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Showing posts from April, 2006

A Flock of Dodos -- a fair assessment?

A new movie on the debate between evolutionism and intelligent design has recently been released in limited circulation entitled A Flock of Dodos. The website for the movie, which features a preview of the film, shows the film to be a light-hearted look at this issue that has become a key part of the culture wars.

Now, I personally don't mind seeing films that take a light-hearted view of things I view seriously. I personally loved the movie Monty Python's Life of Brian even though the movie was an obviously irreverent, thinly-disguised slap at Christian belief. Thus, the fact that the movie takes a lighter view of the discussion is actually quite interesting, and I look forward to seeing the film if I get the opportunity.

Having said that, it seems fairly apparent that the film is not going to give a fair shake to intelligent design. The filmmaker is an evolutionary biologist, Randy Olson, and it is apparent from his interview at NPR that he doesn't think that the real pr…

Answer

Instead of explaining the abortion question asked in yesterday's Question of the Day, I will simply answer it. The pregnant lady mentioned in the moral dilemma is a famous mother. She gave birth to a very talented child who changed the face of aesthetics forever. Who is she and what is the name of her child?

If you chose to abort this baby based on the situation of the mother, you would have killed the world renouned Beethoven. Most of you were thinking that his mother truly had a difficult decision to make with her ninth child, Beethoven. However, during the time which Beethoven was born society knew of the value of human life, despite the current circumstances of the outside world.

The truth is that human life is precious. But that's the question that no one asks these days. Is it a human? If so, are we still justified in taking it's life? Every abortion that happens takes the innocent life of a human child who could have produced incredible music such as Beethoven, or hel…

Andrea Clarke and Death by Committee

Yesterday the National Review published the story of the imminent killing of Andrea Clarke by St. Luke's, an Episcopalian hospital in Houston Texas. Unlike the Terri Shiavo case, Ms. Clarke is both conscious, and has personally requested that her treatment continue, as have all of the members of her family. A very moving plea was offered by one of Ms. Clarke's sisters as a liberal web site, and her posts can be read here and here. The story is nothing short of incredible... and very, very frightening.

From the story in the National Review:
The bioethics committee at St. Luke's Hospital in Houston, Texas has decreed that Andrea Clarke should die. Indeed, after a closed-door hearing, it ordered all further medical efforts to sustain her life while at St. Luke's to cease. As a consequence, Clarke's life support, required because of a heart condition and bleeding on the brain, is to be removed unilaterally even though she is not unconscious and her family wants treatm…

Question of the Day: Abortion & Sympathy

If you knew a woman who was pregnant, who had 8 kids already, three who were deaf, two who were blind,one mentally retarded, and she had syphilis, would you recommend that she have an abortion?

Post your answers here and find out the point of the question tomorrow. It's a tricky one.Cross-blogged at Apologia Christi

Angry Atheists and Mistrust

Today, Newsweek magazine posted an article by Rabbi Marc Gellman entitled "Trying to Understand Angry Atheists: Why do nonbelievers seem to be threatened by the idea of God?" In the article, Rabbi Gellman makes the following point:

So we disagree about God. I'm sometimes at odds with Yankee fans, people who like rap music and people who don't like animals, but I try to be civil. I don't know many religious folk who wake up thinking of new ways to aggravate atheists, but many people who do not believe in God seem to find the religion of their neighbors terribly offensive or oppressive, particularly if the folks next door are evangelical Christians. I just don't get it.

This must sound condescending and a large generalization, and I don't mean it that way, but I am tempted to believe that behind atheist anger there are oftentimes uncomfortable personal histories. Perhaps their atheism was the result of the tragic death of a loved one, or an angry degrading s…

Is Richard Carrier Wrong About What Josephus and the Pharisees Believed?

In The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave, Richard Carrier attempts to argue that Paul espouses a view of the resurrection of Jesus, in which he receives an entirely new resurrection body, leaving the old body behind to decompose. This serves Carrier’s apologetic agenda well as it would serve to lay the foundation for the empty tomb as a later legend. Carrier seeks to increase the plausibility of his “two body” resurrection theory by citing several passages in Josephus which are alleged to espouse just such a view. As we will see, he leaves out essential background evidence regarding Josephus’ authorial tendencies, and fails to bring forth anything from Josephus that is incompatible with the standard view in which the resurrection is a transformation of the previous body of the deceased.

1. Josephus is perfectly compatible with the widely-attested two-stage resurrection view.


Carrier’s exegesis of the relevant passages in Josephus amounts to simply quoting a few passages, giving us an e…

Excavating Cana; Can archaeologists prove that water was turned into wine?

Occasionally, the title of a story makes me take a second look and say "what?" So it was with a recently published article from the Washington Times (April 17, 2006) and published in the World Peace Herald entitled "Cana excavation aims to unearth miracle of Jesus" by Jay Bushinsky. According to the article, excavations are taking place in the ancient village of Cana where Jesus changed water into wine.

