Monday, October 06, 2008

A matter of the heart

So - this is as much as you get this morning as I begin to develop this notion first in my own mind.

But here's where we're going next. My BSF Teaching leader quite frequently says to us, "the heart of the matter is always a matter of the heart".


L.L. Barkat said...

Or a pit. The heart of an avocado is a pit, yes? : )

simon said...

yes. funny how logic, and reason can dissapear whenit comes to matters of the heart....

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

Yes, and sometimes LL, I think my heart may be a pit - but of the sulphur smelling variety!

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

Yes Simon - I do agree with you - all rationality does seem to fly out the window, doesn't it, when the heart is fully engaged!

Litl-Luther said...

Do you know that "the heart" in the Bible is almost always synonymous with the mind?

Ted M. Gossard said...

Interesting quote, and it reminds me of the book I'm reading on truths learned from fourth century Christian Desert Fathers and Mothers.

By God's grace in Jesus we have to strip ourselves of all we put on to hide from the Truth, and instead come to the Way, the Truth and the Life, just as we are. Only then can we live before God with a pure heart and a steadfast spirit (Psalm 51:10), by God's grace, and this need of grace ongoing for continued, needed forgiveness and cleansing (1 John 1:7), of course. (and it does speak in Psalm 51 of a broken and contrite [repentant- NLT] heart which is to be our sacrifice to God, one he will not despise)

I reflect a bit on it on my blog today.

Litl-Luther said...

In your words you say we have a need for continual grace because we have an ongoing need of forgiveness and cleansing.

But that would mean the work of Christ was insufficient.

If there is an ongoing need for forgiveness, that implies our forgiveness is incomplete, but if our forgiveness is incomplete, what sacrifice remains?? Our contrite hearts, our acts of contrition, blah, blah, blah are all a mockery of the cross. All worthless. Only the cross satisfies God's wrath. The sacrifice of Christ alone accomplished in full all that is needed for our forgiveness.

You should really be more careful with your words. To say we have "an ongoing need of forgiveness" implies our forgiveness is incomplete, that something still remains undone, Christ did not do enough. It was not "finished" on the cross….That is the implication of "an ongoing need of forgiveness and cleansing."

"We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." (Heb. 10:10) Past tense. We are already sanctified, and have been sanctified through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

"For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified." (Heb. 10:14) We have also already been perfected forever by Jesus' sacrifice. Nothing is incomplete. Nothing is lacking. It is finished! We are already sanctified and already perfected through Jesus’ sacrifice!

"Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin." (Heb. 10:18)

Ted M. Gossard said...

Ltl Luther,
I'm pointing to 1 John 1:7 in my comment, and agree with all you say here as far as Christ's sacrifice being once for all. You're misreading me, brother.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Ltl Luther, Not only 1 John 1:7 but verse 9 suggests we need ongoing forgiveness. If we confess our sins, and I take that to mean ongoing in our Christian life. Not just at conversion.

Matthew 18 and the "Our Father" prayer along with the words which follow in Matthew 6 suggest the same. Don't you think so?

Look at the passage I linked on 1 John in my original comment, and also consider that 1 John was written that those who believe might know that they have eternal life (as well as fellowship). It was written to believers.

donsands said...

BSF looks like a great work of the Lord. From small beginings, great things happen.

Jesus came to teach exactly that. It's a heart thing. It's the conscience, mind, and whole me, and what's going on inside that matters.

Excellent thought from your leader Susan.

Ted M. Gossard said...

In John 13, Jesus washed the disciples' feet on the eve of his crucifixion.

Peter made it clear that the Lord should never wash his feet! But Jesus told Peter that unless he would wash his feet, Peter could have no part in him. So Peter in characteristic fashion tells the Lord to wash not only his feet, but his hands and head.

Jesus then tells Peter that those who have already had a bath don't need that, but only the feet washing. Many have looked at this passage as suggesting that this bath is the bath of regeneration in which the disciples were clean through Jesus' word spoken to them (note especially verses 10 and 11).

So if that interpretation holds water, the feet washing by our Lord is likened to the ongoing cleansing that is needed in 1 John 1:7 as we walk through this dirty world and at times are contaminated by sin.

I'm not sure of that interpretation myself, even though I think there's Scriptural truth in this application.

Also in Psalm 51, the psalmist, David, is broken over his sin and repentant. This is what God wants, the sacrifice acceptable to him. Of course David's forgiveness is really based on the sacrifice of Christ prefigured then in the animal sacrifices which in God's plan were looking ahead to the one great sacrifice of his Son, Jesus by his death on the cross.

But by grace a submissive faith -that is repentance and faith- are necessary for that once for all sacrifice of Christ to take effect. And when we sin after initial forgiveness, cleansing is contingent on us walking in the light of the Lord and confessing our sins (1 John 1-2). It's not that we therefore provide our own sacrifice for our sins, anymore than David's repentant heart was the basis for God's forgiveness of him and his sins.

