Mutuality Week and the burden of proof

I go to check out at the library and the library clerk asks to see my card.

Fair demand. Am I or am I not a member in good standing entitled to check out these books? Here we have a controversy, a dispute, an unsettled question in need of settling. The clerk has asked a legitimate question and the burden of proof rests on me to respond.

So I give her my library card. That settles things easily. I have met the burden of proof and no longer need to shoulder it. The objection has been addressed, responded to and satisfied. The controversy is resolved. The dispute is ended. I check out my books.

That is how the library works because that is how life works.

Legitimate questions can and should be asked, but there is no reason to keep asking them after they have been answered. If they continue to be asked after the answer has been provided, then they cease to be legitimate questions.

We will all, at times, rightly be asked to bear the burden of proof. But after we have met that burden, we can no longer rightly be asked to keep carrying that weight.

This is how life works most of the time.

But not all of the time. Not with the perennial controversies — those disputes that are never resolved.

I’m not talking here about the perennial questions pondered by philosophers since the beginning of time — the big questions that defy certainty and resolution. The perennial controversies are not like the perennial questions. The perennial questions cannot be answered conclusively. The perennial controversies can be. And have been.

But those who have answered these questions, who have responded to the substance of every objection, who have satisfied every protest, are never allowed to move on. They have met the burden of proof, time and time and time again, yet they are forever being asked to continue carrying that burden.

This is unjust, and a bit silly. But it happens because the perennial controversies aren’t really controversies at all. They are not about questions in need of answers, objections in need of response or assertions in need of support. They are about power. Those who have it do not wish to share it, cede it, grant it or allow it for anyone else. Instead, since they have the power to do so, they just keep asking the same questions over and over, pretending they haven’t been answered, burdening the powerless with an inescapable and permanent burden of proof.

That is the cycle in which we’re stuck — an endless repetition of the perennial controversies.

Which brings us to Rachel Held Evans’ Week of Mutuality. This is a Very Good Thing. Held Evans is a whipsmart, engaging writer and she’s enlisted or inspired plenty of other excellent bloggers to take up this theme with her this week. Here’s how she summarizes this effort in a preface to her first post in the series:

One In Christ: A Week of Mutuality [is] dedicated to discussing an egalitarian view of gender — including relevant biblical texts and practical applications. The goal is to show how scripture, tradition, reason, and experience all support a posture of equality toward women, one that favors mutuality rather than hierarchy, in the home, church, and society.

That’s an excellent goal and she and the other participating bloggers are doing a great job of meeting that goal.

But note the dynamic here. They’ve accepted that the burden of proof is on them — that somehow, in the church and among Christians, the default setting is a presumption against equality and mutuality. That’s an accurate assessment of where things actually stand in the church. That presumption against equality is a real and widespread phenomenon. Women’s equality with men is not the status quo in the church.

It ought to make a difference, though, that having accepted the burden of proof, Rachel Held Evans et. al. are meeting that burden. They’re supplying the proof, satisfying the objections, responding to every counter-argument. That ought to make a difference. That ought to mean that the burden of proof is shifted back onto those who oppose equality.

But it won’t mean that. I know this because I’ve seen all this happen before, again and again. RHE & Co. aren’t the first group of smart, patient, reasonable Christians to sit down and marshal all of this evidence, address all of the opposing concerns, and present a compelling and thorough rebuttal of every defense of inequality.

And they won’t be the last to do that. Because women’s equality in the church is a perennial controversy. It’s not an argument about questions and answers, biblical interpretation, evidence, tradition, reason and experience. It’s a power dispute.

They answered all the questions, but those with the power will keep on asking them just as though they hadn’t said a word. They have met the burden of proof, but those with the power will insist they continue to carry it just as though they hadn’t done so.

In a recent post titled “How to win a culture war and lose a generation,” Held Evans wrote eloquently about how the tone and substance of the culture warriors was driving the Millennial generation away from the church. But here’s the other immensely frustrating thing about those culture wars that the Millennials will eventually learn over time: They never end.

