03 Feb 2013

Is the Christian God Compatible With Misesian Action?

Religious 66 Comments

A lot of people can’t understand how I can write such great stuff 6 days a week, but then go batty on Sundays. (Krugman and DeLong, in contrast, think I’m consistently nuts.) One thing in particular people like to throw at me, is this passage from Mises’ Human Action:

[T]he endeavors of philosophers to define neatly the attributes of an
absolute being, free from all the limitations and frailties of human
existence, by the use of praxeological concepts, are no less questionable.

Scholastic philosophers and theologians and likewise Theists and
Deists of the Age of Reason conceived an absolute and perfect being,
unchangeable, omnipotent, and omniscient, and yet planning and
acting, aiming at ends and employing means for the attainment of
these ends. But action can only be imputed to a discontented being,
and repeated action only to a being who lacks the power to remove
his uneasiness once and for all at one stroke. An acting being is discontented
and therefore not almighty. If he were contented, he would
not act, and if he were almighty, he would have long since radically
removed his discontent. For an all-powerful being there is no pressure
to choose between various states of uneasiness; he is not under the
necessity of acquiescing in the lesser evil. Omnipotence would mean
the power to achieve everything and to enjoy full satisfaction without
being restrained by any limitations. But this is incompatible with
the very concept of action. For an almighty being the categories of
ends and means do not exist. He is above all human comprehension,
concepts, and understanding. For the almighty being every “means”
renders unlimited services, he can apply every “means” for the attainment
of any ends, he can achieve every end without the employment
of any means. It is beyond the faculties of the human mind
to think the concept of almightiness consistently to its ultimate logical
consequences. The paradoxes are insoluble. Has the almighty being
the power to achieve something which is immune to his later interference?
If he has this power, then there are limits to his might and
he is no longer almighty; if he lacks this power, he is by virtue of this
fact alone not almighty.

Are omnipotence and omniscience compatible? Omniscience presupposes
that all future happenings are already unalterably determined.
If there is omniscience, omnipotence is inconceivable. Impotence
to change anything in the predetermined course of events would
restrict the power of any agent.

This is the most eloquent statement of, “Can God make a rock so heavy He Himself can’t lift it?” ever penned. But let me focus on the issue of action and uneasiness.

In the way I picture God, He does achieve His ends in one fell swoop. God is outside of time; He created time as we experience it. Picture someone drawing out the various scenes in a comic strip. Even though time passes “inside” the comic strip–in order for the story to make sense–it’s obvious that the creator isn’t bound by the time inside the story.

To see how odd Mises’ statements are, imagine that at the end of Return of the Jedi, R2D2 suddenly starts telling C3PO that he thinks there was am omnipotent guy, named George, who created everything in their universe, including their very personalities, and every word coming out of their mouths. Even though they felt like they were sentient, autonomous beings, in fact they were characters created by this omnipotent being George, who had the power to do anything he fancied in their universe.

Then C3PO says, “Nonsense, your circuits are crossed! If you are right, then why would it have taken so long to kill the Emperor? That would have happened in the first moment of Episode 1. And would a benevolent George have created Jar Jar Binks?”

66 Responses to “Is the Christian God Compatible With Misesian Action?”

  1. Yosef says:

    But then Han says “Actually R2, there may be more than just George. There could be another being, named Lawrence, who works with, has arguments with and maybe even battles with George, and then the two together created this world. Maybe even more than just those two.”

    And R2D2 shouts back “No! There is only George! George is the only ultimate being!”

    • Gene Callahan says:

      “In the way I picture God, He does achieve His ends in one fell swoop. God is outside of time; He created time as we experience it.”

      Exactly so: Mises was only demonstrating that we can’t conceive of God as a being to whom praxeology applies.

      • Gene Callahan says:

        Oops, this is at the wrong level!

      • Egoist says:

        Mises also demonstrated that beings unconstrained by praxeology are beyond human comprehension, since praxeology also constrains human learning and knowledge, i.e. it is an epistemology.

