Do You Really Believe That? (V)

Anointing the Sick

The New Testament’s Book of James gives some very unusual instructions on how to treat illness:

“Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.”

—James 5:14-15

In eras when human knowledge was far less advanced, it’s not surprising that people would turn to superstitious practices such as prayer and anointing with oil in an attempt to cure illness. What’s far more surprising is how many people still believe in these practices today, despite our far more advanced knowledge of scientific medicine, as well as ample evidence that faith healing does not work.

The Greek Orthodox Church, for example, makes anointing a regular practice, and claims that it offers physical healing:

At the conclusion of the service of the Sacrament, the body is anointed with oil, and the grace of God, which heals infirmities of soul and body, is called down upon each person.

…The Sacrament of the Unction of the sick is the Church’s specific prayer for healing. If the faith of the believers is strong enough, and if it is the will of God, there is every reason to believe that the Lord can heal those who are diseased.

The Assemblies of God says the same thing:

In the Assemblies of God we believe neither the laying on of hands nor anointing with oil is indispensable for healing, for often in Scripture healing takes place without either. But at times the touch of a praying person and the application of oil are an encouragement to faith, and such a practice is enjoined by Scripture (James 5:14-16).

And, as Jeffrey Shallit reports, Prof. Clifford Blake of the University of Waterloo is an unabashed believer in faith healing through anointing and other, equally mystical methods:

Some people believe healing was only in the time of the Bible. But he knows it is happening now. When he began to use healing oil, he got more consistent results.

Granted, there are also Christians who believe the anointing is merely symbolic. And the reason they believe that should be obvious: because it is abundantly obvious, to those who know how to think critically, that anointing people with oil is not an effective method of curing illness. If there was any evidence that this was an efficacious treatment, we can be sure it would be universally employed in every Christian church, and would not be explained away as symbolic. But as scientific medicine has progressed and our ability to work real cures has increased, superstitious practices like this have become increasingly superfluous and have gradually faded away (although, as shown, there are still plenty of holdouts).

Certainly, the Bible’s description of this does not seem like mere symbolism: it says clearly that “the prayer of faith” will save the sick, and in conjunction with the oil, “the Lord shall raise him up” (the Greek word, egeiro, means “to cause to rise”, i.e., from a seat or a bed). My question to modern believers who view this passage symbolically is, if you know this doesn’t work, how do you know that – and do you apply that same standard to the rest of the Bible? And to those who still use faith healing and dabs of magical oil, in an age of genetic manipulation, transplant surgery and antibiotics, my question is: Do you really believe that?

Other posts in this series:

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Alex Weaver

    Well of course it doesn’t work. They’re *Priests*, and Lay on Hands is a paladin ability. Pity they aren’t allowed to multi-class…

    (It still makes more sense than the actual beliefs of the religious.)

  • Karen

    If the faith of the believers is strong enough, and if it is the will of God

    And those are the crucial disclaimers that give god an “out” if the person in question does not get better. Either the faith of the believers wasn’t strong enough (a harsh assessment that rarely gets made these days, although it plants a monumental self-doubt that can be wrenching in the believers’ minds) or, more likely, it wasn’t “god’s will” and – as we know – god works in mysterious ways.

    What’s really going on here is that we live in a frightening world that we have little control over. Young, healthy people get diagnosed with terminal cancers. A child steps in front of a car and is killed in an instant. Try as we might, we cannot foolproof our lives or the lives of our loved ones. And confronting that reality is very scary.

    So people turn to these magic charms and incantations (which is what faith healing really is) to try and reassert some measure of confidence and control. And even when it fails, they deny the failure so that they can hang on to that magic charm in the future.

  • mikespeir

    Don’t you know God always answers prayer?

    But, of course, the bird bath out back says “yes,” “no,” or “wait” with the best gods ever imagined. Seriously. Try it!

  • Samuel Skinner

    That isn’t true Alex- good clerics can cast heal spells as a free ability. However we don’t live in D&D (which, ironically, is more self consistant and logical than any theology).

  • Stephen

    Oh yes, people believe this all right. Indeed, probably just about as many people believe in some version of this in the comparatively secular north-west Europe as in the religious USA. Faith healing is only very loosely bound to organised religion; it manifests itself in all sorts of forms: Reiki, homeopathy, ‘therapeutic touch’, strange diets, pilgrimages to Lourdes, etc, etc. Different names, somewhat different manifestations, but ultimately based on the same belief in magic.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org/ Ebonmuse

    However we don’t live in D&D (which, ironically, is more self consistant and logical than any theology).

    No surprise there. After all, the creators of D&D were limited by the requirements of consistency and believability when setting up the rules for their imaginary world.

  • Jennifer A. Burdoo

    I like fictional gods and religions because, in a fictional universe, the author can depict a god actually doing what gods are supposed to do — manifesting, responding to prayer, creating, destroying, and so on. Worship in DnD is not a matter of belief.

  • Brad

    I’m not a believer, but I think anyone could explain away any sort of general superstition in this passage. Look at the pronouns of the passage: “any sick” / “he” / “him” / “him” / “the sick” / “him” / “he” / “him.” Some people could try and infer from the Bible that magical practices of this sort work, but the passage you wrote here does not indicate that faith healing is a generally applicable method of treatment, only for “any sick among you,” the group of people being talked to.

    The question in my mind is, why are these sort of religious activities rampant in the Bible (sacrifices, holy war, healings, miracles, etc.) but not taken very seriously by moderates? It seems that they have the same secular common sense that these things just do not work, are meaningless, and could even be immoral – which would appear to be a very large amount of cherry picking to me.

    I agree that for moderates it should all boil down to what you asked: “do you apply that same standard to the rest of the Bible?” How do you critically look at the Bible, accepting some things or not others? Do you even thoroughly read the so-called Word of God?

    For the more faithful believers who take on belief in supernatural happenings, miracles, healings etc. it probably doesn’t come from any sort of rigorous or logical look at reality – it comes from loyalty to your group and therefore its belief system, from emotional acceptance, and from anecdotes shared to them. (Or just simple gullibility and hype-love.) The question is how do you dissuade them from accepting what they have probably psychologically invested themselves in? How do you explain their own feelings and faith to them? That’s the problem.

  • Steve Bowen

    Faith healing is only very loosely bound to organised religion; it manifests itself in all sorts of forms: Reiki, homeopathy, ‘therapeutic touch’, strange diets, pilgrimages to Lourdes, etc, etc.

    ..and I guess where they do work it is due to a placebo effect. Most minor illnesses cure themselves eventually. If you are pre-conditioned by religious conviction to expect annointing or laying on of hands to cure you, up to a point they might. Don’t try it on a broken leg though.

  • BletchleyPark

    A wonderful review of how faith and prayer don’t help anyone heal–and why religion should be OUT of hospitals and medicine altogether, I recommend Richard P. Sloane’s Blind Faith: The Unholy Alliance of Religion and Medicine. Sloane’s book is great until the last chapter; and the change seems so abrupt, that I wonder if his publisher made him put it in.

  • mikespeir

    Call me crazy, but I actually have a part-time job cleaning an Assemblies of God church. Every Wednesday night they distribute a “prayer requests” sheet. It’s on regular 8.5×11 paper, and is nearly covered front and back with prayer requests. There are typically more than a hundred of them.

    On the back is a tiny space for “praise reports,” i.e., answered prayers. Usually, it has nothing in it, although there’s sometimes one. Once I saw two. Needless to say, these “answers” are nothing unusual, on the order of “Sister Jones is out the hospital,” or some such thing.

    I mean, really, these people look at these sheets week after week and it never seems to hit them between the eyes what any sighted person couldn’t miss!

  • Robert Madewell

    “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

    —James 5:14-15

    That last part is what gets me. Back then, people thought that sins caused illnesses. Illnesses were Gods punishment for sins. Still today in some churches, you can get that same message.

    Also, a side note: I have noticed in most churches that olive oil is specifically used for annointing. One AG pastor I talked to said that no other kind of oil will do. Is there some superstition concerning olives? If the AG said that oil is not required for healing, shouldn’t it be just as effective to use soybean, corn, canola, sesame, baby, or motor oil?

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org/ Ebonmuse

    The question is how do you dissuade them from accepting what they have probably psychologically invested themselves in? How do you explain their own feelings and faith to them? That’s the problem.

    An excellent question, Brad. As it happens, I’m planning a post for later this week with some thoughts on that subject.

  • dutch

    Ebon, “My question to modern believers who view this passage symbolically is, if you know this doesn’t work, how do you know that – and do you apply that same standard to the rest of the Bible? And to those who still use faith healing and dabs of magical oil, in an age of genetic manipulation, transplant surgery and antibiotics, my question is: Do you really believe that?”

    This “modern believer” believes that absolutely. The sicknesses described in the Bible are spritual. One place that is clearly shown is in Mark 8:24 which is right after Jesus heals a blind man – blind being spiritually blind.
    Mar 8:24 And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking.
    This parable helps in understanding “The trees of eden.” I do apply the “same standard” to the rest of The Bible. Jesus Christ(The Word) the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. It works and holds togethor beautifully from Genesis through Revelation once you understand The bible is truly spiritual, not carnal.

    When I get sick, I go to a doctor and use anything that modern medicine has to offer to feel better. If the doctor says, “I can’t help you, you are terminal,” I say “No problem, thanks anyway.”

  • Neil

    Oh, so he was “spiritually blind.” Thanks for the good news, Dutch!
    Once one accepts that anything in the bible can be read as literal (if inaccurate) history, or as wide, nearly content-free metaphor, one realizes that it can be perceived as consistent…if one stands bent over, looking at it askew with one eye covered, one thumb in one’s mouth, and one’s head up one’s ass. The bible can in fact be twisted to meet any interpretation, with surprisingly little effort. As long as we accept that “spiritual” = “extremely metaphorical or imaginary,”
    and “carnal” = “real,” I would agree with most of what you said.
    Your final two sentences tell the tale, though. When sick, you do what anybody else would do. You seek practical treatment from trained professionals, while still bracing yourself for the worst. Same as the hypothetical atheist dying next to you. If Jesus or faith or god enter into this process anywhere, it is only in the space between your ears.
    If you’re game, I do have a biblical question. Was Lazarus just “spiritually” dead? And if so, why did his asshole friends stick him in a tomb? Hate to nitpick, but you got me curious.

  • dutch

    Neil,

    Yes, he was “spiritually” dead. The tomb you refer to is our earthly plane(earth)
    They stuck him in a tomb because he was dead. Christs’s body was laid in a tomb – who/what is Christ’s body? There is no other interpetation of the Bible. You and I can quite literally rip apart any carnal interpretation of The Bible, albeit from different ends. The Bible falls apart when believed carnally which is why Ebon delights in Christian apologists attempting to uphold their beliefs.
    I don’t need to “brace myself for the worst.”

    Addressing the announting of oil: According to The Bible, oil is wisdom. Obtaining wisdom will indeed open your eyes. I don’t expect you to believe this, indeed, it is much more convenient for you to discredit The Bible your way.

    Anyway, this is my response to this article. It can be dismissed as the rantings of a lunatic, it doesn’t bother me. Been there, done that.

  • http://www.joshgelatt.com Josh Gelatt

    Thanks for linking to my site regarding the issue of being annointed with oil, and I appreciated your fair treatment of the issue.

    Much of what you write on this issue is correct. For too long many Christians have taken a hocus-pocus attitude when it comes to the Bible’s mention of being annointed with oil. Such superstition is ridiculous, silly, anti-intellectual, and a misreading of the Christian documents.

    One issue, that you may have overlooked, is the ancient nature of the Christian documents. IF the passage regarding oil is indeed referring to applying medical care first (before prayers), as most Evangelical Christians believe, then the passage makes more sense. Oil was a medicinal property 2,000 years ago in the Roman world. No scholar of the period doubts this (Christian or otherwise). Thus, the contemporary application of the passage would be to see your doctor before you resort to praying for healing. There is much in the Bible that is specific to that culture (e.g. the commands to greet one another with a holy kiss—doesn’t happen much in American churches today because it doesn’t work in our culture. We simply shake hands). The letter of James was not written directly to the church today, but rather to a very specific and limited group of people in Jerusalem over 2,000 years ago. While we can learn things, we must remember that we were never intended to be its direct audience.

    Personally, I think it is symbolic. Your treatment of the issue betrays an unfamiliarity with Old Testament literature and culture. Oil was highly symbolic in the Old Testament, and also within the records of Jesus ministry (e.g. the prostitute who annointed Jesus’ feet with oil). Don’t forget when discussing the Bible you must strip yourself of a modern, Western mindset and try to enter into an Easter, ancient mindset and culture.

    You have a great mind, and you ask fair and reasonable questions. In the spirit of free inquiry, let reason and evidence lead you. Personally, I believe they will lead you to Christianity (as they did me). I might also recommend the recent book by Tim Keller on the issue of the reasonableness of Christianity.

  • Judy

    In that case, please dismiss Dutch’s comments as the rantings of a lunatic.

    We, indeed, have “been there, done that” with him, numerous times, unfortunately.

    Good grief! I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve grown very tired of hearing about those “spiritual” and “earthly” planes of yours, Dutch!

  • Mrnaglfar

    Dutch,

    According to The Bible, oil is wisdom. Obtaining wisdom will indeed open your eyes.

    And how does one annount someone with wisdom? I’ve been rubbing myself with oil all day and I don’t seem to be getting wiser. The metaphor doesn’t seem to work very well in real life.

    Yes, he was “spiritually” dead. The tomb you refer to is our earthly plane(earth)

    So where was he before he was put in the tomb? Was he in this other plane you keep talking about? That would mean all his friends who put him in the tomb were not on earth either, and also have the power to move people from plane to plane. It would seem your interpretation leads one to think the story bounces back and forth between different realms of existance without mentioning it once. Did you come about this revelation through the olive oil (and in this case, oil is metaphor for crazy)? Isn’t it also just a little strange how no one, except you, up to this day and age has been presenting this view point?

    Can we please just admit it’s all made up?

  • goyo

    Yeah, I remember when Dutch left another thread three weeks ago, saying he was leaving and never coming back. He had gathered enough material from us stupid atheists to finish his book. He’s baaaaack!
    Dutch, why are you trying to come at us with another way of interpreting the bible, when it doesn’t matter, WE DON’T BELIEVE ANY INTERPRETATION OF IT.

    The Bible falls apart when believed carnally which is why Ebon delights in Christian apologists attempting to uphold their beliefs

    Guess what? The bible falls apart when believed spiritually also.

  • Alex Weaver

    I wouldn’t say “lunatic,” though he certainly does seem to be inordinately obtuse. O.o

  • Thumpalumpacus

    Personally, I get a little tingle every time I read the word “carnal”. I hope she or he continues to post here for a while — using that word, of course.

  • goyo

    I’ve also wondered about the oil in these ceremonies. It shouldn’t make any difference, an omnipotent god would be able to perform no matter what. Of course, with an omnipotent god, why would you need oil in the first place?
    I know in the baptist church, they take communion with grape juice, instead of real wine. I always wondered if that changed anything.
    The same with holy water. It comes right out of the tap.
    I can remember prayer services in “spirit-filled” churches where so many people were laying hands on me, I felt intimidated not to proclaim some kind of victory over some sort of problem.
    As I’ve said before, for some reason, it seems to make your god more real if you can participate physically in some kind of ceremony with him or her.

  • OMGF

    Mr. Gelatt,

    IF the passage regarding oil is indeed referring to applying medical care first (before prayers), as most Evangelical Christians believe, then the passage makes more sense. Oil was a medicinal property 2,000 years ago in the Roman world.

