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Showing posts from February, 2005
Is There a Doctor in the Text? -- Medical Terminology and the Gospel of Luke

Elsewhere I questioned why there was so much skepticism in some scholarly circles about the authorship of Acts by a companion of Paul. I focused on the “we passages” as an indication that the author participated in some of the events narrated and noted the failure of alternative explanations to account for them. Though I have not discussed it here, I also believe that the external evidence of Marcion, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, the Papyrus Bodmer, Clement of Alexandria, the Muratorian Fragment, and the Anti-Marcionite Prologue of Luke, add considerable weight to such authorship.

Another line of argument for Lukan authorship developed in the late 19th century. In 1882, W.K. Hobart published The Medical Language of St. Luke, in which he provided extensive linguistic evidence that the vocabulary of Luke was paralleled by the language of Greek medical writings. This seemed strong evidence of authors…
Presupposition versus Precommitment and the Hypocritical Demonization of Creationism

Last night I was listening to Air America radio (for those of you outside the United States, Air America is the liberal radio network), and I was struck by a call from Dave of New Mexico (I am sure it was Dave Thomas, President of the propagandist New Mexicans for Science and Reason) wherein he re-iterated his tired claim that Intelligent Design is creationism in disguise. Of course the host, being a typical secular humanist host on that station, couldn't agree fast enough. There was, of course, no counter-balancing opinion to stand up for ID as a science, and so the unlearned assertions went unchallenged.

Of course, I have heard it before: the nearly-unanimous belief among non-Christians that the theory of Intelligent Design (ID) is creationism in disguise. This shows a misunderstanding of ID.

Creationism approaches science with a pre-commitment to a literal understanding of the creation accounts …
The Parable of The Foolish Ichthyologist

I came across an interesting analogy about science and knowledge given by Sir Arthur Eddington, taken from The Philosophy of Physical Science, Ann Arbor Paperbacks, The University of Michigan Press, 1958, p 16.


"Let us suppose that an ichthyologist (the branch of zoology that deals with the study of fishes) is exploring the life of the ocean. He casts a net into the water and brings up a fishy assortment. Surveying his catch, he proceeds in the usual manner of a scientist to systematise what it reveals. He arrives at two generalisations: (1) No sea-creature is less than two inches long.(2) All sea-creatures have gills. These are both true of his catch, and he assumes tentatively that they will remain true however often he repeats it.

In applying this analogy, the catch stands for the body of knowledge which constitutes physical science, and the net for the sensory and intellectual equipment which we use in obtaining it. The casting of the net…
The Pope Lashes Out

While I know that many people who read this blog (including several in the CADRE) disagree with my assessment on the issue of homosexuality, I do think it important to note that Pope John Paul II has written a new book which condemns homosexuality and abortion. Here is the CNN Report on the book:

Homosexual marriages are part of "a new ideology of evil" that is insidiously threatening society, Pope John Paul says in his newly published book.

In "Memory and Identity," the Pope also calls abortion a "legal extermination" comparable to attempts to wipe out Jews and other groups in the 20th century.

* * *

The 84-year-old Pontiff's book, a highly philosophical and intricate work on the nature of good and evil, is based on conversations with philosopher friends in 1993 and later with some of his aides.

In one section about the role of lawmakers, the Pope takes another swipe at gay marriages when he refers to "pressures" on the Europ…
They Looked the Other Way

I wonder if this has any impact on the evolutionary support for the evolution of man?

A flamboyant anthropology professor, whose work had been cited as evidence Neanderthal man once lived in Northern Europe, has resigned after a German university panel ruled he fabricated data and plagiarized the works of his colleagues.

Reiner Protsch von Zieten, a Frankfurt university panel ruled, lied about the age of human skulls, dating them tens of thousands of years old, even though they were much younger, reports Deutsche Welle.

"The commission finds that Prof. Protsch has forged and manipulated scientific facts over the past 30 years," the university said of the widely recognized expert in carbon data in a prepared statement.

* * *

Among their findings was an age of only 3,300 years for the female "Bischof-Speyer" skeleton, found with unusually good teeth in Northern Germany, that Protsch dated to 21,300 years.

Another dating error was identified for…
Did Paul Become a More Careful Letter Writer?

