Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Doug TenNapel on DaVinci

Relativising The DaVinci Code

Basically, Doug (who, btw, wrote the fantastic Creature Tech I reviewed a while back) is saying that you can really get away with offending Christians but not so much with, say, Jews or Blacks. Offend Jews, you are an anti-semite or, at the very least, culturally insensitive. Offend Christians, and you are standing up for free speech.
Obviously it isn't quite that simple, but he does have a point which I've agreed with for a while.
He chooses some really poor examples to illustrate this point.
He uses the holocaust, slavery, and child molesting.
Unfortunately for his very legitamate arguement, these don't actually work here.
Sorry, Doug, but while I know you believe in the life of Jesus Christ as fact, your faith doesn't cut it against the historical facts of the holocaust and slavery (and the current facts of child molesting). Regardless of how much evidence there may be for the existence of Jesus as portrayed in the Bible, it falls short of academic standards, and certainly pales when compared to events in the 19th and 20th century.

You would have been better off finding parallels in these cultures and the stories (factual or otherwise) that create their collective identities. For example, a movie where Moses was just trying to scam the Jews and accidently stumbled into Israel. Thats much closer to the DaVinci Code, I think.

Oh, here's one, what if someone made a movie about how the Jews gathered together to slaughter Jesus for their own self-interest and to take away the salvation of his followers?
already done.

that little jibe aside, I think my point still stands.



Anonymous said...

It's actually a perfectly appropriate argument with the context I framed it. You took it out of context so of course it breaks the argument.

Remember that I'm writing this particular blog entry to Christians who say they will see the movie because it's just a story. We Christians do believe in Christ as much as the historical accounts of the holocause, slavery and the wrongness of child molestation.

But that was a valiant effort.

Doug TenNapel

moleboy said...

please clarify: are you saying that the post was intended for Christians who might go see the movie and a suggestion to them that they should consider whether or not it is appropriate/desireable to see the movie given that it attempts to undermine something you/they feel is sacred?

If so, then I definately missed that and yah, yer right, my post is just missing the point.
(that'll teach me to do this while at work)

Anonymous said...

Yes, that was the point of the post and believe me, it's my fault for how I wrote it not your's for misunderstanding. If I didn't rush it, I probably could have articulated that argument better.

The title is the clue, and I've made the argument before that we tolerate and relativize what we don't think is very true. You actually backed my point up that you would be outraged about the Holocaust being fake because you believe it happened, while you didn't think my Da Vinci example was fair because you think Jesus doesn't have the historical record to back him up. It doesn't bother me that you don't treat Christ like fact, it bothers me when Christians don't treat him as fact.

Doug TenNapel

moleboy said...

it appears we agree to have miscommunicated, and I suspect neither one of us put in the time to understand fully ;)

Interesting point, though.
For me, much of religion is based on metaphor, and so objective facts of occurances aren't relevant for me. Which means I sometimes have a hard time understanding the opposite.
For example, I am, in part, a buddhist. But thats because the teachings ring true, not because of any particular person in history.
I believe in many of the teachings of Jesus, but not because any such person actually existed.
It seems that, as you say, many Christians don't believe in the historical fact of Jesus' existence.
Just now, I was thinking that this implies a need for another sect of christianity, but then I wondered if you could possibly have anything that could be called christianity without the actual death of christ and then his rising.
I think you could, in fact, have a religion based on the view of the bible as a story which reveals the truth, but I'm not certain you could ever call it christianity

Anonymous said...

If you're part Buddhist, then it's no wonder why much of religion is based on metaphor. My religion is based on real life claims that if they are just metaphor and not historical fact, the entire religion is worthless. Because I have found them to be historical fact, it doesn't matter if the teachings "ring true" because the historicity is the leverage, not my preferences or perception. There is in fact, a great deal of my religion that goes counter to my preferences but I'm not at liberty to reject them because going against my preferences is something I would expect from a religion invented by God and not man.

If Jesus didn't actually exist, then I don't see how I could believe his teachings, since part of his teachings include the necessity of his death on the cross. If he didn't actually exist, then every bit of Christianity is a complete farce...so I guess I'm less tolerant of Christianity that you are!

I agree that many Christians don't believe the historical facts, but over the last century we're talking about some of the dumbest Christians ever to walk the earth.

There are versions of Christianity that do not believe in the historical facts of Jesus...they're called The Jesus Seminar, Unitarians etc.

Doug TenNapel

moleboy said...

this reminds me of convresations I've had with people who pick-and-choose what they want to take from the bible. Thats fine, imho, who am I to judge, but it tended to bother me when they would then assign authority to their beliefs based on the fact that it came from the bible.
This application of inheritance of authority always seemed self-serving to me.
People grant the bible a level or authority and validity. That transfers down into its messege. However, if you don't take all of whats there, if you only take A and not B, then that authority is compromised (which doesn't make it any less true, just that the oomph behind whatever tpoc can't be inherited) because the book isn't flawless.

Anonymous said...

Well, once a source is confirmed as reliable and continues to be reliable, one's belief is backed by higher and higher authority. See, you don't believe the Bible as authoritative, so you dismiss those who believe it as being sloppy in research. The Christians I study were rigorous and new more about the Bible's historicity than you do about slavery, the holocaust and wrongness of child molestation.

If the inheritance of authority is self-serving to the Christian, in what way is your own standard for authority not self-serving? I only say this because if I really wanted to serve myself, I would come up with a much easier religion to follow (like Budhism) where I could eat pizza, sleep in and watch porn without condemnation.

In case you weren't listening I, and scholars I read do not grant the Bible anything they don't also grant other historical accounts. We have more written evidence that Jesus existed than Caesar, but you have no problem believing in Caesar. I think you're actually making David Hume's argument that the more outrageous the claim the more one can demand higher proofs of the claim.

The Bible is flawless, and if you want to call it less than that you should point out specific examples of mistakes. I've been reading the book and studying the "mistakes" for 25 years and have yet to find one that was authoritatively flawed. My main point is that the Bible must be taken as a whole, because it claims it is the word of God. If it is full of contradictions and lies it must rejected whole-cloth because the parts you prefer to believe are based on the same authority as the parts you prefer not to.

Jesus claimed to be God in the Bible. If he isn't GOd, then he also is not a "good teacher" or even "a good man" because good men don't go around decieving followers that they are a diety. The Bible forces you to shit or get off the pot. Me? I'm shitting, because the more I throw rocks at it the more the Bible holds up as irrefutable. This bugs me, but it starts to ring true after a while and you learn that it takes less faith to believe it than to believe something this tight could be cobbled together by 20 lying, delusional men across 3,000 years and have it still ring true today.

moleboy said...

This time, I think you are missing my point.
What I'm saying is that the bible DOES have to be taken as a whole, and not in bits and pieces. While I, personally, don't believe that it is a historical document, I have much more respect for those who do believe that it is a flawless historical document, than those who take a chapter here and a chapter there and claim that those are flawless, and the rest are garbage (which I see as saying "this stuff is convenient for me, and this stuff isn't, so I'll take the convenient stuff"). I believe those people are self-serving (unless they can come up with some sort of compelling arguement otherwise)
To use our holocaust example, the nazis kept meticulous records of what they did and who they did it to. Given this knowledge, for me to say that the document that shows the germans moving 2000 jews into a camp is believable, but the document that shows the germans letting 3000 jews move to France is not, would really be undermining myself and showing signs of my own anti-nazi agenda.

Anonymous said...