    Odd that god would tell them to do something that doesn’t work. I think you are explicitly admitting that the Bible is man-made here.

    Thus, the contemporary application of the passage would be to see your doctor before you resort to praying for healing.

    Hindsight is 20/20 isn’t it? What I mean is, it’s easy to go use your modern knowledge and then impart that knowledge back onto the Bible and say, “Oh, that musta been what they meant.” But, you also said this:

    Don’t forget when discussing the Bible you must strip yourself of a modern, Western mindset and try to enter into an Easter, ancient mindset and culture.

    Which makes your comments contradictory. You wish to reinterpret the Bible with a modern understanding while simultaneously arguing that it should be interpreted with an ancient understanding.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org/ Ebonmuse

    You wish to reinterpret the Bible with a modern understanding while simultaneously arguing that it should be interpreted with an ancient understanding.

    OMGF wins the thread for that comment.

  • Brad

    You can make a consistent interpretation of The Holy Bible, given the “right” supposed metaphors and meanings. You should keep in mind, though, that you should be looking for the *correct* interpretation, regardless of how your opinion of the Bible may change. This does not mean being on the lookout for the easy way out. In fact, I think pure, literal consistency (under stringent or flexible interpretation) is relatively unimportant compared to the believability of the Bible and its messages, history, commands, creeds, prophesies, and so on. How does it lend its credence to the reader?

    [Note: Ebonmuse pointed out that the "sick" literally rise, as in get our of a seat or position. It is more likely this is physical, not spiritual.]

  • Doy

    Robert Madewell:

    Maybe we can start a new religion using syntetic motor oil for healing?…:)

  • driveby

    This post, as well as faith healers, totally misinterprets this passage. It is talking to those about to die. It isn’t saving them from sickness, it is saving them to everlasting life. They rise not from their bed but up to heaven. This interpretation makes more sense, because otherwise, the last clause doesn’t make sense. Why should sick people that get better be forgiven all their sins? When the sick are about to die, they should call their preacher, be prayed over, be annointed, be saved, and have their sins forgiven.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org/ Ebonmuse

    There are multiple instances in the Bible where the forgiveness of sins is clearly associated with physical healing. See, for example, Luke 5:24.

  • Robert Madewell

    Sure thing Doy! Can we call it Valvolinism?

    Also, I think baby oil might be better for annointing than olive oil. It smells nice. :)

  • goyo

    Mr. Gelatt:

    One issue, that you may have overlooked, is the ancient nature of the Christian documents

    No, we haven’t overlooked that. As a matter of fact, we are constantly referencing the fact that indeed, these are ancient documents, obviously written by ancient, ignorant people.

    Oil was a medicinal property 2,000 years ago in the Roman world

    As mentioned by OMGF above, why was oil used as medicine, when it doesn’t work? Why did god allow this misbelief to continue? You wouldn’t rub oil on your child stricken with cancer or diabetes today. Why didn’t god simply inform his people about science?

    There is much in the Bible that is specific to that culture (e.g. the commands to greet one another with a holy kiss—doesn’t happen much in American churches today because it doesn’t work in our culture. We simply shake hands). The letter of James was not written directly to the church today, but rather to a very specific and limited group of people in Jerusalem over 2,000 years ago. While we can learn things, we must remember that we were never intended to be its direct audience.

    Really? And how did you decide that? Please tell us how you can tell which passages in the bible are meant for today, and which ones are meant for years ago? Also, please tell us which ones are symbolic and which ones are literal.

    Don’t forget when discussing the Bible you must strip yourself of a modern, Western mindset and try to enter into an Easter, ancient mindset and culture.

    What you’ve just admitted is that a person simply opening the bible is unable to understand it properly without the knowledge of ancient, eastern mindsets and culture, which is the majority of xtians in the U.S.
    So when I hear advertisements for different ministries about the bible having the answers to all of life’s problems, how do I know that I am intepreting the bible correctly? How do I know if it applies to my current, modern-day life, or is simply some old news that doesn’t apply to me?
    I have a question about the issue of civil rights. Where do I find that in the bible? Surely, the bible tells me what to think about discrimination, slavery, those kinds of things, right?
    What about stem cell research? Where in the bible does it talk about that?
    Did they talk about things like that 2,000 years ago?
    So the bible really doesn’t have the answers to life’s problems in the 21st century, because it is an ancient book, written in an ancient language, with an eastern mindset that I simply cannot comprehend, because I don’t really know what the author’s original intent was.
    What do you think?

  • nfpendleton

    When you read that Assemblies of God statement, it’s plain there’s some pretty oily language at work there. It’s practically a “This demonination makes no claims to cure disease or treat symptoms” disclaimer. This way the hierarchy keeps its hands clean in the most disingenuous of ways–but, boy, the rank and file sure swear by annointing’s medical efficacy. Of course, I have only anecdotal personal experience to go by–I’ve had family and family friends in that church for all of my adult life.

  • Jeff T.

    Friday I came across a news article concerning a child who had died because the parents prayed for her rather than seek medical attention. Here is a link to the follow up article: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080328/ap_on_re_us/daughter_s_death_prayer;_ylt=As.rtJMUr7IFwXrSpRkRil.s0NUE

    What I find mind boggling is the fact that these people still continue to pray to this god that allowed their child to die. Do they not have any respect? Do they have no anger? I mean frak this a-hole who said he would grant any prayer and then turns his back on your child and lets her die while you are on your knees begging…

    This is as sad as reading posts on this thread that try to justify the ramblings of 3000 year old superstitious manuscripts as having current moral relevance.

  • http://www.joshgelatt.com Josh Gelatt

    To OMGF

    Your wrote: “Odd that god would tell them to do something that doesn’t work.”

    But this is where you are wrong. Oil was a medicinal remedy. There are medical treatises written from Greek and Roman physicians on the subject. It DID work, to a limited degree. All medicine is limited in its application. Even our modern day “wonder-drugs” have very narrow and specific uses. Whether or not we wish to believe the passage is correct in its supernatural assumptions, we cannot intelligently deny that it was good medical advice for the 1st century period.

    You wrote: Which makes your comments contradictory. You wish to reinterpret the Bible with a modern understanding while simultaneously arguing that it should be interpreted with an ancient understanding.

    How is this contradictory? Interpretation necessarily must take into account authorial intent. Thus, since the document was written in the first century for first century hearers, our interpretation must seek to understand this first-century situation. Yet, since we are moderns seeking continued application and relevancy for the document, application seeks to make the bridge from ancient to modern.

    So yes, we need to understand the ancient mindset to interpret, while simultaneously knowing our own modern context to apply.

  • Mrnaglfar

    Josh,

    Oil was a medicinal remedy. There are medical treatises written from Greek and Roman physicians on the subject. It DID work, to a limited degree.

    So do sugar-pills. Got any evidence that oil is a better remedy than a placebo? I’m wracking my brain and can’t seem to come up with a single illness oil cures. Would you ever advise annointed with oil in a hospital?

    Whether or not we wish to believe the passage is correct in its supernatural assumptions, we cannot intelligently deny that it was good medical advice for the 1st century period.

    If it’s not good now, why would it be good then? What’s changed?
    Likewise, why would god suggest it? Didn’t he know anything about the world he created in terms of illnesses, viruses, bacteria and the like?

    Interpretation necessarily must take into account authorial intent.

    It’s claimed to be the world of god; why should it have to be interpretted, or have a non-existant rate of being right?

    Thus, since the document was written in the first century for first century hearers, our interpretation must seek to understand this first-century situation.

    Compare the first century to medical advances now, would you say our medicial knowledge and ability is better or worse? Also, please remind me which advances came from science, evidence, and experimention, and how many came from the bible.

  • goyo

    Your wrote: “Odd that god would tell them to do something that doesn’t work.”

    But this is where you are wrong. Oil was a medicinal remedy. There are medical treatises written from Greek and Roman physicians on the subject. It DID work, to a limited degree. All medicine is limited in its application. Even our modern day “wonder-drugs” have very narrow and specific uses. Whether or not we wish to believe the passage is correct in its supernatural assumptions, we cannot intelligently deny that it was good medical advice for the 1st century period.

    I agreed with OMGF about this. Again, you have to answer the question:
    Why didn’t god tell man about science(medicine)?
    WHY NOT? You’re refusing to answer the question. Forget about the time period…god could have told man how to make medicines that would be much better than oil. That was simply what their medicine was at the time, which makes the bible no better than any other writing at the time.

    How is this contradictory? Interpretation necessarily must take into account authorial intent. Thus, since the document was written in the first century for first century hearers, our interpretation must seek to understand this first-century situation. Yet, since we are moderns seeking continued application and relevancy for the document, application seeks to make the bridge from ancient to modern.

    So yes, we need to understand the ancient mindset to interpret, while simultaneously knowing our own modern context to apply.

    Again, this begs the question, who wrote the bible? If it was man, then it indeed seems appropriate for it to be incorrect. If it was god, then it should have been a book that would have been totally appropriate for the ages. That includes not having to be re-interpreted today in the 21st century, but still being relevant.

  • lpetrich

    Josh Gelatt, why do doctors say the Hippocratic Oath instead of some Christic Oath? Why does modern medical practice have MUCH more in common with Hippocrates’s rationalistic school of medicine than with exorcism or magical spit therapy or faith healing? Hippocrates supposedly claimed that the reason that people claim that epilepsy is caused by some god or other is because they don’t really know what causes it — an early recognition of the weakness of “god of the gaps” arguments.

    Yes, the Bible tells us that jesus Christ had practiced magical spit therapy: Mark 7:32-35, Mark 8:22-25, John 9:1-7.

    And why is a supposedly perfect and universal textbook like the Bible written in the obscure fashion that Josh Gelatt claims it is? Why should it take such an enormous amount of detective work?

  • http://www.joshgelatt.com Josh Gelatt

    goyo, you wrote: “If it was god, then it should have been a book that would have been totally appropriate for the ages. That includes not having to be re-interpreted today in the 21st century, but still being relevant.”

    OK, what would a “timeless” document look like? Have you ever seen one? Even our US Constitution isn’t considered timeless and–just 200 years later–has to be reinterpreted to fit our contemporary context. The mere fact that it is written in a time and culture based language means it must be a product of its time. Your asking for something that is logically impossible, and have therefore reduced your argument to the nonsense argument of “can God make a rock so big that he can’t move it”. I find it interesting that no philosopher uses the argument against scripture that you are using. Why? Because it doesn’t make logical sense. You are, in fact, saying that God (who by definition is where logic is derived from) must do something illogical (produce a timeless document that somehow ‘transcends’ language & culture for all time) before you will believe it.

    As to the charge, “why didn’t God tell man about science?”. I have my own question, why does he have to? What requires God to have HAD to given medical advice acceptable by today’s standards? He did, in fact, give medical advice that was acceptable to the standards of thousands upon thousands of years of human history. So he did give good medical advice that was applicable and helpful to the overwhelming majority of human history. But, he didn’t even have to do that. The purpose of the Bible isn’t to offer medical advice or advance medical knowledge of human DNA. The purpose of the bible is to declare that God exists and how we may know him.

    If I write a book about flowers, I would be surprised to find people angry because I didn’t talk about rocks. Or if I did briefly refer to a rock, would be surprised to find people angry because I did not use the precise language of a geologist.

    Getting made because Jesus didn’t tell people about penicillin seems silly. In 2,000 years penicillin will probably be seen as simplistic as we now see oil.

    So, by your definition the only way it can be God’s Word is if it hands us, all at once, the full and final book of medical knowledge, the final stage of scientific research, and the sum total of all that can be known on any subject.

    Hmmmmm……am I the only one seeing a logical problem with this argument?

  • goyo

    So, by your definition the only way it can be God’s Word is if it hands us, all at once, the full and final book of medical knowledge, the final stage of scientific research, and the sum total of all that can be known on any subject.

    That is absolutely correct. What’s the problem with that?

    As to the charge, “why didn’t God tell man about science?”. I have my own question, why does he have to? What requires God to have HAD to given medical advice acceptable by today’s standards? He did, in fact, give medical advice that was acceptable to the standards of thousands upon thousands of years of human history. So he did give good medical advice that was applicable and helpful to the overwhelming majority of human history. But, he didn’t even have to do that. The purpose of the Bible isn’t to offer medical advice or advance medical knowledge of human DNA. The purpose of the bible is to declare that God exists and how we may know him.

    Then why did god go into such detail in the old testament to explain how the priest was to cure leprosy? Is that not medical advice? What about the intricate details of food preparation; clean, unclean animals; social interaction, including how to take care of your slaves; etc…?
    Let’s look at god’s knowledge: OT: cure for leprosy, animal sacrifice. NT: cure for everything else, annointing with oil.
    What do you think?

  • OMGF

    I’ve already won the thread, but…

    The mere fact that it is written in a time and culture based language means it must be a product of its time.

    Why do you assume that a timeless, omni-max being can’t create a book that will magically adapt to the time and language of the viewer? It is NOT logically impossible for an omni-max god to do something along these lines.

    You are, in fact, saying that God (who by definition is where logic is derived from)…

    I wonder, can we co-opt Euthyphro’s dilemma for logic? Is it logical because god says it is, or is there some absolute logic that god just tells us about? Either way, I have a problem with saying that an illogical idea such as god is by definition where logic is derived from.

    As to the charge, “why didn’t God tell man about science?”. I have my own question, why does he have to?

    Because he has a moral obligation to do so. Science and medicine have saved lives. Telling us to put oil on ourselves to “heal” ourselves obviously doesn’t work, and cost some people their lives due to their ignorance of medicine. If god had that knowledge and withheld it from us on purpose, then he is guilty of homicide, which even you should agree is immoral.

  • lpetrich

    Josh Gelatt, I invite you to read some mathematics textbooks some time — their content is as close to timeless as one can get. And one does not have to reveal everything — only the more important things. And one can structure one’s revelations like a textbook, starting with elementary stuff and going on to more advanced stuff.

    Josh Gelatt, your fellow Xian apologists often brag about all the fulfilled prophecies the Bible contains, and sometimes about its supposedly-great scientific knowledge. But now you are turning around and saying that the Bible has been dumbed down for its audience. Seems to me a case of heads I win, tails you lose.

  • goyo

    Ipetrich: Great comment. There’s a local church who advertises their Sunday morning bible study on the radio by saying, “the bible has all the answers to the questions of life”. Well obviously, not all of them.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    The purpose of the Bible isn’t to offer medical advice or advance medical knowledge of human DNA. The purpose of the bible is to declare that God exists and how we may know him.

    The problem with your argument, Josh, is that the Bible doesn’t simply stop at declaring that God exists. It does give medical advice, as well as many other factual claims relating to different areas of human life. And the problem is that many of the factual claims which the Bible makes are demonstrably wrong – and not just wrong, but unmistakably derived from superstitions common in the societies in which it was written.

    In short, not only does the Bible lack any content which would give us reason to believe it was written by someone who knew more than the human beings of the time, but its similarity to common, erroneous beliefs of the past give us a positive reason to believe it was written by those ignorant human beings. If you think it’s unfair to criticize the Bible for making erroneous claims, your quarrel is not with us, but with the authors of the Bible for putting those claims in it in the first place.

  • goyo

    . Your asking for something that is logically impossible, and have therefore reduced your argument to the nonsense argument of “can God make a rock so big that he can’t move it”.

    Hmmmmm……am I the only one seeing a logical problem with this argument?

    Logically impossible…logical problem?

