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Thread: The Power of Metaphor

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    Default The Power of Metaphor

    Metaphor - the equating of two dissimilar things because, from some vital or important perspective, they are the same.

    I feel that most people see metaphor as MERELY a poetic flourish, a trick of language to make us laugh or even wonder...a language stunt that only English majors really care about.

    But I believe that metaphor serves a much deeper, broader purpose and that purpose is supportive of much that we take for granted as our deepest and most personal truths.

    Like it or not, we all use metaphor and in ways we usually don't even recognize. Without writing poetry we assume that a metaphoric reference is clear cut to those who see or hear our words.

    Looking back at the above text the following metaphors were unconsciously used (I just now went back to pick them out not knowing for sure if any would be present):

    • perspective - a view of a visual landscape from particular location mapped onto the realm of knowledge or truth
    • see - to take in visual stimuli through the eye mapped onto the realm of knowledge or truth
    • clear cut - precisely separated with a knife or scissors mapped onto the realm of knowledge or truth
    • realm - a designated space typically ruled by a certain central government mapped onto knowledge/truth


    From the above I have to wonder whether discussions of knowledge and/or truth are not constantly "painted" with spatial and perceptual metaphors due to it being such an abstract aspect of our collectively perceived reality.

    When reading scripture we should recognize that there may be some assumed metaphors in the mind of the inspired authors. Of course, taking this perspective one has to admit to the reality that scripture is inspired by God through the human mind and hand that wrote it in the language it was originally written in (then translated through the mind of the translator, etc). Although it may be tempting to believe that no matter the author or translator, the Bible IS the word of God, that only answers questions by dismissal and not by any sort of verifiable truth we might benefit from such as the very useful knowledge that would tell us whether or not something someone, even ourselves, that was written was God inspired. Clearly giving up this sort of knowledge is tantamount to denying that God could use anyone to further His will through inspired literature. He did it before, He could do it again. Who are we to deny Him?

    Recognizing the mind of the human author or, perhaps, even the God-provided metaphor in the scripture at hand helps us to properly understand the scope and intent of that scripture. If we were to assume that all scripture was to be interpreted as literally as possible in a sort of dogmatic desire to rid ourselves of any such ambiguities that arise, we are left with the problem of all the contradictions with science and other internal contradictions between what one inspired author has written and another has written. Already we have Paul whose writings are oldest. Then the four gospel authors whose works are mainly later and not fully overlapping or mutually consistent. Then we have the later letters, the church fathers, etc...depending on whom one chooses to include in the line of inspired interpretation of the teachings of Jesus. Each source, each book, is inflected with the mind of its author. To take this approach is not to devalue the Bible but to take it seriously as a source of truth...even verifiable truth! We can get lost in arguments over metaphors and loose sight of what brings value to our lives or we can recognize the subjective perspectives of the authors, the world they lived in and the people they wrote to. In all of that are also the metaphors they used that they and their audience believed were assumed truths.

    The main virtue of a metaphor is that we can talk about something which we find it difficult to describe in terms of something of which we are deeply familiar. As I have (barely) demonstrated above (but others have demonstrated more fully (see http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/...bo3637992.html)) we all use metaphor to help us to understand very commonly discussed topics without even consciously recognizing that we do. When we read the writings of inspired authors, we should recognize that they, like us, do the same. Some of our most cherished and argued truths also qualify.

    Recognizing that a statement is metaphoric provides us the following benefits:

    • Avoiding arguments based on different text in the Bible - the corollary to this is that the Bible becomes consistent when seen as metaphoric of God rather than literal about God
    • The transcendence of God is made apparent by the various limitations of each authors effort to describe Him and His truth
    • The diversity of appeal of God is made apparent by same diversity of human knowers who have been identified as being given inspiration by God
    • It takes God out of His book and restores Him to His creation - seeing God as transcendent of any specific description of Him gives us a better understanding of His mysterious and transcendent nature much better than making him the literal subject or character in a story mainly involving human beings


    God is a person - you can have a personal relationship with God, Jesus is God's Son, referring to God as He, as being a LORD, etc...all this is metaphoric of God who is beyond all of these ideas. Without metaphor we would not even know how to begin to talk about God much less learn about Him in a community of faith.
    It's literary, not literal.

