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How to gain truth from a document 1; A document is proof that the document exists. From there we analyze.

Updated on March 12, 2013

What appears one way is often another

By the shadows cast in the picture one can discern the steepness of the ascent.
By the shadows cast in the picture one can discern the steepness of the ascent. | Source

Some proof is hidden from normal view

Discrepancies often create a more authentic work that do perfect consistencies. Evidence of the truth of a matter derived from writings require us to intrinsically review the material. What I mean is that we look to the document itself to verify the authenticity of it’s writing. This is made more complicated when we do not have the original. Jurisprudence refers to this as the “best evidence” rule. In other words it is best to have the original but if all we can get is the best copy, so be it.

And so it is that many of us trained and degreed in both philosophy and law and indeed the philosophy of law come to read the Bible in a fashion that requires more than faith. We look for matters that tend to prove the authenticity and truth telling of the writing, without looking at external factors. Some of these methods seem quite contrary to the normal way of looking at something.

But do not engage in the fallacy of scientific proof for matters of our being.

The failing of many is that they see inconsistency as proof of innaccuracy.

Consistency. Consistency has the opposite value of what most would think. Too consistent makes the document less authentic. People are not robots and indeed most of us are quite happy with some inconsistency in our life. We do not always fact check or reflect if this is consistent with that. Especially with long writings it is extremely difficult to be consistent. So if you read a long document that has no inconsistencies you know the document was extremely well proofed, rewritten and edited and changed between the original and the final copy. Making it suspect. The document will have changes and additions that were not part of the original. Inconsistencies suggest a writing and straight to publishing.

Mistakes or dialect. People generally speak in a manner reflecting where they are from or where they were educated. (rcrumple’s news aside) Most people do not slip back and forth between idioms of dialect, or if they do it tells us much about the author. Sometimes mistakes made and not corrected lend an authenticity to the work. Ancillary facts such as geography, math and proper names are quite normal to see mistakes within them. If the author is expert on some matter, it is unlikely he is expert on others or even expert on writing.

The presence of a Buddah in the home of a Christian is not proof of lack of faith, but proof of tolerance and love.

We are immutably human, humans are immutably inconsistent.
We are immutably human, humans are immutably inconsistent. | Source

Timing can create a doubt

Timing. We do not speak so much of the time the document was written, that would be extrinsic. What we are more concerned with are tenses and first person usage. Are they used consistently with the author’s writing ability, regional factors and are they appropriate for the account being put forth. Sometimes it is just a mistake in grammar, but often it is a result of storytelling claimed to be first person but tends toward a tense we would use in repeating a story from another.

My whole point here is that many folks demanding proof of one thing or another are naïve as to forms and methods of proof. Scientific proof is not a proof that works with the nature of human affairs. Science can prove many things such as carbon dating, the existence of an ancient fact. It as of yet cannot prove such matters as the heart/love, motivation, luck, faith, belief, sadness or hunger. Of course it can prove underlying facts that are consistent with the above, but cannot prove the existence thereof.

There are many writings in some way attributed to Buddha, Confucius, Mohamed, Plato, and Paul. None of which had contemporary significance nearly as great as they do now. It would be fair to say that the individuals who did such writings are far less relevant than the words and concepts they conveyed. It is the thoughts that have driven millions to reflect and contemplate higher matters. So as to evidence or proof of an underlying fact, of authorship, arguments can abound. But as to matters and truths asserted within the writings there is no doubt as to their authenticity. While we can debate the identity of Buddha we cannot deny the truths of the writings attributed to his teaching. The scriptures of all philosophy and religions stand on their own merit, not the details of geography and math or names and events, but the truths that they imbue upon the reader.

And so it is with faith. It cannot be proven extrinsically but it can be proven intrinsically. Perhaps only to the author of the faith, but it is proven nevertheless.

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    • violetheaven profile image

      Jessica Ellen Holbrook 4 years ago from Newark, DE, USA

      Wow... nice to see someone out there is actually a self thinker and is truly open minded and tolerant.

    • Ericdierker profile image
      Author

      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Shoot, last I checked no one died and made me king. Intolerance of Ideas is the beginning of the cessation of thinking. I am extremely lucky to have been given a great education.

    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      "So if you read a long document that has no inconsistencies you know the document was extremely well proofed, rewritten and edited and changed between the original and the final copy. Making it suspect." - I may be understanding You wrong here. A research paper at the graduate or even undergraduate level, requires many hours of work, many notes, drafts, copies, etc. In my opinion it would be suspect if a scholarly paper did not have many copies.

      "Especially with long writings it is extremely difficult to be consistent."- And that is why a good research document takes so long to put together and requires so much work. In the end, one must be consistent and precise though.

      "My whole point here is that many folks demanding proof of one thing or another are naïve as to forms and methods of proof." - I fully agree here. Especially when we speak of Spiritual matters, we cannot give proof: the Spirit World is beyond this three dimensional perspective and it cannot be understood through reason. As I said in a past article: "We do not have faith reasonably".

