Why Do We Trust Ancient Texts as Accurate?

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by Devils' Advocate, Jan 3, 2016.

  1. Devils' Advocate

    Devils' Advocate Well-Known Member

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    Thomas said The laws, as we construe them, of the empirical universe. We might be obliged to revise them, in which case even our laws are ephemeral.

    Aupmanvav responded Sure, no need for premature conclusions (such as that there is a God :).
    _________________________________________________________________________

    Aup's response was, obviously meant as a joke. It got me thinking though (always dangerous). Where do our knowledge bases come from? How sure can we be of their accuracy? Why do we trust them?

    Which brings me to my point. The one genuine difference between science and religion is that what we believe we know is forward thinking information in the former. And backwards thinking information for the latter.

    As most of you know I have always had an issue with the facts that we use as the foundations for our religions. It never really crystalized for me why until this moment, and my doubt, in a nutshell, is what I just mentioned.

    Science is based on current 'facts' based upon redefining facts that have been proven wrong. What we think we know is accurate today, we may find is wrong tomorrow. The trend is always moving forward with more accurate theories, better equipment to test those theories.

    With religion, all the facts that we have, all the facts that we will ever have, is thousands of years old. People living today who choose to believe in religions accept the 'fact' that Iron Age and Bronze Age peoples had the capability to understand and correctly interpret truly remarkable events that they really did not have the resources to do so.

    Please, this post is NOT about science versus religion. It IS about where we acquire our information and how much we can trust it. As a Deist, accepting facts from thousands of years ago as accurate strains my credulity.

    Obviously for Theologists, this is not a problem. I would like to understand why. My only response is that Theologists accept as a given that these early religious texts are unique in that they speak with accuracy of Godly events. All other texts upon any other subject from the same time period will be looked at with caution with the understanding that humans had very limited knowledge about how reality worked.

    So my question is why do we give these religious texts a special treatment that we would give nothing else? Again from my point of view, it is a very arbitrary decision based upon a desire to believe they are true. Because to believe in our religions, we must believe that our sacred texts are genuine. Our belief is based upon nothing (that I can perceive) beyond our desire to believe in them.

    Input on the subject from all would be appreciated, particularly from the theologists on the forum.
     
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  2. EdgyDolmen

    EdgyDolmen Active Member

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    DA - Excellent!!!
     
  3. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    Isn't science based on postulates or axioms we assume to be true and then we build on that?

    And if we can continue with the math..and it continues to work we accept our original convention to be valid?
     
  4. BigJoeNobody

    BigJoeNobody Professional Argument Attractor

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    I'll try to revisit this later when I have more time, but for now I will just say each religious worldview has their way of holding its accurateness. In Islam for instance we record chains of who knows what. Who they learned it from, and who that person learned it from. Also who corroborated that their recitation was indeed accurate. For instance a friend of mine is now certified in his knowledge of 2 Quran recitations. (2 styles, not 2 different Qurans) to which he had to go to someone who is certified and recite it without any flaws. Then he had to recite other texts (poems) to ensure he wasn't just memorizing the sounds, but the words themselves. Now his chain to the prophet is recorded, as well as corroborated and linked to others who he recited for who were certified. Hence the chain is the source of accurateness. However arguing that its original form is true, well that's a different type of argument altogether.
     
  5. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    Book of Mormon states the same argument...
     
  6. BigJoeNobody

    BigJoeNobody Professional Argument Attractor

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    maybe a brief quote as to which argument you are referring?
     
  7. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    Witnesses, chain of custody of texts...
     
  8. Craz

    Craz Active Member

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    Most theologians(of a said religion) start with the premise that their scripture is from God/Truth and therefore the factual basis for all their writings.
    In a sense the scripture is like basic axioms in mathematics.
    EG if a = b and b = c then a = c, so a=b and b=c are givens and b=c is derived from what was written (a = b and b = c ).
    Similarly with writings that are derived from scripture(s).

    Jews have Talmud,Midrashim,Mishna etc in addition to their given book(Torah)
    Muslims have the ahadith in addition to their given book(Quar'an)
    Christians have the acts and canons of the Ecumenical Councils, and the liturgy in addition to their given book (New testament).

    All these additions are claimed to be derived from their book.

    I asked a friend why he believes that Joshua made the Sun stand still for a day.
    He said "Because I want to".

