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July 25, 2008

Comments

Randy Meadows

Dear Mr. Toedt,
I stumbled on your web-site reading about Dr. Randy Pausch. I happened to read your blog on: Can You Still Be a Christian if You Don't Believe Jesus was the Son of God?
I suppose you are a very well-intending man. And I did read your bio where you stated you are very involved in your church. Having said this, I believe you should refer folks, especially those of still tender ages, to a more learned theologian to answer these questions. Or, you could study the bible more and then realize that to be a Christian emphatically does mean you have accepted the truth that Jesus is the son of God and is in fact, one of the trinity, which also means he is God.
I say this without any hostility, but come to you in love. I hope that you understand that I do not profess to have the thelogical background that I referred to above.
Obviously, you know that having a website like this, you have the potential to be read by many and the responsiblity to lead them in the right direction is enormously inherit.
Matthew 24:23 Then if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or 'There!' do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand.

I don't think you want to be in that group.

Thanks, Randy

D. C. Toedt

I appreciate the good wishes, Randy.

I want to be in the group that puts God first by seeking the truth about what he has wrought, instead of insisting that the way our fallible forefathers conceived things is necessarily the way it is.

I want to be in the group that seeks the best for others as for themselves.

Recall that Jesus said, in essence, do these two things and you will live eternally [Lk 10.25-37].

I'm somewhat familiar with what more-learned theologians have to say. I think they're wrong, for reasons outlined at length in other postings here. I'm happy to explore these issues with what Kendall Harmon calls "reasserters," and often do just that at his TitusOneNine blog (see the link in the blogroll at the bottom right).

Thanks again for visiting; God bless.

Randa

Hello Mr Toedt,

I just happened upon your blog and was interested in the conversation.

It is interesting to note that Randy Pausch, who positively influenced millions through his last lecture and lost his battle with pancreatic cancer a few days ago, was a Unitarian Universalist. You might be interested in learning more about the church at www.uua.com

I wonder what Dr. Pausch would tell us about the Christian faith's specific requirements for getting into heaven.

Thanks for questioning the standard dogma. You make the world a better place with your kind heart and your open mind.

:-) Randa

D. C. Toedt

Many thanks, Randa -- and especially for the information that Dr. Pausch was a UU. I updated the main posting to reflect that fact.

Randy Meadows

Hello again, Mr. Toedt:
Yes, I am familiar with the verse you quoted above in Luke. I'm sure you are familiar with these in John where Jesus spoke of himself:

6:35 - "I am the bread of life."
8:12 - "I am the light of the world."
10:9 - "If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved..."
11:25 - "I am the resurrection and the life.
He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live."
14:6 - "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through Me."
15:5-6 - "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned."

Sorry to bombard you with all of this scripture, but to withhold these truths from an inquisitive teen, or, for that matter, any human being is to do a great disservice to them and jeopardize their eternal home.
To answer a question from someone who asks, 'Is it okay to be a viewer of the Turner Broadcasting Network and not believe in Ted Turner?' is one thing, but to answer in the affirmative to a question from someone who asks, 'Can I be a Christian and not believe in Jesus Christ?' is quite another.

James 5:19-20 is a motivating factor for me to pursue this debate with you.
And I hope that God blesses you and your family and allows your heart to open to receive the real truth.

Sincerely,
Randy

Chris Hairel

I'm curious how you reconcile Matt 19:16-26. At first glance this is further confirmation that Jesus subscribes to your ethical system.

But, following verse 20 you can see the "anything else?" The conversation ends with Jesus's proclaiming people can't live up to the Law.

Where does that leave us?

D. C. Toedt

Randy, in response to your quotations from the Gospel of John: I think God's gift of judgment compels us to view the Fourth Gospel as something like a historical novel, written by one or more anonymous authors with an obvious revisionist agenda. Here's why:

• One cannot help but be skeptical of a history that, though written decades after the events, puts long, detailed speeches in Jesus' mouth — speeches offering a viewpoint quite different from that recorded in the earlier synoptic gospels (including the Gospel of Luke, which itself claims to have been based on extensive investigation into eyewitness accounts).

