Lessons in Partisan Broadcasting: A Response to “Reasonable Doubts”

Posted on 02/15/13 37 Comments

This week the atheistic / skeptical podcast “Reasonable Doubts” (henceforth RD) devoted a significant portion of their program to providing a response to my critique of John Allister’s defense of the Amalekite genocide as well as my alternative proposal for reading violence texts that I lay out in a presentation on the imprecatory psalms. You can find the episode here:  “Episode 110: Clever Hermeneutics“.

I am grateful to RD for engaging with my arguments. I just wish all the attention they gave those arguments was adulatory. Well, at least some of it is. Incidentally, I won’t bother distinguishing them because I got lost quickly as to who was speaking at a given moment; and I apologize for engaging with the distinct voices on the broadcast indiscriminately as “the RD hosts”. With that caveat in place, the four RD hosts start off by expressing appreciation for my honesty and directness regarding the moral difficulties presented by the biblical genocide passages. However, that adulation melted away as soon as it got to the alternative proposal for dealing with problem texts that I outlined briefly in the above-mentioned lecture on the imprecatory psalms. And so it is here that I shall focus my critical response.

From my perspective, a big part of the problem is that the show opts for an irreverent, iconoclastic tone and a barely concealed intent to dispatch the views of their chosen interlocutors as quickly (and humorously) as possible. Consequently, the pattern often looks something like this:

Host One begins to offer a decent summary of the chosen interlocutor’s position.

Host Two interjects: “So you mean it’s like …” and then makes some inane, silly comparison which has the rhetorical function of marginalizing the position of the chosen interlocutor as utterly implausible if not downright ridiculous.

All hosts laugh heartily and move on.

Certainly this kind of approach makes sense if your goal is to entertain a very partisan audience. And these days most audiences are very partisan. That’s one of the (many) reasons why “Fox & Friends” dwarfs the viewership of “Democracy Now”. To borrow a line from Clint Eastwood’s film “Flags of our Fathers”: “We need easy to understand truths and damn few words.”

Listening to the program I did benefit from the succinct introduction the hosts provided to truly partisan broadcasting. First, you adopt the “Strawman-or-something-close-to-it Analysis” (Strawman for short) in which you eschew a nuanced and charitable articulation of your chosen interlocutor’s position in favor of over-simplified analysis bordering on a strawman and punctuated with those important inane humorous side-commentary which ensures the position is not taken seriously whilst providing an opportunity to flash the “Applause” light for the live studio audience (if you happen to have one).

Second, while raising all sorts of criticisms against the position of the interlocutor, you are careful never to apply that same critique to yourself. I call this the “Introspective-Critique? What’s-that?” Analysis

Lesson 1: Strawman-or-something-close-to-it Analysis

Let’s start by taking a look at the strawman analysis. The hosts of RD provide a decent summary of portions of my argument in my imprecatory psalms lecture in which I set up the distinction between the “sensus plenior” (the sense of a text intended by God) and the “sensus litteralis” (the sense intended by the human author). I given the example of how Matthew quotes Hosea 11:1, a text talking about Israel’s escape from Egypt, as if it applied to Jesus’ exodus from Egypt. In this case, Hosea’s original prophecy (applied to Israel) represents the sensus litteralis of the text while Matthew’s appropriation (applied to Jesus) represents the fuller sense, or sensus plenior. And these two senses are quite distinct.

Note that I offer this analysis in the lecture to a Christian audience. That audience will accept that Matthew and Hosea are part of an inspired canonical whole, and thus when Matthew quotes Hosea there is some point within the canonical whole for him doing this. Not surprisingly, the hosts of RD don’t accept this assumption. Immediately one of them attempts to undermine the analysis by saying that Matthew’s take on Hosea’s prophecy is “overreaching” (i.e. illegitimate). Well of course from the perspective of the RD host this will appear to be over-reaching, since the host doesn’t accept the inspiration and canonical unity of Matthew and Hosea to begin with. So for that skeptic my proposal is damned at the outset. I might as well propose some new market regulation reforms to an ideologue categorically committed to Chicago-school economics. The proposal can’t get out of the starting gate for those not prepared at the outset to consider the proposal as a serious possiblity.

But for those who do grant that Matthew and Hosea are both inspired and part of a canonical whole, we do need to address how the meaning of Hosea’s prophecy can differ in Matthew’s citation of it and for that audience the distinction between sensus litteralis and sensus plenior is very relevant indeed. It also provides the basis for dealing with all sorts of other apparent tensions in the canonical whole, including the hatred of enemy expressed by the imprecatory psalmist when contrasted with the love of enemy expressed by Jesus.

