Posts Tagged ‘research’

Checking Internet Quotes

January 12, 2015

Is that quote that you’re passing along valid? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Today on Facebook, I happen to come across the following image with a video attached to it.

Rockefeller Illuminati

This sounds convincing. After all, it’s a known figure and it’s got a time and a place to it, so, shouldn’t we trust it?

Not so fast.

As Abraham Lincoln has said (And I know he said this because I can find it on the internet) “The trouble with quotes on the Internet is that you can never know if they are genuine.” –Abraham Lincoln

And in fact, I was fortunate to find someone else had already researched this claim about the Rockefeller quote.

In fact, the video connected to the picture has another Rockefeller quote. Doing a search for this one also reveals that supposedly, not only did David Rockefeller say it, but Henry Ford himself said the exact same thing. Imagine that. Now some might say this is all illuminati code language, but perhaps there is a simpler explanation. Could it be that the quotes just didn’t really happen?

So here are some guidelines.

When you see a quote, the first thing you want to do is take the quote yourself, as much as you can, and put it in a search box with quotation marks around it. This way, your search engine knows you want to find the exact quote. Now some quotes could be too long. If that’s the case, then go and take a shorter piece. Now in the above quote, I would take something like the first sentence or the second sentence. I could also take “All we need is the right major crisis.”

I took that last one just now and typed it in and got this as a result. If you will look at that page, you will see that there is just the quote there with who said it. There is no source given. On the internet, it should be easy to give a link to a talk like this.

So I decided to look up the whole quote as I had done before. Among the results are some videos like this one and so what do I do? I watch the video.

And I do not see Rockefeller saying it once. Now there’s a more info button under the video that has him quoted as saying it. Source? You got it! There isn’t one!

All the video has is various people saying “New World Order.”

So let’s get this straight. Republicans and Democrats and leaders from all over the world who can’t get along, are all still being programmed somehow to say the term “New World Order” and the plan to keep this “New World Order” a total secret from the populace is to have them say the term repeatedly over and over?

Folks. If you have a secret plan and you want to keep it secret, one of the steps you do not take at all is to broadcast it everywhere.

Maybe we should look at what is meant? Could it mean simply that we are moving into a global age, and that is undeniable? With the internet, we have more access to each other than ever before? We have to learn how to behave together on a global scale. Could it be that that is all that is meant? Sure. I could be wrong, but shouldn’t that be a possibility to look into?

A second video is even more embarrassing.

In this second video, we see underneath many more quotes. Of course, one of them is the one included. The one we’re looking for. The next one is the following.

“”Whatever the price of the Chinese Revolution, it has obviously succeeded not only in producing more efficient and dedicated administration, but also in fostering high morale and community of purpose. The social experiment in China under Chairman Mao’s leadership is one of the most important and successful in human history.” David Rockefeller, statement in 1973 about Mao Tse-tung: (NY Times 8-10-73)”

Now this is one that it looks like could be legitimate. It could come from an article called “From A Chinese Traveler.” What would it prove? It would prove that Rockefeller has some serious moral issues, but does it prove that there is a conspiracy going on? Not at all. Did Rockefeller know about the deaths Mao was bringing about? That would also need to be shown. It’s hard to say without reading the original article. It does exist, but I just don’t really want to pay to read it.

So let’s go back to the original quote. The next source I find goes here. Note the details. This time, the statement was made on September 23rd. Not Setpember 14th.

Next we get to the Huffington Post which has the following quote as well.

“Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as ‘internationalists’ and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure — one world, if you will. If that’s the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.”

This is in fact Rockefeller mocking the conspiracy theorist idea. There’s no secret. If there was, you think he would say there’s a secret cabal? Kind of kills the plan. Rockefeller is an internationalist. That’s it. He could be right. He could be wrong. It does not equal conspiracy. This one is said to be in his memoirs. (A page would have been nice.) This is followed by the second quote which is the one from the image above. Again, no direct source.

Curious how many of you would trust the journalism of Larry Flynt anyway….

Our next link goes here. Again, no hard copy of this anywhere.

The next one takes us here and again, notice the date is different. You’d think if this was a genuine quote in our day and age of verbatim quoting and recordings and such, we could get the date right.

Of course, someone else has to insist that the Catholics must be involved! And again, the date is different from our original image.

Our next source is Collectively Conscious. Now I will tell you, I do not trust this site. Still, kudos to them for this on their Facebook page.

I just wanted to say thank you to Stephen Watson for debunking the following quote:

“All we need is the right major crisis and the nations will accept the New World Order.” ~ David Rockefeller

Turns out the supposed quote is from a speech David Rockefeller gave at a meeting with the U.N. on September 23rd, 1994, only the second half of it was altered and then it was propagated throughout the internet. Here is the full claimed quote:

“This present window of opportunity, during which a truly peaceful and interdependent world order might be built, will not be open for too long – We are on the verge of a global transformation. All we need is the right major crisis and the nations will accept the New World Order.”

