Monday, April 28, 2008

A Critical Response to: Evolution and the Challenge of Morality by Lisle

Dr. Lisle authored Evolution and the Challenge of Morality which is available in full text on the Answers in Genesis website at: http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2008/04/14/evolution-challenge-of-morality.

Dr. Lisle presents morality in rigidly-defined categories of right and wrong with the Bible as the final arbiter between the two. He posits the Bible as the only absolute source of ethics and morality. In contrast he presents evolutionary worldviews as morally nihilistic and devoid of absolute. Lisle’s contrast is presented well in his following assertion:

All things belong to God (Psalm 24:1) and thus, God has the right to make the rules. So, an absolute moral code makes sense in a biblical creation worldview. But if the Bible were not true, if human beings were merely the outworking of millions of years of mindless chemical processes, then why should we hold to a universal code of behavior? Could there really be such concepts as right and wrong if evolution were true?

Hence, on the one hand moral absolutism is sourced in the Bible as the express will of a Creator who has the ontological right to “make the rules.” On the other hand a view of morality that lacks the Bible while sourcing biological reality to “mindless chemical processes” is internally inconsistent.

Lisle’s simplistic upholding of the Bible as a source of moral absolutes assumes a degree of textual perspicuity that is untenable. He fails to acknowledge that the Bible is not a simple code of ethics and morality and that the biblical reader arrives at morals from the text by a complex process of merging embedded subjective propriospect with variegated levels of exegesis. Finally, Lisle’s pejorative view of morality apart from the Bible—specifically against the backdrop of an evolutionary worldview—demonstrates profound ignorance of the dynamics of evolution at work with socio-biology.

Despite Lisle’s promise that the Bible is an “absolute moral code,” the Bible contains context specific ethics. The Bible is anything but a clear and unambiguous ethical guide or a casebook on ethical behavior. In the Bible, morality is filtered through culturally and context specific case law embedded in concrete historical circumstances and unique social exigencies. Proper biblical exegesis must take into consideration the context of a biblical reading—asking the question of what the reading meant to the initial readers. Historical reconstruction of context is a fallible process; hence, the context that one might construct for a passage might be revolutionized in time with the discovery of new and relevant information.

Unfortunately, most biblical readers are undisciplined exegetes. They lack the tools and training to read biblical texts with hermeneutical precision. As a result, modern-day assumptions about what is right and wrong creep into their readings. Despite the clear teaching of the Bible (specifically the Old Testament), for example, that women are male capital and have less rights than men, few biblical readers realize the presence of this idea in the texts. Instead, they read their present cultural paradigms back into the text.

There is no easy way to use the Bible in ethical reflection. Exegetical discipline results in readings that are dependent on fallible historical reconstruction (e.g., Paul’s opponents in Galatians, the nature of “boiling a kid in mother’s milk”, etc.). Any ethical reflection built off of exegetical energies is even more contingent than the original reading. Popular, non-exegetical, reading of the Bible is fraught with the merger of modern morality with the ancient texts resulting in de novo readings. Ultimately, the derivation of meaning or morality from the Bible is a human process. And, unless one is willing to claim that her reading of the Bible is inerrant, her reading is as fallible as the next.

Morality makes sense from the perspective of evolution. Humans are social mammals. In social contexts we evolved morality and ethics as a means to social cohesion. Behaviors that are moral and altruistic result in greater degrees of social or tribal cohesion and hence better the chances of gene dispersal (natural selection). It is asinine to assert that ethics fail to exist apart from the Bible. Frankly, biblical ethics are as much a product of evolution as any type of workable ethical situation.

I have not answered all of the points in this article, but I have articulated my priority thoughts. There is more that can be said, and, if interest develops in the form of responses, maybe they can be brought to the fore.

22 comments:

Andrew T. said...

Peter,

It is entirely possible to have an interpretation of Torah that is of minimal error. There are two ways to go about this: One need be brought up in a tradition which happens to teach values which the author(s) of Torah just so happened to be in actuality transmitting, or simply abstain from doctrinal and intracultural biases in studying the texts, and rely on scientific, historical, and archaeological authority. The Teimani Jews interpret Torah correctly in the former way, the Netzarim in the latter.

