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Friday, January 1, 2010

Unpacking "The Atonement" Project

This Project has been moved here, please follow the link and resume at the new location.
This is a long term project intended as a collaboration with theists using shared documents with diagrams to Analyze the Concept of the Atonement as much as possible to assess its coherence.
STATUS 20100116
Currently coping with interpretability issues

INTRODUCTION

Project Documentation Index

[The questionnaire in the lower part of the article was an attempt to define some terms. Feel free to try your hand at filling in the questionnaire in the bottom portion and join the discussion. I'd like to get feedback from Adherents to other religions, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Buddhist, etc]
So now I ask you, how can God show any mercy at all if he is required by his own perfect state to be 100% just?

One of the theist commenters said
The atonement gives God the ability to have justice completely fulfilled while allowing him to be merciful. If we repent of our sins, the justice has already been fulfilled by Christ so God can fully forgive the transgression without the need for added punishment. You don't have to use the atonement, free agency, but it is available for all. Without the atonement it is impossible to have a perfect God.

so then Harlan Quinn said...
I'm trying to understand your answer to your question, so below I've tried to "unpack" it for closer inspection.

would you mind correcting and filling in the missing pieces please?
=====
God shows mercy
and is 100% just
because he is required by, or is a consequence of his perfect state

Gods perfect state depends on the atonement.

* The atonement is defined as _________________

* Mercy is defined as _________________

* The atonement is merciful because _____________

* The atonement is 100% Just because ____________

* Justice is defined as ____________________

if we repent of our sins
AND
the atonement has been done
There is no need for added punishment

* Normally there is a need for punishment because _________________

* Normally punishment for our sins is ___________________

* Our sins are described as _________________

* Repenting of our sins is not sufficient to fulfill the criteria for punishment because _________________

* Free Agency is defined as __________________.
Email this article

57 comments:

RichD said...

Hey HQ,

I finally got to finish with this task of unpacking so here we go!

Lets start with definitions, I think that will be the best route to go here.

Sin: Disobedience of the commandments/laws of God

Atonement: Sin causes estrangement from God and the atonement is what overcomes that estrangement and makes it possible to return to live with God. The atonement is specifically the shedding of the blood of Christ in both the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross. The atonement doesn't remove the responsibility from us of our actions, it leaves us accountable and makes the return to God possible.

Mercy: To be shown leniency for a wrongdoing.

Justice: receiving a reward or punishment based on compliance (or noncompliance) to a law or commandment.

I think your next 2 parts had to do with me saying that the atonement kept God both merciful and just, so I think I will put the two together here. The atonement is just because it takes care of the justice part of sin for all who wish to use it. Christ fulfilled the justice end of sin so when you repent and are forgiven of sin your slate is wiped clean. In all honesty I'm not sure I really have a good grasp of this concept but I am trying my best. :) It seems like we still have consequences for our wrong choices so maybe the mercy is not just forgiving but also forgetting and cleaning our slate so that we can live in God's presence, since no unclean thing can be with God. If you still confused.... join the club. No really keep asking so I can make sure I am on the right track here if it doesn't make sense.

Normally there is a need for punishment because we have failed to comply with a commandment. I'm not sure what the exact punishment for each sin is but overall when we sin we are not clean and cannot reside with God. Our repenting, which is asking forgiveness and not repeating the offense, is what aligns us with God and we need the atonement to take that sin off our record so we are found to be cleansed of sin and able to return to live with God.

I'm not sure what you meant by your statement; "But the atonement is not necessary in all cases for example, Free Agency" I will answer the following questions so if you feel I didn't understand you here let me know.

Free Agency: Our ability to choose our actions.

The atonement is necessary in all cases involving free agency. As we gain knowledge of right and wrong, we remain free to choose our actions. We receive a consequence of each action, Justice. If we choose wrong and repent we are forgiven of the transgression. If you choose to you can be punished for your own sins and not accept Christ' s atonement to fill in for you on the level of justice. This will keep you forever apart from God. If you choose to use Christ's atonement, you may repent and be cleansed of the sin and be able to return to the presence of God. The atonement is necessary for us to return to God.

I think I did OK but I'm sure you'll let me know where I'm lacking. I did some things out of order but I believe I answered all the "unpacking" elements, if not point one out.

Harlan Quinn said...

Hi RichD,
by now you should have gotten the invitation to collaborate on this Document with me.
I'd be as happy as a pig in mud if you accept.

Matt K said...

Hello Harlan,

I don't have time at the moment to fill out your questionnaire, so my apologies for not providing you with that information. I do have some thoughts related to the atonement that I think are relevant, however.

In dealing with the atonement, I feel that many conceptions and ideas thrown around owe much more to Western conceptions of jurisprudence than to the world of the New Testament. Seeing the atonement in legal terms, particularly in the penal substitution view, is both problematic and a distortion. It presupposes a view of things like sin, evil, and justice that is based on viewing God as the lawmaker of certain moral truths and laws, and when such laws are violated punishment is necessitated. When we violate such a law, this view goes, God as just can do nothing other than act as judge over our wrongdoing. The atonement then is Jesus taking the punishment that God rightly should have given to us.

Many problems have been identified with such a view (e.g. how punishing an innocent man is at all just and can possibly be construed as some sort of restitution, or the seeming arbitrariness of God in creating a universe in which such things can occur), and by and large I agree with them. However, when we strip ourselves away from this legally-informed and distorted view, we can see the atonement as providing not an escape from punishment meted out by God, but as a transformation and the innauguration of a new moral order.

