Sunday, June 25, 2017

Follow-Up On My Podcast Interview

(Sorry about some of the format below. Google and Microsoft Word do not integrate very well when it comes to publishing. I adjusted the code the best I could.)

Recently, I was interviewed on TAG Your It! Apologetics podcast hosted by Dave Van Beeber and Adam C. (Ray Ray). Overall, it went well and I want to state my appreciation to Dave and Adam for inviting me on. It was my first Podcast interview so there were some pluses that I would do again, but there were some minuses that I learned from in order to do better in the future.  Also, I wanted to offer friendly corrections, additions, and rewording on some of the things that were either attributed about me or I said directly myself.

  • 1.     It was said that I was a member of the International Society of Christian Apologetics. That is not right. I don’t think I would be invited to be because I have respectfully criticized some of their members handling of the Geisler and Licona debates starting back in the summer of 2011. I have been a student member of the past of the Evangelical Philosophical Society, but not anymore. That information is available on my CV page.

  • 2.       It was said that I taught in Sunday School about the textual evidence about the woman caught in adultery. That is not accurate. I mentioned it in Sunday School, but I did not directly teach about it. I said on my blog, “Today in Sunday School we referenced the women caught in adultery story found only in John’s gospel…” but that was about it. I have never been asked to teach in our local assembly’s Sunday School class. Why? I don’t know. I was asked to speak on Mormonism at a Wednesday prayer meeting, but I declined because I was directly in discussions with Latter-Day Saints at the time learning about their worldview from their perspective. I did not want them to get wind that I was making this a public spectacle and doing some possible grandstanding. I would be willing to do it now because those regular meetings have since stopped since I thought I had learned from their perspective where they are coming from and they learned where I was coming from. We are still friends, keep in touch, and meet up as needed. Other than that, I have not been asked. I would venture to guess that my topics that I would cover do not coincide with their Sunday School agenda. Those decisions are out of my hands and I am just letting that be for the moment for unity sake (John 17:23).
  • 3.       In the interview, I did not really get the cover the evidence for confirmation bias. I got to allude that the peer-review literature does say that we all suffer from confirmation bias no matter our worldview or lack thereof. Here is some of it:
In 1951, the Princeton Tigers and Dartmouth Indians had a brutal college football game against each other. The all American quarterback on the Princeton side ended up with a mild concussion and a broken nose in the second quarter. The Dartmouth quarterback ended up (not sure if this was revenge) with a broken leg in the third when tackled in the back field. 

In the aftermath of it all, the confirmation bias could be noticed in the schools newspapers as they slanted who started the extra rough play. Two psychologists from the two different schools named  Albert Hastorf and Hadley Cantril a week after the game polled students who had seen the game live and also showed clips to students to see when they see certain footage if they thought Princeton or Dartmouth was in violation when certain penalties were committed. They published their findings in the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology in 1954 and basically found that the majority of the Princeton Students said Dartmouth started the extra rough play and the majority of Dartmouth students said both started it. This showed what they call selective group perception when people tend to actively filter information they think is irrelevant but also conveyed that we suffer from confirmation bias.

In 1996, Julian Boon and Graham Davies redid Hastorf and Cantrell study but they changed the methodology slightly. This time was fro a British audience for their type of football or what we call soccer. There was a tendency in this study as well to vote in favor of one's team when showing the footage to study participates to side with one's team when certain violations in the game were committed. They cam to similar results. We tend to see and remember what we cant to see based on our presuppositions. 

Scientists also have a tendency to have confirmation bias. In the 1970's in a study published Michael J. Mahoney and Bobby G. DeMonbreun out of Pennsylvania State University called Psychology of the Scientist: An Analysis of Problem Solving Bias, They interviewed 15 PhD physical scientists, 15 PhD psychologists, and 15 conservative pastors (from various denominations) to test see how much confirmatory (if any) bias they would have. They were interviewed to see if they would use confirmatory or disconfirmatory ways of finding out what the general rule was for a particular number set. These findings in the study are tentative as the study suggests, but they found out (as other studies have shown in the past to the present) everyone used confirmatory ways of finding out the general rule was that the number set was all evens 2,4,6 and so on. What was striking is that the pastors experimented more than the other two groups using more disconfirmatory experimentation, when means they tended to set aside their presuppositions more. Though interesting, that part is tentative. This at least shows that even scientists have confirmations bias. 

