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Showing posts from February, 2006

Advancing Human Rights

This week's Newsweek Magazine has an article called Reality Check for 'Roe' which discusses the recent acknowledgement by some pro-abortionists that many in the United States, including women who are procuring abortions, are experiencing moral qualms about the procedure. Moreover, they are coming to understand that as the argument has increasingly become one of morality, they have been losing ground politically. Quoting Frances Kissling, head of Catholics for a Free Choice:"There is a deep-seated fear that if you address the moral issues (of abortion), you're going to lose," says Kissling. "But we're losing anyway. It's only by addressing the moral issues that we'll get some relief on the political questions."The article does offer some "hope" for defenders of abortion in the fact there is probably still a 5-4 majority on the Supreme Court to defend Roe v. Wade. But this political and legal math misses the underlying point that…

The Da Vinci Code : Curse or Blessing?

Sales of The Da Vinci Code have hit an astonishing 36 million copies worldwide. Sony Pictures is set to release a Ron Howard film starring Tom Hanks as Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon this May.

Some Christians dismiss the book as a work of fiction and not worthy of a serious response. I think that is a mistake. Stories are influential and so are movies. A Barna study revealed that nearly one-third of adults (29%) contend that movies have had a substantial impact on the development of their personal morals, values and religious beliefs. Don't under estimate the power of narrative, fictional or not.

Here is a better idea.

Look for ways to take advantage of this publicity. The Christian faith is a faith rooted in historical truth. History is not something Christians need to shy away from. Quite the opposite. We should want to talk about it. The Da Vinci Code phenomenon, it seems to me, is a gift wrapped opportunity to do that.

In the words of George Barna,

"Perhaps a more thoughtf…

The DaVinci Code Cometh

Sony Pictures is set to release its cinematic adaptation of The DaVinci Code. The book is complete fiction, but has managed to be taken as true, or true enough, by many whose opinions of Christianity have been adversely affected by it. Errors in the book have been discussed on this site here and here.

It is hard to imagine how the movie could be any less anti-Catholic and anti-Christian than the book. In what may be an attempt to insulate itself from a reaction to the anti-Christian elements of the movie, Sony Pictures has sponsored a website -- The DaVinci Dialogue -- where religious scholars can comment on the story and the history of Christianity and Catholicism. Some well-known scholars are participating, including Darrell L. Bock, Tony Campolo, Chuck Colson, Hugh Hewitt, Josh McDowell, Lee Strobel, and Ben Witherington. So far the scholars seem unimpressed. For example, Catholic scholar Thomas P. Rausch states:

Dan Brown’s book The Da Vinci Code is clearly anti-Catholic. It…

DNA as information -- a lot of information

paul del signore at Sketches in Sacred Vapor had a very intriguing post entitled "Biology in the Information Age" published on February 26, 2006 (no direct link available). In the post, he sets forth an argument by Perry Marshall where he asserts that he can prove that God exists. The argument is as follows:

Perry Marshall has done some good work in this area discussing this important question. His central thesis is as follows:

1) DNA is not merely a molecule with a pattern; it is a code, a language, and an information storage mechanism.

2) All codes are created by a conscious mind; there is no natural process known to science that creates coded information.

3) Therefore DNA was designed by a mind.
Now, I am not a fan of saying that someone can prove anything because proof is a function of the willingness of the listener to accept the evidence. However, I am very happy to examine an argument to see if it is sound and persuasive to the hypothetical objective observer. What I find …

Is Richard Carrier Wrong About The Translation of Paliggenesia in Philo?

In a series of posts, I have began questioning Mr. Carrier's argument that Paul believed in a two-body resurrection doctrine that left the original dead body rotting in the grave. This conveniently plays into Mr. Carrier's avowed hostility to Christianity, but it has had no scholarly support. Scholars recognize that resurrection means the raising of the dead body back to life (albiet transformed and improved).

So, Mr. Carrier himself has tried to make the case, though within the first four pages of his article he distorts the views of various Jewish sects (Herodians, Scribes, Qumran & Essenes, and Sadducees) and the The Assumption of Moses to make his case. As I turned my attention to Mr. Carrier's discussion of the views of Philo, who Mr. Carrier claims held "just such a view" as his proposed two-body resurrection doctrine, I was not surprised to see the flawed analysis continue.

I will turn to the core of his argument in another post, but for now I want…

WebMD, fetuses and babies.

The Best of the Web from the Wall Street Journal noted a very interesting bit of wording relating to how WebMD treats pre-natal infants. According to the Best of the Web from February 15, WebMD.com has . . .

A page called "Your Pregnancy Week by Week: Weeks 9-12" [which] is chock full of antichoice propaganda. "By the end of the third month," it outrageously claims, "your baby is fully formed. Your baby has arms, hands, fingers, feet and toes and can open and close its fists and mouth."