Try this thought experiment: Suppose a biography of Eisenhower were to be published, purportedly by one of Eisenhower's young lieutenants during WW II, now in his old age. Suppose this biography proclaimed Ike's alleged views on certain subjects, views unlike those recorded by Ike's other biographers. Finally, suppose this biography argued that it was uniquely its account that should be believed, because it was based on the eyewitness testimony of the young lieutenant. We'd be rightly reluctant to rely on this biography as support for action of any great consequence; we must be likewise reluctant to place great reliance on the Gospel of John.

• The Fourth Gospel demands that we accept pretty much the highest christology in the entire New Testament. As factual support for that premise — as opposed to the speeches put in Jesus' mouth — the author(s) offer only the Prologue, with its imaginative claim about the Son's alleged role in the creation of the universe. No one who seeks to be a faithful steward of God's gift of judgment could possibly agree to that claim. There is zero basis for believing the author(s) had any knowledge of the events in question, let alone reliable knowledge. To accept the Prologue's tale at face value, without supporting evidence, would grossly breach the commandment of Deut. 18.21-22, which mandates testing what would-be prophets say against the evidence of the real world God wrought. (Cf. also 1 Thess. 5.20-21, which mandates testing the fruits of the Spirit and keeping that which proves to be good.) The Prologue abysmally fails that test.

(Nor can we accept the Fourth Gospel's christology on grounds that its author(s) were divinely inspired: to do so would beg the question, why accept their views on that basis, but not the views of others likewise claiming divine inspiration?)

See also:

Synoptic Christians versus John Christians: A Critique


Thanks for commenting again, and for the good wishes.

D. C. Toedt

Chris Hairel — nice to hear from you; hope you're having a great summer.

You ask about Matthew's parable of a rich young man, evidently a troubled one, who asked Jesus what he needed to do to gain eternal life. Jesus' initial response was, follow the commandments — and when asked, which ones, he listed the ones against murder, adultery, theft, along with the injunction to honor one's parents and to love one's neighbor as one's self.

I take it your question was: how do we reconcile Matthew's laundry list of specific commandments that must be followed, in addition to love-thy-neighbor, on the one hand, with Luke's consolidation of these commandments into simply love-thy-neighbor, on the other hand.

It seems quite plausible that Matthew's laundry list of is simply a set of specific examples of what is required by the general love-thy-neighbor commandment. Violation of any of those specific commandments would seem to be a prima facie case of not loving your neighbor as yourself.

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You ask about Jesus' ultimate advice to the rich young man, which was for the young man to to sell all he owned and follow him. That advice strikes me, not as a general commandment for everyone, but as a specific prescription for this one particular unsettled soul.

(The young man rejected this advice, although we don't know whether the seed Jesus planted might have changed the man's mind in the future.)

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You refer to Jesus' final comment that people can't achieve salvation for themselves, that only God can do so for us. If we had a better idea what "being saved" meant, we might be able to explore whether in fact people are categorically incapable of saving themselves or each other. For lack of a defensible better idea, I tend to think of being saved as something like achieving a state of spiritual health, one that might carry over into whatever exists after death.

It seems indisputable that we are incapable of willing ourselves into a state of spiritual health. I think we have to remain open to the possibility that God somehow helps some people to get to that state by individual inspiration. This inspiration could be direct, via some mechanism we don't begin to understand. Or the inspiration could be transmitted indirectly via other people, for example the people we call the church.

(In any event, all putative inspiration must be tested against the evidence of the real world that God has wrought, lest we find ourselves following "inspiration" that isn't. See Deut. 18.20-22 and 1 Thess. 5.20-21.)

I think we must provisionally reject the idea that such a state of spiritual health can come only from Jesus' sacrificial death on the cross, or from accepting Jesus as our personal savior. We can tentatively disprove this idea by counterexample: There are a lot of people in the world who appear to be in excellent spiritual health, and who do not take such an exalted view of Jesus and his death. The Dalai Lama is just one well-known example.

(The Roman Catholic assertion that, while even non-Christians can be saved, all salvation nevertheless comes through Christ, strikes me as an attempt to put a Band-Aid on a gaping hole in the argument — or less kindly, to claim credit even though it might not be due.)

As Katharine, our presiding bishop, has said, to decree that God cannot save people in any way other than what we conceive, would be to put him in a pretty small box.

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Interestingly, near the beginning of this parable, Jesus implicitly rebukes the rich young man for calling him good, because only God is good. Some have tried to spin this exchange into a coy, backhanded declaration by Jesus that he was God. The meaning of the passage, however, is pretty clearly otherwise, I think.

