Wednesday, February 24, 2010

TF - Chapter 5 - Allegory and Real True History

Chapter 5 - What Went Right, What Went Wrong

This chapter just starts out wrong.  It is so fractally wrong that I don't even know where to start.  I could spend posts on the first page alone.  I am just going to cut to the point.  Colson states that the Bible is a historical document that is completely accurate and infallible.  That about 6,000 years ago God gave two babies a gun and they shot things, so God blamed the babies.   Well not quite that but I will quote Good Omens on the wisdom of the placing the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden:

"If you think about it *sensibly*, you come up with some very funny ideas.  Like:  why make people inquisitive, and then put some forbidden fruit where they can see it with a neon finger flashing on and off saying 'THIS IS IT!'?"
My favorite line in the opening of this chapter is:

Their [Adam and Eve] story is rendered figuratively but orthodoxy teaches that these are historical events.
This sounds like something White Goodman would say:

Kate Veatch: That... is a really interesting painting.
White Goodman: Thank you. Yeah, that's me, taking the bull by the horns. It's how I handle business. It's a metaphor.
Kate Veatch: I get it.
White Goodman: But that actually happened, though.
Also, since when did orthodoxy teach this?  Orthodox meaning adhering to the Christian faith as expressed in the early Christian ecumenical creeds. If Colson wants to make claims that the early church has always taught that the Adam and Eve story was true history, he needs to provide proof of this.  He does not.  Why he doesn't is simple.  There is no proof and some proof to the contrary.

Origen of Alexandria (185-254CE):

"For who that has understanding will suppose that the first, and second, and third day, and the evening and the morning, existed without a sun, and moon, and stars? And that the first day was, as it were, also without a sky? And who is so foolish as to suppose that God, after the manner of a husbandman, planted a paradise in Eden, towards the east, and placed in it a tree of life, visible and palpable, so that one tasting of the fruit by the bodily teeth obtained life? And again, that one was a partaker of good and evil by masticating what was taken from the tree? And if God is said to walk in the paradise in the evening, and Adam to hide himself under a tree, I do not suppose that anyone doubts that these things figuratively indicate certain mysteries, the history having taken place in appearance, and not literally." (De Principiis IV, 16)

 "And with regard to the creation of the light upon the first day, and of the firmament upon the second, and of the gathering together of the waters that are under the heaven into their several reservoirs on the third (the earth thus causing to sprout forth those (fruits) which are under the control of nature alone), and of the (great) lights and stars upon the fourth, and of aquatic animals upon the fifth, and of land animals and man upon the sixth, we have treated to the best of our ability in our notes upon Genesis, as well as in the foregoing pages, when we found fault with those who, taking the words in their apparent signification, said that the time of six days was occupied in the creation of the world." (Contra Celsus 6.60)

 St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430CE):

"It not infrequently happens that something about the earth, about the sky, about other elements of this world, about the motion and rotation or even the magnitude and distances of the stars, about definite eclipses of the sun and moon, about the passage of years and seasons, about the nature of animals, of fruits, of stones, and of other such things, may be known with the greatest certainty by reasoning or by experience, even by one who is not a Christian. It is too disgraceful and ruinous, though, and greatly to be avoided, that he [the non-Christian] should hear a Christian speaking so idiotically on these matters, and as if in accord with Christian writings, that he might say that he could scarcely keep from laughing when he saw how totally in error they are. In view of this and in keeping it in mind constantly while dealing with the book of Genesis, I have, insofar as I was able, explained in detail and set forth for consideration the meanings of obscure passages, taking care not to affirm rashly some one meaning to the prejudice of another and perhaps better explanation." (The Literal Interpretation of Genesis 1:19–20, Chapt. 19 [AD 408])

"With the scriptures it is a matter of treating about the faith. For that reason, as I have noted repeatedly, if anyone, not understanding the mode of divine eloquence, should find something about these matters [about the physical universe] in our books, or hear of the same from those books, of such a kind that it seems to be at variance with the perceptions of his own rational faculties, let him believe that these other things are in no way necessary to the admonitions or accounts or predictions of the scriptures. In short, it must be said that our authors knew the truth about the nature of the skies, but it was not the intention of the Spirit of God, who spoke through them, to teach men anything that would not be of use to them for their salvation." (ibid, 2:9)

St. Augustine also defended the idea of a young Earth.  St. Basil of Caesarea believed in a literal reading of Genesis.  In other words, there was no overriding consensus on whether the creation accounts were literal or allegory.  Today, Christians are still arguing over whether it is allegory or literal.  The difference is there is no evidence for it being literal and quite a lot of evidence supporting evolution, the age of the earth, the age of the universe and so on, thus making a literal translation false.  So one can stick with a literal translation like Colson does here, or one can join the 19th, 20th, and 21st century, instead of living in the 5th century.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Post 101

That last post was number 100 for me, so uhm yay me!

