Many of us read the Bible, but how many of us do our best thinking when we read it? In this series, author and philosopher Jack Pelham seeks to use the very best thinking methods to interpret the Bible, so as to avoid the cognitive errors shown in the Bible and in cognitive science as well. For example, where Jesus said, "Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment," a cognitive scientist might say the same thing like this: "You need to decouple from your focal bias and look at ALL the evidence, so that you can draw a conclusion that jibes with reality." And so we re-examine the Bible in an attempt to get right what is so frequently gotten wrong.
The episode formats vary between solo-lecturer (Jack Pelham) presentations and family discussions with Jack's wife, Kay, and son, James. The solo episodes have episode-specific show notes on the web page that bears each episode.
Episode 30: Vetting Your Expectations for the End Times and the Beginning Times, Too
DESCRIPTION: Jack talks about how it’s hard to know a prophecy has been fulfilled when you’re not sure about the details of what was supposed to happen. He also approaches the problems we run into when trying to understand Bible topics in neat, little packages when the fact of the matter is that we are given more information about such things than we can conveniently keep track of.
Writings Discussed In This Episode
Daniel Kahneman–“Furthermore, participants who saw one-sided evidence were more confident of their judgment than those who saw both sides! This is just what you would expect if the confident that people experience is determined by the coherence of the story the manage to construct from available information.
Episode 29: The Story of the Many Who Did Not Listen, and of the Few Who Did
DESCRIPTION: Jack sums up the Bible as the story of the many who didn’t listen to God, and of the few who did—some even after having started off as non-listeners. This is timely for the Easter week because Jesus was the one who had been telling humans all along what was right and just and true, and he was the one the non-listeners killed in order to silence him.
Scriptures discussed in this episode.
Genesis 3:17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.He said to the woman, “Did God actually say,
Episode 28: Why Exaggeration Is Lying, and We Love Our Labels!
DESCRIPTION: Jack reads and discusses two related from his blog, concerning how we tend to size things up, both in our own minds, and as we describe them to others. The discussion contains many practical examples from real life, including religion and politics.
Articles read and discussed in this episode.
Why Exaggeration is Lying. December 8, 2011
We Love Our Labels! May 20, 2012
Episode 27: Some Good Sense about Bible Application
DESCRIPTION: Some say things like, “The goal of all good Bible study is application….”, but Jack takes a closer look at that idea, and gets into the nitty gritty of how consistently (or inconsistently) we apply (or don’t apply) various Bible verses. So this is a bit of a “get real” episode, in answer to how good we may think we are doing with the whole application business. Jack’s goal is to make you think it through, and to realize that good application is not always as easy as one might think.
Scriptures discussed in this episode.
Acts 1: 3 After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with[a] water, but in a few days you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit.”
1 Corinthians 7:25 Now concerning[a href="https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?
Episode 26: Liars Are Twisted People
DESCRIPTION: Jack reads from a recent blog post about how liars, not being able to twist the reality of things, have to twist themselves in order to pretend that things are different from how they really are. This is an extended discussion that’s highly relevant to the direction this podcast has been headed.
Text of the post read and discussed in this episode.
From Jack’s blog at jackpelham.com.We all live in a real world. It was here before we got here, and it will be here when we’re gone. And it has rules that do not depend the least bit on our own opinions, wishes, beliefs, traditions, habits, perceptions, concerns, or abilities. For example, gravity is always on whether we like it or not—whether we understand it or not—even whether it hurts us or not—-. The law of cause and effect is always on—even when the effects hurt us. The sustaining of life takes work—even when we “don’t feel like” working. Truth exists, even when it hurts our feelings or causes us inconvenience.
There is a certain fabric to reality—metaphorically speaking. It has certain qualities and properties. It works in certain ways. It is what it is. And most people spend a lifetime learning about it to some extent or another—learning how to navigate this real world. We make our mistakes, and we make improvements, and we learn our lessons—some more easily than others. That is, after living here a while, we “learn the ropes”, so to speak—we learn how things work. We figure it out. And to some extent,
Episode 25: Whittling Christianity Down to a Twisted Lie
DESCRIPTION: What happens when you omit certain teachings from Christianity? You can end up with a big picture that looks very little like what Jesus taught. In this short episode, Jack reads his recent blog post.
Text of this Episode
…the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
The phrase above, taken from the traditional American oath for witnesses in court cases, has developed from the wisdom of the ages. That is, humans have figured out over time that when you talk about truth, you have to get very specific, else some people will try to evade it by either omitting parts of it, or adding to it some things that are untrue.
In this post, I want to talk about the former—about omitting parts of the truth, such that what is left does not paint the true picture at all. The way I see it, this happens with great regularity in America’s churches. Here’s what I mean:
A person can call himself a Christian, and yet behave quite decidedly unlike Jesus and contrary to the teachings throughout the Bible.
So, then, there is what he says, and there is what he does. And there is what he believes, and there is what is the reality of the matter. And there is how he sees himself,