Talk:Virgin birth of Jesus/Archive 1

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< Talk:Virgin birth (arguments)

Are you adding your own arguments here, one after the other? They seem to be following from our discussion the Talk page at Virgin Birth. as was said before, this article should be summarizing the stock arguments given for and against the Virgin Birth for the benefit of readers unfamiliar with the debate.

I thought that was what it was doing. Jacquerie27 17:58 May 7, 2003 (UTC)

The summary needs to be given from a Neutral Point of View,

I doubt that anyone will ever agree that it is NPOV, unless they've written it themself. Jacquerie27 17:58 May 7, 2003 (UTC)

leaving the reader to decide which deserve more weight, or better yet, with some additional resources to read if they want to read some actual one-sided arguments.

The "additional resources" are given at the end: two articles by a Christian arguing very strongly for, and one article by a Jew arguing very strongly against. Are you sure you're approaching the article from a NPOV, or are you just seeing what you want to see? Or not, not seeing what you don't want to see? ;) Jacquerie27 17:58 May 7, 2003 (UTC)

This is not the place for either of us to fight "prove" ourselves right or to consume more space for our side. Sorry I don't have time to do much more with this right now. Wesley 17:15 May 7, 2003 (UTC)

I'm tired of it too. Jacquerie27 17:58 May 7, 2003 (UTC)

Just read the end of the article, and several sentences need to be deleted as either irrelevant or purely speculative. The bit about the Devil and borrowing from the future is a complete straw man, as I explained in the Virgin Birth article. The bit about God wanting to test Christians' faith by making it hard to believe or whatever, is theological speculation not attributed to anyone and really doesn't have a place in the article. Neither bits have anything to do with real arguments about the virgin birth put forth by Christians and skeptics. I'll delete them later if no one beats me to it. There's copyediting to be done in numerous places as well. Wesley 17:23 May 7, 2003 (UTC)


It might be worth looking at the Abortion article as an example of NPOV treatment of a controversial subject. It's probably not perfect, but it doesn't come across as being overwhelmingly pro-life or pro-choice. And no, I didn't really have much to do with that one.  :-) Wesley 21:10 May 7, 2003 (UTC)~

I had a brief look, but I find abortion too unpleasant to read the article in detail so I couldn't really learn much from it. I don't think this is overwhelmingly POV: it describes arguments, it doesn't say they're right or wrong. But Slr has to give it his imprimatur yet. Jacquerie27 14:15 May 8, 2003 (UTC)

Regarding the paragraph about what the Devil could do near the end, which religious group or folk tale says that the Devil can travel through time, in order to imitate something that hasn't yet occurred? Wesley 20:37 May 9, 2003 (UTC)

It's not a question of travelling thru time: the Devil isn't omniscient, but he can see some of the future, which is why he tried to seduce Christ from his mission. There are also references like this:
Matthew 8:28 And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. 29 And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?
BTW, you wrote this on talk:supernaturalization:
Perhaps when I have time to research the subject properly, I'll compose an article on Naturalization that describes the process of how historical events once known to be supernatural have been gradually reinterpreted so as to fit within the confines of materialism and philosophical naturalism. Wesley 20:28 May 9, 2003 (UTC)
What historical event has ever been known to be supernatural? I.e., shown in detail, with a clear supernatural mechanism, and with objective verification? And can you produce a still-occurring event known to be supernatural? Jacquerie27 21:00 May 9, 2003 (UTC)
The point is that, "most likely" explanations do not always fit the same criteria. To Christian religionists, a rise in temperature is the most likely explanation of ice melting: it is not a right religious view of the world to attribute this to the action of angels. However, the report of a floating axe-head is explained by religionists as either a lie or a miracle. There is no natural explanation.