In my lecture on the imprecatory Psalms, I lay out two views of the imprecatory psalms. The first view, which is defended by John Piper, is to endorse the moral voice of the psalmist when he wishes curses on his enemies and expresses his hatred for them. The second view, which is defended by C.S. Lewis, proposes that the psalmist’s voice in those moments of expressing hatred cannot be defended. Instead, it is included for several other reasons. To begin with, the psalms are meant to provide the panoply of real human emotions. Sometimes we are angry at others and we want to strike out at them. The psalmist is honest about expressing these emotions to God and we can be too. But this doesn’t mean we have to baptize these expressions as moral in themselves. On this view they aren’t. However, we can learn from them by finding in the voice of the psalmist’s returning evil for evil a picture of how we so often do the same. (For those interested in this discussion I recently wrote two articles on appropriating Psalm 137 in this way. See here and here.) I note in the lecture how Jesus challenges the voice of the imprecatory psalmist when he advises love of enemies rather than hatred of them.

The hosts of RD assert that I’ve only provided this one “short clip in the gospels” of teaching on the love of enemy from the Sermon on the Mount and they suggest that I’m merely picking the parts of Jesus I like. Of course this is a danger that we create God in our own image. But as I’ll note on the second point, it is a danger that applies equally to the hosts of RD. The main point I’d like to make here is that the criticism is quite unfair. I don’t simply appeal to one excerpt from the Sermon on the Mount. The most important character in the Bible is Jesus, the very revelation of the Father heart of God. And the most revealing event of Jesus the revelation of God comes in his death on the cross:

Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross! (Philippians 2)

How does the cross revolutionize our concept of what it is to be like God? Christian theologians are still grappling with this impact. Suffice it to say, my rereading of the imprecatory psalms isn’t simply a snippet from a sermon: it is motivated by the implications of the central event in the entire Bible.

This is where we move into analysis that is frankly ironic. After the hosts have dispensed with my rereading one of them provides an extended discourse on his admiration for the ancient Egyptian God “Bes” who looked goofy, was disarming, kind to children, and basically deconstructed the popular ideas of a God of arbitrary sovereign power and otherness.

And I’m thinking: really? You’ve dismissed the God that washed the feet of his disciples, who invited the children to come unto him because children represent the kingdom of heaven, who proclaimed in the Beatitudes a complete reversal of the power structures that have dominated organized civilizations since time immemorial, and that as a servant subjected himself to death on a cross. And instead you’ve lighted upon the descriptions of goofy Bes as the true exemplar of a deity you’d like to serve? And what do you suppose the chances are that the RD host’s description of Bes is made through rose-colored glasses? (But that belongs to my next point.)

Suffice it to say, the hosts of RD really make no serious attempt to understand the position I’m proposing or how this position (developed with respect to the imprecatory psalms) might be applied to other texts (like the genocide texts).

The hosts of RD have some fun with the fact that I appealed to ironic readings as one avenue for appropriating a sensus plenior reading of a text. They intone incredulously that certainly the Amalekite genocide can’t be read ironically. But then I never said it could. The point about ironic readings was being applied to the imprecatory psalms specifically.

The hosts of RD suggest that the invocation of ironic readings makes God into a “hipster”. But Jesus used irony all the time in his engagement with opponents. (Who can forget the image of the fellow with a log jutting out of his head intent on helping his neighbor with a speck of dust?) For those serious about exploring the role of irony in the Bible they could do no better than to start with the work of Carolyn Sharp. See her book Irony and Meaning in the Hebrew Bible.

The hosts of RD then throw out a few more biblical passages in an attempt to undermine my position. For example, they note that Jesus said he came to bring peace, not a sword. Hmmm, do you think that Christian pacifists just might be aware of that passage and have a reading of it? But no matter. The hosts of RD are unapologetic about their motivated reasoning and confirmation bias. Everything they present is a one-sided case-building process to discredit my reading.

Lesson 2: “Introspective-Critique? What’s-that?” Analysis

Now for the second lesson in partisan broadcasting: don’t apply the critiques of your interlocutor’s position to yourself. Introspective critique is verboten.