    I agree your sentence says it all.
    "Our belief is based upon nothing (that I can perceive) beyond our desire to believe in them."
     
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  9. BigJoeNobody

    BigJoeNobody Professional Argument Attractor

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    in a slight way, I agree. If one believes their text is the word of an All-powerful, All-knowing God, then that in and of itself validates the stories in it to the person. It is then up to the person to understand what the words mean. The secondary sources are supposed to represent how it is understood and followed. If one asks a Muslim why we believe in a miracle, the only real answer is that it is mentioned in the Quran. We cannot see these occurrences, therefore we cannot confirm them, and theologically speaking we aren't supposed to. Miracles are things that can't be explained by the laws of this universe. They are meant as displays to the witnesses.
     
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  10. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    The big difference is science starts with axioms...and then proves or disproves the axiom with math, physics...evidence....

    They don't keep pointing at the axiom as the evidence...that would be circular reasoning...

    The problem with religion is the secondary sources while attending.oting to justify, explain, or prove the primary often disagree...
     
  11. BigJoeNobody

    BigJoeNobody Professional Argument Attractor

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    source? Can you point to a Hadith that counters the Quran, is that Hadith considered strong in accuracy? If it counters the Quran it is not authentic. Noone would use it unless they didn't know the Quran.

    The same style of proving axioms that you have stated has been done to all texts for centuries. Most of the time they hold up somehow. the Miracles (things outside of universal/physical laws) are things that cannot be proven, nor should they, they were for the people who witnessed it.
     
  12. farhan

    farhan Active Member

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    You cant really compare science with faith. They are both very different methodologies of making sense of this world.
     
  13. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Well everyone please read 'Critique and Conviction' by Paul Ricoeur ... all is explained ...
     
  14. Devils' Advocate

    Devils' Advocate Well-Known Member

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  15. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    Well in my view there are ancient texts and some have been interpolated and some lost but the importance is not so much whether they are ancient or not but whether they are "revealed" texts. Now by "revealed" I mean more than literary or poetic inspiration... there is a process noted where revelation occurs and this is what has power and significance... The Wikipedia article on revelation has much of the description of revelation I'm alluding to here.

    See:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revelation#Bah.C3.A1.27.C3.AD
     
  16. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea An ordinary cup of tea

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  17. Devils' Advocate

    Devils' Advocate Well-Known Member

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    Yeah I thought the segment I found was far too short. This one makes sense; just wish there was a shorthand version that was available online. Not that I have a problem buying a book mind you. I do have a few already!
     
  18. StevePame

    StevePame Administrator Staff Member

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    I know that feeling. I just moved. So many books were moved in that process. My back still hurts.
     
  19. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    Books....there is the library and the secret library.... And then all the boxes...
     
  20. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    OK. But religion isn't a science, nor is a religious text a science text. So we have two different orders of text, two different approaches, two different discourses.

    When it comes to empirical science, then of course we have tech. But I don't believe we're more advanced than they, I just think we've been at it longer. We've developed the tech to see and measure the empirical world more accurately. But that begs the question, if they had the tech, might they not arrive at the same conclusions?

    I worked with a lunar-landing disbeliever. His point was, with a computer as puny as they were then, man could never have landed on the moon. My belief is that he could have worked it all out on paper, the computer just did it faster. And I reckon your ancient Greek mathematician could have done the same workings out too, if he'd have had all the data to hand.

    When it comes to philosophy, they were as human as we are. They had all the resources we have.

    Man sees further in the macro and the micro spheres; to the sub-atomic domains, to the edge of the galaxy, almost to the beginning of time. So really, all he sees is better detail, and better detail allows him to make more precise statements about the empirical.

    But outside the empirical, has that much changed?

    Is the world a really a better place? No. There's probably as much suffering now as ever there was ... certainly there's a higher proportion of the global population in enforced migration than ever there was.

    Does he understand his neighbour better for all that? No. Has man said anything more about 'love' or 'life' or 'living' than those Iron and Bronze Age ancients? Not really. Read the Greek poets. Read the wisdom of the Native American. Read the political treatises of China, or the psychology of the Greek myths ...

    In fact its our profligate use of resources that stand to render this planet largely uninhabitable, as far as human life is concerned. We're well on the way of making it uninhabitable for a vast number of other species.

    It's about a discourse.
     

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