Worse than that, they never change. They never leave Square One. They just endlessly repeat the same questions, the same objections, the same demands that the powerless shoulder the burden of proof.

If the powerless — in this case, women in the church — want equality and a seat at the table, then they’re going to have to earn it, they are told. And so they do. They earn it. They prove they belong. They make their case. They meet every demand and every burden of proof.

And then they’re sent back to Square One and told to do it all over again.

I absolutely want to commend Rachel Held Evans and her participants for the excellent stuff they’ve put together this week. And I want to recommend it to everyone else. But I also think back to something Sarah Bessey wrote late last year, which ultimately is the only appropriate response to the perennial controversies.

I am done fighting for a seat at the table,” Bessey wrote:

Enjoy your table, gentlemen.

… The men at the table may be loud but the pockets of hope and love and freedom are spreading like yeast. I see it. I feel it in the ground under my feet. More and more of us are sick of waiting for a seat and so we are simply going outside, to freedom, together. And here, outside, we’re finding each other and it’s beautiful and crazy and churchy and holy.

D.L.M. quoted from Bessey’s post in a piece for McSweeney’s. She, too, turns her back on the perennial controversies, gladly rejecting the fingers-crossed promise of a seat at the table for the reality of a place in the kingdom:

And while the church still argues about who can and can’t bring it, it is already coming. I have seen it with my eyes. I have tried in my own poor way to tell you all this time: it is already here.

It is already here. And it is not to be found at that table.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

     My point is that complementarians are arguing about how their idea of complementarianism should work in theory, but not addressing the problems that complementarianism has in fact.  

    As Terry Pratchett put it: “it wasn’t that you had the wrong kind of government, which was obvious, but that you had the wrong kind of people.”

    And when you decide you have the wrong kind of people, well, obviously the solution is to force the people to change…

  • Tonio

    I do have a problem with someone saying that everyone who takes that position must be doing so to keep their privilege – that they couldn’t possibly be arguing in good faith.

    I wasn’t claiming that. I’m using the terms complimentarianism and gender essentialism not necessarily to refer to the  position that the sexes should play certain roles with men as authorities, but to the elaborate arguments and rationales in support of that position. You’re right that the former can be easily acquired from upbringing, where many people simply parrot the attitudes they heard expressed by elders. My point is that crafting and those rationales in that detail and arguing for them involves conscious thought, and they would fall apart under any truly honest and rational scrutiny. So I would suspect that maintaining that artifice for any length of time requires some vested interest in gender privilege.

    I have been someone who argues that opposition to homosexuality is reasonable

    That’s where you and I truly differ. I see that opposition as unreasonable since homosexuality is morally neutral just like heterosexuality – both pose no inherent harm to others outside the relationships. The opposition amounts to prying into people’s personal lives. It would be reasonable, however, for an individual to believe that he or she shouldn’t be gay, but that’s not the same thing as believing that no one should be gay.

  • Tonio

     

    Complementarians have simple, easily understood arguments that operate
    very effectively if your goal is to harmonize Biblical text at all
    costs.  Egalitarians have the argument that the text can’t be
    harmonized.

    Those might apply if we were talking specifically about Christians in those two groups. Other egalitarians might suggest that their position is the moral one regardless of what the Bible says.

  • Tonio

    Put another way, sexism is to creationism what complimentarianism and gender essentialism are to Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort’s banana argument.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    I have been someone who argues that opposition to homosexuality is reasonable
    That’s where you and I truly differ. I see that opposition as unreasonable since homosexuality is morally neutral just like heterosexuality – both pose no inherent harm to others outside the relationships.

    Err… me too. I was talking in past tense.

  • ako

    In addition to the other points cited, I think a lot of people see their version of complimentarianism as “close” to egalitarianism because it’s not obviously horrible, and they don’t see it as needlessly tyrannical or bullying.  Mild “Everyone has their separate place, and so long as Those People stay in their place, everything will be just fine” bigotry often doesn’t feel, from the bigot’s side, like it has anything in common with hateful bigotry.  It can feel downright benevolent.  So they see other people talking about egalitarian loving marriages and contrasting them with obviously horrible and abusive relationships, and go “Hey, my marriage is much closer to yours than it is to the horrors you describe!”