    Truth is poetic, if only anyone believed this...

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    I fear this is too complex to be properly deiscussed here. I would have difficulty parsing your OP into bites small enough to easily grasp or argue. Taken as a whole I find myself in general agreement, but perhaps we can isolate the contentions?

    That there is a definite influence from the individual writers of Scripture (as opposed to it being God's own words)

    That language is laced with metaphore and analogy, so intricate, that it can rarely if ever be taken purely at face value.

    Is that fair? Perhaps there is more you might include in a summary?

    Richard Gillett
    I am an unworthy servant. But someone had to stand up and be counted.

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    I just want to add that metaphors are very commonly used in science to explain processes. Very common. They are not in that case considered poetic but giving real information clear to the speaker or writer.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sealchan View Post
    Metaphor - the equating of two dissimilar things because, from some vital or important perspective, they are the same.

    I feel that most people see metaphor as MERELY a poetic flourish, a trick of language to make us laugh or even wonder...a language stunt that only English majors really care about.

    But I believe that metaphor serves a much deeper, broader purpose and that purpose is supportive of much that we take for granted as our deepest and most personal truths.

    Like it or not, we all use metaphor and in ways we usually don't even recognize. Without writing poetry we assume that a metaphoric reference is clear cut to those who see or hear our words.

    Looking back at the above text the following metaphors were unconsciously used (I just now went back to pick them out not knowing for sure if any would be present):

    • perspective - a view of a visual landscape from particular location mapped onto the realm of knowledge or truth
    • see - to take in visual stimuli through the eye mapped onto the realm of knowledge or truth
    • clear cut - precisely separated with a knife or scissors mapped onto the realm of knowledge or truth
    • realm - a designated space typically ruled by a certain central government mapped onto knowledge/truth


    From the above I have to wonder whether discussions of knowledge and/or truth are not constantly "painted" with spatial and perceptual metaphors due to it being such an abstract aspect of our collectively perceived reality.

    When reading scripture we should recognize that there may be some assumed metaphors in the mind of the inspired authors. Of course, taking this perspective one has to admit to the reality that scripture is inspired by God through the human mind and hand that wrote it in the language it was originally written in (then translated through the mind of the translator, etc). Although it may be tempting to believe that no matter the author or translator, the Bible IS the word of God, that only answers questions by dismissal and not by any sort of verifiable truth we might benefit from such as the very useful knowledge that would tell us whether or not something someone, even ourselves, that was written was God inspired. Clearly giving up this sort of knowledge is tantamount to denying that God could use anyone to further His will through inspired literature. He did it before, He could do it again. Who are we to deny Him?

    Recognizing the mind of the human author or, perhaps, even the God-provided metaphor in the scripture at hand helps us to properly understand the scope and intent of that scripture. If we were to assume that all scripture was to be interpreted as literally as possible in a sort of dogmatic desire to rid ourselves of any such ambiguities that arise, we are left with the problem of all the contradictions with science and other internal contradictions between what one inspired author has written and another has written. Already we have Paul whose writings are oldest. Then the four gospel authors whose works are mainly later and not fully overlapping or mutually consistent. Then we have the later letters, the church fathers, etc...depending on whom one chooses to include in the line of inspired interpretation of the teachings of Jesus. Each source, each book, is inflected with the mind of its author. To take this approach is not to devalue the Bible but to take it seriously as a source of truth...even verifiable truth! We can get lost in arguments over metaphors and loose sight of what brings value to our lives or we can recognize the subjective perspectives of the authors, the world they lived in and the people they wrote to. In all of that are also the metaphors they used that they and their audience believed were assumed truths.

    The main virtue of a metaphor is that we can talk about something which we find it difficult to describe in terms of something of which we are deeply familiar. As I have (barely) demonstrated above (but others have demonstrated more fully (see http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/...bo3637992.html)) we all use metaphor to help us to understand very commonly discussed topics without even consciously recognizing that we do. When we read the writings of inspired authors, we should recognize that they, like us, do the same. Some of our most cherished and argued truths also qualify.