They mean the third month of pregnancy, not the third month after the kid is born. That's right, what they're talking about isn't a baby at all but a fetus. In case the antichoice fanatics have you flummoxed, the following definitions are helpful:

fetus: a clump of tissue.
baby: one of those little--sorry, vertically challenged--persons that the village raises while his or her mother pursues a fulfilling career.
But the WebMD folks are either hopelessly confused or…

New Radio Appearance by Layman

I appeared again on Just A Woman Radio over the weekend to discuss upcoming Supreme Court cases and religious liberty. The audio is available at Justawoman.com.

This morning, one of my predictions was proven correct. I predicted that the Supreme Court would soon hear a case regarding the constitutionality of the federal ban on partial-birth abortions (honest, check the tape!). That prediction was proven correct this morning as the Supreme Court announced it would indeed hear a case in which a federal appellate court struck down the ban as unconstitutional. Okay, it was not that much of a stretch, but I am new to this.

Argument will likely occur in October.

The limits of rationality when encountering the living God

In my recent blog about faith, I took a position that a person need not be able to answer every objection to Christianity in order to be rational in believing in God. I went so far as to say that a person is justified in believing in God without having answers to tough objections he himself had in mind that he felt were unanswerable prior to accepting God. In doing so, and in thinking about a long comment made by one reader, I came to a realization about how some people perceive the relationship between rationality and truth that I wanted to share.

It appears that some people equate rationality with truth. In other words, they hold the position that if their position is rational then it must be true. This conflates rationality to truth -- a equation that isn't appropriate.

Rationality has many meanings, but the one that is most often associated with rationality in the context of religious discussion is "logical". In other words, each side is vying for the high-ground of h…

Vox Weekly, Edition I -- Why is Jesus' death a Sacrifice?

CADRE Comments has been honored to volunteer to host the very first Vox Weekly set up by Razorskiss at Vox Apologia. Here's what Razorskiss has to say about the event:

Vox Apologia, Edition I, will be posted March 6th, hosted by CADRE Comments. The topic is Why is Jesus' Death a Sacrifice? submitted by DarkSyde, who blogs on science and politics at Daily Kos and at the atheist and skeptic blog Unscrewing the Inscrutable.
As I understand it, this is a chance for apologists to answer questions submitted by skeptics and link them all to a single place. What you do is write your answer to the question and then submit a link to your site and the URL of your blog through voxapologia by March 5, 2006 at Midnight MST. I will do my best to get the material posted March 6 (don't expect much before 3:00 MST). Submissions should be made through the link for submissions on the left sidebar at Vox Apologia.

I encourage all of you Internet apologetics bloggers to take a crack at this questi…

The Desposynoi -- the brothers and cousins of Jesus?

The biggest downside of blogs is that there are so many good ones that I don't have the chance to visit my favorites as regularly as I would like. For example, it had been awhile since I visited Disert Paths, the very fine blog by CADRE friend Darrell Pursiful, adjunct professor of New Testament studies. When I finally stopped by, I found a post entitled The Nazoreans IV: The Desposynoi which contained information with which I was unacquainted.

This post is the fourth in a series about the Nazoreans (hence, the "IV" in the title) which examines "the contours of the early Jesus movement. In particular, . . . the faith and practice of Jesus' earliest Jewish followers and those who came after them." The first post, entitled "Terminology", Darrell examines the origin of the terms ebionite and nazorean for purposes of defining the people being discussed. In Part II, "Pre-Christian Origins", Darrell examines how the Jesus movement was "si…

New Additions to the Cadre Site

We have added four new articles to the Cadre's The Resurrection of Jesus page: He is Risen Indeed, by Ben Witherington; A Synopsis of N.T. Wright's The Resurrection of the Son of God, from Opensourcetheology.org; Notes on Jesus' Resurrection: Paul's Understanding of of Jesus' Resurrection, by N.T. Wright; and Resurrection, Body, Judgment, by Randall Watters.

Witherington's article is a good general defense of the resurrection. The Synopsis is perfect for the person who is interested in N.T. Wright's indispensible The Resurrection of the Son of God but wanted to wait for the Cliff Notes version. The third article consists of Wright's outline notes for a lecture he gave about Paul's understanding of the resurrection. The last piece is a response to Jehovah Witnesses' understanding of Jesus' resurrection that effectively critiques the view that Paul believed that Jesus' resurrection was solely a "spiritual" one.

The "Begging The Question Fallacy" Fallacy

Ever run into the begging the question fallacy fallacy?

That is not a typo. The word fallacy is meant to be repeated. What do I mean?

Begging the question simply means that someone is using circular logic. They are using the conclusion of an argument to defend the premise of the argument.