    It’s much the same reasoning that might have lead a white American woman of a couple generations ago to declare that she didn’t mistreat her black maid, always paid a decent wage, and didn’t use any racial slurs, and therefore she didn’t need a bunch of outsiders stirring up trouble, calling her racist, and trying to disturb a system that (from her perspective) worked perfectly well.  Personal niceness can reduce the amount of mistreatment involved in an inherently unequal relationship, but it can’t eliminate it, and a lot of people don’t want to recognize that.

  • http://rachelheldevans.com Rachel Held Evans

    Hey, Fred! Thanks for the shout-out. 

    Just a quick note: My target audience for the series is evangelicals (I know, I know, but they’re my people for better or worse) who are on the fence about complementarianism/egalitarianism. I kept getting messages from people who felt drawn toward equality but had no idea how to articulate it or reconcile it with their views on scripture, etc. So I’m not trying to convince the complementarians – I can’t! I’m a freakin’ chic! they won’t listen to me! – just trying to help those who want to “cross over”  do so. (I sound like that dude that talks to dead people. )

    The good news: I’ve heard from quite a few people – more than I ever expected – that the series changed their minds. It’s not a massive change, but it’s a few more people who are more likely to encourage their daughters to go to seminary, more likely to think of their spouse as their partner rather than their subordinate, and less likely to walk out on a woman who is preaching on a Sunday morning. 

    So, all in all, a win. 

    …Even if it’s happening at the “kids’ table.”  :-) 

  • Patrick

    “That’s not actually true in exegesis. In exegesis, we look for general
    themes, such as “love one another” and “there is neither male nor
    female, for all are one in Christ Jesus” and the fact that Jesus honored
    women, and we set those general themes above the specific rules,
    because the specific rules are much less easily understood and applied
    in our modern context.”

    That’s how many people do exegesis, yes.  But if your goal is to harmonize the text, it’s objectively wrong. 

    That may not be your goal!  Its ok if that’s not your goal!  Frankly, its a dumb goal, because the text can’t actually be harmonized, so if you insist on accomplishing it you’re going to end up with something vacuous!

    But if you use the general to modify the specific while attempting to harmonize, you’re a poor reader. This really isn’t up for discussion:

    1. I like small pets…
    2. for example, cats.

    If you interpret the specific to modify the general, you will conclude that the my vague statement (what’s a “small” pet, really?) is clarified by the the reference to cats.  Apparently pets the size of cats count as small.

    If you interpret the general to modify the specific, you might start with an idea of “small,” consider whether cats fit that idea, and conclude that I do not like cats because they are too large.

    That is not acceptable, even if you learned it in a Bible study.

  • Lunch Meat

    To use your example, what if you say, “1) I only like small pets. 2) Small pets are smaller than 6 inches. 3) I like cats.” This is a contradiction, and it cannot be harmonized as written. The person saying it must be either lying or confused about what a cat is or what an inch is. But if the person who said it was someone I don’t know, who actually said it 2000 years ago, in a language I can’t know for sure I understand, in a letter to a group of people in a culture I know for sure, then I have several options. One, for instance, is that the word that has been translated “cat” doesn’t actually refer to the housecat that I know. In this situation, I cannot harmonize the text with itself, but then I’m not really trying to, am I? I’m trying to harmonize it with reality, with my experience, with my life.

    And if the text I’m referring to is one that I consider to be some kind of authority over me, this is extremely important because I can’t just take it at face value. In reading a novel, the object (roughly) is to understand. In that case, you are correct that one uses the specific to modify the general. But if I’m going to be applying the text to my life, I have to make sure the specific actually applies to me, and if it doesn’t make sense in the context of my life and culture, then I’m going to go with the general. 