When meteorites hit the earth in the past there was no natural explanation. That's why they were thought of as supernatural. The supernatural always rests on the absence of a natural explanation, i.e. detailed description of natural mechanism. Supernaturalists never have an explanation of their own: there's no detail or mechanism, just a claim that supernature is involved. Jacquerie27 10:18 May 10, 2003 (UTC)

My, my... you are so skeptical. That is just not true, Jacquerie27, although I'm sure you have some specific, technical definition of "detailed description". The criteria of credibility that a Christian uses, is simply is not interesting to you, because it is theological.
I didn't say they were uninteresting, but the criteria aren't objective and they don't rest on detailed descriptions of "supernatural" phenomena. Xtianity rejects Muslim miracles out of hand, for example, and Protestants don't accept miracles as readily as Catholics or the Orthodox. Jacquerie27 21:40 May 10, 2003 (UTC)
But then, you are lumping all "supernaturalism" together. Do you think that the typical Christian theist is gullible, and no doubt we typically are. Do you know any Scientologist? Debunked any saucer cults lately? Who shot JFK? Mkmcconn 14:44 May 10, 2003 (UTC)
That's one of the problems with supernaturalism: that it mutates so readily and exists in so many different forms -- precisely because it isn't objective and isn't verifiable. Scientists can disagree very strongly with each other, but they have (at least in principle) ways of settling their disagreements. Supernaturalists settle their disagreements either by killing each other or, as in modern Xtianity, by becoming so decadent that they stop caring about what they used to kill each other about. Jacquerie27 21:40 May 10, 2003 (UTC)
As for falsifiable miraculous events that still occur, at a minimum Christians look for the return of Christ. If that won't happen, your supernaturalization hypothesis will have been proven irrefutably correct. Meanwhile, reports of supernatural events are judged more likely genuine or more likely false. These rules are called "orthodoxy", which is a measured (but not naturalistic) skepticism. Mkmcconn 22:23 May 9, 2003 (UTC)


I think orthodoxy is a way of making sure the supernatural doesn't get out of control, which would mean the church would lose control and stop making money. Jacquerie27 10:18 May 10, 2003 (UTC)

The Naturalization process would be a neologism describing how events originally reported as miracles are given alternative explanations,

Yes, reported as supernatural, not shown to be supernatural in detail. Naturalization isn't equivalent to supernaturalization, because we can show in detail that things once reported to be supernatural (meteorites, plagues, lightning, etc) have natural mechanisms. Jacquerie27 10:18 May 10, 2003 (UTC)

based upon the material of the report, as interpreted according to the "orthodoxy" of philosophical naturalism. Mkmcconn 22:23 May 9, 2003 (UTC)

The orthodoxy of philosophical naturalism is based on detailed description and objective verifiability. The orthodoxy of religious supernaturalism isn't. Jacquerie27 10:18 May 10, 2003 (UTC)

Then your new material in supernaturalization simply must go. It begs for rebuttal, which in the context would be absolutely pointless, because the material is entirely speculative. Mkmcconn 14:44 May 10, 2003 (UTC)
It isn't entirely speculative: it's based on the research of Leon Festinger into the behavior of cults after failed prophecies, which is verifiable and detailed. Some speculation is also inevitable with you're dealing with distant history. Jacquerie27 21:40 May 10, 2003 (UTC)
The phenomenon is verifiable and this is not what is contested. The identification of particular instances of the phenomenon is what is debatable, and being past-historical does not make this identification automatically valid. Being past does not mean that the hypothesis is impossible to test. Without verification, it is simply presumption (and I am off-topic to discuss this here) Mkmcconn

Jacquerie27 said:

I think orthodoxy is a way of making sure the supernatural doesn't get out of control, which would mean the church would lose control and stop making money. Jacquerie27 10:18 May 10, 2003 (UTC)

Yes, that perfectly explains the first three centuries of Christianity, doesn't it?

The first three centuries of Xtianity weren't exactly perfectly orthodox. There were all sorts of heresies. Paganism and Judaism were the orthodoxies then, and making plenty of money out of it, which is why they objected to the competition from Xtianity. Jacquerie27 18:59 May 12, 2003 (UTC)

The borrowing from Judaism while being rejected by Jewish leaders, borrowing from paganism while being rejected by Roman pagans as atheists, getting converts among the poor in order to gain wealth...

Yes, getting converts among the poor to gain wealth. If you can't get converts among the rich, where else do you go? Jacquerie27 18:59 May 12, 2003 (UTC)

maintaining the same testimony despite torture and execution, all so that an organized church could rake in the profits several centuries later.