We've been made holy through the sacrifice of Christ, just as you pointed out, Triston, from Hebrews. Some would say it's just a matter of fellowship, the final forgiveness is taken care of. I believe faith is necessarily present tense for assurance of eternal life, but the ground of that faith being Jesus and his sacrifice.

Litl-Luther said...

Hey Ted,

I don't take it as far as some. There are some Christians who believe we should not even ask for forgiveness because it goes against who we really are in Christ. And in a sense they are right because we are already forgiven completely. But, like you, I do see 1 John teaching that from time to time we do need to confess our sins to the Lord and ask for forgiveness. I agree with you to this point. What I was trying to stress is who we are positionally in Christ. Positionally, we are already completely washed clean, cleansed completely, completely forgiven, completely sanctified, completely holy, completely righteous, completely perfect by the Sacrifice of Christ. However, experientially, we are still in these unredeemed bodies. We still struggle with sin. We still need to repent to renew our fellowship (though never our relationship, that’s eternally secure) with the Father.

I was just trying to stress our position in Christ, that's all, not tear you apart or anything brother. I think where our disagreement centers is on your belief in prevenient grace and my disbelief in that doctrine, and many of the things you say related to our daily walk with the Lord, that I take issue with, come back, I think, to your belief in prevenient grace.

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

Well Triston, you might try applying Proverbs 25:11 before you leave comments. If I, as a believer, thought you were being argumentative and trying to tear Ted apart (not just down), how do you suppose that it appears to others who read?

Litl-Luther said...


I don't believe anything I said to Ted was wrong or needs to be apologized for. If you think they do, you should quickly remove me from your blog. I was just trying to be sensitive to his feelings in the last post, but I’m sure I’ll be even more blunt an insensitive from time to time in the future.


Deb said...

Triston, of the point that you were trying to make to Ted, he is already well aware.

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

Triston, I was referring to the quote, "[Ted] You should really be more careful with your words..."

I think there perhaps were some more gracious ways to have asked Ted a question and therefore to have brought your point out than that. Or perhaps you don't think your speech need to be seasoned with graciousness? Some people don't you know.

Litl-Luther said...

I'm sure you are right. I could be more gracious. That's my weaknesses. I love and stress the grace of God but am often not gracious when I write.

Litl-Luther said...

Hey Susan,

I was thinking, another text that might have the same application as the Proverb 25:11 you mentioned would be Ecclesiastes 10:1:

"Dead flies putrefy the perfumer’s ointment, and cause it to give off a foul odor."

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

I would imagine, Triston, that the Balm of Gilead always has a sweet aroma.

Thank you for your comment.

Maalie said...

Oh, is it time for the blood-pump issue to come round again?

Unless the word 'heart' specifically refers to the organ which pumps blood, it is of course being used metaphorically. There is nothing wrong with that - it makes our language richer and more versatile. The problem with metaphors is that they may be interpreted differently by different people.

I think "the heart of the matter" is a particularly good one to use - it is clearly an analogy of indicating something that is centrally important, as indeed the blood-pump is. I could say without any difficulty that "natural selection is at the heart of the theory of evolution".

I have problems with expressions like "a matter of the heart" - that is more difficult to interpret. I could see it being used in two ways (at least):

1. "I know that many people do not agree with me but I have studied the arguments and the evidence and in my heart I know it is true". No problem here, the person may "feel" it in their heart, but why not simply say they have studied the evidence and have become convinced?

I felt like this when I read Richard Dawkins' words (in his Blind Watchmaker) that "We now no longer need to invoke a god to explain the origins and development of life on earth". I "knew in my heart" that he was right, and from that day I saw the light and felt born again (which of course is another metaphor).

2. "I know that there is absolutely no scientific evidence to support the view that the hundreds of ethnic groups (18 in Madagascar alone!) were genetically descended from one man and one woman so re4cently in geological history, but nevertheless it is a matter for my heart and I believe it".

The trouble with matters of the heart is that they are often based on personal incredulity; some would call it "faith". Richard Dawkins (and I) call it delusion.

donsands said...

Maalie, if you had to summarize where all the men and women and children came from; from Greenland to Austria; from Hawaii to Chile, how would you explain their coming about to someone who believes this is an impossibility to think this happened by chance?

Maalie said...

Donsands, we come back to the same old problem: it takes you one line to say "I don't believe it" (argument from personal incredulity), but it would take me a course of lectures to explain to you the evidence. You might start looking here: Human Migration, and there are plenty of other places to look if you are seriously interested. But I cannot accept your point that you simply "don't believe it" until you have studied all the scientific evidence and pointed out where it is flawed. For example, study the link above and tell me where you think it is wrong.

I repeat, it is not a question for debate: the hundreds of ethnic groups that live on earth today could not have genetically descended from one man and one woman just a few thousand years ago. They wouldn't have had the ="genetic diversity (Gene Pool.

Maalie said...

Donsands, I have found another interesting source here that you might like to study. It is pretty clear.

Of course it is possible that you may not want to consider it because you have already pre-judged the issue.

donsands said...

"A 36,000-year-old skull from South Africa provides the first fossil evidence"

That sure doesn't do much for me to convince me: One skull?