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See you Sunday.

Chris Hairel

DC, I’m having a very good summer and I’m looking forward to a few days in upstate NY next month. I hope you and your family are enjoying the summer as well.

This is a longish response. Let me address a few points and I’ll limit myself to the Synoptics to focus the evidence on a fact set we’re both more comfortable with.

Reconciling the specific list in Matt 19 and the other summaries of the Law is a trivial matter; the list is simply the five of the six commandments regulating human interactions. But Jesus restates that last commandment. Instead of focusing on coveting (which is occurs inside a person’s heart and mind and then is acted out) He speaks of love (which also occurs inside a person’s heart and mind and then is acted out). The last commandment as stated in the OT is the kicker and the root for the prohibitions in commandments 5 through 9 (Matt 15:19).

But, the issue of reconciliation with the other summaries is the declaration that this is impossible for people to save themselves (We don’t need to agree on what we’re being saved from and still understand that we can’t save ourselves on our own; we can discuss this, but it’s not the key question at the moment.). As shown above, our problem lives within us. Matt 5:21-28 shows that sin originates in the heart and is actually a violation of the Law before any action takes place. Even if the call for the rich man to give up all his possessions was unique to him, we may all have a similarly epic call that is unique to us – a call that none of us would willingly heed.

There’s the further complication that this listing doesn’t include the first four commandments that address humanity’s relationship with God. If you look at Matt 15:1-6, we’re not allowed to make tradeoffs between God and people; we’re accountable for the entire Law.

Taken together, we’re accountable to live up to all aspects of the Law, fulfilling our obligations to God and people, every moment of our lives in thought, word and deed. Surely that is impossible. And we don’t see any kind of “minimum requirements,” but a blanket requirement for perfection. That doesn’t seem like a great place to be.

So how do we obtain “spiritual health” if we’re unable to live up to our obligations under that Law? You vaguely describe what Jesus declares as the work of the Holy Spirit (Matt 10:20, Mark 13:11, Luke 4:18, Luke 10:21). Only through the Holy Spirit do we understand the truth and we must hear that truth proclaimed before we understand it.

Let me place these points in an overarching line of thought. There is a prima facie duty for ethical behavior between people that runs through virtually every school of human thought. But when we ask is there anything else we realize that a) we can not live up to this duty and b) there is something that sits above us to which we also have obligations. These twin failures in our morality require an exogenous actor to help us understand our short comings and provide a way to overcome those short comings. We’ve basically agreed to these propositions, so the disagreement is fleshing out the details.

I would encourage you to examine the shift in epistemology where the argument moves from accepting the proposition of universal truth in the summary of the law to asserting there is a pluriform truth of how to solve the issue of our twin failures.

As for putting God in boxes, I would submit that orthodox Christianity does just the opposite. Since the idea of salvation by grace through faith in Christ makes God the prime mover in every stage of the process, orthodox Christianity recognizes God as fully sovereign and omnipotent. Instead of KJS’s system where God is unable to clearly communicate and is bound by what people allow Him to do, orthodox Christians understand that God has the power to reveal truth and the power to affect change in people’s life even when they do not want it (that’s not a blanket statement against free will!).

If God allowed His Son to be put in a human body, then the boxing was done by God Himself. Notice that Jesus uses the same technique confirming His divinity with Peter (Matt 16:13-20) and while on trial Matt 26:63-65 (note this was enough to be found guilty of blasphemy under Jewish law) as He does confirming the summary of the law when the lawyer examines Him in Luke 10:25-37.

james stickler

It seems to me that the first few posts above have been arguing the wrong point. The term Christian was not used in the bible . We read about followers of Jesus and his teachings. It was after Jesus' death the Church was founded. To be Christian is to be Christ like, this is no easy task, and there are many poor examples of Christians out there. But getting to the root of the matter above is a question of Salvation. The bible is clear on the issue of salvation. There has been enough scripture mentioned above reaffirming the point that the only way to Salvation is through Jesus Christ, and by salvation I am speaking of Heaven. Before Christ's sacrifice the dead were not in Heaven, but in a place referred to as Abraham's bosom. It was Christ's sacrifice that allowed us into Heaven along with those who died before Christ's death. It is quite troublesome that those in positions of authority would try to make the claim that there is another way to salvation, when before Christ there was no Salvation.