The old moral order symbolized by the OT law is replaced by Jesus as the head of a transformed humanity, and through Jesus we are able to achieve the kind of moral transformation that was never possible through our own effort. This transformation is a process with an end result we can only hope to approximate (pointing to the future resurrection as the ultimate realization of this transformative process). The mercy that God shows is seen in his offering us this kind of transformation that we are incapable of by ourselves. Such a view of the atonement has nothing (or at least is not nearly as indebted to) notions of "law" and "punishment" and can help us to better understand the death and resurrection and Jesus.

Harlan Quinn said...

Hi Matt K,
Thank you for commenting, I'll respond with my thoughts later, but since I was modifying and adding elements to this project, i'd like to point them out to you and invite your feedback.
in my comment to richd is the link to my offer to collaborate with him (he's a theist)
and in the first line of the main article is also a link.

Whether richd can afford the time or not, I'm going forward with the project. It is to diagram and demonstrate the logical structure of the atonement for assessment and comaparison.

RichD said...

Hi Matt,
Sounds like you'll have some good input for this discussion and I hope you get the chance to fill out the unpacking.

In dealing with the atonement, I feel that many conceptions and ideas thrown around owe much more to Western conceptions of jurisprudence than to the world of the New Testament.

I agree, But also for something that is suppose to be for all humanity and not NT or OT Jews only why should we expect the atonement to match views by any one culture? Shouldn't it be something that is applicable for anyone reguardless of their time in history/present/future or their location?

Part of what got me going on this topic, that was from a different post and off topic for that post, was that God is suppose to be perfect. As such we should expect him to be perfectly just in his dealings with us. I also pointed out that being just also requires a positive consequence for doing right and not just punishment for wrong. If God does not attach a consequence to one single act, is he now no longer perfect? As a law giver he should also be a law obeyer. But he is also a merciful God. So he must show us mercy. Can he not give a punishment for sin, show mercy, and still remain 100% just? I would say that it is not possible for one who is perfect. What I then proposed was that the atonement fills that gap. It allows God to remain just and be merciful. This is the readers digest version of how we got here where HQ asked me to unpack my comment in the other thread and then made this post out of it. I think you will have some good input to our discussion.

HQ, I did respond to both your emails and I will be able to look at the document at home and participate as much as I can. This should prove to be an interesting undertaking, we'll see how it goes.

Harlan Quinn said...

However, when we strip ourselves away from this legally-informed and distorted view, we can see the atonement as providing not an escape from punishment meted out by God, but as a transformation and the inauguration of a new moral order.

Matt K,
maybe you can unpack that for me and show what is the logical relationship between the "transformation and inauguration of a new moral order" to Jesus dying on the cross as Paul puts put it in rom 5:9
"9Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!".

The harbinger of the new MORAL ORDER was a human sacrifice?

What is the difference between Jesus dying to keep us from gods wrath and animal sacrifices?
I guess one difference is that animal sacrifices were outlawed, and Jesus wasn't considered an animal.

Matt K said...

Rich and Harlan,
I appreciate both of your points and observations so I'll try to touch a little bit on each.

I agree that the atonement should be applicable to all cultures and peoples (and I believe that it is). However, it is important to note and understand that it is still an event that is located in a certain historical/cultural/social context. This does not prevent it from being applicable beyond it (in the same way that the subjective experiences of a scientific researcher are performed and presented as aimed at universal application despite its subjective origin). So when we look at the atonement, we need to see it as something that was initially experienced and interpreted in a first century Palestinian/Near Eastern and particularly Jewish context. This means that the first followers of Jesus, who were mostly Jewish, would have been viewing and understanding the atonement through their own formation and background in Judaism, which is what I think is taking place with Paul in the verse that you quoted, Harlan.

I am not trying to say that there isn’t any aspect of “law” in the atonement or that Paul is somehow way off base. What I am arguing is that the atonement is not exhausted by a legal interpretation, and neither should our understanding of it. There is definitely an aspect of it that deals with God’s justness and desire to make right the things that we have made wrong, but there is also a new way that Jesus opens up towards a different vision of morality. This vision has its roots in the law of the OT, but goes beyond it in ways that are surprising (I have in mind a kind of Aristotelian acorn to tree teleology where what we find in the OT is a seed that through Christ’s atonement can grow into a tree, and just has a tree has its genesis in an acorn, it also is vastly different in many striking respects as well).

So it isn’t wrong to see the atonement in light of the context of the law of Judaism, as Paul most certainly would have done, but there is no need to stop there. Also, I think we need to be careful when we think in terms of OT law as well, again trying to avoid an anachronistic Western view of law. Law in the Old Testament is viewed in terms of the community and the relationships within it, rather than being abstract principles they were given and understood relationally (I am indebted to Paul Hiebert’s book Transforming Worldviews for this particular insight), so even when we talk about “laws” and “lawgivers” in connection with the New Testament, we shouldn’t lose sight of this relational context and slip into a view of law that sees God as the eternal upholder of iron-clad moral propositions. Relationships differ vastly depending on culture and context, and we shouldn’t expect them to look the same way everywhere, and the same thing goes with morality. If we think more in terms of relation when we think of law then we don’t find ourselves in the position of trying to affirm how God must act in one situation in light of another.

I was going to say something about human sacrifice, but I’ll hold off for now since this is already getting long. I’ll be interested in hearing both of your thoughts and reactions:-)

Harlan Quinn said...

guys the first thing I want to point out is that the atonement concept starts with Paul.
It is borrowed from the concept of sacrifice to a god, whether its grain, animals, children, virgins what have you.