Shouldn't there be millions of skulls, if they found one, or at 10, 000?

And of course this 36,000 year old human's great, great, great grand-dad was an ape? But his great grand-dad was just a little less ape?

I'm trying to understand the whole picture.
There are 100,000 year old apes, perhaps thousands of apes, and they have little apes.
Then one day one of the new born apes is a little different?
And he grows up and he fathers an ape that is a little more different?

And in a few thousand years we have humans who can talk and write, and love, have joy, and even sorrow, and so write music, and poetry.

This isn't clear evidence at all for me. I really do not think the evidence is anywhere near conclusive.

And of course if we go far enough back to before the Earth became what it is, there's so much mystery here, that anyone who says it just formed by chance has an huge imagination, and not any evidence at all.

I'm no expert on this Maalie, and I appreciate your knowledge, but I think those who do not believe in God, need to take a long look at a man who lived in Palestine, 2 thousand years ago, and consider whether the "evidence" of this Man dying, and then rising from the dead is credible, which it overwhelmingly is by the way.

Thanks for the links, and I'll be checking them out a bit more, and also have some scholar friends look at them.

Maalie said...

> And he grows up and he fathers an ape that is a little more different?

No, that is a misconception pseudo-scientific misinformation put about by the fundamentalists. Natural Selection does not work like that. Yes, of course fossil skulls are rare, they may be millions of years old and condition for fossilisation are difficult and they are hard to find. There are thousands of skulls in museums that show a continuous lineage from anthropoid precursors.

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

Hello Maalie - welcome home. I trust that your trip was excellent and will enjoy hearing more about it in weeks to come.

Yes, the heart issue again - metaphorically that is. Actually, as I have been thinking about this particular issue, I believe what I will be writing about is thistle roots. It's been a whale of a bad year for thistles in my yard and it has got me to thinking....

Maalie said...

Hi Halfmom, Yes thank you I had a great trip, I have already put some pictures up.

I look forward to reading about thistle roots. Real or metaphorical?

Maalie said...

Donsands, you have asked me to explain a number of things here and on Bluecollar, may I now, in turn, ask you to explain my paradox?

Let us imagine two people, Mr Adam and Miss Eve, dumped by God in some garden where there are apple trees and talking snakes (we will ignore the fact that edible apples have taken hundreds of years to develop from the original wild type which must have been extremely bitter). Let us say this happened about 10,000 years ago (though it might have been even more recent according to some creationists).

Since they were the only two people in the whole wide world, and were presumably attractive and sexually mature, they did what comes naturally, and have a few children. I don't know where this garden was, but it is likely to have been in the middle east (i.e, the "known world" at the time), and Mr Adam and Miss Eve, and their children would have been ethnically white Caucasian.

We now infer that their children matured and committed the ghastly sin if incest and started to populate the planet. Their gene pool comprises white Caucasian, so at what point did the genetic variation become introduced in order to generate Eskimos, Australian Aborigines, Borneo pygmies, New Zealand Maoris, the Masai Warriors of Africa, the jungle tribes of the Amazon, not to mention the 18 ethnic groups in Madagascar?

donsands said...

Good question Maalie.

But we actually have to start over, because God destroyed mankind in the great deluge: ""Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and was grieved in His heart. So the Lord said, 'I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am grieved that I have made them.'"

And He saved only Noah & his wife, and his three sons and wives.

So these eight are the begining of all the ethnic groups we have today.

I will do some research I get back to you, very soon.

Maalie said...

>So these eight are the begining of all the ethnic groups we have today.

OK, fair point. But they were presumably descended from Mr Adam and Miss eve and their incestuous offspring? I still would be interested to know at which point the genetic diversity was introduced? Clearly such a small number of people could not have contained the genetic flexibility required to populate the planet in such the wide diversity of ethnic variation mentioned above?

Did one couple suddenly bear a child and they said "Oh look, we seem to have given birth to an aborigine kid, we better pack him off to Australia"? And the next couple bear a pygmy child who had to be despatched to Borneo? How did they get them to these places?

And presumably this all happened sometime after the magic garden with the bitter apples and talking snakes, so there would have been even less time for the genetic diversity to have arisen.

It simply could not have happened that way. I guess you trust the genetics of medical science; why don't you trust the genetics of evolutionary science? It's all the same stuff, you know.

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

thistles - both the physical (and prickly) and metaphorical ones!

simon said...

i LOVE it ! GO Maalie!!!..
Anyway I had a girl break my blood pump....

Isn't there some reference to Dinosoars and Giants living in the old testament....and that when the "bubble" of the earths atmosphere burst... causing the flood thats when dinosoars became extinct becasue of the dramatic shift in the earths temperature?

And wasn't this arguement used to explain why peopl lived so long?

(so some loonies believe)

Maalie said...

Simon: Yes made we have all had our blood pumps bruised at some time or other. People can be so hurtful. I am happy that mine is functioning very smoothly these days.

Well, isn't there some song somewhere that goes: "The things that you're li'ble to read in the bible - it ain't necessarily so".