    Here’s another text that can’t be harmonized with itself, but must be harmonized with reality: “1) Love one another. 2) Love does no harm to its neighbor. 3) Women must be silent in the church.” By your logic, I should say that one example of “love” is silencing people. But I already know that “love does no harm.” My experience shows that silencing people does a great deal of harm. Therefore, I conclude that I’m misunderstanding the word silent, or the context of church, or that the person who copied this text wasn’t trustworthy, or that although I generally respect the specific person who wrote text #3, I have to disagree with him on this point.

    I suppose this is more applicable to hermeneutics than exegesis. But hermeneutics is not at all like passive reading, and I believe it’s wrong to passively read something and then take it as an authority over your life and the lives of others without going through the process of exegesis and hermeneutics. I am not reading the Bible like I would any other text, because to me it is different, and I have a different relationship with it.

    And again, the goal of this pointing out contradictions is to move people to a more mature level of Biblical interpretation and ethical sense, and it works.

  • AnonymousSam

    The library nearby requires me to have a state ID, which I can only get via proof of identity, so indirectly, I do need to prove my identity to the library. It’s rather frustrating, since I can’t get a state ID, either.

  • Swbarnes2

    “And if the text I’m referring to is one that I consider to be some kind of authority over me”
     
    It doesn’t strike you as a bad idea to choose to put a text that you admit you don’t understand in authority over you?  Isn’t that like choosing to play high stakes poker when you don’t understand how the hands rank?
     
    “Here’s another text that can’t be harmonized with itself, but must be harmonized with reality: “1) Love one another. 2) Love does no harm to its neighbor. 3) Women must be silent in the church.” By your logic, I should say that one example of “love” is silencing people.”
     
    If by “love” you mean “’love’ as defined by the text”, then yes, I think you have to conclude that.  How else can you understand how a text defines a word except by looking at how that word is used in the text? 

     “or that the person who copied this text wasn’t trustworthy, or that although I generally respect the specific person who wrote text #3, I have to disagree with him on this point.”

     
    So now you are taking a text that you know you don’t understand, and that you know is inaccurate, and that’s your authority?  What’s the point of that?  What’s the point of calling a text an authority if, every time the text disagrees with your own judgment, you go with your own judgment?  Why not just trust your own judgment and skip the text?
     
     

  • Lunch Meat

    a) Maybe I should say “guide” instead of authority. b) I choose to read it and consider it because it challenges me and it makes me look at things in a new and different way, and because it is part of how I connect with my deity and my faith community.

    If by “love” you mean “’love’ as defined by the text”, then yes, I think you have to conclude that.  How else can you understand how a text defines a word except by looking at how that word is used in the text?

    Because I am looking at how the word is used, and love is explicitly defined as “does no harm”. There is no way for me not to see “silencing people” and “does no harm” as not in conflict–so I go with the principle of doing no harm.

  • Lunch Meat

    Also, I believe the text can be understood, but it is not nearly as easy as some would make it out to be.

  • Tonio

    Glad to see Rachel Held Evans posting here.

    Beyond my moral objections to complimentarianism,  it really comes across as an elaborate parody, like Poe’s Law in reverse. The idea that someone would actually “walk out on a woman who is preaching on a Sunday morning” sounds too extreme to be real.

    In college, a Jewish roommate mentioned to me that both his sisters had arranged marriages, and in my social ineptness, I asked how could the family in good conscience make the daughters do that. His response? “Women have no rights.” From his tone, I couldn’t tell if he was serious or if he was teasing me. Then and now,  I have difficultly imagine anyone seriously believing that who isn’t an outright monster who enjoys torturing children.

  • swbarnes2

    “Maybe I should say “guide” instead of authority.”

