Do Non-Literal Believers Believe Falsehood is Better Than Truth?

Case for GodHaving considered in my past posts all my concerns with Armstrong’s book, The Case for God, I wish to now address the most important subject of them all: Where do Armstrong and other non-literal believers stand on the issue of whether or not falsehoods are (or at least can be) better than truth?

This may seem like a strange question. To help explain why this question is so important, I need to point you to an excellent post done by AndrewS a while back entitled “Why New Atheists are the Dullest People in the World“. [1] (See here for original post from Leah.)

Non-Literal Theists vs. Miliant Atheists

In this post, AndrewS tells the story of Leah and her realization that despite being a non-literal believer she was still a “Raging Religion-oholic.” Another poster named brillientk89 — a new atheist (i.e. militant atheist) — took issue with her non-literal theists views. AndrewS, who is also an atheist, defended her views. His key point is that brillientk89′s stance is so militantly in favor of ‘truth’ that he makes no room for even fiction. (Thus the reference to being ‘dull.’) [2]

Here is a key part of the ‘exchange’ between Leah (the non-literal theist) and brillentk89 (the militant atheist): Continue reading

Karen Armstrong’s Dim View of Christianity

Case for GodIn a post near the beginning of this series I summarized Armstong’s views of Jesus Christ and Christianity. Go back and read that post if you need to. In this post I’m going to touch about my concerns with her presentation here.

One Sided Unknowning is Actually A Special Case of Knowing

First, I note that for someone whose whole religious practice is built on “unknowing” that there doesn’t seem to be the slightest bit of “unknowing” when it comes to Jesus Christ. She is completely certain that He only taught that he was a non-unique son of God in the same sense that we all are. She is completely certain that He was not ‘bodily resurrected’ but that rather people just saw visions of Him. She is completely certain that He would have been in favor of self-emptying and her apophatic method. No other possibility is considered or discussed at all.

This ‘certainty’ that Armstrong easily asserts when necessary brings up a larger issues: Theological Liberals of the Armstrong variety seem to only believe in their beliefs when it’s convenient. Unknowing is only exalted right up to the point that it encourages their own beliefs. If it ever doesn’t, then ‘certainty’ becomes okay after all. Likewise, ‘not having the final word about God’ is only true if you mean everyone else but Armstrong-like Liberals. They really do have the final word on several subjects, namely all the ones they care about and that their religious beliefs are anchored on. So in this sense, they aren’t really different from their ‘conservative’ counterparts. Armstrong really does act as if she believes she gets the ‘final say’ when it comes to Jesus Christ. Continue reading

The Case Against Karen Armstrong: In What Sense is God “Inexpressible”?

Case for GodIn my recent posts I’ve addressed many of the problems I find in Karen Armstrong’s analysis of ‘the modern God’ which I believe is really just a cherry picked interpretation at odds with fact.

One idea I have not addressed is her idea that God is ‘inexpressible’ or ‘ineffable.’

Now I don’t really know any religionists that would argue this point at an abstract level. Certainly God – even the supposed ‘modern God’ — is generally thought of as ‘inexpressible’ or ‘ineffable’ in some way. Even the literally minded Mormons would tend to agree.

What I want to explore is if Armstrong is being precise enough when she presents this idea. Is there only one sense in which God is ‘inexpressible’? What does ‘inexpressible’ even mean? Continue reading

The Case Against Karen Armstrong: Misquoting Popper

Case for GodIn my last post (and also here) I pointed out the true context of several of Armstrong’s sources, demonstrating that she is actually just misrepresenting them. Armstrong fares no better when it comes to science and, in particular, Popper.

While Kuhn does seem share her views that science does not find an objective reality, this is the very point of Kuhn where Kuhn has been shown to have gotten it wrong. Though I am a big fan of Kuhn, his theory explains far less than Popper’s, and so known to be the inferior theory.  (For discussion, see here, here, and particularly here.) Armstrong supports Kuhn on precisely his wrong conclusions. 

Science makes progress precisely because it moves from one paradigm to the next, each one having greater verisimilitude then the last. Science is homing in on objective reality, even if perhaps it will never find it precisely.

And, contrary to Armstrong’s uses of Popper, this was Popper’s whole point! Continue reading

The Case Against Karen Armstrong: What is Belief?

In my last post I discussed how Karen Armstrong misrepresents some of her sources. The end result is a sort of ‘cherry pick’ to support her thesis. In this post I’m going to address her treatment of the word “Belief” as used in the Bible.

What Does “Believe” Mean?

Several years ago I did a study of the New Testament using several parallel Bibles, Strong’s Concordance, and a Greek manuscript of the New Testament. One of my discoveries was that the word translated “belief” in the New Testament actually came from the Greek word pisteuo (Strong’s 4100) which has a stronger connotation than the word “believe” in English, at least as it is used today. So consider this verse as an apt example:

Romans 3:22

22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: Continue reading