Now, what is interesting about the headline is that it contradicted by the article itself. The headline suggests that the archaeologists conducting the excavation somehow believe that they will unearth archaeological evidence that will either prove or disprove the miracle recorded in John 2: 1-10. But the article shows that the archaeologists conducting the excavation don't have that as a goal, and largely acknowledge that such proof or disproof of miracles is not possible using archaeology.

Yardenna Alexandre, a British-trained Israeli archaeologist, has been e…

String Theory and Intelligent Design

Christianity Today has a rather interesting article about the state of the evolution and Intelligent Design debate entitled "Science in Wonderland" by John Wilson which seeks to get "some perspective (250 million years' worth) on the evolution controversy."

He points out (rightly, in my opinion) that the kefuffle about the teaching of Intelligent Design has largely been put to rest for the time being since every time someone suggests that there may be room for the teaching of the perfectly reasonable idea that the universe that we are witnessing may not be the result of purely naturalistic causes, the "purely-materialistic/naturalism-is-the-only-way-to-do-science" crowd comes out of the woodwark decrying the end to legitimate science and a return the Medievil times. These claims are always backed up by local news programs who, when they discuss intelligent design at all, always link it directly to religion. (My own hometown news television station show…

Another review of Bart Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus

Bible.org has published a review of Bart D. Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why entitled "The Gospel according to Bart" by Daniel Wallace. The piece is authored by Daniel J. Wallace, Th.M., Ph.D., who presently teaches at Dallas Theological Seminary. To say that this article is not particularly flattering to Bart Ehrman is an understatement. Early on in the article, Dr. Wallace notes:

Why all the hoopla? Well, for one thing, Jesus sells. But not the Jesus of the Bible. The Jesus that sells is the one that is palatable to postmodern man. And with a book entitled Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why, a ready audience was created via the hope that there would be fresh evidence that the biblical Jesus is a figment. Ironically, almost none of the variants that Ehrman discusses involve sayings of Jesus. The book simply doesn’t deliver what the title promises. Ehrman preferred Lost in Transmission, but the publisher t…

Will The Da Vinci Code's "history" be taught in Sunday School?

From 'Da Vinci Code' rattles some Christians by Alexandra Alter, Contra Costa Times, Saturday April 22, 2006:

. . . The Da Vinci Code may be having an even more profound cultural impact. Resurrecting arguments that date to the second century, the novel has provoked a public debate about the origins of Christianity, clandestine schools of Christian mysticism and the role of women in the church.

Da Vinci fans argue Brown unearthed evidence that Christianity once took a variety of forms, including mystical practices involving goddess worship. Critics say such ideas were rightly disposed of in the second century as heresy.

"To see a global bestseller claiming that people of faith have got it all wrong is disconcerting, to say the least," Robert Hodgson, dean of the Nida Institute for Biblical Scholarship at the American Bible Society. "This book is ultimately a travesty for people of faith."

Christians today are suddenly seeing the foundations of their faith under …

Dr. Gary Habermas to discuss the bodily resurrection of Jesus over the Internet

From Jeff Downs' very fine Counter-cult Apologetics:

This Thursday on the Countercult Apologetics Hour, my guest will be Dr. Gary Habermas. "Gary Habermas has dedicated his professional life to the examination of the relevant historical, philosophical, and theological issues surrounding the death and resurrection of Jesus."

You might ask, "What does the resurrection of Jesus have to do with the Cults?" Well, for starters the Jehovah's Witnesses deny this doctrine. Don't get me wrong, they say they believe in the resurrection of Jesus, but as you know most cults redefined Christian terminology. The JWs deny the Jesus rose from the dead - physically.

Join us as look at the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus and then specifically, the bodily resurrection of Jesus. The show will air 8-9 EST on Thursday April 27. The link for the live feed is http://www.unchainedradio.com:8000/listen.pls or go to the homepage of Unchained Radio. We will be taking your calls…

A Layman's Guide to Why Christians Worship on Sundays (and a Response to The Da Vinci Code)

The Christian practice of holding regular services on Sunday is so widespread that the few Christian denominations that observe the Jewish Sabbath, which falls on Saturday, are a distinct minority. Why do Christians worship corporately on Sunday rather than the Jewish Sabbath, Saturday?

The answer is simple and obvious. Christians gathered together on the first day of the week instead of the last day of the week because it was on that day that Jesus was raised from the dead. Christians were not bound by Jewish law to observe the Sabbath, so they gathered on what they called “the Lord’s Day.” Contrary to Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, this had nothing to do with sun worship or pagan practice. Rather, it focused on the timing of the defining event of Christianity – Jesus’ resurrection. Also contrary to Dan Brown, this was not a later development imposed on Christianity by Constantine, but regular Christian practice hundreds of years before Constantine became emperor in 306 AD. I…

Are filmmakers intentionally exposing children to erotic theatre?