        You ought to say

        “Exactly so: Mises was only demonstrating that we can’t conceive of God…period.”

    • Gene Callahan says:

      ‘And R2D2 shouts back “No! There is only George! George is the only ultimate being!”’

      Or perhaps, instead of just shouting, he presents the arguments of the many, many, great monotheistic philosophers from the Greek, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions as to why it is logically necessary that there be an ultimate being. But, your straw man probably serves you much better than actually engaging with Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, Augustine, Avicenna, Averroes, Maimonides, Aquinas, Anselm, and so on. So keep pretending those you reject are just “shouting,” by all means.

      • Yosef says:

        Gene, how is it a straw man? In this instance, there is actually, factually, demonstrably, beings other than George who are responsible for the creation of the Star Wars universe. Yes, I am sure R2D2 can point to other members of his universe who will have developed systems whereby the uniqueness of George is a logical necessity. But they would be wrong. We know they are wrong, because we exist on the same level as George. Now the monotheistic philosophers of our universe have developed systems whereby the uniqueness of God is a logical necessity. Why should we assume they are not at wrong as their Star Wars counterparts?

        • Matt Tanous says:

          Or that they are not wrong at all? I mean, we can’t know either way for sure – just like R2D2 couldn’t know for sure whether it was just George or not.

          • Archaeopteryx says:

            Right, so strong claims regarding absolute belief in a very specific Deity with certain characteristics seems dubious at best. Agree?

            • Matt Tanous says:

              I think a creator could put evidence in his creation as to his existence, and his characteristics. I don’t expect it to convince everyone, but I think the evidence exists.

              • Archaeopteryx says:

                You’d think he could have been a little more clear. The more science advances the further Religious explanations of the natural world get pushed back. Most of the “evidence” that would have been cited 100 years ago has now been proved to be of natural origin, or at least, does not require a supernatural explanation.

          • Yosef says:

            Matt, you are right, we should not assume that the are wrong, any more than we should assume that they are not wrong. However consider that almost every universe we know of (Star Wars, Whoniverse, Wheel of Time, etc.) is the product of multiple ‘Georges’ (Even sole authored fiction is often subject to the whim of the omnipotent being known as The Editor). In which case, evidence lies mostly with many god like beings, rather than one ultimate being. Why then should we accept the single unique God?

            The Whoniverse and Wheel of Time really stick out in my mind, because their creators die, and are replaced with new all power beings. Maybe our God died, and was replaced with a new one? He has the outline of what God meant to do, but he can never really match the original. He has to retcon some things, really patch the universe together…

      • Silas Barta says:

        Star Wars didn’t have Greek, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions.

        Except that Watto guy. Obvious parody of Jewish caricatures.

      • Egoist says:

        “Ultimate being” does not necessarily imply a monotheistic supernatural God.

        I am the ultimate being of this universe. I am mortal, transient, finite, and as mighty as I am. I do not have omnipotence, omniscience, and immortality. I desire them.

        My declaring the above to you is no more and no less than saying “I believe in and worship God.”

        Every one of those great thinkers in your list, IMO, were just expressing their own unique egos, along with their egoistic desires of immortality, omnipotence, and omniscience. They all arrived at the same conclusion for the same reason they all egoistic thought “I am I.”

        Every other egoistic being in the universe that posits “I am I”, if they were to also express their unique egos through externalizing them into an objective form, will also conceive of a monotheistic supernatural God.

        The occurrences of many great thinkers stumbling towards belief in a monotheistic perfect God does not in any way intensify or improve the strength of the argument for the existence of a monotheistic perfect God; no more than the occurrences of intellectual mistakes and praxeological errors in every conscious mortal being intensifies or improves the strength of the argument for the existence of a “God of Mistakes.”