The most important question is what is the logical relationship between Jesus dying on the cross and us being 'reconciled'.

Why does Paul say that?

Its not enough to keep making assertions. To make it believable, it needs to be supported by some recognizable principle.

What is the underlying principle that supports Jesus dying to reconcile someone else to god?

RichD said...

Hey HQ,
I am able to look at the document at home. So Am I to make changes to the diagrams or add to or both? Just making sure I am on the same page with you.
I am also working on answering you last comment on the underlying principle. It will just take some time to get all caught up.

Harlan Quinn said...

as far as the document goes, just change it as you see fit. I don't know how this is going to turn out. Its just an experiment to me.
I'm hoping to learn something about something. But my goal is to figure out how to diagram the underlying logic of the atonement.

If there is any underlying logic to it, it can be diagrammed.

If you know how to do flow charts, or know a good diagramming technique to capture the underlying logic of the atonement, show me. I'm just winging it, looking for something that 'fits'.

one of my guiding principles is that a good visual aid SHOULD not need much explanative text.

usually when I work on projects, i go straight for the pictures, and read the rest of the 20 pages of crap later. Usually by finding the errors of the diagram, I can get up to speed a lot faster.

Harlan Quinn said...

RichD,
I trust you and I'm open to whatever you can think up (that's not silly that is *:O) )
often its good to scrap the old 'code' or diagrams, document, presentation whatever and start over.
If you come up with one on your own that you like better, share it and publish the link here.

also this is an open invitation to anyone, theist and non-theist alike to make your own shared documents and contribute them to the project.
If I know you from somewhere else, and you want to share the document RichD and I are working on, I'm open to that, just ask.

Harlan Quinn said...

an underlying later process that I plan to kick off is to have John Link to this on DC, but it really depends on how well we do as assessed by team. If the infrastructure supports this type of collaboration, etc. If we think its a failed project, obviously, we don't want to waste anyones time.

Matt K said...

Harlan, you said “The most important question is what is the logical relationship between Jesus dying on the cross and us being 'reconciled'.

Why does Paul say that?”
I would say that Paul’s connection of sacrifice with reconciliation comes out of his Jewish cultural heritage with its legacy of animal sacrifice as an offering for sin. In Paul’s view, it would seem natural to connect Jesus’ death with the Jewish system of sacrifices laid out in the Old Testament laws. The relationship between the two is cultural, which is the point I have been trying to make. There is no logical or metaphysical necessity, in my view, that Jesus had to die to bring about reconciliation and provide freedom from the weight and bondage of sin. It simply makes sense in the cultural and historical context in which Jesus lived. Had Jesus lived in a different time period or place, then I would say we need not assume that events would have played out in the same way. There are a number of reasons why the death of Jesus can be seen giving weight to the idea of reconciliation (the idea of a new birth through the example of his resurrection for example), but I don’t think it is logically necessitated. God could have used entirely different circumstances to bring about this sort of reconciliation.

Paul’s understanding of Jesus’ death and resurrection as expressed through the concept of the atonement, was his way of seeking to grasp what Jesus had done, and Paul did it through the lens and perspectives of his own personal and cultural religious experiences and concepts. In a culture today where the idea of animal sacrifice is foreign and strange, we can understandably begin to look at Jesus’ death and resurrection in a different way, drawing on the framework laid down by Paul but recognizing that he was in the same position that we are in today: the position of trying to articulate just what happened through the death and resurrection of Christ. Any explanation will be incomplete and have its limitations because I think its significance transcends the kind of culturally and historically conditioned perspectives that all of us are located in.

RichD said...

Hi HQ,

I just wanted to make sure I understood what you wanted to haveme do with the diagram. I'm glad I have earned your trust and I plan to keep it so I'll leave the sillyness for where it fits;)

I will then start to look at it in terms of how I would change it and see what I can do. Sounds like an interesting project.

More to come......

Harlan Quinn said...

RichD,
if you want to change the diagram, Unless you have a better idea,
Please either
* start a new document or
* or copy the diagram and insert it below the one you are reviewing and label it like Rev. RD20100109, where the letters represent you and the number represents the year month and day.

Harlan Quinn said...

Here's an example of the how I think we should handle some of the collaboration to ensure we don't lose any data.
Link
is a link to a copy of the last revision that I know of.

If you want to change the document, then I recommend, you
* click on file in googledocs,
* click on save a copy
* choose to save the collabortors with it
* rename it with "year month day initials" (ie "20100108hq name of document") so we can 'rollback' in the event of a 'catastrophe'.
* and then proceed to edit original.

thanks in advance.

Harlan Quinn said...

Hi MattK,

What I understand from your comment is
* that you think the concept of the atonement was not divinely revealed to paul.
* And that jesus death was not what paul says it is
* and opens the question of whether jesus was the incarnation of God or not.

let me paraphrase you and correct me where I'm wrong.

You seem to be implying that there is no logical relationship because
* The relationship between the two is cultural, which is the point I have been trying to make.
* I would say that Paul’s connection of sacrifice with reconciliation comes out of his Jewish cultural heritage with its legacy of animal sacrifice as an offering for sin.
* There is no logical or metaphysical necessity, in my view, that Jesus had to die to bring about reconciliation and provide freedom from the weight and bondage of sin.
* God could have used entirely different circumstances to bring about this sort of reconciliation.


