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Topics - Steven

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Theology Forum / The Scientific Method: A Side bar
« on: July 20, 2013, 06:30:29 PM »

You've referred to the Scientific Method numerous times but have never defined exactly what that means nor have you seem to have used it to arrive at such conclusive assertions as "The Bible is 1% inspired."

As this forum is or was frequented by non-professionals of varying degrees of education and familiarity with such things, it might be helpful to offer a clear definition of a term & procedure upon which you refer to with some frequency to avoid misunderstanding.

"How can you have any rational discussion if you don’t follow the rational philosophy of the scientific method for finding truth?  Doing so will separate things into two categories; those that can be validated as true and those that we believe to be true because of faith.  "

"Truth" would be a subject investigated under the Philosophical study of Epistemology. I've had some professional training there.  Those folks seem to have lots of methods beyond the Scientific Method. But I can't find any definitions of the Scientific Method that claim it leads to "truth".

Are you saying the only folks having rational discussions are those using the scientific method?????
Are you saying the scientific method has found only two categories of things, "things validated & things believed?
I can't find any web site discussions of the scientific method that agree with you. So, your statement is a belief & not true.

Again, I find it useful within limitations.  It was invented by imperfect humans and used by imperfect humans.  While it is useful, it has not always been used flawlessly, at least in my observation.

Thus, I'm including a few references from googling:

Digging through these reveals there is not just one method but many. Nor is there complete agreement.  Nor does every field of science use the same methods.  The physical sciences seem to be in a group separate from others.
It seems the scientific method has developed over time and is not a static, unchanging thing. 

One reference I can't link to describes the story of Daniel & his kosher diet as a test meeting the definition of using the scientific method. See Daniel 1:1-16.  This evidence seems to contradict your hypothesis that Science has nothing to do with the Bible. But, I draw no conclusions. (wink)

So, can we say with precision & accuracy what constitutes the Scientific Method for all time & places and disciplines? It seems we can not do more than give a general discussion as the methodologies have been adapted & there is no group who holds a patent or copyright so as to control just what is it or is not.

Most importantly, I can't find any reference that says the Scientific Method Is the means for determining Truth. There is nothing to suggest it has been adopted by most modern countries as you have claimed.

I found this last one typical & having a sense of humor.

"Whilst any definition of the scientific method is always a little difficult, due to the vast number of scientific disciplines and subtypes, there are a few basic fundamentals that are common to them all."
[/size]None of these sites describe the Scientific Method as a means to determine "truth" as has been asserted on this forum. Rather, this quote from the last source seems reflective & helpful:My request would be to offer a clear definition of your methodology & follow it beginning with testing each of your own assertions.  Do other scientists affirm you are using the scientific method in approaching questions about God & the Bible? Good luck  & blessings as always!-----------------------------------------"Adult Science MisconceptionsMore serious is when adults, often including scientists, take these misconceptions on board and propagate them as truth.
pseudoscience becomes a misconception, where if something is publicized enough times, the general public believes it to be true.
One of the most
common science misconceptions, still apparent in debate and in the media, is that science can provide ultimate proof, and that any process that science uncovers must be regarded as truth.
Science never achieves 'proof', even the most well known and basic principle is always subject to
falsification, with even a single piece of evidence to the contrary able to destroy a theory.
Unfortunately, many experts still try to portray scientific findings as 'proof' or
'truth'. Any well-trained scientist would never make such a mistake, which can have serious consequences."


Theology Forum / How Do We Hear God?
« on: May 02, 2013, 09:05:24 PM »
This grows out of a continuing conversation I've had with James Rix that spans several thread topics as I review them going backwards.

All are welcome to share their experiences & insights, or not. 

2 or 3 Questions: 
1. How do I, (Steven) hear God speaking?
2. How does Scripture talk about God speaking?
3. How do others experience and/or discern God speaking?

Sub-questions abound regarding effective & reliable discernment of which I'll suggest these as openers.
"How do you know that its really God?"
"How do we balance healthy skepticism and faith?"
"How do we avoid self-deception or deceiving others or being deceived, wittingly or unwittingly!