        They’re all stumbling towards their own unique egos, as are you. Spontaneous creative power that is not able to be fully explained through a rational, causal chain, dating back to arbitrarily distant pasts. You positing “I am I” is absolute, uncaused, free, and the Godhead that continually recreates itself. You’re looking “out there”, when it was you and only you all along.

      • Ken B says:

        “why it is logically necessary that there be an ultimate being”

        A proof, if there be one, that you need an ultimate something is no proof that it’s any particular something. Much less an anthropomorphic one with a grudge. Perhaps the necessary being is just the single quark that moves back and forth in time.

        • Archaeopteryx says:

          This is exactly right and something a lot of theists seem to overlook. They think if they prove the prime mover that equates to their specific Deity, when in fact it doesn’t even necessarily imply sentience.

          • guest says:

            This is exactly right and something a lot of theists seem to overlook. They think if they prove the prime mover that equates to their specific Deity …

            This hasn’t been my experience.

            First base for Atheists is to understand that a deity(s) exist; Otherwise, specific claims about a particular deity can be written off without consideration.

            This doesn’t mean that after one believes in a deity, that they must be committed to believing every claim about a deity, by the way.

            … when in fact it doesn’t even necessarily imply sentience.

            The presense of free will in humans requires a sentient prime mover since each human comes into being at a certain point in time and free will is an intrusion upon a causal chain of events.

            Free will is a source of first causes.

  2. Archaeopteryx says:

    “Then C3PO says, “Nonsense, your circuits are crossed! If you are right, then why would it have taken so long to kill the Emperor? That would have happened in the first moment of Episode 1. And would a benevolent George have created Jar Jar Binks?” ”

    So God created our world with suffering purely for entertainment? The difference is that George knows that the characters he creates are fictional and do not exist and so cannot feel pain or suffering. The model of the Universe that I adhere to seems to indicate that we are “real” and that humans can indeed suffer greatly and feel pain. So an almighty being who could create a Universe with no pain and suffering (just like George could have made a movie where no one dies or suffers, though it would be boring) but DOESN’T create such a Universe, cannot be all-loving. In other words, you still have the problem of evil.

    Also, I don’t understand how a being outside of time can interact with beings in time. It seems like the only way a being could interact with temporal beings is to be subject to temporal forces themselves, but this might just be a failure of my philosophical understanding.

    • Yosef says:

      Archaeopteryx, how do you know that George knows that the characters he creates cannot feel pain or suffering? When Luke loses his hand, how can you say he didn’t feel that pain? From your perspective he didn’t, but I am sure Luke would say he absolutely felt it. I am sure Han would say that Luke felt it. Moreover, many authors say they in fact feel the pain of their characters, say they at times feel that the characters develop themselves, etc.

      • Archaeopteryx says:

        Seriously? Why don’t you email George and ask him if he thinks Luke Skywalker is a real person. When authors say they can “feel their characters’ pain” it’s a figure of speech. I was only pointing out the failure of the analogy, because the characters in Star Wars are not real. We are real, so God isn’t in the same position as George Lucas. Unless you are saying that perhaps God is not aware that we are real, in which case he’s not all-knowing.

        • Yosef says:

          Archaeopteryx, yes seriously. Notice how you changed from saying George knows that his creations don’t feel pain to saying George thinks his creations aren’t real. Maybe he does think that, maybe not, but he doesn’t know it.

          Consider the play-within-a-play in Hamlet. Does the dying player-king feel pain? Ask him, and he will say yes. Ask Hamlet, and he might say yes or no. But ask Hamlet if Hamlet feels pain and he will say yes. Now ask Shakespeare if Hamlet feels pain, he might say yes or no. But ask Shakespeare is Shakespeare feels pain and he will say yes. Now ask God.

          You say you are real and Hamlet isn’t. Hamlet would say the same about the player-king. Tell me, do you think the villagers attacked by vikings in the 9th century felt pain? You can experience their existence and reality as much as you can Hamlet’s or Han’s.

          • Archaeopteryx says:

            ” Notice how you changed from saying George knows that his creations don’t feel pain to saying George thinks his creations aren’t real.”