And here is the actual quote:

“This present window of opportunity which during a truly peaceful and interdependent world order might be built will not be open for too long. Already there are powerful forces at work that threaten to destroy all of our hopes and efforts.”

And the video clip that proves it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MM8NpjmXD00

Provided Source: http://metabunk.org/…/debunked-all-we-need-is-the-right-ma…/

So we will remove the image that contains this quote from our photo albums and never post it again, BUT this does not mean that we support David Rockefeller. The statement “truly peaceful and interdependent world order” is still subject to interpretation. We must also consider the fact that he has said something similar to the claimed quote in his own memoirs:

“Some even believe we (the Rockefeller family) are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as ‘internationalists’ and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure—one world, if you will. If that’s the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.” ~ David Rockefeller, Memoirs, page 405

The point is, we will NOT propagate anything on this website that has been proven, or that is strongly believed by the majority, to be inauthentic.

Thanks again to Stephen Watson for bringing this to our attention.

The metabunk link might not work, but it is one that I provided earlier that does have the right info. Unfortunately for CC, as a result, they did have some egg on their face. Had they done this kind of thing earlier that metabunk did, they would not have had that. Still, I do have to say that the proper thing to do when you make a mistake of that nature is to admit it and while I do not trust the site, I can respect the ability to admit a mistake.

The final page we look at is here. Note I have just gone with the first page. The first hit was the metabunk site. Two were videos that did not have the quote. The first hit was the site debunking it. One hit was someone admitting it was false and retracting it. The other six were all simply quoting the source without a link or a vid or anything of that sort. Note that when you have sites simply quoting each other and being non-specific, be suspicious. This last page has several quotes without a referent.

You must ALWAYS be on the watch for this. ALWAYS.

But let’s suppose you find a quote is legitimate and it was said. What then?

That does not mean the meaning given to the quote is true. You must look at it in its context. The old joke is to say that the Bible says there is no God. How? Just go look it up! It’s right there in Psalm 14:1. Clear as day. “There is no God!”

Oh wait. That’s not what it says?

It says that the fool says in his heart “There is no God.”

That changes everything.

Try to study the context first. Did the author mean what is being said? Often times, it’s easy to remove a quote from its context.

Okay. Why does this stuff just irritate me so much that I spend so much time writing on it? Why do I care?

Because truth matters.

You see, the internet can be a dangerous place and too many people think a Google search engine makes you a scholar. No. Google does not teach you how to process information. I must go with what my friend Tim McGrew says about this.

“One of the most disastrous illusions of the internet age is that an amateur plus Google is equivalent to a scholar. A search engine offers information, more or less relevant according to the skill of the searcher. But it does not sift that information; it does not sort fact from fancy, wheat from chaff. It does not explain which facts are relevant and which are beside the point. It does not weigh the merits of competing arguments and tell the user where the balance of evidence lies. A bright amateur armed with the internet may at best be better informed than he would otherwise have been, and he may occasionally catch a real scholar in a factual error. But it will not turn him into a scholar himself. There is no such thing as effortless erudition.”

This is a bona fide quote. If anyone is suspicious of it, I am sure Tim McGrew would be happy to comment here himself if need be and say “Yes. I said that.” I have heard him give the exact sentiment elsewhere numerous times also.

On the internet, if you don’t know how to process information, you’re just going to blindly accept what you are told. Check it out. Research it. Make sure other real sites are sharing it and not just conspiracy sites. If you’re still unsure, don’t share it. Why?

Because Christians are to be people of truth.

When we share things that are not true and so easily, it makes us look stupid. If they can’t trust us on things they can test, why should they trust us on things they can’t? In John 3:12, Jesus said.

“I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?”

Let’s draw a parallel. If they find us to be gullible and naive on these matters here, why should they trust us on the claims they’re most skeptical about. When we share these claims falsely, we destroy our witness to a lost world.

Also, we further damage our witness when we further have paranoia. There are things we should be very cautious about, but when we start looking at everything with paranoia, we become unable to function in society. In fact, the rest of the world again thinks we look ridiculous. Just look at the video again of Rockefeller being harrassed in Chile. Whether you care for the man or not, the people around him are simply being ridiculous.

Folks. The world already thinks we look ridiculous. They already think we believe crazy things. We have enough of a time convincing them of that.