    Two words: Talking snake.

  • http://www.joshgelatt.com Josh Gelatt

    I would invite everyone on this thread to actually read the pertinent biblical texts again. Where does the Bible say that oil will heal someone? Where does it say it is the cure for every (or even “any”) sickness? It simply says to annoint with oil, and then pray to God.

    Certainly no one denies that oil WAS considered a medicinal item in the ancient world. Frankly, it was very effective–for certain and limited purposes. It was a soothing and calming agent, not to mention serving as a mild pain killer and cleansing agent.

    Yet, even though all those who study history agree it ancient usage, and even though the ancient world did perceive oil as a home-remedy of sorts, the bible still does not offer oil as a healing agent. It simply recognizes it medicinal value. It DOES have a value. To deny that is to deny a historic and scientific fact. True, that value is quite limited compared to modern methods.

    You’ve created a straw-man argument against God and the Bible. Whether or not you choose to believe in Christianity is up to you. But, you must find a better way of refuting it. Your methods thus far have been (1) distort what the biblical text actually says, (2) make absurd demands, such as God having to have made a constantly-updated magical medicine manual, (3) make illogical conclusions–i.e. since our absurd demands havn’t been met there must be no God, and (4) demonstrate historical prejudice, i.e. no fact or scientific conclusion is valuable except for those currently held.

    Certainly you must have better arguments against God’s existence than this.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    So god is ordering people to perform a ritual that doesn’t do anything to help the person in need?

    Certainly no one denies that oil WAS considered a medicinal item in the ancient world.

    And god should have known better and prescribed more effective medicines.

    Yet, even though all those who study history agree it ancient usage, and even though the ancient world did perceive oil as a home-remedy of sorts, the bible still does not offer oil as a healing agent. It simply recognizes it medicinal value.

    Can hairs possibly be split any finer than what you are trying to do here?

    (2) make absurd demands, such as God having to have made a constantly-updated magical medicine manual

    How is it absurd to think that an omni-max being would not be limited by the knowledge/experience/etc. of ancient peoples?

  • http://www.joshgelatt.com Josh Gelatt

    OMGF,

    You simply need to READ the text you are refuting. It doesn’t say what you are trying to make it say. It CLEARLY tells believers to appeal to God for healing. This is a simple matter of grammar and syntax, my friend. Read it for yourself. I know you WANT it to say oil heals, because then you could mock it. But, the facts are clearly against you. It simply does not say that.

    What, pray-tell, remedy should God have prescribed? This is the absurd logic I was referring to. If he prescribed a modern medicine, that medicine will be outdated in 1,000 years. Then, someone using absurd logic 1,000 years from now would have claimed God should have prescribed something better.

    Your argumentation reminds me of a little boy making a castle in the sand, kicking it over, and heralding himself as ‘Slayer of the Mighty Fortress’.

    I do find it interesting that none of the great opponents of theism have used such arguments. They have no problem with the logic of God’s accomodation to humanity, even if they don’t find this line of reasoning convincing.

  • http://www.joshgelatt.com Josh Gelatt

    OMG,

    You wrote: “So god is ordering people to perform a ritual that doesn’t do anything to help the person in need?”

    What are you not understanding here? Oil STILL helps the person in need. If offered today, it STILL has medicinal value. Albeit, by today’s standards, that value is limited IN COMPARISON TO MODERN METHODS.

    It is like saying donkey’s have no value in transportation. Certainly it is true that there are better methods today. But, a donkey is STILL a mode of transportation even if outdated and limited. Shall we now accuse Jesus because he rode a donkey into Jerusalem? By your logic, he would only have proven he was God if he made a Buick magically appear and drive it in.

  • lpetrich

    Josh Gelatt:

    Certainly no one denies that oil WAS considered a medicinal item in the ancient world. Frankly, it was very effective–for certain and limited purposes. It was a soothing and calming agent, not to mention serving as a mild pain killer and cleansing agent.

    I’ve yet to see ANY evidence of that. And claiming that something is common knowledge is no argument.

    And a God who likes to hide from humanity and then whines that we get false notions about It or that we decide that It may not even exist — that is not exactly a very dignified sort of entity.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Josh Gelatt,

    You simply need to READ the text you are refuting. It doesn’t say what you are trying to make it say. It CLEARLY tells believers to appeal to God for healing.

    So we should all be Xian Scientists and pray for healing? Why would god tell them to put oil on them if it didn’t do anything to heal them? In fact, you are also trying to claim that oil does have medicinal properties, so god is telling them to put on oil in order to help them heal themselves! You can’t have it both ways.

    What, pray-tell, remedy should God have prescribed? This is the absurd logic I was referring to.

    What’s absurd is that you think god should be limited to the time period in question and the rules of this world that he set up. Even if god didn’t prescribe a specific medicine, he could have. At least he could have informed the readers about germs and such, but he didn’t. He instead told them to do something that is clearly ineffective.

    If he prescribed a modern medicine, that medicine will be outdated in 1,000 years. Then, someone using absurd logic 1,000 years from now would have claimed God should have prescribed something better.

    But god would not be limited to such problems would he? I don’t understand why god could not inform us of how to actually heal ourselves, even if you erroneously think it would become outdated. This is you holding god to the standards of time, which god is not held to according to your theology.

    What are you not understanding here? Oil STILL helps the person in need. If offered today, it STILL has medicinal value. Albeit, by today’s standards, that value is limited IN COMPARISON TO MODERN METHODS.

    Like lpetrich said, there’s no evidence that oil has any medicinal effect what-so-ever. It used to be common knowledge that blood-letting had a medicinal effect too, and we know now that that is not the case. It is the same with oil…at least for those of us not trying to apologize for god and have it both ways.

  • http://www.joshgelatt.com Josh Gelatt

    lpetrich,

    I cannot be held responsible for what you do not know. I would suggest you research the use of oil used medicinally in history. Next, I would suggest you study its chemical properties and functions. Perhaps you should visit a local massage parole or make an appointment with your chiropractor or physical therapist and see first hand the medicinal value of oil. Pick up a sports medicine textbook and look in the index for “oils”. I would further suggest you head down to the local state university and do a word search on oil in the scholarly medical magazines. You will find hundreds of hits.

  • http://www.joshgelatt.com Josh Gelatt

    OMGF,

    You wrote: “So we should all be Xian Scientists and pray for healing? Why would god tell them to put oil on them if it didn’t do anything to heal them? In fact, you are also trying to claim that oil does have medicinal properties, so god is telling them to put on oil in order to help them heal themselves! You can’t have it both ways.”

    By your response, it is clear you haven’t actually went back and read again the biblical passage in question. Remember Ad fontes! (To the sources!) This was the rallying cry of the Enlightenment and the beginning of the Humanities.

    1. First you must determine what the source says.
    2. Then you must determine what the source means by what it says.
    3. Then you evaluate the strengths of the sources claims.

    You seem to be skipping steps 1 and 2. This is unscientific, unenlightened (in the classical sense of the term), and contrary to true humanism. Come on guys! Betrand Russell is a classic example of a man who disagreed with Christianity but at least correctly understood its claims and didn’t distort them when refuting them.

    I would love to have a discussion on #3. But until you are willing to be intellectually honest with #1 and #2 that is impossible.

    Until then, have fun building and destroying your self-made sand castles.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Josh,
    I see you’ve taken the easy road of simply claiming that no one can correctly interpret the Bible except you, and that unless we agree with your interpretation, we are being lazy and uninformed.

    Ebon already dealt with this passage in the OP, and very well. I suggest you go back and take your own advice in regards to the OP.

    Further, you are still trying to have it both ways. Does oil help cure illness or doesn’t it? Are we to simply appeal to god or to use oil as a medicinal substance? You can’t simultaneously argue that god is instructing us to pray to him for healing and that the inclusion of the oil is superfluous and that god specifically said use oil because it has medicinal properties. If this isn’t what you meant, then you need to clarify.

    And, you still haven’t noted why god would tell them to use substandard medicines like oil (which Ebon already dealt with and isn’t really medicinal – and no use as a lubricant in massage doesn’t count) when god in his infinite knowledge could point them to better medicines.

  • http://www.joshgelatt.com Josh Gelatt

    OMGF,

    Ummmm, where did I say or even hint to that only my intepretation counts? I am merely pointing out that you consistently refuse to honestly evaluate the sources themselves. Whether we are talking about Plato, Shakespeare, Darwin, or the apostle Paul, we have an obligation to correctly evaluate their documents if we are going to (1) interpret them, let alone (2) refute them.

    Feel free to disagree with the claims of a particular passage. But here, and in your own blog, you show a marked refusal to even understand the bible’s claims on its own terms.

    Please answer these two questions:

    1. What does the Bible say about oil?
    2. What does it mean by what it says?

    Let’s answer those first. How can we respond to something until we know what it is.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Josh Gelatt,

    Ummmm, where did I say or even hint to that only my intepretation counts? I am merely pointing out that you consistently refuse to honestly evaluate the sources themselves.

    When you concluded that because I interpreted the passages differently from you that I obviously haven’t done your steps 1 and 2.

    Feel free to disagree with the claims of a particular passage. But here, and in your own blog, you show a marked refusal to even understand the bible’s claims on its own terms.

    If you are going to talk about my blog, do it there. You continue, however, to assert that your interpretations are correct and mine must be wrong – and I’m left to wonder how you can determine that.

    Let’s answer those first. How can we respond to something until we know what it is.

    I think the OP speaks well enough to your questions. I’ll add that you still haven’t answered the charge that you are trying to have it both ways. Is oil medicinal or not? Why include it if we are to pray to god for healing? If we are to be healed by praying to god, why shouldn’t we be Xian Scientists?

  • http://www.joshgelatt.com Josh Gelatt

    So, you refuse to look at the sources themselves….they very ones you are critiquing? Your last question can only be answered if you are willing to look at #1 and #2, since they are based directly on what the sources are saying. Yet, you refuse to even look at those.

    Because of this refusal, no intellectually honest conversation can occur. Have fun with your sandcastles boys.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Josh Gelatt,
    I’m not refusing to look at anything. The source has been printed in the OP and dealt with there. In fact, it’s in the very first blockquote in the OP. Your insistence that no one has looked at the source but you is not only absurd, but indicates to me that you really don’t want to proceed and are looking instead for an easy way out. So, you can continue to avoid the tough questions and critiques of the Bible and your arguments by crying, “foul,” or you could address the substance.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    Josh:

    I concur with the other commenters that you’re trying to have it both ways. First you say that the anointing with oil is only symbolic and it’s God who does all the work, so it’s unfair to treat this passage as if it’s an endorsement of the healing powers of oil. Then you say that oil does have medicinal value, so it’s unfair to criticize this passage for being scientifically inaccurate.

    You can’t have both of these claims at the same time. Which one do you want? Decide on that first, and then we can discuss further.

  • http://G#NQMD6IGiL5 Pine

    Hi Everyone:

    I believe there are some key missing thoughts in your current discussion. Please consider the following:

    The power of suggestion if VERY potent. If we assume that faith is required for a miracle, then certainly couldn’t something symbolic and associated with healing (IE: oil) be the trigger to supply the much needed faith? Or would that be too shallow?

    Whether or not oil has any healing powers or not is besides the point. If you believe in God, and believe that He is willing to hear your prayer and heal you Himself, then the focus should not be on the oil but rather on the God Who is supplying the healing. Remember the story of the Captain who had to dunk in the Jordan River to be healed? I think the issue is not so much whether or not the action is curative, but whether or not the participant will be obedient to the prescribed method, thereby exhibiting faith and being granted healing from God.

    Given the above paragraph, if you accept there IS a God Who can and will heal you, what other medicine is required? If you believe God can raise the dead, then God can cure cancer and aids if He chooses to. So, in that way, God is better than modern medicine and if, in fact, He chose to give clear directions for healing from Him, then that WOULD be the best medical advice He could give. This would answer why He didn’t tell us about other medicine, because He told us about Himself, the best medicine available.

    The passage quoted in the opening article left off the latter verses which read:

    “16Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

    17Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. 19My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, 20remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”

    The idea of forgiveness is focused on two more times in the verses excluded (which I now supplied). Confession of sin and healing are sometimes associated in the Bible. While not to be considered a direct cause/effect relationship (I can list scriptures if needed) in all places in the Bible; it was taught that it is POSSIBLE that sickness could be the result of sin.

    Why is Elijah mentioned here? The idea of the power of prayer and genuine faith seems to be reinforced in this passage. If the prayer of the faithful prophet Elijah caused it not to rain, why could you not then be healed by the same means.

    Do these verses tell the participant to NOT seek modern medical help? I don’t see that anywhere. If you see that here, please tell me where. It does advise to seek God’s healing, however it does not rule out seeing a doctor also. I’ll refer here to a favorite Psalm (Psalm 127). This Psalm isn’t an argument against “watching the city” or “building houses”, it is simply reinforcing the necessity of God Who holds a vital role in the success or failure of anything. After all, if you choose to believe in a supreme omni-max Being, you should understand that He is at the center of everything… even healing.

    Does James 5 teach that EVERYONE will be healed? A better question would be; was every Christian (modern and ancient) a moron? If you are conceited enough to believe that, then I feel I don’t even need to justify addressing this one. Every person is not healed, and I feel it is safe to say that even some people with faith are not healed, therefore either there is a false understanding of this Biblical teaching, or we have now identified the one possible self-contained fallacy within the text. I don’t believe the author of James was stupid, nor do I believe those who examined and read James were all insane, therefore I choose to accept that this passage was not intended as a 3-step process to healing.

    Can you still say that it is ridiculous to believe in God? Can you still think it is ridiculous to believe that God will heal you? I think so. But for the purposes of this discussion (which was about a very specific verse of the Bible and its implications) I think it can be clearly shown that if one accepts God’s existence, then the teaching in James 5 is VERY logical.

  • goyo

    Josh:
    Out of curosity, what is your interpretation of Lev. 14:1-7? Does killing birds cure leprosy? Has that ever been an accepted form of medical treatment?
    Oil is mentioned throughout this chapter also. I’d love to hear your interpretation.

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    Ebonmuse,

    First off, why are examples that contradict your point omitted? And I reject your ample evidence that faith healing doesn’t work, just as I reject apologists’ ample evidence that prayer heals the sick. Every experiment regarding faith healing I’ve ever read about – and that’s quite a few – contains far too many confounders to create a valid experimental scenario. Someone mentioned Sloane’s book, for example. Also, as Brad and Josh both note, you appear to take the verse out of scope. It cannot be used as support for the idea that anointing works magic for anyone at anytime.

    As far as the thread, some other notables include:

    Indeed, probably just about as many people believe in some version of this in the comparatively secular north-west Europe as in the religious USA. Faith healing is only very loosely bound to organised religion; it manifests itself in all sorts of forms: Reiki, homeopathy, ‘therapeutic touch’, strange diets, pilgrimages to Lourdes, etc, etc. Different names, somewhat different manifestations, but ultimately based on the same belief in magic. (Stephen)

    True, and makes me wonder why those are each left well alone, unless of course the whole point of the OP is more to cast doubt on the Bible than to question the validity of faith healing in general. Such would be in line with what I usually see around here. Incidentally, ‘strange diets’ cannot be entirely relegated to belief in magic. For example, the person who fasts can experience physical healing whether they abstain for religious reasons or purely secular ones.

    Back then, people thought that sins caused illnesses. (Robert Madwell)

    Sins can and do cause illness, then and today. Although scope would be helpful, to state generically that sins do not cause illness is incorrect.

