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Showing posts from October, 2004
Those of Christian Conscience Should Vote NO on California's Prop. 71

I would give all the reasons, but Mel Gibson says it better than I ever could. Check out this ad.

"Creating life simply to destroy it is wrong....

Especially when there are effective alterantives."

He actually packs quite a few punches in the spot.
Doherty and the Passion Narrative

It is widely accepted by New Testament scholars that the passion narratives found in Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John had a forerunner upon which all of them drew--what we will call the Passion Narrative (or "PN" for short). Not so, says Earl Doherty. Mark invented it by creative exploitation of the Old Testament: "There is no evidence in the early record itself that the passion as a separate account with an identifiable sequence and set of events existed before Mark. As we have seen, neither its details nor its overall picture can be found in the epistles and other documents of early Christianity, even in those containing a death and resurrection kerygma." The Jesus Puzzle, page 183. (As for the notion that early Christians simply invented entire narratives out of whole clothe, see my article here and my blog here).

That the PN is not written out in a narrative prior to the Gospel of Mark is not compelling stuff given that Mark…
Ellen Goodman, Proposition 71 and Abortion
Shockingly, we agree, but not really.

If there were one person in the world who I would say is my polar opposite, it is Ellen Goodman, the Washington Post's far, far left political columnist. I know when I read her column I would be willing to bet the family dog that she and I will not agree. Her opinions are mostly ridiculous in that they are deserving of ridicule.

So, I guess you can imagine that I almost fell out of my chair the other morning when I saw that she had written a column slamming California's Proposition 71 entitled "Putting Stem Cells on the Ballot". We were in agreement! Unbelievable!

Now I don't want to kick too much at an ally in opposition to this poorly written law, but her column makes it clear that her opposition isn't to the important parts of the Proposition, but rather to the procedure by which it is carried forth. The details behind why she disagrees with the Proposition bears no resemblanc…
So What Exactly Did I say that was Idiocy?
I would really like to know

In an earlier post, I discussed the question of evolution and noted that I don't know any Christian who disbelieves in micro-evolution--it is macro-evolution, aka Darwinism, that causes problems. In doing so, I responded to the question that was raised by anonymous (apparently Steven Carr) about viruses that are malignant or not helpful. Anonymous seemed to think that God must have purposed the genome of various diseases to be malignant and therefore God was not good. I pointed out that in some circles of Christian theology (including mine), the fall did not have an effect only on humanity, but on nature as well. Thus, it was my position, that the viruses that are harmful in nature were the result of the fall.

Well, apparently this didn't sit very well with Anonymous who linked it to the Talk.Origins website saying "This really is bizarre, but standard Christian idiocy." Well, not wanting to be an i…
Proposition 71
California's Bizarre Cloning Initiative

From the God and Science Newsletter:

Biotech and venture capitalists have placed an initiative on the ballot for the November 2, 2004 election that will cost the state of California $6 billion to fund the cloning and destruction of human embryos. The initiative has provisions for closed backroom meetings with venture capitalists to discuss patents and royalties and even allows the institute to award 100% of those monies to the venture capitalists while the state pays 100% of the cost of research. There are also provisions to amend patient informed consent provisions to exempt researchers from federal informed consent regulations. I spoke before a class at Pepperdine University this week, which was nearly all in favor of the initiative before class and completely opposed by the end. For more information about Prop 71, see Arguments Against Proposition 71: The California Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative.
There is a lot of ta…
Time Magazine and Pagan Spirituality

Time Magizine for the week of October 25 has, as its cover story, THE GOD GENE, but the part that caught my attention was a sub-heading on a quiz to help the reader judge how spiritual he or she happens to be. My wife and I took the test, but I have to say, by the second question both of us were laughing. It was difficult to take it seriously, largely because the focus of the "spirituality" the quiz sought to gage was so obviously pagan in its purpose. This leaves Christians like us grouped with the most hard core of sceptics. In the end, both of us answered two of the twenty questions with a true (though even these were somewhat qualified by both of us).

Here are the questions, each is to be answered with a simple TRUE or FALSE:
I often feel so connected to people around me that it is like there is no separation between us.I often do things to help protect animals and plants from extinction.I am fascinated by many things in life that…
What Has Happened to American Atheism
Some thoughts from Dr. John Mark Reynolds

In his blog, Eidos, for October 24, 2004, Dr. Reynolds makes an interesting observation:

If internet content is any clue, then this is a movement in serious decline. With an aging set of arguments, it seems to survive mostly on a sense of superiority it gained in the fifties. This is sad, since atheism has had a long and interesting philosophical tradition. On the other hand, on-line content is not well suited (at present) for long arguments. For example, this blog is certainly not a set of arguments, but a running commentary. So perhaps American atheism is more robust in the academy than it seems on-line.