    Recognizing that a statement is metaphoric provides us the following benefits:

    • Avoiding arguments based on different text in the Bible - the corollary to this is that the Bible becomes consistent when seen as metaphoric of God rather than literal about God
    • The transcendence of God is made apparent by the various limitations of each authors effort to describe Him and His truth
    • The diversity of appeal of God is made apparent by same diversity of human knowers who have been identified as being given inspiration by God
    • It takes God out of His book and restores Him to His creation - seeing God as transcendent of any specific description of Him gives us a better understanding of His mysterious and transcendent nature much better than making him the literal subject or character in a story mainly involving human beings


    God is a person - you can have a personal relationship with God, Jesus is God's Son, referring to God as He, as being a LORD, etc...all this is metaphoric of God who is beyond all of these ideas. Without metaphor we would not even know how to begin to talk about God much less learn about Him in a community of faith.
    My dear friend, sounds to me that you will soon be coming over to the dark side(smile). Metaphors are not literally applicable to the action or objects that they represent. They apply to any physical construct(action or object), that is real, and falsifiable. Metaphors, in themselves are not real, and are only meant to be a symbolic, or a representation of something else, that is real. They do not validate, legitimize, or confirm anything. Remember when we use metaphors, we are also inadvertently giving validity, credibility, and truth, to the object or action that it is representing. For example, "he ran like a bat out of Hell". Bats don't run, and Hell doesn't exist. But it highlights, illustrates, and describes a real action. The problems occur when metaphors are inadvertently used to justify or validate mental constructs. When metaphors are applied to physical constructs, the constructs are objectively real therefore, no confusion can exist. But when applied to a mental constructs, confusion reigns. In many cases, to the extremes. For example, "I love you more than life itself". Love is not real, but life is. How many lives are lost due to the amount of love/desire? Since I am not very knowledgeable in Scripture, I can only speculate, that there are passages that ask people to, "walk in the light/path of God for the rest of your lives", or something similar. This metaphor tends to legitimize a mental construct, and many have taken this metaphor literally. This in turn has legitimised a whole belief system. Metaphors became more important, than what they represented. Metaphors are not rational, but they weren't meant to be. They are meant to function like an adverb/adjective, to modify and describe an object, or action. It was not meant to validate what it represents.

    My friend, I'm afraid, no amount of the usage of metaphors, will ever smooth over the many contradiction that is inherent in the Bible. The Bible is one big metaphor. It is a book of stories and fables. It is not a history book or a science book. So, any of its metaphoric application, are irrelevant in fiction. But they are invaluable in their entertainment value, as a study aid to highlight the Bible's main narratives, and as an illustration tool. I'm also afraid that because of the subjective nature of people, reaching an objective interpretation on anything, would be impossible, no matter how many metaphors you may use. I may have agreed with you that metaphors can be used to describe difficult terms and ideas, but after listening to the rants of Fred, I'm afraid, I'd prefer to explain things the old fashion way. I hope that I have presented my opinion as clearly as possible. I've been told that my English is poor, and my composition is even worst. As always, a pleasure. Don

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    Quote Originally Posted by Truly Enlightened View Post
    My dear friend, sounds to me that you will soon be coming over to the dark side(smile). Metaphors are not literally applicable to the action or objects that they represent. They apply to any physical construct(action or object), that is real, and falsifiable. Metaphors, in themselves are not real, and are only meant to be a symbolic, or a representation of something else, that is real. They do not validate, legitimize, or confirm anything. Remember when we use metaphors, we are also inadvertently giving validity, credibility, and truth, to the object or action that it is representing. For example, "he ran like a bat out of Hell". Bats don't run, and Hell doesn't exist. But it highlights, illustrates, and describes a real action. The problems occur when metaphors are inadvertently used to justify or validate mental constructs. When metaphors are applied to physical constructs, the constructs are objectively real therefore, no confusion can exist. But when applied to a mental constructs, confusion reigns. In many cases, to the extremes. For example, "I love you more than life itself". Love is not real, but life is. How many lives are lost due to the amount of love/desire? Since I am not very knowledgeable in Scripture, I can only speculate, that there are passages that ask people to, "walk in the light/path of God for the rest of your lives", or something similar. This metaphor tends to legitimize a mental construct, and many have taken this metaphor literally. This in turn has legitimised a whole belief system. Metaphors became more important, than what they represented. Metaphors are not rational, but they weren't meant to be. They are meant to function like an adverb/adjective, to modify and describe an object, or action. It was not meant to validate what it represents.