            George knows that his creations don’t feel pain because he knows that they aren’t real. That’s not a change of position.

            But honestly, this is rather absurd. I’m not interested in have a metaphysical debate about whether or not C3PO is a historical character or if he’s simple a work of fiction.

            I was only pointing out where Bob’s analogy broke down because most of us realize that Star Wars is a story, not real life. You, of course, are free to believe what you wish.

  3. Transformer says:

    “R2D2 suddenly starts telling C3PO that he thinks there was am omnipotent guy, named George, who created everything in their universe, including their very personalities, and every word coming out of their mouths”

    And if C3PO says “show me the evidence”, how does R2D2 reply /

  4. Silas Barta says:

    Actually, I think that C3PO’s first response would be to note that, whoever this “George” is, it’s against his programming to impersonate him.

  5. guest says:

    And if C3PO says “show me the evidence”, how does R2D2 reply

    R2D2 explains that it’s logically impossible for something to be subject to determinism, yet at the same time have free will; They are mutually exclusive concepts.

    Determinism requires that everything that will happen must happen as a matter of cause and effect, whereas free will is an interruption of deterministic cause and effect by some force that is outside of the closed system.

    Robots have free will in the Star Wars universe, and that is proof of Omnipotent George.

    Likewise, free will in the real world proves the existence of God.

    • Archaeopteryx says:

      This does not follow.

      • guest says:

        We have bodies that follow deterministic rules, but free will does not.

        That’s what I was trying to say; Not that we didn’t have physical bodies that are subject to determinism.

        Hopefully, that addresses what you were getting at.

        • Archaeopteryx says:

          I see. Our bodies do follow deterministic rules (gravity, inertia, etc.) but they can also respond to our free will. My point though, was that I do not believe that it logically follows that

          1. Free will requires God
          2. Humans have free will
          3. Therefore, God exists

          I don’t dispute 2) at this time, but I do dispute 1). That’s the part I don’t agree with, but it’s possible I misunderstood your initial post.

          • guest says:

            Ok. Thanks.

            Free will is a source of first causes, and so is an intrusion upon a causal chain of events.

            Since cause and effect can’t logically account for the existence of something that isn’t subject to cause and effect, the [ultimate] source of free will must be sentient and a creator(s).

            • Archaeopteryx says:

              I see more clearly what you are saying now, but I still do not think it is true.

              Does a particle appearing out of “empty” vacuum fields have free will? There was no apparent causal force which caused it’s existence, and no apparent reason for it’s destruction.

              Also, it is not fair to say that free will is not subject to cause and effect. It still is. I choose to throw the baseball, but once my choice has been made the baseball follows a deterministic parabolic trajectory before coming into contact with the neighbors glass window, shattering it by releasing its kinetic energy.

              We are just beginning to understand quantum physics and what its implications for the concepts of determinism and free will might be, but I see no reason that free will had to be created by a sentient prime mover. It may (ironically) simply be a result of the nature of our Universe.

              • guest says:

                Does a particle appearing out of “empty” vacuum fields have free will?

                No free will necessary on the part of the particle.

                But something has to exist in order to do anything at all, so it certainly couldn’t have caused itself to exist.

                If what quantum physics is observing is actually happening (and not the result of some inefficiency of the instruments), then the source of those particles’ existence has to be sentient.

  6. Egoist says:

    Dr. Murphy, you basically just validated Mises’ argument. Mises is arguing from the Kantian tradition that our minds are necessarily constrained to certain logical categories, whereby concepts that contradict these categories (e.g. non-praxeological concepts) are beyond human comprehension.

    You want to challenge this by using an analogy of a human writer as proxy for God. Yet you explained the concept “George Lucas” using the very same action categories Mises argued are NOT applicable to an omnipotent being. You wrote:

    “Picture someone drawing out the various scenes in a comic strip. Even though time passes “inside” the comic strip–in order for the story to make sense–it’s obvious that the creator isn’t bound by the time inside the story.”