My short, life story: I was once quite sure of myself & what God says. Then, I fell into confusion. Then, God saved me. Things were fine for a while. Then, I got too sure of myself & eventually became confused, lost, bewildered, befuddled, bespeckled and flabbergasted. I cried out & God saved me, again.  This cycle has recurred several times.

Currently, I'm in a phase of recovery having lost all confidence in myself, God & life following my wife's passing. Each of you in this group are partners in the Lord's continuing efforts to bring me to the next chapter of my life. Thank you! 

James quoted:
“Nope! Often, God overrules my gut feelings! That’s one of the ways I know its God/Jesus/Holy Spirit & not me!”
James:Could you expand on this some?  I’m having trouble seeing how you can tell the difference.  I know you suggested a new thread for this and there are currently lots of them active right now, so I hate to ask.  But I’d like to know how you hear God’s spirit.


Here's an example from current life, fresh & hot off the press:

Yesterday I needed to write a letter of reference for a friend applying to be a life coach.  I had 1 or two shallow sentences in mind & didn't feel right about even those. Then, I just started typing & ended up with a page of very readable content. I emailed my friend who was quite humbled by my words of praise. I double-checked & concluded I could give specific examples for each of my comments. IOW, what I wrote was empirically based, not exaggerated or excessive.  Nor was it the result of a clear conscious  analytical thinking process as I was initially surprised at the whole thing. 

My friend replied that it is exactly what is needed even though she had failed to give me clear instructions in those regards. Thus, I could not have rationally determined what the organization needed due to my information deficit.

IMNSHO, hitting the mark that well is beyond human ability & represents "God speaking" in some fashion. & even if it is not "God", I'll take the humble route & give God the credit either for inspiring me or making me smart enough to be a good guesser. 

But, I don't ascribe such things to the Lord until subsequent evidence suggests high praise & I hit the mark well beyond my human ability.

That is one example & one type of "God speaking."

To make a formal study, I'd suggest reviewing a couple of New Testament passages for background:
(Or check out the current issue of Charisma magazine on The Holy Spirit)

I Corinthians 2
I Corinthians 12-14
Romans 8 and 12

go to

& do a phrase search on the following:

"Word of the Lord"   223
"Word of God"          40
Prophet                  224
Prophecy                 20
Prophe*                 582
"God spoke"              6
"God said"              54 (28 times in Genesis!)
"The Lord says"     184 (all in the Old Testament!)
"The Lord said"      299, all but 11 in the Old Testament
"Holy Spirit"            93  (with 69 being in the Book of Acts!)
"God's Word"            6

Don't try to look through all of them! Skim & skip.
I've done that & written long research papers that are getting old & dusty!  My study of "Spirit" in the Book of Acts dealt directly & critically with the Greek text.  My research paper on Spiritual Gifts ran well over 50 pages & could have been much longer but time ran out.

Formally put, my experience parallels that found in the Book of Acts, Romans 8 discussion of the Spirit as well as I Corinthians 12-14 (as a unit!) 

But, I quote I Cor 12:

1Co 12:1 Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant. 2 You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 3 Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

 1Co 12:4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.

 1Co 12:7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.

Whatever else this passage may mean, God is spirit & we dare not neglect paying attention to the spiritual side of life which is different from emotions, feelings, reason & intellect. 

Paul's words in I Co 2 have left me intrigued & wrestling with these words for decades as the implications appear profound:

1Co 2:6 We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 However, as it is written:
        “No eye has seen, no ear has heard,  no mind has conceived
         what God has prepared for those who love him”— 10 but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.
        The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.

I encourage great care & drawing conclusions slowly, befitting my conservative style. 

Suffice it to say, I follow a Christ that is alive & is neither deaf nor mute!
The Lord I serve is 3 persons in one God, the Creator of all who is always speaking if our hearts are open to hearing.
He turns a deaf ear towards no one. But speaks reluctantly to those not inclined to listen.