And you seem to be implying that the idea ORIGINATED with Paul because
* Paul’s understanding of Jesus’ death and resurrection as expressed through the concept of the atonement, was his way of seeking to grasp what Jesus had done, and Paul did it through the lens and perspectives of his own personal and cultural religious experiences and concepts
* In a culture today where the idea of animal sacrifice is foreign and strange, we can understandably begin to look at Jesus’ death and resurrection in a different way, drawing on the framework laid down by Paul but recognizing that he was in the same position that we are in today: the position of trying to articulate just what happened through the death and resurrection of Christ.


But I take exception with the presumption that it is true that Jesus was resurrected because Islamic and Hindu scriptures continue the story and claim that jesus lived. That authors of the Gospels no doubt had an agenda and a bias, and with no corroborating evidence, the reliability of that account is dubious by normative standards.

Harlan Quinn said...

RichD,
I think I made a mistake by associating this project with my google account. QuIRP has its own google account so I think I am going to transition it to the quirpmail account.
Hopefully it will be transparent to you and will not affect you at all, so I hope you continue what you were planning to do.

I'll let you know when I've done it.

RichD said...

OK HQ,

I was trying to make sure I knew what you had in mind before I started to do anything. I think if I understand correctly, I should make a copy of the doc, make the changes and add my initials to those and save some more so we don't loose anything. Hopefully this works out the way you intended.

Harlan Quinn said...

well, what I meant was make a copy of the original, save the copy with a unique name like 20091009rd and then edit the original.

that way if one of us trashes the original, we can go back to the last back up.

RichD said...

OK I get it now, I might be a little slow but not impossible slow. ;)

Since I am at work for now I will continue here with the comments section. I was also trying to understand what Matt was saying and you hit on most of the points so I 'll wait for his answer before I say anything.

But I take exception with the presumption that it is true that Jesus was resurrected because Islamic and Hindu scriptures continue the story and claim that jesus lived.

If we can use scripture accounts then the book of Mormon confirms the gospel account that Jesus died and was resurrected. Jesus, as a resurrected person, came to those people here in america. Of coarse I understand how you feel about the BofM, I just wanted to point out that it is a book of scripture and it has a confiming story of the death and resurrection of Christ.
The people that the BofM is about had a prophecy of things that would happen here on the americazn continent that would let them know that Christ had died. The things that were prophisied of occuring at the time had just happened and lots of the people were gathered around talking about what had just occured. This is when Christ comes to visit them. Here is a link to the section of the book where the people are gathered together talking about the events. Ch 11 is where Christ comes and up through chapter 26 of that book is the account of his visit. It's long but I just decided to give you a background of what was taking place and let you decide to read it all, part, or none.

Matt K said...

Rich and HQ, let me see if I can clarify what I mean.

I do believe that what we are calling the concept of the atonement was divinely revealed to Paul, but that this revelation took place in a historical and cultural context that provide certain frameworks for how this revelation was understood and articulated.

I am not claiming that Paul came up with the idea of the atonement on his own. In the early Christian creed contained in 1 Corinthians 15:3-7, we find that “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” (to use the wording from the NASB). There is a strong scholarly consensus that these verses represent an early, pre-Pauline creedal statement, so clearly we have a connection between Jesus’ death and forgiveness of sins that goes back to the very earliest believers. What I wrote was merely in response to what you said earlier Harlan, namely “guys the first thing I want to point out is that the atonement concept starts with Paul.” While I don’t think the atonement concept starts with Paul, he is the first to begin to articulate it more fully and if you were taking it as your starting point, I wanted to respond based on it. Hopefully that clears up some confusion:-)

I am also not saying that Jesus’ death was not what Paul said it was, and thereby rejecting Paul’s witness. I am saying that Jesus’ death encompasses MORE than what Paul said it was, because what Paul says is a view of atonement that fits within his context, but the atonement AS EVENT (and I realize HQ that you don’t accept the resurrection. I’m simply trying to give you my understanding of it as someone who does) goes beyond any one cultural/historical context. God’s revelation comes to us as historically situated, culturally-shaped people, which means that the way I view the atonement is going to be different than Paul and the early believers did. This doesn’t mean that I am making a radical rejection of their views or think they need to be discarded, I am just saying that my own history and context informs me in a different way, allowing me to appreciate the powerful revelation Paul was given, while seeing different implications and being subjected to different limitations that I am unaware of.

I am also not saying that there is no logical relationship. What I am saying is that the events described by the concept of atonement are not logically NECESSARY. Also, I am saying that logic is something that is culturally and historically situated, so that we cannot expect to find, and will not find, one single logical explanation of it, because logic is a feature of different world views (unless you believe in what I would call uppercase-L logic, in the same way that the Enlightenment supposed that there was a single, universal Rationality, but I believe that it is an ultimately untenable position).

We’ll see if that clears up anything or simply invites puzzled looks:-)

RichD said...

I think that does clear up things for me Matt, thanks. You have some similarity to me in that I am saying the atonement is more than just Christ dying on the cross. In other words soley his death is not sufficient for the reconciliation of sin. It is part of the atonement and necessary for Christ to die so that he could be ressurected, also part of the anonement. I think as I am able to work on the document with HQ it will help demonstrate my position better.

Harlan Quinn said...

Hi matt k,
no puzzled looks here, but I think I have a 'bead' on you.
*:O)

I am not claiming that Paul came up with the idea of the atonement on his own...
I am also not saying that Jesus’ death was not what Paul said it was, and thereby rejecting Paul’s witness.