D. C. Toedt

James Stickler @ 01:30 am, I appreciate your having left a comment. The difficulty with your assertion about heaven is that we have no reason to think heaven exists, any more than the Heaven's Gate cultists had reason to think they could board an alien spaceship by committing suicide.

We do, of course, have hints that something exists after death. If nothing else, the phenomenon of post-mortem appearances can't be ignored.

But we certainly don't have the kind of evidence that might support the taking of action that could be harmful to others.

To use the current example: The church has historically told gays and lesbians they cannot marry those they love. At bottom, the purported justification for this ban boils down to the bald assertion that condoning same-sex marriages would jeopardize some people's chances of getting to heaven.

The ban has surely inflicted emotional harm on countless gays and lesbians. The trouble is that the ban is devoid of any semblance of rationality: While we can hope for heaven after we die, we don't have sufficient reason to think it exists (nor that same-sex marriages would jeopardize anyone's chances of getting there) to justify imposing this ban on gays and lesbians. We would have just as much reason — that is to say, none at all — to ban the wearing of sky-blue socks by men (but not women) because the Creator of the Universe supposedly would be offended if men's feet appeared to be that particular shade.

Ridiculous, you say? I agree, completely — and so is imposing conduct requirements on people because of the supposed existence of heaven. We certainly need conduct standards in order to live together without killing each other. But let's impose those standards for reasons that make sense.

(For those traditionalists who want to retort with Gagnon's complementarity theory of gender, that theory is preposterous, for reasons discussed in:
The sinfulness of my blue-eyes/brown-eyes marriage
Robert Gagnon: Homosexuality and the "Sacral Architecture" of Gender.)

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Your assertions about the dead being in the bosom of Abraham before Christ, but in heaven afterwards, are based on the same unsupportable premise.

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Thanks for stopping by; it's good to get other viewpoints here.

D. C. Toedt

Chris Hairel @ 11:29 am yesterday writes:

Let me place these points in an overarching line of thought. There is a prima facie duty for ethical behavior between people that runs through virtually every school of human thought. But when we ask is there anything else we realize that a) we can not live up to this duty and b) there is something that sits above us to which we also have obligations. [Emphasis added.]

Chris, you and other reasserters are raising the bar way too high. We have no reason to think God established a standard of conduct that he expected us to meet, but that was impossible for us to attain. That sounds like the kind of God that would pull the wings off of flies for amusement, not one that has managed to pull off building a universe.

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Reasserters also assume God is offended when we fail to attain his standard of conduct. This assumption is likewise lacking in foundation. As a commenter said here last year:

Personally, I always think it's funny that we can "offend" God.

The great, big, almight, omni-everything, creator, and powerfull God is "offended" by something we little-specs-of-cosmic-dust do.

We have no reason to think the Creator of the Universe is offended by anything we do, let alone if we fail to meet some imagined, and unattainable, standard of perfection.

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A better way to look at this issue, I submit, is that we are all created co-workers in God's continuing creation project. What we call sin is simply some of the natural consequences of our limitations; but through our gifts of memory, reason and skill — and, I strongly suspect, divine nudges of some kind or kinds here and there — we seem to be able to mitigate those consequences and to push human progress forward, bit by bit (often painfully and sometimes at great cost).

Maybe that's not the way we might choose to run a universe-construction project. But the Creator's track record of progress over the past 13.7 billion years suggests we should assume he knows what he's doing.

----------------

Thanks for commenting again; it's always good to hear from the reasserter side.

Just Believe

This is actually sad that we want to disagree that Christ Jesus is the Son of God and still call ourselves a Christian. Christian means follower of Christ and how can you follow someone you don't believe in. Because we stand in a garage that doesn't make us a car. People love to get on these sites and boast in their education and their knowledge, but when you die all of that means nothing. The bible says, in all your getting get understanding. Salvation is based on faith, not what you learned in college. Christ Jesus is the Son of God, Born of a virgin, died and rose again on the third day for us, and is coming back again. That is the whole truth, nothing but the truth, so help me God. Why people who don't want to believe in nothing but themselves try and complicate everything else. Christ Jesus and Him alone is the truth.

D. C. Toedt

Just Believe @ 12:27 pm writes: "... Christ Jesus and Him alone is the truth."