    The sicknesses described in the Bible are spritual. (dutch)

    I feel this is an example of a poorly-formed argument. In some cases such is correct, but not in all cases. Again, scope would be helpful.

    …why was oil used as medicine, when it doesn’t work? …Why didn’t god tell man about science(medicine)? (goyo)

    Again, although scope would help to clarify the argument, in general, this statement shows ignorance of oil’s well-known medicinal properties. No, oil is not a cure-all. Yes, oil has medicinal properties and can be used to effect various forms of healing from purgings to the alleviation of arthritic conditions. Further, I don’t think James is advocating the medicinal properties of oil in the verse cited in the OP. And lastly, although I can’t speak for Josh, IMO God does tell man some important things about medicine in the Bible. This does not mean we can expect to find nomenclature in scripture, either.

    I mean frak this a-hole who said he would grant any prayer and then turns his back on your child and lets her die while you are on your knees begging… (Jeff T.)

    LOL on that one. Where in the Bible does it say God will “grant any prayer?” The epitome of a strawman, this is.

    So, by your definition the only way it can be God’s Word is if it hands us, all at once, the full and final book of medical knowledge, the final stage of scientific research, and the sum total of all that can be known on any subject. (Josh)

    I concur that such a standard is silly, but goyo’s serious response to this shows that your attempts to persuade will continue to fail.

    I invite you to read some mathematics textbooks some time — their content is as close to timeless as one can get. And one does not have to reveal everything — only the more important things. (Ipetrich)

    Good point about math. However, your latter statement actually supports Josh’s argument as to why modern medical explanations and/or scientific nomenclature do not exist in scripture. As Josh pointed out, and as the Bible itself claims, as real and painful as they are to us, the important things are not our momentary troubles in this world, but our ability to proceed to the next. At best, the discussion then becomes a subjective matter of importance, with the skeptics maintaining one thing to be more important with the believers maintaining another thing to be more important. Seems like an exercise in futility.

    Oil STILL helps the person in need. If offered today, it STILL has medicinal value. Albeit, by today’s standards, that value is limited IN COMPARISON TO MODERN METHODS. It is like saying donkey’s have no value in transportation. Certainly it is true that there are better methods today. But, a donkey is STILL a mode of transportation even if outdated and limited. Shall we now accuse Jesus because he rode a donkey into Jerusalem? By your logic, he would only have proven he was God if he made a Buick magically appear and drive it in. …What, pray-tell, remedy should God have prescribed? This is the absurd logic I was referring to. If he prescribed a modern medicine, that medicine will be outdated in 1,000 years. Then, someone using absurd logic 1,000 years from now would have claimed God should have prescribed something better. (Josh)

    Excellent!

    At least he could have informed the readers about germs and such, but he didn’t. He instead told them to do something that is clearly ineffective. (OMGF)

    This is where the absurdity of this logic is really apparent. On what rational ground can you base this claim that God did not inform readers about germs? Granted, people during the time of Leviticus would likely have responded with a “Huh?” to germ theory and no nomenclature exists in scripture. However, much in Leviticus seems peculiarly recognizant of germ theory. And although some scope would help clarify, anointing with oil is not “clearly ineffective.”

    Like lpetrich said, there’s no evidence that oil has any medicinal effect what-so-ever… and no use as a lubricant in massage doesn’t count (OMGF)

    Completely false. Such a statement shows ignorance of both the history and practice of massage and medicine. You and Ipetrich and anyone else who claims oil has no medicinal value should study medicine, massage and history a bit more thoroughly. One need not go much further than castor oil to refute this nonsense, or the well-documented dermatological effects of certain oils, including the standard olive oil discussed here. Olive oil has medicinal properties and applications, as does sesame oil. Ever heard of cumin? Cannabis? Anise? Lemon oil used as an antiseptic? Lemongrass oil which alleviates fever and treats infections? Rosemary oil contains antifungal and antibacterial properties. What about fennel seed oil used to treat colic in infants? What of camphor or eucalyptus? Are you going to take your claims to Halls in the midst of the cold and congestion season we’re all in?

    Please retract these bogus claims that oil has no evidence of medicinal value. Such claims do not belong on an ostensibly educated forum.

  • Mathew Wilder

    Where in the Bible does it say God will “grant any prayer?” The epitome of a strawman, this is.

    I seem to recall something about “knock and the door shall be open, ask and ye shall receive.” Was that to be taken metaphorically, then? If so, what is it a metaphor for?

  • Pine

    I believe the verse referred to in its full context is Luke 11:1-11 which reads:

    1One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

    2He said to them, “When you pray, say: ” ‘Father,[a] hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.[b] 3Give us each day our daily bread. 4Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.[c] And lead us not into temptation.[d]‘ ”

    5Then he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, 6because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’

    7″Then the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness[e] he will get up and give him as much as he needs.

    9″So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

    11″Which of you fathers, if your son asks for[f] a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

    So first Jesus teaches His followers to pray for God’s Kingdom to come, to give them their daily bread (to meet their needs), to forgive their sins, and to lead them not into temptation. No mention of prayer for healing here, so I think you may be making a very weak point.

    The verse you quote reinforces the story Jesus tells about the man who comes to his friend’s house for bread. Note that when the door is opened (v8) the friend gives him as much as he NEEDS. If you choose to state that healing is a ‘necessary daily provision’ then you are standing on weak ground. Especially in light of verses 11-13. (see above)

    Starving people, famine, draught… these things can be discussed in a full discussion of Luke 11, however for the current context of James 5, I believe you have quoted a verse which has absolutely no bearing to the conversation.

    *A quick revision to a previous comment in which I stated I believe you could still say it is ridiculous to believe in God or that God would heal you: I meant that seeing the Bible as logically valid once one believes in God does not necessarily supply ‘proof’ to the unbeliever of His existence, nor does the teaching in James leave me with the impression that it is reasonable for every sick person to expect healing from God even if they do have the right type of faith. I did not mean to say (as I think I implied) that I do not believe in God or faith healing.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    cl,

    True, and makes me wonder why those are each left well alone, unless of course the whole point of the OP is more to cast doubt on the Bible than to question the validity of faith healing in general. Such would be in line with what I usually see around here.

    Um…

    Sins can and do cause illness, then and today.

    How and what illnesses?

    As Josh pointed out, and as the Bible itself claims, as real and painful as they are to us, the important things are not our momentary troubles in this world, but our ability to proceed to the next.

    This reduces to an argument that Xianity is life dis-affirming; i.e. that this life is not important and that we should pine for the afterlife. This, however, is quite different from what most Xians profess.

    This is where the absurdity of this logic is really apparent. On what rational ground can you base this claim that God did not inform readers about germs?

    Um, because he didn’t talk about them? What’s so absurd about that? What’s so absurd about expecting an omniscient god to be able to actually present knowledge that was unknowable to the ancient peoples he was speaking to?

    Granted, people during the time of Leviticus would likely have responded with a “Huh?” to germ theory and no nomenclature exists in scripture.

    Why do you suggest that they couldn’t learn or that god shouldn’t have told them anyway? Are you suggesting that god could not have explained in a way that would have made sense to them?

    However, much in Leviticus seems peculiarly recognizant of germ theory.

    For instance?

    And although some scope would help clarify, anointing with oil is not “clearly ineffective.”

    I have yet to see what effect it does have, and besides, aren’t you arguing that the point was to pray for healing? Like Josh, you can’t have it both ways.

    Completely false. Such a statement shows ignorance of both the history and practice of massage and medicine.

    Then enlighten us with some evidence.

    One need not go much further than castor oil to refute this nonsense, or the well-documented dermatological effects of certain oils, including the standard olive oil discussed here.

    And those effects are medicinal or cosmetic? Those oils have effects on sickness?

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Pine,

    The power of suggestion if VERY potent.

    So, when we have medicines that can actually heal sick people, god relies on the placebo effect?

    If you believe in God, and believe that He is willing to hear your prayer and heal you Himself, then the focus should not be on the oil but rather on the God Who is supplying the healing.

    So, we should all be Xian Scientists?

    Given the above paragraph, if you accept there IS a God Who can and will heal you, what other medicine is required?

    Do these verses tell the participant to NOT seek modern medical help? I don’t see that anywhere.

    Why seek other medical help when the best available is prayer?

    Does James 5 teach that EVERYONE will be healed?

    It does say “shall” which in legalese is about the most certainty you can get. That said, it’s rather funny that god would prescribe the best possible medicine, which is perfect healing if he feels like it, then decide to do it or not – ya know, whenever he feels like it, which seems to be no better than the placebo effect once again.

    But for the purposes of this discussion (which was about a very specific verse of the Bible and its implications) I think it can be clearly shown that if one accepts God’s existence, then the teaching in James 5 is VERY logical.

    Sure, once you accept that praying to god will cure your sickness, it’s quite logical to have your holy book say that praying to god will cure your sickness. It might even be tautological!

    So first Jesus teaches His followers to pray for God’s Kingdom to come, to give them their daily bread (to meet their needs), to forgive their sins, and to lead them not into temptation. No mention of prayer for healing here, so I think you may be making a very weak point.

    It’s a very weak point to go to another part of the book and claim that since it doesn’t talk about what the original passage did that the original argument is somehow weakened.

    Starving people, famine, draught… these things can be discussed in a full discussion of Luke 11, however for the current context of James 5, I believe you have quoted a verse which has absolutely no bearing to the conversation.

    Nice try. I like how you claim that the verse in question, that was brought up in the OP is not germane to the topic! C’mon.

  • Pine

    My comment was not meant to isolate medical science from faith. Instead, as my reference to Psalms was meant to clarify, medical science should be laid upon a foundation of faith. Assuming God exists, there is no tension in James between modern medicine and faith.

    As to the absolute statement of faith healing claimed in James: When does the author say the sick person will recover? Does the verse state it will happen immediately? HOW will they recover? Is it specific? Shall we split hairs about the word sickness and whether or not this also applies to disease or conditions present at birth? It seems to me that there ARE qualifications missing. This would lead me to believe this is more of a declarative statement about the power of prayer, rather than a ‘step by step’ process to produce a miracle on demand.

    Does the Christian look forward to the next life? Absolutely. Not in the extreme sense in which we do not value the life we have currently been given. But if faced with a choice to affect the present life (80 years at most) or to affect eternity: the choice seems clear. So, if one believes in God and also believes in an eternal afterlife, then it follows that God should be more concerned with the condition of mankind in the afterlife than any temporal suffering in the present life.

    Now we come to the ‘God didn’t have to allow suffering’ or ‘God could have just made everything perfect with no chance of sinning’ argument. I feel we can take that up in another discussion. For the present discussion of James 5, it seems better to stay on task and recognize the author’s true intent when “and they will recover” was written.

    OMGF: I see no reference to Luke 11 in the OP.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Pine,

    Instead, as my reference to Psalms was meant to clarify, medical science should be laid upon a foundation of faith.

    When we decoupled the two, we made larger and more meaningful strides toward actually learning to heal people. I could argue that decoupling them has led to all strides, since we’ve learned through the scientific method, not by praying.

    Assuming God exists, there is no tension in James between modern medicine and faith.

    You mean, assuming that god exists and will heal us through prayer, there’s no tension…oh and that god is a better medicine than any modern medicine we have, etc.

    As to the absolute statement of faith healing claimed in James: When does the author say the sick person will recover?

    It says the prayer “shall” save the sick. Perhaps by “Save” you think they mean “Salvation?” In that case, the verse would be saying that anytime someone gets sick, pray that they get to go to heaven…because god ain’t gonna help.

    Does the verse state it will happen immediately? HOW will they recover? Is it specific?

    So, if you pray, you might get better, you might not. It might happen immediately, it might not. It might be all a matter of chance or it might not. Please.

    Shall we split hairs about the word sickness and whether or not this also applies to disease or conditions present at birth? It seems to me that there ARE qualifications missing.

    It seems to me that you are striving hard to identify anything that you can use as any sort of gap in knowledge with which to apologize for the fact that your god can’t seem to be at all specific when it might lead to an embarrassing situation for your god – you know, being wrong and all.

    This would lead me to believe this is more of a declarative statement about the power of prayer, rather than a ‘step by step’ process to produce a miracle on demand.

    And your apologetics are based on prayer not being any better than the placebo effect, so you’re trying really hard for a Pyrrhic victory.

    Does the Christian look forward to the next life? Absolutely. Not in the extreme sense in which we do not value the life we have currently been given.

    Then one should seek medicine and try to heal oneself instead of praying to god…yet that’s not what god says one should do. Conundrum anyone?

    OMGF: I see no reference to Luke 11 in the OP.

    Exactly my point.

  • Pine

    When I said: “When does the author say the sick person will recover?” I meant not whether or not James used “shall” in the absolute sense, but rather when meaning when will the healing occur. Will it be during the prayer? 1 second afterwards? 1 minute afterwards? 1 Day afterwards? Etc. My point being that you are implying the statement in James is to be absolute, however with many qualifications of this statement missing, how could it be measured absolutely? We’re left then to infer a mistake (poor textual criticism) or we can infer a different intended meaning from the author.

    Again you assume an either/or choice between faith and medicine. I’ll leave you to your battle against the scarecrow.

    Could you clarify where Luke 11 is brought up in the OP? If it wasn’t, then my response to Mr. Wilder (who injected the quote into the discussion) seems appropriate. If I am missing something here it is not intentional.

  • goyo

    Congratulations xtians. You have just agreed that your holy book does not do what it says it will do and that your god will not heal you any more than any other religion’s will.
    In other words, a xtian’s health is no better than an atheist’s. So what’s the point?
    How does the sin of lying cause sickness, exactly?

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Pine,
    Apologies for the Luke 11 portion. I missed where Mathew Wilder brought it in.

    That said, you seem to be attempting to connect it to James 5, when it was brought in as a specific rebuttal to a statement from cl. Although it does not state that people will be healed, it does say that one will be granted what one prays for, which should include healing.

    Again you assume an either/or choice between faith and medicine. I’ll leave you to your battle against the scarecrow.

    The only thing that faith can accomplish is the placebo effect. If you believe the medicine will help, it may very well help simply because you believe it will. Other than that, faith does nothing to heal people. And, don’t accuse me of strawmanning you when YOU brought the faith vs. medicine idea into this and claimed that they somehow work hand in hand. When I argue against that, I’m not making strawmen.

    As for the rest, goyo nailed you (and all the others of you). By arguing that the text isn’t specific, so if one is healed after some unspecified time of affliction due to natural time length of the sickness that this can somehow be attributed to god and the person’s prayer, you’re basically making the argument that god is no more powerful or able to heal people (or willing to) than the placebo effect. Congrats.

    We’re left then to infer a mistake (poor textual criticism) or we can infer a different intended meaning from the author.

    Or we can infer that the statement was written by a person, ignorant of medicine and health and that it is not the word of god – or at the very least that it certainly can’t be used as evidence for that god and most likely shows a god that either doesn’t care, is impotent, or doesn’t exist.

  • Pine

    To be clear, I don’t mean to dismiss entirely the point which was raised by Mr. Wilder from Luke 11. That said, I meant to point out that Luke 11 does not deal specifically with healing. As Luke 11 deals with the broader category of prayer, and more than likely the specific type of prayer Jesus supplied before the statement was made. To avoid getting too far into another subject, I feel that Luke 11 would better be dealt with in a new thread if people wish to do so.

