Tough Questions Answered

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Are You Worried About the Unpardonable Sin? Part 1 – #3 Post of 2012

Post Author: Bill Pratt

If you are worried, then it’s likely that you have not committed the unpardonable sin.  This sin is first mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew in chapter 12, verses 31-32, in the context of Jesus’s healing of a demon-possessed man.  As always, when reading the Bible, we need to look at the surrounding verses before we can draw any conclusions about the meaning of verses 31-32.

In verse 22, a demon-possessed man who is blind and mute is brought to Jesus.  The text says that Jesus heals him, but some religious authorities who are Pharisees, instead of acknowledging that Jesus’s miraculous healing was of God, accuse him of using the power of Satan to drive out the demons.

In response, Jesus makes four rejoinders in verses 25-29.  First, he says that it is illogical for Satan to be casting out his own demons.  Second, among the Pharisees themselves there were exorcists, so Jesus asks if they also cast out demons by the power of Satan.  Of course they would deny this.  Third, Jesus explains that if he is driving out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has arrived.  Fourth, Jesus explains that in order for Satan’s forces to be cast out, someone stronger than Satan must be acting – the Spirit of God.

After refuting the Pharisees’s accusations, Jesus gives a most serious warning in verses 30-32:

He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.  And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.  Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

So what is this blasphemy against the Spirit that will not be forgiven?  In context, it appears Jesus is referring to the Pharisee’s denial that Jesus’s miraculous healing was of the Spirit of God.   The blasphemy of the Spirit, according to J. F. Walvoord, is: “attributing to Satan what is accomplished by the power of God.”  Clay Jones puts it this way: “They attributed the undeniable, unambiguous, healing work of the Holy Spirit – in this case He freed a man from being ravaged by a demon that resulted in the man’s being blind and mute – to the power of Satan.”

Now that we have a better understanding of what the unpardonable sin is, we need to dig into why Jesus chose this time and this group of people to issue his dire warning.  We will tackle that in part 2.


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Comments

  • http://questionablemotives.wordpress.com/ tildeb

    Demons? Really? You’re still willing to believe in demons as the literal cause for some ill health?

    Really? In 2012?

    I suppose you have to believe demons are real if you have to believe that Jesus is literally empowered to cast them out. They’re a package deal, after all.

    You’d think this was a clue…

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  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    tildeb.
    I know the following will be meaningless to you, but I’ll state it anyway.

    I was in India for a little over a month last summer. I was told of people being raised from the dead, however I have no verification, so we can set that aside as not knowing what really happened.

    Later in the trip I visited a remote farming village. I was told the pastor has cast many demons. I took that with a grain of salt and didn’t bother to challenge it. If that is what they believed, I’d let it go. That very night I was asked to preach at a memorial service for a young boy who had died. When I was preaching, there was a lunatic woman yelling from a hut not too far away. Every time I would say something, as the translator translated it, the women yelled something, I assume in her language – but it is possible it wasn’t, I didn’t ask. After the service and some chicken biryani, I was asked to assist the village pastor in visiting that woman. I took her to be insane. As we go into her hut, she was talking in some jibberish before a picture of the boy with candles all around. Turned out it was his sister and supposedly a demon has been cast out of her before, and supposedly there was a difference in her afterwards. But, as they tell me, she now had more than one demon. Okay, I thought, not quite knowing what to think about it. Obviously I was skeptical. Anyway, I had never cast a demon out before, so I wanted to see how this worked with my own eyes. We prayed over this lady for an hour and she was fighting every bit of it. The whole time she is speaking in a language I do not know. It could have been her native tongue in that village for all I know. Anyway, after the hour she looked straight at me, said my name in English, said I was from America in English (she doesn’t know English), and told me to “leave now!” I was startled and started to argue with her. I was speaking in my mind and she knew every word I was speaking. Then someone tapped me on the back and said we had to leave. So, I didn’t get to see what happened as the pastor stayed behind. But, it definitely spooked me! It sure seems she indeed has something out of the ordinary going on there. I will say that I do think she was mentally ill, but you might well be if you had multiple demons.

    You can say all you want about 2012 and that we can know all things worth knowing through empiricism, but there are things going on in this world that can not be explained. You want to see a demon for real, go to the jungles of Brazil, or to the remote villages of India, China, Africa, etc., where spiritual warfare is great.

    So, you may think I’ve gone off my rocker. But, when this stuff exists, and it is denied, it is exactly the position the Pharisees were in. If you have a natural explanation for this stuff, I’d like to hear it.

  • http://sandwichesforsale.blogspot.com/ DagoodS

    Walt Tucker,

    Exactly. The problem with these anecdotes is that they occur in the jungles of Brazil, or remote villages in India, China, etc. It seems the more verification and technology a society has, by no remarkable coincidence the less such incidents occur. I would think that should give us significant pause.

    And as portable technology improves, someone should be able to provide verification of these claims. Every cell phone as a camera; most have video capability. Where are recordings of all these miracles, cures and raised dead?

    Yet all we get are stories about “I heard this…” or “I saw this…” without any verification.

    Walt Tucker: If you have a natural explanation for this stuff, I’d like to hear it.

    Simple—people misrepresent, misremember, misinterpret and/or have insufficient data. Humans do this all the time. Remember, we must explain, “Person A claims, ‘Bob rose from the dead’ (or ‘Bob was healed’ or ‘Jane spoke in a foreign language’)” NOT “Bob rose from the dead” or “Bob was healed,” etc.

    Perhaps a story of my own. I heard of a local miracle where it was claimed a man died, his wife came to the hospital, insisting on praying over him. Eventually a number of doctors took the wife down to the morgue, where the man’s body was toe-tagged. After praying over him, the man sat up, causing a nurse to faint away. The doctors were baffled. The man then walked around the hospital, singing, praying and causing miracles wherever he went.

    It was insisted as being 100% true. I was informed I could meet with the actual doctors (who are now all Christians) and the wife who would confirm it. “Great,” I replied, “Set it up! And let me see the medical records.” (I was particularly interested in the toe tag!)

    But…

    When the individual making this claim started to set up a meeting, things began to unravel. Apparently there weren’t any doctors supporting this claim. And no medical records. And no morgue visitation. The more pressed–the less available. Eventually, even the wife (the man has since deceased) didn’t want to meet.

    Amazing all those little items that would have to exist…no longer did.

    How is the paper going?

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    Dagood,

    No problem with your explanation of hearsay, thus my setting the rising from the dead claims aside. My request for explanation was for my own experience of the supposedly demon possessed woman. I was there. There is no hearsay involved in that case.

    I have a stack of books here I keep renewing from the library to help with references, but I have been swamped. I have a break this next week, but already a million things to do. However, despite, it sitting, it is very high on my priority list after the required things I have to do. It may not get done until the summer and while I intend a paper to lay out the method, it is turning into a book project to test all the various religious positions against it.

  • http://sandwichesforsale.blogspot.com/ DagoodS

    Walter Tucker,

    It seemed rude to critique your own story.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    I’m not sure how it is rude unless you be rude in how you go about it. The point is, from your and tildbeb’s perspective, there must be a natural explanation. I’m sure these stories are not new to you, so you must have an explanation other than the easy one when there is hearsay. And by the way, I’ve run into the same situation as you did where someone repeated a story and then come to find out it must have been fabricated. I can understand people repeating them, but I can’t understand the original person making up the story. Maybe there is a core of truth that got “enhanced” over time. Some urban legends follow that path. Of course I recognize that is your position on the gospels. But, let’s leave that until I finish the paper.

    But, anyway, the only explanation I have for my story is the obvious one, there was a demon or more. I am curious how the skeptics answer such things. The technology argument is not a good one. First it doesn’t explain what is happening. It only sheds the shadow of doubt over it. Also, it doesn’t acknowledge that where people don’t believe in such things, in more technologically advanced places, that there is no spiritual warfare to take place from which to experience such things. Spiritual warfare in places like India is quite intense because of the intense religious activity that already occurs there.

  • http://questionablemotives.wordpress.com/ tildeb

    Have you noticed that religious belief enters into explanations wherever knowledge ends? People – even the biggest brained people like Galileo, Newton, and Einstein – begin to draw on religious language that simply isn’t present in their scientific discourse about recent advances for which they are presenters when it comes to the next unknown extensions. You will not find god being invoked anywhere in explanations of gravity and inertia and relativity. But you WILL start to see this language creep into these same people’s musings beyond where their explanations end. In fact, if you go back and read what many explorers into the unknown tell us about their own work, it’s all what you would call ‘natural’. But where the unknown begins, so too does divine and supernatural references. That tells us something important, and it’s not that people are idiots for doing so but that is a ‘natural’ inclination to substitute agency for the unknown.

    I have no clue to explain what you experienced, but I will remain highly sceptical that your attribution to supernatural causation is true. It’s possible that some supernatural intervention occurred – in some way unknown to our current laws of physics and chemistry and biology that work for everyone everywhere all the time – but I would remind you that in every case where a natural explanation becomes available (and works consistently and reliably well) we discard the supernatural explanation entirely and replace it with knowledge that continues to work.

    This is certainly the case with our expanding medical knowledge. What were once considered demonic possessions 700 years ago have now been replaced entirely with sound and reliable physiological explanations from which we then implement interventions and therapies that work. In no case that I’m aware of is there any where within a galaxy’s distance any equivalent evidence for demons. Because the presence of physical manifestations of demons stand contrary to laws of physics and chemistry and biology, the alternative ‘natural’ explanation is preferred without throwing out all that we think we know about cause and effect linked by a natural and understandable physical mechanism.