Let’s not give them further reason to not trust us.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Sharing Is Uncaring

December 23, 2014

Can there be a time when it’s not really right to share? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last night after finishing the blog entry, I’m surfing Facebook some and see a story shared on Facebook about how Head and Shoulders shampoo causes a fungus to show up on people. It’s really one of those most disgusting pictures that you will have a hard time getting out of your mind so I’m going to be nice and not put it up, but what I will say is not only had one person posted it on Facebook, which they had got from someone else, but it had already also been shared.

There’s a problem with the story.

It’s not true.

Unfortunately, when you’re on Facebook it’s easy to share a story that isn’t true and have it spread like wildfire. Unfortunately, such sharing can do great harm. Consider for instance that there are real people with real families working at these companies. When you spread false information about them, then if that information spreads enough, you could put someone’s job in jeopardy. Naturally, that would take a lot of misinformation, but it starts somewhere.

The case is even worse if you are a Christian. After all, you are supposed to be a person of truth. How does it help your witness if you share a story that someone can verify to be false within five minutes if you try to then say “Hey. I want you to trust your eternity on the fact that Jesus died and rose again 2,000 years ago.” If they cannot trust you in the small matters, why should they in the larger? If you are gullible and naive enough on the small matters, would it not be more likely you will be so on the larger matters as well?

So what can you do?

When you see a story on Facebook, do a good basic search. I often go to a site like Snopes.com. Look and see if anyone else has done any looking on this. Has anyone else confirmed it is a hoax? If no one else has, then it will be up to you to do your own research.

When it comes to that, look for specifics. Do they mention a specific time, place, person, etc. Suppose they mention Dr. XYZ. Okay. Go look up Dr. XYZ. See if he’s been mentioned anywhere. Did they mention the town of Podunk in some state? Then go look up on the web to see if any local news stations or news papers have mentioned anything that is being described in the article. Still can’t find anything? Then go with caution. If you cannot confirm the story, then don’t share it.

Once you share a false story, even if you remove it, that does not mean everyone will go back and see your correction. It doesn’t mean anyone they might have shared it with will either. The damage could already be done. It’s good to delete a post and remove what was said, but it would have been better to have never posted it anyway. Remember always the first question to ask is “Is it true?” If it isn’t, then don’t.

Not only can you damage someone else’s livelihood in some way, you will damage your reputation and Christian witness.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Why Google Research Is A Problem

December 17, 2014

Does having more access to information mean we’re more informed? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Two times this week, I have seen an interesting event happen. In both cases, I have been discussing with an atheist on Facebook. In both cases, I have seen them make a claim that’s completely false. In both cases, I saw them Google for a resource to use. In both cases, the link they provided that they said backed their case in fact did not back their case. In fact, in both cases, they used the same web site and seeing as it’s a web site where I know the guy who runs it, I know the quality is excellent and my opponents didn’t realize what they had done.

In the first case, I was told that it was at the Council of Nicea that the Bible had been edited. The excellent site that was used to demonstrate this claim was www.Tertullian.org and the specific page was this one. This site is run by Roger Pearse who is a Christian and an excellent researcher so I knew something was wrong immediately. With this, it didn’t take too long. All I had to do was read the first paragraph. I will bold in the important parts.

There seem to be a number of legends about the First Council of Nicaea (325AD) in circulation on the internet, presented as fact.  Some people seem to think that the council, which was the first council of all the Bishops of the Christian Church, either invented the New Testament, or edited it to remove references to reincarnation (or whatever) or burned large numbers of heretical works, or whatever.  These are in error.  This page documents the problem and provides links to all the ancient source material in order to allow everyone to check the truth for themselves.

In the next case, it was someone trying to tell me a pagan deity like Mithras was born on December 25th. Even if Jesus was not born on this day, it is a false claim to say all these pagan deities were born on that same day. The page I was linked to was this one. Yet had the person even bothered to read, he would have seen that again, it wasn’t friendly to his claims.

Cumont stated that the birthday of Mithras was 25 December, on the basis that a solar feast took place on that date and Mithras would, of course, be included. The idea was only speculation, but has been widely taken up. Clauss repeats the claim. But Beck states that this is not the case. In fact he calls this assertion ‘that hoariest of “facts”‘. He continues: “In truth, the only evidence for it is the celebration of the birthday of Invictus on that date in the Calendar of Philocalus. ‘Invictus’ is of course Sol Invictus, Aurelian’s sun god. It does not follow that a different, earlier, and unofficial sun god, Sol Invictus Mithras, was necessarily or even probably, born on that day too.”

But later Clauss states; “the Mithraic Mysteries had no public ceremonies of its own. The festival of natalis Invicti [Birth of the Unconquerable (Sun)], held on 25 December, was a general festival of the Sun, and by no means specific to the Mysteries of Mithras.”

