Mike Huckabee proposes a God-Centered US Constitution. National Academy of Sciences produces Science, Evolution and Creationism. Robert M. Price talks about The Reason Driven Life.
NEWS: U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE MIKE HUCKABEE PROPOSES BIBLE-BASED U.S. CONSTITUTION
Speaking about proposed amendments to the U.S. Constitutional to ban abortion and same-sex marriage, Huckabee stated: “I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution. But I believe it’s a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God, and that’s what we need to do, is to amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards rather than try to change God’s standards so it lines up with some contemporary view of how we treat each other and how we treat the family.” (Huckabee rally in Warren, Michigan, January 14, 2008)
A MOMENT OF SCIENCE: SCIENCE, EVOLUTION, AND CREATIONISM
INTERVIEW: ROBERT M. PRICE – The Reason-Driven Life
(Transcript made by Matthew Richardson)
BRUCE: Hello and welcome backto Atheists Talk produced by Minnesota Atheists here on AM950 KTNF. I'm Bruce Honnigford. We are going to save our interview with Robert Price for the later part of the show.
. . .
Next, what we have up here is an interview by Grant Steves --he's going to be interviewing Robert Price about his book The Reason Driven Life. And we welcome your calls to the studio. If you got a comment, keep it brief, keep it neat, our studio line is 952-946-6205. I'm going to hand it over to Grant now.
GRANT: Thank you Bruce. We're going to be talking to Dr. Robert Price. Dr. price is a philosopher and a theologian. He received his doctorate of Philosophy and New Testament studies at Drew University. He went on to have a doctorate in systematic theology from Drew University. He belongs to the Society of Biblical Literature, has worked on the Jesus Seminar Project, and is a member of the editorial staff for Free Inquiry, the Humanist and Secular Nation. He is also written several books of which one of these we will be talking about today. His most recent books , if you want to get them at Amazon.com. The paperback The Apocalypse; the Top Secret, the truth behind today's pop mysticism. I want to welcome Dr. Price this morning to AM950.
PRICE: Well, it's a delight to be on with you.
GRANT: Well, thank you Dr. Price. Getting started with the Reason Driven Life, you had an impetus for writing this book. Could you tell us just a bit about that?
PRICE: Well, I had been approached by students and at length by my very pious mother-in-law who just all of whom just urged me to read this book, that it would certainly tear away the veil separating me from orthodox Christianity and so I thought, well, gee, what new approach does it have--and I decided I'd take a look at it , and I thought: What is this? It's just the old stale fundamentalist clap-trap, I got till it was coming out my ears and fundamentalist Baptist church for years, I just remained at a loss as to what any of the target audience finds even interesting about this. And then I thought: Hey, maybe I should write a rebuttal to it and indicate what and where it things are wrong in this book because if people are bludgeoning me with it, using it as a kind of evangelistic tract, maybe will be handy for people to say: Alright, skeptics and the like, freethinkers, I'll read that book if you'll read this one, and maybe we can have a dialog and so I had great fun doing forty short chapters to correspond to Rick Warren's 40 chapters.
GRANT: Well, it's a delightful read. I've gone through it in that manner. One of the things that I immediately picked up on was an approach that Warren takes, which is using 15 different translations and paraphrases of the Bible and you responded to that very nicely in your book on the Reason Driven Life. and could you give us that response, please?
PRICE: Well, it's like--well, I shouldn't say it's like. what he's doing, he and his favorite translators -- is just re-writing the bible that isn't that much use to them into one or many that are, because they're just spouting what the real Bible doesn't do, fundamentalist piety. And you read through and you -- this is Deuteronomy so-and-so, this is Romans so-and-so, and it's like ah, they're just using it as a ventriloquist dummy in the most blatant way. (chuckles) I remember one passage "The Lord your God is passionate in his relationship with you," and I thinking "What?! Where in the Bible does it say that?" And so I looked up the verse and it says: "The Lord your God is a jealous god" which of course just means he's not putting up with any idolatry or any polytheism and you're going to be in big trouble if you do that stuff (laughs) it has nothing to do with this idea that you and god have this romance going as Robert Warren would have it, and just about every passage was like that and I looked up and it's from today's sloppy version -- contemporary ignorant version and "What is this? What are these things?" And they're all re-doings of the Bible to make them sound like they were written to buttress fundamentalism, which, of course, these are. And so I decided --even though I had done my own bible New Testament translation, it's not coming any where near my book. I'm going to quote only from the Revised Standard Version and the New American Standard Version--which itself is a fundamentalist translation, but a very good one--one that tries to stay literal and close to the text. So it's like the real Bible versus these wannabe Bibles --
BRUCE: I'd like to remind the audience that this is Atheists Talk produced by Minnesota Atheists here on AM950 KTNF. We're talking to Robert Price and his book: The Reason Driven Life with Grant Steves. We welcome your comments, short questions on our studio line 952-946-6205
GRANT: Yes Dr. Price, you mention your own translation: The pre-Nicene New Testament which came out in 2006 which will be described more as a literal translation, wouldn't it?