    So when people attribute causal effect to something like demonic possession, please understand that it’s not the specifics that are disturbing; it means that – if true – all our knowledge based on the sciences is wrong. All. Every. Last. Bit. And this is what you are willing to sacrifice if you are willing to believe in demons: knowledge that works for everyone everywhere all the time that produces therapies and technologies that are reliable and consistent across all boundaries (like culture, language, etc.).

  • http://sandwichesforsale.blogspot.com/ DagoodS

    Walt Tucker,

    No, I would not be rude…for me. But others may consider my regular approach to be quite rude. I understand I have little tact, and thick skin, and work in a rhetorical world where hyperbole is commonplace. Past experience has taught me what is common for me can be quite hurtful to others.

    It is easy to be dispassionate about Mark’s dating, or the doctrine of predestination—this story is personal to you. Harder to avoid hurt feelings.

    I may not have a ready answer for you, as I cannot obtain information. All I have is your word, with no verification. (See how quickly this can slip into what appears as caustic accusations?)

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    tildeb, “So when people attribute causal effect to something like demonic possession, please understand that it’s not the specifics that are disturbing; it means that – if true – all our knowledge based on the sciences is wrong.”

    How can you possibly make such a claim? It is as if you think they are mutually exclusive. It is entirely possible that there is a natural world where the science we know is for the most part correct and still have a supernatural realm. The supernatural does not negate the natural world. The most it does is give instances where the natural laws are overridden that can’t be explained. I see no reason to believe that science is made unreliable by the existence of demons.

    Have you noticed that scientific explanations are at a loss where some religious phenomena exists? Which is the cart and which is the horse?

  • VinnyJH

    A couple questions:

    How do you know that she didn’t know English?

    How do you know that she knew every word you were speaking in your mind?

    Having listened to you preach a memorial service and pray over her, it’s hard to be too impressed with the fact that she picked up your name and and that you were an American. If someone who spoke English had tried to cast her demons out before, “leave now” seems to be the kind of phrase she might have picked up.

  • http://questionablemotives.wordpress.com/ tildeb

    Walt, you’re not thinking this through. You are dividing the natural from the supernatural as if there MUST BE some easily established dividing line without appreciating what this line actually means in reality! Go ahead: try to define this line, and then try to figure out how we can know anything beyond it. Because once you allow for ‘natural’ laws to be suspended by Oogity Boogity, you’ve brought all inquiry to a halt and substituted unknowable assertions to replace it.

    When we assume that it is possible for ‘natural’ laws to no longer function because of some supernatural causation, then we’re no longer involved with reality as we know it to be… as we can know it to be. All bets are off. Where aerodynamics work here, they can be suspended there by Oogity Boogity. Where evolution occurs here, natural selection is suspended there by Oogity Boogity. Where chemical bonds are stable here, they are unstable there by Oogity Boogity. Oogity Boogity comes and goes and causes technologies and applications to suddenly stop because the laws have been ‘temporarily suspended… to make room for… what… demons? But there is no compelling evidence to back this up other than testimonials from far away, backwoods, deep jungle, poorly educated, backwards, often illiterate and scientifically ignorant people.

    So. Putting aside the testimonials for a moment and looking for evidence in this world, is it true that ‘natural’ laws are often or even sometimes suspended for unknown reasons? Is there evidence that gravity suddenly doesn’t work, that electromagnetic fields collapse, that long stable forces of mass and energy suddenly evaporate, that cellular decay halts, and so on? This is what you are suggesting. You are suggesting that demonic possession is real, that physical bodies are subjected to an invasive presence. One should reasonably assume that a presence in the here and now – in this reality where a demon causes physical effect – means that these demons are now subject to the same forces as thee and me… forces like gravity and electromagnetic fields now acting on ‘spiritual entities’, demons that add mass and inertia to these physical bodies now ‘possessed’ by these intervening spirits. We should be able to collect real empirical data to show effect from demonic causation, shouldn’t we? Yet every time we try, the ‘demon’ disappears. But to keep alive the idea that demons are real, you cannot account for this lack of physical evidence THAT SHOULD BE THERE except by invoking Oogity Boogity and pretending this actually means something when it in fact it doesn’t; it offers us nothing but a pseudo-answer that explains nothing.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    tildeb, first, I’ll just say you have gone overboard on your all or nothing position. Knowing of the possibility of being in an auto accident this morning does not change that I am more likely 99.99% of the time to not be in one and that nothing out of the ordinary will be the case during the drive. When I’m driving I am not looking for an accident. If one happens, it doesn’t change that the norm is to not be in one. In the same way, that supernatural phenomena is rare does not change the normal natural course of events. It is quite ridiculous to think that just because there could be such an event, that all knowledge of the natural world goes out the window. When a supernatural event happens, it ought to be obvious, and usually is, and thus is seen to be a violation of the natural course and does not undermine what we know. The only thing such events disrupt is in being able to explain those events in a natural way. You then are assuming from the start that all things must be answered from a natural position. However, how do you know that these events aren’t natural phenomena that we don’t understand yet? By apriori saying they don’t exist, is refusing to look at what very well could be real, even from a natural perspective. For example, UFOs. If we just say there are no such things, then we just ruled out all of the explanations for them that we already have. That there are some instances that we don’t have an explanation for does not mean there isn’t something else there that has a natural explanation. I’ve worked on things that some have reported as UFOs and yet couldn’t be acknowledged at the time. So, that something happens, doesn’t mean there isn’t possibly a natural explanation. However, as I have stated before, in the collective whole, I think there is enough evidence to bring up the probability that some supernatural things are happening in this world.

    “We should be able to collect real empirical data to show effect from demonic causation, shouldn’t we? Yet every time we try, the ‘demon’ disappears.” – What is the evidence that has happened? You must know of some research on the subject that indicates this is the case. I’d be interested in the references so that I can be well informed.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    Vinny,

    If she didn’t know English, there was fraud. There is no reason from the circumstance to believe that. Many of the others there knew the lady. Even if not possessed by a demon, she was definitely mentally ill and there was no signs of deception.

    Her reactions correlated well with my thoughts. There is a remote possibility that was pure coincidence or, more possible, I interpreted is wrong. This went on for several minutes and she was looking at me during that time.

    She could have picked up my being an American. It was rather obvious I was not from there since they are very dark people and I had only a light tan. I did say in the message I was from America, but I never gave my full name. Since she didn’t know English, it is not all that likely she would have picked out my name in English (which again I didn’t give the full name), and that she picked up the word American and used it. To the best of my knowledge she had not had an English speaking person pray over her previously and I was just one voice, among about 4 talking at the same time. Even so, if she had, she is quite a person because I wouldn’t remember a phrase in a foreign language and use it that way much later. If that was the case, the mental illness can pull off some quite amazing things. She would be probably be autistic in that case.

    This is just one story from my personal experience. It was bizzare. But nothing happened by which I have any proof that the woman was possessed. I know of others from their own personal experience that have had things happen that are less ambiguous. When I ask other missionaries about their experiences in the field, they all give examples of bizzare things that they personally witness.

  • http://questionablemotives.wordpress.com/ tildeb

    When a supernatural event happens…

    That is called an a priori position and is a mistake if one is trying to answer the question Are supernatural events possible? It’s a mistake because it borrows a premise to be the conclusion.

    You then are assuming from the start that all things must be answered from a natural position.

    Of course I am! This is why I asked you to define the line you presume must exist between natural and supernatural causation. What you actually doing is substituting the term “I don’t know” with the conclusion “Therefore Oogity Boogity.” When you FINALLY understand what that this is what you’re doing, then you’ll FINALLY grasp why you cannot know anything about it independent of what you already presume. It’s a closed circle. Do the work and find out why what I say is true is, in fact, true: you are relying ona circular argument about Oogity Boogity being causal. The truth is you have no clue. All you can do in the meantime is substitute Oogity Boogity for natural causation, which then stops ALL honest inquiry dead in its tracks.

    However, how do you know that these events aren’t natural phenomena that we don’t understand yet?

    Just so. If we are to know anything about the cause for some effect we examine, then we cannot assume or attribute or suppose Oogity Boogity without throwing away any means at our disposal to FIND that natural explanation. We’ve crossed the line into make-believe.

    You seem to believe that I presume natural cause and effect because of some a priori belief. This is exactly wrong. I understand that neither you nor I can possibly know anything about the supernatural because we have no means at our disposal for doing so. We have nothing to work with. That’s why I asked you to define the line. By trying to do so, you’ll quickly come to the realization that the only thing you can know is natural evidence for natural cause and effect. Everything else is make-believe. That’s why demons are make-believe unless and until you can come up with a natural explanation that reveals a demon spirit to be the ONE CAUSAL variable.

  • http://sandwichesforsale.blogspot.com/ DagoodS

    Walt Tucker: When a supernatural event happens, it ought to be obvious, and usually is, and thus is seen to be a violation of the natural course and does not undermine what we know.

    1) Can you provide support a supernatural event “ought to be obvious”?
    2) If it “usually is” doesn’t that mean it sometimes isn’t and therefore nullify your first claim it “ought to be obvious?”
    3) What method can we use to determine when a supernatural event “ought to obvious” and when it is not?

    4) And…to tildeb’s point, what method do we use to determine an event was supernatural or not?

  • VinnyJH

    Walt,

    A few thoughts:

    You said that there was someone there translating for you so if you identified yourself at any point, the translator would have said your name and said that it was your name in her language. If she was the dead boy’s sister, the pastor may have told her the name of the man who was coming to preach the memorial and where he was from.

    Mentally ill people can be manipulative. Is it possible that she was simply responding to the expressions on your face? What would be the signs of deception in a mentally ill Indian woman whose language you do speak?

    There have been English speaking people in India for long enough that it wouldn’t surprise me that even a person in a remote farming village might pick up a few phrases one way or another.

