On "A visit to Tekton Apologetics Ministries"October 7, 2007 vs Dumplin Dumbash
Not long ago I discovered yet another site by a pissant Skeptic with zero credentials and no inclination to use any sort of Biblical scholarship. In fact, it seems that his most advanced source is stuff like Strobel. Not that there's anything wrong with Strobel: As I always say, his stuff is good "gateway" material. But as is typical, our man here -- who I'll call Dumplin' Dumbash -- seems to think that making a few cutie-pie comments is enough to do the job.
Dumplin' visited my own site and has a few responses (such as they are) up to my material. As you might expect, it's like watching someone bleed to death trying to hug a porcupine.
Dumplin's biggest whine is about how "God consistently and universally fails to show up in the real world." What he means by this -- as is apparent from his other entries -- is that God isn't meeting his personal expectations to tie his shoelaces for him, feed himself, and help him go potty, so that means God is a failure. Don't bother explaining to him how the Biblical model of God makes such expectations idiotic -- if you even try to explain to him about the patronage models (which show that God will, overall, be remote and distant from us) he'll accuse you of going outside the Bible for information, which tells you enough that what we have here is a "fundy atheist" of the usual ignorance. He also throws around words like "superstitions" and "subjective feelings" a few times to make sure he dazzles you from seeing that when it comes to actual arguments, he's lost in the cold. He's too caught up thinking we're still using stuff like "God works in mysterious ways" as our main argument. He'll also say stupid, paranoid stuff like this:
The goal of Christian apologetics is to dazzle the believer's mind with speculations, philosophical debates, and emotional appeals in order to distract them from the unpleasantly godless reality that surrounds them. By continually redirecting the believer's attention to the [real world context] of the debate, the skeptic can turn witnessing into a direct confrontation with realityĖthe last thing the believer wants. If we consistently take this approach, in conjunction with the other tools of the Unapologetic Toolbox, we can eventually bring the believer to the point where all he can do is quote the old Monty Python line: "Oh, you're no fun any more."
And in an entry supposedly about evidence for the Resurrection, Dumplin's trump card is this, of all things:
If Jesus really did love us enough to die and rise again so that we could be together forever, then he ought to be showing up in real life to participate in a real-world relationship with each of us, since forever isnít over yet. As anyone can easily verify, thatís not happening out in the real world where Jesus's real, physical body was supposedly really physically raised.
Pfffft. Dumplin' thinks this issue is "very uncomfortable for the believer" and it may well be for the kind of Christian who has also been taught that God is your personal buddy. For those of us more educated, however, the idea of God as remote is no more or less than we'd expect -- and we're very comfortable -- thanks, Dumplin', but you can go back in your playpen now. We'll be shoving a little reality down your gullet and watching you choke on it.
Anyways, on to what Dumplin' says of Tekton. Two things tell us a lot. First of all, Dumplin' makes a beeline for the Nutshell page. Gee. Dumbash wants to only read the simple stuff, huh? Rest of it too hard for him? It is. You can see why in the way he responds. He quotes the summation under "Prophecy" that says:
Does the NT misuse the OT for prophecy “fulfillment”? No. Summation of depth article found here:
- In NT times, ALL major groups within the Judaism of the day could, and did, use various text types. The early Christians were accordingly NO DIFFERENT than their non-Christian counterparts; they reflected the prevailing ‘methods’ and understandings of 1st century “good Jewry.”
- The NT authors were not in any way departing in radical fashion from their non-Christian counterparts in 1st century Judaism, in the area of exegetical practice. Instead, they were squarely within acceptable praxis, and indeed, may have constituted the most exegetically conservative of the groups at the time.
There's a link to Miller's huge article there, with scary sources like Longenecker in it, but Dumplin' is too scared to handle that, so he only addresses the summary, thus, to begin:
Did you catch that? The problem is that the value of a “prophetic” witness lies in the need for divine inspiration to explain the prophet’s foreknowledge. The style of interpretation used for the “fulfillments,” however, is so loose and flexible as to guarantee a “fulfillment” whether the prophet knew what the fulfillment was going to be or not. In other words, the “fulfillment” demonstrates only the interpreter’s ingenuity in manipulating the text, without the need for any actual foreknowledge on the prophet’s part.
The apologetics solution to this problem? Hey, all the theologians were using the “loose/flexible” style of interpretation back in the Bronze Age. In other words, “Aw, mom, everybody’s doing it!” If Christians adopt a style of interpretation that requires no actual foreknowledge on the part of the prophet, that’s ok, because the practice has been theologically validated by unbelieving Jews and superstitious pagans.
I guess that settles that.
As a matter of fact, Dumbash, it does settle it, and calling the text and its authors names ("Bronze Age," "superstitious," "unbelieving") just shows how inept you are at providing an actual answer. Presumably this is what Dumplin' means when he claims to be "reasonable": He means he's better than everyone else.
What Dumplin' fails to grasp, though, is that the answer here is more than intrepretative methods used in the first century (not "the Brozne Age" which Dumplin' is apparently dumb enough to think lasted into the NT era). The issue here is that despite his ignorance, most of what is called Biblical prophecy is not, and was never intended to be, predictive. As noted here,(an article too hard for Dumplin' to address, that's for sure), the NT is using the OT to validate the present by means of its resemblance to the past -- not the prediction of the future. Very few Bible prophecies actually were intended to be read that way, so the Deuteronomic prophet test is not even relevant here. Thus as well, Dumbash's whine that the prophecies are "worded vaguely" is misdirected (as he would understand if he had any intellect to speak of, and had read Miller's explanation about atomistic exegesis).
After whining a bit more in this misdirected vein, Dumplin' then tries to poison the well a bit with comparisons to Joseph Smith and David Koresh. As if this were hard. Smith, not knowing any better, made a number of predictive prophecies, all of which can be fairly tested. The Book of Mormon, and Koresh, do not deal in things like probabilities (per the linked article); they are not part of the more modern experiential template. More idiotically, Dumplin' asks:
Or why limit it to ancient Jewish texts? In Hamlet Act 1, Scene 5, Shakespeare wrote “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” If we’re allowed enough flexibility in our interpretation, that could be a prophecy that was “fulfilled” by Einstein’s theory of relativity. Or by the discovery of planets beyond Saturn. Or by string theory. Or whatever.
Well, for one thing, Dumbash, that doesn't even come close to the level of specificity required, as you'd know had you read Miller's article rather than being too scared to do more than address a summary. For another, the paradigm would require that Einstein (or whoever) found Shakespeare's line and claimed it was a validation of his theory, not a prediction of it. Either way, Dumbash is pilloried his own incorrect understanding of what is being argued, and that's what happens when you're so gutless than you can't do more than address a summary statement.
It gets worse before it gets better. We'll keep up on it. Just check the column to the right for more.