I knew that was the case, I was just pointing out that its pretty easy to justify the opposite using your premises, meaning that you have a weak argument.

conversely, I don't see much logical support for your belief in pauls witness.

and while we're talking about logic,
it seems that you are trying to equivocate and minimize the role of logic.
There is core set of logic rules that are inescapable. Namely the part having to do with causal relationships, non-contradiction, and observable and verifiable evidence, probabilistic valuation for plausibility to name a few.

Have you looked at the diagram yet?
what normative "rule" justifies Jesus dying for my sins?

and what "logic rule set" are you using?

Harlan Quinn said...

RichD,
Even though I think "divinely revealed" text is not reliable I am completely open to treating it all "with a new mind" as if I've never seen it before and evaluating it "in bulk" with all the other revealed text in the world.

When we have two conflicting claims from different unrelated sources and no way to verify it, then necessarily the information must be considered LOST, irretrievable or unvalidated. In any case, it is not rational to commit to any one of the claims until new information becomes available that better validates one of the claims.

Harlan Quinn said...

matt k,
(unless you believe in what I would call uppercase-L logic, in the same way that the Enlightenment supposed that there was a single, universal Rationality, but I believe that it is an ultimately untenable position).

why?
got any data to go with that?
Am I not justified in inferring that if sweep my laptop off my desk it will fall, as well it can, to the floor?

when "logic" doesn't accurately represent reality, its not logic anymore.

Matt K said...

Hi Harlan,

I'm glad to see that you have a bead on me:-P.

As to the subject of logic, I’m not trying to minimize it per se, because obviously I am trying to use it as well. I am just trying to press you a bit on the topic to see how you would try to ground logic. Obviously, we perceive the world in such a way that certain laws of logic seem to describe them, but I don’t see how we are not equally justified in drawing a Kantian distinction between noumenal and phenomenal realms. You claim that logic ceases to be logic when it does not accurately represent reality, but this leads to a question of how you are justified in claiming that you can identify something as reality. To go the Kantian route again, we may very well be creatures who are constructed in such a way that we unavoidably experience certain features of the world, but this does not justify making an ontological leap and declaring these features to be “reality.” I am not saying that I don’t believe in reality or that my belief in God allows me to escape from all of these difficulties, but I do want to better understand your faith in logic, because what you say strikes me as very positivistic which I have trouble embracing (although you may very well accuse me of drinking too deeply from the fount of postmodern critiques of the enlightenment).

You said, “Am I not justified in inferring that if sweep my laptop off my desk it will fall, as well it can, to the floor?” The obviously intuitive answer to the question is “yes, you are justified,” but as the epistemological debates about the problem of induction show, its difficult to articulate just why you are justified. Hume’s treatment of induction would say that in fact you are not justified in inferring that, because no logical principle necessitates your laptop falling to the ground simply because you have always perceived a pattern of objects falling.

I think logic is important, but that it only goes so far, and your project strikes me as pressing it further than it can support (I have read the document, and that is my conclusion at the moment). I’m sure you’ll disagree, but that’s what makes things fun:-)

Harlan Quinn said...

HI mattk,
so what principle justifies making an innocent person suffer the punishment instead of the guilty?

I am not saying that I don’t believe in reality or that my belief in God allows me to escape from all of these difficulties, but I do want to better understand your faith in logic, because what you say strikes me as very positivistic which I have trouble embracing (although you may very well accuse me of drinking too deeply from the fount of postmodern critiques of the enlightenment).

you need to get off Kant and positivism and come into the 21st century.

I've studied philosophy,
and i'm an engineer.
I use inferential logic to solve problems and keep global communication lines up and running.

If we used a Kantian model to troubleshoot, we'd never fix anything.

your brain uses a bayesian type of epistemology to give you a 'feeling' of certainty about something when you've been exposed to enough information about it.

Surely you know something about how the brain works before you go talking about reasoning, don't you?

Advertising uses this against you, and you will like a song more, the more you listen to it.

The industries of health care, Safety, and quality assurance don't have any use for dear old Kant's viewpoint because it doesn't solve problems, it creates them.

How am I justified in my approach? Because technology and infrastructure is built on it and maintained by it. Go look in the sidebar at the link to the scope of this blog to see how I'm justified.
Normative Standards apply across domains. I apply them to religion. When I do, religion breaks.

Many things that we come up against are COUNTER-INTUITIVE and we have have to use the data and look at the outcomes to override our brains poor reasoning facilities.

You sir need to update the information you are using so that you can be on the same page as the rest of us that make the world a better place.

for an example, go to wikipedia and look up 'SIX SIGMA'. It is an application of very un-Kantian epistemological principles in technology.

and you can look at my 'prayer free problem solving procedure' in the side bar for a composite of multiple problem solving techniques I've learned over the years.

I am very well justified in expecting that my laptop will hit the floor if there is nothing preventing it.
Tell me why Its not, without adding anything to the scenario to change it. Any change necessitates a reassessment of the data in the context of the change. That's Logic isn't it?

Harlan Quinn said...

matt k,
it occurs to me that religion is suffering the equivalent of "analysis paralysis".

You guys can't decide on anything because you don't have anything to ground it in.

Matt K said...

Harlan,

I think you missed my point in bringing in a Kantian perspective as an example. I didn’t say that logic is not useful and capable of solving many problems. Obviously I believe that it does. And holding to a Kantian position does nothing to prevent you from troubleshooting and solving other problems, because what it does is simply set aside most metaphysical issues as something that cannot be grasped or demonstrated by human rationality. We can still go along just fine without knowing if logic is metaphysically grounded in any way. Because it is pragmatically efficacious from our perspective we continue to use it, but that doesn’t justify an ontological leap. I only brought this point up because you sound as if you feel that logic is somehow metaphysically grounded and I fail to see how you are warranted in making that claim.