    It sounds like a very weird experience, but it doesn’t sound like you had much opportunity to gather enough information to eliminate plausible natural explanations.

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    tildeb,
    As Walt and I have pointed out to you several dozen times, all of your argumentation boils down to the following:

    1. The supernatural is not part of reality.

    2. We cannot know anything apart from reality.

    3. Therefore we cannot know anything about the supernatural.

    You just take premise 1 for granted and expect us to, as well. But we don’t accept premise 1, and so all of your discussions with us go round and round as you assert premise 1 and we deny it.

    I have explained that we conclude the supernatural exists by starting with observed facts in the natural world, and then making rational inferences from those observations back to a Supernatural Cause. We then discover more information about the Supernatural Cause from the testimony of people who witnessed the Supernatural Cause in the person of Jesus Christ.

    Thus we use empirical observations, coupled with rational inferences, coupled with historical testimony to arrive at the conclusion of the existence of the Christian God. Walt has mentioned other scientific methods having to do with targeting theory, if I’m not mistaken – something he is planning on fleshing out further. The point is that the way we arrive at the conclusion of the supernatural is not based on blind faith, is not haphazard, is not irrational, and is not anti-scientific.

    I realize you wish it were all those things, because it makes your workload so much easier. It’s far easier to call us anti-scientific and irrational then to actually deal with our arguments.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    tildeb, “That is called an a priori position and is a mistake if one is trying to answer the question Are supernatural events possible? It’s a mistake because it borrows a premise to be the conclusion.”

    Obviously my “when” was a hypothetical “when.” You ever heard of the scientific method? Did you know that you are allowed to have a hypothesis before you conduct the experiment? That is not begging the question unless the experiment is slanted.

    And, talking about a double standard! You admitted that you hold the a priori position that all things must be explained naturally. Why should you be allowed an a priori position that rejects ahead of time the possibility of supernatural, and I am not allowed the a priori position of the possibility of supernatural? Seems to me you are the one who has borrowed from the premise and truly are begging the question!

    “What you actually doing is substituting the term “I don’t know” with the conclusion “Therefore Oogity Boogity.” ”

    Really? I don’t get where you think I’ve done such and such. I recall from previous discussions that you confused me with somebody else and assumed what I think. You are doing it again. Not only do you beg the question, but you present strawmen galore.

    I, IN NO WAY, CONCLUDE OOGITY BOOGITY FROM ABSENCE. I’ve said it before and I repeat it. I think the claim that such and such exists because we have no explanation is the most idiotic of all claims. And as such, it is the most gross misrepresentation of anything I have ever said to claim that I say such.

    “You seem to believe that I presume natural cause and effect because of some a priori belief. This is exactly wrong. I understand that neither you nor I can possibly know anything about the supernatural because we have no means at our disposal for doing so.”

    Actually, you had already admitted it is an a priori belief. Here is your quote, “You then are assuming from the start that all things must be answered from a natural position. Of course I am! ” To say that you understand that neither you nor I can possibly know anything about the supernatural presumes some definition of supernatural where that is the case. If there were a wall on which one side was the natural world and the other side the supernatural world, with no interaction between, then you would be absolutely correct and I would 100% agree with you. It does seem, that is the definition you are assuming. Well that stops everything in its tracks. Why should you presume that? What is the basis for that a priori assumption? You have again begged the question by defining the question to your conclusion.

    What is true is that given a supposed supernatural event for verification that there is a supernatural, you may never be 100% sure it is supernatural, or some natural phenomena that doesn’t have an explanation yet. You may have some confidence level, but it is impossible to be 100% sure (as is the case with anything derived from induction). Yet, as you increase the number of events, and if there is coherence/correlation in the character of those events your confidence improves. You need a large number of events to get a reasonable confidence. The problem is that most skeptics are looking at one a few isolated events and drawing their conclusion from the uncertainty. Yet, if we take into account the large array of noisy data, we start to get a picture forming. The question then is, what hypotheses best fit that picture?

    I’m not doing well getting my paper and subsequent book moving given other priorities, but until that approach is done, the skeptic is arguing in circles, much as you are assuming I am doing. Without doing this, the skeptic has no more basis for assuming there is no supernatural (or a particular definition that excludes it from detection) than they claim the believer has for assuming there is.

    My demon experience is fuzzy. It was startling, but might have a natural explanation. Yet, take that event in the context, and combine it with other events in their contexts, and events that are explained that might counter them, take them all together, and see what you get.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    Dagood,

    See me last response to tildbe (at the end) on method.

    You questioning my “ought to be obvious” is good and you might think my response to tildeb refutes that. But what I mean by it is that these things usually happen in a context and there is something of question. If not, no one would have claimed it as a supernatural event. My “obvious” may have been too strong of a word and it being such, if we were to retain that word, does not mean it automatically is indeed a supernatural event, but only one that is suspect and might count as a real supernatural event towards the approach I gave to tildeb.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    Vinny,

    I concede to your post of the possibility of a natural explanation. I’ll even concede that it or a similar one is more likely than not on that one event. However, I repeat here the end of my last comment to tildeb: “My demon experience is fuzzy. It was startling, but might have a natural explanation. Yet, take that event in the context, and combine it with other events in their contexts, and events that are explained that might counter them, take them all together, and see what you get.”

  • http://questionablemotives.wordpress.com/ tildeb

    Bill, you say you don’t accept Premise 1. Fine. I suspect we are using different definitions. I use the word itself to mean beyond the natural, relating to some kind of existence outside the natural world. I call the natural world ‘reality’, and we come well equipped through sense and testable reason to navigate our way in this realm. I hear of claims about supernatural causation coming into this reality and revealing itself through effect, but whenever I examine these effects, I find that causation is attributed to the supernatural without any linking mechanism to show me how this supposed cause is linked to the effect claimed to be evidence FOR the supernatural. This is a problem.

    When I examine the history of this problem, I find the same repeating occurrence: where knowledge ends, the supernatural seems to begin. When knowledge increases, the supernatural recedes. This is consistent across time. There are no exceptions. Where supernatural claims have met a natural explanation that is works for everyone everywhere all the time, superstition is replaced by knowledge. This tells me that the supernatural isn’t stable in and of itself – as it should be if it were in this reality true causation – but completely subject to knowledge… or, to be even clearer, entirely dependent on a lack of knowledge… which goes by the name of ignorance. This is why I say that claims of supernatural causation are identical to the beliefs brought and applied to this answer of “I don’t know”, which is then morphed into all kinds of claims of Oogity Boogity in this reality. After all, there’s a lot we don’t know.

    When you tell me that you don’t agree with the first premise, then it falls to you to show evidence where we have both reality and some supernatural presence qualitatively different from “I dont know.” Both you and Walt do not offer this because – to be honest – you cannot do this (or I presume you would). Any example you bring forth will be qualitatively identical to “I don’t know.” But please, prove me wrong.

    My complaint is that you don’t admit this is what you’re doing; instead, you pile on all kinds and manners of causal claims for which you cannot show compelling evidence for the attribution you have made for the supernatural in this reality. What you show are claims of “I don’t know how to explain this ‘whatever’ and so I’m now free and clear to attribute it any way my religious beliefs deem appropriate. And lookee here: therefore Jesus! See? There’s now gobs of evidence for the supernatural (because there’s gobs of stuff I don’t know), which support my particular religious beliefs, so therefore my religious beliefs must be true.”

    But this is the identical line of broken thinking that leads one to ‘prove’ Islam, ‘prove’ Hinduism’, ‘prove’ Scientology, ‘prove’ Mormonism, and so on. Now, within the context of biblical christianity, it just so happens to ‘prove’ demons are real! (Until we have a medical condition that keeps pushing these invisible demons ever further away.)

    It’s all the same broken thinking because all of these contrary and incompatible truth claims about this reality based on these contrary and incompatible religious claims CANNOT be true. You know this, yet you turn your intellectual back on this brute fact and pretend your beliefs are better informed than theirs.

    But at the end of the day, you know nothing about the supernatural that you didn’t start with.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    tildeb,

    “I find that causation is attributed to the supernatural without any linking mechanism to show me how this supposed cause is linked to the effect claimed to be evidence FOR the supernatural. This is a problem.”

    That has been a problem for the mind/body(brain) problem as well. I would venture to guess you believe the mind to be something real, even if a product of the brain, yet distinct in essence from the material nature of the brain. No one seems to have a definitive, provable, theory on what exactly IS the mind. It is in a sense like quantum entities – any attempt to observe one changes things. Does that we can not directly observe a quantum entity without effecting it mean that it doesn’t exist outside of observation? Is a quantum entity natural or supernatural given you can’t observe one, only the effect of it?

    “Where supernatural claims have met a natural explanation that is works for everyone everywhere all the time, superstition is replaced by knowledge. ”

    The terms show your bias – tying superstition to the supernatural. That there are superstitious beliefs of the supernatural, I don’t deny. But that all beliefs about the supernatural are superstition, I would claim you don’t know to be true.

    “This tells me that the supernatural isn’t stable in and of itself – as it should be if it were in this reality true causation”

    Again I point you to the quantum world.

    “Any example you bring forth will be qualitatively identical to “I don’t know.” But please, prove me wrong.”

    Working on it. I’ve already at least presented how you get past the “I don’t know”. I’ll stay on this quantum trail – we see the effects of the quantum world – but it is fleeting. To understand it, we have to use a large number of experiments to see the interference phenomena unfold – the picture at the larger scale. What I am suggesting is no different. I suggest that believers may intuitively see this picture without the detail because they can’t do it at the detail level but their brains have inductively produced a picture for them. The skeptic keeps looking at the detail and finds it wanting. It is like the physicist that keeps trying to measure the individual photon and get a sense of what they are.

    “because all of these contrary and incompatible truth claims about this reality based on these contrary and incompatible religious claims CANNOT be true.”