Steven Hijmans has discussed in detail the question of whether the general “natalis Invicti” festival was related to Christmas but does not give Mithras as a possible source.

Please note this. For the sake of argument, it could be Pearse is wrong in his claims. I’m quite confident he isn’t, but let’s suppose he is just for the sake of argument. What matters is that in both cases, the person had likely just typed something in on Google and just copied the first few links without bothering to even read what they said confident that what they put up had to prove their point.

And this is the problem.

There are too many people today who think just being able to Google is all they need to make an argument and if they can find a link that says something, then that establishes it.

News flash to some of you. Not everything on the internet is true.

You see, one of the problems of the internet is anyone whatsoever can set up a blog, web site, YouTube channel, write an Ebook, etc., and be seen as an authority. Now of course I’m not going to deny there is some excellent work out there by non-scholars. I would hope some of you reading this blog think that this is the case here. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who have pseudo-research but just look impressive.

If you know how to use Google, it can be an excellent tool. If you don’t know how, it can give you the appearance of knowledge without the substance thereof.

If you want the best knowledge, you will need to read the books by leading authorities in the field you want to learn. These authorities also do not produce their material for free. Every now and then, you can find some resources that are free, such as the podcast that I host regularly.Yet despite that, there is no replacement whatsoever for reading the books that you need to read.

Imagine going to a doctor and as you describe your symptoms you see him on his computer. Now this isn’t always an unusual scene. Sometimes he’s entering in data on your case. Yet what would happen if you asked him what he was doing and he said “Oh. I’m googling in your symptoms to see what you have and what the best treatment would be?” I hope all of you would be going to find a new doctor.

In Japan, one of the delicacies you can get is Puffer Fish. The problem with the meai is that the fish contains a deadly poison so if you want to serve it, you have to cook it in just the right way so that it is no longer a threat. In fact, you have to be specially licensed in order to prepare this meal. How many would be willing to have the meal at a Japanese restaurant if you knew the cook was instead just using Google to learn how to do it?

Google can too often just allow a person to be lazy and look like they know something when they don’t. Unfortunately, there is no substitute for work. There is no shortcut on the path of knowledge. If you want to learn something, you will have to work at it. You can use Google as a tool, but do not expect it to do all the work for you.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Need To Analyze Information

October 28, 2014

Do we know how to analyze information? Let’s dive into the Deeper Waters and find out.

The internet has increased the amount of information many of us have access to. Unfortunately, it has also increased the amount of misinformation many of us have access to. If we do not know how to properly analyze the information and compare it, then we will be prone to error easily and most often, just accepting information because it agrees with the point we have prior.

For instance, yesterday, I found myself arguing with an atheist who was just cutting and pasting everything from a web site. (And in fact a web site I think has hideously false information) Of course, there are times cut and paste is appropriate to show what some authority says, but that should also be done with proper citation and one should seek to have the best authorities.

When this was pointed out, the gears immediately switched to a different topic that was still being used to attack Christianity and yes, another cut and paste job. It has led me to the conclusion that there are too many atheists on the internet that simply look at a claim and decide whether it’s true or false depending on how it treats Christianity. If it puts Christianity in a negative light, it must be true. If it supports Christianity in any way, it must be false.

Before my atheist readers start complaining about a double-standard, I will address the complaint I see coming. Yes. Christians too often do the same thing.

I used to have it where my Dad would send out emails complaining about something Obama had done and with a statement of his. There was often a little problem with them. They were false. The events described did not happen. Now I’m no supporter of Obama, but I am a supporter of truth and if I want to take down an ideological opponent, I want to make sure that the claim is true. Too many times this kind of email was sent out to a large group of people so I’d hit the “reply all” button and start typing out what the true situation was.

On Facebook, this can easily happen with the “share” button. Consider how recently there was a story going around about a pagan eyewitness testimony being found to Jesus doing a miracle. Problem? The story was a complete fabrication, and yet Christians shared it like wildfire. When Christians do this, it gives the impression that Christians are gullible people who will believe anything as long as it supports their view.

Too often, that can be true.

When these claims are being passed around on the internet, it’s important to try to look and see if any valid sources are really backing this claim. If you want to know if a certain event happened, check local news to see if there is a record. My wife recently sent me a story about someone smashing a statue of the Ten Commandments saying the devil told him to do it. Sounds a bit crazy, but I checked. I saw local news stations sharing the story. That told me story was true. I said it was okay to share at that point.

What both sides need to learn is how to process information better and analyze it. There are arguments Christians use that I don’t think work. To give one example, I don’t think the ontological argument works. I know it has its supporters and many of them are very intelligent people. Still, it just doesn’t work in my eyes.

