Convergence of Evidence

Rough Draft

Important to the process of scientific investigation is convergence. You’ll see articles “this study says choclate is Healthy! Wine is healthy! Then a few months later “new study says wine is NOT health for you or chocolate is not healthy!”
 
These articles are making a mistake when it comes to how science determines something to be true or false. You’re not meant to read a single study and assume that it represents the whole truth. You’re meant to look at multiple studies, let evidence accumlate, examine the entire body of observations and experiments, THEN draw conclusions.

Conclusions based on the convergence of evidence
 
where all evidece is compared, examined contextually, that is where truth emerges. The convergeance of evidence is more important than any single piece of evidence can be alone.
 
now I I turn to the Bible. The Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament
 
The 5 books of the Pentateuch , which do have a few different authors and perspectives, when you come to the end of the Pentateuch or the Torah, you can have a fairly clear idea of the God they are trying to describe.
 
Then as you move into the writings and the prophets, you see something different. The authors begin questioning, characters in narratives question and authors of poetry and prophecy question and challenge the picture of God that’s been described. If the God of the Torah loves us protects us provides for us WHY did this event happen? Are we being punished? Tested? Rebuked? Abandoned?
 
They also begin to question their leaders. Our leaders have been tellin gus to do this, but I’m hearing a call from God that the way those leader act, they way they tell us to act is wrong. It is not in accord with the truth God wished for us to arrive at. I thought God appointed our leaders? Why do our leaders fail?
 
So here is the question I have. I pose it to you but I also continue to pose it for myself:
 
If the authors of the five books of the Torah describe God in a particular way that later authors question and try to redefine, does that constitute an ERROR? Same amongst the later attempts to clarify, when the authors challenge one another. Are we r adding a contradictory collection of books that is ridilled with errors and inconsistencies?
 
Is it an error to expand a definition, to clarify, and apply new terms or contexts?
 
Is there a convergence on truth in the bible instead of plain statements of immutable truth?

Are we meant to follow the accumulation of the collected bibilical writings to arrive at the truth?
 
Is that what Jesus represents to those who identify as Christian?
That Jesus is the culmination, where the truth finally converges on the most exact understandning of who God is, what God wants from us, and why things happen to us the way they do?
 
Is that what it means to fulfill the law? Fulfill the writings and the Prophets?

I’ve heard it argued many times: the Bible cannot contradict itself, it cannot contain errors.

If it does then we couldn’t trust it
If it does then it could lead us astray

I’ve come to believe that it clearly contains errors and contradictions and counter arguments.

Because it is a collection of writings by different authors, offering their own revelation from God. Bringing new perspective. Redefining to compensate for human bias and ignorance that inevitably found its way into God’s attempts to guide us.

And it makes me trust the Bible more. Because the collection is our context. The different books accumulate into a whole to be defined by their language, their history, their genre, and so on. We are to examine them all. Look at the entire body of arguments put before us. Consider them, they way the convergence.

And

through that convergence draw our conclusions

Through the convergence find the truth

I can’t say what conclusions you’ll draw if you read the Bible in the way I describe

But the more I read in this manner the more certain I am of the conclusion.

The convergence of evidence leads me to Jesus as the final truth. The truth God has always wanted us to cling to

Love God with the whole of your being

Love your neighbor as yourself

All the Torah and the Writings and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

Infinity

because of my religiously-minded perspective I thought of one specific thing at the end of the new Avengers film: Passover

Passover was something I learned about and celebrated as a child but when it occurred to me later on in life to think about what actually happened I realized that the celebration of one people’s emancipation is the result of an act that could easily be compared to genocide. I was not prepared for Thanos to arouse thoughts of an act that combines the Hebrew God’s mercy with his wraith.

I too am a sinner

I know of a church where a stranger stole some of the money collected during the service. The stranger had been welcomed into the church. At some point the stranger stepped out of the service and took some of the offerings.

Years after hearing this story told, I heard a similar story from a different church.

What should be done in situations like these?

Buy a safe?
Post a guard?

I have no doubt that some churches abuse their position of power and privilege to enhance their own wealth. But many small churches rely on these offerings to pay for heat and water and electricity.