I think that acceptance of those wise words, especially in the light of modern advances in molecular biology (from which we all accept and have benefitted) would make the world a happier and more peaceful place.

In Madagascar most of the tribes worship their ancestors, which seems to me not a bad idea. Reverence for the past would generate respect for the future. With Sarah Palin raising her head above the parapet I have grave concerns about the future of this planet if she gets elected (she has attempted to get various wildlife removed from the endangered species list so that she can ghave an oil pipeline through Alaska). I know that Jazzycat on Bluecollar thinks she is a "babe", but that is a Calvinist for you, is seems clear how they decide their political priorities! LOL!

Halfmom, I look forward to constructively discussing the issue of thistles with you! I trust no Scots person will take offence - it is their national emblem!

Maalie said...


Litl-Luther said...


Our final authority on matters is different. You base your convictions on what you see, taste, touch etc. You base it all on your senses. But we base what we believe on what God says is true. For instance, probably the most scientifically improbable thing said in the Bible is found in Joshua 10:12-14:

“Joshua spoke to the LORD…. ‘Sun, stand still over Gibeon’….So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. And there has been no day like that, before it or after it, that the LORD heeded the voice of a man; for the LORD fought for Israel.”

On this one day in all of history, God broke the rules the universe He created work by and stopped the earth from rotating around the sun so that Israel could finish the battle they were winning. I believe it happened because God said it happened. My authority is higher than my senses. I don’t base my convictions merely on what I can see, taste, touch, etc. I base them on what God says is true. And so when He says He created the whole human race from a single pair of humans, I believe Him. Now whether this happened 10,000 years ago or 100 million years ago, I don’t know, but I believe His Word.

Perhaps this is when the diversity among humans took place:

“Now the whole earth had one language and one speech….[The people said] Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves….there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.” (Genesis 11:1-9)

My thinking is that it was at this point in history, when God changed the languages that people spoke that He also changed their genetic makeup. Not only did they speak differently from this point, they also looked different and migrated throughout the earth.

If God indeed created us all, why should it be so difficult to believe He might make some changes to us, causing some to be black, white, Asian, etc?

Maalie said...

>why should it be so difficult to believe He might make some changes to us, causing some to be black, white, Asian, etc?

Ah, Litl Luther, that is for you to tell me! But I assure you that if it happened as you say, then it happened incredibly recently in the history of this planet. A few thousand years is just the blink of an eye in terms of hominoid occupation of this planet.

For example there is archaeological evidence that the Australian aborigines colonised their continent anything up to 125,000 years ago (as well as DNA and genetic evidence).

Of course scientists do actually recognise that everything that happens on earth could have been at the whim of an almighty everlasting heavenly father (who, by the way, casts his favours rather arbitrarily to those he purports to love); they simply consider that scenario as so improbable as to be out of the frame for consideration.

I continue to assert that the genetic diversity that exists on this planet today did not arise from the incestuous offspring of two individuals (subsequently weeded down to 8).

There is no way that I can compromise on this fundamental fact of genetics. If you accept the genetics and molecular biology of medicine, you must accept this. It is the same stuff.

Maalie said...

>He also changed their genetic makeup. Not only did they speak differently from this point

If I may just make one small addition, I think the vital clue here is your use of the words "this point".

We know as a certain fact that that different ethnic groups did not arise in their respective locations with their respective languages and genotypes at a point in time. It happened progressively and systematically (the link I gave Donsands above demonstrates this). It has been elucidated and corroborated from several angles, including geological, archaeological and genetically. If you accept the conviction of a criminal by DNA technology, you must accept it here. It's all the same stuff. You can't cherry pick the bits of science that suit your prejudices and reject those that don't.

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

Oh Maalie dear, it does worry me when, as a scientist, you say "we know for a certain fact". You know that we can't say anthing of the sort until we form and test a hypothesis. Even then, we must come at answering the question from multiple angles to be sure of our own conclusions. Then, of course, our findings must be peer-reviewed and published so other laboratories can reproduce the findings. Only then might we dare to say that something is fact rather than artifact from a single laboratory!

On a rather different note - if one were to accept the notion that "everything that happens on earth could have been at the whim of an almighty everlasting heavenly father", why would you reject the fact that such a powerful being could then manipulate what He created? Now that seems like a quite illogical conclusion to me.

PS - have you heard from Lorenzo?

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

Ahh, my dear Maalie. I am glad that your blood pump is happy and intact these days! They do break so easily and without warning.

I love the thistle link! I will look forward to getting through these blasted tax documents so I can go to the yard and remove some additional thistles as well as contemplating my writing about them!

Maalie said...

>as a scientist, you say "we know for a certain fact". You know that we can't say anything of the sort until we form and test a hypothesis.

Halfmom: I accept your point. I was speaking in general terms for simplicity. I will rephrase it as: "the hypotheses concerning the development and dispersal of Mankind have now been so well tested and retested, and subjected to such extensive peer review that the evidence is now regarded by the mainstream scientific community as incontrovertible, and we now have no doubt about what happened. In any event, the hypotheses are the most parsimonious available and do not require the intervention of the supernatural. The underlying basis of the experimental procedures are identical to those in medical and other research which are widely applied in health care and universally accepted".