Meanwhile, there are many atheists that if you show them something that could indicate that there is some truth to something that was said in the Gospels, their heads will start turning and you would expect that they were in the Exorcist. This can be found on many popular internet atheist blogs. If anything gave any credibility to Christianity, it must be thrown out.

A great solution to this is what many people want to avoid. Read books. Many scholars will not put their work out there for free on the internet. If you read their books, you can have access to that information, and it could be a better usage of your time than watching that TV show that you want to watch. Read also the ones you disagree with. Let them show you the blind spots that could exist in your worldview. It’s why I often ask people “When was the last time you read a scholarly work that disagreed with you?”

The age of the internet can be a blessing if you know how to use it, but for too many on both sides, they will just uncritically accept whatever goes with their confirmation bias. Don’t be one of those. Research the claims. Especially if you’re a follower of Christ and claim to be a person of truth. Make sure your words are true.

In Christ,

Nick Peters

Debunking 9 Truly Evil Things Right-Wing Christians Do: Part 9

September 10, 2014

We are going to let Allie conclude her series today.

We are at the last part of debunking the arguments in the articlehttp://www.alternet.org/belief/9-truly-evil-things-right-wing-christians-do?page=0%2C2 .  9. Trying to suck vulnerable people into your poorly researched worldview is evil.

I’m going to go ahead and quote the first paragraph of this part of the article:

“It’s one thing to latch onto the supernatural worldview you were raised in or the one that first triggered for you some radically cool temporal lobe micro-seizure or similar altered state. But then failing to do your homework before using your position of adult American privilege to foist your religion on kindergarteners, or families who live in desperate poverty, or people who just got hit by a natural disaster—in other words people who trust you because you are older or richer or more powerful or have more access to the very information that you have failed to use—now we’re talking about a violation of ethics. Just because something is legal doesn’t make it right.”

Woa now!  Altered state?  That may be how it is for the Word of Faith movement but as for most Christians, it’s not an altered state!  We’re not on drugs!  We’re not high, in fact, we have many lows!  It’s not easy being a Christian!  People think it’s easy to be a Christian but it’s not, and I think that’s part of the reason why so many people leave the faith.  They expect everything to go well and hardly any problems to head their way, but that’s just not the case at all.  We face many obstacles, many obstacles that people who aren’t following Christ don’t face in fact.  Christ never promised life would be easy following him, he instead said it would be harder when following him:

(John 15:18 NLT) “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.”

Failing to do our homework?  Writer (of the article), I’d say you’ve failed to do much of your homework and have done mostly personal complaints instead of actually researching the other side.  I have both read your sources and defended the Christian side giving Biblical and outside sources.  As for the American privilege, everyone has that.  Living in the US is a privilege, whether you think so or not.  Yes, this country has it’s problems, but what country doesn’t?  One of the greatest privileges of this country that many countries don’t have is the freedom of religion and speech.  Writer, just as you have the freedom to antagonize us, we have the freedom to worship the Living God and tell the truth about him.  In the US, everyone has the opportunity of getting a job and working hard.  Now, in this economy, it is much harder.  But it isn’t easier for a Christian to make money or get a job than it is for someone who isn’t a Christian to do so.  Everyone has an equal chance if they try and work hard.  The problem is the economy has made it so difficult and the government has babied people so much that people are either too hopeless or too lazy to try.  There are people who go on Welfare just so they don’t have to get a job and that’s abusing the system!

We are to help people in poverty and who are hit by distasters.  We are to educate our children, just as much as everyone else.  The problem is, you don’t want us to do it the way we are supposed to do it!  If you knew the truth about something, and you knew it gave people hope, wouldn’t you want to tell it to people?  Then why prevent us from telling this truth to people?  As for education, there are a lot of people who say the US was never a Christian nation.  This is nonsense!  Take a look at this website that discusses the earliest Bibles published in the US (http://www.greatsite.com/timeline-english-bible-history/colonial-bibles.html).  Even Congress had produced Bibles for our schools, people in Congress such as George Washington and you know those people who were so anti-religious like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.  They all endorsed these Bibles to be published at every home and school in the US!  As for being, older, richer, and more powerful.  I’m almost twenty-four years old, so I’m not old.  My husband and I are broke and without jobs, as well as disabled, so we are not rich, but poor.  I have no power in any sense.  I have a brain injury and only a high school diploma, yet I have done better research than you’ve done.  All you have done is throw empty accusations with little to no facts behind them.  Moving on now.

The next paragraph the writer says is:

“Some reader is bound to say that without God anything goes and so as a nontheist I have no basis for calling anything evil. A short snarky retort has been making its way around the internet: If you can’t tell right from wrong without appealing to an authority or a sacred text, what you lack is not religion but compassion. The long answer, meaning the evidence showing we really can recognize evil and good without gods, is available in neuroscience, sociology, developmental psychology, and in the lives of individual atheists including the Dalai Lama.”