Basic Instinct 2, a new "erotic thriller" starring Sharon Stone, was released a few weekends ago, and to the surprise of almost no one it tanked at the box office. After three weeks at the theatres, the movie has grossed less than $6,000,000. Now, having a movie crash and burn is not that unusual, but what is unusual about this film is that Paul Verhoeven, "director of the first "Basic Instinct" (which scored $353 million worldwide) as well as the widely ridiculed "Showgirls" (now regarded as something of a camp classic), attributes [erotic thrillers'] demise to the current American political climate." According to "Erotic thrillers lose steam at box office" from Reuters (April 3, 2006):

"Anything that is erotic has been banned in the United States," said the Dutch native [Verhoeven]. "Look at the people at the top (of the government). We are living under a government that is constantly hammering out Christian values.…

Remembering San Jacinto Day

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You can read the account of the Battle, here.

Da Vinci Code Foolishness

So I am reading through Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code and, despite all the warnings I have received, I am amazed at the amount of historically erroneous information that is passed off as true background. But wait, you might say, it is just a novel. No one will take it seriously. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

The erroneous information is woven throughout the background of the story. Bright and informed "characters in the know" pass it off as true history known by all real academics and historians but kept from the naively faithful -- either by suppression or the naive faithful's willful ignorance. Dan Brown himself has reinforced this by claiming that his background information is true, only the modern day story is fiction. The New York Daily News' review of the book pronounced that its research was "impeccable." Finally, I know people are taking its version of history seriously because readers, Christians even, have asked me about how I d…

An apology to Dr. James Tabor

In an earlier post, I expressed my opinion that Dr. Tabor's book The Jesus Dynasty was seeking to ride the gravy train of the Da Vinci Code movie along with other books like The Jesus Papers. Dr. Tabor was kind enough to respond to the post, and pointed out that his book was scheduled for publication long before he knew when the Da Vinci Code movie would be released. Specifically, he said:

My comment had to do with the "gravy train" remark, now repeated twice, which I think is not only out of place and rude in a civil discussion but slanderous toward a researcher who presents in print a life-long work, as I explained in my original post. Being an apologist is one thing, being nasty is another. The clear implication of that phrase is that I published this book in order to ride some publicity wave and cash in. In point of fact both Baigent's book and the revelation of the Judas Gospel were moved up a week, originally scheduled for Easter weekend, out of fear that my boo…

Just for fun -- The Conspiracy Game

With all of the new books coming out about the "historical" Jesus (as they claim), a friend pointed out a video satire which is pretty funny and, in my view, all to accurate in its assessment of many of these current theories. The video is entitled "The Conspiracy Game" and can be viewed by clicking the Consipiracy Game box on the Highway Video website. Through May 18, 2006, the video can be downloaded to your computer for free.

The website describes the video this way:

To help you address the coming cultural tsunami, The Da Vinci Code movie, Highway Video has created The Conspiracy Game! - a humorous but pointed response to the absurdities of the story's spiritual claims.

A game show satire, The Conspiracy Game! spotlights man's repeated attempts to create God in his own image. Each character's conception of god backs up their own prejudices, sin, morality, needs, and agenda.
As I said at the outset, it is pretty funny and the five or so minutes that the…

Introducing a New Blog

One of the best writers I know has started her own blog, Releasing the Word. She knows the Bible like few other people and ministers encouragement and insight on a regular basis. Oh, she's also my Mom.

The truth is gaining ground

The past few weeks have seen an increase on the number of attacks on the historicity of the Gospels and often specific attacks on the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ as described in the Gospels. The Jesus Papers argues that Jesus did not die on the cross but survived the crucifixion in some sense. Quoting Jesus by Ehrman (commented upon here by Layman) tries to present the Bible texts as unreliable because of their allegedly faulty transmission. The Jesus Dynasty by James Tabor (commented upon here by Layman) tries to present the idea that Jesus would not have agreed with the religion that bears his names and presents him as simply a preacher and not the Son of God. The Last Week: A Day-by-Day Account of Jesus's Final Week in Jerusalem written by two of the most active of those who seek to destroy Christian faith from the inside, Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan, present the "social justice Jesus" who didn't die to redeem ths sins of the world, bu…

Is Richard Carrier Wrong About What Philo Believed?

In his chapter in The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave, Richard Carrier argues that Paul did not believe in the resurrection of the body that had died, but in a so-called “resurrection” that involved a brand new body. Thus, Paul believed that Jesus’ body remained in the grave and his soul or spirit was encased in a brand new body provided by God. One problem with this theory is that there is no evidence that anyone – let alone Christians or Jews – held such a belief.

Undaunted, Mr. Carrier argues that a few ancient Jewish writings lend support for his two-body resurrection doctrine. As has been demonstrated in a prior post, his claim that the second-century Assumption of Moses supports his case is erroneous. His section – reviewed here – arguing that the Jewish writer Philo held "just such a view" as his proposed two-body resurrection doctrine is similarly erroneous. As we will see, Philo believed in the opposite of what Mr. Carrier claims. Philo affirmed that the…

He Is Risen

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Why Is It Called Good Friday?

Today is Good Friday, the day that we commemorate Jesus' death. How is this day remembered and why, given the nature of that remembrance, is it called "Good Friday"?

From the Gospel of Luke:

Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals-- one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, "He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One." The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, "If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself." There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insu…