    The arguements I see against faith/medicine and sin/sickness lack imagination. Let’s say that I went to view New Orleans after Hurricaine Katrina. If I were to ask how the houses were demolished, someone could accurately tell me that in the case of these houses a hurricaine demolished them. That is not the same as me saying that every time a house is demolished, a hurricaine is to blame. While the Bible teaches that sickness is sometimes cause by sin, it does not teach a direct cause effect relationship between sickness and sin.

    You state that faith never has an effect other than a placebo effect. I argue that it is possible for a person to be healed by God. And while the healing effect is not scientifically repeatable (as God is not a ‘force’ to be summonned to do our bidding) the healing which is claimed to have resulted is very measurable. What is the harm? From all I read, the harm comes when people deny themselves modern medicine because it would violate their faith. I say let’s put it to the test. If you have been diagnosed with cancer but believe that you have been healed by God; go to the doctor! Get tested! If the cancer is gone and medicine and science cannot explain why, then why would you not accept that God healed you? If the cancer is still there, why would you stop medical treatment? After all, didn’t Jesus send the people He cured of leoprousy to be seen by the priest who could validate whether or not they were really cured?

    The strawman I referred to was the either/or you raised with medicine and faith. I know in your worldview that you do not see the need for faith, however that does not equate to a contradiction between faith and medicine. Both are valid in my worldview and no one has yet shown this to be invalidated from the Biblical text.

    As for the suppossed Christian’s self-proclaimed defeat: you show a lack of proper understanding of Christian tenets. The teaching is not that God MUST heal, but that God CAN heal. Who ever said Christians would be better off than non-believers? The Bible states that we will experience the same circumstances as non-believers. In some ways it is implied we will be worse off as we will be rejected by the world. This misrepresentation of Biblical truth and over-simplifycation of deep subject matter warrants little more response. It wouldn’t hold up if we examined Darwin by this standard, and if you hope to at least hold to your integrity as intelligent people then you will see past your double-standard here.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Pine,

    While the Bible teaches that sickness is sometimes cause by sin, it does not teach a direct cause effect relationship between sickness and sin.

    When is sickness ever caused by sin? And if sickness is caused by sin (even only sometimes) then that IS a direct cause effect relationship between sickness and sin.

    You state that faith never has an effect other than a placebo effect. I argue that it is possible for a person to be healed by God.

    Evidence please.

    And while the healing effect is not scientifically repeatable (as God is not a ‘force’ to be summonned to do our bidding) the healing which is claimed to have resulted is very measurable.

    So, when one claims that Baal healed them, then that proves that Baal exists and heals people?

    From all I read, the harm comes when people deny themselves modern medicine because it would violate their faith.

    And why not, since that’s what god tells us to do! You yourself said that god tells us we should pray to be healed. You can’t have it both ways!

    If you have been diagnosed with cancer but believe that you have been healed by God; go to the doctor! Get tested! If the cancer is gone and medicine and science cannot explain why, then why would you not accept that God healed you?

    God of the gaps and confirmation bias.

    If the cancer is still there, why would you stop medical treatment?

    Because god said that I should be annoited with oils and prayed upon for treatment.

    After all, didn’t Jesus send the people He cured of leoprousy to be seen by the priest who could validate whether or not they were really cured?

    Not quite the same is it? Sending cured people to someone to verify is not the same as saying that one should go to the doctor to see if god was able to cure them or not and then accept medicine if god could not or would not do the job.

    The strawman I referred to was the either/or you raised with medicine and faith.

    Simply disagreeing with my position does not mean that I made a strawman of your position.

    I know in your worldview that you do not see the need for faith, however that does not equate to a contradiction between faith and medicine.

    Correct. It’s the abject failure of faith to produce results that equates to a contradiction between faith and medicine.

    Both are valid in my worldview and no one has yet shown this to be invalidated from the Biblical text.

    Ah, the Bible saith it, so it must be valid!

    As for the suppossed Christian’s self-proclaimed defeat: you show a lack of proper understanding of Christian tenets.

    Not at all. I’m just looking at your arguments, not Xian tenets.

    The teaching is not that God MUST heal, but that God CAN heal.

    And that god “shall” heal. Hey, maybe god will heal someone 10 years after they are dead…of course, it won’t help very much, will it? I’m reminded of the argument that all prayers are answered, but not necessarily when asked for. So, if you pray to receive $1M, you will receive it at some point and the prayer will be answered. Of course it might be after you are dead, but whatever. But, what if I pray to receive the money now?

    It wouldn’t hold up if we examined Darwin by this standard, and if you hope to at least hold to your integrity as intelligent people then you will see past your double-standard here.

    Actually, evolution has been held to much more rigorous standards than any religion ever has and has held up considerably well. Why? Because it is based on evidence. Religion, however, can’t stand up to even the slightest scrutiny because it relies on superstition, myth, and irrationality.

  • Pine

    I won’t take the obvious bait for your comment on Darwin, yet another invalid assumption.

    I could very well reply to your demand for proof “of” faith healing to prove they “don’t” exist; but then I would fall into your trap of changing topics to proof of God’s existence which is not at stake at all. The entire argument as I understood it was not to PROVE God existed or to PROVE that faith healing happens. The author of this topic seemed to wish to deem it ridiculous and contradictory to accept James 5 as scripture. He accomplished this by first showing how bad interpretations of this passage have caused harm, then by creating a false dichotomy between this interpretation and the complete rejection of scripture.

    This is further complicated by your insistance upon a false dichotomy between healing through either faith or medicine. Here we are not discussing a difference of opinion as to which seems more likely to occur to us, but rather we are discussing whether it is at all plausable to believe in strictly faith healing, strictly medical healing, or some combination of the two. I find the first (strict faith healing) to be quite false, not supported by scripture and the only viewpoint which has been validly attacked within this thread.

    The bales are piling up quite high now.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Pine,

    I won’t take the obvious bait for your comment on Darwin, yet another invalid assumption.

    Which part? The part about how evolution is based on evidence, which is a fact? Or the part about how religion is seriously lacking in evidence, which is also a fact?

    I could very well reply to your demand for proof “of” faith healing to prove they “don’t” exist…

    Not up to me to prove a negative.

    The author of this topic seemed to wish to deem it ridiculous and contradictory to accept James 5 as scripture.

    Ah no. He was pointing out how ridiculous James 5 is and how ridiculous belief in it is.

    He accomplished this by first showing how bad interpretations of this passage have caused harm, then by creating a false dichotomy between this interpretation and the complete rejection of scripture.

    How do you know the interpretations are bad for one? For two, you left out the part where he parsed it and discussed it and all that, but whatever.

    This is further complicated by your insistance upon a false dichotomy between healing through either faith or medicine.

    Huh? I’m saying that faith don’t do squat. You can’t show that it does, you simply continue to assert that it does. Well, sorry, but the evidence is against you.

    Here we are not discussing a difference of opinion as to which seems more likely to occur to us, but rather we are discussing whether it is at all plausable to believe in strictly faith healing, strictly medical healing, or some combination of the two.

    I’m not discussing whether one can believe in faith healing. I’m saying it doesn’t work.

    I find the first (strict faith healing) to be quite false, not supported by scripture and the only viewpoint which has been validly attacked within this thread.

    Then answer the actual objection to your argument instead of avoiding it.

    The bales are piling up quite high now.

    Please learn what you are talking about before you start making unfounded and ridiculous accusations. You obviously don’t know what a strawman is, so stop accusing others of doing it.

  • Pine

    The healing through prayer the author James spoke of is affirmed by the author Moses when he wrote of the fiery serpents, it is also affirmed by the author Elisha when speaking of the Captain from Damascus, it is also affirmed by the authors of Matthew Mark Luke and John when they wrote of Jesus healing, it is also affired by the author Luke in his work of the Acts (amazingly Luke was a physician)… But I suppose you’ll reject all these since they all come from the same “book”. But then to view these different authorships as all one book you would have to accept inspiration: however if these books can be criticised seperately then we have documented cases of faith healings occuring without any evidence that this is not exactly what occurred.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    The healing through prayer the author James spoke of is affirmed by the author Moses…But I suppose you’ll reject all these since they all come from the same “book”.

    That, and they all happen to lack that thing called, “Evidence.” Perhaps you’ve heard of it. And hey, lots of holy books repeat the same things, so I guess all those things are true as well.

    But then to view these different authorships as all one book you would have to accept inspiration…

    Or just the evolving myths of a culture.

    however if these books can be criticised seperately then we have documented cases of faith healings occuring without any evidence that this is not exactly what occurred.

    Non sequitor. Simply because someone wrote that something happened, doesn’t mean it did.

    Now, going to actually deal with the criticisms of your points, or will you continue to evade?

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Matthew Wilder,

    I feel Pine addressed your comment to me sufficiently. Luke 11 is not supportive of magic genie theology. I also agree that Luke 11 is not germane to the OP.

    OMGF,

    I actually said,

    …as the Bible itself claims, as real and painful as they are to us, the important things are not our momentary troubles in this world, but our ability to proceed to the next.

    and you replied,

    This reduces to an argument that Xianity is life dis-affirming; i.e. that this life is not important and that we should pine for the afterlife. (bold mine)

    Where did I say, “this life is not important?” If you wish to misrepresent my argument, that’s your business, but that’s not at all what myself or the Bible argue(d). I’ve not said anywhere that “this life is not important” – that’s you adding to my words, right?

    How and what illnesses?

    Well, take gluttony and anger for examples. Both create objectivity verifiable conditions of disease, of course, to differing degrees in different individuals.

    Um, because he didn’t talk about them? Are you suggesting that god could not have explained in a way that would have made sense to them?

    No. I’m suggesting the exact opposite – that God did explain some rudimentary principles of hygiene / medicine in a way that made sense to people living 3,000 years ago. And yes, God could have said, “I say unto you, avoid the onset of hemorrhagic colitis by cooking meat above 160 degrees farenheit to kill escherichia coli,” but such would have invoked a “Huh?” from people living 3,000 years ago. Is it not the duty of the writer to put their ideas into language appropriate for the reader? Thus, medical nomenclature would not have been appropriate.

    …and besides, aren’t you arguing that the point was to pray for healing? Like Josh, you can’t have it both ways.

    Although I’m glad you’ve at least asked what I’m arguing this time, no, I’ve not argued that. However, since you asked, although I myself rarely (if ever) do so, on certain occasions believers should pray for healing. And they should use medicine. When I get a cold I take better care of myself, not pester God. As far as your stringent concerns about “having it both ways,” why do you claim a believer should only fasten to one method of healing, when the Bible itself makes no such claim?

    Then enlighten us with some evidence. And those effects are medicinal or cosmetic? Those oils have effects on sickness?

    Really? Sometimes you just seem bent on disagreement and I often wonder if you’re even reading your opponents comments, or if you are, to what extent that you give serious consideration or even remedial research before replying. I gave you solid examples of several oils with bona fide medicinal properties:

    Lemon oil used as an antiseptic? Lemongrass oil which alleviates fever and treats infections? Rosemary oil contains antifungal and antibacterial properties. What about fennel seed oil used to treat colic in infants?

    Now if you simply don’t want to take my word for it, I understand. In a double-blind study of infants with colic, supplementation with an emulsion of fennel seed oil relieved colic in 65% of cases, compared with 24% of infants receiving a placebo, a statistically significant difference. The amount used was 1 to 4 teaspoons, up to four times per day, of a water emulsion of 0.1% fennel seed oil. Still unsatisfied? See Alexandrovich I, Rakovitskaya O, Kolmo E, et al. The effect of fennel (Foeniculum Vulgare) seed oil emulsion in infantile colic: a randomized, placebo-controlled study. Altern Ther Health Med 2003;9:58–61.

    At any rate, it would be much easier for those who posit these ridiculous claims to simply admit their error than to continue to contest the medicinal properties of oil(s).

    **************

    Now, if I might address a few comments between you and Pine:

    Then one should seek medicine and try to heal oneself instead of praying to god…yet that’s not what god says one should do.

    Again, false dichotomies get in the way. Why the either/or approach? Ample verses exist where God does tell us to seek medicinal treatments to heal ourselves. “No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities…” (1 Timothy 5:23). The benefits of a vegetarian diet are recorded in the book of Daniel.

    The only thing that faith can accomplish is the placebo effect.

    OMGF, as far as the faith vs. medicine argument, you seem to be the only person here making it. Pine already tried to tell you such was a false dichotomy. I agree. Our argument, and the Bible’s argument, is faith and medicine.

    As for the rest, goyo nailed you (and all the others of you). By arguing that the text isn’t specific…

    goyo hasn’t nailed anything I’ve said. I’ve not argued lack of specificity anywhere in my arguments.

    Pine said,

    While the Bible teaches that sickness is sometimes cause by sin, it does not teach a direct cause effect relationship between sickness and sin.

    This is where Pine and I appear to differ in our interpretations. I do feel the Bible teaches a direct cause and effect relationship between sickness and certain sins. However, this is not the same as saying, “all sickness is caused by sin.” Jesus dealt with that false argument appropriately in John 9:2.

    You state that faith never has an effect other than a placebo effect. I argue that it is possible for a person to be healed by God. (Pine)

    Evidence please. (OMGF)

    I suspect you would wave away any evidence presented, but if your mind is truly open and we can agree on definitions beforehand, I will offer a recent case.

    From all I read, the harm comes when people deny themselves modern medicine because it would violate their faith. (Pine)

    And why not, since that’s what god tells us to do! You yourself said that god tells us we should pray to be healed. You can’t have it both ways! (OMGF)

    Evidence please? Where in scripture does it say to deny medical treatment?? You misrepresent Pine and the Bible’s argument, which is not faith vs. medicine but faith and medicine. And you are incorrect in stating that God in the Bible tells people to deny themselves medicine. Such is false, and I can say from an outside observer that you are in fact misrepresenting Pine’s argument.

    Tangentially, I don’t think Pine is evading you. It just gets tiring to repeat the same things over and over while someone appears to be unwilling or unable to understand them.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    cl,

    Where did I say, “this life is not important?” If you wish to misrepresent my argument, that’s your business, but that’s not at all what myself or the Bible argue(d). I’ve not said anywhere that “this life is not important” – that’s you adding to my words, right?

    No, it’s called taking your argument to its logical conclusion.

    Well, take gluttony and anger for examples. Both create objectivity verifiable conditions of disease, of course, to differing degrees in different individuals.

    Sin is offense to god. I fail to see how offending god leads to sickness, unless you wish to contend that god is visiting sickness upon people for offending him.

    No. I’m suggesting the exact opposite – that God did explain some rudimentary principles of hygiene / medicine in a way that made sense to people living 3,000 years ago.

    So which is it? Was god giving them good advice about how to heal themselves, or was he telling them to pray? I can’t discuss this further until you take a stand one way or the other.

    And yes, God could have said, “I say unto you, avoid the onset of hemorrhagic colitis by cooking meat above 160 degrees farenheit to kill escherichia coli,” but such would have invoked a “Huh?” from people living 3,000 years ago.

    But you just said that god could talk to them in a way they would understand, so which is it?

    Although I’m glad you’ve at least asked what I’m arguing this time, no, I’ve not argued that.

    Then are you arguing that god told the Israelites to put oil on themselves to heal themselves?

    When I get a cold I take better care of myself, not pester God.

    That’s not what god tells you to do.

    As far as your stringent concerns about “having it both ways,” why do you claim a believer should only fasten to one method of healing, when the Bible itself makes no such claim?

    Because the Bible says, “If you are sick, do X.”