I’ve got one, single, verse to answer that paragraph for you, Romans 2:14 (NLT) says:

Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it.

So yes, you do know God’s laws like you shouldn’t murder or steal because God wrote that in our hearts.  It has nothing to do with how great we are, but because of how great heis.  Just because you know his laws instinctively doesn’t mean there is no God though.  You can breathe air, but just because you can’t always feel it or see it doesn’t mean there isn’t any air.

The writer concludes by accusing Bible-believing Christians to be trying to go back to the Iron Age.  We’re not trying to go back to the Iron Age.  We don’t want to go back in time!  We want to move ahead in the future as much as you do!  The difference is we have a different path to the future than you do.  Your path leads to more destruction and we’re trying to steer you away from that path!  We see the path you’re heading because some of us have actually gone down that path and know what’s down there.  We hate watching people destroy themselves and God hates it even more than we do!  You are his precious children!

(Ezekiel 18:23 NLT) “Do you think that I like to see wicked people die? says the Sovereign LORD. Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live.”

We have to tell the truth!

(John 8:32 NLT) “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Be set free from your bondage and your destructive paths!

 

In Christ,

Nick Peters

The Google Generation

August 8, 2014

Is it possible to be a recipient of the information age and be uninformed? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

With Christmas coming up, I’m wanting to upgrade some of my technology, and so yesterday while the Mrs. was at a Pinterest party, I decided to go to an AT&T store after some grocery shopping to talk to someone there about upgrades. One thing I want upgraded is my Kindle. I’d like to be able to read books on audio much more easily with a Kindle and I’ve been told I could just consider an IPad and with that I could use a Kindle App and have access to a tool I can use for powerpoint.

The guy who was telling me about the products heard me go on and on about books and then saw the books I had with me, apologetic books in nature, which led to a discussion about certain issues and I was told that in the past people believed the Earth was flat.

I quickly pointed out that this is a myth. “On The Heavens” by Aristotle has the teaching that the Earth is a sphere and you would be hard-pressed to find one intelligent thinker after that including Aquinas and the church fathers who thought otherwise.

I was told that the intelligentsia believed that, but not the masses. The masses all thought you would fall off. I simply replied that I would need evidence to believe such a thing.

So what happens? Well we’re there looking at IPads so he suggests that we just look it up.

How does the argument go? Well one of the first things found is this:

TheWorldisFlat

Except it’s worse than that.

You see, my salesman didn’t even look at the book. In fact, he never got to the picture. All he saw was a link with the title of the book and how it was a history of the 21st century and said “See? Even up until our time that’s been believed.”

Amazing what you can learn about a book just by seeing a title. Not only can you learn about the book, but you can learn about what a whole group of people have believed. No research required.

Now in our next vast tour of internet research, what’s the next thing we come across? This:

shipfallsoffEarth

Is there any attempt to see who did this painting? Nope. Is there any attempt to see when it was done? Nope. For all we know, it could be after the myth was popularized that people used to believe that the Earth was flat, which I pointed out Washington Irving popularized that myth about why Columbus sailed West. (It’s worth pointing out as well that Ingersoll helped popularize it.)

By this mindset, the musical group Kansas must have included flat-Earthers in it. Take a look at this album cover:

Kansas_-_Point_of_Know_Return

Now let’s suppose something. Let’s suppose that I am wrong for the sake of argument. Even if I was, is it sufficient to look at a web link and a picture and do nothing further beyond that and decide that your opponent’s position is refuted? Not at all.

Yet this is exactly what we’re up against.

You see, we live in an age where people think they are authorities because they can use Google. I can’t help but think of what my friend Tim McGrew, professor of philosophy at Western Michigan, says about this:

“One of the most disastrous illusions of the internet age is that an amateur plus Google is equivalent to a scholar. A search engine offers information, more or less relevant according to the skill of the searcher. But it does not sift that information; it does not sort fact from fancy, wheat from chaff. It does not explain which facts are relevant and which are beside the point. It does not weigh the merits of competing arguments and tell the user where the balance of evidence lies. A bright amateur armed with the internet may at best be better informed than he would otherwise have been, and he may occasionally catch a real scholar in a factual error. But it will not turn him into a scholar himself. There is no such thing as effortless erudition.”

Google is a fantastic tool when used appropriately, but when used inappropriately, it can give the illusion of knowledge without research.

Yet this is what we see happen in our age. I am involved in debates often with Christ-mythers for instance who when presented with several works of scholarship just instead put up a Google link by a non-scholarly source and then march off triumphantly convinced they’ve defeated their enemy.