    What you call it doesn’t really matter.  Let’s say that I think a new episode of Mad Man airs tonight, and I’m really looking forward to it.  I consult an online guide, and it tells me its a rerun instead.  Either I can ignore what the guide says, or I can let the information in the guide lead me to reject my previous belief.  If I’m not going to believe the guide when it disagrees with me, what’s the point in consulting it at all?   If every single time I use my Thomas guide, I double-check it with google maps, and believe google maps over the Thomas guide when the two disagree, how does it make sense to say that the Thomas guide is my guide?

    I don’t see how a guide can guide you if you don’t let it correct your errors, and it can’t do that if you take every bit that you personally disagree with and say “well, I don’t think that bit’s for me, and that bit’s inaccurate, and I just don’t agree with that other bit either”.”

    ” There is no way for me not to see “silencing people” and “does no harm” as not in conflict–so I go with the principle of doing no harm.”

    You mean that you currently don’t understand how that is possible.   Likewise, lots of people say “I can’t read Genesis, and see howit means something other than ’6 days’”,  or “There’s is no way for me to to read Leviticus and think that God approves of same-sex relationships, so I go with the principle of going with what God said” but when people say that, everyone here scurries to tell them that they need to work harder at understanding the text, because their understanding must be wrong. 

    Or, to put it another way, if it looks like the text has a conflict, it could be because the text works under a different set of premises than you hold, and under that set, there’s no conflict.  If you literally can’t see how those statements harmoize, then it’s likely because you don’t understand your guide’s foundation.  If it is indeed your guide, you should have a firm grasp of those foundations, and either your accept its premsies, or you don’t.  And if you don’t, why is it your guide?

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    You seem to be assuming an exclusionary model here, and I don’t quite see why that’s justified.

    Lots of things guide me. They aren’t always in perfect alignment with each other. Life is like that.

    If my experience of a text is in tension with my experience of the world, and I respect both the text and the world, then I sit with that tension and let it inform my subsequent experience of both.

    It works pretty well for me.

  • swbarnes2

    “Lots of things guide me. They aren’t always in perfect alignment with each other. Life is like that.”
    When your judgment says “do one thing” and your guide says “don’t do that”, you can’t satisfy both.  You have to pick one over the other.  The Bible says that killing the son of a slave girl is fine if Pharaoh misbehaves.  It says to silence women in church, and it says that non-procreative sex is bad.  I could find a million other points in the Bible where the text makes a moral or historical or scientific claim, and you would likely reject all those claims.  So what kind of guide is that?
    Or, you could concoct some kind of workaround, where you bend the text so that it will match up with your judgment, which is usually light years away from what anyone alive in the time and place of its composition would ever have dreamed of the text meaning.  But why do that?  Why not just go with your judgment in the first place, rather than trying so hard to “understand” the text so that it agrees with what you already think?  If you have to squint and scribble to make your Thomas guide accurate, and you are constantly getting into very long explanations about how it really is an accurate map, if only you understand it properly, you are doing something very peculiar.

    “If my experience of a text is in tension with my experience of the world, and I respect both the text and the world, then I sit with that tension and let it inform my subsequent experience of both.”

    So its impossible for you to conclude “the text is just wrong”? You want to respect a 20 year old Thomas guide, okay, but if you have an important job interview, and it tells you that the address the interview is at doesn’t exist, you really just sit back and enjoy the tension?

  • Lunch Meat

    Because it challenges me to look at things in a new and different way, and because it is how I connect with my deity and my faith community.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    I never said “enjoy the tension.” Disagree with me all you like, but I’d prefer if you didn’t put words in my mouth.

    If my judgment tells me that choosing a different door in a Monty Hall problem can’t possibly increase my chances of winning, but mathematicians say that in fact it does, I’m in a situation of tension. My judgment says X is true, mathematicians say NOT X is true. I trust my judgment, and I trust mathematics.

    So what do I do now? Do I ignore my judgment and switch doors? Or do I ignore mathematics and not switch doors? I have to do one or the other, right? I can’t both switch and not-switch. As you say:

    When your judgment says “do one thing” and your guide says “don’t do
    that”, you can’t satisfy both.  You have to pick one over the other.

    So do I pick my judgment and ignore mathematics?
    Or do I pick mathematics and ignore my judgment?