    It is true that they can’t ALL be true. But what says one of them minus the baggage that has been accumulated of the years can’t be if it fits the big picture? There can even be a supernatural and none of them be true.

  • VinnyJH

    Walt,

    My wife once met a woman who said that God had made her invisible. The story was told at a women’s luncheon at an Assemblies of God Church to which my wife had been invited by a friend. After lunch, different women shared what God had been doing in their lives.

    Apparently this one woman had gone to the hospital to visit a sick friend in the ICU. Hospital rules only allowed family to visit in the ICU, but this woman walked past the nurses’ station without being challenged, and she sat and prayed with her friend as nurses and doctors came in and out without taking any notice of her. She concluded therefore that God had made her invisible so she could visit her friend.

    At a Catholic retreat, I once met a man who claimed that God had fixed his vacuum cleaner. He didn’t explain what was wrong with the appliance, but he assured me that there was no way that it could have started working without some outside agency acting upon it.

    I think stories like that have to among the events that I consider in context.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    Vinny I agree, you have to take the whole. That someone can misread the situation must be applied to those that seem more legit and the ones that seem legit also has to be applied to those that seem to appear to be misread. My hunch, is probably in agreement with yours, these were misinterpreted, but you don’t know that for sure.

  • http://questionablemotives.wordpress.com/ tildeb

    You’re having trouble separating my reasoning from WHY we cannot know anything about the supernatural (arriving at this CONCLUSION) from the premise you think I hold that the supernatural cannot exist. So let us return to my first point: where is this line between what separates the natural from the supernatural and how do you define it?

  • VinnyJH

    Walt,

    What if we are hardwired to misread such situations? A rabbit reacts instinctively to every sound that might be a predator as if it is a predator even if the overwhelming majority of them are the product of some harmless natural phenomena like the wind rustling through the leaves. A similar instinctual bias causes man to see purposeful action everywhere he looks rather than randomness. It is only by applying rigorous scrutiny that the effects of that bias can be overcome. A supernatural explanation will usually seem more legit than it really is because that’s how our minds works.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    tildeb,

    This is how I understand supernatural vs natural: The supernatural “realm” is nonmaterial. Its effects in the natural world can only be “seen” through events, circumstances, or thoughts that do not exhibit the normal causal connection and are associated with a specific context. I mention the context because something can happen that is not normal but is still within the normal operations of the natural world. The context is the only way to discern the event. It is very possible to misread the event as supernatural because of context, but there is also no way to know an event is even possibly supernaturally caused if there is no context.

    As examples, there is a natural explanation, even if never witnessed outside of lab experiments, for the parting of the Red Sea, but the timing of its parting provides a context. The resurrection would simply be baffling outside of the context of Old Testament prophecy and Jesus repeatedly saying He would rise. In demon expulsion, an abrupt change in a person’s behavior who was greatly psychologically disturbed during intense prayer is a context. Someone seeing shadowy figures after playing with a ouija board and having not expected to see such is a context. Could any of these have natural explanations? It is always possible, but the greater the web of events within a particular context, the greater the likelihood. In other words, there must be correlation between the events and the explanation as being supernatural. At the same time, that some activity attributed to demons is known to be only mental illness ought to be taken into account in any situation as well. At the same time you have the documented cases of people laying in a hospital operating room with no vital signs later telling of events in detail that happened outside of the hospital. It is difficult to figure out any natural explanation for that one. Some of the most accurate prophecies in the Bible are those of Daniel. Some will postulate it was written late to account for that. But, that goes against the tradition and points to intentional fraud. In the context, Daniel has uncanny prophecies that are less “fuzzy” than some others – for example, when the Messiah would be cutoff.

    All of this does not mean one is looking for a demon under every rock and behind every cause. That indeed is superstition and overrides the ability to understand the natural world. But, when context warrants it, there is reason to believe something happened beyond the normal natural causal links. Warrant is the key word there.

    I probably should add, the interaction between the supernatural and the natural worlds comes through some kind of energy manifestations. The supernatural itself is not energy, as some would say, but that seems to be the linkage point. As I’ve said before, there is much in the quantum world that is beyond our ability to observe. We have no clue what kind of complexities of interactions could be happening there. Don’t think I’m saying because we don’t know that that must be the answer (I can just see you repeating that ad nauseum), but I am merely saying we don’t know what is going on and it could be where this interaction is taking place. I don’t think we can ever know scientifically. It is by looking at the big picture of the interactions themselves that we can come to determine that there is a supernatural.

  • http://sandwichesforsale.blogspot.com/ DagoodS

    Walt Tucker: Yet, as you increase the number of events, and if there is coherence/correlation in the character of those events your confidence improves. You need a large number of events to get a reasonable confidence.

    I agree with this method. However, as pointed out by VinnyJH, our confidence has gained toward there being a natural explanation for what initially was presumed supernatural. As I pointed out with my story about the guy being raised from the dead—as investigation ensued, it fell apart. As pointed out with your demon-possessed woman, a natural explanation is plausible.

    For the vast majority of claimed supernatural interactions, time and time again they are demonstrated as natural—at what point do the handful we don’t have an explanation for seem to probably be in the same category?

    We look in the past for phenomena that—at the time—no natural explanation was seen, so supernatural intervention was supposed. Upon better technology and knowledge, the natural cause was subsequently discovered. It seems reasonable, based upon past performance; we do the same today that at least something unknown will become known. As tildeb accurately stated, “When knowledge increases, the supernatural recedes.”

    P.S. (even more off topic than we already are! *grin*)

    Walt Tucker: As examples, there is a natural explanation, even if never witnessed outside of lab experiments, for the parting of the Red Sea, but the timing of its parting provides a context.

    I hope you are not talking about that wind experiment. Could not possible work within the confines of the Exodus story.

    Walt Tucker: Some of the most accurate prophecies in the Bible are those of Daniel. Some will postulate it was written late to account for that. But, that goes against the tradition and points to intentional fraud.

    Ugh. No, it does NOT point to “intentional fraud”—it points to the genre Daniel was written in. Namely apocalyptic literature. I know you qualified this…a bit…but it comes across like the terrible dichotomous thinking that either the Bible is either TOTALLY TRUE or WORST CONSPIRACY EVER! I don’t think you want to portray that.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    I do have the wind experiment in mind. Why won’t it work? Are you getting nit picky about what a “wall” of water is? The word translated “wall” means a protective barrier and can also be thought of as a “moat”. The literal Hebrew translation can be “and the water was to them a protective barrier (as in a wall or a moat separating one side from the other) from their right and from their left.” It is almost always thought of as a wall protecting a city, but a moat also does the same thing. In this case, I don’t think you have to think of it as a moat, as much as to say there was a protective barrier from their right and from their left.

    Apocalyptic literature points to the future, or at least to something that was previously unknown. If Daniel was written after the events it so precisely details, I see that as being fraudulent. I am not saying it is, I’m saying that is the implication. So, if it were proved Daniel is fraudulent, then it puts the whole Bible in a precarious situation. I would never say the whole Bible is a conspiracy (I wouldn’t anyway), but having one book accepted in the Canon of the OT that is a conspiracy has its problems.

  • Barbie Burrow

    I believe that blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (the unpardonable sin) is when the Holy Spirit comes to a person, convicts him of his sin and need of a Saviour but the man effectively says, “You are a liar and I won’t accept that or believe that.” I think this demon example is a picture of the hold Satan has on us spiritually and our refusual to believe the Holy Spirit when He offers us grace.

  • http://sandwichesforsale.blogspot.com/ DagoodS

    Walt Tucker,

    The people couldn’t get across in the time allotted. Too many people, walking into a 63 mph wind, on muddy ground. I wrote on it here:

    http://www.toughquestionsanswered.org/2010/09/27/researchers-show-how-wind-could-have-parted-the-red-sea/

    (Out of terribly self-centered curiosity, does it ever surprise you just how much I have studied these things?)

    As for apocalyptic literature—it generally uses past events, places them in prophecy form with dire warnings regarding future destruction unless the people repent. If one recognizes Daniel for what it is (like recognizing poetry in Song of Solomon, or Proverbs in Proverbs, or allegory in Genesis), I’m not sure it puts the Bible in a “precarious position.” Indeed it highlights its literary accomplishment.

    If, however, you are choosing to put your reliance on such a paper foundation (pun intended, I guess) that Daniel must either be great prophetic book written in the 6th century BCE, OR a fraud putting the whole Bible in a precarious situation…well…I leave that choice up to you. The scholarship is not in your favor on that one.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    “The people couldn’t get across in the time allotted. … I wrote on it here:”
    Interesting. However, it is all wet. The studies I saw showed the neck of the east “ear” of the Red Sea revealing a land bridge that was (and still exists) a reef. How muddy or bumpy it would have been, I don’t know. Crossing the desert itself is no easy feat already. As you said, we don’t know how long it took. A straight forward reading leads you to believe it was done over night.

    “does it ever surprise you just how much I have studied these things?”
    Not as much as I find it interesting that you still want to study it. My thought is that you are motivated from a counter-apologetical perspective to redeem your apostasy (and I don’t believe in apostasy of individuals, only of groups over time, but I’ll allow you the term to describe what you think you did). Among many atheists (more so than mere skeptics who don’t study it) there is a self redemption value in extinguishing belief in the Bible. The problem is that one could convince (although I doubt it) the whole world to reject the Bible, and one would still be have to deal with the eternal consequences.

    “As for apocalyptic literature—it generally uses past events, places them in prophecy form with dire warnings regarding future destruction unless the people repent.”
    True, but Daniel has detailed prophetic sections that are more than mere apocalyptic genre style.