Obviously there is room for debate and a lot of contention (no two Orthodox Batai-Din teach precisely the same lessons especially not on the minor tertiary issues, to give you an example), but on cardinal moral questions, the lessons of the Torah and the emergent Israelite-Judaic tradition of the Tan"kh are quite unambiguously singular to the extent that one actually acknowledges it. Nowhere shall you find in Tan"kh an author extolling the virtues of idolatry, or of beating your spouse, or of tormenting your livestock.

I see you're still into the ridiculous idea that moral right and wrong are justifiable by a genetic paradigm. Food for thought: In purely genetic terms, it would be more "ethical" to prevent two disease-stricken immigrants to enter one's one country than to save one's own son from drowning.

PeterS said...

Hello Andrew,

Measures can be taken to minimize error--I do not dispute this, but interpretive objectivity is a myth. Presuppositions always find their way into the final interpretive construct. One such presupposition is the divine nature of the Torah text. I am not faulting this assumption at this junction, but I point out that such an assumption changes the nature of the final reading.

The believer assumes that a just Revealer gave the Torah text to the Children of Israel through Moses. The believer assumes that whatever is revealed in the Torah must be just because the Revealer is just. When the rabbinic interpreter comes across the atrocity of trial by ordeal in the case of the sotah (Numbers 5) or the absurdity of stoning a virgin for not having a bloody virginal blanket, he finds ways to modernize or moralize the Torah text--bringing its dictates into line with his sense of justice. Hence the rabbinic finds esoteric exceptions as compromises for the sotah and legal minutiae to exempt the bloodless bride. A more parsimonious reading of these texts finds them in discordance with modern concepts of morality.

Human ethics are the result of evolutionary pressures acting on both genes (biological units of inheritance) and memes (behavior units of inheritance) on hominids who have been successful as social mammals. I do not completely understand your scenario, but I will assess it from an evolutionary basis for morality.

Assuming that the scenario is an either-or situation, let me heighten the terms. A father has the opportunity to save two strangers from sudden death or spare his son. Two strangers are in a cart traveling up a steep road without guard rails. The cart becomes detached from its horses and begins rolling at increasing speeds toward a cliff. It is obvious that the oblivious passengers will die unless the cart is stopped. A father observes the cart rolling toward a cliff from a higher elevation where he is stationed with his three-hundred pound son. He realizes that he can either throw his son in front of the cart which would kill his son yet stop the strangers from impeding doom or spare his son. The father would throw himself down, but he is on chemotherapy and weighs less than one hundred pounds. He knows that his mass is insufficient to stop the inertia of the cart.

Thankfully such a situation is a bit unlikely to occur, but, I state this sarcastically, the absolute and complete moral code of the Revealer provides principles to address it well. There is nothing in the sacred script that addresses such a scenario. Why is it that the father would restrain himself from the obvious opportunity to save two people instead of one? The father's evolutionary attachment to his progeny prevents him from plummeting his son to genetic preclusion from future proliferation.

I am going to stop this short....but, how would you assess this situation from a biblical perspective? How do you explain the father's reluctance to pushing his son over the cliff?

Andrew T. said...

Hello Peter,

Yes, certainly every person has their own biases and presuppositions. However, if it is conceded that a RELATIVELY correct reading is temporally possible, you also concede that some number of individuals at some point had few enough wrong presuppositions and biases that they gleaned from the text with very little error, or at least that such COULD have happened given a set of circumstances. I, for one, would context that those "some individuals" are Orthodox Jews.

As far as I know the Talmud's description of the death penalty being used exceedingly sparingly is historically accurate, but perhaps you might be able to prove me wrong, Peter?

Human ethics are not a hard-coded "result" of evolutionary pressures; it is tempted by it. For example, I have the ABILITY to engage in homoerotic intercourse, but have no INCLINATION to do so. The reason I have no inclination is a combination of a priori reasoning, a posteriori experience (nurture), and yes, biological and evolutionary pressures (nature). And need I reiterate that homosexuality is indefensible from a biological standpoint?

Your scenario is not a problem for me as I flatly reject the use of natural selection as a morality paradigm; you obviously advance a doctrine of sophistry and scientism. For the fact that the emergent results of natural selection have an influence on the way someone acts says nothing about whether or not those influences are justifiably right or wrong (which is what morality actually is), and it certainly does not mean that natural selection is exclusively responsible for someone's individual actions without influence of experience or mental conjecture. ha-Sheim, the Creator, arbitrates the ideal of human morality. Someone is moral to the extent that one's intrapersonal morality is in step with His universal standard of morality (Torah), taking in account his opportunities to be moral or amoral. I would guess that my position is most in line with Scholasticism; Ramb"m was foremost among the "Jewish Scholastics", if you prefer to call it that.