PRICE: Yes, though sometimes I do paraphrase when I think there's kind of an obscure point being made and you need to have so much background explained that it's not going to make much sense without either a footnote or slightly rephrasing the thing, but my goal is to bring out what is not an obvious, but not to embellish what is obvious, so most of it is very literal, but then occasionally I will sort of build in an interpretation.
GRANT: Well, your scholarship in this area is greatly admired by myself, I think, and several other people. What I'd like to reference is how you use that to build these -- the pattern that Warren uses these 40 days and you have a systematic kind of critical exercise--how is that done? --I believe we have a caller--
BRUCE: Yeah we do actually. We have Chuck from Burnsville on the line. Hello Chuck from Burnsville, welcome to Atheists Talk.
CHUCK: Great. Thanks for having me. You still here?
BRUCE: Yes we are. You're on the air right now.
CHUCK: Mr. Price I'm very intrigued with your book. I have to look that up and check into it. But just a couple of questions, do you think that Christians nowadays just don't really read the Bible?
PRICE: (pause) Do I think they do or not?
CHUCK: Whether they really truly read the Bible and see the inconsistencies how--do they truly read the Bible nowadays?
PRICE: Well, it sounds like a strange question, but in fact you're right on target. You would think of all people these born-again Christians would be reading the Bible back and forth and I have no doubt that many do but they're reading it--have you ever seen this strange little item in Christian book stores: The Pocket Promise Book where they've isolated all their favorite little formulae and mantras from the Bible, like "I can do all things through Christ whose strength is made" like daily affirmations of the Bible. All they're looking for -- and I understand this--but all they're looking for is gut-level little things to meditate on and there's no sense of the historical context, or the literary context and so it's almost like they're playing pin-the-tail-on-the-Bible. They're not reading the same document I'm studying. And so it's very much like -- it's exactly like what Prof. Myers, I believe it was, who was on before us was saying with science, he finds it difficult to argue where reason with creations because they're really not on the same planet! They don't know about the data or theory of evolution or, I would add, what the Bible actually says on the matter, I find the same problem. If I'm talking about the historical Jesus of the Resurrection, there is such a gap between the popular misconceptions they have about the Bible and what scholars know to be true , you just have to double back and re-educate people which isn't easy or even possible to do. So are they reading it? On some level they are, but not as a real ancient document.
CHUCK: Thank you. I appreciate that. There's one real quick question, ah, back when I belonged to a church, ah, Rick Warren, I think, levers the infrastructure the churches throughout the country and he's sold more books and programs and stuff to our church to use go through a program of a Purpose Driven Life. Are you planning on kind of following his footsteps? in using his marketing strategy? to move your book?
PRICE: Oh boy would that be great! that would really be up, I suppose, to the publisher and I doubt if they have that kind of machinery in place, but I'd love to do that. I travel around to speak and debate every once in a while, a few times a year, I would really love to go around and sort of be a mid-wife for people starting Heretics Anonymous groups, which I suggest in the book. My wife and I host one. We call it Heretics Anonymous Heresy meeting choice and thinking for yourself and I think there's too little of that, and I would love to take that show on the road -- if only I knew how. But you have a great idea there.
CHUCK: Good luck, thank you.
BRUCE: Thanks for calling Chuck. And you're listening to Atheists Talk, we're talking to Robert Price and his book: The Reason Driven Life. We welcome your studio calls on our studio line and actually you'll be at home, at 952-946-6205.