Another interview study was preformed on the Apollo scientists during the Apollo missions. University of Pittsburgh sociologist Ian Mitroff (1974, published in American Sociological Review) found that scientists would stich to their theories pretty strongly and even at times say that their colleagues were not scientists anymore because they disagreed with their interpretation of the data coming in from the Apollo missions. The scientists generally agreed  that we all suffer from certain biass. This shows that even scientists suffer from confirmation bias. 

Thus, the atheist is mistaken that Christians are the prime ones or even making claims that Christians are the only ones that suffer from the tendency in interpreting evidence for or against God and Christian theism in particular with a heavy confirmation bias. Typically, the peer-reviewed literature says otherwise that we all suffer from it to matter our worldview or lack thereof. 

  • 4.      To clarify on the topics that I can come speak on currently are:

  •     Confirmation Bias: We all suffer from it including  atheists and how to deal with it
  • .    NT Textual Criticism
  •     Joseph Smith predicament, his incorrect usage of James 1:5, and how the Methodist pastor possibly failed him.
  •       Doubt: What it is, how to honestly deal with it, and how to help others 
  •       Apologetics: What it is, why we need it, and why fideism is no longer an option for the church.
  •       Perspicuity (clarity) of Scripture: What it is, what is the historic doctrine, and how it does not apply to the hermeneutical process itself
  •        Orthopraxy (right action) in Apologetics

If none of these topics are of particular interest to your church, group, etc that is fine. I do encourage you to invite another speaker from the Missouri Apologetics Network for the usual fidestic (faith-only) status quo is not going to work for the church any longer.

  • 5.      I alluded to that agonistic atheist New Testament textual scholar Bart Ehrman has some quotes on the manuscript evidence concerning the New Testament. Here are those for people to use as they are guided in their relational and rational apologetic endeavors:

a.       Bart Ehrman states about the NT manuscripts, “the vast majority of the differences in our manuscripts are insignificant, irrelevant, and easy to explain.” Though, some differences matter like the last verses of Mark or the woman caught in adultery story (John 7:53-8:11).  Source: Bart D. Ehrman, “Textual Criticism of the New Testament,” in Hearing the New Testament: Strategies for Interpretation, ed. Joel B. Green, Second Edition. (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2010), 18.

b.      Agnostic atheist NT textual scholar Bart Ehrman and Michael Holmes soberly writes; though more work needs to be done, "What, in conclusion, can one say about the utility of the MS tradition of the NT for the scholar of Christian antiquity? Textual scholars have enjoyed reasonable success at establishing, to the best of their abilities, the original text of the NT." Source: Bart D. Ehrman and Michael W. Holmes, The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research : Essays on the Status Quaestionis (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1995), 375.

  • 6.      If I had to do it again, I would have defined my terms more. Not everyone has background knowledge to know what “fideism” (faith only of how we know what we know) is or who “John Frame” (presuppositional philosopher and theologian) is. You really have to be a part of the apologetic world to know these terms and players. I forgot about this during the interview and want to apologize for potentially talking over anyone’s head. However, this tension is not new in the literature. Look at what the 5 Views on Apologetics Zondervan Counterpoints book had to say before the book even began.

Readers who have read very little philosophy or apologetics before picking up this book will have already come across some terms they have never seen before, and there are many more such terms in the pages that follow. Though all the authors in this book have tried to write without presupposing that the reader is well-versed in philosophical jargon, it would be impossible for us to avoid such jargon altogether and equally impossible to pause and define each term along the way.[1]

  •     For us apologist’s, this is a tension we have. We want to make this all accessible to the laymen for we want individuals to carry out 1st Peter 3:15 in a relational and rational way to the best of their ability. We try to do that in our writings by defining our terms or including parenthetical statements (like this) to clear up any confusion. Often we just forget that, start talking among ourselves, and forget to include the beginners to. Apologist Sean McDowell has recently pointed out that just like learning a musical instrument, learning apologetics you have to start somewhere. With basic chords, notes, etc the same applies to apologetics.

  •       That being said, the audience really has to meet us in the middle. Looking up the individuals we mention, asking us to define the term afterward via email, etc are all ways of effective communication.
  •        On another note, I forgot to include that when it comes to the external evidence when it comes to textual criticism, scholars also consider what the church fathers had to say when quoting certain passages of the NT.

  •         Yes, I have a learning disorder called ADHD (predominately-inattentive), but that just means I come to conclusions slower vs. others. It’s limits, but does not debilitate my abilities.

Thanks for considering this follow-up and again sorry about the formatting. I should switch over to Wordpress, but there are just to many other pressing issues at the moment. 

[1] Stanley N. Gundry and Steven B. Cowen, eds., Five Views on Apologetics, Zondervan Counterpoints Collection (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), 21.

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