    “If, however, you are choosing to put your reliance on … I leave that choice up to you. The scholarship is not in your favor on that one.”
    Depends upon what scholarship you are talking about. If you are talking about that of those who follow the guidelines to reject prophecy and miracles a priori, then yes. But placing the date late is done only because of that requirement which is not valid if the Bible is true.

  • http://questionablemotives.wordpress.com/ tildeb

    Okay, good. But before we get into effects and contexts, we need to FIRST understand and identify what constitutes the supernatural so we ‘know it if we come across it’ sort of thing.

    You claim that the supernatural is non material. Okay. Like what?

  • http://sandwichesforsale.blogspot.com/ DagoodS

    Walt Tucker: If you are talking about that of those who follow the guidelines to reject prophecy and miracles a priori, then yes. But placing the date late is done only because of that requirement which is not valid if the Bible is true. [emphasis added]

    Not sure how much study you have done regarding Daniel’s dating, but if you think it is ONLY because of the prophecies contained, then you have been misinformed.

    Yes, we do typically date books without designated dates by events referred to within. If a book mentions WWII, but not Korea, when discussing American engagements, we date it between 1945-1950. Simple enough. As Daniel refers to events up to 165 BCE, again it would be simple to date it to that date.

    However…that is not all.

    It is NOT that Daniel gives events up to 165 BCE and then stops, so we pick that date; it is (and let’s be very clear here) the fact Daniel gets the prophecies wrong from 165 BCE forward ! We date it NOT where he ends, but from where he goes wrong.

    There are also considerations, such as its occasional use of Greek Words, incorrect designation of officials and names, and the use of Aramaic and Hebrew.

    (And on Exodus–you think crossing a reef would an improvement over crossing on mud? Curious. Besides that was not what the wind theory was testing. I would respond, but it has even more complications than the wind theory.)

    Finally a bit of advice—take or leave it, always. When discussing with a non-believer or skeptic, drop the “a priori” argument. It only makes your position appear insubstantial. We hear it all time—“You don’t believe in the resurrection because you a priori reject miracles.,” “You don’t believe in creation because you a priori reject God,” “You believe in a late date for the Gospels because you a priori do not believe Jesus could prophecy,” and so on and so on and so on.

    I am sure it is extremely effective when sharing with other believers, but you know what we hear? “After presenting the best arguments, evidence and reasoning I have, I realize it is insufficient to persuade someone who doesn’t already believe exactly as I do, so I will blame it on the other person for my own argument’s inadequacies.”

    See, what we hear is that you feel like you can only convince those who already believe as you do—and what good is that? The very point of discussing these topics is to convince someone who doesn’t already believe as you do! They already are either neutral (as in not knowing the information) or persuaded differently than you do.

    Second, we see Christians argue with other believers or other religions on points of contention and what do they use? Arguments, reason and evidence the Christian finds persuasive. If a creedal Christian argues with a Mormon, for example, does the Christian say, “ Gee, I am a priori persuaded Mormonism is not true, so no argument will convince me?” NO—of course not! They use evidence, reason and arguments for all the reasons Mormonism is not true. If a Mormon told you, Walt Tucker, “The ONLY reason you are not a Mormon is because you have a priori decided to not believe in Mormonism, despite our arguments, evidence and reasoning being so overwhelming it must be true” would you be convinced?

    I doubt it. Neither are we.

  • http://questionablemotives.wordpress.com/ tildeb

    Walt writes, with my emphasis added, Its effects (evidence for supernaturalism) in the natural world can only be “seen” through events, circumstances, or thoughts that do not exhibit the normal causal connection AND are associated with a specific context.

    This is a glaring and obvious problem in epistemology – in how we determine what is true in reality rather than mistake our beliefs about it to be equivalent – and helps explain why claims of supernatural effects are later rendered to be nothing more and nothing less than superstitious nonsense by informed knowledge.

    What you’ve described here is an interpretation – it must have been caused by Oogity Boogity – that has no causal connection that can be independently substantiated. There is no link. That’s why such conclusions are absolutely empty of merit and equivalent in all ways to made-up stuff.

    The sad truth is that there is no evidence of causal effect between the behaviour of people and demonic possession. All we have are interpretations of behaviour that seem to lack some other reasonable health related explanation. Where once headaches were signs of demonic possession, we now understand them to be brain pain chemically subject to pain relief medication. Where once sexual attraction was attributed to women casting satanic spells over men, we now know that we are biologically subject to arousal. In every case demonic possession is nothing more and nothing less than a substituted explanation for “I don’t known what the physical cause is.”

    But we do know that belief in demonic possession does not advance our medical knowledge. At all. Ever. And we also know that in many historical cases belief in demonic possession is equivalent to belief in superstitious nonsense. We also know that exorcisms do not stop disease processes. And we also know that lack of treatment for treatable diseases often needlessly injures and can even kill. Real children of superstitious parents are particularly vulnerable to this abuse. In effect, there’s nothing knowleagable to be gained by belief in superstitious nonsense like demonic possession and quite possibly everything to lose in regards to failing to implement proper care of the ill. And this willingness to believe the unbelievable is just another hallmark of the insideous nature of religious belief as a kind of poisoning of the critical mind.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    Dagood, I get your point about the a priori claim. I will refrain from using it in discussions with skeptics.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    tildeb. What I claim never stops medical research. Your thinking has been clouded by the vast existence of superstition throughout history. I view this as a hasty generalization.

    Again, we know nothing about quantum entities from isolated observations. The picture becomes clear in the conglomerate. Isolated events are baffling, so we explain by their congregate behavior.

    I am sticking to my position that the natural world is predominately what we see. It can be analyzed bit by bit. However, we can even make errors because we only look at the details rather than the wholistic problem. This has been a problem in engineering due to increased complexity. It gets to the point where you can not fully understand the behavior of the whole by studying the parts. That the natural world is predominately what we experience does not negate a supernatural world that at certain times has an effect in the natural world, just like quantum entities. Of course quantum entities are the underlying substance of the world. We don’t know for sure that the supernatural is not some underlying fabric out of which the quantum world arises and has the occasional probability of doing some baffling. That enough of these events happen starts to yield a picture that can not be seen in isolation. This picture exists among noise. The noise must be filtered out. That can only be done by doing enough sampling and checking the correlations.

    I can answer your epistemology questions no further than that. It is like the quantum world and it is like a message in a noisy environment. The noise is superstition, multiple religions, etc. The question is, what do we see what we back up and look at the whole scene?

    You and others here backup and see only a natural world. I, Bill, and others back up and see a natural world with a level of existence beyond the world that has some interaction with the world. I believe that existence is coherent and detectable. The noise can be filtered out. The big picture can be formed. Some, have a sense of it and that is good enough for them. You disregard a Holy Spirit, but if it truly exists, it has a part that can’t be explained in natural terms. But, I also believe that with effort, that the supernatural is just as rational as the natural world and can be shown to exist. But it is a big effort that I have set out to do. I can’t prove it in this dialogue until it is all laid out and ready for review. I have give ideas of the approach without all the mathematics that make it more concrete.

    In a sense, I am talking about what Carl Sagan wanted to do – detect intelligent life from “out there.” What I am suggesting is really no different except that I don’t think they are just little aliens from another planet, but the very creator of the universe trying to talk to us.

    This is all I can say. Arguing about the Exodus, Daniel, NT textual criticism, and all that without having done this larger work is really a waiste of time. You are convinced of your worldview from your inductive experience. I am convinced of mine from my experience. You claim I’m wrong. I claim your wrong. So, what’s the point? To prove who is smarter? I’m not in it for that. So, I will return to my studies, try to get time in on this larger work, and when it is ready, I am sure you will come to know about it from here and from its publication.

    I have enjoyed the dialogue, I just think it is time to move on. Thanks.

    in Christ,
    Walt

  • http://questionablemotives.wordpress.com/ tildeb

    I have done my best to avoid your repeated comparisons to quantum mechanics but, Walt, you are way off base here. Yes, there are some weird phenomena in how some split particles seem to operate. But answering these counter-intuitive data – for that is what we have – with a claim to be similar in kind to the supernatural – does nothing – absolutely nothing – to further our inquiries.

    I notice that you remain relatively silent about describing the supernatural – other than it’s non material. Why is it so difficult to be honest and clear here? You have NO CLUE what constitutes this supposed ‘supernatural’ agency of causation to which you attribute the existence of demons because it is inaccessible to you. You have no means to investigate the supernatural… except by empirical means here in the natural world. So whatever you describe that hides somewhere in the ‘noise’ of relaity is equivalent in all ways to your ignorance speaking… substituting the nonsensical term ‘demons’ for “I don’t know’,” just like I accused you of earlier. You cannot describe something for which you have nothing to work with and no means to gain access to. To the term ‘immaterial’ you may as well include invisible, weightless, without any mass, and lacking any physical properties to which you can apply the collection of empirical data. In clearer language, you’ve got nothing but what you imagine, what you attribute, what you are willing to believe not for good reasons but for religious convictions. In no way, shape, or fashion is this belief you insist on maintaining equivalent to evidence that informs quantum data.

    Religious belief equivalent to superstition is all you’ve got. That’s it. That’s the sum total. And it is insufficient to overcome healthy scepticism in modern world where no good evidence for demons exists. Your effort to show anything to the contrary translates into revealing exactly this: there are NO GOOD REASONS for believing in this nonsensical made-up stuff.

    Obfuscating the supernatural with quantum mechanics is just a misdirection and adds nothing meaningful and knowable about describing the supernatural.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    tildeb,

    There is very good reasons for believing in what you call non-sensical. I have a very good idea of what the supernatural is, at least in its effects, and it does no good to describe to you what it is because we will just go round and round since it is not in your understanding. The things of God are foolishness to those who are perishing. The world cannot accept the spirit of truth because it neither sees him nor knows him. No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him, but God has revealed it to use by his Spirit. But also, what may be known about God has been made plain, for since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse!