    Well, it depends. In a crisis, if I don’t have time to think about it, I pick mathematics and ignore my judgment. (Which is, of course, itself the result of my judgment.)

    But if I’m not in a crisis, I might reject your claim. I might ask why I have to pick one guide and reject the other. I might instead take seriously the fact that these two guides conflict, and that this suggests that something interesting is going on. I might ultimately ask questions like “Why, if NOT X is true, does X seem so compelling to my judgment?” I might ask “Why, if X is true, is the prevailing wisdom among mathematicians NOT X?”

    If I take that tension seriously, if I pay attention to it, I might learn something about my own cognitive biases that I would never have learned if I just picked one and discarded the other.

    And to my mind, that’s a much better result.

    Sometimes, there are better ways to deal with conflict than choosing one side and rejecting the other.

  • Ursula L

    If every single time I use my Thomas guide, I double-check it with google maps, and believe google maps over the Thomas guide when the two disagree, how does it make sense to say that the Thomas guide is my guide?

    This seems to me to be ignoring the ways in which having multiple guides, even if they sometimes conflict, is a useful thing.
    These days, if I’m going someplace new, I’ll start by looking up directions in Google maps.

    But I also have a wide variety of maps that I keep in my car, and any time I’m traveling somewhere new, I”ll head to the AAA and get appropriate and up-to-date paper maps for the trip.

    Because Google maps is good, and useful, and in certain ways better than figuring out my own directions on a paper map.

    But if I get halfway there, and find a road closed, then the paper map is suddenly essential.  I can look up where I am, and where I want to go, and find an alternate route.  This works even if I find myself somewhere without internet access.  It works if the problem is construction or road damage or any of the many other things that Google maps doesn’t keep track of.  

    And neither Google maps nor my paper maps are a substitute for talking to a local, explaining my problem, and asking for directions.  And perhaps asking another local, and then another, as the journey continues and new information is needed. 

    The point of these various guides is not that I am a devoted follower of any one type of guide.  Rather, it is that I have a wide variety of sources of information.  And with that information, I make my own decisions of the way in which I will travel.  

  • Swbarnes2

    I really don’t get the purpose in bringing up this Monte Hall scenario of yours.  When I was a kid, I spent 5 minutes doing simulations with three playing cards.  Once I saw that my old belief was in conflict with the evidence of my sims, I stopped holding that belief, and the belief I held was in agreement with that of whatever math book I’d been reading, because my sims supported the same conclusion as the book. How does one do a sim on God’s approval of silencing women in church?
     
    “But if I’m not in a crisis, I might reject your claim. I might ask why I have to pick one guide and reject the other. I might instead take seriously the fact that these two guides conflict, and that this suggests that something interesting is going on.”
     
    Is a crisis the only time when you care about believing accurate things?
    In the context of your scenario, you have to pick a door.  In the context of mine, you have to get to the interview.  You can’t sit back and be informed by the tension until doomsday.  And yeah, something “interesting” is going on, but that “interesting” thing is that your brain makes mistakes a lot.  It’s the fundamental axiom of our existence, I would hope that one would have gotten over the novelty long before now.
     
    “If I take that tension seriously, if I pay attention to it, I might learn something about my own cognitive biases that I would never have learned if I just picked one and discarded the other.”
     
    So when the bible says “women should be silent in church” what are you claiming that says about your cognitive biases?  You are arguing my point for me.  If a person is going to call the bible their authority or guide, and the Bible says something they strongly disagree with, that person has to seriously consider that they are wrong, and their guide is right.  It means explicitly making a space to say “Yes, one of these is wrong, I’m going to do the honest thing and turn away from the wrong one, even if I don’t like the consequences.  I decided to make the text my guide because I thought it was right, even in places where I might be wrong, especially in places where I might be wrong, and I have to start with the assumption that that’s the case here.  And if I am constantly finding that the guide is wrong, there has to be a point where I say ‘This is not my guide any more’”.  
     
