can't start with the hypothesis that God exists."
it is not necessary in the study of the Bible's authenticity to start with
the premise "God exists" (example),
it is needlessly restrictive to start with the premise "God does not exist",
as some atheists might. God's possible existence or non-existence, if not
to be accepted as a premise, can or should be the result of logical reasoning,
not the presupposition through which one filters the evidence.
logic, what you believe to be true in the beginning has a direct effect
on what you conclude in the end (much discussed here).
As this concerns the Bible, if you start with a belief that there is no
God that could have inspired its authors, performed its works, or appeared
as Jesus Christ, then your conclusion of the evidence - any evidence - is
fixed regardless. The Bible is not inspired, is mythological in its records,
and Jesus was not divine.
the opposite of what I'd describe to be freethinking, a restrictive premise
is not free to follow evidence in search of truth wherever the evidence
may lead. It instead channels reasoning into a predetermined route guaranteed
from the start to arrive at atheism. Only a premise that allows more
than one possible conclusion is free to arrive at truth on its on merit.
Otherwise, it doesn't take a prophet to foresee what conclusion on the
Bible will likely be reached if one's premise is "God does not, cannot
worthy reader commented on my observation that science cannot rule out a
possible Creator by noting, "It also can't rule out that in a parallel
universe the pancakes have eyes." Note: that is a statement that is
'not proven'. Here, by contrast, is something that is 'not unproven' (a
slight but important difference): "If a parallel universe exists, pancakes
might or might not have eyes."
latter statement avoids the fallacy of assuming certain facts not in evidence,
whereas the former assumes a great deal (obviously excepting that both assume
pancakes in alternate universes). I don't know about pancakes in alternate
universes, therefore I cannot pretend to be certain of their characteristics.
However, I will be open to their possibility, worrying about them in
proportion to the evidence I'm shown for their likelihood. Should not
atheists at least grant the same for God?
The cosmological argument
Faith: the foundation