PeterS said...

Hello Andrew,
Homosexuality is defensible from the perspective of biology. The homosexual member is still likely to reproduce and her genes may confer a specific survival advantage. The non-breeding homosexual remains in the tribe as an aid that can help others in the tribe raise offspring. Though she may not directly contribute to the gene pool, she may confer help to those who are many of whom maintain and pass on genes that she also shares. Homosexuality is defensible biologically. It is kosher too…unfortunately the Abrahamic religions have all disenfranchised homosexual s of basic rights, such as the right to life under theocratic governance.

Tandi said...

Hello Peter (and Andrew)

After a necessary hiatus, here we are, together again. : )

Thank you for the reference to the excellent article by Jason Lisle. As you might expect, I agree with it. Dr. Lisle wrote for a general audience, thus the simplicity. I am sure he could converse at an intellectual level with his summa cum laude degree in physics and astronomy and Ph.D. in Astrophysics. But the truth really is quite simple; otherwise, we could charge God with not giving mankind enough intellectual capacity to figure out how to find Him. The Bible is spiritually discerned; it cannot be comprehended by intellect alone.

Here is a quote from another article that sums up the issue:

"In an evolutionary world view, why should you have things like absolute morality? Why would it be wrong to kill someone?" said Jason Lisle, of Answers in Genesis. "I'm not saying that evolutionists aren't moral. I'm saying they have no reason to be moral."

I saw and heard Jason Lisle and Ken Ham on the Ankerberg debates with Walter Kaiser and Hugh Ross. I have the DVD set with additional commentary by Terry Mortenson. I was very impressed with Jason (and Ken and Terry). I would be happy to share the DVD with you if interested. If their defense of the Genesis account is not persuasive, there is nothing any of us can say to convince you of the truth of God’s Word. It ultimately comes down to believing Genesis or not believing it. Without this foundation, the rest of the Bible has nothing to stand on. There is no need for a Redeemer to come to rescue us and restore Paradise (the Creation itself groaneth for Redemption). The Bible is useless to someone with an Evolutionary world view.

So how do you determine right and wrong now, Peter, without the Bible as your guide?

I am grateful for the Bible’s guidance. Before my born-again experience, and due to my dead-end, philosophical searching, I had no clue what was right or wrong anymore....although I was plagued with a vague, undefined guilt. I was sick of being bad. I wanted to be good. But I did not know how to define “good.”

Breaking God’s rules for morality is only fun for a season. It gets old fast. And the consequences can be severe. That is why He gives us His rules.....for our good always (Deut. 6:24)

“Do not boil a kid in its mother’s milk” is clearly an admonition not to do as the heathen do (pagan fertility rite), a concept that weaves throughout Scripture. The “People of the Book” are to be a separate, peculiar people that does not look or behave like the world around us. I will admit that the world is full of cruel, compromising, hypocritical, unbelieving Christians/Jews so that the image is tarnished. Imagine what the world would be like if a believing Remnant really responded to the call of God on their lives and the Kingdom of God were established on the Earth! I can do more than imagine....I can read about it on the pages of Scripture. It is called the Millennial Kingdom and it is coming soon. Be there. The future is awesome!

Tandi said...

Hello Peter,

I am looking forward to seeing the snapping turtle picture. Post soon! Dave says he caught a 3 inch painted turtle and wants to know if you are impressed. : )

Kol tuv,

Maureen

Andrew T. said...

Hello Tandi,

While Peter's idea of morality is an abominable materialist mess, it is still technically a code of morality. Even it has precepts that are correct among the larger amount of ethical error. An observant Muslim probably believes and upholds 90% of the same moral precepts that you do. But you (as I) believe that the Bible is from the Lord, and therefore offers the only code of morality that is fully justifiable.