So what to do?

Close the door to strangers?
Assign a monitor to all guests?
Carry weapons?

I chose a different path.

I chose to look up strangers such as these with mercy.

If these strangers stole out of hunger, I pray that they found something to eat.

If these strangers stole to feed an alcohol or drug addiction, I pray that they find the means to end the suffering that such addictions inevitably bring.

If these strangers stole to pay bills for themselves or their families, I pray that they find access to the resources they need to provide shelter and safety.

If these strangers seek forgiveness I pray that they come back to the church, or any church, and find mercy and forgiveness.

Some might say, “Stealing is a sin! Why should we welcome them?! Why should we risk their presence again, knowing they might take from us and abuse our trust!?!”

In response I look to the Desert Fathers and Mothers

One of the brethren sinned, and the priest told him to leave the community. So then Abbot Bessarion got up and walked out with him saying: ‘I too am a sinner.’

Not only am I not given authority to judge
Not only am I called to welcome the stranger

I am called to take risks for the sake of Jesus. For the sake of the kingdom he asks us to build in this world.

If you are not willing to risk for Jesus, then perhaps you would would prefer the road to a different kingdom

THOSE people are destroying society

Whoever they are. I’m not sure who it’s supposed to be anymore that’s unstitching society. Uprooting our morals, our standards for what is acceptable. I really don’t know because so many of the arguments are silly

And so many don’t care to make an argument at all. They just care to identify a scapegoat

It’s

The Gays
The Jews
The Rednecks
The Latinos
The Blacks
The Scientists
The Atheists
The Catholics
The Mormons
The Millenials
The Capitalists
The Socialists
Hillary Clinton

THOSE people

Whatever

I don’t care about the scapegoating and labeling that obviously has nothing to do with what’s actually driving our society into darker and darker places

I did come across a great example of what’s destroying our society that has nothing to do with a scapegoat

The example is an incident that distills popular sentiments into a simple act

This young man knocked on a door for assistance and was met

With a gun

That my friends, is what’s destroying our society

I was a stranger and you welcomed me
– Matthew 25:35c NRSVCE

Nested Hierarchy

Finally, I wrote about Nested Hierarchy

I’m trying to keep this intro post as short as possible

…probably not doing a very good job though

Nested Hierarchy is the way I read the Bible. There are a number of ways to approach the Bible and many of them overlap

I’m just going to make a basic comparison here though

To contrast my view I’ll talk about a narrative hierarchy

That’s how we read most books

You start at the beginning of a book and read to the end, a straight line through the text

It’s an easy way to read for sure

That’s why most books are arranged this way; the beginning chapter creates a foundation and each chapter slowly builds on that foundation

I can’t read the Bible this way for one simple reason:

The Bible is not a book, it’s a collection of books

Some of the individual books have a narrative hierarchy, some don’t

But the collection as a whole definitely does not

So I have to look elsewhere for the foundation

I believe that foundation is Jesus

Jesus is the center of a nest, with the other layers in the nest built around him

Jesus is like an egg

The egg is the point of the nest
The egg gives the nest purpose
The egg is the reason the nest was built
Everything about the nest has to be viewed through the object at it’s center

I believe Jesus is the center of the Biblical nest

All the books of the Bible are read through the lens of Jesus

His teachings
His life
His death
His resurrection
His return

The books of the Bible have their purpose fulfilled by Jesus
Jesus is the reason this collection of books was built
Jesus is the point of the collection

The center of the Nested Hierarchy

This is a theological nest I’m talking about, others may use a similar nested approach but with a different goal.

A good example would be a historical approach. Instead of trying to find the theological center of the biblical texts you might try to determine which books were written first. Then you could look at the Bible in terms of how each book is related to those that came before it.

You could do the same with language or culture as the center around which everything was built

To be honest most of us use some combination of these different different approaches

Me included

But the most important to me is the the theological nested hierarchy

My theological perspective is definitely Christian. There are others as well.

Jewish theology for example. You could say that Jewish theology places the first five books of the Hebrew Bible at the center and builds theological interpretation of the other books around them. Those first five books are also know as the Torah or the Pentateuch.