      "The scriptures of all philosophy and religions stand on their own merit, not the details of geography and math or names and events, but the truths that they imbue upon the reader." - I agree here as well. That is why I think we should not get stuck into minuscule details from spiritual texts too much. Otherwise we end-up arguing like the Shi'a and Sunni followers, over whether we should pray three times a day or five times a day. Or we can argue like the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholics on which specific date we should have Christmas and/or Easter ... nonsense, in my opinion. Instead of taking heed to the teachings, we end-up confused and stumbling on details which really do not matter much.

      Good article. It certainly has food for thought - I appreciate it.

      All the best!

    • christopheranton profile image

      Christopher Antony Meade 4 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom

      If you had a great education, you certainly used it well here. Literalists should remember, that it is the overall message that counts, not the absolute veracity of the text.

      Thank you.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Mr. Happy you are right. Different tests would apply to research papers and Laws and Novels. It is almost the opposite. I just read a good preacher, and he said to the effect that we quote the Bible as evidence of the truth. This is correct for the believer, and incorrect for the non-believer. Truth is not so black and white. "The sky was totally black"

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Perhaps attention to small details are easier for most of us to grasp. Certainly we all like to "win" and if we pick a small enough detail, take it out of context we can "win" an argument. As you do, I like to go for the big picture.

    • artblack01 profile image

      artblack01 4 years ago from New Mexico

      This is an interesting case you make however you may want to be careful to not make assumptions based on desired results and faith. One of the main problems I have with faith is the idea of assumption. Since especially you don't have an original of a document written by and for a specific culture of people certain words and phrases do not translate directly into another language and still possess the same meaning.

      For example, the Spanish phrase, "te quiedo mucho" if you translate it word for word it means "I want you very much" but the actual meaning is "I love you".... this is true of other languages, especially older ones and it is why there are so many different versions of the Bible. Depending on the knowledge of an ancient dialect compared to it's modern usage you would get totally different meanings.... this is very obvious in slangs, which are supposedly used much in the Old Testament.

      You cannot go to a documents translation or even the original document to gain any sort of knowledge of truth. What you can get from such a document is the knowledge of the beliefs and knewledge of the people who wrote it. So if you go to the writings of primitive shepherds and carpenters that is what you are going to get. The folk legends and beliefs of those people.... not truths. Supposedly, Moses, wrote most of the first part of the Old Testament, maybe he did, I don't know enough about the historicity of the man. I have been studying the New Testaments origins.

      The thing is anyone can write a story, base it on facts and events of that time period and maybe put in some history but have the story be completely a work of fiction. Most good stories are based on facts in order to make the mythology believable.

      With the Bible, I don't like to take anything it says for granted, if someone makes a claim that the Bible predicts this event or that event, I am going to study those verses and decide for myself.

      One thing about the Bible is that the story of revelations (the end of the world) was supposed to have taken place in the life time of the authors, according to Revelations. So I know for a fact that nothing the Bible says is a prediction of anytime modern.

      Another thing that strikes me as funny is any claims that the old Testament predicts the coming of Jesus, nothing I have read on the matter has led me to believe this is anything but wishful thinking.

      Sorry I rambled a bit there.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      You rambled not a bit. I hate taking things from the bible for granted and generally am ill at ease with those that quote it as truth for an assertion. I work hard to dilineate my notions of truth from my belief. But I just love my belief. So it is difficult. But what I present here is a truth. Not one thing covers truth. The Res Gestae covers truth. A guy named Ludwig Wittgenstein offered us a wonderful analytic tool. He proposed that the truth of any matter must be understood on the context of the assertion. How wonderful that your context drives you to one conclusion and mine yet another, showing us that context is within ourselves and our perspective of an assertion.

    • vveasey profile image

      vveasey 4 years ago from Detroit,MI

      Eric

      the comments are as interesting as your hub!

      The link below may shed a litle more light on the point artblack01 was making about the old testament and Jesus

      https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/They-Shal...

    • artblack01 profile image

      artblack01 4 years ago from New Mexico

      Perhaps, Eric, but find it sad that a person who claims to be a lover of logic can fail so bad at showing any and the attack a person's logic when it contradicts his indefencible assertions. Many things that are popular are also not reality. Movies, even ones based on reality are fictional accounts as told frommthe point of view of the author. Edits to his work are often done in production and the final film is cut by the editor to make the story run smoothly. The original story is lost in translation and there is no telling what actually happened if anything about it is true.

      So how do you find out if a documents any truth? By investigating it's claims. Because in all reality, a document is no better than a verbal claim form a person and is really no better than an anonymous statement, especially when the authors and subjects are long dead. In truth they are also no longer relevant. The statements they have made may hold some weight but only in a context of a philosophical ideology.