Tandi, the observable evidence in nature overwhelmingly confirms old-earth evolution. It's unbelievable that anyone would be able to doubt the scientific record. But evolutionary theory does not defeat the value of Genesis (be-Reishit) either as moral or historical authority. In fact, I submit that it does not even touch it. The real kicker is that the doctrine of a 6-earth-days-6000-years creation is only a few hundred years old and was crafted in the Catholic church. Now the Catholic Church from which the 6-earth-days-6000-years came out of confirms the obvious factuality of an old earth and an evolutionary process. So does virtually everyone else except for a subgroup WITHIN orthodox Protestantism. Early Church fathers from Justin Martyr to St. Augustine all believed that Genesis 1-2 was more allegorical than literal. Orthodox Jews, who read the first portion of Genesis every single year in its original Hebrew language, have always overwhelmingly believed in an old Earth interpretation. I've heard you say it before: the real reason you reject evolutionary theory is because you believe it contradicts Genesis (which it does not) or because you believe it implies certain ethos (Peter seems to believe so, but he is incorrect).

PeterS said...

Hello Maureen,

You state,"So how do you determine right and wrong now, Peter, without the Bible as your guide?"

This question can be leveled back at the Bible believer, and that is one of my points in my post. The Bible is not a straight forward manual of ethics. Its ethics are coded in context specific contingencies related to concrete historical exigencies and cultural-linguistic milieus. Additionally, the reader of the Bible reads the texts with presuppositions often foreign to the biblical writers. As a result of such presuppositions, the reader often misses significantly disturbing content, glossing over them with ethical-moral values non-native to the biblical writers and the original reading (or hearing) communities.

The Bible may hence be heralded as an inerrant, absolute source of morals; however, unless the reader can claim that her reading or interpretation is inerrant, such an absolutism is meaningless. Hence, the biblical reader is left to her own logic and instinct in basic questions of morality. She does not source the Bible for native morals; she finds in it a reflection of her own morality and values.

We need to stop looking up to psudeo-deities and numens for morality; we need to start looking down the phylogenic tree of our evolutionary ancestry. Our morals are the result of nature and nurture. Our nature is conditioned by millions of years of evolution as social mammals. This is so key. Understanding this leads to altruism and good morals. If you fail to understand the connection between evolution and good morals, then you probably are brainwashed by the creationist dung and/or you simply are not aware of the findings by anthropologists in such matters. It is a long-standing and entirely false claim of the creationist dupes that evolution breeds immorality and amorality. It simply confirms for me the fear-based ignorance of such.

Tandi said...

Hello Peter,

While I do not often agree with you these days, I still respect you. I can sense your frustration, but I want you to know that not all of your points are lost on me. For one thing I am learning tolerance from you. I am not so quick to separate from others due to doctrinal differences and differing world views. I am even considering forming campfire Bible studies with my neighbors, who range from drunkards to antinomian charismatics to (possibly) gays. The LORD seems to be bringing our neighborhood together because of this dog incident in the news and the aftermath. I am grateful for your continued friendship and correspondence, and it has inspired me to extend friendship to others, as Yeshua would (Matt. 9). The heterodox (new vocabulary word you taught me) should be heard....and who knows what will come of it....eventual consensus?

Kol tuv,

Maureen

Tandi said...

Hello Andrew,

You said.....

The real kicker is that the doctrine of a 6-earth-days-6000-years creation is only a few hundred years old and was crafted in the Catholic church. Now the Catholic Church from which the 6-earth-days-6000-years came out of confirms the obvious factuality of an old earth and an evolutionary process. So does virtually everyone else except for a subgroup WITHIN orthodox Protestantism. Early Church fathers from Justin Martyr to St. Augustine all believed that Genesis 1-2 was more allegorical than literal.

Can you document these statements? I have heard the exact opposite...that the majority of Early Church Fathers, and then Calvin, Luther, Wesley... up to the 18th century.....all believed in 6000 years.

Augustine wavered about it and was not sure.

Here is the AIG response:

Q: What did the early church fathers believe about the days of creation in Genesis?

A: A number of biblical creation scholars have thoroughly researched what these church fathers believed. They found that based on the biblical text, the majority of church fathers either specifically stated that the days of creation were ordinary days or that the universe could only be a few thousand years old.

In fact, when you look at 18 centuries of biblical scholarship—beginning from the time of Christ—a significant majority of biblical scholars believed that Genesis taught that the creation days were literal days. They believed the universe could only be thousands of years old.

The reason most biblical scholars of the past 200 years believe the creation days are not ordinary days has nothing to do with what the Bible clearly states in Genesis 1. What’s the reason? It’s because they’ve been influenced by secular scientists to believe in millions of years.

