Steve Krause (skrause@BGNET.BGSU.EDU)
Tue, 6 Aug 1996 16:27:07 -0400

Not so fast, my cleaver Mizzou friend...

On Tue, 6 Aug 1996, Eric Crump wrote:

> On Tue, 6 Aug 1996, Steve Krause wrote:
> > that I can come up with personally is that the Bible (and frankly all of
> > the religious texts I've ever looked at) can be interpreted to mean
> > pretty much whatever you want them to mean.
> Kind of like *facts* in that regard, eh?
>Viewed from the right distance, belief and reason not only co-exist, they
> begin to inhabit the same space, becoming almost indistinguishable.

Nope, and I think there are two reasons for this. First, it isn't possible
to offer "counter-arguments" to religious texts. We can argue about (for
example) which research method might be best for studying pre-writing. Oh
sure, we won't neatly and Platonically reach "truth" exactly, but we can
make some comparisons and problematize the positions in different ways.
You can't really do that with religions because different faiths (and that
word choice should signal somethin') all presume with the assumption that
they're right.

The second is based on a pretty basic rhetorical principal advanced by our
pal Chaim Perleman: before a rhetor can persuade an audience, the rhetor
must begin with a persumption that the audience agrees with, and if the
rhetor chooses to make an appeal that is not presumed by the audience, it
won't work. Perleman has some kind of problematic things to say about
this regarding "universality" and stuff, but basically that's the problem
with religious texts as rhetorical appeals. Sure, get together a bunch
of Catholics (I'm not so sure that we can even be as broad as "Christian"
because the bible means mucho different things to Baptists than it does
to Mormons than it does to Catholics, etc., etc.) and you can make some
sort of biblical appeal because that audience shares those presumptions.
Those same appeals don't work as well in academia because different
presumptions are shared (of course, our appeals might not work so well in
church either).

Steve Krause * Department of English * Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green, OH * 43403 * (419) 372-8934 *
*Soon to be at Southern Oregon State College in Ashland, OR*