I'm of mixed opinion as to whether this best belongs under "Theology" or "Social Policy" as there are aspects of both. But, in a vain attempt to keep discussion threads vaguely coherent among folks of good will, however differing in views, here goes a new title.

I'm posting the recent comments of Grant & James under the Bible thread for reference & will discuss in  separate post.


Grant said:
When you use the category "citizens/settlers/colonists" you are excluding the people who were already living in this country when the white people first arrived.  In the early part of the settling of this country the native people were the most numerous.  Furthermore, they were not Christian and their religion allowed for same sex marriage.  For most of the time that people inhabited this land, the inhabitants believed in same sex marriage.

James said:
I know it’s wandering off topic here, but it appears we have a difference in the definition of “marriage”.  I contend that it is a social construct while you hold that it’s a God instilled institution.  Correct me if I’m mistaken.  Maybe it would help to clarify these definitions a little more.  I think we’re both striving towards the elimination of a civil marriage and only recognize Gods idea of unions.  Just when we hear the word marriage, we each think of a different aspect.

So how does God see it?  What lessons do we learn from other animals in God’s kingdom?  Some animals choose a mate for life, others prefer polygamy.  It could be argued that God is only interested in propagation of species, but same-sex relations also occur in nature.  Did those animals choose to be gay?  Did God make them defective?

Since the Bible doesn’t define what should constitute a marriage, what concepts should we follow?  Homo-sapiens (and our cousins the chimpanzees) naturally fall in between life-long mates and short term relationships.  For a civilized community, there are advantages for promoting homogeneous life-long relationships including shared responsibility in child rearing and property ownership among them.  Equal access to mate selection is a good thing too. I can imagine some of the harems the wealthy would have today if that was an accepted norm.   So society has established laws to benefit long-term homogeneous relationships.  I can find no real civil benefit though for not allowing same-sex marriage.

Theology Forum / One Solitary Life
« on: March 26, 2013, 09:05:26 AM »
One Solitary Life
Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village. He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher.

He never owned a home. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put His foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself...

While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. While He was dying His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth – His coat. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

Nineteen long centuries have come and gone, and today He is a centerpiece of the human race and leader of the column of progress.

I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that were ever built; all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life.

This essay was adapted from a sermon by Dr James Allan Francis in “The Real Jesus and Other Sermons” © 1926 by the Judson Press of Philadelphia (pp 123-124 titled “Arise Sir Knight!”).

Theology Forum / Holy Week
« on: March 26, 2013, 09:04:48 AM »
It is Holy week. & as we prepare for services traditional and progressive, we are all called to retrace the steps to the Upper Room and to Gesthemane with the kiss of Judas, the courtyard of Peter's denial, and the long road to Calvary.

Share your own thoughts here: What does Jesus' death & sacrifice mean to you today?

Which disciple would you have been? Swinging a sword? Asleep to be awakened by soldiers? Running away as soon as danger flared? Or wandering behind but denying the love and fear that brought you to see his trial?

This thread is more for sharing personal experiences that having the theology all worked out. IOW, there are no wrong answers.

Describe a meaningful Maundy Thursday or Good Friday service you've known or will do.


James wrote:
"One comment that jumped out at me in this discussion was the idea that God is changing.

Why would we presume that God changes when he has created everything including time itself? 

It doesn’t make sense for an entity with the capability of creating a universe would ever have a want or need to change even if he was bound to the same references of time that we are. 

Without time, there is no such thing as change.However, our ideas of the creator have changed since the beginning of documented history. 

Just the difference in understanding God changed dramatically from the old testament to the new testament. 

God didn’t change when Jesus showed us his capacity for love. So why should we stop there?

Social Issues and Public Policy / Roe v Wade @ 40 years
« on: January 29, 2013, 02:30:49 AM »
Blustering forward where angels may fear to tread, I offer this up as the 40th anniversary of one of the most controversial SCOTUS decisions of the century crosses our calendar.

I found this article helpful to review this past week:

Last week, Time magazine noted 1973 may have been the high water point in abortion rights as legislators have been whittling away persistently and, over time, making the right less than absolute. 