I have been reading an excellent book by E. Randolph Richards, Paul and First-Century Letter Writing. The author makes a compelling opening case about the importance of learning about the process of ancient letter writing is to understanding the majority of books in the New Testament. As intended, Richards' book goes a long way towards remedying that ignorance. He describes the materials involved in drafting letters, the procedure of letter writing, the time involved, the use of secretaries, the detection of interpolations, the use of letter carriers, and the distances and means of travel of those carriers. Paul and First Century Letter Writing draws on a vast amount of first-century writings, including many non-Christian letters from the ancient Mediterranean.

One of the phenomenon’s Richards notes is the pattern of Paul’s use of letter carriers. Ancient letter writers often had options in who carried their letters to the destina…
New Archeological Findings Contradict the "Minimialists"

From the Jerusalem Post:

Just-published evidence from a US-directed archeological dig in Jordan further authenticates the Bible's descriptions of the existence of the ancient nation of Edom during the eras of King David and his son, King Solomon.....

The new study, headed by archeology Prof. Thomas Levy of University of California, San Diego, contradicts much contemporary scholarship claiming – on the basis of no physical evidence – that no Edomite state existed before the 8th Century BCE. Until the new discovery, many scholars said the Bible's numerous references to ancient Israel's interactions with Edom could not be valid.
(Via the blog, Biblical Theology).

This discovery does not necessarily confirm David or Solomon's interaction with Edom, but it removes one of the basis for doubting it. Some Scholars used to say such interaction was impossible because there was no Edom at that time. Now it appears th…
Galatians 1:4 -- How great is the harm from sin?

I may be beating this to death, but I think it is important. Galatians 1: 3-5 reads:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen.
How great is the harm from sin? As part of an earlier series (which I intend to wrap up on Thursday, God willing), I wrote short essays on "What is Sin?" and "Against Whom Do We Sin?" Understanding these ideas are absolutely essential from an apologetics point of view because one of the biggest problems with our message to society is that people don't understand that they have sinned. Sin in equated in their minds with committing evil that can be punished under the law. To paraphrase Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason, somewhere we have gotten the idea that all we need to do to get into heaven is be co…
Is the Moon's Size and Position Signs of a Designer?

I am presently reading The Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel. It provides a solid overview of six areas where some scientists claim that there is existing and growing evidence of design. These areas identify evidence for design in cosmology, physics, astronomy, biochemistry, biological information and consciousness. In the chapter on astronomy, there is a section sub-titled "Our Life Supporting Moon" which points to the possible uniqueness of planet earth as a life supporting planet results from the size and distance of our moon.

In this subpart, Guillermo Gonzales, Ph.D., makes a very interesting series of observations:
The moon stabilizes the tilt of the earth's axis which, in turn, stabilizes our climate.The moon helps to increase our tides which, in turn, flush nutrients from the continents to the oceans which keeps them more nutrient rich than they otherwise would be.Lunar tides also help keep large-scale ocean …
Movie Review: Constantine

I saw Constantine last night. I enjoyed it, but caution Christians that it’s not a “Christian movie,” as there is a lot of violence (most of it demonic CGI), hard drinking, and some profanity.

Constantine is a damned good paranormal troubleshooter. “Damned” because he committed suicide as a teenager and knows the hell that awaits him – having spent two minutes there (which “is a lifetime” in hell) while the doctors revived him. Constantine has been told that because suicide is unforgivable, he is doomed to return. “Good” because he actually has sent many, many of Satan’s minions back to hell. By doing so much good, Constantine hopes that God will have no choice but to let him into heaven. Compounding his problems is that he is dying of lung cancer and has only months to live. He can literally smell the sulpher.

The tools of his trade are holy water, crucifixes, various holy relics, and a healthy dose of Latin. He performs exorcisms, smites “half-b…
A Movie/DVD Review: The Mission

I just penned a review for Amazon of The Mission (with Robert DeNiro, Jeremy Irons, Liam Neeson, and Aidan Quinn), but considering its subject matter I thought I'd also post it here:

There is a historical and sorrowful story about how colonial imperialism and a church more concerned with its political power than its charge to protect its new native converts, lead to the destruction of a South American Indian tribe. This movie captures that story powerfully through an excellent mixture of dramatization and historical faithfulness.

It is to the credit of the film that it avoids coming off as moralistic, judgmental, or naively black and white. This is not to say that this is not a clash of good and evil, it is. Slavery is evil. The church's shift from offering true sanctuary to the hunted natives to abandoning those sanctuaries is evil. The political struggle between Spain and Portugal that creates the opening for the slavers to resume their trade is…
Long-necks from Short-necks?