    You just bounded the creator in time and you just dropped the admission that “outside of time” doesn’t make any sense to humans.

    If you ask people to picture someone drawing something, then that is an action. “Drawing” is a concept which to the human mind takes time.

    I don’t see how you can ask people to picture God “doing” anything, let alone drawing or writing the history of the universe “in one fell swoop”. Saying God is “outside time” is just you saying “It is beyond my comprehension.”

    I know that this is just speculatory blogging, and that something like this probably isn’t going to be solved in one paragraph, but if you want to show problems or shortcomings with Mises’ arguments concerning “ultimate beings”, then at the very least you are going to have to do so without presupposing his argument to be valid!

    • Archaeopteryx says:

      Exactly right, Egoist. Furthermore, even imagining God as constrained temporally has its own problems. Because if God created time and space, at some point he had to have been outside of time. All the ways to imagine his transition from timeless to temporal seem to have logical contradictions. At least as far as I can see. For example,

      Let S be the state where God exists timelessly. At t = 0 time begins. Let E(0) be the event where God changes from being timeless to being temporal. An event, though, has to have a finite duration or it loses its meaning. So E(0) then requires a time (-e, 0) where time exists before t = 0 when it begins. This is a logical contradiction as time can’t exist before it exists.

      If we can get around the concept of an event as requiring a finite duration, and say that E(0) happens instantaneously, then we can get around the problem outlined above. But then we see that at state S God is timeless, and at t = 0 he is temporal. So E(0) ends at t = 0 when God is temporal. But because E(0) is instantaneous, it also begins at t = 0. So God is both timeless and temporal at t = 0. This too, is a contradiction.

      This proof was shamelessly lifted from the blogger Angra Mainyu. See: http://angramainyusblog.blogspot.com/2011/11/kalam-cosmological-argument-provides-no.html for a much, much more detailed argument.

      • Egoist says:

        Also, for those great thinkers listed by Gene Callahan above, many even admitted (the rest didn’t have the courage to admit) that they could not and did not solve the contradiction inherent between a perfect, purely good, eternal, singular, self-sufficient being, i.e. God, with creations of imperfect, evil, temporal, diverse, contingent beings, i.e. the universe.

        In short: If perfection is eternal, purely good, singular, self-sufficiency, then anything OTHER than this would be a degradation from perfection. But if a “perfect” being creates and degrades, then it isn’t perfect after all, making te universe an illusion, and if a “perfect” being isn’t degraded through creation, then that would imply our original “eternal, purely good, singular, self-sufficient” idea of perfection wasn’t perfection after all. Perfection would then include transience, evil, diversity, and contingency, making God an illusion.

        The people who came closest to solving this contradiction, IMO, were Hegel and Aquinas, but both couldn’t do it, because both denied their own unique egos were what they were thinking about.

        • K.P. says:

          There is a really simply defense:

          Free will with the possibility of evil is more valuable than one without.

          Perhaps it isn’t true but it’s consistent.

          (And/Or that view of God/Omnipotent is the illusion, and not God.)

          • Egoist says:

            Mere possibility of evil is more valuable? The actuality of evil is never more valuable?

            If it’s only the mere possibility of evil that is valuable, then the actuality of evil as more valuable would not necessarily be presumed, would it?

            • K.P. says:

              No, a world with Free-will (even with the possibility of evil that comes within) is more valuable than a world without.

              • Egoist says:

                My question still applies. You’re just restating what you have already said.

    • Matt Tanous says:

      Mises acknowledged that a non-actor would be able to fulfill all demands instantly, and without passage of time would get no further demands. Such would not qualify as “action”, and there is no sense that a human being could truly comprehend it.

      Also, you have implicitly assumed that the being that the story is to make sense to is God, and not the individuals within the story, created as acting, temporally confined beings.

