In stark contrast to emotion-based religious strategies to obtain and retain followers, the posts in this blog use the same procedures used in scientific research and literary and legal hermeneutics to assess the reliability – internal consistency, and validity- external agreement of the historical and scientific statements purportedly relayed by an infinite God.
The reader is not expected to read and comprehend the following, simply to scan over and, frankly, to be impressed with the rigorous methods applied to this blog’s evaluation of the claims made by rival authority figures.
Have you applied the same rigor to determining the trustworthiness of your believed means of salvation from catastrophe in this life and, especially, any possible after-life?
- directed toward the solution of a problem…
- In this blog, the problem is determining if there is life after death, and what, if anything, can be done to guarantee it.
- emphasizes the development of generalizations principles, or theories that will be helpful in predicting future occurrences.
- In this blog, that apply to all humanity.
- based upon observable experience or empirical evidences.
- involves gathering new data from primary or first-hand sources or using existing data for a new purpose.
- characterized by carefully designed procedures that apply rigorous analysis.
- strives to be objective and logical, applying every possible test to validate the procedures employed the data collected and the conclusions reached.
There are varieties of ways through which topics are researched. Based on the nature of the topic being researched in this blog, the following types of research are employed.
Qualitative Research: doesn’t involve measurements or numbers but instead characteristics of human perception and behavior.
- Inductive analysis is a major part of qualitative observational research because…questions evolve during the research process. The researcher can form any hypothesis through the answers and work backwards to prove or disprove it or even build on it.
- Naturalism or naturalistic inquiry…focuses on how people react or behave when they are put in a real life situation…hinges on the reality that things in general are coherent, consistent and predictable.
- Context sensitivity – The researcher…should not negate an opinion or thought on the basis of a personal bias.
Basic/ Fundamental /pure or Theoretical Research: Its utility is universal.
Longitudinal Research Examples…historical…genetic research.
Philosophical Research: focusing on the vision of others, that would be revelation reported by the founder of a religion, like Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, or Christianity.
Case-Study Research: deals with unusual events like resurrection from the dead.
And if the idea of being that objective about studying religions wigs you out, wait until you discover the process required to effectively carry out research. This blog has followed this process.
(i) Formulating the Research Problem – Is there continued existence of the self after material death, and do I have any control over what happens?
(ii) Extensive Literature Survey – of various answers to this question.
(iii) Developing the Research Hypothesis – There is hyper-dimensional life after four-dimensional death and many religions document how to access it.
(iv) Preparing the Research Design – Qualitative observations of hyper-dimensional beings’ involvement with humanity as documented in various religious scriptures.
(v) Determining the Research Design – Compare and contrast the statements made about God / gods for reliability – consistency throughout the account – and validity – supporting evidence external to the account.
(vi) Collecting the Research Data – Read through the account systematically to develop a coherent record of God’s / gods’ involvement with humanity.
(vii) Execution of the Project – Compare and contrast internal statements against 1) themselves and 2) external evidence.
(viii) Analysis of Data – Statements that are consistent within the account establish reliability, statements that are consistent with known data outside the account establish validity.
(ix) Hypothesis Testing – If the account is shown to be reliable and valid, the hypothesis is determined to be true.
(x) Generalization and Interpretation – The account is a trustworthy document for using as a guide to life.
(xi) Preparing of the Report or Presentation of the Result – In my case, this blog.
“Hermeneutics is the theory and methodology of interpretation…The word “hermeneutics” is derived from Hermes, the Greek name for the ‘messenger of the gods’.”
Hermes was also the inventor of language, an interpreter, a liar and a trickster. As Socrates noted, words have the power to reveal or conceal and can deliver messages in an ambiguous way. The Greek view of language as consisting of signs that could lead to truth or to falsehood was the essence of Hermes, who was said to relish the uneasiness of those who received the messages he delivered.
The term exegesis is interchangeable with hermeneutics.
exegesis may include the study of the historical and cultural backgrounds of the author, text, and original audience. Other analyses include…grammatical and syntactical features in the text itself.
