wouldn’t have to kill anyone or anything in order to forgive humankind’s sins. The story of Jesus dying for humankind on the cross is the most absurd fairy tale in all of fiction.

    How could anyone love or even respect such a god? But it must be admitted that Christians don’t actually love or respect the God that they allegedly worship.

    • David

      You might benefit from some professional mental and emotional help. Seriously. The way you describe myself and others is literally delusional and best and slanderous at worst. Seriously, I hope you get better.

  4. Hello John Barron,

    Need I remind you of what you said about the “poor blacks” that you don’t happen to care about or about Karen Armstrong (whose books you haven’t read) or about the scientists (whose work you slander)?

    Christians love to boast about how good they are and how much better they are than everyone else. Jesus himself spoke a parable about such people as the Christians. There is a reason why Jesus spent his time with the tax collectors and the prostitutes and the sinners rather than the self-righteous religious people.

    Those who judge others shall be judged. No mercy of any sort for those who lack mercy.

    Christians are more than happy to send everyone else to hell. You people love Jesus so very much! John Barron doesn’t love his neighbor. John Barron doesn’t love his enemy. So in what sense are you even a Christian?

    • David

      Maybe you didnt pick up on it because you have a tunnel vision-like hatred for Christians. But my post about poor blacks was a modernized rewrite of a Frederick Douglass speech wgich I linked to in the final punctuation mark of the post. You must think the black abolitionist Douglass is a racist too.

  5. Well, John. There’s your debate topic for you and Atticus: were the founders mostly Christian or mostly something else?

  6. Atticus is so confused on this issue that he contradicts himself. Earlier he said that this country was founded on secular values that – and this is important – ALLOWED for religion.

    Now, instead of merely being allowed to exist, Christianity had an influence, he says. He also says that he can be sure John Adams wasn’t a Christian. Well, don’t be too sure. John Adams was a devout Christian. The great biographer, David McCullough, writes of John Adams, “…as his family and friends knew, Adams was both a devout Christian, and an independent thinker.”[1]

    The Historian Frazer writes, “Adams clearly was not a deist. Deism rejected any and all supernatural activity and intervention by God; consequently, deists did not believe in miracles or God’s providence.Adams, however, did believe in miracles, providence, and, to a certain extent, the Bible as revelation.” [2]

    In response to Thomas Paine’s criticisim of Christianity, Adams writes, “The Christian religion is, above all the religions that ever prevailed or existed in ancient or modern times, the religion of wisdom, virtue, equity and humanity, let the Blackguard Paine say what he will.” [3]

    1. McCullough’s Book on Adams, Page 18

    2. Gregg L. Frazer (2004) The Political Theology of the American Founding, PhD dissertation, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, California, p. 46

    3. Adams, Vol. III, p. 421, diary entry for July 26, 1796.

    I knew for sure that Atticus was wrong about Adams because I’ve read extensively on the man, but there is little point in investigating the other Founders. Atticus has shown already that he isn’t credible.

  7. I have that book, Terrance, and enjoyed the mini-series made from it with only a few criticisms (I believe some dramatic license was taken in depicting Adams’ relationship with one of his sons.).

  8. Marshall,

    You may be right. But on this issue, it is backed-up by many other sources, only two of which I’ve listed. The immutable fact of the matter is that John Adams was a devout Christian. Atticus simply doesn’t know what he is talking about. But what can be expected from an atheist?

  9. No doubt, Terrance. Wallbuilders.com provides most of hundreds of letters written by members of the group we now call the founders. Though I haven’t taken the time yet, I believe they are actual shots of the actual letters so that one can read them as they were written, to see for themselves what was said in them. One can find at this David Barton site individual essays on the Christian and/or religious positions of many founding fathers. Here’s an example with regards to John Adams.

  10. @John,

    I just ran across this Wikipedia article and I think it might relate to the point you were trying to make: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_fallacy

    • Atticus

      I know what the genetic fallacy is. What are you referring to?

      • I think your point was that Atheist cannot claim that something from the bible is not true simply because of its source (the source being the bible).

        Thus, stating that a premise is false solely because of its source is known as the genetic fallacy (or fallacy of origins).

        And it seems like that is what you were hinting at (even if not purposely) in your article.

  11. John,

    I think Atticus is saying that it is not relevant in the modern era whether America was founded on Judeo-Christian values or not. Or, at least I think that’s what he’s saying.

  12. Marshall,

    I wasn’t familiar with that website. It’ll be a useful tool, I’m sure. Thanks for posting it.

  13. One small warning, Terrance, when referring to the site to which I linked: many people dismiss David Barton for a variety of reasons (most of which I believe are merely acts of desperation), but I find that he responds to such people quite well. But as in other areas of debate, the good responses will be dismissed as well.

    • Marshall what people point to in order to disqualify David Barton is incomplete documentation. They claim his claims cannot be verified. The problem is Barton has one of the largest private collections of founding era personal letters, memos, and other documents so they dont exist in the public domain, he has them.

      His most recent book was halted for this reason. Even though documentation was provided, there wasnt corroboration in other publicly available documents.

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