    Really? Sometimes you just seem bent on disagreement and I often wonder if you’re even reading your opponents comments, or if you are, to what extent that you give serious consideration or even remedial research before replying. I gave you solid examples of several oils with bona fide medicinal properties:

    And I can find the same crap on homeopathic sites. Are you arguing that god told them to put oil on themselves because it would heal them?

    Now if you simply don’t want to take my word for it, I understand. In a double-blind study of infants with colic, supplementation with an emulsion of fennel seed oil relieved colic in 65% of cases, compared with 24% of infants receiving a placebo, a statistically significant difference.

    Um, OK. So they rubbed the oil on the infants I take it?

    Again, false dichotomies get in the way. Why the either/or approach?

    Because god says that one should rub oil on oneself and pray. We both know the superior method would be to seek out actual medicine, but that’s not what god tells them to do. Was he lying to them or was he stupid or was he promising to heal them through their prayers? You have now claimed that you are not claiming the third option.

    OMGF, as far as the faith vs. medicine argument, you seem to be the only person here making it. Pine already tried to tell you such was a false dichotomy. I agree. Our argument, and the Bible’s argument, is faith and medicine.

    If you’ll go back, you’ll note that Pine started down this path, and if you wish to continue on it, be my guest, but you are both wrong in your assessment of what I’m saying to you. You both wish to contend that faith is somehow therapeutic, and I’m saying that it is not. I’m not saying that one can either use faith or medicine (in general) so you can both get off my back about that (which is the actual straw man going one BTW – take note Pine). Faith doesn’t do diddly squat to heal you, unless you have faith that you will be healed and you do get better through the placebo effect, which is well known and has nothing to do with supernatural beings.

    I suspect you would wave away any evidence presented, but if your mind is truly open and we can agree on definitions beforehand, I will offer a recent case.

    Offer it. If I have evidence, I don’t try to hide behind accusations of closed mindedness – I present it.

    Evidence please?

    Read the OP.

    Tangentially, I don’t think Pine is evading you. It just gets tiring to repeat the same things over and over while someone appears to be unwilling or unable to understand them.

    Oh, the irony.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    Now if you simply don’t want to take my word for it, I understand. In a double-blind study of infants with colic, supplementation with an emulsion of fennel seed oil relieved colic in 65% of cases, compared with 24% of infants receiving a placebo, a statistically significant difference.

    That’s nice, cl, but in what possible way do you imagine it to be relevant? Lest you forget, the verse being discussed recommends anointing the sick with oil, not administering it internally in a water emulsion.

    Lemon oil used as an antiseptic? Lemongrass oil which alleviates fever and treats infections? Rosemary oil contains antifungal and antibacterial properties.

    Again, quite interesting, and also quite irrelevant. The verse in question is talking about olive oil, as you can see from Strong’s. From a cursory web search, olive oil has minor laxative properties and can be used to soften ear wax. It may also have a slight protective effect against heart disease, though, again, it has to be consumed regularly to get this benefit, not rubbed on the skin.

    Where in the Bible does it say God will “grant any prayer?”

    “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” —Matthew 21:22 (NIV)

    I suggest you’ll want to respond with some whining about how I’m taking this verse out of context. Let me offer you a line of argument to start off: This promise is only applicable to the specific people Jesus was speaking to at the time he said it, and not to anyone else who later heard about it, read about it, or was told about it by those witnesses. Discuss.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    OMGF,

    No, it’s called taking your argument to its logical conclusion.

    Does saying X is more important than Y entail that X is not important? Yes or no?

    Sin is offense to god. I fail to see how offending god leads to sickness…

    Gluttony is a sin, no? Gluttony leads to all sorts of objectively verifiable degrees of disease, no?

    So which is it? Was god giving them good advice about how to heal themselves, or was he telling them to pray?

    You’re out of context. I’m talking about Leviticus here, not James.

    …the Bible says, “If you are sick, do X.”

    Correct, where X = anointing / supplication / prayer. However, you only tell part of the story, hence the false dichotomy. The Bible also says if you are sick, do Y, where Y = the application of conventional medicinal treatments. I already offered you a verse of support.

    And I can find the same crap on homeopathic sites. Are you arguing that god told them to put oil on themselves because it would heal them?

    I didn’t pull any of that from homeopathic sites. Most of it was from Wikipedia. Do you disagree with them as well?

    You both wish to contend that faith is somehow therapeutic, and I’m saying that it is not.

    Incorrect. I’m not saying faith is therapeutic; I’m saying oil is therapeutic. You are saying faith accomplishes nothing but the placebo effect. I’m questioning your epistomological grounds for such a statement, which you have yet to reveal.

    Read the OP.

    You told Pine God tells us to deny medical treatment! Such is absurd. Where in scripture does it say to deny medical treatment? Not in James, or anywhere else.

    Oh, the irony.

    What part of your argument do you think I’m missing?

    Ebonmuse,

    That’s nice, cl, but in what possible way do you imagine it to be relevant? Lest you forget, the verse being discussed recommends anointing the sick with oil, not administering it internally in a water emulsion.

    I’m aware of the scope here. It’s relevant in the sense that people here made the generic claim that oil has no medicinal effects, which is totally bunk. That’s why I said scope would help clarify. Also, notice that internal emulsion was not the only example I provided. The plain truth is that all sorts of oils have all sorts of medicinal properties when applied internally and externally, including and beyond the ones I mentioned. Agree? Disagree?

    I suggest you’ll want to respond with some whining about how I’m taking this verse out of context.

    Do you think Jesus meant that we can pray that God would die, and it will happen? Yes or no?

    What’s far more surprising is how many people still believe in these practices today, despite our far more advanced knowledge of scientific medicine, as well as ample evidence that faith healing does not work.

    I expect such a biased treatment of the issue here. And as said before, I reject your so-called ample evidence for the generalization that faith healing doesn’t work, just as I reject apologists’ so-called ample evidence for the generalization that prayer heals the sick. Every experiment regarding faith healing I’ve ever read about – and that’s quite a few – contains far too many confounders to create a valid experimental scenario. The best we can do is analyze individual cases, which unfortunately cannot sustain across-the-board generalizations. Even if I present you with evidence of an isolated faith healing, such does not entail that all or any faith healing works falsifiably or systematically, does it?

  • Pine

    I here concede my previous statement that “there is no direct cause/effect relationship between sin and sickness in the Bible” was a poorly worded argument. cl clarified this much better than I had originally stated it.

    As for the claim that James is teaching “if you are sick do X + Y and you will be healed each and every time without exception”; it is a misrepresentation of what the passage states. There are no specific qualifycations given to explain how long it will take for the healing to take place, or how the healing will take place, or what words the elders should speak, or if the annointing is of the head or if it is of the ‘affected’ part of the body, nor does the passage clarify what a ‘prayer of faith’ consists of. These blatent and obvious omissions leave us with no other alternative than to accept that these are NOT meant to be specific step-by-step instructions for obtaining healing.

    I’m glad the verse from Matthew was quoted as I feel it is quite relevent as this verse is of the same type. What is being expressed in both verses is an extreme pronouncement of the power of faith and prayer.

    I was often told as a child that I would get what I wanted if I asked nicely and said ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. I never took this to mean I would get WHATEVER I wanted. Even as a child I understood that I was being urged towards the importance of proper behavior, not that I had a ‘magic word’ with which I could manipulate my parents.

    Is faith healing absurd? The type of faith healing you claim the Bible teaches certainly is. If you presume what cl has suggested about the proper interpretation of the passage in question from the Book of James is correct. Would you still find the concept absurd? Yes or No? If you answer ‘no’, then I see little point in trying to convince you of interpretation which would ultimately change nothing in your understanding of this verse.

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    Pine,

    Is faith healing absurd? The type of faith healing you claim the Bible teaches certainly is. If you presume what cl has suggested about the proper interpretation of the passage in question from the Book of James is correct. Would you still find the concept absurd? Yes or No?

    In The Theist’s Guide to Converting Atheists, Ebonmuse writes:

    [E]ven minor but objectively verifiable miracles would do, especially if they could be invoked by prayer.. This one shouldn’t be so hard, especially for the Christians – after all, Jesus told them that they would be able to work miracles through prayer! If shown any of these, I would convert on the spot…

    In this thread, OMGF challenges us:

    Offer it…

    Yet despite their protestations to the contrary, my gut feeling tells me that those bent on not believing will not believe no matter what evidence you put in front of them. It was the same 2,000 years ago with Jesus and the Pharisees, and if I may speak rhetorically, there’s nothing new under the sun.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    Pine:

    I’m glad the verse from Matthew was quoted as I feel it is quite relevent as this verse is of the same type. What is being expressed in both verses is an extreme pronouncement of the power of faith and prayer.

    I was often told as a child that I would get what I wanted if I asked nicely and said ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. I never took this to mean I would get WHATEVER I wanted.

    “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.” —Matthew 18:19 (NIV)

    “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” —Matthew 17:20 (NIV)

    “Ask and it will be given to you…. For everyone who asks receives.” —Luke 11:9-10 (NIV)

    If verses this explicit do not mean that God will grant any prayer, then please explain what the Bible would have to say differently for you to agree that it did mean that.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    cl,

    Does saying X is more important than Y entail that X is not important? Yes or no?

    Once you start putting more emphasis on the afterlife, then, yes, you devalue this life.

    Gluttony is a sin, no? Gluttony leads to all sorts of objectively verifiable degrees of disease, no?

    Sin is offense to god, so offending god leads to disease?

    You’re out of context. I’m talking about Leviticus here, not James.

    I’m not playing this game cl. I’ve asked for your argument, so present it.

    I didn’t pull any of that from homeopathic sites. Most of it was from Wikipedia. Do you disagree with them as well?

    Ebon already handled this, so I’m not going to re-invent the wheel.

    Incorrect. I’m not saying faith is therapeutic; I’m saying oil is therapeutic. You are saying faith accomplishes nothing but the placebo effect. I’m questioning your epistomological grounds for such a statement, which you have yet to reveal.

    Stop trying to have it both ways. You can’t both claim that I’m wrong for saying that faith has no effect in healing, and then also claim that you’re not claiming that faith has any effect in healing. Actually, forget it, I don’t care. The main point is that your charge against me was incorrect.

    You told Pine God tells us to deny medical treatment! Such is absurd. Where in scripture does it say to deny medical treatment? Not in James, or anywhere else.

    Read the OP. I’m not going to repeat myself ad nauseum for you.

    What part of your argument do you think I’m missing?

    See above.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Pine,

    There are no specific qualifycations given to explain how long it will take for the healing to take place…

    Presumably, it could occur after the person dies? Could that really be counted as healing?

    In all actuality though, what you’re really saying is that you want to be able to take credit for god when healing does work, and not have to eat it when god doesn’t heal someone. Heads you win, tails I lose.

    Is faith healing absurd? The type of faith healing you claim the Bible teaches certainly is.

    No. Once again, faith healing is absurd because of the total lack of evidence that it does anything at all beyond the placebo effect.

    If you presume what cl has suggested about the proper interpretation of the passage in question from the Book of James is correct. Would you still find the concept absurd? Yes or No?

    Yes, for the reason stated above.

    If you answer ‘no’, then I see little point in trying to convince you of interpretation which would ultimately change nothing in your understanding of this verse.

    I presume you meant “Yes” there instead of “No?” If I’m correct, the only thing I can state here is “Oh, the irony.”

    Back to cl,

    Yet despite their protestations to the contrary, my gut feeling tells me that those bent on not believing will not believe no matter what evidence you put in front of them.

    Again…Oh, the irony.

    BTW, I take your complaints to be nothing more than admission of lack of evidence.

  • Pine

    OMGF: Yes, I meant yes. :P Sorry for the error in typing.

    Ebonmuse: I do feel as though a few of the verses need to be read in a fully context to get their meaning. This is most evidenced by the fact that one verse begins with the word “Again” implying another part of the instruction came first. Verse 9 of Luke 11 actually begins with the word “So” implying this is a conclusion. Anyhow, I’m assuming you have read these verses in a full context and I’m also assuming that you’ve legitimately tried to make some sort of sense out of them and haven’t been able to.

    In all of the above verses you mentioned; would you say that it is clear that FAITH is a requirement? If YES then go on to my next question; if NO then we should discuss this further.

    How do you define FAITH? My definition of faith in God is; “believing that God is Who He says He is in His Word and that God will do all that He has promised to do in His Word.” Would you accept this as an acceptable definition of faith? Yes or No?

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Pine,

    Anyhow, I’m assuming you have read these verses in a full context and I’m also assuming that you’ve legitimately tried to make some sort of sense out of them and haven’t been able to.

    Or maybe he has been able to make sense of them and they are false/inconsistent/whatever. Implicit in all of this is your assumption that you are the one who is correctly interpreting the scripture, and that those that disagree with you must be in error.

  • Pine

    OMGF: Show me my error instead of simply asserting it. That’s been the point of the entire discussion so far, no? Thanks for following along.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    I will, once you decide which way you want it. Did god tell us to pray for healing, or was he offering oil as a medication? Until you take a stance on this, how am I supposed to know what I’m arguing against?

  • Pine

    It is a very convenient thing to first argue over proper interpretation, then the try to change and argue that interpretation is so subjective that there is no ‘correct’ answer; that there is simply difference of opinion.

    When the original author of ANY text writes, they have in mind an intended audience and they intend to convey something to that audience. Typically there is an occasion which prompts nearly all writing, and by following the procedures of textual criticism we can arrive at what we can be sure is the author’s original intent. This attempt to shoot down all textual criticism is intellectually dishonest and serves as nothing more than a distraction from the meat of the subject at hand. If you have some actual rebuttal as to why my interpretation of the passage is wrong, something which would actually hold up in the world of academia and textual criticism, then please by all means present it and sway my point of view.

    Take for instance Thomas Jefferson who once said, “I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” From this one statement I guess it’s safe to assume Thomas Jefferson was a devout follower of God as we see he was probably frequently “upon the altar of God”; or would you assume that to be intellectually honest I should consider the full context of this statement; and perhaps also consider the character and personhood of Thomas Jefferson before I make such bold claims about him? Please.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Pine,

    If you have some actual rebuttal as to why my interpretation of the passage is wrong, something which would actually hold up in the world of academia and textual criticism, then please by all means present it and sway my point of view.

    IOW, your interpretation is right because you say so, and it is up to me to prove you wrong, else you are right.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Oh, and you are still avoiding actually giving your interpretation.

  • goyo

    We’re not talking about Thomas Jefferson or any other human here.
    We’re talking about the supposed creator of the universe!
    Your xtian apologetics are hilarious.

  • Pine

    You claim one interpretation of a passage. I tell you, as a Christian, that you have falsely represented my position. I then advised you of my interpretation. You claim that I have misunderstood the passage. In all of this, you have offered no more proof for your point of view than I have. So at this point, what validity does your claim have over mine? In the OP the thrust was that anyone who believes this verse is Scripture from God is a lunatic. I have shown an alternative point of view which has been successfully proven to be just as valid as the position you claim to be correct.

    I’m not trying to sway your personal opinion. You will likely not change your worldview based off of just this debate. However, if we are actually still being intellectually honest, you cannot escape the fact that unless you supply further “proof” for your position on this topic, then your comments bear no more significance than mine do. At which point the suggested idiocy of anyone who accepts this passage as scripture from God must be abandoned.

    GOYO: Why would the standards we apply to Thomas Jefferson not apply universally in textual criticism? Just because you claim something seems ‘funny’ to you does not make it ridiculous.

