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Date Posted: 19:53
Author: Mike Drake - 13 Jun 2001
Subject: Systematic Dishonesty?
In reply to: ketch - 10 Jun 2001 's message, "Re: Thoughts of the Day" on 19:52

Yes, many fundies clearly do seem to think that wanton dishonesty has a legitimate place in evangelism.

Perhaps they take after Eusebius, who is somewhat infamous for saying that it is sometimes necessary to lie for the Christian cause.*

It is somewhat interesting, then, that the AOY cites a passage allegedly appearing in Eusebius' writings:**

"A passage in Eusebius relates an interesting encounter between Socrates and a Hindu sage. The passage runs: "Aristoxenus, the musician, tells the following story about the Indians. One of these men met Socrates at Athens, and asked him what was the scope of his philosophy. 'An inquiry into human phenomena,' replied Socrates. At this the Indian burst out laughing. 'How can a man inquire into human phenomena,' he said, 'when he is ignorant of divine ones?'" The Aristoxenus mentioned was a pupil of Aristotle, and a noted writer on harmonics. His date is 330 B.C." (From AOY, Chapter 39, n.6.)

Note that tale itself is almost surely apocryphal: None of the standard historical sources (Plato, Aristophanes, and Xenophon) mentions any encounter between Socrates and a Hindu sage, and in any case the idea doesn't make a whole lot of sense: Socrates was not exactly world famous during his own lifetime (and certainly not so famous that Indian sages would seek him out in Athens to inquire into his philosophy).

In addition, I found no mention of this story in any encyclopedia entries on Aristoxenus (who was born about 25 years after Socrates was died). It is thus more likely that someone other than Aristoxenus made the story up out of whole cloth.

Perhaps the author of the tale was Eusebius, but I'm actually somewhat skeptical that the passage even appears in Eusebius' own writings. There is no citation in the online version of AOY, and the story doesn't seem to serve any Christian apologetical purpose.

Maybe someone on this board knows something about this?


* "That it is necessary sometimes to use falsehood as a medicine. . . ." Praeparatio Evangelica 12.31, listing the ostensibly desirable ideas that Plato allegedly got from Moses.

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