You said: “I am very well justified in expecting that my laptop will hit the floor if there is nothing preventing it.
Tell me why Its not, without adding anything to the scenario to change it. Any change necessitates a reassessment of the data in the context of the change. That's Logic isn't it?”

Well, assuming you are operating under a weak and not strong view of justification (in which you can be justified in believing something that may possibly not be true), you are justified, but if you take a strong view then you are not. Again, Hume’s treatment of induction would show you why not, since there is no logical principle that says that something must always behave in the way that it has in the past. But if you are taking a weak view of justification, then you would be justified, but then logic isn’t quite as iron clad as you would seem to like it.

I’m not sure what your point is about Six Sigma. I was not familiar with it and read the page you suggested, but I don’t see how it fits in with what you are saying since it seems to be operating on a pragmatic model, while you seem to treat logic as a matter of correspondence. There’s a good chance that I’m not understanding it properly, so feel free to correct the error of my ways:-)

Harlan Quinn said...

Hi Matt K,
so what principle justifies making an innocent person suffer the punishment instead of the guilty?

this isn't a discussion about epistemology, it is a discussion about the logical structure of the atonement. Weakly justified or not makes no difference to answer the question.

and 'weakly justified' is a value judgment by the one making the claim. But i'm not getting into the philosophy of values with you either.

Matt K said...

Hi Harlan,

No principle necessitates that an innocent person can take the punishment for a guilty person, except a cultural one as I said before. The fact that it does not seem to serve the cause of justice to punish an innocent person under any circumstances simply shows that such an understanding of the atonement is inadequate (it also is not even the primary way of viewing the atonement among the early church fathers, as William C. Placher’s recent article in the Christian Century entitled “How Does Jesus Save?” points out). I am not arguing that there is some principle that makes an innocent person suffering for a guilty person just, what I am arguing is that such a view is a misguided view of the atonement and that it is by no means the only view. If you are looking to show that the underlying logic of such a penal substitution view does not work, then I agree with you. I just don’t think it shows much.

(incidentally, strong versus weak justification has nothing to do with value judgments, it’s an epistemic classification where strong justification represents a Cartesian view that sets the bar for a belief to be justified at certainty, while weak justification only requires that it be strong probable, however strong probability is cached out)

Harlan Quinn said...

hi matt k,
you seem like a good sport.
Thanks for hanging around this long.
anyway....
good we agree on that the logical structure of the atonement is inchoherent SO FAR.
because no one has been able to explain it yet.

so then people are justified in not believing it, and so going to hell for being uncertain is irrational.

I know what strong and weak justification are.
I also know that formal logic has little use in practical application.
Thats why there's informal logic to handle the rest.

but ask yourself this,
where did those criteria come from for 'weak' and 'strong' justification?

someone made a decision about them using their values and named them accordingly.
Thats why they are not called TYPE 1 and TYPE 2.
Someone WAY BACK I might add.

Weak and strong justification are a misnomer, because if we say that a convicted murder cannot be put into prison because he is not strongly justified then reality has left the stage and we are in speculation land,

which in my opinion is where most philosophers spend most of their time.

Which is why i'm diagramming these complex linked arguments for theism to pinpoint the trouble spots so we can all stay on the same page without getting sidetracked in discussions about things such as
epistemoloy.
*:O)
by the way, six sigma is one way in which STRONG [my classification] epistemological principles are applied in technology. Thats why its relevant.

So now, if we cannot find a normative standard to fit into the structure of the atonement,
aren't we justified in considering it speculation until we do?

Matt K said...

Hi Harlan,

I’m glad you think I’m a good sport. I do try :-)

I agree that a penal substitution view of the atonement is deeply problematic and probably incoherent. I don’t think this makes the atonement itself incoherent, just some possible ways of formulating and articulating it (which is obviously the case with other concepts).

What concerns me is that the chart that you are developing seems to be either presupposing or drawing on categories that show a strong disposition toward the penal substitution view. If your goal is to map out and problematize that particular view of the atonement I can understand that, it just seems as if you are talking about the atonement as if there is only one way to look at or as if all views will collapse into one underlying logic that can either be supported or debunked. If that’s the project, then I think it’s probably pretty clear by now that I have my doubts about its success:-P

I do completely agree with you when you said “so then people are justified in not believing it, and so going to hell for being uncertain is irrational.” Setting aside the important question of what “hell” is or is not, I just want to say that I do not think there is something about the atonement, Christianity, Jesus Christ, etc. that is logically irresistible, and I agree that people can have well-grounded doubts depending on the perspectives and histories they bring with them. To whatever extent “hell” is a place, I do not believe that it is populated by unwilling inhabitants who are there because of ignorance of the propositional content of Christianity or because they were not logically compelled by it (but that’s probably a topic for another time).

Also, can you clarify for me what you mean by normative standards? Are you talking about something that is cross-disciplinary, or something that reaches across cultural and historical divides as well? I am really enjoying dialoging with you and appreciate how you are helping me reflect and refine my own thoughts.

Harlan Quinn said...

Hi matt,
I'm enjoying the dialog too.
I appreciate people like you.
if you feel that I am slipping into a disrespectful tone, let me know. Its easy for misunderstandings to happen in written correspondence.

Right now, reality is calling, and I have to do other things before I can respond properly.

talk to you soon.