As I was checking out some links in an e-mail update I received from the ABR, I came across an article entitled "Should Evolution be Immune from Critical Analysis?" by David Buckna on a website entitled Revolution Against Evolution. In this article, I found the following statement that I found rather interesting:

One popular biology textbook used in public schools is "Inquiry Into Life" by Sylvia Mader, published by McGraw-Hill Ryerson. On page 529 (eighth edition) are diagrams of giraffes which compare Lamarck's theory and Darwin's theory. According to Darwin, "Early giraffes probably had necks of various lengths. Natural selection due to competition led to survival of the longer-necked giraffes and their offspring. Eventually, only long-necked giraffes survived the competition."

Regarding giraffes, shouldn't students be taught to distinguish between fact and speculation? No fossil evidence has ever been unearthed sh…
Giving a Whole New Meaning to the Phrase "Spiritual Warfare"

Keanu Reeves' new movie, Constantine, has him playing an exorcist trying to prove himself worthy of heaven. Seems he spent a little time in hell -- Dante's version -- and is not keen on the prospect of returning. I hope to see it this weekend, but while reading this review found the description of Keanu's spiritual arsenal particularly innovative:

"After all, theological orthodoxy plays second fiddle to really cool brass knuckles with engraved crosses and a Gatling gun made from a crucifix that is used to send Satan's minions back to the fiery pits of hell. The Latin inscriptions on the gun read: a cruce salus, "from the cross comes salvation"; decus it tutamen, "an adornment and a means of salvation"; and dei gratia, "by the grace of God.""

I'm not endorsing the film's theological content -- sure to be right up there with Fallen and End of Days --, but…
More Evidence for Earth being a Privileged Planet

"Now, pull all of this together -- the inner region of the galaxy is much more dangerous from radiation and other threats; the outer part of the galaxy isn't going to be able to form Earth-like planets because the heavy elemetns are not abundant enough; and I haven't even mentioned how the thin disk of our galaxy helps our sun stay in its desirable circular orbit. A very eccentric orbit could cause it to cross spiral arms and visit the dangerous inner regions of the galaxy, but being circular it remains in the safe zone.

"All of this," he said, his voice sounding a bit triumphant, "works together to create a narrow safe zone where life-sustaining planets are possible."The Case for a Creator, pp. 169-170, quoting Guillermo Gonzalez, Ph.D., Iowa State University.

The burdgeoning science of Intelligent Design has spread into many fields. One of these fields is astronomy where more and more scientists are begi…
Tactics: "No True Scotsman Fallacy" fallacy

Time to talk some X's and O's. Ever run into this kind of argument?

Skeptic: "I reject Christianity because of the evil things Christians have done in the name of God."

If you respond with something to the effect, "those were not true Christians who did that" ... be prepared to be accused of committing a logical fallacy. The ostensible fallacy is called the "No True Scotsman Fallacy" (NTS). I have never personally had this term used on me ... but I have faced variations of the underlying argument. As far as I know, this is a contrived fallacy that does not exist in any logic textbooks ... it just floats around on the web. It gets its name from this formulation of the purported fallacy.

Claim:
"No Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge".

Countered with:
"My friend Angus is a Scotsman and likes sugar with his porridge".

The following rejoinder to this exception is:
"Ah yes, but …
My New Amazon Lists

In a previous post I provided a list of all the "Listmania Lists" I had done at Amazon.com. I had gotten a lot of out such lists by others, so I started doing them myself. I add new lists from time to time and revise existing ones. The last time I posted the lists I had done there were 18. I have since added another 6:

19. Did Jesus Exist? Resources for Refuting the Jesus Myth.

20. A List of Alternative History/Fantasy.

21. Studying the "Historical" Jesus.

22. Studying the Apostle Paul's Letters.

23. The Best Space Battles: Science Fiction Space Opera.

24. Studying the Miracles of Jesus.

Or you can access my Amazon bio and full list of lists (as well as all my book reviews) here.

As you can see, some of the lists are not really related to the study of early Christianity or apologetics. I plead guilty to having other interersts.

If you like what you read, don't forget to vote so.
The Extent of Punishment and Belief, Part V: Spiritual Bankruptcy

Picking up where we left off in Part III: Sin, Debt and the Hopeless Situation, I hope that I have made a case for the idea that too often we misidentify sin with criminality. That is not the case. Sin merely means departing from the path that recognizes God as the source of all good and righteousness. In fact, if you do a Bible search for the word "righteous" you will find that "righteousness" is only applied to people who are following God. As stated by the notes in my NIV study Bible with respect to the use of the word "righteous" in Psalm 1:5:

righteous -- One of several terms in the OT for God’s people; it presents them as those who honor God and order their lives in all things according to his will. In every human relationship they fulfill the obligations that the relationship entails, remembering that power and authority (or whatever sort: domestic, social, political, economic, religio…
Does Exodus 21 Teach That Unborn Children have Less Value Than Born Children?