Of course, I am not telling you to avoid using Google. I am also not telling you that all sources must be scholarly, but I do think sources for arguments should interact with scholars and while Google can be a tool in your research, it should not be the whole thing.

The sad part is unfortunately, the side relying entirely on Google has fooled itself with an illusion that real research has been done, when it has not been done. This is also why those of us who argue MUST read and study that which disagrees with us. If not, we can lull ourselves into a sense that we are automatically right by virtue of our position and have nothing to learn from our opponents.

And yes, both sides are guilty of this. The Christian side can too often consist of people saying “We have the Inerrant Word of God! What need have we to study anything else?” Meanwhile, the atheist side consists of people who will say “Courtier’s reply!” and think they have made a substantial reply.

Recently on my show, I interviewed my father-in-law Mike Licona. We’re quite different intellectually. He was the one who struggled in school and worked and when he did, got C’s. Meanwhile, I was the student who went to school, did all the assignments, came home and played video games all day, and then got A’s and elected Most Studious in my class. Study was not a necessity for me in school.

Now Mike is an academic, though he says it’s not his natural bent. How many of you in apologetics want to be like Mike? Then he would tell you this too. Study, study, study. There is no shortcut on this path. You must do the work.

Now some of you could be saying “Well that’s him, but what about you? Do you have it easy as one inclined to academics?”

Nope. Not a bit. Despite our differences in school, in this field, I too have to study, study, study. Now could it be I might have some advantages? Sure. But those advantages themselves do not present results. Those results only come from sacrifice. There are many times I’d frankly like to do other things, but in order to be informed, I have to study. It is work, but to be informed, it is worth it.

Also, if you get to the point where you think you no longer need to read the other side, then you are not really studying. By all means reach a conclusion. I have concluded Christianity is true, but I still read what I disagree with. Perhaps someone will show me an argument I have not considered. I can be skeptical, and you can be too, but we must always be open.

In our age, Google cannot take the place of real learning and research. Google if used properly will be an excellent tool for learning, but when used improperly, it can convince someone that they are learned when they are not, and when they speak on an issue, those who know it better will be left shaking their heads wondering how such a person thinks their point is valid.

Be a researcher. Don’t rely on just Google.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Some Tips On Research

July 15, 2014

Is there a proper way to go sifting through claims and separate the wheat from the chaff? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

As Christians, we are to be people of the truth, and therefore we need to check as much as we can and find out if it is true or not. If we say something that is false on a major issue at one point or something that is easily disproven, then it damages our testimony when we proclaim Christ as the risen Lord.

Of course, this also applies to too many atheists who don’t bother to do proper research either. There can easily be confirmation bias going on on both sides. Christians can too often readily believe anything if it meshes with their view of reality, such as an interpretation of Scripture. Atheists can believe many claims just because they happen to go against Christianity despite being seen as jokes in scholarship of the day.

So let’s give some tips.

First off, when you’re doing internet research, be extremely careful. Anyone can set up a blog or a web site today and look authoritative.

“Well don’t you have a blog here? Shouldn’t I be suspicious of what you say?”

Please do.

Seriously. Please do.

If you don’t think I’m a trusted authority, by all means look up what I say. If I’m wrong about something, I want to know about it and if you make a persuasive enough case with good evidence and scholarship, then I will be able to change my mind.

The source is something that must always be considered. No. This is not the same as a genetic fallacy. The claim can be right or wrong regardless of the source, but the source tells you the degree of credibility you need to give it at the start.

Want an example? Sure. Unfortunately, this is a real one. A Muslim actually posted in a Muslim debate group I used to frequent that modern scholars knew the stories about there being ancient Greek civilization were mythical. I’m not talking about Atlantis or believing in Greek gods or anything like that. I’m talking about the civilization period. This lady posted a video to show the professors talking about it.

Source?

The Onion.

For those who don’t know, the Onion is a satire. The articles are entirely jokes not meant to be taken seriously. I’d like to say this only fools crazies on the internet. I’d like to, but I’d be wrong. Huffington Post lists several examples here.

There are several sources out there like that that are satirical. Be on the lookout for them. If you read on a web site something that seems bizarre, there is no harm of just doing a simple Google search to see if the site you are reading this on is satirical.

A place Christians can often make this mistake at is end-times hysteria.

Too many things have been reported to be the Mark of the Beast and every time that they’ve been shown to be false, another one just rises up. There is a new sensation going on constantly in many dispensational circles. If you’re one of those dispensationalists who is not jumping at everything called prophecy fulfillment, I have no problem with you. In fact, I’m quite pleased that one of the best criticisms of The Harbinger is actually by a dispensationalist.

