Friday, September 13, 2013

The Bible vs. Horton Hears a Who - Are Either or Both Divinely Inspired?

Edmonton theologian and author Randal Rauser maintains the blog "The Tentative Apologist" which I commend for anyone interested in the intellectual defence of Christianity. This laurel is not intended to suggest that Christianity is worthy of an intellectual defence - just that Professor Rauser does one of the best jobs I have encountered in attempting to do so.

Professor Rauser has recently begun releasing podcasts and his most recent episode Do pastors know what to do with the Bible? An interview with Pastor Tyler Williams is a must listen.  The best part is when they begin discussing the subject of the (supposedly) divine inspiration of scripture. After telling Prof. Rauser that he would "go to the mat" in claiming that scripture is divinely inspired, hilarity ensues as these two learned gentlemen pursue a discussion about what is means to say that the Bible is divinely inspired. I will leave it to the listener to decide but my impression is that they neither has a clue but they know it when they see it.

This led me to issue the following challenge to Prof. Rauser:

 First, I ask you to consider the following famous passage:

“I say!” murmured Horton. “I’ve never heard tell of a small speck of dust that is able to yell. So you know what I think?... Why, I think that there must be someone on top of that small speck of dust! Some sort of a creature of very small size, too small to be seen by an elephant’s eyes…

“… some poor little person who’s shaking with fear that he’ll blow in the pool! He has no way to steer! I’ll just have to save him. Because, after all, a person’s a person, no matter how small.”
Theodor Seuss Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) - Horton Hears a Who (1954, Random House).

Please explain (without reference to the Bible or your handy dandy "warrant"), what you rely on to conclude that the Bible is divinely inspired and the above passage isn't.

I'll let you know if The Tentative Apologist responds.

* Postscript - Prof. Rauser has responded in the comment thread following the blog post I have linked above. While I am hesitant to paraphrase his response, I understand it to be that he considers the divine inspiration of scripture to be a "properly basic belief". He has also referred to the fact that he holds:  "to an appropriation theory as developed and defended in [Nicholas] Wolterstorff's book Divine Discourse".  My response is as follows: "Thank-you for clarifying that you subscribe to Wolterstorff's appropriation theory which, as I understand it, makes no bolder claim than to suggest that it is plausible that God speaks through scripture. Heck, even I'll grant you that it's plausible in the same way as it's plausible God spoke through Geisel." I'll blog further on this topic after I make my way through Divine Discourse - my copy has just arrived.


  1. Hi TAM,

    For me (and others, I suspect) the red background is very hard on the eyes. I would suggest yellow, even a soft yellow. Or red text instead of red background.

    Regards, Paul.

  2. To the Randal's last post "Evangelistic tracts so bad that they’re good", I'd say that he wants to make a point but he fails.

    As an evangelistic tract, if he chose a faked half $5 dollar bill to "attract" attention to Jesus in public toilets, why didn't he chose a half porn picture? Somebody can rub himself in the toilet AND get saved, while with a half faked bill one can just only swear and not get saved by Jesus.

    Another thing: "Satan also deceives", gets me to think that God also deceives, but maybe Jesus makes you think that he would save the $5 faked bill...

    Evangelistic tracts so bad that they’re still bad or even worse

  3. Have you offered that same question to other apologists before?