When Christians reinterpret the days of creation to fit in millions of years, they’ve undermined the authority of the Word of God … and made fallible man the authority.

PeterS said...

Hello Andrew,

RE: natural selection, morality, and Torah

Natural selection fine-tunes social behaviors. The tribal member that behaves aberrantly is less likely to experience the support and care of his fellows; hence, he will be less likely to reproduce and raise offspring into reproductive maturity. Natural selection thus pressures the tribal member to behave altruistically toward the tribe as a whole and to its individual constituents. Morality is utilitarian as it addresses the question of what behaviors bring the most benefit. Evolutionary utilitarian tribal norms lead to altruism and benevolence.

How morality amongst social settings is somehow exempt from the pressure of natural selection escapes me. One may posit that morals come ultimately from God; however, such a position does not negate the reality of natural selection on social moorings in social organisms.

I do not believe that Torah was given at Sinai or that God dictated it to Moses. I see in the Torah a grand memeplex, uniquely codified as units of behavioral inheritance. Memes behave like genes. Self-replicating genes survive: self-replicating memes survive. The written milieu in which Torah memes exist favors them for longer rigidity and survival. Some of these memes still benefit us today; others are obviously ignored by the sensible or re-interpreted into oblivion due to their atrocious and archaic axioms. Others, though equally heinous are yet accepted by the large communities. Unfortunately due to the written basis of Torah memes, many of the unjust or utilitarian-scaled deficient memes remain aloof from concerted review.

Torah is specifically nationalistic and ethnocratic in its scope. It does not seek to apply a universal standard on all peoples. The scope of its moral hegemony is relegated in some passages to the land of Israel and in others to the people of Israel, however constituted. The early-earth histographies, the patriarchal histories, and the exodus narratives are designed to establish the moral hegemony of Y-H-W-H in covenantal priority over the land and the people. Outside of such developments remain those outside of the covenants—the gentiles and those who worship other deities.

Atheist Okie said...

Peter,
I haven't had a chance to give a more in-depth reply, but I would like to say that this is a great post. Maybe I will have time to add more later.

Tandi said...

Torah is relevant today when we remember the maxim, "One interpretation; many applications."

Regulations regarding slavery can be applied today to treating employees fairly. "Women as property" can translate to a wife being faithful in marriage, not usurping her husband's authority, building him up rather than putting him down, and being a help rather than a hindrance. "Women's liberation" has not been a good thing for men....or women.

PeterS said...

Hello Tandi,

Hello Tandi,

What specific judgments about slaves in the Torah can be applied to employees today? The Torah’s “woman as property” applying toward fidelity does not apply well today. The Torah-mandated fidelity of a woman including her virginal status at marriage is only relevant in a patriarchal context. For example, the bride found not to be a virgin (i.e., without a blood cloth) on her wedding night is stoned not for having been promiscuous herself but, very importantly, because she has brought shame on her father’s house. Hence, in a less-than patriarchal setting as we have today, is it okay for a woman to engage in pre-marital sex because she is not shaming her father? What if her father doesn’t care to know the details of her sexual behavior? What if her father is a homosexual and hence already stands condemned by Torah as a sexual deviant?

You are extrapolating ideas from the text and applying them out of context against the back drop of value-ridden presuppositions irrelevant to the original pentateuchal contexts. Your interpretations are examples of infusing the text with non-native meanings and so negating the texts into oblivion or non-application. You are making meaning by taking your modern realities and values (both products of evolution and cultural conditioning) and applying them vis-à-vis the biblical text regardless of the details of the biblical data. Hence, you are making moral meaning in spite of the biblical text and not from it. The *real* source of your morals in these areas is not the biblical text. You are fooling yourself to claim so.

Tandi said...

Hello Peter,

Even in today's world, a woman can still shame her father by her behavior. "Honor your mother and father," grandmother and grandfather, living or dead, is just as relevant today as ever. Surely there is a godly ancestor somewhere in the family line to be honored, if we have to go back to Noah! But as in the days of Noah, today's world is corrupt because so many deem God's Word irrelevant to their chosen lifestyle.

Yeshua demonstrated God's mercy in forgiving the sinner (e.g., woman caught in adultery). "Go and sin no more" is another relevancy to today's moral crisis.

