Anyway…I’ve listening to the interview that Amateur Exegete (AE) did with The Non-Alchemist and what I’ve been hearing is…well, so far…pretty typical stuff. I did realize that I am waaaaaaaayyyyy older than both of them, but that’s neither here nor there. It’s an interesting interchange with some points that need a more thoughtful response to than I want to get into here.

Here’s their discussion for those interested

What I did want to do here is, because AE did mention Marcan Priority, which is a textual theory with regard to the formation and writing of the gospels—something I discuss here, and introduce my own theory here—is look at the fact that theories, whether in the hard sciences or the soft science of textual criticism, often have problems that get downplayed by the promoters of those theories.

I finally got around to reading philosopher Mitch Stokes provocatively titled 2016 book, How to Be an Atheist.

Dr. Stokes is a senior fellow in philosophy at New Saint Andrews College in Boise, ID. He received his PhD in philosophy from Notre Dame under the direction of giants in the field Alvin Plantinga and Peter van Inwagen, and also holds an M.S. in mechanical engineering.

In Stokes’ book, in chapter 7, he makes an observation relevant to scientific theories that needs to be considered, writing,

…[J]ust because a theory matches all the available data doesn’t mean that it’s true. Let’s face it: science is hard and truth is a high bar. You can’t always get what you want; but you find that sometimes you get what you need. The question is, what do we need scientific theories for? Well there’s no consensus on that; it depends on who you ask. But we’ve seen that we at least need theories to match observations. And perhaps, given that we can’t be sure that our theories tell the truth about unobservable reality, we should rest content with empirical adequacy. That is, maybe we shouldn’t insist that a theory tell us the truth about unobservable subatomic particles or gravitational fields, as long as the world behaves as if there are such entities. In other words, we may need to lower the bar to meet the standards we can achieve. Perhaps to ask for anything more is to cry for the moon. But again, it’s really a matter of temperament and entirely up to you.

So then, we measure success in science largely by evaluating how well the theory saves the phenomena or matches what we can observe. To put it differently, the dramatic success of science is primarily measured in terms of what we can observe, including technological applications. And as we’ve said, insofar as scientific theories match observations—inso-far as they are empirically adequate—they’re wildlysuccessful. But this doesn’t prove that they’re true. (emphasis added)

p. 152-55/355(Scribd)

The point being that there is a world of difference between the consistency of a theory in application and interpretation and the actual truth of the matter.

Marcan Priority, as a theory, might give textual critics a pragmatic way to address the “synoptic problem”, but it doesn’t solve it, and it doesn’t make it true.

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