Harlan Quinn said...

HI mattk,
quick note,
I encourage you to copy our diagram into your own document, modify as you see fit and add it to the project, you'll be credited as the author of course.
You can give permissions to it for collaboration if you choose. If you want help with that let me know. I would be happy to make a blog entry with screen caps to demonstrate how to work with the project.

Harlan Quinn said...

hi mattk,
What concerns me is that the chart that you are developing seems to be either presupposing or drawing on categories that show a strong disposition toward the penal substitution view.
point taken, I have decided to modify my approach based on your observation.
Would you like to collaborate on a new diagram I intend to start? You could edit it in real time as you see fit.

Also, can you clarify for me what you mean by normative standards? Are you talking about something that is cross-disciplinary, or something that reaches across cultural and historical divides as well?
yes,
its a concept used in statistics, information science, lots of fields.
in a nutshell its what everything has in common in a certain context.
An average, taking into account a range, and ignoring the outliers. In the case than an outlier becomes significant, the measurement criteria should be adjusted.

people do it everyday unconsciously. They assess the situation and try to act according to the normative standards.
some lame examples off the top of my head...
"When in Rome, do as the Romans do."
When people travel between Europe and the US they adjust their behavior accordingly.
Their self-talk:
"Am I under-dressed?"
"Should I laugh or not?"
"Should I watch my language or not?"
"I am justified in believing my laptop will hit the floor because I can't think of any reason it wouldn't, and I have lot of experience with things hitting the floor."

the penal substitution is outside of normative standards for fairness, unless someone can show statistically significant number of people that consider it fair. That would necessitate a reevaluation, of the method and whether the penal substitution principle should become the norm. But its not limited to subjective evaluations, there is an underlying logic to fairness that permits successful probabilistic predictions.

Another normative standard that I can think of that seems to be violated in the bible is how God is said to have treated Adam, Eve and us respectively.

hope that helps.

Matt K said...

Hi HQ,

Thanks for the response:-)

I would be willing to help work on/draft a document, but I will need some pointers. I've never done anything with google docs before, and I'm not sure what all of the symbols on the flow chart are meant (e.g. the difference between the dashed and solid lines). It may be a little bit before I am able to devote much time to it, but I am willing to give it a go and see what I can come up with.

Harlan Quinn said...

hi mattk,
tell you what,
i'll share the document, give you permissions, then you can write what you would like to diagram, and I will diagram it for you.
just type in a different color or enclose your comments somehow, maybe like this
===================
this is my input to the document
==================

You can learn as you go by watching how I do it. I'm not perfect, and diagramming is an art, but there are some 'normative standards' *:O) that we can use. When you get 'the feel' for it, you can start doing your own diagrams.

whattaya think?

if you agree, email me from the dropdown link toward the top of the sidebar so I can add your email address as a collaborator.

in the meantime, I can draft up some instructions and post them somewhere for reference.

In a few minutes, I'll post some background info on diagramming for philosophical arguments on the main page. its a rush job, so don't expect too much, but its probably more than you want to know.

RichD said...

Hi Matt and HQ,

I am learning as I go also. I haven't figured out all the google doc features yet but that will come with use. I just started with commenting and changing text color. It's small but I also figured that HQ might update the diagram as he sees things that need it. I will try to do some of that at some point but until I get more familiar with it I don't feel comfortable doing that yet. Diagraming is an art and I didn't do so well in art. My strength is apreciating art not making it. :)

I don't think that penal substitution really work to describe the atonement. Christ was not "made" to take the punishment. He was a willing participant in his part of the atonement to giver all humans the path back to God.

If you saw you brother suffering from something that you knew would kill him, cancer lets say, and you knew that you could survive the cancer. If there was a way that the cancer could be transfered to you with no trace left in your brother, and you could survive the cancer and no trace would be left in yoiu either, so that the cancer and each of you live free of this cancer. Would you do it? You would have to realize too that you will suffer pain and everything that goes with the cancer.

Harlan Quinn said...

Hi Richd,
great, then lets close the first document, and open a second one adding mattk as a contributor, and for now, I'll handle the diagramming from what you two write.
agreed?
I really would like to develop a good a diagram of the logical infrastructure with the help of christians.

Harlan Quinn said...

guys,
here's the link to the new document "Back From The Crucifixion". Hopefully we can make this one relatively 'bias free' avoiding Matts criticism of the first draft.

RichD said...

Sounds great! I'll have a look at the new link. It's pinewood derby time for me and my son and since he is 8 he needs more help. that will limit my spare time some but I do want to contribute so I will set aside time to devote to this.

Harlan Quinn said...

guys there is no rush.
you can't rush quality, it breaks its equilibrium.

Matt K said...

Sounds good to me as well!
I look forward to working on this with the two of you.

Matt K said...

Oh, and I am glad to see that I have earned the lofty title of "relatively nice guy" for the document:-P Here's to some friendly disagreement and hopefully mutual edification.

Matt K said...

HQ,

I'm still not sure how to contribute any content to the Google doc, unless you were just planning to craft the document taking in Rich and my comments in account.

Also, could you please give me a brief overview of how you plan on developing this project? I see the document on the crucifixion seems to be aimed at matters of historicity, so are you envisioning looking at the sources that inform the idea of atonement vis a vis the crucifixion before proceeding? I'm just trying to picture the scope of what you are hoping to develop so I can better understand how to contribute. I'll hold off providing any content for the moment until I have a better idea of what kind of content you are interested in evaluating for this first diagram. Thanks!