"The Golden Rule" is applicable to slaves, employees, relationships, in every age.

I wonder why you did not consider Torah unjust, atrocious, and heinous for most of your life? What makes the rants of fearless atheists like Ingersoll worthwhile reading [Some Mistakes of Moses]? What if Ingersoll has made mistakes?

If you take away the Bible as my moral compass, I will end up lost, not knowing which way to go. My understanding may be imperfect, but you have yet to convince me you have found a better way, a better philosophy of life, a better theology than the simple-minded Bible believing that has served me well for many years. I don't know how there could be a better moral code than the Ten Commandments. I will stick with those. They have stood the test of time.

Kol tuv,

Maureen

Atheist Okie said...

An interesting blog post:

http://www.theskepticsguide.org/sgublog/?p=207

PeterS said...

Hello Maureen,

Patriarchal-tribal land allotments form the core of filial piety in the Pentateuch. Hence, if your father is a foreigner without land in the covenant land, there is no pentateuchal precept to allot him primacy. As a result of this paradigm, rabbis teach that there is *no* commandment for gentiles to honor their parents. Shame that a daughter might bring to her father from sexual deviance today is not akin to the shame in the Torah.

Yeshua never said, "Go and sin no more." The passage from which this is drawn is a latter insert to the book of John. It should not be viewed as indigenous to a text that is itself laced with anachronism and ahistorical content.

Every belief system or world view has its loose ends--its soft under belly. As a believer in the Torah, I recognized many difficulties that I tried to silence through rationalization and other eisegetical energies. The voice of these difficulties could only be silenced for so long in my thinking.

I found their voice to be convincing enough to become a non-believer in 2005 when I was somewhat of an outward Christian and an inward atheist. I found it best at that time not to share my inward thoughts with others though my wife at the time and a few other confidants were aware of my thinking. In mid-2006 I had a sort of epiphany in which I realized that though belief was irrational and illogical, it made me happier. As a result of this realization, I decided to believe because it made me a happier person at the time. I was not convinced and I continued to silence to voices of reason. The voices scream to me. I cannot silence them.

PeterS said...

Hello Maureen,

The moral case studies that you present in which you take your values and morals and infuse them with the biblical text are examples of how it is not the Bible itself that is anchoring your values but your values onto which biblical values are sacrificed. You do not need the Bible to engage your feelings and thoughts in a subjective creation of meaning. You could do the same without the Bible and come up with a less rigid, more compassionate, value system. Such a value system would not obligate you to avoid intimacy with your husband because of “sickness” (a KJVism) or to socially slaughter (through avoidance and canard) homosexuals.

If believing the Bible helps you be a better person, then maintain such; however, if it incites bigotry, imbalance in your psyche, or other ethical ills, then it would be better to learn to live independent of its claims. I found for myself that believing the Bible resulted in disequilibrium in my worldviews and in my psyche. The Bible became a basis for isolation and ego exacerbation in my life. Though it was a help in other regards (e.g., development of critical thinking skills and self esteem) it was also a leash for other growth vectors. I am working to grow out of the polarity and patriarchy that my belief system taught me for so many years. I am finding that I can be a healthier person without the Bible as my moral compass.

Ten Commandments??? I see scientific and moral error in them. They have stood the test of social integration…not time.

Tandi said...

Hello Peter,

Thank you for sharing so openly.

So I happened to encounter you in November 2006 during a brief window of faithfulness between two episodes of atheistic thought with “the voice of reason” screaming at you. Very interesting. I believe in Divine appointments, not coincidences.

Don’t forget about my hippie-era agnostic background. “Freedom” is something I was well acquainted with. Those were days of anti-establishment political activism, rampant drug experimentation, no rules, “free love,” sexual experimentation (when many tried bi-sexuality, open marriage, wife swapping, etc.). There is nothing new under the sun, as Solomon says in Ecclesiastes. It has all been tried before....and found wanting. For me, it led to emptiness, depression, and boredom. I was almost 33 years old when I surrendered my life to God. I had my fill of so-called freedom. The thrill was gone. I was anything but altruistic. I was not a good mother, or a good wife, or a good person. I hated what I had become.

The rigidity of trying to live by the heavy yoke of legalistic, rabbinic standards instead of the “easy yoke” Yeshua talked about may be partly to blame for your discouragement/rebellion. I found true freedom and lasting contentment when I took the yoke of God’s instructions upon me (Biblical precepts/Torah).