On Saturday night, I watched a highly spirited debate between Scott Klusendorf, formerly of Stand to Reason, and Peggy Loonan, President of Life and Liberty for Women, on Faith Under Fire on the subject "Is God Pro-Choice?" I have heard Mr. Klusendorf debate about abortion on many occasions, and I believe that he is one of the best pro-life advocates in the country. Thus, I was rather interested in how Peggy Loonan would respond to his arguments.

Ms. Loonan's response was to claim that one of the myriad of laws found in Exodus 21 makes the point that God considers life in the womb to be less valuable than life out of the womb. Thus, she argued, God has made a clear distinction between human beings who have been born and those that have not. I looked up the verse that she discussed, and recognized it as an old stand-by of pro-choice Christians. Here is what an article entitled "The Case For …
Papias Mentions Mark and Matthew, but What about Luke and John?

When friends ask (as only a circle of apologists would) what ancient document would I like to see found in a new archeological discovery, I always say Papias’ Exposition on the Oracles of the Lord. Papias was a kind of human vacuum cleaner for oral traditions about Jesus. He pestered everyone he ran across about what they had learned from the disciples of Jesus, and he wrote down those traditions in the five volumes of his Exposition. Writing early in the second century, and with a ministry stretching back deep into the first, those five volumes must have been full of valuable traditions about the historical Jesus and the early Christian movement.

Unfortunately, those five volumes are lost to us. Only a few "fragments" have been left. But not even these fragments survive in their own manuscripts. Rather, they survive in the writings of Eusebius -- the prolific Bishop historian of the fourth century. Eusebi…
I Never Thought I'd Live to See It -- A Television Show that Discusses Issues of Apologetics

As discussions of faith take center stage across America, PAX TV presents a talk/debate show beginning this fall that accelerates the conversation to a whole new level.

"Faith Under Fire," the bold and edgy hour-long series is a forum for all points of view, is a provocative program that takes an unflinching look at the most controversial issues involving religion and spiritual beliefs.

Hosted by former Chicago Tribune legal expert and renowned author Lee Strobel, “Faith Under Fire” puts the topic of faith to the test, in a fast-paced and entertaining face-off format. Whether it’s a discussion involving Islam, atheism, Buddhism, Christianity or humanism, "Faith Under Fire" draws guests from the worlds of current events, pop culture, academia and the arts and sciences. While the public profile of guests might vary, each will be selected for their fascinating insights an…
The Extent of Punishment and Belief, Part IV: The Optimal Life

At the end of Part III, we were left with a rather bleak view of our ultimate destination. We had arrived at the conclusion that we are all sinners because we had all fallen short of the commandments that God has given us. As such, we found ourselves in a situation where we owed a debt to God that we had no capital to pay and we were looking at the probability that we were about to spend eternity trapped in a celestial debtors’ prison forever owing a debt that we could not repay.

Before continuing, an e-mailer told me that he didn’t think I had explained very well why it was that we could not pay for our sins. Let me try to be clearer. First, let’s start with the assumption that God is good. The Bible teaches that He is good (e.g. Psalm 34:8) and He does not take pleasure in evil. (Psalm 5:4) Thus, until we have reason to believe otherwise, let’s start with the belief that the Bible accurately describes Him as good. Start…
Judge OKs Wrongful Death Suit Over Test-Tube Embryo

This is a fascinating story from the Boston Globe:

All Alison Miller and Todd Parrish wanted was to become parents. But when a fertility clinic did not preserve a healthy embryo they had hoped would one day become their child, they sued for wrongful death.

A judge refused to dismiss their case, ruling in effect that a test-tube embryo is a human being and that the suit can go forward.

Though most legal specialists believe the ruling will be overturned, some in the fertility business worry it could have a chilling effect, threatening everything from in vitro fertilization to abortion rights and embryonic stem cell research.

"If the decision stands, it could essentially end in vitro fertilization," said Dr. Robert Schenken, president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Few doctors would risk offering the procedure if any accident that harmed the embryo could result in a wrongful death lawsuit, said Schenken, ch…