      • Archaeopteryx says:

        These levels confuse me somewhat, but I believe this post is in response to my proof regarding one of the variations of the Kalam Cosmological Argument?

        If so, then I think you miss the point when you say:

        “Mises acknowledged that a non-actor would be able to fulfill all demands instantly, and without passage of time would get no further demands. Such would not qualify as “action”, and there is no sense that a human being could truly comprehend it.”

        because the proof was in reference to a God that exists temporally. If God exists outside of time in what for us is “now”, then I don’t see how he can interact with us as temporal creatures. This makes him an incomprehensible being, outside our knowledge or experience. It is therefore impossible to either prove or disprove his existence, but also impossible to have the sort of relationship with him that monotheistic religions claim.

        Apologies if I responded to the wrong post.

  7. Ken B says:

    ” lot of people can’t understand how I can write such great stuff 6 days a week, but then go batty on Sundays.”

    Not me Bob!
    :)

    After all, you got the OLG stuff wrong on one of the 6 days too.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      I said a lot of people, Ken. You’re more machine than man, now.

    • Major_Freedom says:

      You still need to explain how Murphy got it wrong.

      Your last attempt failed.

  8. Ken B says:

    1) This Mises guy is smart. Every time I see a passage from him I note how different he seems from how his acolytes say he is.

    2) The great thing about the Christian God is that he’s consistent with everything. That, for believers, is his most useful property.

    • Archaeopteryx says:

      Mises was undeniably brilliant, but I’m not convinced of the truth of his Kantian a priori claims. It seems that even his action axiom requires a posteriori knowledge in order to define what a “human” is. Embryos and people in a coma are part of the species homo sapien sapien, but cannot be described as actors in any meaningful way. It’s been a while since I last picked up Human Action, though, so I might be missing something.

      • Ken B says:

        I agree with you about a priori stuff. I’ve never read Mises, I’m just noting that whenever I see an extended passage from him its always rather differen t than what both his most loyal followers and most strident critics have led me to expect.

        • Archaeopteryx says:

          Yeah, I got what you were saying. I was just rambling at this point. Sorry.

      • K.P. says:

        It’s tautological. If they don’t act they’re homo sapiens but not “human.”

        “Beings of human descent who either from birth or from acquired defects are unchangeably unfit for any action (in the strict sense of the term and not merely in the legal sense) are practically not human.”

  9. joeftansey says:

    What does “create” mean?

  10. Matt M. (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

    Of course, there aren’t any moments in the Star Wars films where George Lucas magically appears within the movie to save one of the heroes for certain doom. Whereas, the Bible fairly often portrays both God the father, and his son, as not hesitating to intervene in the affairs of man.

    God may be “outside of time” but he DOES in fact act within the comic strip itself, at least by the Bible’s account of things.

    • Matt Tanous says:

      Lucas, like God, need not physically be there to pull a deus ex machina.

      • Ken B says:

        We need a new phrase for someone who messes up a good thing. Lucas ex machina.

        • Major_Freedom says:

          I liked the prequel trilogy. I also liked the Matrix sequels.

          I think the Star Wars prequel haters are like the first Christians, who, after reading the first Bible version, thought God “ruined what was a good verbal tradition”.

          I think the Matrix sequel haters are like the philosophy majors who couldn’t make it into grad school because they thought philosophy was all about Platonist painting by numbers.

          • guest says:

            It was extremely condescending of Lucas to put Jar Jar in the movie, though; Don’t you think?

            And the Anakin guy (the older one) was a really bad actor.

  11. Rocky Frisco says:

    Your proposed “god,” like the “God” of the Bible, is a material manifestation, dealing with a material world. Modern scientific research seems to indicate that all “reality” is experiential and consists of nothing more than experience. Even a rudimentary comprehension of this “spiritual” existence answers all of your questions and shows the contradictions to be moot or meaningless. Materiality, like Newtonian physics, is useful, but is not the final truth.