Person A claims, pollution is causing the ice caps to melt.
Person B asks, how do you know?
Person A replies, because the ice caps are shrinking.

Person A used the conclusion to defend his claim. Perhaps some kind of planetary climate cycles are causing global warming rather than pollution. Person A begged the question. Circular reasoning is clearly a bad thing.

However, there are times when circular reasoning is unavoidable.

Example:

Person A claims: Logic makes rational sense.
Person B asks, how do you really know that?
Person A replies, because it is irrational not to think logic makes sense.

Person A's argument is circular. It begs the question, does it not? Does it invalidate person A's argument,…

Romans 10:11 and general principles regarding quotations of the Old Testament in the New

Occasionally, someone will claim that the Bible inaccurately quotes the Old Testament or quotes from verses that are nowhere found in the Old testament. For example, Romans 10:11 says: "For the Scripture says, 'Whoever believes in him will not be disappointed." (NASB version) Most skeptics will happily note that the phrase referenced by Paul (which is put in quotation marks in many Bibles) does not exist in Old Testament. So, where does this phrase come from?

My Study Bible references Isaiah 28:16 as the source of the phrase Paul is referencing. Isaiah 28:16 reads (NASB):

Therefore thus says the Lord GOD,
"Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone,
A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed.
He who believes in it will not be disturbed."
Now, looking at this as a skeptic might, I don't think it immediately obvious how "will not be disturbed" is the equivalent of "will not be disappointed." According to the Blue Letter …

Soeteriological Drama: My Version of Free Will Defense

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Mother T.


The Free Will Defense is offered by Christian apologists as an answer to any sort of atheist argument such as the problem of pain or the problem of evil. The argument runs something like: God values free will because "he" ("she"?) doesn't want robots. The problelm with this approach is that it often stops short in analysis as to why free will would be a higher value than anything else. This leaves the atheist in a position of arguing any number of pains and evil deeds and then charging that God had to know these things would happen, thus God must be cruel for creating anyting at all knowing the total absolute pain (which usually includes hell in most atheist arguments) would result from creation.


The apologetists answers usually fail to satisfy the atheist, because in their minds noting can outweight the actual inflicting of pain. Sometimes atheists evoke omnipotence and play it off against the value of free will, making the assumption that an "all…

Is Richard Carrier Wrong about the Qumran Community?

In another of his attempts to expand the scope of Jewish diversity in the book The Empty Tomb, Mr. Carrier separates the Qumran community from the Essenes based on the justification of a brief footnote. In the text, Mr. Carrier states, “It also appears that the Qumran Sect was another variety of Judaism all its own, rejecting every other, and adopting a spiritual dualism much akin to the Persian belief in a war between forces of light and darkness.” Page 109. In the footnote, Mr. Carrier quotes N.T. Wright: “Wright (pp. 185-189), like many scholars, assumes without sufficient argument that the Qumran community represented a normative variety of Essenism. I am skeptical.” Page 201, n. 25.

It is unclear why Mr. Carrier picks out N.T. Wright to criticize for his reference to the Essenes. Wright does not purport to solve the issue, but explicitly states that he is making an assumption based on broad scholarly opinion (“I assume, with most scholars, that the scrolls found at Qumran…

How can a repentant sinner come to faith without rebutting every argument against the existence of God?

This week's God or Not Carnival is on the topic of faith. While I haven't seen the blog entries by our skeptical friends, I am relatively certain that at least a couple of their blogs will make the claim that Biblical faith is akin to "blind faith." In other words, looking at the definition of faith in the dictionary and seeing several viable options for defining Biblical faith in a way that it is consistent with reason, the typical skeptic will seize the following definition as the one that stands for Biblical faith: "Faith -- Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence."

Of course, such a view of faith is not what Biblical faith is all about. At the same time, I cannot say that their confusion is that difficult to understand since Biblical faith is a bit amorphous. So, giving the benefit of the doubt that our skeptical friends are not intentionally misrpresenting Biblical faith to set up a straw man to knock down, for the benefit of ou…

Breaking News: Jesus Fraud Case Dismissed

From Did Jesus exist? Case dismissed:

An Italian judge has dismissed an atheist's petition that a small-town priest should stand trial for asserting that Jesus Christ existed, both sides said on Friday.

* * *

Luigi Cascioli, a 72-year-old retired agronomist, had accused the Rev. Enrico Righi of violating two laws with the assertion, which he called a deceptive fable propagated by the Roman Catholic Church.

"The Rev. Righi is very satisfied and moved," Righi's attorney, Severo Bruno, said. "He is an old, small-town parish priest who never would have thought he'd be in the spotlight for something like this."

Cascioli, a former schoolmate of Righi's, said he had not expected the case to succeed in overwhelmingly Roman Catholic Italy.