    OMGF: No, I supplied you with my interpretation very clearly. What I have not supplied is any evidence to validate my viewpoint beyond what you have supplied for yours. I see no need to unless you feel you actually have a claim other than “OMGF sees it this way”. And no, of course my interpretation is not “right” simply because I say so and this isn’t what I said or implied at all. Another bale for your pile. All that is being said is that my view holds as much validity as any supplied on this thread without the need for further evidence. I have no desire to cast my pearls and see no real need to as you haven’t supplied any argument to this point which would win the argument for your side. Do you have further proof? If so, please provide it, otherwise admit that we are on equal footing here and recant your claim of the ‘ridiculous xian view’.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Pine,

    I tell you, as a Christian, that you have falsely represented my position.

    As a Xian? Well, lah-di-dah. And, I answered that charge. You made an accusation and didn’t back it up.

    I then advised you of my interpretation.

    To a separate question. You still have not answered my challenges to your original statements in which you tried to have it both ways.

    You claim that I have misunderstood the passage.

    No, I claim that your statements are trying to have it both ways and that you need to clarify.

    In all of this, you have offered no more proof for your point of view than I have.

    Actually, I’ve presented challenges and asked questions which you refuse to answer.

    So at this point, what validity does your claim have over mine?

    Considering that my challenges are on the table right now…I think you need to answer them.

    I have shown an alternative point of view which has been successfully proven to be just as valid as the position you claim to be correct.

    Um, how exactly has it been “proven to be just as valid,” as any other position? Unless you are going for the, “Your opinions are not more valid than mine,” tact, which I seriously doubt, you might want to actually bring some proof for your statement. Making comments about textual criticism don’t constitute proof for your interpretation.

    However, if we are actually still being intellectually honest, you cannot escape the fact that unless you supply further “proof” for your position on this topic, then your comments bear no more significance than mine do. At which point the suggested idiocy of anyone who accepts this passage as scripture from God must be abandoned.

    Ah, so if our viewpoints are equal, mine must be abandoned in favor of yours? What was that you were saying about intellectual honesty?

    No, I supplied you with my interpretation very clearly.

    No, it was not very clear, which is why I asked you questions and made challenges and pointed out that you were trying to have it both ways. You continue to dodge this point.

    Another bale for your pile.

    Didn’t I tell you something about making accusations when you have no idea what it is you are accusing someone of? Oh yeah, I said you shouldn’t do it. Where do you get off challenging my intellectual honesty when you go throwing charges around like this that you can’t and won’t back up?

    All that is being said is that my view holds as much validity as any supplied on this thread without the need for further evidence.

    No, it doesn’t, because of the challenges facing it and the obvious attempt to have it both ways.

    I have no desire to cast my pearls and see no real need to as you haven’t supplied any argument to this point which would win the argument for your side.

    Except the holes I pointed out in your view, but hey, you can safely ignore those, right?

    Do you have further proof?

    I don’t need further proof if you can’t defend your own stance.

  • goyo

    Summary of xtian arguments on this post and “on inerrancy”:
    1. The scriptures contain errors.
    2. The scriptures don’t mean what they say.

    Any other genius points you’d like to make?

  • goyo

    OMGF is right. You refuse to answer his question: Do we use oil, or do we pray to be healed?

    By the way, no one has answered mine: How does sacrificing a bird cure leprosy?
    That’s a real piece of medicinal knowledge god gave mankind.

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    Ebonmuse,

    If verses this explicit do not mean that God will grant any prayer, then please explain what the Bible would have to say differently for you to agree that it did mean that.

    I’d love to add to what Pine’s already said, but you left my last question unanswered. Again, do you think that in said verses, Jesus meant that we could pray that God would die and it would happen? Yes or no?

    OMGF,

    When I feel the evidence in question is ready to present, you can rest assured you’ll see it.

    I take your complaints to be nothing more than admission of lack of evidence.

    That doesn’t suprise me. You frequently read much more into your opponent’s comments than what they actually say. For example,

    Once you start putting more emphasis on the afterlife, then, yes, you devalue this life.

    So that X holds less value than Y entails that X holds zero value? Remember, you originally said the logical conclusion of my argument was that this life is not important – not less important. For another example,

    Sin is offense to god, so offending god leads to disease?

    See what I mean? Honestly, can you see how you took a statement made in a specific context and inflated its scope? Let’s do this Boolean-style. Is gluttony one of the seven deadly sins? Yes or no? Does gluttony lead to objectively verifiable conditions of disease to differing degrees in different people? Yes or no? Any educated person knows that the answer to both of these questions is “Yes,” and my point stands. And I am not saying that all physical disease is caused by sin, or that all sin causes physical disease, either.

    I’m not playing this game cl. I’ve asked for your argument, so present it.

    You asked for verses from Leviticus that were recognizant of germ theory. There are several. For example 11:24, “You will make yourselves unclean by these; whoever touches (their) carcasses will be unclean until evening. Whoever picks up one of their carcasses must wash his clothes, and he will be unclean till evening.” (NIV)

    Ebon already handled this, so I’m not going to re-invent the wheel.

    He tried, and notice how he just left it hanging. Internal emulsions were not the entirety of my examples, Yes or no? Let me be clear here. I’m not arguing that James 5:14-15 is support for the medicinal properties of oil. Again, I’m not arguing that. I am arguing against nonsense, generic claims about oil lacking medicinal properties. I’m sorry people omitted scope and made the false, generic claim that oil has no medicinal effects, and I’m sorry people can’t see that even household olive oil (oinos, incidentally, the same stuff mentioned in James 5:14-15) rubbed on chaffed skin speeds its recovery. Yes, even household olive oil has medicinal properties, and no, James 5:14-15 is not an argument for the power of said properties. And no, the context of James 5:14-15 is not chaffed skin, or colic. Just wanted to be sure to separate my claims as much as possible for you ;)

    The main point is that your charge against me was incorrect.

    Which one? I make many charges against you. Did you not directly imply in response to Pine that God tells us to deny medical treatment? Yes or no? When asked for scriptural support, you wave me to the OP, but nothing in James 5:14-15 supports your charge. For example, if you tell me you are sick, and I suggest therapy X, have I told you to deny therapy Y? Yes or no?

    Stop trying to have it both ways. You can’t both claim that I’m wrong for saying that faith has no effect in healing, and then also claim that you’re not claiming that faith has any effect in healing.

    Did I claim you were wrong? Or did I claim your statement was unknowable, and ask on what epistemological ground you stood on? I believe the latter is more in line with my original statement. Faith is not therapeutic. It is alleged that faith plays a part in miraculous healings. Things that are therapeutic work without faith.

    Read the OP. I’m not going to repeat myself ad nauseum for you.

    But I’ve told you three times now that I’ve read the OP, and that James 5:14-15 does not support your argument. How can we proceed if you insist on telling me to do what I’ve already done three times? Again, if you’re sick and I suggest therapy X, does that entail that I’ve explicitly told you to deny therapy Y?

    Pine,

    Take for instance Thomas Jefferson who once said, “I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” From this one statement I guess it’s safe to assume Thomas Jefferson was a devout follower of God as we see he was probably frequently “upon the altar of God”

    Great point, I’m not surprised it was eschewed.

    What I have not supplied is any evidence to validate my viewpoint beyond what you have supplied for yours.

    Please, stick around!

    goyo,

    I doubt you’ll respond because you’ve stated you’re done with me, but I’ll take these:

    Summary of xtian arguments on this post and “on inerrancy”…

    I would suggest more careful reading. My argument has been the same for years: contradictions exist within the best manuscripts, and inferior manuscripts have derived from the best manuscripts. However, what nobody has addressed yet is that error is not an intrinsic feature of contradiction or change. Two or more contradictory testimonies can be 100% truthful. And if something that is 100% true is added to something that is 100% true, there is no error. Now, in the specific context of mikespeir’s ‘argument’ (how can one truly ‘argue’ if they’re uninterested in hearing their opponent’s opinion? Pontification would be a better word), that someone miscopied one word from another does not entail that what was originally said was not perfect, does it? If I tell you a true story, and in repeating it back to someone you mistake some facts, who’s errant? I suspect you’ll still charge that God is errant because after all, God is all-powerful. And to that I reply that the same God told us in the same book that people would add and subtract from the scriptures, and such was correct. Prophetic? Lord only knows. And still to this day, nobody has given me a satisfactory answer as to how theopneustos demands an absolute lack of contradiction or change.

    And where in this thread have I said that the scriptures contain errors, or that they don’t mean what they say? I believe Jesus meant what Jesus said in Luke 11:9-10, Matthew 17:20 and Matthew 18:19. Seriously. If that’s not a strawman you’re at least in the cornfield, and to you I ask what I ask Ebonmuse: Do you think that in said verses, Jesus was implying we could simply pray with faith that God would die, and it would happen? Yes or no?

    OMGF is right. You refuse to answer his question: Do we use oil, or do we pray to be healed?

    I’m unsure who “You” refers to, since you omit the necessary qualifier and OMGF has charged at least two people with attempting to “have it both ways.” In James 5:14-15, the writer is telling us to pray for healing. That the writer tells us to pray for healing in no way entails that the writer is telling us to “deny medical treatment” as OMGF falsely claims, especially in light of verses where purely medical approaches to sickness are advocated. If you are sick and I suggest X, have I told you to deny Y?

    Incidentally,

    We’re not talking about Thomas Jefferson or any other human here. (To Pine, who introduced a perfectly relevant counterpoint)

    then,

    By the way, no one has answered mine: How does sacrificing a bird cure leprosy?

    Who’s talking about birds besides you? Who’s talking about TJ besides Pine? The message I get is that it’s okay for you to introduce relevant counterpoints, but not Pine.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    Do you think that in said verses, Jesus was implying we could simply pray with faith that God would die, and it would happen?

    The verses I cited say as clearly as possible that any prayer prayed by a faithful Christian believer will be granted. That this has implications you consider absurd is a problem for you, not for me. If I were an apologist, I’d probably say that no one who has Christian faith would ever ask for such a thing; but again, I’m merely observing what the Bible promises. If this irks you, your objection should be aimed at the authors of the Bible for writing something so manifestly ridiculous, not at the person who points it out.

  • Pine

    Ebonmuse: Since your answer was vague I’ll ask you not for more proof, but rather for more specific answers. Again, is my definition of faith acceptable? Do you feel it safe to assume faith is a prerequisite to answered prayer?

    Stating what you would argue as an apologist does nothing to invalidate the argument stated; nor does it give further credit to the position you hold to. You claim to be examining this passage honestly; your last post, however, reveals the true nature of your examination of this subject matter which is dishonest and highly subjective. You can win the debate by being a better debator, but truth is still truth.

    OMGF: I never stated YOU should abandon your view or opinion of James 5 in favor of mine. What I asked for you to recant was the unfair and unproven fallacy that people who accept James 5 as scripture from God are stupid or insane. Answer this: Do you feel we are on equal footing here? If not, please show some credible evidence as to why you feel we are not. Otherwise recant and apologize to the many you insulted without just cause. Or perhaps you are not the humanitarian you claim to be.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Hmmm…

    The verses I cited say as clearly as possible that any prayer prayed by a faithful Christian believer will be granted.

    So was that a yes? Or a no? Do you really think Jesus meant to imply that we could pray God would die and it would be granted? Do you really believe that?

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    cl,

    When I feel the evidence in question is ready to present, you can rest assured you’ll see it.

    I won’t be holding my breath.

    So that X holds less value than Y entails that X holds zero value?

    In this case, we are to subordinate all aspects of this life in preparation for the next. The only reason this life matters at all is because we need to go through it to reach the next. So, yes, it is life dis-affirming, it leads to the conclusion that the only thing that is important is what will happen in the afterlife. It’s not my theology, it is yours. Take it up with your god.

    See what I mean? Honestly, can you see how you took a statement made in a specific context and inflated its scope?

    If you meant to say that doing things that offend god can also have harmful side effects, then you should have said that. Offending god, however, does not cause sickness, unless you wish to contend that your god makes people sick. If you wish to continue to make accusations, you might want to take a good, long look in a mirror sometime.

    You asked for verses from Leviticus that were recognizant of germ theory. There are several. For example 11:24, “You will make yourselves unclean by these; whoever touches (their) carcasses will be unclean until evening. Whoever picks up one of their carcasses must wash his clothes, and he will be unclean till evening.” (NIV)

    Another classic case of post-hoc reasoning. You know about germs, you think the Bible must have some hidden, secret knowledge, so you impart your knowledge back onto the writers and put in things they did not intend. Germs don’t go away at evening.

    He tried, and notice how he just left it hanging.

    He succeeded, you simply laughed and decided not to answer the challenge.

    Did you not directly imply in response to Pine that God tells us to deny medical treatment? Yes or no?

    god gives strict orders on the procedure to heal sickness. If he meant that you should do that, or any number of other things, then the Bible is useless to us as a document. If you wish to argue that the Bible is useless, then I will withdraw my comments.

    Did I claim you were wrong? Or did I claim your statement was unknowable, and ask on what epistemological ground you stood on?

    And, I’ve repeatedly pointed out the incredible lack of evidence that faith does anything. I don’t know how you could have missed all of those by accident, especially for someone who chides others for missing things.

    But I’ve told you three times now that I’ve read the OP…

    Then I suggest you act like it.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Pine,

    Answer this: Do you feel we are on equal footing here?

    No. For the umpteenth time, there are objections to your arguments that have been ascertained and you have some arguments left to flesh out (not having it both ways for instance). You can’t come in here with a half-assed argument trying to have your cake and eat it too, ignore all challenges and objections, then claim that your argument is every bit as good as anyone else’s.

  • goyo

    So can I conclude by the above comments that unless one is skilled in ancient middle eastern thought, and knowledge of Greek and Hebrew, one cannot understand the bible?

  • Pine

    OMGF: No one has done what you accuse us of. Please re-read over the thread and do try to take in everything stated before responding. You seem very young (16-18) and so may actually not recognize your points have been sufficiently answered. Take your time and re-read it if you need to, and I’m sure you can catch up with the rest of us.

    Goyo: Yes, a thorough working knowledge of greek and hebrew will help us understand the Bible. It was originally authored in these languages and was translated into English, which I’m sure you know, so I’m not sure how you would think being able to discuss matters of questionable translation would NOT add to a proper textual criticism of the text. Also, a good base knowledge of the culture and people whom something is written to certainly does help us to understand the author’s original intent. I’m not sure what point you were trying to make here: unless you wish to create yet another strawman.

  • goyo

    The point I’m trying to make is that the bible is presented as having all the answers to life’s questions, and that it contains knowledge of how to be saved. Bibles are handed out like candy so unbelievers can be saved.
    You’re agreeing with me that the majority of the recipients really can’t understand what they are reading.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Pine,

    No one has done what you accuse us of. Please re-read over the thread and do try to take in everything stated before responding.

    Um, other people have noticed as well.

    You seem very young (16-18) and so may actually not recognize your points have been sufficiently answered.

    So, instead of actually addressing the objections, you’re going to make statements about how old you think I am and then condescend? That’s rich.

    Take your time and re-read it if you need to, and I’m sure you can catch up with the rest of us.

    Yup, condescension. That’s the mark of someone who has it all in hand. Unfortunately for you, it’s you who needs to catch up. Not only are you still evading the challenges, objections, and requests for clarification, but you’re also still living with a belief in Bronze Age superstition.

  • Pine

    Goyo: So understanding the basic teaching of salvation is the same as understanding all the truth contained in the Bible? Why do you think that required study makes the truth contained within the Bible less valid? If study of the Bible is required to understand truth, then why should we not hand them out? Is there not a difference between possessing the ability to understand and taking the time to study so that you understand?