    My friend, I'm afraid, no amount of the usage of metaphors, will ever smooth over the many contradiction that is inherent in the Bible. The Bible is one big metaphor. It is a book of stories and fables. It is not a history book or a science book. So, any of its metaphoric application, are irrelevant in fiction. But they are invaluable in their entertainment value, as a study aid to highlight the Bible's main narratives, and as an illustration tool. I'm also afraid that because of the subjective nature of people, reaching an objective interpretation on anything, would be impossible, no matter how many metaphors you may use. I may have agreed with you that metaphors can be used to describe difficult terms and ideas, but after listening to the rants of Fred, I'm afraid, I'd prefer to explain things the old fashion way. I hope that I have presented my opinion as clearly as possible. I've been told that my English is poor, and my composition is even worst. As always, a pleasure. Don
    Your posts are very long so I'll just comment on a few points where You're wrong. Metaphors are often real. The expression is "he flew like a bat out of hell" not what you changed to prove a point. Jesus said he is a door. That's a metaphor but doors are real. If the metaphor doesn't exist it's lost it's ability to communicate, the whole reason it's there.

    Since this enlightenment has yet occurred in your thinking, your evaluation of the Bible to be a metaphor is not to be trusted. Anyone who is educated to some degree in ancient literature knows it contains different types of written material. If you think it's a metaphor, you don't know what the Bible is not what a metaphor is.
    ------------------------
    "He has shown you, O man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you. But to do justly..and to love mercy...and to walk humbly with your God."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Gillett View Post
    I fear this is too complex to be properly deiscussed here. I would have difficulty parsing your OP into bites small enough to easily grasp or argue. Taken as a whole I find myself in general agreement, but perhaps we can isolate the contentions?

    That there is a definite influence from the individual writers of Scripture (as opposed to it being God's own words)

    That language is laced with metaphore and analogy, so intricate, that it can rarely if ever be taken purely at face value.

    Is that fair? Perhaps there is more you might include in a summary?

    Richard Gillett
    Yes, it was a big post but I tried to stay focused. Its a bit based on several areas I have studied and came as a response to ChrisHill's thread although I didn't want to post it in that context as I thought it was a bit much.

    I've been coming to a conclusion that the Bible should be read with a mind to considering the non-Godly influences on the author. The extent of the editorial control that God has chosen to take over any given author seems open to discussion and might make its own lively thread. For me I think that we have to in some way "dumb down" what God's truth is from His perspective. Otherwise we would be free to create our own new Universes. How that dumbing down is done may be left to the discretion of the author given his knowledge and culture.

    You can't fit a 18 dimensional shape into a 4 dimensional mind.

    The idea of the metaphor works nicely here as a way to explain how God could help us reach up to His level of knowledge without, perhaps, breaking our minds or leaving us in a "does not compute" state. As it is, we all seem to be having trouble "correlating the data" as it is. Given that the metaphor is always only partly accurate, that is, the analogy only applies to the less well understood topic in a limited way, this always leaves the door open to interpretation and speculation. But understanding the author might help us with why that particular metaphor was inspired.

    Of course this introduces a level of ambiguity that leaves anyone who accepts it open to criticism by those who feel their epistemology provides more certainty. There is no simple answer to that but my mind often mulls over what a complex answer to that question might look like. It would involve many topics including psychology (including dream interpretation and psychological typology), anthropology (comparative mythology), a dash of mathematical theory and some basic systems theory insights). However, I would argue that if we are intellectually honest this understanding of metaphor should lead us to a very elegant solution to the many problems with Biblical interpretation and conflict over that interpretation.
    It's literary, not literal.