GRANT: Well I can certainly see that dream coming true, Dr. Price, where you can get those cards out there with little sayings from your book: The Reason Driven Life and then we take the questions which I find rather intriguing. At the end of each of your chapters you have a critical thinking exercise, and how did you approach that to sort of stimulate people 's thinking?
PRICE: Well, again, I'm just crudely aping rick Warren. He has these devotional questions like How much do I really love Jesus, etc., etc., I forget to say hi to him this morning, and all that, and I thought well, good idea let me ask thought-provoking questions, like if my pastor tells me what the bible says isn't he really my infallible authority?--and so on. Or if I choose to believe the bible is the infallible authority --am I not the infallible authority? and I just try to zero in on weak spots in the fundamentalist's mental amour, having been a fundamentalist for a dozen years myself, long ago now,
GRANT: You make the comment at one point about how many fundamentalist Christians are emotionally and morally immature and that one of the things that you wanted to do is to raise that level of morality and intellectual confidence of people, what technique did you use or how do you see that coming out through your book The Reason Driven Life?
PRICE: By showing that the bible is--whether you'd like it to be or not--is simply not an answer book. For instance, I go into the issue of Eternal Life or Life After Death, resurrection, immortality, etc. I say, you cannot simply say: "The Bible says" so-and-so. because you can trace a progress of the evolution of thought and belief about this. The bible gives a whole menu of options. You can say: "The Bible says" and then refer to Genesis 3 and Solomon 90 which clearly speak of no life after death or you can go over to Daniel and and I Corinthians 15 which says the righteous will rise from the dead.
Then you can go to another passage and loop where the righteous wind up in Heaven--like most people think immediately. Well what is the deal here? Are the wicked coming back for Judgment according to Acts and Revelations they are, but according to Paul they are not. You can't--It's not so simple. So--not that you shouldn't take the bible seriously, I love the bible , but you simply cannot use it as this answer book. And so once I've gotten that home--I'm trying to get across here, the idea, you see, you've got to take responsibility. However are they going to do it? You have to have some basis for choosing what you believe. You can't just let the bible program you like a robot because it won't do it. I mean, it's not that kind of thing. But with morality. Again, I say : Look, you may take seriously what the bible says -- I know I do, but if you admit to yourself on abortion for instance, the issue just doesn't come up. You're gonna have to come up with a conclusion -- liberal or conservative -- by using your own brain.
And if it's good enough to use on that question, why not all the other questions? Christian ethicists know this. I mean, talk to Norman Geisler (Norman L. Geisler) who's a very stolid fundamentalist but quite sophisticated on ethical theory, he knows this darn well. He has a very sophisticated nuanced moral theory, but very few fundamentalists are willing to take that approach because of fear. They're crippled. When I say immature--I don't want to say immature, I don't mean to say they're not capable of more -- it's like Kant said in his essay: What Is Enlightenment? people have been terrorized into remaining in a childish state thinking: If I dare to think through these issues myself I could arrive at an incorrect conclusion and God would send me to hell --it's not worth the risk. I'll just do what the authorities tell me and I figure: Look, if you let that happen isn't that the most primitive moral level of all when Kolberg, I think talks about, that you're "morality" is, I guess I better not take that cookie out of the jar or mommy's going to give me a whupping, That's not really moral thinking yet, and yet that's where we keep people, if we say Let's -- you better repent or your family's going to fry in hell for eternity. That can't be true. I mean, if you can see the presupposition and the result of religious teaching is moral, psychological immaturity -- it's refuted . I mean, you need more evidence than that, you've got to think for yourself which you can do as a Christian, a Jew, a Buddhist or anything else.
GRANT: Well, it's certainly is important for the critical thinking skills to be developed and I think you've made the point that Warren simply doesn't do that in his Purpose Driven Life. I often think that when Paul is speaking to the Hebrews and he's talking about "faith" he should have been talking about fear instead.
PRICE: Umhum, yeah. And though in Hebrews it also speaks of regrettable childishness -- the writer says he wishes he could move on to deeper subjects , but his readers are so stubbornly immature and he says you have to develop your faculties but I wish there was more of that in the Bible.
GRANT: We'll be back in a second now.
GRANT: Yes, Dr. Robert Price -- welcome back.