What intrigues me about your position is that you evidently have respect for the peer-reviewed process in your own field of neurology (I know because I have read some of your work) and yet you appear to reject that in other fields. At what point in the spectrum of biological research is the boundary between what you accept and reject? How can you accept the areas of science (medicine, technology, etc.) which appear not to contradict your faith, but reject others (geology, geochemistry, archaeology, anthropology etc.), which appear not to, but which are nevertheless subject to just as rigorous peer review??

I would be interested in your explanation as how such immense variation in the human genome could have arisen from just eight people (who by definition are already incestuously inbred) in such short a space a time?

Yes, I have heard from Lorenzo, she appears to be having a great time with her family in Japan!

I think I need a beer!

donsands said...

"(who by definition are already incestuously inbred)"

By the time Noah's children married, there were actually millions of people on the earth. It would have been almost a thousand years from Adam.

Just to clear that up.
And I am studying this a bit deeper, so that we can discuss it as such, before I answer your question.

I believe Susan gave a wonderful response, and look forward to her dialog with you. I would say, "You go girl", but that may be a little improper methinks.

Maalie said...

>if one were to accept the notion that "everything that happens on earth could have been at the whim of an almighty everlasting heavenly father", why would you reject the fact that such a powerful being could then manipulate what He created?

Because I DON'T accept the notion! It is a tautology. He is omnipotent because he can do anything. He can do anything because he is omnipotent. It is a meaningless circular argument.

Science is not like that, it is based on evidence. It is fair to dispute the evidence, or its interpretation, but you must publish your alternative in a peer-reviewed scientific journal before you gain credibility. It isn't sufficient just to say "I don't believe it" or "my heart tells me something else".

And then you collect your Nobel Prize, give lectures, write books and take early retirement :-)

simon said...

I think it makes perfect sense that god stopped the rotation of the earth..he defiedd all the laws of the universe!

its JUST SO true!

I mean I read it in another book book too, I think it was called

Alien Ant Invasion- the earth stopped rotating when they fired a nebular blast from outa space but it was ok- they did it whilst we were all sleeping, so you probably did not notice it...and we were all saved by Will Smith in the movie of the same name...

The Israelites were brilliant at science fiction..and many of their film directors today make great science fiction movies too

Maalie said...

Simon: ROTFL!!!

Litl Luther: If God stopped the earth rotating around the sun, it might have delayed the equinox by a few hours but it wouldn't have changed the day length.

What he ought to have done is to have stopped the earth rotating on its axis.

It is just this sort of fantasy that that turned me away from Christianity. I tell you my friend, I'm not among the elected and there is nothing I can do about it.

"The things that you're li'ble to read in the bible, it ain't necessarily so!".

Maalie said...

Moreover, if God stopped the earth rotating, we would certainly know about it. The momentum of all the loose material, the soil, rocks, animals, all the water in the seas, would have gone flying into space, leaving a bare, dry surface that could not support any life at all.

As you will know, NASA exploits this phenomenon in launching its rockets. By launching them in the direction of the earth's rotation they start off with a huge "free" momentum that sets them in the right direction.

Litl-Luther said...

Hi Maalie,

Every system of belief must have a starting axiom(s) and such axioms by their very nature are un-provable and “circular.”

Empiricism is obviously your foundation, Maalie, for all knowledge and truth, but empiricism can’t even prove itself for a foundation. A starting axiom for your foundation for truth is that all knowledge is gained through sensory experience. But if I question “you” as you like to do to me, on why your starting axiom is true and should be trusted, you have no answer. In fact, your starting axiom doesn’t even support itself, because you can’t prove by sensory experience that sensory experience can be trusted. At least my source of truth (The Word of God) establishes itself as the source of truth.

All knowledge from science is inductive and therefore false. If P then Q, P therefore Q. That is how all scientific investigations go. For example: If the streets are wet, it must have rained. The streets are wet, therefore it rained. But the streets could be wet for any other number of reasons, and you have no basis of choosing rain for the cause above any other possible cause. This is the exact structure of all “knowledge” gained through the scientific method, of which you love and admire.

The Bible is my source of all truth. That is my starting axiom, and I define everything in the world based on that axiom. You can ridicule all you want; Maalie, but I admit that without shame or reluctance. You also must have a source for what you call truth. If it is not empiricism, please define it. And if you want to ridicule me and demand that I “prove” mine, it is only fair to ask you to prove yours. However, as I have already stated, all starting axioms by their very nature cannot be proven.

Maalie said...

Litl Luther: Your lecture seems more suitable for a philosophy class (or the pulpit) than the science laboratory I'm afraid.

I can see that you have a point, but the basis of science is independent verification and repeatability. If I were to publish a new finding in a journal, all the details are required in order for the result to be independently verified.

In the case of the bible, and other mythology, this is not the case.

I'm afraid I must disengage now, not out of peevishness but because I am preparing to get away on a little European trip tomorrow, I have scarcely unpacked from the last trip.