    Truth is poetic, if only anyone believed this...

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    Quote Originally Posted by sealchan View Post
    I've been coming to a conclusion that the Bible should be read with a mind to considering the non-Godly influences on the author. The extent of the editorial control that God has chosen to take over any given author seems open to discussion and might make its own lively thread. For me I think that we have to in some way "dumb down" what God's truth is from His perspective. Otherwise we would be free to create our own new Universes. How that dumbing down is done may be left to the discretion of the author given his knowledge and culture.
    I think you misunderstand what it is to be inspired of God. It seems to me you think that at the point of time of the writing, that the author's mind/thoughts were different than God's would be on the subject and the author was unaware of this. You state clearly that you think ungodly influences were in play. Perhaps you would state your evidence for this conclusion. What is your evidence that the author was dumbing down what he wrote? Do you mean the author was not stating what he new to be true to his understanding? For what purpose. Is there any evidence that the concepts in the Bible are dumbed down? That they are made easier to understand but left the truth to do so in some way? I see no evidence of any of it being dumbed down but left in its complexity that has caused very many to know that they do not understand it. That speaks against dumbing down.

    When inspired of God to express one's thoughts, the experience is such that the author knows God is inspiring them but generally forbidden to appeal to that as the Biblical method is the READER not the author decides what is inspired. The reason is obvious. So while I am absolutely convinced the author's knew their understanding was of God, they needed to submit their piece to the judgement of the readers. We are not Muslims and none of the authors were like Mohammed. THe exception might be the prophets but they were more often speaking than writing in their calling. And at no time was it to their personal benefit (quite the opposite often.)
    You can't fit a 18 dimensional shape into a 4 dimensional mind.
    When God enlightens a man, the information fits the mind.
    The idea of the metaphor works nicely here as a way to explain how God could help us reach up to His level of knowledge without, perhaps, breaking our minds or leaving us in a "does not compute" state. As it is, we all seem to be having trouble "correlating the data" as it is. Given that the metaphor is always only partly accurate, that is, the analogy only applies to the less well understood topic in a limited way, this always leaves the door open to interpretation and speculation. But understanding the author might help us with why that particular metaphor was inspired.
    This is true and Jesus and others used quite a number of metaphors to communicate concepts.
    Of course this introduces a level of ambiguity that leaves anyone who accepts it open to criticism by those who feel their epistemology provides more certainty. There is no simple answer to that but my mind often mulls over what a complex answer to that question might look like. It would involve many topics including psychology (including dream interpretation and psychological typology), anthropology (comparative mythology), a dash of mathematical theory and some basic systems theory insights). However, I would argue that if we are intellectually honest this understanding of metaphor should lead us to a very elegant solution to the many problems with Biblical interpretation and conflict over that interpretation.
    The problem you are always going to have is that God hides information from those who think they can find out what the author knew on his own. This was the only explanation I could come up with regarding the abysmal lack of understanding the Bible by atheists or some believers. I thought the Gospel was pretty easy but they keep missing the mark. So I wondered as some are very intelligent otherwise. The only reasonable answer is that God is hiding this information. Why? Because of choices they made.

    I heard a speaker a few days ago say that if a man approaches the Bible to have his already chosen position strengthened instead of coming to learn truth, whatever that is, this living book might very well let them do so. Seems to be the case. If a man chooses to believe God was so cruel as to choose people for heaven or hell before they were born, then that seems to be what they find everywhere in full defiance of the text. I am sure this is even more so for those who do not want to believe at all. "To him who has not, even what he has will be taken away."
    Last edited by Dottie; 02-10-2017 at 09:13 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Gillett View Post
    I fear this is too complex to be properly deiscussed here. I would have difficulty parsing your OP into bites small enough to easily grasp or argue. Taken as a whole I find myself in general agreement, but perhaps we can isolate the contentions?

    That there is a definite influence from the individual writers of Scripture (as opposed to it being God's own words)

    That language is laced with metaphore and analogy, so intricate, that it can rarely if ever be taken purely at face value.