"This is not surprising but it doesn't mean it all ends here," he said, adding that he's considering taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

"This is an important case and it deserves to go a…

Atheist Lawsuit Claiming Jesus Did Not Exist Thrown Out of Italian Court

BK has previously posted about the frivolous lawsuit in Italy brought by an atheist against a priest. The atheist claimed that the priest was deceiving the Italian people by claiming Jesus existed when in fact Jesus is a fictional character based on John of Gamala. As it turns out, it appears that John of Galama is a fictional character of relatively recent vintage. In any event, this sounds absurd but it is not unlike some of the rants I have heard from skeptics about the Jesus Myth and nefarious Christian deceptions. Thankfully, according to ABC News, the Italian Court has tossed out the atheist's lawsuit as frivilous and "recommended magistrates investigate him for slandering priest Enrico Righi."

The article ends on a snarky note with the atheist claiming that in order to convict him for slander they would have to prove Jesus existed. Unless Italian law is very different than our own, however, that is not necessarily true. If the atheist accused the priest of kn…

Were the apostles too old to author the Gospels?

Last time I blogged, I wrote about an incredibly stupid contest by a group antithetically named "the Rational Response Squad." In an effort to flesh out their thinking, I started pushing them (under the name "beowulf's") on the idea that the Gospels were not written by contemporaries of Christ. In the course of the comments, I pushed one of the members of the Irrational Response Squad on the dates for the Gospels, and here is what he said:

I personally believe evidence points to about the year 70. But that 10 years is pointless considering you think the lifespan of someone back then was at least 60 years, which would be like someone living to 145 today.

Lifespan back then was about 32 years old. The writers of the new testament were not contemporaries of Jesus.
This is an example of the logical fallacy of "hasty generalization." Consider this: the average-size family in the United States has 1.89 children. Does that mean that no families in the United…

Win A House Free!

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Here is a chance for an atheist to win a free house.


Dramatic representation, not my actual house


This offer is true and valid. All you have to do is prove Jesus never existed and I will deed my house to you.

By "prove" I mean furnish a verifiable quotation from a First Century source that says Jesus didn't really exist as a man in history.

Free house, peer and beam foundation, real wood floors, no foundation problems at all. (You have one month to produce the results).

Moreover, here are more prizes in exchange for proving other things:

Prove the miracles at Lourdes are a fake, win my car.
Prove JFK was not assasinated, win my dog.
Prove bigfoot doesn't exist, win a free year of posting unmolested by Metacrock
Prove the earth is falt win $10,000 dollars, personally given by me (available only in "blue country" currency).

I have had experinces with the cheap ploy of offering money to prove things before. The alledged amazing Randy offers some large sum of money for p…

You take the high road, and I'll take the low Road, and I'll win the argument before ye...

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Me and critical thinking will never meet again...
on the Bonnie, Bonnie Road to the sec web.




True Christians at Prayer



There is a ploy practiced by many atheist of the type who inhabit places such as the Secular Web and Infidel guy. It's been so institutionalized it's almost a mortar. In fact I've seen this kind of things so many times now, when the Christian apologists get together they can stamp it out, but no soon will they rid the net of one institutionalized atheist fallacy, than another will rear its ugly head.

The fallacy to which I reefer here is the "No true Scotsman," fallacy (NSF). I dot' know the etymology exactly, but the general idea is that in the heat of argument one is likely to say something like "no true American would ever (do whatever)" The way it's used is this:

Atheist claims something like "Hitler was a Christian." The Christian makes the mistake of saying "O but he wasn't a true Christian because bah, so th…

Listen to Layman on the Radio

My good friend Lores, of Justawoman.org, made her radio debut on a local radio station here in Los Angeles. She did a great job and I think she has a promising career ahead of her in talk radio.

I was honored to be her first guest. Lores has posted the entire segment in which I appeared, as well as some others, at her blog. The subject was Justice Alito and the Supreme Court. Download the file and listen for yourself by clicking here.

Is Richard Carrier Wrong about the Scribes?

In his attempt to inflate his case for Jewish religious diversity in The Empty Tomb – which includes misstating the beliefs of the Saduccees and Herodians, as well as misconstruing Clement’s reference to the Assumption of Moses – Richard Carrier also misstates the nature of the Scribes. According to Mr. Carrier, “the Scribes often mentioned in the Gospels were also a distinct sect, closely allied with the Pharisees but diverging from them in certain ritual observances and practices.” The Empty Tomb, page 108. Is it true that the Scribes were a distinct religious sect and that they only differed from the Pharisees on some items?

Mr. Carrier’s support for this argument is an endnote referencing, among other cites, Mark 7:3-4:

For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the traditions of the elders; and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves; and there are many other things which they …