In philosophy, atheism long ago lost the "cutting edge" with journals like Philosophia Christi and groups such as the Society of Christian Philosophers enjoying sustained growth. Lately, I have noticed that younger defenders of atheism often are less well educated and have less background than th…
Origin of Life Questions
Where did the first cell come from?

One of the biggest conundrums for those who assert that the diversity of life that we see arose strictly by naturalistic processes is the question of how the first living cell came into existence. The effort to find a naturalistic process has been complicated by the fact that the intricacies of the most simple of cells has made a naturalistic explanation virtually unthinkable. Take, for example, the following:

While many outside origin–of–life biology may still invoke "chance" as a causal explanation for the origin of biological information, few serious researchers still do. Since molecular biologists began to appreciate the sequence specificity of proteins and nucleic acids in the 1950s and 1960s, many calculations have been made to determine the probability of formulating functional proteins and nucleic acids at random. Even assuming extremely favorable prebiotic conditions and theoretically maximal reaction rates,…
Moral Incoherence and Human Rights

When we speak of human rights, we must first identify what rights belong intrinsically to all human beings, and how human beings (persons) are defined. Among those rights, obviously, is the right to life, since without the right to live, one cannot possibly exercise any other rights. And attached to this right is the accepted responsibility that no human being has the right to murder any other innocent human being. Even in the case where the death of one person would serve to benefit another person (or persons), that person cannot be murdered to advance such a benefit. Consider the following examples:
It is clear that the organs of newborn infants, as well as of the (even terminally) ill, the elderly, or of convicts condemned to death, could be successfully transplanted into needy adults or children, thus making it possible that the recipient of the transplant would become healthier. In each of these cases the person who “owns” these organs has …
Is The Acts of the Apostles Dependent on Josephus?

It seems that no New Testament book is the subject of more attacks on historicity or victimized by more speculative theories than the Acts of the Apostles. Perhaps this is because Luke and Acts are the two books in the New Testament that most come across as historical writings. This is apparent not only from the preface, but the subject matter. The author of Luke-Acts engages the wider Jewish and Roman world more than any other New Testament writer. This is true especially of Acts, where the author refers to broader Jewish history, wide travels throughout the Roman world, and refers again and again to Roman/Jewish rulers, customs, locations, legal process, and political facts. And it does so with enough accuracy to prompt figures such as the eminent classical historian A.N. Sherwin-White to state that "[a]ny attempt to reject its basic historicity even in matters of detail must now appear absurd. Roman historians have long t…
Al Gore Makes my Case
Bush and religious belief.

A short while ago, I noted that questions are raised about the genuineness of John Kerry's appeals to his faith. At the end of the essay, I asked for anyone to show me a mainstream story where Bush's faith is questioned. While no one commented with any such story, I saw one myself where former Democratic presidential contender, Al Gore, questioned the genuineness of President Bush's faith.

In an article in the New York Times entitled "Gore Accuses Bush of Masking Agenda", the New York Times reports that Mr. Gore accused President Bush of playing up religion as a political ploy.

Former Vice President Al Gore accused President Bush on Monday of using "the symbolism and body language of religion" to mask policies intended to satisfy the ideology of the right wing and the financial needs of wealthy campaign donors.

"The essential cruelty of Bush's game is that he takes an astonishingly selfish and g…
Select Quotes from Scientists Regarding the Appearance of Design in the Universe

Though origins apologetics is not really my speciality, I wrote a piece a while back about the appearance of design in the origins of the universe. Not ready to revise the whole thing, but as I was reviewing it I was once again impressed by the number of top scientists who either suspect their is design in the universe or at least have to admit that it sure looks that way (even if they try to explain it away). So here's that list:

Fred Hoyle: "A superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology" The Universe, at 16.

Paul Davies: "The laws [of physics] seem themselves to be the product of exceedingly ingenious design." There "is for me powerful evidence that there is something going on behind it all.... It seems as though somebody has fine-tuned nature's numbers to make the Universe.... The impression of design is overwhelming." T…
Can I just say that we have a classy First Lady?

All politics aside, I was impressed with First Lady Laura Bush's response to some innane comments by John Kerry's wife, Theresa Heinz-Kerry. Heinz-Kerry had said that she did not think that Mrs. Bush had ever held a "real job." When reminded that Mrs. Bush was a school teacher for several years, then received a Masters in Library Science and was a librarian for several more years, Ms. Heinz-Kerry apologized for forgetting about her "real" job as a teacher and librarian. Of course, the insult was not to teachers and librarians, but to homemakers (apparenlty not a "real job" to Heinz-Kerry).