    Is that fair? Perhaps there is more you might include in a summary?

    Richard Gillett
    Regarding your second concern...it's been awhile since I read Lakoff and Johnson's Metaphors We Live By but I suspect that metaphors are used primarily for the more abstract aspects of human awareness and culture. Our sensory-bodily experiences may be close to the root of our overall conceptual system that metaphor has helped us to "build up". The visual cortex, in particular, is quite a lot of cortical "real estate" and may serve as one of the primary hubs for metaphoric content. The spatial metaphors are certainly frequently used. My examination of dreams has lead be to believe that spatial metaphors in terms of landscape are also higher utilized.

    One thing that I think should be "born in mind" is that the human mind is, at some point, the vehicle of God's Word...how else would we understand it? And understanding the human mind at its physical level will help us to understand how the human knower perceives 'truth'. Certainly this will help us to understand the limits of our ability to know anything and how those limits reflect what the Bible contains which is, as I have mentioned, a dumbing down of God's knowledge.

    I took a quick peak at my copy of the book...it looks like the authors also make the claim that at the social and political level metaphors are in frequent and obvious use and that they help to define the very questions and answers that we find most important to ask. In this sense then recognizing the metaphorical context of our questions about moral matters is extremely important as we may logically over-extend what is, at its root, metaphorically based.
    Last edited by sealchan; 02-10-2017 at 09:58 AM. Reason: Added more thoughts...
    It's literary, not literal.

    Truth is poetic, if only anyone believed this...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Truly Enlightened View Post
    My dear friend, sounds to me that you will soon be coming over to the dark side(smile). Metaphors are not literally applicable to the action or objects that they represent. They apply to any physical construct(action or object), that is real, and falsifiable. Metaphors, in themselves are not real, and are only meant to be a symbolic, or a representation of something else, that is real. They do not validate, legitimize, or confirm anything. Remember when we use metaphors, we are also inadvertently giving validity, credibility, and truth, to the object or action that it is representing. For example, "he ran like a bat out of Hell". Bats don't run, and Hell doesn't exist. But it highlights, illustrates, and describes a real action. The problems occur when metaphors are inadvertently used to justify or validate mental constructs. When metaphors are applied to physical constructs, the constructs are objectively real therefore, no confusion can exist. But when applied to a mental constructs, confusion reigns. In many cases, to the extremes. For example, "I love you more than life itself". Love is not real, but life is. How many lives are lost due to the amount of love/desire? Since I am not very knowledgeable in Scripture, I can only speculate, that there are passages that ask people to, "walk in the light/path of God for the rest of your lives", or something similar. This metaphor tends to legitimize a mental construct, and many have taken this metaphor literally. This in turn has legitimised a whole belief system. Metaphors became more important, than what they represented. Metaphors are not rational, but they weren't meant to be. They are meant to function like an adverb/adjective, to modify and describe an object, or action. It was not meant to validate what it represents.

    My friend, I'm afraid, no amount of the usage of metaphors, will ever smooth over the many contradiction that is inherent in the Bible. The Bible is one big metaphor. It is a book of stories and fables. It is not a history book or a science book. So, any of its metaphoric application, are irrelevant in fiction. But they are invaluable in their entertainment value, as a study aid to highlight the Bible's main narratives, and as an illustration tool. I'm also afraid that because of the subjective nature of people, reaching an objective interpretation on anything, would be impossible, no matter how many metaphors you may use. I may have agreed with you that metaphors can be used to describe difficult terms and ideas, but after listening to the rants of Fred, I'm afraid, I'd prefer to explain things the old fashion way. I hope that I have presented my opinion as clearly as possible. I've been told that my English is poor, and my composition is even worst. As always, a pleasure. Don
    I agree that many, in the pursuit of their cultural spiritual beliefs, interpret metaphors concretely as plain facts. This breaks the important connection between a physical reality and an effort to model a more abstract reality by reference to that physical reality. Forgetting this link leads to concretization of the metaphor and an attitude of assumed objectivity and full and sufficient knowledge. I am hoping to restore a more open-minded and flexible understanding in Biblical interpretation by calling out this deep and persistent language mis-use. This will help break the "rot" of legalism which is, perhaps, derivative of concretizing spiritual truths.