      What good is a document? It is a statement that tells us what the person believed true whether or not it gas any relevance is again in context. Therefore the bible is out of context with truth. It makes statements that have never come to pass, it tells of events that have never taken place anywhere even if it identifies people who did exist, this gives it no credibility except as a story. Whether Jesus is real or not is therefore irrelevant in the sense that he is not significant to our age except in the philosophy if the Christian. You can believe Jesus is real all you like, it doesn't matter to those of us who are not Christian. However if you are going to make a claim that Jesus was real and significant to us now you are going to have to deal with people like myself who will ask you for evidence/proof that not only was he real but that he matters to myself and others.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Art you write quite persuasively. And you make great arguments against the veracity of the Holy Bible. What I am saying is that the Holy Bible is relevant and is evidence of the matters therein. I am not saying the Holy Bible proves the existence or non-existence of God on its' own. It is one piece of evidence that should be considered. One document seldom would completely settle an issue, but it is evidence.

    • violetheaven profile image

      Jessica Ellen Holbrook 4 years ago from Newark, DE, USA

      @ Ericdierker

      "How wonderful that your context drives you to one conclusion and mine yet another, showing us that context is within ourselves and our perspective of an assertion."

      Case and point. A lovely quote I'm snipping and sharing... with your consent of course!?

    • artblack01 profile image

      artblack01 4 years ago from New Mexico

      The problem with using the bible as any sort of evidence is that it is not the evidence of or for the existence of a god. What it demonstrates is that people believed that a god was involved in their lives and they attributed human qualities of will to everyday events in nature. If i make the statement that i believe i am in contact with an alien and have had audible conversations with sucha being would that be evidence for the existence of such a being or would it be evidence that i am delusional or schizophrenic or just a liar/story teller (depending on my intention of the story). That i suppose that depends on how gullible you might be and consideringhow salesmen and advertising works in this country i would say the majority of the human race is pretty gullible. Sheep mentality.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Art we are reaching an agreement. Lousy, horrible evidence of God the bible is, to most logical minds. But it is evidence and it will be admitted. Then it will be your turn to rally against it. It exists. And it has for thousands of years. It is not an alien. It is real. Throw belief out the door, and it is still evidence. (I liked an old episode of Matlock where he declares the real murderer will walk through the door any second. Of course he/she did not but it proved the point of reasonable doubt when everybody stared at the door in anticipation)

    • artblack01 profile image

      artblack01 4 years ago from New Mexico

      Evidence for something yes, but however much you want it to be it is not evidence for what you believe. Believe what you like, believe that the thing that is evidence is you have is evidence for something it is not, I would rather follow the evidence to where it actually leads us.

    • violetheaven profile image

      Jessica Ellen Holbrook 4 years ago from Newark, DE, USA

      @Art Well you wouldn't be considered delusional you would be considered an Ancient Astronaut Theorist.

      and faith is the evidence of things unseen. that in combination of The Holy Bible confirming faith (though faith does not need to be confirmed) Provide evidence enough to the faithful.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Art bring it back to reality. stay with me here. I thought we had narrowed it down to the value and credibility of the evidencem. Now you are regressing. You do accept the Bible as evididence you just question it as a matter of value or weight right?

    • artblack01 profile image

      artblack01 4 years ago from New Mexico

      Faith is the stupid affirmation of the absurd. You can have faith in one thing while someone has faith in it's opposite, however this doesn't make either true.

      The bible is a statement of belief of primitive and ignorant people, it is evidence that someone believed in it but it is not evidence for it's truth. It has no truth, it contradicts the evident reality of our world that exists today.

    • Ericdierker profile image
      Author

      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Cool. These statements seem to be an acknowledgment but a pissed off one. Your statement makes it clear that in fact the Holy Bible is evidence. Great you want to debate it's meaning and worth but you cannot longer debate it is evidence. Neither of us is satisfied but both of us have common ground.

    • ram_m profile image

      ram_m 4 years ago from India

      "The scriptures of all philosophy and religions stand on their own merit, not the details of geography and math or names and events, but the truths that they imbue upon the reader.And so it is with faith. It cannot be proven extrinsically but it can be proven intrinsically. Perhaps only to the author of the faith, but it is proven nevertheless."

      Very wise comments, something which we tend to overlook. If only we had that tolerant outlook, this world would be less strife-prone. Thank you for this enlightening hub.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Ram M, thanks for stopping by. I think good folks like you might even struggle to keep tolernce in the forefront - I know I do, thank you for your kind reminder.

    • artblack01 profile image

      artblack01 4 years ago from New Mexico

      It's sad that you think my comments were pissed off, which they were not. I was merely making statements of fact. I never debated that the Bible was evidence of something, but what it will never be is evidence for something it is not. It will never be evidence for God, Jesus or morality. Good luck to you.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Art, you hit the nail on the head. It will never be evidence for you. And that is cool. Thank you for your Good Luck blessings.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Art it has been bothering me all day. Why does an empricist such as you wish good luck.

    • violetheaven profile image

      Jessica Ellen Holbrook 4 years ago from Newark, DE, USA

      LOL @ Ericdierker !!! I was wondering the same thing!

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Violet, we are so lucky to be so young at heart. I wish you good luck and more I give you my heartfelt blessings. But what up, with an atheist doing the same? Hey thanks for dropping by I am headed your way to get some uplift on my downshift.

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