The Wiki article notes the SCOTUS attempted to balance the state's legitimate concerns for the prospective mother with the state's concerns for the new life in development. 

They drew the line, eventually, at "viability" at which point the State may seek to protect unborn children irrespective of a parent's desires. 

Few of my "Pro-Life" friends seem aware of the SCOTUS' sense of balance & limits in this regard.

Few of my "Pro-Choice" friends seem willing to acknowledge these balancing interests either. 

I agree with the dissenters, White & Rhenquist without denying the concerns of the plaintiffs.  The same decision passed by a state legislature or Congress would be far less controversial, IMO.  I would have invalidated the state laws & remanded the issue back to the legislators.

So, does the emotional state of women who've had abortions matter 5, 10, 20 years later?  My close friends who had abortions years ago I've have never resolved their grief or guilt concluding they ended a life possibly compounding one immoral act with another.  As a pastor, I've been left speechless. Thank God for hugs.

I would entertain any thoughts & reflections & questions but I see no value in degrading the views or actions of those who ended a pregnancy for whatever reason or of dismissing those who highly value God's gift of life.

What might be helpful would be stories of those for whom choosing an abortion helped their life. 

But as few, according to polls, are willing to ban abortions with no exceptions, I see no value in pointing out the absurdities & cruelties of the extreme positions which no court will allow.


Theology Forum / Finding God in the Mist of Scripture & Life
« on: January 23, 2013, 07:34:22 AM »
As some viewers may know, James Rix & I have had meandering discussions on several topics over the years.

This new thread picks up from the "Error-ridden or Inerrant or Something Else
" thread which was an off-shoot of "God's Image".

While he & I come from radically different faith backgrounds & seem to have vastly differing views on all sorts of faith & faith-informed issues, I've come to treasure his heart & mind & value him as a dear friend & prayer partner.

The next post will be his last post in the "Inerrancy" thread from which we will go forward as he lays the basis for a continuing search for truth.

I will comment in a separate post.


General Synod 29 / General Synod Nominating Committee
« on: January 19, 2013, 08:36:39 PM »
This committee meets at the Church House in Cleveland Jan 18-20.

I've met several of the folks working hard on their tasks being at the HQ for another meeting at the same time.

They are dedicated & will appreciate your prayers.

One task includes selecting 52 nominees from 175 applicants, all seasoned, experienced and apparently qualified for the positions, along with other positions to be voted upon by General Synod.

They are coping with the realities of working under a new Constitution and rules surrounding the new structure which is untested & uncharted waters.   

One committee member told me she is praying the Holy Spirit will work through each of those elected to accomplish God's will for the UCC.  I agree!


Theology Forum / Error-ridden or Inerrant or Something Else
« on: January 06, 2013, 11:08:36 AM »

Is the Bible error-ridden or inerrant?  I vote for "something else"!

The question for discussion would be: How do you respond to those who claim the Bible has errors OR is error-free in some respect?

James & I have been meandering about the Bible's error in claiming mankind is made in God's image.

James: If you claim any statement of scripture is absolutely "error-free", you will get the same sort of questions from me as I'll start searching for the unstated assumptions & subconscious influences & biases which leave flaws in our views & theology. 

James linked to a website which claims to list lots of Bible contradictions.
It appears rather biased:

Here is a site which attempt to make the completely opposite claim & answer all possible objections:

Its a bit sloppy, IMO.  I list it as an example of a weak defense of the integrity of Scripture, embarrassingly so, IMO.

For the record, I find both sites sadly lacking on so many levels as defies description. ::)

Apparently there are lots of these sites on both sides of this fence, so to speak.

For the life of me, I don't get it, on either side.  Both seem driven more by emotion/feelings than by faith or intellect or God or the Holy Spirit.  What am I missing?

If the Bible is wrong, why not do what most of the world does, ignore it & pursue what seems better. That's what Muslims, Hindus & members of other religions do, by & large.  Instead of attacking the flaws of other religions, why not advance your own version of how to  connect with God & live morally?