    That’s not what I see here.  What I see here is “You think the Bible means what conservatives say it means?  No, you need to work harder at understanding it better.  The Bible was written thousands of years ago, in a language you don’t understand, translated by a person who only partially understood the cultural context.  So, no, it wasn’t really written for you, you don’t know enough to understand it correctly, no one alive does.  So keep adding context (no, not the part where sexism, racism, and heterosexism were pervasive and virtually unquestioned) until you “understand” it the way we do; where six days doesn’t mean six days, where gender roles don’t really matter, etc.  If something still doesn’t look like 21st century American liberalism, well, that means it’s just a conflict, and you don’t have to worry about that part.  (It’s a transcription mistake, if you like)  You just worry about the “core” principles, which are all the parts that American liberal Christians like.  And when you understand it correctly, you’ll know, because you’ll see it agrees perfectly with 21st century American liberal Christianity.”
     

  • malpollyon

    Swbarnes2, what you “see here” is entirely unconnected with what other parties to the conversation have been saying. Perhaps if you spent more time listening and less tilting at your own imaginary windmills you might learn something.

  • http://transformingseminarian.blogspot.com Mark Baker-Wright

    As a person who participated in the “Week of Mutuality” effort, I understand the frustration with the never-ending cycle, and largely agree with Fred’s comments about the cause and nature of that cycle.

    However, I ultimately cannot agree with his conclusion that, because it is a never-ending cycle, the only solution is to say “I’m done arguing for my (or, in this case, women’s) place” and to move to another table. This would mean that change within existing denominations could never take place. And although change has been undeniably and inexcusably slow, we now live in an era where many denominations that previously denied women the right to certain ministerial roles now have that right. Change has occured. We did not all have to form new denominations for this to take place.

    Indeed, as often as not, we have sent those more traditional believers packing, feeling that they must form a new denomination, because they can no longer accept what has happened in the existing one.

    The fight has indeed been long. Far too long. But it is by no means hopeless.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    I really don’t get the purpose in bringing up this Monte Hall scenario of yours.

    Evidently.

    How does one do a sim on God’s approval of silencing women in church?

    As far as I know, one doesn’t.

    Is a crisis the only time when you care about believing accurate things?

    No.

    In the context of your scenario, you have to pick a door.

    That’s not true.

    You can’t sit back and be informed by the tension until doomsday.

    That’s true.

    And yeah, something “interesting” is going on, but that “interesting” thing is that your brain makes mistakes a lot.

    Yes.

    I would hope that one would have gotten over the novelty long before now.

    Sure. Which does not preclude being interested in specifics.

    So when the bible says “women should be silent in church” what are you claiming that says about your cognitive biases?

    Not a thing.

    If a person is going to call the bible their authority or guide, and the Bible says something they strongly disagree with, that person has to seriously consider that they are wrong, and their guide is right.

    I agree.
    Elsewhere, you seem to be arguing not only this, but that that person has to ignore their own feeling of disagreement, and proceed just as if their guide was right and they didn’t disagree.
    I disagree with that. (Perhaps you do too, and I’ve misunderstood you elsewhere.)

    if I am constantly finding that the guide is wrong, there has to be a point where I say ‘This is not my guide any more’

    I agree.

    “You just worry about the “core” principles, which are all the parts that American liberal Christians like.  And when you understand it correctly, you’ll know, because you’ll see it agrees perfectly with 21st century American liberal Christianity.”

    I agree that this is an unhelpful way of thinking about, well, anything at all, really. If I saw someone making this argument, I would be inclined to reject anything they said subsequently, much as you seem to be.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    One of the things I find very helpful about the Bible is that I disagree with bits of it.

    If I had a holy book I totally agreed with, I would give in to my natural smugness, and probably never emerge.  But because I both take it seriously and disagree with it, I have to constantly question my assumptions and figure out what I really think. That’s extremely helpful.

  • Nick Gotts

    The question answers itself: since it’s self-contradictory, it’s necessarily false.


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