See you all in due course.

Litl-Luther said...

Maalie, thank you for conceding that I have a point. This will be a point we should delve into again in the future.

When I and others have asserted that the Bible claims to be the Word of God, you quickly point out that this is circular reasoning; however, you are doing the same here. Your claim that repeatability and verification by others proves the scientific method is just as circular, since they are using the same scientific method. Furthermore, this is still logical induction and therefore logically false. Even if it is “repeated and independently verified” 10,000 times you have no logical basis for believing that the 10,001 time will produce the same results. This is simply induction and conjecture, and there is no reason to assert it as a fact or true.

Your “independent verification and repeatability” both still depend on your implicit faith in the scientific method. That was the whole point of my post. Both of our belief systems have a foundation. You have propositioned me to prove mine. I’ve conceded that it can’t be proven by its very nature. I would hope that you can either prove yours or concede the same

Have a great trip…something to ponder on your trip. I look forward to hearing back from you. May God have traveling mercies upon you.

Maalie said...

Litl Luther, thank you for your good wishes, however I would rather place trust in my own experience, and of those in whom I commit my care (e.g. the plane pilot), than in superstition.

If I assert that the length of a spring (within defined limits) is proportional to the weight suspended from it (it's called Hooke's Law, and is the basis of the spring balance) you can verify the assertion independently. If a doctor prescribes a drug for a sick loved one, you trust the science behind it, you don't quibble about the starting axioms.

You cannot independently verify that the earth stopped rotating on its axis, firstly because it never happened (it would be the geological event of all history) and secondly becuse those who dreamed up that bit of mythology and claimed to have witnessed it are long since dead.

I'm off.

donsands said...


Here's a little something to chew on, and I'll do some more research:

"How do we account for people's migration to the old world islands such as Australia, Indonesia, New Guinea, and the British Isles? Archeological evidence shows that humans settled these islands thousands of years before settling in the Americas. The straits that divide them from large continents are much warmer and calmer than the Bering and Hecate. Some evidence suggests that earlier land or semi-land bridges may have existed in the necessary places. When the Bering and Hecate land bridges were disappearing, absolute sea levels were rising by about 5 meters (17 feet) per century. This general rise would have broadened the straits separating Australia, Indonesia, New Guinea, and Britain from the Asian and European mainlands sufficiently to "trap" people on the islands, or at least discourage attempts to leave.

As research continues we see growing harmony between the biblical and scientific data-details and dates-for the spread of human civilization. Again we can affirm that the facts support our faith."

Maalie said...

Donsands: I have no reason to disagree with any of that (I haven't independently checked it out). As you say, it is based on archaeological evidence, I am not disputing the evidence here.
What I do dispute is that God had anything to do with it. Man is a mobile creature, he made the migrations on his own accord, he wasn't scattered anywhere by God. And of course the geographical isolation you refer to is just the circumstances that would favour differentiation by natural selection, and hence the different ethnic groups. Nothing to to with Adam and Eve or Noah's offspring.

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

Oh, Don Sands , you make me laugh. I'm afraid you and I are entirely too old and too white to be saying, "you go girl", but I thank you for the sentiment.

Maalie, my dear , you surely have never seen me in journal club or with students going through papers! There's much that gets into the peer-reviewed literature that I think is absolute bunk! (well, really, I think it's worse than that - but I am supposed to be a lady) I'm really quite a bit more argumentative, even within my own field, than you may guess! "See you" when you return to the UK.

Fontzter said...


Have a great trip. It was quite perceptive of you to suggest that lil-lu's comments be part of a philosophy class. At it's core, this discussion is a philosophical one. It is a debate about world views, epistemology, philosophies of religion, etc.

We are not debating the length of a line or some other trivial matter. This is a discussion of core systems and the source of knowledge.

Lil' has given us an interesting analysis. He has in essence gotten to the core of the issue. The question of how we can know anything is vital to this discussion.

As a thinking Christian, I would maintain that all knowledge comes from the Bible. I would only claim to know it's propositions and those deduced from it.

Can science give us knowledge? I would say "No." Lil' Lu has already given reasons for that. Do we live in a world in which we used sensory data to make decisions? Absolutely! I am trusting that when I hit the "k" key on my computer that letter will appear on my screen. Furthermore, I expect that all of these letters that I have typed when I complete and publish this post will appear on this blog site for all to view.

But do I know all of this as a system of truth and a source of knowledge? I would not go that far. As Lil' explained, all of this is inductive. I have no reason to trust that the next time I hit the "k" key, a "w" will appear; or that a pig will fly in the window and eat my fingers. To infer that hitting a "k" key will always produce a "k" on the screen is just as much superstition as you would charge us Christians with.
You may call upon the uniformity of nature and other such constructs but there is no basis for accepting these in a purely "scientific" worldview. Could there be a time when I hit the key and it doesn't appear? If not, than how can you prove that?