Case in point: the hosts of RD make joking comments about how one would identify the sensus plenior of the biblical text. The way they raise the criticism suggests that none of the hosts has a background in literary criticism because if they did they would be aware that there are no special problems here. Asking what did God mean by x? is no different in principle from asking what did any author mean by x? In other words, the debates about the “real presence” in the written word have included written texts from Shakespeare to stop signs. And while the debates sometimes veer into the postmodern absurd (I think we all have a decent handle on the meaning of a stop sign), there still is ample room for humility in our reading of more complicated texts, as the various forms of literary criticism in recent decades have demonstrated.

The lesson from all this literary criticism is not that the human author’s voice — the real presence — is lost to us. The lesson, rather, is that getting at that real presence is hard work done by fallible readers. And that’s the exact same state faced by a human reader aiming to find the divine voice coming through scripture. Even if the text itself is infallible that doesn’t mean the readings of it are. But neither does it mean that those readings are lost in hopeless projection. Unless you begin with the assumptions of the RD hosts that of course all readings for the divine voice are hopeless projection because of course there is no divine voice to hear.

I don’t need to tell you that this is yet more begging of the question. But then a partisan broadcast aimed at entertaining a partisan audience is not going to be particularly concerned about begging the question.

The hosts suggest that I’m engaged in a type of “projection”. It is not surprising that they’d say this. After all, their entire engagement with my position is predicated on the assumption that the Bible is not an inspired, canonical whole but is instead merely a fallible collection of human documents drawn together by the accidents of history. If one has this assumption then it follows trivially that any claim to finding a divine voice in the text is mere projection.

The hosts note that a study shows Christians tend to read Jesus in line with their views. Yes, this is certainly true. Indeed, I seem to recall a telling image in this regard bequeathed to us a century ago from Albert Schweitzer. Something about a deep well…

But then we get to the really telling moment when one of the hosts candidly observes:

“If we’re both making Jesus out to be extreme versions of our own view and we’re misremembering scriptures to support it, you know, I mean the overall message of this is that ‘these cognitive errors everybody engages in them.’”

Yes!

Stop the presses! The hosts of RD are on the cusp of recognizing that they too are prone to cognitive errors. Perhaps they may even come to recognize that they are liable to provide unfair and one-sided critical engagements with their chosen interlocutors!

Then we move one tantalizing step closer to this concession when one of the hosts observes:

“Atheists tend to focus on the separation of church and state and not the free expression clause whereas religious people do the opposite….”

But alas, they never quite circle back around and apply these legitimate (and sobering) observations to their own critique of my position.

And what if they had?

In that case my position wouldn’t merely be a bald, hopeless and laughable example of projection. Rather, it would represent the outline of a program for Christians to engage some passages in the Bible in a way that would remove putative defeaters to those texts by reading them in light of the cruciform Christ.

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  • AdamHazzard

    “Asking what did God mean by x? is no different in principle from asking what did any author mean by x?”

    …except that Yahweh appears in the OT as a character, not the author. The authors of those texts never claim to be Yahweh, nor in the texts is Yahweh portrayed as writing them. Similarly, in the NT, the authors of those texts never claim to be Jesus, nor is Jesus portrayed as writing them.

    Assuming otherwise produces the discontinuity that those outside the faith find puzzling and occasional ludicrous. It’s as if you’ve mistaken Frodo for Tolkein.

    • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

      Adam, your comments are a non sequitur to the point of the passage you cited. To repeat, the assertion that God is the primary author of x introduces no unique hermeneutical obstacles over assuming that some human being is the primary author of x.

      • AdamHazzard

        “No unique hermeneutical obstacles” — except the entirely relevant one of misattribution.

        It’s as if you were to say, “The assertion that Richard Hickock is the primary author of In Cold Blood introduces no unique hermeneutical obstacles over assuming that Truman Capote is the primary author of In Cold Blood.” Arguably true, depending on how you define a “unique hermeneutical obstacle,” but it introduces to the text an external defining assumption that overturns the testimony of the text itself — in the case of In Cold Blood, by depicting a work of journalism as a work of confessional third-person autobiography; in the case of the OT, by depicting tribal legends, poetry and folk history as the testament of the tribal deity described therein.

        • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

          Hmm, you seem to be thinking that I am unaware that the texts which comprise the Bible have human authors. Let me assure you, that is not the case. There are many theories of what it means for God to be the primary author of scripture, but none of them (save dictation) denies the component of a human author (and even dictation assumes the human as an automaton stenographer).