Even Muslims revere the Bible, though they view it with the lens of their prophet and their holy book at the center

My lens is Jesus
Every book points to him
Every conundrum and question that the diverse writers of the Bible attempt to address are fulfilled by him

All of my beliefs, my faith flow from this method of understanding the Bible

The Nested Hierarchy of the Bible leads me to a number of different conclusions, many that other Christians don’t share

About history
About neurology
About physics
About human sexuality
About any aspect of life that I relate to by way of the Bible

All these conclusions and more are the result of reading the Bible as a Nested Hierarchy

The term nested hierarchy is used in a variety of contexts

Brain science

Genealogy

Those Russian dolls that fit inside each other

Reading about these examples might help illustrate what I’m saying here better than I can

I know that thinking this way has led me to many conclusions that other Christians would disagree with. I certainly disagree with many Christians as a result of my nested approach to the Bible.

I guess that’s one point of this blog

We can’t find common ground if we don’t understand each other. If you want to understand my religious beliefs whether you’re Christian or not

Nested Hierarchy is my staring point

For someone you love

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It’s hard to talk about love & suffering

they don’t seem to go together well

especially when it comes to the idea of a God who loves but allows suffering

So my thought for this Easter is something I think parents will understand better than I do

If I asked:

What would you do for your children? How far would you go? To protect them? To keep them safe?

Most of the parents I know would have the same answer:

Anything
I’d do anything for my children

I think maybe that’s why suffering exists, because love means you’ll suffer for someone you love.

You’ll place someone’s needs above yours

Above your own life

This is My commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends

John 15:12-13 NLT

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A’ Chàisg sona
Ka hari Aranga
Kristos sotonnheton;
oriwiio tsi sotonnheton
hyvää pääsiäistä
M’shee ho dkom!
Happy Easter

Links to

the images above

Bridging the Gulf & The Argument for Altruism

George Price*
 
created a simple and elegant equation to explain altruism as an evolutionary strategy
 
Basically, life is a game

You can use different strategies
There are different players
As well as alliances and teams
 
All with similar goals
 
Live long
Have babies
& try to make sure your genes get passed on
 
A lot of strategies exist to accomplish those goals
 
One of them is altruism

Sacrifice for your reproductive partner
Scarifice for your child
Create social networks that support your family & make sacrifices for the group

So the group will protect your child
So the members of the group want to reproduce with you and your children
 
Altruism is a good strategy that can work very well
 
The others can work too
 
But many of them are based on dominance and violence and fear
 
The Bible is a complex argument about the right way to play this game
 
The authors of the Bible are players in the game trying to find the best strategy, arguing with each other
Sometimes arguing with themselves

And out of those arguments comes a clear answer
 
Altruism
 
The Bible is an argument that Altruism is the best, the correct strategy
 
Self sacrifice and loving your neighbor are the best way to play the game of life
 
And the Bible adds something else
Another reason to play the gam without judgment
To play the game with love
 
The Bible argues that Altrusim is the strategy that pleases God
Altruism is God’s strategy

That God became human and gave his life for us

because self sacrifice is the only strategy a loving God can use
 
When we choose a strategy based on dominance and violence and fear
A space between humans and God is created
And a space between you and your neighbors
  
God’s sacrifice in Jesus closes the gap
Bridges the gulf between humanity and God
Bridges the gulf between us all
 
Faith in Jesus
Faith in his life and death and resurrection
Means accepting the sacrifice
Answering the call to make altruism our strategy
Answering the call to make sacrifices in your life
As individuals
As socities
 
There’s no expectation that you’ll be perfect
And no one answer God’s call the same way
Your sacrifices will be different from mine

God’s strategy isn’t based on performance
You don’t have to earn God’s love

God’s sacrifice is absolute

But if you accept the strategy
If you accept the sacrifice

The strategy will begin working through you
 
The call to this strategy has always been here
It’s God’s call screaming from the books of the Bible

And it is now fully revealed in Jesus
 
Embrace the strategy of Jesus

Bridge the gulf

*The conclusion of George Price’s life is very sad. I recommend reading about it and thinking about why I’m encouraging everyone to think👆this way

George Price, the man who gave himself away