Tag Archives: Apologetics

Can you be neutral on any topic?

Do unbiased people exist?

Image result for clipart No Bias public domain

(courtesy dreamtime.com)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Can you read any document and be neutral about the topic? Do all of us have biases, or can we lay aside those biases to be able to read a document, including the newspaper, or view a video or TV programme objectively?

I was blogging with JayB on Online Opinion when he raised this topic:

I read the first few pages [of my PhD dissertation] & so far it seems to be a rebuttal of Crossant. Whoever he is. That’s all. Nothing new or any ground breaking revelations so far.

I will read the whole thing, make some notes & draft a reply as I see it from a neutral point. It maybe some time, but I will report back.

Should I agree with Crossant, Spencer, or disagree depends on if they are taking the Testaments as being absolute truths or can have mistakes in them.

Posted by Jayb, Tuesday, 10 July 2018 4:54:31 PM[1]

The dissertation can be found at: Crossan and the resurrection of Jesus : rethinking presuppositions, methods and models ?(University of Pretoria, South Africa 2015)

How should I respond?[2]

1. No neutral person or writer exists

This blogger considers he can examine my 480pp dissertation without bias:

“I will read the whole thing, make some notes & draft a reply as I see it from a neutral point”.[3]

There is no such person as one who can respond “from a neutral point [of view]”. How do I know you, I, and anyone else have biases that cannot be neutral?

He has lots of things he cannot neutral about. Whenever you give us your opinion in Online Opinion, you demonstrate your bias and that you are unable to see things “from a neutral point”.
You have a bias (cannot remain neutral) about which brand of coffee you prefer, what is REAL football, and your favourite sports’ team. Your economic, religious and political philosophies are not neutral – you have biases. When it comes to God and his action in the universe, you have no “neutral” point of view. Neither do I.

We all have a world and life view about God, everything in the world, humanity and ourselves. Not one of us is exempt.

1.1 Eric Metaxas: “Everything I do is affected by my faith.”

Eric Metaxas February 2012.jpgMetaxas in 2012 (courtesy Wikipedia)

Eric Metaxas is a #1 New York Times bestseller author, speaker, host of radio programme the Eric Metaxas Show, and a vocal defender of Christianity in the public sphere. He was interviewed for the Bible Society newspaper Eternity.

He confirmed how his bias affects all that he does and there is no such thing as neutrality in his life. He cannot be neutral. Neither can anyone else! He explained:

Everything I do, I hope, is affected by my faith. But that’s really a joy, because I think that’s the whole point, that belief in the God of the Bible gives your life meaning.

It’s not just a private thing, or this little thing that I put in a corner, but it affects everything. So it affects how I see the world, I hope it affects how I treat other people, how I see myself. And certainly in terms of what I do – writing, broadcasting, speeches – it all really comes directly out of my faith.

[My faith] is all consuming, but I really think that’s the nature of Christian faith. God wants us to give him every part of our lives, so that it affects everything about us, all the decisions we make. And it’s a freeing thing as opposed to a constricting thing….

If you don’t know who you are, that the God who created the universe created you and loves you, it will really be impossible to ever be satisfied, because you were created by someone who created you to want to be satisfied by him and by his will for your life, which as I say is a freeing thing (Holgate 2016).

2. Dumping presuppositions on us without owning up

Back to JayB and his post.

These are his presuppositions about issues. It’s not wrong to have presuppositions, but they need to be tested to discover evidence to support or reject them. Presuppositions relate to what we assume to be true. I have them. So does he. We cannot be neutral about anything from trivial things such as which breed of dog we enjoy the most to who created the grand design in the universe.

Atheists, Christians, Buddhists, agnostics, Muslims and sceptics cannot be “neutral” on anything.

Let’s check a couple of his presuppositions in his short post that demonstrate he cannot be “neutral” when examining my dissertation:

“I read the first few pages & so far it seems to be a rebuttal of Crossant. Whoever he is. That’s all. Nothing new or any ground breaking revelations so far”.[4]

2.1 Reading a few pages to assess 480 pages

In a few pages out of 480 pages, he claimed he read nothing new or ground breaking. That’s because he had a bias (can’t be neutral) about a Christian assessment.

His “neutrality” extends to the point of not knowing who John Dominic Crossan is and his bias is such that he doesn’t bother to spell Crossan’s name correctly. He is NOT “Crossant”. In 6 lines of the post, he spelt Crossan’s name incorrectly twice.

Therefore, he didn’t read the early pages of the dissertation with care. I’m left to guess what “neutral” perspective he will give to the rest of the thesis, if this is an example. His post demonstrated he could not be neutral.

3. The Bible: No absolute truths and can have mistakes in  it

He wrote:

Should I agree with Crossant, Spencer, or disagree depends on if they are taking the Testaments as being absolute truths or can have mistakes in them.[5]

This demonstrates a WHOPPING lack of neutrality. I have to take the OT and NT according to his presupposition that these 2 testaments CANNOT teach “absolute truths or can have mistakes in them”.

There he established his own presuppositional absolute that both OT and NT must NOT teach absolute truths and they “can have mistakes in them”. He is not “neutral” about the nature of Scripture. He came to this discussion with a bias against God’s absolutes in Scripture.