Anyway, more to come as I continue to dredge through the horror that is The Faith by Chuck Colson.

I think I will have to stop occasionally and write about other things, but we will see as I go.  4 Chapters down only 11 more to go.

TF - Chapter 4 part 5

The next section of the book is just patently false.  It is called "The Rejection of Truth Undermines Cultural Development".  Really?  Wow, just wow.  Apparently, according to Colson, Christianity has created "the greatest society in human history."  It was during the 18th century that the enlightenment destroyed the truth and culture and led to the Holocaust, somehow.  He doesn't connect how these things caused the holocaust but that they did in his imaginary world.  He is also trying to rewrite history saying that America is a Christian nation founded by Christians.  This is such bullshit and I have debunked it before, but right now I will just point out Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli:

Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries. (emphasis mine)

I know this won't stop the revisionists but you can't put it any better than that.

He starts off talking about how the Romans adopted Christianity, then jumps over a large expanse of human history, and starts mentioning the enlightenment.  Now why would Colson jump over the middle ages?  Maybe just maybe because Christianity ruled supreme during that time and culture was lost.  You know all that culture that the Greeks and Persians made before Christianity, without Colson's "Truth".  The middle ages ended when people started to look back at what the Greeks had learned before Christianity burned everything away (quite literally at times).  The Renaissance changed all this by going back to the Greek philosophers and growing the culture that had been stubbed and decayed by Christian "Truth".  The Age of Enlightenment followed the Renaissance in time and direction.  Colson wants people to think that the Enlightenment was the Dark Ages and the Middle Ages were the Enlightenment.  As much as Colson tries to separate the US from the Enlightenment, it just can't be done.  Go ask a historian about famous men of the Enlightenment, you will hear the names Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin. The US Constitution is an excellent example of an Enlightenment document.

This is also a very Euro-centric view of the world and fundamentally racist.  Middle Eastern countries, where Islam was flourishing, gave us Algebra (it is an Arabic word, Al-Jabr).  While the Far East was producing black powder and had created many cultural advances not found in Europe.  Colson is not directly comparing, but he doesn't have too, to African societies and American societies.  It is implied that they are just some savage races that needed white men to come teach them everything.  Mesoamericans couldn't come up with things like the number Zero on their own.  Africans couldn't create one of the longest standing civilizations ever in Egypt.

There is only one response to this kind of racism: Fuck you, Chuck Colson.

Now what factors really lead to the Holocaust?  Could it have possibly been antisemitism prevalent in Europe that stemmed from protestant Christianity taken to the extreme by the Nazis?  Well I would need evidence of that now wouldn't I?  How about from Martin Luther, the founder of protestantism, himself?  From his book entitled Von den Jüden und iren Lügen, which in English translates as On the Jews and Their Lies:

There is no other explanation for this than the one cited earlier from Moses — namely, that God has struck [the Jews] with 'madness and blindness and confusion of mind.' So we are even at fault in not avenging all this innocent blood of our Lord and of the Christians which they shed for three hundred years after the destruction of Jerusalem, and the blood of the children they have shed since then (which still shines forth from their eyes and their skin). We are at fault in not slaying them. Rather we allow them to live freely in our midst despite all their murdering, cursing, blaspheming, lying, and defaming; we protect and shield their synagogues, houses, life, and property. In this way we make them lazy and secure and encourage them to fleece us boldly of our money and goods, as well as to mock and deride us, with a view to finally overcoming us, killing us all for such a great sin, and robbing us of all our property (as they daily pray and hope). Now tell me whether they do not have every reason to be the enemies of us accursed Goyim, to curse us and to strive for our final, complete, and eternal ruin! (emphasis mine)
 There were many factors that lead to the Holocaust and Christianity was one of those factors.

The next and last section is called "Rejecting Truth Leads to False Gods".  This whole section is based on the assumption that people have the need to worship something.  If it isn't Colson's brand of Christianity then they must be worshiping a false God.  Colson goes on to tell you what it is that you in the modern age worship:

The postmodern age has anointed secular tolerance as its god.  Tolerance once meant listening respectfully to all points of view, freely discussed in our common search for the truth.  But the creed for the new god of tolerance is that knowing truth is impossible.  So everyone is free to think and act as he likes, with one exception: those who have the audacity to believe that they know the truth, particularly if they think God has revealed it to them, are not tolerated.  The result is that those who crowned the new god of tolerance have become the absolute arbiters of culture.  The new god of tolerance becomes, in the guise of liberalism, an absolute tyrant.
 I could spend several posts on this paragraph alone.  It is made up of straw men, red herrings, false dichotomy, persecution complex, outright lies, projection and is one giant Gish gallop.