Definitely shame on you if you buy into these people that are certain they can tell you when Jesus is coming back. They can’t. They won’t. Guess what it does to the cause of Christ when people sell all they have and travel across the country proclaiming the end because of what someone like Harold Camping said?

This gets us into moving past considering the source and then really looking at the claim. A claim can seem plausible and from a source that could be reliable, but it could also be false. This kind of event happens on Facebook constantly. Someone will put up a news story and then everyone will share it and talk about it except for that one problem.

The story isn’t true.

A famous occurrence of this happening is when an email was going around several years ago about NASA finding Joshua’s last day. NASA had to respond to calls from people wanting to know more about it and unfortunately being told that the claim wasn’t true.

In politics, this can happen often. I’ve had someone in the past who would regularly email me something about Obama that was a highly negative story that would be such a great exposing of who he really was.

Except for that same problem. It wasn’t true.

And keep this in mind. Politically, I am no supporter of Obama. I am so conservative in my politics I prefer to fly on planes that have two right wings. Obama politically to me is an opponent, but if I want to expose my opponent, I want it to be on true grounds, and not false grounds. We should not want those who we are in opposition to to be spoken of falsely.

This is also why when someone says “Dr. X says such and such” you should ask some questions.

Who is this person?

What is their doctorate in?

Do they teach at an accredited university?

Are they respected in the field by those who agree with them and those who disagree with them?

Is their doctorate in a relevant field?

If those questions are answered in a way that gives credibility to the person then you need to look at the claim more. Unfortunately, too many videos that present these claims do not include proper citation. For instance, I just got done watching a video by some Christ-mythers who would say “X said this.” Where? Who knows! Rarely was anything ever said.

Christ-mythers, by the way, are excellent examples of people who do not do research. The Christ-mythers will fail in the field of NT and history at the questions above as none of them will be respected in the field by people they disagree with.

Consider Richard Carrier for instance. Carrier is highly respected and admired among internet atheists. Take that crowd away and there’s nothing. Most people in Europe have never even heard of him. Compare that to someone like N.T. Wright who teaches at an accredited university and is recognized as a top-notch biblical scholar by even his opponents.

I am interested in seeing what’s going to happen in the future for all the internet atheists who have put all their eggs in the Carrier basket.

This brings us to the next point. See what the opposition has to say. Read the best scholarship that you can on the other side. A question I often ask internet atheists nowadays is “When was the last time you read a work of scholarship that disagreed with you?”

Let’s return to the Christ-myth theory as my favorite example. How many times do I meet internet atheists who say “We don’t even know that Jesus existed.” Yeah we do. Scholarship across the board has held he does for years and theories that he did not exist have been found to be extremely lacking.

The reply will often be that these are a bunch of Christers trying to save their faith. The answer is that this is simply false. A large segment of the Society of Biblical Literature is non-Christian for instance. Bart Ehrman is a member of the SBL as are others who would say they’re atheist, agnostic, or liberal. (Some could say they’re Christian, but only in the sense that they follow the ethics of Christ without believing in anything miraculous about him.)

Also, even Christian scholars have to have their work pass peer-review. It won’t necessarily mean that their reviewers agree with their conclusion, but it will mean that they’ve shown they’ve done their research and are able to defend their view.

When you read this opposition, try to read scholarly opposition as much as you can and read it when published by an academic publisher. Of course, not everything is like that, and I say that as the co-author of two ebooks. A claim being in a non-scholarly source does not make it false, but it does mean you should always be willing to check the source of the claim and make sure that the person is interacting with the best in scholarship on the issue.

For an example of interacting with the best scholarship on the issue, consider the new atheists. The new atheists regularly have a habit of NOT interacting with the best of their opposition. I believe I have demonstrated that in this post.

By and large also, I do prefer books to videos and blog posts and such. Don’t discount those entirely, as I am a blogger after all, but try to see them as stepping stones. That’s why on my podcast I try to bring the best in scholarship and hope that it will be a stepping stone getting you to want to go look at the works of the scholars that I interview.

This also applies across the board. Don’t think I don’t practice what I teach either. Of course, I will make mistakes, but I spend plenty of time reading and studying. You can follow me on Goodreads if you want to see what it is that I’m reading. There is no such thing as being knowledgeable in the field without doing the research. There is no shortcut to learning. There are many ways to learn, but all of them require work.

Do good research. I don’t care what position you have. Just research it. In fact, I would rather talk about theology with an informed atheist more than an uninformed Christian. My standards are the same on both ends. I respect people who do the research about what they argue and know the other side well. I don’t respect those who are dogmatic on their side without doing any background research.

Be a part of the former. Study.

In Christ,
Nick Peters