  12. The Existential Christian says:

    “Even though they felt like they were sentient, autonomous beings, in fact they were characters created by this omnipotent being George, who had the power to do anything he fancied in their universe.”

    Then do you believe in free will? Here you seem to be (analogously) suggesting otherwise. Are humans not, in fact, autonomous?

  13. Anthony Lima says:

    If the universe looks like no God exists, because it seems like the deeper we look the further we get from finding any evidence he ever did exist, why does he even matter?
    If God resists detection, can’t we just assume he doesn’t want to be detected? Can’t we then live our lives as if he doesn’t?

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Anthony, what would the universe have to look like, for you to think God exists? Are you aware of this?

      Or if you say, “Well jeez, why doesn’t this God just show up and talk to us?!” then I would answer that He did, 2,000 years ago.

      • Archaeopteryx says:

        Chicken and egg. Is the Universe fine-tuned for life or is life fine-tuned for the Universe? If the Universe wasn’t “fine tuned” we wouldn’t be here to discuss it. It’s possible some unknown law of nature makes it so the Universe has to evolve with these specific constants, and we’re just lucky. Or it could mean that it was fine-tuned by a sentient being.

        The “what would you expect the Universe to look like” doesn’t seem like an argument you can win against a Christian because an Omnipotent God could create a Universe to be like whatever he wishes. So no matter what Universe we find ourselves in the Christian can claim that’s what it would look like if designed by an Omnipotent Being.

        Now, if life existed in a Universe that was not capable of supporting life, that would be an interesting argument for theism.

    • Archaeopteryx says:

      Things Christian scholars have known for years would shock the Church layman. It feels to me like there is a fair amount of dishonesty in the Christian scholars. They’re either misrepresenting the evidence or with-holding it.

      • Ken B says:

        Arch, I think you are bieng a bit unclear here distinguishing Christian scholars, and scholars of Christianity. You mean that scholars of Christianity know stuff that would shock church goers, and those of the scholars who are also christian are not very keen to make the findings known to church goers. Corrrect?

      • guest says:

        They’re either misrepresenting the evidence or with-holding it.

        Is the New Testament Text Reliable?
        http://www.str.org/site/News2?id=6068

        New Testament specialist Daniel Wallace notes that although there are about 300,000 individual variations of the text of the New Testament, this number is very misleading. Most of the differences are completely inconsequential–spelling errors, inverted phrases and the like. A side by side comparison between the two main text families (the Majority Text and the modern critical text) shows agreement a full 98% of the time.[18]

        Of the remaining differences, virtually all yield to vigorous textual criticism. This means that our New Testament is 99.5% textually pure. In the entire text of 20,000 lines, only 40 lines are in doubt (about 400 words), and none affects any significant doctrine.[19]

        Friday Night Lights: Day One of the 2008 Greer-Heard Forum
        http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2008/04/friday-night-lights-day-one-of-the-2008-greer-heard-forum/

        A Bird’s Eye View of the Forum

        This year’s topic was the reliability of New Testament manuscripts as pointers to the original text, featuring Dan Wallace (with whom readers of Parchment & Pen are quite familiar) and Bart Ehrman.

        Impressions from the Front Row: Friday Night

        Wallace’s Presentation

        Wallace then went on to discuss the nature of the variants. He argued that 99% are inconsequential, while less than 1% are both meaningful and viable (that is, possibly reflecting the wording of the original).

        Stand to Reason is a good source for apologetics information. They have a radio show every week, if people want to listen in.

        Here is their radio podcast link (which provides a list of questions from callers, and their time stamps):

        Stand to Reason Weekly Podcast
        http://www.str.org/podcast/weekly/rss.xml

  14. Tex Avery says:

    I think “God” is merely a social construct and that the philosophers Callahan mentioned previously were incorrect in their assertions. You can’t prove this “God” exists. Religion has been the source of countless violent acts and lunatic fundamentalist groups like the Westboro Baptist Church. I can’t believe any economist over the age of 30 believes in these fairy tales.

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