One of the early examples, and one of the larger corpora of text commentaries from the ancient world, comes from Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) in the first millennium BCE. Containing over 860 manuscripts…these commentaries explore numerous types of texts, including literary works (such as the Babylonian Epic of Creation), medical treatises, magical texts, ancient dictionaries, and law collections (the Code of Hammurabi)…
They shed light on what the concerns of the Mesopotamian literate elite were when they read some of the most widely studied texts in the Mesopotamian intellectual tradition, a perspective that is important for “seeing things their way.”…
the Protestant Reformation brought about a renewed interest in the interpretation of the Bible…back to the texts themselves. Martin Luther and John Calvin emphasized scriptura sui ipsius interpres (scripture interprets itself).
Eight rules of determining truth by applied hermeneutics.
- Definition – Define terms as they will be used in your research.
- The definition of science according to the Science Council:
- Evidence is collected
- Experiments and/or observations MUST be made
- Then a process that fails to gather evidence and conduct experiments and/or make observations can’t be science.
- The definition of science according to the Science Council:
- Usage – Foreign words, idioms, and slang (Short LANGuage) can confuse the meanings of words.
- cool, hot, wicked, cookies, mouse
- “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day”…(Revelation 1:10) Does John mean Sunday or the Day of the Lord?
- Context – The big picture. The truth, the WHOLE truth, and NOTHING BUT the truth. Matthew 16:24 “If any man will come after me, let him…
deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.”
- Background – We can’t just read the Bible and interpret it from our way of life. Historical and cultural settings must be understood. For this reason I use a version that doesn’t update to contemporary culture, but is faithful to the original culture of the author while translating into the English language. The scholarship and lasting influence of this translation is unparalleled for any publication, even Shakespeare’s masterpieces published at this same time.
- “The most widely published text in the English language, the King James Bible, was first released 400 years ago, this year. This version of the bible has had a lasting impact, not only on the Christian faith, but on the way English is spoken and written today.”
- The literary pedigree of the King James Version is so impressive that it was rumored that William Shakespeare had a hand in its creation…However, Shakespeare was neither a scholar nor a translator. King James commissioned fifty-four of England’s leading Hebrew and Greek scholars from both sides of the religious divide. Suddenly, bitter enemies became collaborators. The issues that divided them paled in comparison to the sacred responsibility that lay before them. For the next seven years, they worked in groups to translate the text of the Old Testament from its original Hebrew and the text of the New Testament from the original Greek. Word by word, line by line, they made their way through the text, carefully considering what would be the most apt phrasing for each passage. When they finished a segment, they sent it around for peer review. Other scholars weighed in, offering their own suggestions. In the end, they chose the best of the best.
- Logic – Building complex arguments from simple statements to prove something is true.
- Critical thinking uses logic to separate truth from falsehood and reasonable from unreasonable beliefs.
- Studying and judging for yourself “Is this true?” Don’t believe something just because a respected person said it.
- Break Complex information down into smaller pieces of simpler information. If one small piece is wrong, the whole thing is wrong.
- Uncover the source and recognize hidden agendas and bias. Is it to sell you something or use you? Especially in social media.
- Precedence – Once the evidence for a case has been examined and a decision made, this judgment covers subsequent similar cases.
- Basis of legal system in America.
- Basis of legal system in the Bible. Book of Romans describes God’s laws from the Old Testament applying to New Testament believers, stating 15 times “As it is written…”
- Unity – Any document must be understood as a unified message, and any part of the message must be consistent with the rest of it.
- Old Testament: “And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth.” Genesis 6:7
- New Testament: For God so loved the world…John 3:16
- Hermeneutical analysis requires searching for an explanation that brings consistency between destruction of mankind on one hand and love of mankind on the other.
- “There were giants in the earth in those days, and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown….and the earth was filled with violence…And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make thee an ark…”(Genesis 6)
Believe me, the Bible becomes way more interesting when you set aside the boring memories of Sunday rituals and stories dumbed down to grade school level.
- Inference – Using observable facts and logical reasoning to prove non-observable truth. We can’t see God, but there is enough scientific evidence in the observable facts of an amazingly complex physical world to infer the existence of a Creator/Sustainer God who owns & controls it all.