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Thread: Bearing False Witness in Evangelizing

  1. Top | #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Rhea View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    In that case, presuming they are correct in their cosmological views, it isn't false witness since the life you're living right now is your eternal life, and anyone can bear witness to it. I thought the implication Rhea meant was that since no one can observe the afterlife, they can't bear witness to it honestly.
    Everyone who bears witness to this life knows it is not eternal. Everyone dies. EVERY. ONE. No one has ever witnessed anything eternal. No one has ever witnessed life before birth and no one has ever witnessed life after death. No one has ever witnessed anything that is not finite.

    Come on, don't play word games. You're better than that. You know what they are saying and you know they have never seen it.
    How can anyone personally witness what happens after death? I stand by my position; a person is only bearing false witness if they claim to have been somewhere they haven't, not because you disagree with them about where they might be going later.
    You are arguing that Christians cannot be guilty of bearing false witness because they lack the ability to parse evidence and reach rational conclusions.
    "Your honor; my client is unable to distinguish right from wrong, and should therefore to referred to a mental health facility instead of being tried for triple homicide in a court of law!"
    2,000 years ago, our ancestors knew very little about the nature of the universe they inhabited, so it would be fair to give them a pass for believing the superstitious nonsense they were exposed to. It is true that a small cross-section of the Christian population living in the modern world today is likely mentally unbalanced, and people in this group genuinely lack the ability to function as rational, thinking humans. But most Christians living in the modern world appear not to be handicapped by such a disability; they exhibit the ability to think rationally and navigate the universe successfully in many or most aspects of their lives. With the exception of their Christian beliefs. Consciously or otherwise, they choose not to think critically about their faith. And, many, but not all, appear to be aware of at least some of the contradictions inherent to their religious beliefs, but refuse to attempt to resolve such contradictions, or in extreme cases, refuse to even acknowledge the existence of such contradictions. Choosing to remain selectively ignorant about certain aspects of the apparent reality they inhabit, while continuing to loudly assert that their unsubstantiated beliefs are factual, is bearing false witness, no matter how you try to rationalize this behavior.

  2. Top | #32
    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhea View Post
    You are trying to use semantic tricks to claim an answer to the OP and make excuses for the behavior of Christians.
    Why would I do that?

    For those who wish to actually engage with the thread, the point is that if they are claiming that they can tell me about heaven, they are bearing false witness. They have no idea, no clue of any kind. They are bearing witness to a thing they have never witnessed. They are claiming to know a thing that they cannot know.
    So by "engage with the thread", you mean, "agree with you"? You aren't really addressing my point, just re-stating your OP over and over and more vehemently. What sort of discussion are you actually open to, here? I mean, it seems to me that I largely agree with your initial point. But because I don't agree with all of it, you're pouring all this invective in my direction, and refusing to have a real conversation. Is this accomplishing anything at all? If what you want is a circle jerk, I'm willing to leave the thread be, though if so, I don't really see why you bothered to post it in a debate forum. Why not the secular support room, if encountering an agnostic upsets you so much?
    "Banish me from Eden when you will, but first let me eat of the tree of knowledge."

  3. Top | #33
    Cyborg with a Tiara
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    Quote Originally Posted by abaddon View Post
    If "bearing false witness" means outright lying then, IMV, that's too harsh a criticism.
    Good discussion point. Let’s go there.

    When I hear them say “false witness,” I think of it as a pretty useful term, actually. Taken literally, it doesn’t need to imply maliciousness, it merely says, “you’re saying you’re a witness to this fact, that you’re an authority to this truth, and that is false.” I kinda like the term in that sense.

    You’re saying that when you hear “false witness” you hear an assignment of intent.

    So one wonders what the christians today mean by it. I had read a great article by a pastor many years back at the beginning of the internet about how Christians should avoid passing on unvetted e-mails because it risked demonstrating (to the people they were trying to evangelize) that Christians’ witness was unreliable. That people would ask, “if they believe this thing, that is obviously not real, is in fact true, what else that they believe is also not true? The resurrection?” And that this “false witness” damages the true christian witness.

    I found that article to be profoundly insightful and good advice. And it stuck with me as a meaning of the words “witness” and “false witness.” So I do not equate “false witness” with lying (which has intent.). I think of it much more literally, that they are bearing witness (trying to lend authority) to something that is not true, whether they know it or not.


    They have a different idea of how to know things. It's based in a different epistemic method where special revelatory states are considered more reliable than everyday experience. Some folk are accepted as experts in this method, similar to academics and scientists. These experts do it as their profession - they're the ones who study the books, who fast, who pray, who induce those revelatory states that are generally inaccessible to the masses of believers. Some extra-special experts wrote their holy book, which is a revelation of truths that can't be learned from a study of the world with only our unreliable senses.

    And I agree with this. In fact, that’s part of what made that Pastor’s blog so revelatory. That they should be more careful about unthinkingly granting authority to sources they have not vetted.

    So, to clarify, I do not use the term “false witness” to imply or impute intent. I am not accusing them of trying to deceive. I am pointing out that they are claiming to be an authority on something that they have absolutely no authority on. And that that is “bearing false witness.”

  4. Top | #34
    Cyborg with a Tiara
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    Quote Originally Posted by atrib View Post
    Consciously or otherwise, they choose not to think critically about their faith. And, many, but not all, appear to be aware of at least some of the contradictions inherent to their religious beliefs, but refuse to attempt to resolve such contradictions, or in extreme cases, refuse to even acknowledge the existence of such contradictions. Choosing to remain selectively ignorant about certain aspects of the apparent reality they inhabit, while continuing to loudly assert that their unsubstantiated beliefs are factual, is bearing false witness, no matter how you try to rationalize this behavior.
    You’ve explained better than me why this contradiction sparks a conversation in me. You point out that it is exacerbated by the contrast to areas where they do insist on critical thinking against the areas where not only do they not insist, but they eschew.

    Thanks for your thoughts. That’s why I find it interesting to discuss these things, to explore how other people see it and whether that adds insight to why this thing happens, and why Christians are not troubled by it.

  5. Top | #35
    Content Thief Elixir's Avatar
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    Compartmentalization is a skill that a person must begin to practice early, if they are to have any hope of sticking with it for life.

  6. Top | #36
    Tricksy Leftits Angry Floof's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elixir View Post
    Compartmentalization is a skill that a person must begin to practice early, if they are to have any hope of sticking with it for life.
    I disagree. Compartmentalization is easy and natural. It's very easy to forget what we did yesterday if it doesn't work to satisfy our justifications of what we're saying today. Applying your current rationale in justifying your view to a different topic where you used a different rationale the day before is a skill that requires some discipline of thought. It requires self reflection and intellectual honesty and an examination of your stated principles, and all of that has to happen before speaking. Do you know very many religious believers or conservatives who do that?

    I would agree, though, that compartmentalization is something that can be reinforced and cultivated as a mental habit in lieu of conscious thought.

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