Breaking it down, I want to know where the temples are to this new god known as Tolerance or a statue or just some altar of some kind.  I do like the use of anointed, which anointed one in Hebrew is messiah, that is the first bit of projection.  Where has the meaning of tolerance changed?  Miriam-Webster dictionary? Tolerance.  Tolerance.  Can someone point me to where this has changed?  Because using the phrase "once meant" means it has changed.  Wait, when did truth have anything to do with tolerance?  So is it just maybe that Colson is changing the definition of a word so that he can attack that definition?  What is the definition of straw man, again?  I have already discussed his straw man of "knowing the truth is impossible", there would be no reason to do any kind of science or study if that were true.  There is a difference between doubt and reasonable doubt.  Well yes people are free to think and act as they like, but they are also held responsible for those actions.  In some cases it is the government in the form of laws and law enforcement that hold the person responsible and in other cases it is other people (people won't trust a known liar, just so you know Mr. Colson).  Oh yes, it is the Christians that are being persecuted and they are the only ones trying to keep real tolerance alive.  You know tolerance like Proposition 8, the Manhattan Declaration (Colson helped write this as I have mentioned many times before), trying to overturn Roe v. Wade, and various other "tolerant" actions.  Maybe Colson should go back and look at the actual definition of tolerance again.  Or is it just tolerance for those that believe the same as him in his world (which is pretty much the opposite of tolerance)?  Now point to me where secular laws are being made to undermine the rights of Christians.  Just one example, like those three I just gave off the top of my head.  Those three examples where Christians are taking and trying to take the rights of others away.  I also love the random attack against liberalism in the last sentence, remember Republicans equal good, Democrats equal evil, no reason ever given for this.

Moving along, and even ignoring where Colson compares the right to choose whether to have an abortion or not to molesting a child or not (yes he is a disgusting troll).  No I want to talk about this next statement:

The only thing the god of tolerance hates more than Christians making truth-claims is Christians proving them.  Beginning with a facility in Houston, Prison Fellowship now runs  residential programs, "spiritual boot camps," within prisons in locations scattered across the country. This is called the InnerChange Freedom Initiative - or IFI.  We have, since the beginning, contended that these demonstrate the truth of the Gospel in transforming lives.  In 2003, the first peer-reviewed academic studies validated our claims.  University of Pennsylvania researchers reported that IFI graduates had an 8 percent re-incarceration rate versus 20 percent in a comparable control group (and 67 percent nationally).  Prison officials were astounded.

It was the first empirical evidence that this faith-based approach to correction works - in other words, that the Gospel is true.  And that's when Barry Lynn of the Americans United for Separation of Church and State decided to sue.  To prove our truth-claims proved an outrage that tolerance could not abide.
First the court case.  Prison Fellowships was not sued because it was true.  It was sued because it was using government money.  In other words the state was endorsing a religion, which is unconstitutional. There is no one trying to stop IFI from offering their services, which is what would happen if they were trying to stop the IFI.  IFI lost that case and had to pay back 1.5 million in tax payer money and Colson even admits this in a end note.

Second, if the IFI numbers are correct (notice how quick he is to point out peer-reviewed when it fits his conclusion, but those same peer-reviews are wrong when they don't i.e. the theory of evolution) then there is something to the work.  Obviously Colson believes that the numbers prove his religion too.  Now if I can prove the numbers are actually statistical manipulation, then would that disprove Christianity to Colson.  I seriously doubt it (remember my post on falsifiability).

So looking at the study (you can read the whole thing here), notice on page 5 that it says:

Among the total number of IFI participants, 24.3% were incarcerated compared to 20.3% of the comparison group during the two-year post-release period.
 That says that recidivism for Colson's group was higher than the control, but Colson is claiming that only 8% of his group were re-incarcerated. Where does Colson get his 8% number from?  Easy, Colson defines who graduates from his program and who doesn't.  Then Colson only had the graduates compared to the control group.  Considering there are several factors for graduation from the program, including getting a stable job (a major factor in re-incarceration) and not getting arrested for 2 years (so if you get arrested you don't get included in Colson's numbers to see if his group gets arrested less).  Colson is stacking the deck.  He is conveniently leaving out bad data to suit his needs.  This is also called lying by omission.  Colson proves he is a liar again.