I will not deny that the path I am on is a lonely road. This is the hard part....lack of like-minded fellowship. But I have learned to be content with just the friendship of the LORD and one or two others. True friends are hard to find. I am currently experimenting with re-establishing relationships with neighbors, old friends, and relatives and not being such a recluse.

Re: No commandment for gentiles to honor their parents....

Legalistic rabbinical rules (complete with loopholes) such as this one are absurd. No wonder Yeshua spoke of the blind leading the blind and both “going postern.” (“postern” reminds me of your “Finding Our Way” poetic treatment of rabbinics. It was right on!)

Re: “Go and sin no more.” I am aware that the Bible critics say that this “woman caught in adultery” passage is spurious. I disagree. One commentary I read said that the incident itself seems authentic, but was inserted in the Gospel of John for want of a better place to put it. Maybe it was an oral tradition. I believe the LORD superintended the compilation of His Word and allowed whatever edits that made it into our Bibles of today. “Go and sin no more” is a concept that appears throughout the Word of God. It is part of the basic Gospel message from Genesis to Revelation. God is merciful to the repentant sinner and yearns to forgive and enable, rather than judge and punish (Hosea, Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc.).

Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water, Peter. Perhaps the “mistakes” in the Bible are there for a purpose...to test us. Faith IS the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). Don’t you still have a tiny closet of faith in spite of efforts to silence “the still, small voice?”

The LORD is apprehended spiritually, not intellectually. We know in our “reins” (innermost being KJV) not in our brains. God’s Word does not contradict reason, but goes beyond reason. Reason cannot come to terms with the supernatural, and so is deficient and should not be the final arbiter of truth. “Come let us reason TOGETHER...,” saith the LORD...(Isaiah 1:18).

Did you happen to see the beautiful double rainbow Monday evening? God keeps His promises.

Dare to believe again, Peter. This time with a whole heart and full commitment. Shavuot is Monday, May 12. Be there!

Atheist Okie said...

Peter,
I understand where you are coming from, and disagree with Maureen. I don't think she quite understands that her argument is a non sequitur. Just because she "lived in sin" and felt unhappy, came to Jesus, and then got happy, doesn't make her religion true. Both you and I understand that those arguments are a dime a dozen, every religion makes those sorts of claims.

Memes indeed.

PeterS said...

Hello Tandi,

You state,
“Dare to believe again, Peter. This time with a whole heart and full commitment.”

I tend to be an intense person. I do not operate with less than whole-hog commitment. My times of commitment to “biblical faith” were times of whole-hearted commitment. I have yet to meet anyone who devoted as much time and effort to Christian duties such as biblical studies and on-my-knees-and-face prayer as me. I prayed for the salvation of the reprobate in my lives…asking not for God to have pity on them but rather that their hearts would be broken for pity toward God, realizing the pain that they cause a holy God in their ceaseless depravity. I was an advocate for God. I stood for all that I understood God to stand for.

I do not like how my past sincerity of faith is deemed to be somehow feigned because I no longer hold to a “biblical worldview.” I had faith unfeigned, whole, and unencumbered by habitual sin. But, I also had an actively working mind that made it impossible for me to live against logic and reason. Yes, many a dragon of doubt was slain by a commitment to faith despite faith’s inconsistency with reality. Yet, it turned out that faith was the dragon, the virus of the mind that kept me back from unfeigned growth, wholeness of psyche, and unencumberance of illogical commitments.

Why should I dare to believe? What logical benefit is there for me? What logical reasons are there for me to believe? Jamie is correct about the value of personal testimony. People from many faith backgrounds claim personal transformation due their new belief system. Is that sufficient grounds to accept every claimant? It is not.

Tandi said...

I do not think your faith was feigned, Peter. That is why I am still fighting for you. I am inspired and motivated by the awesome and insightful things you have said in the past to continue to pray for you and desire your return. I believe the enemy of your soul has been hard at work trying to steal you away from the Kingdom. You admit you had a closet of doubt all along, “voices of reason” SCREAMING at you. This is the double-mindedness that needs to be overcome. You have one foot in the Kingdom of God and one foot in the Kingdom of Darkness. At least, that is how I see it. I just cannot let you go and let the devil win. I am sorry to be such a pest. I hope I am not annoying you too much.