“I deny your reality, and substitute my own”

Thanks to my brother, I have once again become engaged in a discussion of what can be “proven” and “dis-proven.” Or more to the point for this discussion, whether one can “prove” a negative.

Apparently, there is an on-going debate amongst biblical scholars (minimalists, and maximalists) concerning whether one can accept the historicity of biblical texts. As I understand it, the maximalists argue that barring evidence to the contrary the historicity of biblical texts should be accepted as fact. The minimalists instead argue that without additional evidence those texts are to be viewed as “not true” and thus not trusted.

That’s all well and good.  Except for one thing. According to my brother, they then proceed to tell you what they think “really” happened.  So maximalists (according to the minimalists) make the fatal error of believing documents contemporary  to the time under study, while the minimalists are able to, through some other means, discover the “real truth” with testimony.


Of course, as part of the on-going discourse Dr Jim West decides to critique the “contemporary text” which my brother wrote, and create his own (mis) interpretation of what was written. He then goes on to address the error of my brother’s interpretation of my brother’s own writing.  Interesting.

So, let me ask you, dear Reader, how do you (knowing my brother writes, on his own blog) interpret my brother’s line:

Dr. Jim West (I am a doctor as well, just not a “real” doctor, as my grandmother will tell you) calls this an “impossible impossibility” and says that you cannot prove a negative.

So, in this case, what struck me as interesting, is that we have a microcosm of exactly what the debate is about.  The text seemed, clear, and we were even provided the author’s own statement of intent.  And yet, a minimalist chooses to tell us what “it really meant.”

At the end of the day, I found myself wondering how we are able to communicate at all, if such a simple sentence is so easily misunderstood.