          My understanding of inspiration — at least as a basic or minimal category — is that God appropriated the words of human authors into a set of writings that he intended would be recognized as in some sense God’s authoritative words. To introduce an overly-simplistic but still helpful distinction: the question of interpreting the sensus litteralis is the question of pursuing the human author’s meaning in originally writing the texts. The question of interpreting the sensus plenior is the question of pursuing the divine author’s meaning in appropriating those words through the processes of history.

          And just as the interpretation of a human text presents obstacles to gaining the true presence (or authorial intent) of the text, so does the interpretation of the divine appropriation of that human text. But, and this is the point I was making, the hermeneutical challenge of discerning the divine authorial intent is not different in kind from discerning human authorial intents as if the former warrants skepticism not pertaining to the latter.

          • AdamHazzard

            You seem to be saying that the Christian God is “the primary author of scripture,” which at minimum would seem to suggest that he caused these words (and not others) to be written.

            But in your second paragraph you say that “God appropriated the words of human authors into a set of writings…through the process of history,” which suggests that the writings are both entirely human in their origin and were fully extant before their “appropriation.” This would make of God an editor and a publicist, not an author.

            In any case, “the hermeneutical challenge of discerning the divine authorial intent” is “different in kind from discerning human authorial intents.” For many reasons — not least, because we have to first discern whether there is a “divine authorial intent” before we can look for it between the lines. (Whereas the very existence of a text implies a human author with human intentions.)

            • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

              “This would make of God an editor and a publicist, not an author.”

              Good observation. That’s why I often do describe God’s role of divine appropriation as analogous to an editor. I make that comparison explicit in “The Swedish Atheist.” This is where we run into the analogical nature of much language about God. God is not simply like a human being, so when we describe God’s action in the formation of the Bible either as an author or an editor we are drawing analogies with human authors and editors. We shouldn’t fall into the trap of thinking these are literal ascriptions.

              “we have to first discern whether there is a “divine authorial intent””

              If you are asserting that Christians cannot accept this as a properly basic approach to the Bible absent defeaters you’d need to argue your case. You can’t simply assert it (unless you’re one of the hosts of RD!).

              • http://bilbos1.blogspot.com/ Bilbo

                Randal,

                What would you say is the sensus plenior of Yahweh commanding genocide?

                • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

                  Douglas Earl presents a mythic reading of the Canaanite genocide in his book “The Joshua Delusion”. (By “myth” he doesn’t simply mean “didn’t happen”.) Earl argues that the juxtaposition of Rahab with Achan in the narrative undermines the very in/out group marginalization of the other at the heart of the narrative.

                  Eric Seibert argues that followers of Jesus have a moral obligation to engage critically with the text. He believes that this means we are to stand with the Canaanites in the narrative just like we would stand with the Israelites in Egypt and the Tutsis in Rwanda. Fidelity to Jesus requires us to stand with every oppressed group of history.

                  Many other scholars — e.g. John Collins, Philip Jenkins, Thom Stark, Carolyn Sharp — have offered different ways to read and engage critically with these texts.

                  I don’t know about the adequacy of these proposals but at least they open up a conversation.

                  • http://bilbos1.blogspot.com/ Bilbo

                    Has anyone suggested the following: Even though the Canaanite genocide was morally reprehensible, we can re-interpret it as pointing out the importance of rooting out and putting to death all sin in our personal lives?

                    • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

                      Up until the Reformation Christians tended to look for multiple meanings in every biblical passage. This was summarized in the “Quadriga” which looked beyond the literal meaning to allegorical, anagogical and tropological meanings. These additional meanings provided ways to explain the horror of biblical genocide by shifting the primary attention away from the literal meaning and on to another one of the meanings.

                      Anagogical reading focuses on the meaning of the present text for the afterlife. In the case of the Canaanite genocide this would be taken as a prolepsis of future judgment.

                      Tropological meaning (while initially close to allegorical) eventually began to focus more explicitly on moral readings. And in that context it was not uncommon to explain the allegorial reading as manifesting the struggle with sin in the individual person and the overlapping tropological reading as providing direction for developing the spiritual disciplines that would root out that sin.

                      So to answer your question: yes. These texts often were appropriated with an emphasis on non-literal sanctification readings.

                    • http://bilbos1.blogspot.com/ Bilbo

                      Would you think that such a tropological reading would or could be a sensus plenior of the text?

                    • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

                      If a person thinks that eradicating a population is a moral atrocity, then it would not remove the moral offense of the text if we were to focus on a tropological reading in which every Canaanite infant is interpreted as a sinful disposition.