    Your point is the equivalent to saying we should not hand out textbooks in math class because half the kids in the class won’t understand unless they are taught by someone with more experience and are willing to study. Math is probably all bunk anyway.

    OMGF: I’m sorry but condesension seemed a natural reaction to your stubborn and willful ignorance. Please re-read the thread and catch up already. You are not standing on solid ground here.

  • http://www.myspace.com/driftwoodduo Steve Bowen

    Pine

    Goyo: So understanding the basic teaching of salvation is the same as understanding all the truth contained in the Bible? Why do you think that required study makes the truth contained within the Bible less valid? If study of the Bible is required to understand truth, then why should we not hand them out? Is there not a difference between possessing the ability to understand and taking the time to study so that you understand?
    Your point is the equivalent to saying we should not hand out textbooks in math class because half the kids in the class won’t understand unless they are taught by someone with more experience and are willing to study. Math is probably all bunk anyway.

    It may be equivalent to handing a 3 year old a college level maths textbook and expecting them to derive the first principles, but nobody does that. Furthermore the Bible is supposed to be divine revelation and is not subject to rational verification, therefore people can and do interpret its intentions (regardless of translation) in any way they want. Maths and its predictive consequences can be taught from the bottom up, and shown to any child to be objectively true.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Pine,
    I’m sorry that you can’t defend your position or give further clarification for the questions that were posed, but you don’t have to be an ass about it.

  • Pine

    Mr Bowen: Your argument suggests proper interpretation of the Bible does not exist. Do you really contend that the author of James meant to be vague and did not mean to convey any specific meaning? Furthermore will you contend that he did not write to a specific audience? Will you also claim that he did not write in a manner which was relevent to the culture of his day? Again, something being difficult to understand does not make it less valid or true. Also, your 3-yr-old analogy is unprovable as relevant or equivalent unless you want to produce some evidence that the Bible is as difficult for adults to interpret as math would be for a 3-yr-old. Are we to assume you feel that most adults have the reasoning abilities of a 3-yr-old? Your gross analogy and over estimation of the stupidity of the common man is quite appalling.

    OMGF: No evidence from you yet for your position. You state it, I state mine. You say yours seems more correct. I state mine seems more correct. The difference between us? You claim the idiocy of those who cling to my position. I simply assert that I prefer my interpretation. You are making the bolder claim, therefore it is upon you to defend your ridiculous assertion. You’re being a child now. Simply produce more evidence to support your claim of idiocy or do the right thing and admit that you were wrong to judge Christians based upon their acceptance of James 5 as scripture from God. If you can’t follow this, then I suspect you may lack the capacity to understand anything.

    In the OT the King of Israel was to write a copy of the scriptures and study them daily. The common man was instructed to always be talking about the Word of God as he carried out his daily tasks. In the NT Jesus claimed to speak in parables so those who were not legitimate followers would not understand. Paul wrote that we would have to study to show ourselves approved. The NT also claims that no scripture is for private interpreation. The NT also claims that the Bible is good for teaching, rebuking, correcting and instructing in all ways of righteousness. Why would you assume that it is offensive or de-valuing to the Bible to claim that one must STUDY it to understand it? Also, does the Bible provide for teachers and preachers to help others who might not be able to understand? How is this different that providing teachers for young students who ARE able to understand math or science however would NOT understand math or science on their own with just a textbook? Unless you wish to argue that students would walk away from reading a math or science textbook with a full understanding of the topic with no instruction. The false scenario for learning and strawman argument that the Bible teaches men will understand the Bible without effort should be abandoned as it does not hold up.

  • http://www.myspace.com/driftwoodduo Steve Bowen

    Your argument suggests proper interpretation of the Bible does not exist.

    It does rather doesn’t it?
    It depends on what you mean by “proper”. if you believe the Bible (or the Koran for that matter) is a revelation from God through human agency, it should have a definitive meaning and this sort of continual exegesis should be unnecessary. If it doesn’t we can either conclude that God is being deliberately obscure or that the author was writing without divine inspiration and subject to human limitation. No doubt the author of James was a literate, intelligent individual(s) with a message to convey, but the best of us can believe we are writing or arguing cogently whilst in fact mis-judging our audience. Ebon’s original point was:

    My question to modern believers who view this passage symbolically is, if you know this doesn’t work, how do you know that – and do you apply that same standard to the rest of the Bible? And to those who still use faith healing and dabs of magical oil, in an age of genetic manipulation, transplant surgery and antibiotics, my question is: Do you really believe that?

    James was saying faith and oil can heal, he may or may not have meant “shall” or “always”. The reality is it never does, no evidence for it, zip, nada. So we should be able to apply the same critical thinking to any passage in scripture that says faith is a virtue and good for anything.

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    As soon as Ebonmuse, OMGF, and/or Steve Bowen present definitions of a genuine faith healing, I will gladly offer a small tidbit of evidence. However, especially in the case of Ebonmuse who claims he would convert on the spot if offered such evidence, please be sure you’re intellectually honest enough to hear what I intend to share, because if those promises are honest, then your life should certainly be changed. But without definitions, we are simply setting ourselves up for an exercise in futility. Although I completely respect the desire to avoid the embarrassment of retracting hundreds of posts about why God doesn’t exist, I can only assume that the absence of the requested definitions is evidence of closed-mindedness at best, intellectual cowardice at worst.

    Ebonmuse,

    There is good reason you won’t answer a simple “Yes” or “No” to my last question, and I think you might be onto it. Again, do you really believe that Jesus meant to imply we could pray God would die and it would be granted? Yes or no?

    OMGF,

    The only reason this life matters at all is because we need to go through it to reach the next.

    How do you know? I have no problem with your sharing your subjective opinion, but I don’t agree with it, and that’s not what my original words entail, so again you misrepresent what I’ve said. You said my argument led to the conclusion that this life is not important. That X is more important than Y does not entail that X is not important.

    If you meant to say that doing things that offend god can also have harmful side effects, then you should have said that. Offending god, however, does not cause sickness, unless you wish to contend that your god makes people sick.

    I meant that sin does cause physical disease, and that’s what I said. There’s good reason you avoid Boolean logic in this case – again – is gluttony a sin? Yes or no? Does sin offend God? Yes or no? Does the sin of gluttony which offends God lead to objectively verifiable disease conditions? Yes or no? The answer is Yes, Yes, and Yes – hence, sin can and does cause physical disease, and offending God can and does cause sickness. And I’m not saying all sin causes physical disease, or that all physical disease is caused by sin. Lastly, none of this entails that the person who sins is made sick by God. In cases where sickness is the result of sin, the person who sins inflicts sickness upon themselves.

    He succeeded, you simply laughed and decided not to answer the challenge.

    Again, you refuse to answer a simple Yes or No – were internal emulsions the extent of my examples? Yes or no? Did Ebon respond to anything but one example of internal emulsion? Yes or no?

    god gives strict orders on the procedure to heal sickness. If he meant that you should do that, or any number of other things, then the Bible is useless to us as a document. If you wish to argue that the Bible is useless, then I will withdraw my comments.

    Again, if you are sick, and I suggest method X, does that entail that I’ve told you to deny method Y, especially if in the very same document I told you that method Y also works? Yes or no? (method X refers to faith healing, method Y refers to the strictly medical approach)

    And, I’ve repeatedly pointed out the incredible lack of evidence that faith does anything.

    No, you’ve repeated over and over an ignorant and biased subjective opinion that no evidence of a genuine faith healing exists, and when I asked for some definitions so I could offer some evidence, no definitions were forthcoming. If you are serious, provide the definitions and let’s do this.

    Pine,

    I must be fair, and I would certainly accept the same criticism from you. As for your arguments, I concur that OMGF is missing your points and you are doing more than well IMO, but condescension will surely ruin it. I’ve learned this in life the hard way, through genuine personal losses, and I offer it only in good spirit and because I would hate to see valid points eschewed on account of a tendency that we all share as human beings. I also concede that OMGF’s insulting reply was equally inappropriate.

    goyo,

    You’re agreeing with me that the majority of the recipients really can’t understand what they are reading.

    Speak for yourself. Again you omit qualifiers, but in case this was for me, I don’t agree with that.

    Steve Bowen,

    Furthermore the Bible is supposed to be divine revelation and is not subject to rational verification…

    I disagree that the Bible is not or is not supposed to be subject to rational verification. Such a statement lacks appropriate scope. Some of the Bible’s premises are certainly not amenable to rational verification, others are.

    If you believe the Bible (or the Koran for that matter) is a revelation from God through human agency, it should have a definitive meaning and this sort of continual exegesis should be unnecessary.

    You’re assuming here that the Bible does not have definitive meaning, when your opponents do not share that assumption. Also note that the necessity of continual exegesis does not preclude definitive meaning. Science has definitive meaning and continual exegesis is essential to expand our horizon of life’s penultimate truths.

    James was saying faith and oil can heal, he may or may not have meant “shall” or “always”.

    While I agree James did not mean “always,” I believe you partially misunderstood the passage. James was saying God can heal the person who’s prayers are offered in faith. Faith itself is not doing the healing. Neither is oinos approached as a magical substance in scripture, and oinos is used for other purposes besides healing in scripture.

    The reality is it never does, no evidence for it, zip, nada.

    The problem is that you offer your reality as the reality and that’s what Fundies do. Surely you don’t want to be perceived as such, right? Not to be rude, but you show grave ignorance and bias here, as do all others who make such arguments. We cannot accept arguments from ignorance and bias in an ostensibly rational debate. As I said earlier, provide the definitions and let’s do this.

  • http://www.myspace.com/driftwoodduo Steve Bowen

    cl

    Some of the Bible’s premises are certainly not amenable to rational verification, others are.

    That’s convenient. Bagsy I get to decide which are and which are’nt.

    You’re assuming here that the Bible does not have definitive meaning, when your opponents do not share that assumption.

    I accepted Pine’s point that the authors of the Bible had particular intentions in mind when they wrote it. However they were subject to the limitations of contemporary knowledge and the same vagaries of language we are debating here,unless it was divinely inspired in which case we should expect less confusion.

    The problem is that you offer your reality as the reality and that’s what Fundies do.

    Except my reality is independently verifiable by observation and measurement, fundamentalist reality isn’t and in many cases is directly contradicted by the aforementioned evidence. However I’ll take your bait and offer a definition of verifiable faith healing I would accept (can’t speak for some of the more intellectually rigorous commenters here though):Either; a study of disease remission in a faith based group not treated by conventional medicine that demonstrated similar or better rates to a control group treated conventionally, or a single instance of an independently verifiable healing miracle such as the re-growth of an amputated limb.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Pine,
    You seem completely unwilling or unable to comprehend what is going on here. You made some statements, and I asked for clarification, which is still wanting. Go back and look at the posts where I talked about you wanting it both ways, which you’ve yet to clarify. I also asked about whether we should be Xian Scientists, which you’ve not addressed, etc. I also presented some challenges to your statements. Now, here’s the part that you really need to learn.

    When you make an argument, and someone presents challenges, you must answer those challenges. You can not simply ignore them and then claim that I have to bring more evidence or else your statement holds, or is at least as good as any other. You must answer the challenges put forth, or else your statement is suspect at best. You obviously have no intention of doing this, and it probably makes you feel better to adapt a superior air and condescend towards me, but if YOU go back and read, you’ll note that others have also noticed how you’ve dodged and evaded and not answered certain questions/challenges to your position. Would you like to also condescend to goyo and Ebon? When you write back to me more condescending carp about how I need to re-read the thread or apologize or grow-up or whatever, just remember you are doing it just to make yourself feel better, but should it really? Does it really make you feel better to have to lash out at others because you can’t support your arguments?

  • Pine

    OMGF: You miss the point that your ‘challenges’ are nothing more than statements based upon your subjective worldview. You haven’t actually posted one solid academic criticism to my worldview. So, at this point I see no reason I would have to convince you to adapt my opinion as yours in order for my worldview to be more valid than yours (which you have also not convinced me of). I am not the one claiming all atheists are idiots, therefore I feel the greater burden of proof to justify a worldview lies with the one who makes that claim about those who hold different worldviews. It’s that simple. And yes, I do also question Goyo and Ebonmuse’s honesty as they continue to avoid points raised and also fail to justify their bold claim about those who hold to my worldview.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Well Pine, I’m sorry if you can’t see that pointing out flaws in your logic, whether they come from me or some academic source, somehow doesn’t count.

    When you posit that god asked us to pray for healing, but also to put oil on us because it heals (simplified paraphrase) and can’t see that you are trying to have it both ways, well what can one do?

  • Pine

    OMGF: Should we be Christian Scientists? Are you asking me if it is possible for a non-believing scientist to make great discoveries about the world? I do not personally believe Christianity to be a pre-requisite to good science. I also do not believe a rejection of Christianity serves any purpose. The claim was made here that we are now better off (scientifically speaking) because of the casting off of religous shackles. Can you justify this and show a direct cause/effect relationship between rejection of religion and scientific breakthrough? Also, you would have to show that no Christian scientist ever contributed anything of note to science. Kelvin.

    As for having it both ways. My reference to Psalms was clarifycation. Faith in God is the foundation of everything, including medicine. As a Christian I believe that I should pray for God to provide for all my needs. I also believe that I am responsible to work hard to earn a living. These are not contradictions. Can God meet my needs if I am unable to work? Can I, even with the best of planning, ever prepare for EVERY possible occurence which would threaten my financial security? What you are pushing here is a form of religion which has done much harm to legitimate faith.

    If you were building a house, and you were intelligent about it, you would lay a solid foundation. No matter how solid your foundation is you would not live ONLY in the foundation. You would want the rest of the house complete with a roof and rooms and carpet, etc. In the same way; the Christian who claims to have God as their foundation, and yet stops living life there is like a man who builds a foundation for a home and nothing else, and just lives in the foundation.

    I believe God to be the source of everything, therefore God should be our foundation in all things. Foundation does not equate to entirety as you have suggested.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Pine,

    Should we be Christian Scientists? Are you asking me if it is possible for a non-believing scientist to make great discoveries about the world?

    It’s quite evident now that your condescension was highly unwarranted. Did you really not understand that I wasn’t talking about scientists? Didn’t the capital letters give it away?

    The claim was made here that we are now better off (scientifically speaking) because of the casting off of religous shackles. Can you justify this and show a direct cause/effect relationship between rejection of religion and scientific breakthrough?

    Easy. The adoption of the scientific method has led to more advances in science at a faster rate than when “scientists” were trying to study how many angels could dance on the head of a pin.

    Also, you would have to show that no Christian scientist ever contributed anything of note to science. Kelvin.

    It’s only by separating science from their faith did they achieve what they achieved. So, sorry, but it doesn’t matter if the scientist in question is Xian or not, it’s how the achievements were made, and the method is non-religious and non-faith-based.

    As a Christian I believe that I should pray for God to provide for all my needs. I also believe that I am responsible to work hard to earn a living. These are not contradictions.

    Um, yeah, it kinda is.

    What you are pushing here is a form of religion which has done much harm to legitimate faith.

    Legitimate faith? Do real Scotsmen practice it?

    In the same way; the Christian who claims to have God as their foundation, and yet stops living life there is like a man who builds a foundation for a home and nothing else, and just lives in the foundation.

    So god is just a pile of cinder blocks in the basement? Hmmm, that’s strange considering all the Xians who claim that god is everything.

    I believe God to be the source of everything, therefore God should be our foundation in all things. Foundation does not equate to entirety as you have suggested.

    Why not?

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    This debate is going nowhere.


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