Just Believe, I'm glad you're here. No one who grasps the lessons that history teaches us about the frailty of human memory and story-telling, and who applies those lessons to the stories told by the New Testament authors, could respond to your claim with anything other than: Sorry, but you haven't persuaded me.

(And yes, I mean this statement to include all the learned theologians who have ever voiced sentiments similar to yours: they're mistaken, just as you are.)

Thanks for visiting.

james stickler

Just believe..your comments are right on the money. The problem with these debates is that rarely is an opinion changed...simply because opinions do not want to be changed. Part of our relationship with God is faith. The problem with man is that we try to rationalize everything; our own pride gets in the way. We do not need to prove anything...if you could prove "it"; "it" wouldn't need much faith. Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. If someone believes that the gospel is not truth, or is not of divine inspiration than having any sort of theological discussion with them about the gospel will always lead to the same conclusion....the "prove it" rebuttal. This leads us back to faith. Interesting.

Randy Meadows

James and Just Believe:
I, too agree with you. Have you ever been involved with a really worthy cause, i.e. a Pro-Life Booth at a county fair? It's the "salt of the earth" type people that are more than generous with their support and their donations. The academia are far too intelligent to be persuaded and far too prideful to be encouraging. They are so caught up with "self" and their attempts to uncover some mysterious truth that they ignore the simplest of exhortations in the Bible. As Mr. Toedt speaks of the support for the marriages of gays and lesbians, it again reminds me of his "loose leaf" bible. Loose leaf in the sense that he bestows no credibility to the book of John and apparently other New and Old testament scriptures that are contradictory to his own opinions/viewpoints. But, nonetheless, we do not need to be searching for other mysterious meanings, thus the verses in Mark 10:15 and Luke 18:17 where Jesus told us to "receive the Kingdom of God as a little child" or we will not enter into it. And Jesus also said in Matthew 5:17, "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill." So, it doesn't matter what my opinion is, it matters what God thinks. It's not our role to bring a compromise to God's teachings. He is very clear throughout the Bible and Jesus reaffirms in Matthew 19:4-6 that marriage is between a man and a woman. God created the earth and man/woman. It's His design/blueprint and we are supposed to try to live by His rules.
When I get tears in my eyes because I've been touched by a story or have compassion for the plights of people, I thank God for that sensitivity. I love to help people and I am very thankful for people who have come to my aid. It's not up to us to lower the bar, no matter how much our hearts ache for people that are dealing with their particular crisis or plight. As James 1:2-4 says, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." As you know Paul experienced a "thorn in his side" that God never cured.
We all have desires and temptations that we must try to not give into. It's through this struggle and the dependence on God and God alone that we develop a deep relationship with Him.
So the bottom line question is this: Should be be trying to comfortably manuever and fit God into our world, or should we be trying to submit to His pefect will for our lives?

D. C. Toedt

James Stickler (7/30 @ 6:21 pm) writes: "The problem with man is that we try to rationalize everything; our own pride gets in the way."

What you call trying to rationalize everything, I would call prudence. Faith and hope are essential to our spiritual health, but that doesn't mean we can recklessly pretend that what we hope for is true. (As has been said elsewhere, hope is not a policy.) This is especially the case if we're contemplating action that could lead to harm to self or others.

--------------

Randy Meadows @ 11:46 a.m. writes: "So the bottom line question is this: Should be be trying to comfortably manuever and fit God into our world, or should we be trying to submit to His pefect will for our lives?"

Randy, your question suffers from a grave epistemology problem: If we hypothesize that X is God's perfect will for us, how confident of that hypothesis do we want to be before we take action that could harm ourselves or others?

Suppose I hypothesize that God's perfect will for me is to stop eating sweets. In that case I can submit to "God's perfect will" with essentially zero risk of harming anyone. At the other extreme, however, we find Mohammad Atta and the other 9/11 hijackers, all of them submitting to what they hypothesized to be God's perfect will for them.

Let me preemptively address your retort: We cannot credibly claim that every part of the Bible reliably states God's perfect will for us in every situation. I've written extensively on this blog of internal contradictions that give us reason for caution on this point. And remember that Mohammad Atta and his colleagues subscribed to exactly the same view about the Qur'an.

(While truth isn't a popularity contest, it's of more than passing interest that — after nearly 2,000 years of evangelism — less than 1/3 of the world's population is Christian. That's certainly something that has to be kept in mind in assessing whether everything in the Bible represents God's perfect will for us today.)