The bottom line is that you have faith in your scientific axioms just as much as we Christians have faith in ours. Neither can be proven. I am confident in the worldview that my basic beliefs produces. Yours, however, while helpful for doing my taxes and curing my ailments, has no answers to the deeper questions of life: Why am I here? What is this life for? Why should I do "good"? What is "good" anyway? Science has no answer for these. If you claim not to ask them or care about them, that is fine. But they are deeply important to me (and I trust most other thinking people). I prefer a system of thought that gives answers to such questions. If it doesn't then there's another question: What's the point?

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

Welcome Dave - I assume you are one of Triston's friends from "home"?

donsands said...

"Welcome Dave - I assume you are one of Triston's friends from "home"?"

Yep, he sure is. And he is Nepal with Triston, even now, with his two of his sons.

Dave and I go back a ways as well.

BTW, some good deep thoughts there Dave. I wish Maalie hadn't gone to Europe, so he could respond. Oh well.
Maybe when he gets back.

Maalie said...

Just a final log-in before I head off.

Why am I here? What is this life for? Why should I do "good"? What is "good" anyway? Science has no answer for these.

No, of course it doesn't. These are not meaningful questions, any more than it is meaningful to ask what does colour taste like.

We happened to evolve a cerebellum selected for eye-limb coordination in the arboreal habitat into which primates first exploited. This also favoured such qualities as cunning, logic and conceptual thought, allowing eventually humans to evolve to the sate where we are the only animals (so far as we know) aware of "self".

The fact that we are intelligent enough to ask these questions is not indicative that they are relevant or meaningful questions.

"Good" is a personal value judgement and itself my evolve socially if it confers survival advantages. Kill a man = bad. Do it to defend freedom = good.

We are conditioned to want to ascribe "purpose" to everything. If we can't find a purpose, we invent one. There is no purpose to life - life just is. So we invent a purpose.

Life exists to perpetrate DNA, no more, no less. DNA is king, and we dance to its music.

It is only human conceit that attempts to ascribe a "purpose" to life. Actually, there isn't any. We are just a temporary holding place for a dollop of solar energy in the biosphere, until we let it go back to the universe as entropy, hopefully having replicated the information in our chromosomes to the next generation.

It's as simple as that.

Have a nice weekend.

donsands said...

Maalie responded.

I have to appreciate Maalie. Thanks for sharing your heart, I mean blood-pump. And I a say that with all due respect.

Have a blessed trip.

Litl-Luther said...

The following is the first of at least five logical difficulties with science, i.e., five reasons why science can never give us truth (I'll share the others at future dates):

1. Observation is unreliable.

Scientists do not perform an experiment only once. Experiments are always repeated, and the results most always differ in some way. Why? Because the senses tend to deceive us; they are not to be trusted. Hence, numerous readings are taken in an attempt to guard against inaccurate observation. So much is this the case in science, that tests with unrepeatable results are never taken seriously. But if observation is unreliable, if the senses are so easily deceived, if the results frequently differ, why should one ever believe that he has discovered truth through observation?

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

Yep Maalie - you and I certainly differ on thisone. I do think there is eternal significance in the way I live my life - and that there was a precious, personal sacrifice that paid a debt for me that I could not begin to repay. I think I like my conclusions from the available data much better than yours!

Maalie said...

Litl Luther: It is so obvious that observation is unreliable that it puzzles me why you need to emphasise it. That is precisely the point of the peer review system - so that any claimed observation can be independently verified. I doubt that you would argue with your surgeon about the validity of the observations that contributed to the science which underpins his judgment, so why challenge the judgement of biologists in related disciplines?

Halfmom, I agree, most of us contrive some "purpose" in our lives as a framework for our existence. Such is the power of our conditioning to ascribe "purpose" to everything, we need to invent a god to whom a purpose can be attributed. There is of course no absolute or fundamental purpose to life - life just is.

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

Ahh, but Maalie my dear, first I came to know God personally through Jesus Christ, and then I came to have a purpose, not the other way around.

Before Christ, I would have said the very same thing as you - a god and purpose are contrived in order to make sense or just give some meaning to daily life. But, after Jesus Christ, nothing has ever been the same again. There is meaning where there was none before. There is purpose where there was none before. There is a sense of eternal significance where there never was anything before.

Litl-Luther said...

Thanks Maalie. But that was just one of five reasons why science can never give us truth. I wish to present all five over the next few\several days, and I would really love your comments on them:

2. All scientific experiments commit the fallacy of asserting the consequent.

In syllogistic form this is expressed as: “If p, then q. q; therefore, p.” Bertrand Russell, certainly no friend of Christianity, stated it this way:

All inductive arguments in the last resort reduce themselves to the following form: “If this is true, that is true: now that is true, therefore this is true.” This argument is, of course, formally fallacious. Suppose I were to say: “If bread is a stone and stones are nourishing, then this bread will nourish me; now this bread does nourish me; therefore it is a stone, and stones are nourishing.” If I were to advance such an argument, I should certainly be thought foolish, yet it would not be fundamentally different from the argument upon which all scientific laws are based.