When asked about Ms. Heinz-Kerry's remarks, Mrs. Bush said that there was no need for Heinz-Kerry to apologize because she knows how hard it is to handle the press:

"She apologized but she didn't even really need to apologize," Mrs. Bush told reporters at a coffee shop before attending a rall…
A Win for Science
Intelligent Design to be Taught in Dover Pennsylvania

The obstructionist . . . er, I mean, the supporters of Darwinian evolution failed in their effort to keep criticism of Darwinism from being taught in the schools in Dover Pennsylvania. According to the York Daily Record, in an article entitled "'Intelligent Design' Voted In":

The Dover Area School Board voted to add "Intelligent Design Theory" to the district's biology curriculum Monday evening just two weeks after Supt. Richard Nilsen assured former board member Lonnie Langione that wouldn't happen. The change passed by a six-to-three margin after a heated discussion by the board and a dozen members of the community.

During the Oct. 4 board meeting, Langione asked Nilsen if teachers would be required to teach "intelligent design," after he allowed 50 copies of the book "Of Pandas and People," published by the Foundation for Thought and Ethics, to be used in sc…
New Resources About the Jesus Myth -- And Its Many Flaws

Bede's Library, with some input from yours truly, has added another feature to its "Did Jesus Exist" section: Links to Jesus Myth and Historical Jesus sites.

Therein is a list of websites related to the Jesus Myth, descriptions and comments about each site, and a 1 - 10 ranking. If you want to know who is saying what about the Jesus Myth on the internet -- pro and con -- this is the place to start.

Check it out. If you have any suggestions about what we should add, email Bede or myself. Or post a Comment here. And, if you find yourself disagreeing with the comments or the ranking, let us know.

And do not forget to visit Bede's Journal, Bede's own blog.
Was Amenhotep II the Biblical Pharoah of the Exodus?
The dream of Thutmosis IV preserved on a stone slab strengthens the case.

Dr. David Livingston makes a rather interesting argument that Amenhotep II was the Pharoah of Egypt referenced by the Biblical accounts of the Exodus as the result of the inscription on a stone slab relating the dream of Thutmosis IV his son. In his on-line article "Between the Paws of the Sphinx", Dr. Livingston tells how the stone slab reports that "Thutmosis had been strenuously driving his chariot over the desert. After awhile, he lay down in the shadow of the Sphinx' head, all that was visible above the sand. While sleeping, the Sphinx came to him in a dream and assured the future Pharaoh that if he cleared the sands away, the Sphinx would, in turn, make Thutmosis the next ruler. Thutmosis did so and, sure enough, he became next Pharaoh!"

The existence of the story of this dream on the stone slab reveals a couple of interesting thing…
Evolution and Darwinism
The three meanings of evolution.

Awhile ago, I blogged on a short article that I had received from Reasons to Believe, the organization of Dr. Hugh Ross where it was pointed out that yet another study had shown that “junk DNA,” i.e., DNA which for years some scientist and many skeptics believed had no purpose and which was regularly pointed to as evidence for evolution, must have more of a purpose than biologists originally thought. The study was another in a series of recent studies that have been slowly pointing out that even though we don’t always understand the purpose of portions of the DNA, it seems to serve some purpose.

As is not uncommon, an “anonymous” poster (*sigh*) apparently did not dispute the study and its profound implications. Rather, the poster tried to trap me into saying that if God created all things, he must have also created things which we consider harmful, such as the HIV virus. His exact words were: “Which [sic] intelligent designer sh…
Two Reviews of Leading Scholarly Treatments of the Resurrection Narratives

I have been slaving away at work and spending most of my off time working on my article on the Acts of the Apostles. Needed to come up for air and had recently completed a book on the resurrection by Norman Perrin. So I'm going to post two book reviews I wrote and added to Amazon: one by Reginald H. Fuller and the other by Norman Perrin. Both are seminal works, cited by all sides to the debate--from liberal scholars such as Marcos Borg and Burton Mack to conservative defenders of the historicity of the resurrection, William L. Craig (The Son Rises), Stephen T. Davis (Risen Indeed), and Gary Habermas (In Defense of Miracles).

Neither Fuller or Perrin are conservative. They are probably best described as moderately liberal scholars. Perrin perhaps more liberal than Fuller (at least in their treatment of the resurrection narratives). They are by no means, however, out of the mainstream of their fields.…
Is Kerry being disingenuous in citing his faith?
The Philadelphia Inquirer has an article that thinks so.

From America Votes | Kerry invokes God to appeal to the faithful, by Dick Polman, Inquirer Staff Writer


As Kerry spokesman Mike McCurry said the other day, "Most Americans are deeply religious people." Indeed, the latest polls indicate that roughly 70 percent of Americans want their president to be a person of strong religious beliefs. And that fact merely reminds Democrats about the 2000 race, when George W. Bush clobbered Al Gore by a double-digit margin among those voters - 42 percent of the electorate - who attend religious services at least once a week. In that sense, Democrats were foiled by what some call "the God gap."

So they want to close that gap - by wooing the large pool of moderate Christians who see religiosity as a fine presidential trait, who view their faith as socially compassionate, yet who reject the conservative belief that church doctrine s…