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Thanks to both of you for visiting.

Randy Meadows

D. C.:
I have to say, although we disagree on a few subjects, I enjoy your responses. I hope the best for you.

Randy

Randy Meadows

D.C. :
One more thought. As to your point of 1/3 of the world being Christian, which obviously says that 2/3 are not. Matthew 7:13 - "Enter by the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it." Luke 17:26 "And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man."

If you believe, as I do, that the Bible is the unerring word of God (Isaiah 40:8, 1Pet 1:25), then the rest is simple. But, I am a simple man. I have heard people discuss the various possible climatological events that had to have been occurring for the Red Sea to have been parted or for the water to have turned to blood in Egypt. Again, my simple mindedness, or what I prefer to call faith, has no problem believing that if God said He did it, he, in fact, did do it. And there would not have had to have been some other atmospheric influences that made it possible.
So, although not gifted with artistic or musical talents and suffer as one that is follically challenged, I do have the gifts of sensitivity and FAITH. And it is the former that motivates me to help others find absolute truth. And regardless of what you hear and what you read in secular writings, absolute truth exists.

Thanks again, Randy

james stickler

D.C
You obviously already know that there is a difference between justification of an action and a belief, and through epistemology, arguments can be made for each. One of the more common approaches to justifying ones actions is through "Deontological justification." Which states: S is justified in doing x if and only if S is not obliged to refrain from doing x. I hope I do not need to define obliged. When applying this to the reference you made of the 9/11 hijackers clearly we can see there was no justification.
Their beliefs, may however be justified, either through internal or external methods. Of course this is true for all beliefs, whether from the Bible, the Qur'an or any and all social experiences.
In order for your argument against Randy's last post to make sense, you made an unfair assumption that God's perfect will would cause us or others harm. You stated that the bible does not provide for us God's perfect will in every situation. But a Christian ascribing to the method of internality should have a good idea of God's perfect will.
Let us not forget that we have chosen to intertwine philosophy with religion for the purposes of this discussion. Can we always know God's will? Do we have to know? Or can we choose to walk in faith. Listening to the most intimate of voices...the Holy Spirit.
David Bennett writes-
The Christian faith is exactly that, faith. The Word of God in 2 Corinthians 5: 7 says “(For we walk by faith, not by sight :).” Our Christian walk on this side of heaven is entirely by faith, faith in Him and in His Word. In Romans 1:17 we read “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” Also in Romans 10: 17 we read “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” The faith we have in the person and saving work of Jesus Christ is known personally through our hearing and accepting God’s Words in His Word.

D. C. Toedt

James Stickler @ 03:44 am, I'm not following your argument. When you say that "[t]he faith we have in the person and saving work of Jesus Christ is known personally through our hearing and accepting God’s Words in His Word," how is that materially different from Mohammad Atta and his confederates' purporting to hear and accept God's Words in the Qur'an? What yardstick could a nonbeliever, who doesn't already accept your conclusion, use to distinguish between the two?

james stickler

My point is that there is a very clear line between belief and action. Through epistemology one can justify many beliefs, in fact a case can be made for or against any and all beliefs. This is much more difficult for an action; there are far fewer assumptions made for the justification of an action.
So as far as Mohamad Atta goes his actions were still not justified using the knowledge and rules of justification that you apparently ascribe to as mentioned in my last post.
We would have to assume for this discussion just as the philosophers of old did that there is some sort of priori knowledge, that guides ones actions and decisions. A non believer will have no choice but to believe in something. Again there beliefs will indeed be correct in their eyes, and they will be able justify their beliefs. They will still have no justification for their actions...in regards to Atta.

Phil

D.C. : Would you care to debate whether the Bible is divine or human in origin?

D. C. Toedt

James Stickler (Aug. 3, 01:51 p.m.), if you're still reading, you might look at a post I did a post I did a couple of years ago: Do You Believe in God? That's Only Half the Question.

D. C. Toedt

Phil @ 8:50 p.m. Aug. 7, I posted your question as a new blog entry, Is the Bible of divine or human origin?.

AJ Locke

Since for some here there still seems to be a question, Randy Pausch was not a true believer. He was a Unitarian Universalist, which means he did not believe Jesus was the only way to eternal life, which means he was not a believer. See this site to verify:
http://www.uua.org/news/newssubmissions/117142.shtml

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