Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Mistakes So Far, and Issues I Have Changed My Mind On

A wise man recently told me “If you’re not changing your mind on anything, then you probably aren’t learning much.” It has been about eight months since I started this blog. I would like to point out the mistakes I have made issues on which I have reversed my opinion.

As Stephen Hawking so aptly points out in A Brief History of Time: “Some people never admit that they are wrong and continue to find new, and often mutually inconsistent, arguments to support their case… Others claim to have never really supported the incorrect view in the first place or, if they did, it was only to show that it was inconsistent. It seems to me much better and less confusing if you admit in print that you were wrong.”

It is extremely important to me that I do not spread inaccurate information. As such, I would ask that if you have been reading my blog, that you please read this post!

The format of this post will work in the following way:

#. Post Title, followed by a link
  • Summary of the post
  • Errors and/or changes of opinion
  • Plan for future research
  • List of people who I will buy coffee for changing my mind/pointing out my errors
Any grievous errors will be highlighted in red for your convenience!
1. There is No Evidence that the Disciples Died for Their Beliefs
  • According to Bart Ehrman, there is no historical evidence that the disciples died for their faith. I agreed with Dr. Ehrman
  • Individuals with much higher education than I concerning the history of the early church (including MJG, who has a degree in Early Church History from Harvard) have said that there is indeed evidence that the disciples died for their beliefs. A few examples of this type of evidence have been shown to me (In the future I will devote posts to this evidence). For now, I am simply pointing out that I think I was wrong before and have changed my opinion concerning the matter. I think that there IS evidence that the disciples died for their beliefs
  • In the future, I hope to examine this evidence in depth and decide whether or not (or to what degree) I think this evidence is valid and what conclusions can be drawn from it
  • MJG
2. The Death of Judas
  • There seems to be two discrepancies between Matthew and Acts concerning the death of Judas. The first discrepancy concerns who bought the field. The second discrepancy concerns how Judas died.
  • I still think that the second issue (the way in which Judas died) IS a discrepancy. However, I now think that the first issue (who bought the field) IS NOT a discrepancy. Basically, I think that the accounts found in Matthew and Acts can be logically reconciled concerning who bought the field, but I still do not currently think that they can be logically reconciled concerning the way in which Judas died. Here is the reason that I changed my mind about the first issue: Two good friends of mine (Peter and David) discussed the matter at length with me. They pointed out that it is unlawful for Pharisees to own land. However, someone’s name had to go on the deed for the piece of land being bought. Anyone have any ideas as to whose name they might have placed on the deed?
  • In the future, I hope to continue the discussion concerning both topics. Perhaps someone will point out a logical reconciliation to the second issue; perhaps someone will find that the first issue actually is a discrepancy after all. Only time will tell.
  • Peter, David
3. Discrepancy Between the Gospel Accounts? (Part 1) Curtain Tear
  • It seems that the Gospels do not agree concerning the order of events. Some say that the curtain tore before certain events, some say that the curtain tore after certain events.
  • I no longer think the timing of the tearing of the curtain is a discrepancy. I think that to say that there is an error on this point is to be way too nit-picky.
  • I shall continue to study Greek so that I can examine the texts in their original language.
  • Peter (who I now owe two cups of coffee)
4. Posts concerning the Cosmological Argument
(See [] for a list of posts on the Cosmological Argument)

  • First off, there are still many things I wrote in these posts that I still agree with. Here I will limit myself to summarizing the issues on which I either need to admit a mistake or point out where others with better credentials than I disagree with me. The first has to do with the laws of logic. Many of my arguments flowed something like this: In a singularity the laws of physics break down, therefore the logic as we understand it no longer holds true.
  • My primary mistake was to do insufficient research on logic. There are four laws of logic that I now know of: The law of identity, the law of non-contradiction, the law of the excluded middle, and cause and effect. MJG pointed out to me that these laws are not based upon data, and so still apply to a singularity. As such, the breakdown of the laws of physics does not mean that logic no longer applies. However, there are still many issues that are unresolved in my mind concerning the validity of the Cosmological Argument. These issues are based in the possibility of measuring time in imaginary numbers (which would remove the need for singularities and a beginning of time), whether or not certain entities require causes, what type of philosophy should be employed concerning singularities (this has to do with what we know about quantum mechanics, and that the big bang would have taken place on the quantum level), and a few more possibilities. I would caution readers to agree with me on these topics, however, because I may be going out on a limb (and if that turns out to be the case, I can always buy more people coffee for pointing out my mistakes!). It is very possible that I will need to write another “Josh’s Mistakes” post concerning the Cosmological Argument in the near future.
  • In the future, it is likely that I will be conducting an Honors Thesis on the Cosmological Argument, so plenty of research should be accomplished on this topic.
  • MJG (who I also owe two cups of coffee now)
  • R.C. Sproul (If anyone knows him, please let him know that I owe him coffee)
It is exciting to make mistakes. If you make them, and they are pointed out, you can change. This is how progress is made.

The reason I have been able to see these errors is due to the feedback of people who have read my blog and been willing to comment. So thank you! Without you, I would probably still agree with many of the ideas I now disagree with.

I have learned a lot, I have made a lot of mistakes, and I have grown because of them. I look forward to continuing the process.

A special thanks to: Morgana, Brandon, Zach, and Ben (and by "a special thanks," I mean "if you want coffee from me, consider it yours")

P.S. I hope I haven't left anyone out. Let me know if you feel I have caused any injustice!

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