No, all so they could get to heaven. All sorts of people with contradictory ideas have stuck to their beliefs despite torture and execution, so it hardly proves the truth of any particular belief. And the organized church did rake in the profits when it arrived and started stamping out heresy. It's still raking in the profits: have you ever visited the Vatican? And what about televangelism? Jacquerie27 18:59 May 12, 2003 (UTC)

It all makes sense now, and makes your cynicism much more understandable.

Sorry, I know I'm cynical, but I'm cynical about science too: it's often about profit and exploitation, and it could be far, far more dangerous than religion in the long run -- tho' that might be because it gives new weapons to people like Osama bin Laden. Jacquerie27 18:59 May 12, 2003 (UTC)

Thank you. Wesley 14:55 May 12, 2003 (UTC)

I looked up parthenos in Liddell & Scott, btw, and "virgin" isn't the only meaning. See additions to Virgin birth (arguments). Jacquerie27 18:59 May 12, 2003 (UTC)
LOL. Weren't you reluctant to use Liddell & Scott when I first mentioned them, since they surveyed the general usage of words and not just how they were used in the Bible?
I said "If you're looking at the Bible, you want to see first how words were used in the Bible, not in general. The Greek in the Septuagint is not standard Greek: it's full of Hebraisms." I take that back: it's useful to see first how they were used in general, but the specific context should have more weight. I'm sure you'd agree the entry for θεος in L&S won't be a complete guide to meaning of θεος in the Septugint or NT. Jacquerie27 14:58 May 14, 2003 (UTC)

Never mind. Did you see the definitions someone gave on the Virgin Birth discussion page? It appears to be from a modern edition of a Greek dictionary that includes meanings prior to the middle ages. Should we incorporate that information as well? I haven't compared the two in detail, it may be redundant. Wesley 21:25 May 12, 2003 (UTC)

They do seem redundant, but I'm going to try and leave these religious articles alone from now on, and I apologize for my bias. Jacquerie27 14:58 May 14, 2003 (UTC)

Most of this discussion would be better in Meta-Wikipedia (ghettoized, where it can be ignored as it ought to be). Your evident pessimism not withstanding, J, it has been repeatedly demonstrated to be possible to write about these topics, informatively, clearly, and neutrally, according to the general agreement of a broad range of perspectives. Many of us are grownups, with families and jobs, and we do this because it is often ultimately productive of something genuinely useful. In contrast, some people have time for the numerous chatrooms and email lists, where obstinate commitment to propagating one's prejudices is not only welcome but expected; unlike here. J., you are not quite in the swing of things, yet. Mkmcconn 19:35 May 12, 2003 (UTC)

Mkmcconn, you're quite right. I just realized I've been indulging in the same sort of argument for the sake of arguing, instead of productively discussing how to improve wikipedia articles and wikipedia. Thanks for pointing it out. I apologize, and will try to stop misusing wikipedia. I'll add my email address to my user profile so that less productive conversations (for the purpose of improving wikipedia) can be taken off line and not clutter these discussion pages. Wesley 20:07 May 12, 2003 (UTC)
I echo that, and Wesley did point out that we shouldn't argue with each other but concentrate on improving the article. It's been okay with the math ones I've started, but I'll try and behave better in future. I have to say, tho', that newcomers would find it easier to learn if more people here were like you, Mkmcconn, and fewer like Slr. You can disagree and point out faults pleasantly, but I found him aggressive and dogmatic right from the start (I assume it's "him": I can't imagine many women behaving like that). Jacquerie27 21:07 May 12, 2003 (UTC)
I think that you'll find that the aggressive editors, in retrospect, are the ones who make things happen. You may liken them to the motor. Others of us flatter ourselves that we have some role in steering the boat and regulating its speed. Do not take this, or any other role assignment seriously. All sorts of metaphors seem equally fitting to describe the way that anarchy operates; all sorts of melodies blend equally well with the white noise of chaos. It's the product that matters, for which we are evolving a machine. Have fun. Mkmcconn