    The quantum analogy is VERY relevant. We don’t know anything about what it actually is, yet we knows its effects. We cannot know its nature by individual events. It MUST be accumulated on a larger scale. We would not have ANY knowledge of the quantum world if we have not worked through these effects. That world is understood as well as it can be by investigation. But, we can never know exactly what it is because it is beyond the reach of empirical observation. There had to be theories that were applied to the quantum observations in order to have any understanding. Those are the assumptions that had to be investigated to see if the data correlated with the theories. We DO NOT need access to the quantum entities themselves to understand what they do. I’m saying that we do not have to have direct access to the supernatural world to understand its effects in this world. If we can understand the invisible world of the quantum indirectly (and a lot of physics is done that way these days), then we can understand what this supernatural stuff is by its effects. Writing off the “noise” of superstitions and the multitude of religions merely sets one off on a journey where nothing can be known. We could write off the probabilistic nature of the quantum world as instrument error and never really understand the reality. All options must be investigated so at to not prematurely close the door on what is true. In the end, you might be right. I doubt it. But in the end I may find you are right. But for now, there is a divide between us that cannot be reconciled until such an effort is made and the pleading that something is unknowable just because you have predefined it that way gets nowhere. Let’s find out what it is. Since your and Dagood’s investigations are one sided, I find I need to do them so that people can see finally what has been there all along and only accessible to those drawn by the Spirit.

    Now maybe it is not for the unbeliever to know. Many saw Jesus’ miracles first hand and still rejected Him. So, for all the effort I put into the investigation, maybe it won’t payoff even if it is as clear as crystal because some just refuse to believe.

    I am being honest. It is extremely difficult to realize that something one has believed for most of their life is wrong. I got past that point 12 years ago. Your whole world will crumble if I can show that analytical techniques can reveal God, because your identity has been in being an opponent of God. How earth shattering that is to have the reality of God show up on your door step one day. But if your world crumbles, that will be a great day because that means you will have come to realize that reality is greater than your own thinking. Your eyes will be open, you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

  • http://questionablemotives.wordpress.com/ tildeb

    Walt, two points:

    1) But, we can never know exactly what it is because it is beyond the reach of empirical observation.

    ‘It’ in the refers to quantum, which is the smallest physical quantity that can exist independently. This is usually referred to as a discrete quantity of electromagnetic radiation. You say we can never know exactly what it is and by this I assume you mean we cannot directly observe it… hence the need for great big gobs of electromagnetic radiation to study its properties. But does this mean our many possible explanations tested by physical means are equivalent to made-up stuff like demons?

    Come on, Walt. You should know enough about the scientific method not to fall into this standard creationist canard of misrepresenting empirical science to mean ‘in the lab’ or ‘directly seen’. This approach you’re trying to use here does not bode well for any honest discussion if you’re willing to sacrifice the need for physical evidence that informs science – including quantum mechanics – in favour of pretending it is somehow compatible with belief in demons that has no similar kind of empirical dependency to be considered causal from supernatural agency. Your argument by comparison fails completely at this point.

    2) You assure me that I am not capable of understanding what it is that you ‘see’ and explain that The things of God are foolishness to those who are perishing. The world cannot accept the spirit of truth because…. Substitute the word ‘faeries’ or a different divinity about which you know nothing like ‘Huehueteotl’ in this paragraph and I sincerely hope you realize just how dependent any sense is on the assumption that your preferred term is both real and true FIRST before all your other conclusions are drawn. In other words, the problem isn’t that I cannot understand, as you mistakenly assume; the problem is that I don’t share your belief FIRST. This goes to the very point DagoodS makes and shows you using it in action here.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    tildeb,

    “But does this mean our many possible explanations tested by physical means are equivalent to made-up stuff like demons? ”

    Statements like this just go to show you are entirely missing the point. Each individual demon claim is a data point, itself uncertain, which is combined with other data to arrive at what is going on behind the curtain. Don’t think I am claiming all demons are real things. I would say most are fictitious with imaginations gone wild and many are confused with natural phenomena out of ignorance, superstition, and such. But “most” and “all” are two different things. That some claims are known to not be demons has to be taken into account when developing the larger picture. You might say, “how can you know the difference.” My reply is that I don’t care to discern the difference at the individual case by case level. What matters is the bigger picture – just as the case with the quantum world.

    “Substitute the word ‘faeries’ or a different divinity about which you know nothing like ‘Huehueteotl’ in this paragraph and I sincerely hope you realize just how dependent any sense is on the assumption that your preferred term is both real and true FIRST before all your other conclusions are drawn.”

    Just more noise which has fooled you. There is a difference between the spiritual experience of Christ and belief in fairies. The fact you put them in the same categories just proves the point that you are far from understanding and your hasty generalization to lump all claims as equivalent. Surely you know better than that!

    Dagood’s point is again related to the individual data points. You can’t look at each religion from an isolated test case. You’ll never get anywhere that way. He is correct that most argue from their own perspective (I’m not using the word ‘a priori’). You both are doing it too. So, I’m not sure how that argument helps win the day except to bring us back to Hume where we should be skeptical of everything.

  • http://sandwichesforsale.blogspot.com/ DagoodS

    Walt Tucker,

    I agree if people argue solely from their own perspective it boils down to little more than “Duck Season!” “Rabbit Season!” Fun and all–not much room for advancement. However, it has been my experience many (not all) are open to learning and do not argue solely from their own perspective; people are willing to modify and even change their view upon learning new information.

    One helpful factor I have seen in past experience is to develop and/or agree on a methodology—resolve how we will consistently utilize the evidence, arguments, etc. toward a determination. This can be informative; if we realize we do not agree on methods, understand why and not worry so much as the method will most likely result in different resolutions.

    I cannot speak for tildeb, but this particular conversation has not been very illuminating toward such a method. No information has been provided by Christians as to differentiation between “supernatural event” or “natural event.” Indeed, it has been conceded many claimed supernatural events are actually natural events. As well as acknowledged there is little means to determine difference between:

    1. “Supernatural Event;” or
    2. “Natural event where we do not have enough information to determine cause.”

    Without such definitions, arguing there are supernatural events becomes difficult at best. Further, I haven’t seen a method proposed to determine supernatural events vs. natural events other than extremely broad terms that frankly provide no insight.

  • http://questionablemotives.wordpress.com/ tildeb

    I see no way to avoid this kind of horrific abuse based on the same prerequisite for belief you and others share in the actual existence of demons. In other words, all you can do is argue with believers to be kinder to children – children! – who are accused of demonic possession rather than take a strong stance that such belief has no merit and so action undertaken on behalf of the belief is repugnant, ignorant, malicious, and vile.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    Dagood, “this particular conversation has not been very illuminating toward such a method.”

    Sorry about that. So you are telling me that the method I have proposed is not illuminating? I find that odd, given you agreed with it as being a good method for one post before going back to your own rabbits. The fact that you keep going back to them is evidence that you didn’t truly grasp the point of the method. In this case, the devil is not in the details, it is on the bigger picture. The details have caused many to conclude an inaccurate picture. In much of life, much can be learned from the details, but the whole is not always the sum of the parts.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    tildeb,

    “such belief has no merit and so action undertaken on behalf of the belief is repugnant, ignorant, malicious, and vile. ”

    I agree!

    “all you can do is argue with believers to be kinder to children – children! – who are accused of demonic possession rather than take a strong stance”

    You talking to me? Again, you’ve got the wrong person and make false accusations. I would be preaching against this if I were there. As well as I preach against human trafficking which is godless activity giving in to the greed, lusts, and deprivation of human beings. And I preach against abortion, which is murder, but not seen so by pure scientism where everything is an object. In what ways has pure science shown these to be wrong? And in what that I have said would make you think I condone this activity in Africa where true Christian beliefs have been mixed with tribal superstitions?

    “I see no way to avoid this kind of horrific abuse based on the same prerequisite for belief you and others share in the actual existence of demons.”

    Then you have no idea what belief I and others here share, because this behavior is pure superstition and is NOT Christian. Show me where in the Bible Jesus said to treat kids that way?

    AGAIN, you have overgeneralized. To you any superstition is the same as all spiritual beliefs. That’s too bad you want to stay in that quagmire. Again, noise that has blinded you.

  • http://sandwichesforsale.blogspot.com/ DagoodS

    Walt Tucker,

    Perhaps I was confused. You agreed with your situation regarding the demon-possessed woman, a natural explanation is more likely than not. You agreed in the situations mentioned by Vinny that the events were misinterpreted (presumably a supernatural causation was attributed to a natural causation.) You agree we cannot make individual determinations, as it is unknown, and science cannot be used to determine supernatural events.

    You raised Exodus as an event to review in context (and apparently my responding to it is a rabbit???) and Daniel as having “uncanny prophecies” (again my response being a rabbit??) as some part of this method. I provided natural explanations to both, or at least huge problems in the situation with Exodus.

    You seem to be saying, “Gosh, there are so many tales of supernatural intervention that when individually viewed, most have plausible natural explanations, but because there are so many tales–something must be out there.” Almost a methodology of “where there is smoke, there is fire.”

    Is that the method you really propose? I though the method was to look at ALL the evidence—not just the supporting claims, but the error claims far outnumbering the supporting claims—and make a determination. You seem to want to only see the positive hits, and ignore the negative.

    Does this mean the more reports we have of Bigfoot, even though individually debunked, mean Bigfoot must exist? The more alien abductions reported in National Enquirer means aliens must be interacting on our planet? The more ghost-hunters means there are ghosts? The more birthers mean Pres. Obama was born in Kenya? The more 9/11 conspiracy theorists—even though the vast majority of their claims are debunked—means somehow Dick Cheney ordered the attack on the Twin Towers?