                      If, however, one has no moral problem with the eradication of the population then one certainly could complement that literal reading of the text with an additional tropological reading that would apply the text directly to the individual.

                      The real problem with the Quadriga has always been finding hermeneutical controls to delimit the range of viable non-literal readings. So what would justify one in believing that this really is the objective reading of the text from a moral point of view rather than merely a subjective projection?

                      These are difficulties but they are not insurmountable ones.

                    • http://bilbos1.blogspot.com/ Bilbo

                      It seems to me that one could believe that eradicating a population is a moral atrocity, and also believe that there is a tropological reading of the text. I would think teaching in the Epistles that these stories were written for our instruction would justify an objective moral reading.

              • AdamHazzard

                If you are asserting that Christians cannot accept this [the existence of divine authorial intent in the OT] as a properly
                basic approach to the Bible absent defeaters you’d need to argue your
                case. You can’t simply assert it (unless you’re one of the hosts of
                RD!).

                Far be it from me to tell Christians (or Mormons or Muslims or Scientologists) what opinions they can and cannot hold. But divine authorship of the OT is a claim that has to be established outside the bounds of Christian doctrine, if it wants to be anything but a statement of faith.

  • Kerk

    I’m still unclear on how you build a bridge from theism to Christianity. You say that your analysis is directed primarily towards your Christian auditory who already assume the Bible’s authenticity. But what atheists and deists want to hear is how you get to that assumption in the first place. As long as the bridge is not apparent for everyone to walk on, atheists can simply deny your analysis altogether and pound the literal interpretation of the OT’s God as moral monster.

    • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

      The method of reading these texts that I’m proposing is not part of a positive case for moving from theism to Christianity except insofar as it removes a putative defeater for the skeptic who would not otherwise consider the Bible as a potential candidate for divine revelation.

  • AdamHazzard

    I think you’re right about one thing: what we encounter here is not a problem with the texts but with their interpretation. For instance, you describe your position as “the outline of a program for Christians to engage some passages in the Bible in a way that would remove putative defeaters to those texts by reading them in light of the cruciform Christ.”

    But the defeaters are not “to the text.” The text is quite happy being what it is. The OT describes Yahweh as being jealous, avenging, etc. It does not describe him as opposed to genocide, consistently kind, et alia. Those qualities are attributed to a more modern conception of a universal god. The idea that this universal god is identical to Yahweh is an assertion by a particular group of later readers.

    In other words, if the Yahweh of the text seems incompatible with an imported and more modern notion of a cosmological God, that’s not a problem with the text. The Amalekite genocide is not “a putative defeater to the text.” It’s a putative defeater to the idea that Yahweh is identical to this more modern god.

    Maybe we should just let Yahweh be Yahweh.

    • Walter

      Amen!

  • Walter

    Pontificating about God’s intentions seems presumptuous to me.

    • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

      To be “presumptuous” is to be improperly bold or forward. There is nothing inherently presumptuous about a person making claims about what they believe God said in the Bible.

      You seem to be thinking that the charge of presumption is somehow linked to the status of the person about whom we are making truth claims. But no necessary link of this type exists.

      • Walter

        There is nothing inherently presumptuous about a person making claims about what they believe God said in the Bible.

        There is nothing presumptuous about speculation, if that is all you are doing, but if you are proclaiming your theory about God’s intentions as fact, then I believe that it is presumptuous.

        • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

          Walter, you seem to be confusing “unjustified” with “presumptuous”. You may think my claims are unjustified, but it doesn’t follow that they are therefore presumptuous.

          And this brings us to an irony: when you make the statement that I am not merely unjustified but also presumptuous, you are improperly presuming upon my psychological state.

          • Walter

            I stand by my original statement that I think that is presumptuous to present your theory as a dogmatic fact, but I also claimed that I do not feel that it is presumptuous to postulate theories about God’s intentions. If you are presenting your hermeneutics as one possible theory, then I have no problem with that. If you are stating that you *know* that your theory is correct because you *know* God’s intentions, then I consider your position to be both unjustified and arrogant.

            • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

              Now you describe me as holding my proposal as a “dogmatic fact”. Based on what do you make this assertion? Once again, it appears that you’re the one acting with presumption.

              Next, you seem to take the position that I am allowed to adopt the position that my reading of a biblical passage might be true but apparently I am not allowed to develop greater confidence in it than that. But you don’t defend your epistemic deontological claims. You simply assert them as … dogmatic facts! (Do you know that this is true or are you presenting merely one possible theory of epistemic deontology?)

