Is Paul Divided? 02

26 05 2009
Copenhagen c.
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Here is the second good quote. This one comes from Troels Engberg-Pedersen of Copenhagen:

Paul should not be seen against a ‘background’ from which he would stand out in splendid isolation. Such a picture would not do justice to the many and complex ways in which he interacted directly with his cultural contemporaries. Instead, we should view Paul as one among them, as a coplayer within a shared ‘context’ that would allow any player to stand out momentarily and for a specific issue of interpretation, but also to receded again later into the shared context.

It does seem to me that we often do Paul and ourselves an injustice when we oversimplify his background, and separate him unnecessarily from his own “culture.” Your thoughts?

Posted by Bruce Lowe

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Conversation with an Athiest Friend (03)

18 04 2009
Tooth Fairy, Where Are You?
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From this point there was a free flowing discussion, as you will read…

Friend: I am as close to certain that there is no god as I am certain there is no tooth fairy. You can’t prove there are no leprechauns

Me: There’s one living in our back yard actually!

Friend: now we’re getting somewhere

Me: My thoughts precisely. As one author put it – God is Jesus… no smart arse responses please.

Friend: that’s all I have

Me: Now we are really getting somewhere

Friend: I realized a long time ago that the reason the US is the last refuge of religiousity in the west is simply because the Americans worked out how to make money out of it. Everywhere else people have left the old superstitions behind.

Me: I wish my salary was a little higher then

Me: Did I ask you yet your reason for such (18th -19th) century enlightenment optimism about science and who you are 99.999% certain there is no God?
Friend: you gotta write a book and go on a speaking tour like your pal Tim. Set up a little cult — they are always a good money spinner.

Me: Good thinking!

Friend: base it on Christianity — there are 17,000 different sects so you can do just about anything. BTW, why do you say I have ‘enlightenment optimism’ about science?

Me: With the enlightenment came optimism that science would answer all our woes, all our questions, that the answer to everything would turn up sooner – or in the present case much later than expected.

Friend: did I ever say that?

Me: Well you suggested it answers questions about God, which is a stretch. You imply that it can define bias individuals from those who alone can weight up truth objectively. That seems pretty optimistic to me.

Friend: when did I say it answered questions about god?

Me: Are you saying your disbelief is based on somthing else?

Friend: sorry, disbelief in what?

Me: In the tooth fairy of course.

Me: My further thought was just this. It was interesting when I undertook my PhD in Chemistry to see just how much fudging was happening, especially as you move away from the more pure sciences like Maths. Francis Bacon’s quote is a good one about what often drives some of the “lesser sciences” – Truth arises more readily from error than confusion. And the same kind of market forces are at work when it comes to justifying your field of research and the results you are getting.

Posted by Bruce Lowe

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