    What other field do we have so many error-results, but decided there are a few don’t have an answer to, the opposite of the error-results must be true? Some fuzzy picture of something, coupled with numerous debunked tales of Bigfoot means Bigfoot is true because we are not certain what is in the photo?

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    Dagood,

    “I though the method was to look at ALL the evidence”

    That’s right. So, indeed you are confused if you think otherwise.

    We might as well table it until a more thorough critique of the method can be had. Because you guys assuming what I’m doing beyond what I said I was doing isn’t helping clear anything up.

    P.S. I thought the frozen chosen were the Presbyterians. In today’s SB churches, we sway to the music, raise our hands (some anyway), but we still aren’t quite the charismatics you cited at the conference.

  • http://questionablemotives.wordpress.com/ tildeb

    in what that I have said would make you think I condone this activity in Africa where true Christian beliefs have been mixed with tribal superstitions?

    There. Right there, Walt. That is the KEY point I keep making that you keep missing. So let me write this out slowly:

    HOW can you differentiate between what is TRUE and what is SUPERSTITIOUS?

    This is the question you will not answer because you cannot answer it without revealing the problem I claim undermines ALL your religious beliefs: you differentiate SOLELY and ONLY on your BELIEF it is so.

    Your belief, as I have written before, is not a reliable arbiter of what is true. Reality is a much better arbiter through evidence it provides.

    Your belief in superstitious nonsense is the problem because it’s the same belief that empowers these people all over the world to abuse their children in the name of affecting supernatural agencies. It’s ignorance in action, empowered not by reality but by belief in Oogity Boogity.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    tildeb, “HOW can you differentiate between what is TRUE and what is SUPERSTITIOUS?”

    I’ve told you, but you refuse to accept it.

    By what means was Carl Sagan expecting to discover intelligent life from other parts of the universe? Why was he even interested in looking? What did he expect to gain if he had found it? What evidence did he have that it was worth spending the money to search for it?

  • http://questionablemotives.wordpress.com/ tildeb

    You’ve written repeatedly that My reply is that I don’t care to discern the difference at the individual case by case level. What matters is the bigger picture – just as the case with the quantum world.

    So describe the bigger picture. If you can’t discern whether an individual case ranks as evidence for demonic possession, then how does collecting a hundred stories somehow lift the veil? You continue to suggest insist that, like quantum mechanics that deals with great gobs of quanta and tests as the most highly predictive formulas we have in reality, you assume that great gobs of individual cases of supposedly demonic possession will magically reveal demonic possession.And somehow this makes sense to you. It doesn’t to me because it is at the individual level where you need to determine the criteria for inclusion – whether or not the specific case really is or is not evidence for demonic possession.

    You ask by what means Sagan searched (or at least suggested that we search) for intelligent life. I presume he searched for physical radiometric patterns unlike others. And – as far as I know – we have yet to find any (I seem to recall quasars emit a regular pulse). In other words, like any good scientist, he looked for empirical evidence. It is you who has this bugaboo about looking for some big picture that tries to remove this necessary ingredient for our knowledge about reality. By all means do meta studies on data, but at the end of the day, you must come up with causal evidence to indicate that the best explanation is intervention in this reality by agencies unknown. Even then, you’ll note the honest answer is ignorance of what that agency is and not evidence for supernatural intervention. Until then, the honest answer about demonic possession is that we have no good evidence upon which to base any belief that is is likely. So far, it’s not even remotely likely except by claims of belief it is so because we already have a rich history that such belief is equivalent to ignorance about some natural process. All evidence indicates consistently that belief in demons is entirely misplaced, while we also know that actions based on presuming it to be true carries with it a terrible cost on innocents.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    tildeb, I don’t know why you are so hung up on demons. They are only a tidbit of data.

    As far as my explaining the big picture, I’ve told you that it can’t be explained adequately in a forum like this. When I have it written up, I will then make it available. Until that is done, I find this discussions pretty much stuck in the mud.

    As far as Sagan goes, he was looking for something in particular and there was something he was hoping for once he found it. How would he know he found it if he did, or how could he keep from missing it if it was there? If you would get off the demon witch hunt (actually you are trying to exorcise them and don’t even know it) and and broaden your thinking just a bit, it might make sense. If you won’t accept the QM analogy, the image/signal processing in noise analogy, the identification of unknown targets in military systems analogy, maybe you can accept the Sagan analogy. But as long as you keep focusing on demons in particular when you are already dead set against their existence, you’ll fail to comprehend that it is MUCH MUCH BIGGER than that. Have you heard of synthetic aperture radar? Maybe distributed sonar? It isn’t the sensing part of those that I am stressing, but the processing that goes on in systems like that.

    Along those lines, I find it interesting that engineers tend to exhibit faith more than scientists. Scientists are analyzing detail in general and have to isolate to do it. Engineers build up systems in general and have to have a wholistic approach or the systems will be useless (especially in these days of highly complex and distributed systems). There are hybrids. I’m one of those. I look at details, but I recognize I can’t be misled in absence of the environment the detail exists within.

    There is the Hindu parable of the elephant with the 6 blind men. The parable is that they all are seing their own perspective of the same thing and thus none of them are wrong. They hae it backwards. If one things the tail is a snake, another things the leg is a tree, and so on, and none of them recognize it as an elephant, they are all wrong. A snake can bit them, an elephant can pounce them. Elephants eat peanuts, grass, and such. Snakes eat rats and such. How can the 6 blind men (and I tell this story at systems engineering symposiums as the 6 blind engineers), discover the truth? They compare notes and they must exlpore the whole elephant, not just the part from their perspective. Whey they get away from their local detail, and start to expand the range of investigation, a new picture forms – that they thing is an elephant.

    So, many this analogy works for you. Of course, as I’ve said, how that pans out in discovery of what is true with regard to their being a supernatural world or not and whether any religion has anything right, if at all, must be written up. Realistically, it will not be until the summer that I can complete this. Might it might help if I stop dialoging here. But at the same time, the feedback, even if it seems to be off base most of the time is useful towards knowing how to write the paper and book. (I meant this to be a quick one short paragraph.)

  • tildeb

    I’m ‘hung up’ on demons because this was the beginning of the comment thread that attributes Jesus ‘healing’ someone by cast out a ‘demon’. It’s a ludicrous claim.

    You call demons a ‘tidbit of data’. It’s not. It’s not ‘data’ at all. It’s a hollow claim. It is empty of empirical evidence. You go on about this supposedly bigger picture and compare it repeatedly to systemic approaches that accumulates physical and material data that can then be examined for smaller patterns from which properties can then be deduced, all the while failing to account for the utter lack of physical and material data in you quest into the supernatural. The complete data set you seek can be accurately located entirely in your brain where you have created and given it imagined substance and where it fully resides: in your belief. That’s why there is no exterior physical and material data for any set you wish to to accumulate this imagined information independent of your beliefs. It’s just not there. And that’s why your repeated examples fail to be any kind of comparable inquiry to what is real. The problem isn’t my scepticism; the problem for such causal claims as Jesus healing by cast out a demon is that it is only evidence of gullibility of believers.

    I am not one of your blind men; I’m the one pointing out that each of the blind men you mention has nothing to see, nothing to hear, nothing to taste, nothing to smell, nothing to touch, nothing to actually describe. You are fully and completely imagining this elephant to be real first and I’m trying to show you that the best explanation for the complete lack of physical and material evidence for this causal agent called a demon is that there’s nothing there to begin with! This explains why you have zero empirical evidence with which to work to justify claiming causality. There are better explanations that require no gullibility, no assumed belief, no demands for acceptance of Oogity Boogity.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    tildeb,

    I thought the discussion had evolved a bit from the initial comments.

    “It’s not. It’s not ‘data’ at all. It’s a hollow claim. It is empty of empirical evidence.”

    A claim is a claim, whether it is true of false. The question is which is it? Presupposing it to be false isn’t going to answer the question. One may not be able to make a decision on an isolated case, so a database of claims and what is and isn’t known about them is built up.

    What is funny is that you DO understand my approach, it seems, but you keep knocking it down by the beliefs you already have (maybe because of your Kantian definition of supernatural). There IS an elephant. The question is what does it really look like? Is it only the natural world, or is there more? If you could only see you do what you claim I do. You have a picture in your mind already and judge everything by it. If all of the early 20th century physicists said that light was only waves and couldn’t possibly act like particles or that it was particles, but couldn’t possibly be in two places at once or penetrate barriers, we would not have quantum mechanics and we wouldn’t have transistors, lasers, and everything else that has resulted from that research.

    When you have closed your mind to honest inquiry, you have submitted yourself to your own superstitions.

    My approach is different, but in many ways similar to Sagan. He was only looking at one type of evidence. As such, if he found something, he could always be questioned. He was limited since there was only one type of possible evidence available to him. For my inquiry, we have multitudes of evidences which are many pieces of the puzzle. The noise gets filtered out as the picture expands. We MUST let the picture speak for itself, not put our biases into it. When we do, we distort the picture. The burden is as much on me when doing this work to not let my biases distort the picture. You have assumed from the start, not giving me the benefit of the doubt, that it can be done. I will admit that I strongly believe I already know the answer. So, it is especially important that I do all I can to not let that persuade the inquiry. Have you ever done a “trade study” to figure out the best approach to a problem? They are meant to be unbiased. Yet, it is easy to manipulate them to get the answer you want. However, a good systems engineer will do everything possible to make sure the answer is truly the best answer. If demon claims were the only “evidence” we had, we would be as limited, if not more so than Sagan. However, that isn’t all we have. We have a world with many beliefs. How did they come about? What can we know from history and what can’t we know? What about the spiritual experiences, how does a natural explanation fit with the whole picture verses a spiritual explanation. You integrate every thing you can from as much knowledge as you can (yes, a big task), but the real picture will emerge. The elephant will be seen for what it is, whaterver that is. The problem is that you have prejudged the answer in your own mind, much as you claim I and other Christians have. You have been staring at the noise in the world and missed the picture. So, it takes the effort I am working on, to bring that picture forth for those who can’t see it. (Kind of like those stereo pictures were all you saw was random patterns until you stared at them just right and a 3D shape popped out at you.)