Colson with President George W. Bush after receiving the Presidential Citizens Medal, December 20, 2008 (courtesy Wikipedia)

The late Chuck Colson (d. 2012), special counsel to President Richard Nixon and imprisoned because of the Watergate scandal, had a mid-life crisis encounter with Jesus Christ and became an evangelical Christian. It was after that he started Prison Ministries International.

In one of his BreakPoint radio programmes (Colson 2003), he explained the impact of cultural voices on our children – “There is no ultimate truth, no moral code by which to live our lives”.

Added to this is the message that God is “totally irrelevant”, if he exists. We make our lives for ourselves and we are accountable to nobody.

This message is bombarding our kids from all angles.

The most dangerous thing kids can do is to handle this by “compartmentalizing” the sacred and the secular in their minds. This is a split-level faith. God lives on the top floor; I live in the basement with no connecting staircase. Instead, we have to help them understand that the Christian faith is relevant to everything in their lives. Jesus knocks on the door of our life and wants to occupy all of our life.

And so one of the most important things we can teach our kids is how to see all of life, not just their home life or the time they spend at church, from a Christian point of view. No matter how hard we try to guard them, they’ll hear conflicting messages. We must help them put intellectual muscle behind their faith.

In the Old Testament, God provided the Israelites with a model for passing down His truths to their children. In Deuteronomy 6, He tells them—and, I believe, us—to “impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

In other words, no matter what the culture tells us, it’s our responsibility in the routine of life to teach our kids that truth exists, that we can know it, that we can live it, and that, in the final analysis, it’s all about God. In my next commentary, I’ll talk about practical ways to do this.

3.1 Defend the integrity of Scripture.

Open Bible 2

(image courtesy ChristArt)

 

I don’t have the space to do that here, but some pointers for defending the reliability of the Bible are:

clip_image002Can you trust the Bible? Part 1 (Spencer D Gear)

clip_image002[1]Can you trust the Bible? Part 2 (Spencer D Gear)

clip_image002[2]Can you trust the Bible? Part 3 (Spencer D Gear)

clip_image002[3]Can you trust the Bible? Part 4 (Spencer D Gear)

I recommend you check the material in Norman L Geisler & Frank Turek’s book, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist (Crossway Books 2004). In the Index, check out ‘New Testament’ where Geisler & Turek provide a list of reasons why we can trust the reliability of the NT:

clip_image004 Accepted as legal evidence,

clip_image004[1] Accuracy of reconstruction,

clip_image004[2] As 27 individual documents,

clip_image004[3] As having more manuscripts,

clip_image004[4] As having more supported manuscripts,

clip_image004[5] As historical novel,

clip_image004[6] As inerrant,

clip_image004[7] As meeting tests of historicity,

clip_image004[8] As received from Holy Spirit,

clip_image004[9] Figures, historically confirmed,

clip_image004[10] Historical reliability,

clip_image004[11] Reconstruction of the original,

clip_image004[12] Sources of,

clip_image004[13] Storyline of (Geisler & Turek 2004:439).

4. Dishonesty about neutrality

Scale, Weigh, Judge, Books, Equial, Balance, Justice

(courtesy pixabay)

I found JayB’s reply to be dishonest because:

1.    Up front, he refused to acknowledge his presuppositional biases and that he cannot be neutral on any topic – including assessment of my dissertation.

2.    Then, he has the audacity to judge my 480pp dissertation after reading only a few pages. He concludes, “Nothing new or any ground breaking revelations so far”.

If I made a judgment on an extensive writing by him after reading only a few pages, the academic community would have every reason to send me off to training in logic and assessment of any document. His “neutrality” is shattered on the rocks of his bias against my writing – after reading only a few pages.

3.    He created a new absolute: “depends on if they are taking the Testaments as being absolute truths or can have mistakes in them”.

So the NT must not contain absolute truths and it must be admitted that the NT has mistakes in it. That’s his own created absolute to challenge what he considers are wrong absolutes. It is contradictory that an anti-God enthusiast wants to rid the Christian NT of absolutes while creating his own absolute.

See also: Bible bigotry from an arrogant skeptic (Spencer D Gear).

5.  Works consulted

Colson, C 2003. At Cross Purposes: Christian Parents and the Postmodern Culture. Breakpoint, 19 August. Available at: http://www.breakpoint.org/bpcommentaries/breakpoint-commentaries-archive/entry/13/12263 (Accessed 25 January 2014).

Geisler, N L & Turek, F 2004. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books.

Holgate, T 2016. Everything I do is affected by my faith,” says #1 NY Times bestselling author Eric Metaxas. Bible Society Eternity (online), 14 April. Available at: http://www.biblesociety.org.au/news/everything-i-do-is-affected-by-my-faith-says-1-ny-times-bestselling-author-eric-metaxas (Accessed 11 May 2016).

6.  Endnotes


[1] Online Opinion 2018. What is your view for one to worship humans? (online). Available at: http://forum.onlineopinion.com.au/thread.asp?discussion=8313&page=28 (Accessed 23 July 2018).

[2] My first response was in ibid., posted by OzSpen, Monday, 23 July 2018 8:44:49 AM

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid., Jayb, Tuesday, 10 July 2018 4:54:31 PM.

[5] Ibid., posted by OzSpen, Monday, 23 July 2018 8:50:24 AM.

 

 

Copyright © 2018 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 24 July 2018.