In the laboratory scientists work with a hypothesis. In this case the hypothesis is: “If bread is a stone and stones are nourishing, then this bread will nourish me.” The scientist then attempts to deduce the predicted results that should occur if the hypothesis is true, such as “this bread nourishes me.” He then performs an experiment to test the hypothesis to see if the predicted results occur. So he sits down at the table and eats the bread, and wonder of wonders, the bread does nourish him. The hypothesis, he concludes, is confirmed: “This bread is a stone and stones are nourishing.” Silly you say? Yes! Yet, as Russell has asserted, it is not “fundamentally different from the argument upon which all scientific laws are based.” That is to say, all scientific laws are based on fallacious arguments.

Brian B said...

Hey Susan...first thanks for the kind words on my blog...I did do an entire series that was actually a book for a senior project...I believe the files are on my old computer or a hard drive that I need a new cable for. I wish I had the time to do them all over again because there are some definite areas of improvement that need made, but I was learning to paint in what can you do...

btw...I haven't gotten a chance to read all of the threads but so some spots here and there...are you aware of a sight called answers in genesis???

I'll try to see if I can find the files but I am slow sometimes...

simon said...

Luther- Russell was an utter Nutter- And I can say that because he is a direct relative of mine...

Maalie said...

Litl Luther: That is the point of the peer reviewed system so that potential fallacies can be exposed.

Greetings from deepest Europe!

Maalie said...

Brian B: The problem with that "Answers in Genisis" is that it is contrived by fundamentalists, not by scientists. The answersw are not supported by the evidence.

It is the typical pseudo-scientific misinformation that is put about by fundamentalisrts to reinforce existing prejudices and superstitions.

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

Greetings Brian. For those of you interested in interesting art - you will find Brian's blog fun to look at - he has some great illustrations!

Greeting to you as well Maalie. I hope that you are enjoying your trip.

donsands said...

"Life exists to perpetrate DNA, no more, no less. DNA is king, and we dance to its music." -Maalie

Speaking of DNA, and thinking of our previous discussion about ethnic origins, I have a couple thoughts I'd like to run by you, from a fellow Christian I wrote to.

Here are his observations of our discussion: "Regarding the origin of ethnic diversity in the human race, I'm not sure I follow the point of your conversation .... Is he saying that it is impossible for all human ethnic groups to have derived from a single couple? If so, is he suggesting that all the various ethnic groups independently evolved and just happened to arrive at this point, capable of reproducing with those in other ethnic groups?If that is what he is suggesting, then he's arguing for a fairly impressive miracle himself. It isn't only Christians, by the way, who argue that all humans descended from a single original couple. Some evolutionist have recently argued that the DNA for the entire human race can conceivably be traced back to a single woman in Africa. The mere theoritical possibility of tracing all presently existing human beings back to one set of parents isn't scientific difficulty, so I'm assuming that is not his main problem.

...As far as the origin of ethnic diversity is concerned, the genetic differences between the different human ethnic groups are not very large. Apparently Adam and Eve were created with DNA containing the potential for the kind of visible variation that now exists. ... Take the origin of Hispanics, for example. No such ethnic group existed until Europeans joined with Native Americans. Christians generally have not objected to the idea of "micro-evolution" with in species. Human beings have changed over time, and when populations within a species become isolated, the differences over time can be dramatic. ... Was there enough time for this kind of diversity to emerge? If we look at other species, such as dogs, it doesn't seem incredible at all. Some presently existing breeds did not exist only a few generations ago. They came into existence when existing breeds were bred together. There doesn't seem to be any inherent reason why similar changes could not have taken place among humans given the historical facts of population migration, isolation, and intermingling." -Keith Mathison

I hope you don't mind that I have been discussing our discussion with others I know, who are brighter than I? I mean no disrespect whatsoever, and actually Keith holds you in high regard.

Fontzter said...


Thanks for your response. I can see from your post that you have tried to stay consistent with your worldview. While I disagree, I nonetheless respect that you have followed your beliefs to their logical conclusions.

In many ways, I think this has made my point for me. Basically, in an atheistic, materialistic worldview life is meaningless. As you say "There is of course no absolute or fundamental purpose to life - life just is."

Perhaps you see this position as more authentic, willing to embrace existential reality without concocting some "purpose" for it all. But I would have to press a little further and retort that it is just as meaningless to be authentic. It is meaningless to have this debate. And, it is meaningless to try and convince us that we are "wrong". After all, there is no real wrong.

In fact, without any absolute or fundamental purpose to life, everything is meaningless -- in the fullest sense (meaning?) of the word. The very statement that life is without purpose is predicated on logical and philosophical constructs that cannot exist in a strictly material worldview.

We can delve into that more fully if you like. For now though, something you said intrigued me. You stated Such is the power of our conditioning to ascribe "purpose" to everything, we need to invent a god to whom a purpose can be attributed.

Would you mind elaborating on that? How are we conditioned to ascribe purpose? Where does/did the concept of purpose come from? Or, how can such a construct be conditioned?

These are genuine questions that I am curious to see how you would answer. I can't see how the concept of purpose enters into a material universe. In other words, how does your worldview account for the idea of "purpose".

Enjoy your vacation. And, thanks again for keeping the discussion on point.