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    I wanted to restate the end of my last post to tildeb because I know some won’t read it through. But I thought it was a good illustration of what is going on and worth bringing out on its own.

    Do you remember those stereo pictures where all you saw was random patterns until you stared at them just right and a 3D shape popped out at you?

    That is what we have here! The skeptic stares at the picture and keeps looking at the random patterns and says there is nothing there. The Christian looks at the exact same picture and see an image pop out of it. Not one made up in their minds, but one that their minds revealed from what was really in the world. The ah-ha moment where a person sees the image pop out is the most exciting moment in their lives. This is what it means to go from being blind, to being able to see. False images may be found in portions of the picture, like looking at clouds and seeing shapes, but the goal is to find out what the real picture is, or if there really even is one.

  • http://sandwichesforsale.blogspot.com/ DagoodS

    Walt Tucker,

    I hope you don’t mind my springing off your “3D stereo” picture analogy to explain what we are looking for. O.K., so we skeptics stare and stare and stare, and all we see are the dots. And along comes the Christian, who stares for a moment and says, “Hey—that’s an elephant!” We skeptics skeptically question this, because we cannot see the elephant. Along comes another person—“elephant!” And another—“elephant!” We study and learn this thing about dot pictures, how they work through our brain, and can test the theory. We get someone to make a dot picture (even though we can’t see it) and consistently people say, “That is a giraffe.” We test and theorize and study, and even though we, ourselves, never do see the 3D picture, we can become convinced it exists.

    Here, however, one Christian claims “Elephant!” Another person looks at the picture, confidently informs us the first Christian was not a “true” 3D-Picturer, and that is a motor car. Another Christian disputes the first true, stating it is President Lincoln. And the fourth claims “It is just dots.”

    We set up experiments with dot pictures. Upon showing to four (4) Christians we get, “Puppy Dog!” “Dots!” “Left Foot!” “Very small rocks!”

    Even though we cannot see it ourselves, we watch Christian fight and grapple over who has got the picture correct, and no one ever provides us with a method as to how they are determining what is in the picture! We get grand theories—“Because there is a series of dots, there must be a picture.” “Only those indwelt by an artist can see the picture.” Or (my personal favorite and you have used this one already), “You skeptics really do see the picture—you just suppress the truth of the picture.”

    Despite whatever the big picture is, you have made specific statements that some things are not supernatural, even though claimed to be supernatural. All we are asking is how…on those individual items…we can consistently make the same determination using the same method. You have told us some pictures of dots are just dots…no 3D image to be had. We can’t see it, either. But you insist there is some set of dots out there that IS a 3D picture. What method can we use—those of us who see it in neither—to consistent make such a determination?

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    Dagood,

    Very good critique. First, let me answer that last part. That is what I am working on doing. To the analogy, I am intent on producing a picture without all the noise. But be patient.

    As to different people seeing different things, I agree that is an issue. I cannot deny the power of suggestion in many cases. If I see something, but am not sure what it is (which is the case with some of those pictures), someone else (culture in the case of religion) dictates what is in the picture and I go along with it. The noise effects people’s ability to see the picture without the distortions caused by suggestion and culture.

    The question is, what is really in the picture minus all the noise and cultural baggage (and denominational, etc.)?

    In the case of the stereo pictures, there is an original picture which the noise has been added to (I used to make them for dun when they were popular). If we can strip out the noise, which can only be done by integrating all the we known and what we know that we don’t know, the original picture can be found.

    I do not deny that I have some theological biases based on what I’ve been taught and heard. But my real desire is to get past that and at what is really there. I don’t know how many times (too many) that I have studied a passage of the Bible to teach or preach on and discover that what I had been taught or heard previously in another sermon was wrong. There is too much follow the leader and when the leader drifts, everybody drifts. The key is to get back to the truth as it is. Even in academia you see a lot of the power of suggestion at play. If not, why so many different views on some subject. A scholar is someone who has studies something extensively. It doesn’t mean they have come to the correct conclusion.

    Anyway, I don’t think the differences of what is claimed in the picture is as different as an elephant and a giraffe. Rather, most think it is an elephant but disagree on the features of the elephant that are harder to discern given the noise.

  • http://www.SecularThinker.com/ The Secular Thinker

    What if Satan appears to you disguised as an angel, and tells you to do something, because it will please god. You do this, and feel very happy and confidence for doing god’s bidding, and you tell your story to your church friends, who are all impressed by your faith and commitment. You live the rest of your life, and then you die, and end up in hell.

    The point of my story? If you are serious in believing in this “unpardonable sin”, my question to you is:

    How would you know the difference?

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    Good Question.

    The answer is to know God! One who knows God is not likely to fall for Satan’s schemes. And even if that were to happen because of some confusion, such person would not end up in hell. Having done such a thing is not an “unpardonable sin.” Denying the witness of the Holy Spirit is.

  • http://www.SecularThinker.com/ The Secular Thinker

    But what if Satan convinces you that you know God, even though it is really Satan? He is capable of such tricks isn’t he?

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    In that case, which is possible – but not in the scenario you originally mentioned, the unpardonable sin has not been committed since one is not attributing the witness of God to Satan, but rather attributing the works of Satan to God. This is quite common.

    In your original scenario one has church friends who are impressed and you go your merry way thinking everything is just great. This can’t happen in a true church (which I assumed you meant). It can happen in a cult where all of the friends are under the same delusion. This case is no different than a person not knowing God in the first place. The answer to that is they still need to know God the same way that anyone who does not know Him comes to know Him. (See Romans 10:14-15; Acts 17:16-31)

  • rericsawyer

    I believe that I am in entire agreement with Walt (If not, any errors I claim for my own) But to put it in a less Christian vocabulary – I think of the “unforgivable sin” as declaring that “Truth” (when I see it, and am able to know it) is “Not Truth” In Christian terms, with the Holy Spirit as the spirit of truth, who “will lead you into all truth” this works out the same.

    But for those to whom Jesus spoke about a sin that would not be forgiven, they were seeing the works of God, knew what they were seeing, and argued against it, convincing themselves that what they knew to be an untruth was the truth. FWIW, that is not hard to do. I frequently convince myself that it would be quite OK, “no harm at all” if I hit the snooze bar for a third time.

    If that practice of denying the truth for a lie becomes habitual, then reality has disappeared. No matter how one conceives of God, how can one hope to be united with Reality when reality has been discarded?

  • CHARLES

    Hello, I’ve been struggling with this fear for about a year now. I’ve hand memories come into my head and a OCD like attack of tormenting blasphemy, accusing or convicting me. Can you please pray for me.

    A year ago I came to Christ , well I accepted the truth. The attacks or convictions go like this. There are 3 memories of things I said. I’m not even sure I said them but that’s what my mind is saying.

    First one is I’m watching tv and someone was talking in tongues and I said that person was possessed.

    Second one is I’m driving down the road and it was around Halloween and these kids were dressed as devils at a church, I said there devil worshipers .

    The third one is. That I called god a evil spirit. I tried to remember why I’d say such a thing and I don’t even know why, I didn’t know who god was and after knowing him I couldn’t say them things, I think I was saying them things cause of how evil this world is. But it’s not him it’s the ruler of this age who is bad.

    Now I don’t believe these things. And like I said I don’t even remember if I said these things. I never liked religion or knew much about God or Jesus. But one day I started looking for the truth about life and came to the bible after looking at many other religions and science theory’s. anyone willing to talk to me? I’ve prayed a lot over this and tried to explain myself to the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob.

    Any help would be awesome. Prayers would be nice also, I’ve confessed and repented with tears and fear like no other to these things even though I don’t remember if I did them or not. Should I have done that? Please help.

    With Love

    Charles

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    Charles, Satan is the father of lies, but regardless of whether you said those things or not, they are not related to the unpardonable sin and you are forgiven of them when you accepted Christ. Tell Satan to flee. He has no power of you as long as you accept that Christ paid the price of all sin and you are now free from any guilt or condemnation (Rom 8:1). The unpardonable sin has to do with rejection of the Holy Spirit’s testimony about Jesus being the Christ. You haven’t done that, but have accepted the testimony. So, you are good to go. I’ll pray for you this evening that the lie will be broken down of no avail at tormenting you any longer. Peace in Christ.
    Walt

  • Katelyn Windels

    Sounds a bit like my experience. I will definitely be praying for you…just sent up a prayer now :) God will never leave you, nor forsake you! You obviously haven’t rejected God! Also, you asked if you should have done those things…well, whether you should have or not, there isn’t much you can do about the past, is there? So learn from it… praying for you, my friend!

  • Katelyn Windels

    (Yah, I know I’m not Walt Tucker, and I know it’s a really old thread, I just felt like putting something in here XD) Satan can do most anything, but the two things he can’t do is: Read your mind, and (2): Control your thinking. He can control you if you allow him to, but not by himself. Satan twists the truth (like in the Garden of Eden) to make it sound true, however, truth ceases to be true when it is mixed with error. So if he tells someone something, it must be completely and fully accurate with the Bible. Each temptation we face is different, and God gives us strength as we need it. He doesn’t give you the strength to die for him today, as you don’t need it, but should that day come, the strength of God accompanies any trial as it comes.

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