But, one need not attack the Bible in order to expose errant, shallow, mistaken, uninformed thinking about the Bible & its teachings.  Why inflame those for whom the Bible is a source of inspiration when the real enemy is what some call "bible-olotry" (sp?) 

On the other side of the coin, I don't get whom I shall call "hyper-defenders" of an inerrant Bible.  If the Bible is The Word of God, uniquely inspired by the Holy Spirit, safeguarded through the centuries & still anointed to change people's lives, than just let it do its job.  Why try to change doubter's minds with arguments when the Bible teaches its the Holy Spirit which changes people's minds & hearts?

Generally, I find the terms "inerrancy" and "infallibility" best left to seminaries and scholars. IOW, the terms are useless in almost all contexts in which I travel, being too complicated to explain. So, as a rule, I avoid the terms in preaching & teaching. I see great danger in telling people they can read the Bible & assume their understanding is correct. If asked, I'll discuss them with great caution & care. 


UCC Café / Merry Christmas!
« on: December 25, 2012, 12:20:57 AM »
To one & all,
Near & far;
As I'm driving east,
With four kids in a car:

The sun is bright,
The roads are dry,
Each kid has had a turn driving;
& my humor is still wry;

Our relatives await,
Our arrival by night;
We'll enjoy their company
& the New England sights.

Having survived endless trips to the mall,
and shopping lists gone wild,
let us not forget,
tonight is about a child.

So, without further delay,
& before my kids fuss,
God bless you all &
Merry Christmas!

Good Post Richard!
I'm putting it under a new thread!

[size=78%]Happy Thsnksgiving All,[/size]Denise,The phrase, " God is still speaking", is not clear to me as it semms there is meaning beyond the face of it. Does it mean that God is adding to what He has said in scripture by amendment, deletion, ehansement, elaboration or correction?. Where does one find the recent revelations from God? Can one understand the new revelations without the gift of discernment from the Holy Spirit?Arthur recieves revelation from God but how are we to be assured of authenticity from him or from any of the many in history in this country who have made this claim?Are the people who  reveal Gods messages today as reliable as the writers of the bible or not? Is'nt  cannon law and the dictums of the catholic church the result of, "God is still speaking", to the pope or college of cardinals?I suspect that the phrase is used to disable the authority of scripture. If this is so, can there be any reliable authority, ever? If the answer is no then Adam and Eve were right and the one who influenced them as well.Glory be to the father and to The son and to the Holy spirit, Amen.

This article caught my eye & seems worth a 2nd look.


It seems on the mark, but, as ever, "images in the mirror may be closer than they appear"


Social Issues and Public Policy / Health Care Debate: Going Forward?
« on: June 30, 2012, 09:23:31 AM »
So far, having read the SCOTUS opinion, I like it. I still don't like the law.
I agree the 16th amendmend gives Congress nearly unlimited power to tax us citizens & discriminate against & for whichever groups it wishes.

Recognizing the Health Care Act's penalty as a tax poses huge problems for the Administration, IMO.

Without voluntary compliance, our whole income tax process becomes impossible. 

As a tax, people can & do avoid filing & paying taxes for years. There are also many exceptions. As a practical matter, there is no enforceable mandate unless you think a 2.5% tax will motivate healthy kids 25-45 to join up when healthy.


Social Issues and Public Policy / The President's Views On Marriage
« on: May 10, 2012, 08:15:04 AM »
This subject seems to be in the news, so here's a link to one version of the story.

It seems somewhat surreal that the President disagreed with the UCC's GS position in 2005 but had claimed to be supportive in the 90's. Now, his daughter's experiences seem to have been informative & persuasive, & more so than our General Synod or his former pastor. 

So, Obama does not support federal legislation in this realm.  He sounds like he believes marriage is to be state-regulated .

Increasingly, my "evolving" view is that no adult(s) should need a government license to say "We're married".   Marriage has existed for thousands of years without state or federal government interference.  Increasingly, I don't see the point.

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