    At the same time there is still that whole realm of reality where-in we are talking about abstractions: moral, spiritual and other forms of personal meaning which are essential to human life. Science simply does not and probably will not in the near future, provide us with the conceptual framework we need for making real life decisions we can "live by". We are very much creatively living into the present and future and past through metaphor.

    So we have a reliable scientific method but this isn't enough for human life. We need at least the "next best thing" which is some way of extending our more certain form of knowledge into that realm of abstraction which we require in order to shape a common human culture and cooperative social system. We are ants in a colony who struggle to grasp at an intelligence that, perhaps, emerges from our own individual efforts at understanding...but we have no way to prove this so we use those concepts that we can understand to try and create a context for ourselves in the world beyond our subjective concerns. Occasionally we need to alter our deepest metaphors (paradigms) when some dimension of reality threatens us with "sphexish asphixiation".

    I think you want so much to remove all the suffering you would assign to a kind of private fantasy and a, perhaps, addiction to a simple, personally comforting way of looking at the world. I think rather you should consider that such desire is created naturally in the hearts and minds of all humans around the world across all of time. It has been an essential component of human culture. Like all knowledge it brings with it new problems even as it answers old questions. The reality is that there is a more abstract layer of reality beyond simple sensory data that MUST be contemplated and understood by the human mind. It is this realm in which scientific discoveries are imagined before they are made and it is this realm in which new moral insights are imagined before new cultural standards for fairness are implemented. It is not a mere entertainment although much of what makes our literary and visual entertainment great is its ability to put us into an "other world" where we can re-imagine what we believe axiomatically (metaphorically perhaps) is true.

    I'm sure you are familiar with Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions which first put forth the notion that long-term progress in science is composed of theories which make use of paradigms that arise when anomalies in science give rise to new discoveries which revolutionize that science. The paradigm is a guiding principle, really a metaphor, which helps to frame questions that become hypotheses which are then tested.

    Morally we also have the Bible which provides us with the great metaphor that the creator of the Universe is a being, a person with whom we can have a relationship. A LORD, a parent, a friend, a spirit, a light, etc... Such metaphoric belief has been responsible for both great good and great suffering. But I would argue that the good is largely achieved on the individual level and the bad largely on the political level where power, a well known method of moral corruption, is always also present.

    I have been reviewing a series called Mankind: The Story of Us All which has stated what I have often heard...war is a great inspiration to technological advancement. Science, in other words, has its hands deep in blood by being a provider to political powers in conflict with the tools to decisively settle our world's greatest wars.

    No ones hands are clean, so it does not make sense to try to tear down a deep edifice of our culture for a problem it shares with other cultural contributors. Rather I say we use our latest scientific discoveries to inform our metaphors as we attempt to understand God and what He wants for our future. We need to take responsibility for our sacred literature by renewing our efforts at creating/discovering it. It is actually a conversation for in asking for what God wants we have to understand what God created and what we understand and what WE want as well. How else will we know "where we stand" and in "what direction to take our next step"? But our subjective, even collective subjective, perspective must always be measured against the nature of God and His creation as well.

    This, of course, begs the question as I am still using the God is a person metaphor to frame the question(s). But in doing so I am tying in my personal sense of meaning and my broader culture's sense of meaning (for a great many) and using that to motivate my inquiry. Better far to be at the table participating and asking the questions, even if the source of that motivation is not the same as others, than not to participate at all.
    It's literary, not literal.

    Truth is poetic, if only anyone believed this...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dottie View Post
    I think you misunderstand what it is to be inspired of God. It seems to me you think that at the point of time of the writing, that the author's mind/thoughts were different than God's would be on the subject and the author was unaware of this.
    Why?

    Why shoud you think that God somehow implants knowledge? That is not the definition of "inspired".

    Inspired is basically to encourage. It does not in anyway mean that God puts words into people's minds or writes for them. What is written is what is known and understood by the writer. They cannot write what they do not know or understand. That is why the bible is scientifcally innaccurate. That knowledge did not exist in the human mind, so the writer could not express it.