              Finally, you close by claiming that my position is “arrogant”. I’m being arrogant? Oh the irony…

              • Walter

                My original comment did not even mention your name, but you automatically assumed it applied to you. I guess if the shoe fits…

                But you don’t defend your epistemic deontological claims. You simply assert them as … dogmatic facts!

                The only claim that I made is that I find it arrogant for any man to state that he *knows* God’s intentions with any degree of certainty. If a Mormon told you that he knew God’s intentions based upon his particular theory about how God speaks through the Book or Mormon, I suspect you would feel about the same.

                Apparently you believe that people can know God’s intentions with a strong degree of certainty, but that is one thing that separates revealed religionists from deists.

                • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

                  I know Mormons who have no doubt about their beliefs. They are certain in the Book of Mormon and its claims. I think they’re wrong, but they’re not arrogant at all.

                  Likewise, the degree of conviction I have about my hermeneutical proposals is a separate issue from whether I am arrogant in holding those views.

                  To wit:

                  Scenario 1: Randal shares his views on a panel discussion in which he calls the other panelists “morons” and rolls his eyes whenever they begin to speak.

                  Scenario 2: Randal politely shares his views and listens with attention as other panelists share their views.

                  In both scenarios I have the same degree of conviction about my hermeneutical proposals. But in scenario 1 I’m arrogant and in scenario 2 I’m not. For you to declare that I must also be arrogant in scenario 2 simply because I accept those hermeneutical proposals as true is simply confused.

                  • Walter

                    Let’s go back to my original statement:

                    “Pontificating about God’s intentions seems presumptuous to me.”

                    Now let’s look at the definition of the word “pontificate.”

                    Expressing one’s opinions in a way considered annoyingly pompous and dogmatic.

                    • http://bilbos1.blogspot.com/ Bilbo

                      Walter,

                      So if you weren’t claiming that Randal was expressing his opinions in a way considered annoyingly pompous and dogmatic, what was the point of your statement?

                    • Walter

                      I don’t believe that Randal’s demeanor is pompous, quite the opposite actually. I think that Randal is a fairly amiable guy.

                      I was making a general statement about all people who claim to know the mind of God.

                    • http://bilbos1.blogspot.com/ Bilbo

                      Most of us would agree with you, but was there something in particular that prompted you to say it at that point of time?
                      Edit: Most of us would agree with you about Randal as well.

  • Daniel Stenning

    Randal, I get the impression that even had the O.T. contained a passage in it to the effect of :

    “And Yahweh said to Abraham – I want to make an example of Israel – you have behaved as a male boy prostitute – Abraham. I want you to take your son and have your wicked way with him. Take his foot into your mouth and show Israel how far it has fallen. Then take you young boy, sell him to the slave market to be used and abused by older men. Let this be a warning to israel. ”

    Foot is – of course a biblical euphemism.

    Then you would find some very ingenious way to spin this as somehow acceptable.

    You claim to be somehow different in essence to the Paul Copans of this world.

    You’re no different.

    You still strain at gnats in order to pretend to yourself that out of these very man made pages god speaks.

    A far better approach would be to say that god speaks to mankind through ALL literature.

    God is to be found in all stories and writings.

    Men have gods morality imprinted on them. We then sift writings of man to find that revealed “goodness” within the pages.

    Shakespeare could just as well serve as sermon fodder. It really makes no difference.

    • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

      “You claim to be somehow different in essence to the Paul Copans of this world.

      “You’re no different.”

      Paul and I both affirm the plenary inspiration of the Bible. In that sense “we’re no different”. But in how we understand passages like the Canaanite genocide we’re radically different.

  • http://profiles.google.com/jwolforth John Wolforth

    Randal; Your final point seems to confuse the recognition
    that everyone is capable of making cognitive errors with a specific claim that
    you have made one. The RD hosts are admitting that both you and they could be
    mistaken in the interpretation of the text. You are the one who is demanding
    that they give more consideration for your interpretation. They give many reasons
    for why other interpretations are better, you demand with very little reason.

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  • Reasonable Doubts

    Thanks Randall, for the critique. We posted a response at the Reasonable Doubts Podcast website. If you have time we’d like to hear your take on the main arguments presented in the show. They are restated here. http://freethoughtblogs.com/reasonabledoubts/2013/02/23/response-to-randal-rausers-criticism-of-episode-110/

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