Quirp Mail said...

well,
How would you like to do it?

one way we could do it, which is generally what I"m attempting is just to take the diagram one piece at a time and ask analytical questions about it such as
JESUS WAS CRUCIFIED
"what do we know about this?"
"how do we know about this..."
etc

so if you agree, I could just add analytical questions and collaborators could answer them, then based on the answers I could fill in the pieces in the diagram, and you all could critique it in real time.

At this point,
I think what I propose would go a long way to avoid building bias into the diagram.

Quirp Mail said...

mattk,
that was me, harlan, logged in as quirpmail to handle quirps news alerts.

RichD said...

Hi HQ,

As I think about it maybe do we need a list of sources that you would like to use? Are we confined to say history books and the bible? Or are other sources also fair game? Just thinking and asking questions :)

Harlan Quinn said...

I'd like to use whatever and how many source are practical. I don't want to go overboard, meaning, get bored or fed up with it, i'd like to make it useful, but fun at the same time.

Since this is "new thing" for me as well, I'm learning as I go using principles, techniques and methods borrowed from business, and Microsofts Sharepoint server technology. This google docs really competes well with sharepoint server if you ask me.

I just drafted up another document for guidance and perspective, literally an hour ago. here's the link. I hope it works for you. let me know if not.

Basically it demonstrates how you try something, see how it goes, then improve it then try again.

thats what I intend with this.

I's also like to point out that this "cycle of action", is a logical structure, naturally occuring process, identified and symbolized by humans, to capture a 'best practice', to remember it and improving successful outcomes.

It also is a logical structure of how christianity and religions in general change over time.
same thing.
would you agree?

Matt K said...

Hey HQ and Rich,

I haven’t forgotten about this, I just haven’t had a chance to start working on it yet. I’ve looked over the charts/schemas that you’ve posted so far Harlan, and if it’s all right I’ll just throw out a few data points for you to plug in (let me know if it would be better to do things another way).

The recognition of the death/resurrection of Jesus as significant by the earliest believers:

1 Corinthians 15:3 “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures”
-Most scholars recognize this as an extremely early Christian creed (and 1 Corinthians 15:3-5 is usually not disputed as an authentic early creed, although verses 6-8 have been more contentious). As Kirk R. MacGreggor points out in his article “1 Corinthians 15:3b-6a, 7 and the bodily resurrection of Jesus”, even the Jesus Seminar dates this tradition to no later than 33 A.D. (MacGreggor also notes that the most widely accepted date for the crucifixion is 30 A.D.). This shows a very early tradition of a belief that Jesus “died for our sins,” giving the idea of Christ’s death as atoning a very early pedigree even in the eyes of skeptical scholars.

As for biblical testimony for the crucifixion:

Matthew 27:35-37 “When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. And sitting down they kept watch over him. Above his head they placed the written charge against him: this is Jesus, the king of the Jews.”

Luke 23:33 “When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals – one on his right, the other on his left.”

John 19:17-18 “Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). Here they crucified him, and with him two others – one on each side and Jesus in the middle.”

As for extra-biblical information, we should probably include Josephus’ Testamonium Flavianum. While highly controversial and almost certainly corrupted by later Christian interpolations, there does seem to be an original, authentic statement about Jesus and his crucifixion under Pilate.

Also, there is some interesting stuff on the wiki page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historicity_of_jesus. Just one glance at the talk page on the article will show how much debate there still is, but the article does a decent job of highlighting the broad contours of most discussions on the topic.

I want to respond with some thoughts on the document on the concept of sin, but I’m still clarifying my thoughts and don’t have time to flesh them out more at the moment. Hopefully I’ll be able to do that soon.

Harlan Quinn said...

thats great matt, I'll incorporate it. I don't mind taking it slow, it allows me to work out other ideas that are derived from this.

Harlan Quinn said...

Mattk,
If the the idea of the atonement predates paul, and Jesus didn't say it about himself, where did it come from?

Matt K said...

HQ,

I also forgot to throw in Philippians 2:6-11 for inclusion, since it refers to the crucifixion. There seems to have been a scholarly consensus that it represents a pre-Pauline hymn, but I also have found a number of arguments against that view by those claiming it is a Pauline composition. Either way, it is a reference to the crucifixion (and a high Christology, but that is a different matter) that would have pre-dated the ones in the Gospel.

1 Corinthians 1:23 also mentions the crucifixion as well. (there are probably some more and if I come across them I'll post them. We can always use more data, right?:-P)

Where did the idea of atonement come from?

Well, just looking at the text it is not clear, but it is widely assumed (and I see no reason to disagree) that the accounts in the gospels reflect earlier oral traditions. Indeed, Paul refers to a teaching that he has received in 1 Corinthians 15:3 and I have seen many scholarly opinions asserting that this was a teaching that Paul received from Jesus' disciples at some point after his conversion. While Jesus does not directly articulate this idea of the atonement, the Gospels record him making reference to his death as something pointed to by the scriptures.

The full implications of this are never discussed although we should not rule out that Jesus may have done this (Luke's Emmaus road dialog leaves that possibility open in Luke 24:25-27: "He said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.”). The text cannot tell us for certain where it came from, but it is very likely that it represents an oral testimony dating to the early followers of Jesus, and it is at least possible that it may have derived from Jesus himself.

Quirp Mail said...

Hi Guys,
lets continue this over here, at the Logan Cres blog. This project and comments were copied over there.

Thanks in advance.

Quirp Mail said...

Quirp mail is me, harlan, using the blogs account. *:O)

 

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