PRICE: Great to be back. You know speaking of Dr. Myers I wonder if maybe we can take up a collection to get these books he was talking about and send copies to Mike Huckabee. . I think he was absent from biology class the year they taught evolution.
GRANT: He might have been absent from some theology classes too.
PRICE: [laughs] But he makes good jokes and to me that covers a multitude of sins.
GRANT: That helps, doesn't it? In terms of your scholarship, how have you been received in the religious community when you produce a book like The Reason Driven Life?
PRICE: Well, I have little idea of the reaction to that except from many individuals who have told me that it made a difference in the way they thought of a relative or a friend did, I was surprised to see that on a website for the TV show "Survivor" I think it is, I've never seen it, one of the--apparently all of the contestants had a little personality profile somebody pointed out to me that this one fellow on there listed as his favorite book, The Reason Driven Life. I was shocked! But I don't know whether any, uh, clergy have looked at this or what--I'd really love to know. I--But so far I get limited feedback.
GRANT: We must send them copies, I think. If that's not a problem at this point, how do you think the perceptions that people have of their religious beliefs , how do they form those perceptions and how would your The Reason Driven Life book help to change those perceptions?
PRICE: Well, I think you can't very easily dislodge beliefs no matter how silly if people have either simply inherited them from their parents or if they've been converted to them on the ground of pure emotion (e.g.,) they were at a difficult time and were despairing and somebody said: There's hope for life in Jesus and so they enter into an affirmative community--and that's a good thing--and so all this stuff must be true. How do I know that Jesus Christ had two natures in one person and a hypo-static union? well because the people of his church are real nice. That's what it often comes down to. So -- I find--you just not gonna be--they're communicate if they say: Well if you ever look into biblical criticism rather--what I tbink is effective is to say: Well, if you've been in the fundamentalist thing for long enough I just bet you've noticed this problem, this incompatibility, this--not so much this contradiction of the bible, you got all kinds of excuses for that, like any political spin doctor would have . Like this thing the other day McCain and Romney -- did Romney actually say that we have a withdrawal date or we should from Iraq -- it's a fact question and there obviously will be a spin answer, I just want to forget that with the Bible and say for this purpose : You say that Jesus brings peace to your life, but don't you find it's kind of maddening that what they say that you've got to hand your problems over to god and not deal with them yourself -- that's just going to protract the problem -- you say you have peace in your life but you're always worrying about people going to hell and now it's going to be your fault if you don't evangelize them, that 's gonna drive you nuts because it did me. That I think people will listen to, that's not criticism from without -- that's like a diagnosis of that pain they are suffering, but nobody in their camp deals with it. So to me, that's the way to go, like: Don't you see this problem , wouldn't you like a way out of --and of course my way out not to suggest -- let's just renounce religion altogether and become an atheist--is fine with me if they do, but I'm really dealing on a more specific level with particular things you believe in and how you believe them . I doubt seriously that belief in orthodox Christianity in the way C.S. Lewis or G.K. Chester believed in it is going to create the neuroses of the stuff Rick Warren pushes. So I'm just interested in this kind of pietism and the mind games that come with it.
GRANT: Well, it's certainly elevating the conversation through the The Reason Driven Life and through your website at www.robertmprice.mindbender.com and also the biblegeek.org So people can approach your ideas from various avenues and I hope they do because you have a lot to offer. In fact, I was looking at the latest book which will be coming out on Amazon.com The Top Secret -- this exposes some of those pop emotionally-driven ideas, too, doesn't it?
PRICE: Yes, this time what I've done was to zero in on some sort of new age/new thought books and thinkers like Deepak Chopra and Ekart Polar and D. Cheldron who's a Buddhist and various others Celestine Prophesy, (a course in miracles) and I'm trying to be positive and negative. I've read a lot of this stuff and I found that it seems to me there is a very psychologically sound notion of positive thinking and affirmation that really could change one's life , but it's hard to take seriously when you have a bunch--
GRANT: Thank you. Thank you. I have to cut in here Dr. Price, our time is limited, but thank you very much for joining us at AM950 on Atheists Talk.
PRICE: Thanks for having me.
BRUCE: You have been listening to Grant Steves and his interview with Robert Price on his book The Reason Driven Life.
Celestine Prophecy "A Course in Miracles"
Robert M. Price