15 Jan 2011

Working Premise

Submitted by Stephen Winters

When we begin with a  premise about a subject we distort the outcome. For example, if we believe that the earth is flat, and we "know" that to be true, then everything we discover must fit within that parodym or we won't accept it. In other words, we only accept proof that supports our premise.

For  example, if we begin with a premise that says that Christianity is the one true religion we will only accept evidence that supports our premise. This is true for the other religions as well. If we believed that Buddism, or Atheism was the only true belief, then we would likewise only accept evidence that supports our premise.

For example here is a text box from my son's Science book. 

"Thinking Christianly1 

1. Study everything the Scriptures have to say about the subject, not just a single verse. 

2. Determine whether the Bible speaks directly about the theory. If it does, then you must believe the Bible and you must reject the theory or modify it to conform to what Scripture clearly states

3. If there is disagreement because the Bible does not make a clear statement on the theory, then the presuppositions for each position must be examined. If the theory is based on any presupposition that excludes God as Creator or denies the Bible as true, then one must be cautious about accepting or rejecting the theory, because it is possible to have a workable scientific model based on wrong presuppositions

4. Investigate the possibility that conditions affecting the theory in the past may not be identical to conditions today. To assume conditions were the same gives credence to the uniformitarian view of the universe, which claims that the present is the key to the past. 

5. Research what other Christian scientists say about the apparent contradiction."


Notice the underined text (underlined by me) in the box above: in #2 it says that "must believe the Bible and you must reject the theory or modify it to conform to what Scripture clearly states". Here the premise is that the Bible is true and anything that contradicts the Bible is to be rejected. the author if that "Thinking Christianity" text is working with the supposition that the Bible is the infallible inerrant2 Word of God.

In much of today Christian "Faith", a presupposition is asserted and then everything has to fit into faith system. It doesn't matter if something is true or not, what is important is if one believes something to be true. 


 Instead of beginning with a presupposition, such as that "The Bible is true" or (or view of) "God is true, we should begin fresh to find out what is true and what is not.. A good beginning point would be to use something like the Scientific Method.3

Here are some Scientific Method Steps4 

Scientific Method Step 1: Make Observations
You may think the hypothesis is the start of the scientific method, but you will have made some observations first, even if they were informal.
Scientific Method Step 2: Propose a Hypothesis
It's easist to test the null or no-difference hypothesis because you can prove it to be wrong. It's practically impossible to prove a hypothesis is correct.
Scientific Method Step 3: Design an Experiment to Test the Hypothesis
Scientific Method Step 4: Test the Hypothesis
Scientific Method Step 5: Accept or Reject the Hypothesis
Scientific Method Step 6: Revise the Hypothesis (Rejected) or Draw Conclusions (Accepted)

These steps are also common 

Scientific Method Step 1: Ask a Question
Scientific Method Step 2: Make Observations and Conduct Background Research
Scientific Method Step 3: Propose a Hypothesis
Scientific Method Step 4: Design an Experiment to Test the Hypothesis
Scientific Method Step 5: Test the Hypothesis
Scientific Method Step 6: Accept or Reject the Hypothesis

A main difference in Christian faith and in the scientific inquiry is that the christians begin with the idea that they are right. In science the quest is to find what is true, but also realized that there is a lot that can't be proven.


 My Background

I was raised by parents who called themselves Christians, but had their own set of beliefs. As a result I developed my own set of beliefs about God, the bible, church meetings, etc. Part of my belief system was what seems common in the Christian world today. That belief was "The bible is the inerrant, infallible, Word of God, the final authority in all things relating to faith and practice".

However, when I went through some very long and difficult years my religious beliefs crumbled. I realized that my beliefs weren't based upon truth. Although my faith in God has been greatly strenghthened,  I've had to rethink and evaluate much of what I once thought and believed about the Bible and religion. As I write these pages, my working premise is that various parts of the Bible were written by some godly men. (They wrote as honestly and truly as they were capable of writing. They wrote about what they had seen and learned about history and God's working.) However, the perceptions of the Bible by many today is distorted and has gotten way off track. The Bible has been made into a form of an idol. (Everything is based on the Bible, and it is called the "Word of God".)

Much of what I've been learning over the years is kind of fragmented, and just in my head. I decide write these pages to help me to put together what I've been learning. In other words, I'm mainly writing these pages for myself so that I can better understand all this myself. These web pages are a collection of ideas and beliefs that I've been learning over the years. This section of pages are focused on what I've been learning about the Bible. I'm writing these pages to clarify:

  1. What do I think or believe about the Bible
  2. What is true?

It is my intent to study, research, and write about the Bible:

  1. What is the Bible?
  2. Who actually wrote the various parts of it?
  3. How is it perceived?
  4. What is it's purpose?
  5. How can it be used?

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