    You state clearly that you think ungodly influences were in play.
    You are implying that this is evil rather than ignorance. Ignorance is not evil. There is no deception, nor devilment.

    Perhaps you would state your evidence for this conclusion. What is your evidence that the author was dumbing down what he wrote?
    Dumbing down is probably a poor choice of phrase

    Do you mean the author was not stating what he new to be true to his understanding?
    No I do not think that he was. He was just saying that there was a gap between what the writer knew and what God knows

    For what purpose. Is there any evidence that the concepts in the Bible are dumbed down?
    Yes, in the sense that there is understanding missing in both scinece and other aspects in the writing. God would of course know the true science. So yes it is "dumbing down" in terms of accuracy and understanding. "Simplified" might be a better term but still not 100% perfect. Another might be "old wives tales" (human tradition) but I think you would like that less.

    That they are made easier to understand but left the truth to do so in some way
    No, that they should be undertood within the limited knowledge of the writer, and not assume that it is God.

    I see no evidence of any of it being dumbed down but left in its complexity that has caused very many to know that they do not understand it. That speaks against dumbing down.
    Like I said "dumbing Down" is mabe a poor choice, except that it describes a gap of knowledge between the writer and God, not the writer and what he wrote.


    When inspired of God to express one's thoughts, the experience is such that the author knows God is inspiring them but generally forbidden to appeal to that as the Biblical method is the READER not the author decides what is inspired. The reason is obvious. So while I am absolutely convinced the author's knew their understanding was of God, they needed to submit their piece to the judgement of the readers. We are not Muslims and none of the authors were like Mohammed. THe exception might be the prophets but they were more often speaking than writing in their calling. And at no time was it to their personal benefit (quite the opposite often.)
    You have now sprung off on a tangent.

    Yes there is a difference between the record of spoken prophecy - direct from God and any other writing which is from the human standpoint and not directly from God.

    When God enlightens a man, the information fits the mind.
    That is a very dangerous assumption and cannot be possibly proven.

    This is true and Jesus and others used quite a number of metaphors to communicate concepts.

    The problem you are always going to have is that God hides information from those who think they can find out what the author knew on his own. This was the only explanation I could come up with regarding the abysmal lack of understanding the Bible by atheists or some believers. I thought the Gospel was pretty easy but they keep missing the mark. So I wondered as some are very intelligent otherwise. The only reasonable answer is that God is hiding this information. Why? Because of choices they made.[
    You are dangerous Calvinistic grounds here. You are implying that God deliberately blinds people - this may be the opinion of Paul, especially when talking about his own people, but it is not born out by the record of how God interacts wit people in the bible.

    The temporary blinding of the two on the road to Emmaus (if it was actually by God and not human) had a purpose, and was then removed. I prefer to think that the blindness was human and not deliberately made by God, and that God overcame it.


    I heard a speaker a few days ago say that if a man approaches the Bible to have his already chosen position strengthened instead of coming to learn truth, whatever that is, this living book might very well let them do so. Seems to be the case. If a man chooses to believe God was so cruel as to choose people for heaven or hell before they were born, then that seems to be what they find everywhere in full defiance of the text. I am sure this is even more so for those who do not want to believe at all. "To him who has not, even what he has will be taken away."
    Predestination is not part of the Christian faith as a whole. Pre-knowledge (of God) is not the same as influencing and controlling. And to suggest that God will deliberately hide from someone who has decided to ignore HIm is missing the point altogether. God is still visible, willing and able, it is the person who choses to ignore what is there. It is still there, if only they would look at or identify it. (but that is a oversimplification that Aetheists object to - it is not their "fault" as such, as in deliberate, more in conceptualisation or the lack of desire to find or know God)

    Free will must be that. Totally without coersion or deliberate blinkering, otherwise it is not "free" at all.

    Richard Gillett
    Last edited by Richard Gillett; 02-10-2017 at 01:04 PM.
    I am an unworthy servant. But someone had to stand up and be counted.

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