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Showing posts from June, 2006

Are Episcopalians Facing Expulsion from the Anglican Communion?

The Episcopalian Church has taken steps that are out of step with the broader Anglican Communion to which it belongs. It has ordained an openly homosexual bishop and recently elected a female bishop who supported that move as its Presiding Bishop. The broader Anglican Communion, with large segments of more conservative members in Africa and Asia, has issued a statement asking the Episcopalian Church to basically just slow down.

Unlike more hierarchical institutions such as the Catholic Church, the Archbishop of Canterbury -- the Anglican Communion's leading cleric -- cannot simply order member churches or orgainzations to change their policies. So, I was surprised when I read this article, "U.S. Episcopals Ordered To Renounce Consecration Of Gay Bishop Or Be Expelled."

When you actually read the article, you will see that no order was issued. Rather, the Archbishop of Canterbury has issued a "reflection" that calls "for Anglicans around the world to fo…

Early Hebrew Writing Found

Rich at God and Science, one of my favorite sites, has the following report that I didn't catch:

Introduction -- Skeptics often claim that Old Testament writers exaggerated or made up the existence of the Hebrew kingdoms described in the Old Testament books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles. Hebrew rulers David and Solomon, are said to be minor players in the region at best, or fictional characters at worst. However, new archeological finds are confirming at least some of the historical claims of the Old Testament. Now, physical evidence confirms that the Hebrews possessed their written language as early as the 10th century B.C.

New evidence -- Archeologists discovered an inscribed stone embedded into the wall of an extensive collection of buildings in Tel Zayit, about 35 miles southwest of Jerusalem. The 40-pound stone consisted of two lines of incised letters, representing the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Although not identical to modern Hebrew, the letters were recognizable …

Finding Faith in Science Fiction

Faith in Science

I am a fan of science fiction books, shows, and movies. Not surprisingly, one focus of science fiction stories is how much science itself will accomplish in the future. There is an expectancy, a faith if you will, in the onward march of science. While it is true that science fiction as a genre often explores the possible dark side of scientific advancement, the advancement itself is unquestioned.

This faith is understandable to a large extent given how much our scientific progress has gained for us in the West. The problem is that many think that the advance of science means the elimination of the supernatural. There is no reason that this need be true, but it is often a theme in science fiction.

One example that comes to mind is Stargate SG-1, one of my favorite shows (at least while it still featured Richard Dean Anderson). The premise is that all the ancient pagan gods were actually advanced aliens pretending to be deities to more effecitvely rule mankind. No…

1000 Skeletons Discovered in Catacombs in Rome

According to News.Scotsman.com, over 1000 skeletons have recently been located in the catacombs beneath Rome. According to the account:

ARCHAELOGISTS exploring one of Rome's oldest catacombs have discovered more than 1,000 skeletons dressed in elegant togas.

Experts are thrilled by the find - which dates from about the first century - as it is the first "mass burial" of its kind identified. Mystery surrounds why so many bodies were neatly piled together in the complex network of underground burial chambers, which stretch for miles under the city.

It was the custom then for Rome's upper classes to be burnt not buried, so it is thought the skeletons may be early Christians. Tests are being carried to establish whether they suffered violent death or were victims of an unknown epidemic or natural disaster.
It should be noted that these bodies are from the 1st Century, and if they are, in fact, Christian skeletons it would be further confirmation that Christianity had sprea…

Could Quantum Tunneling Explain the Universe?

The Kalam Cosmological Argument presents an argument for the existence of God from the existence of the universe by posing a series of three dilemmas, each of which builds upon the other. The three dilemmas are as follows:

(1) The universe had a beginning or it did not have a beginning.
(2) The beginning of the universe was caused or it was not caused.
(3) The cause of the universe was personal or it was impersonal.

The three dilemmas present the three questions in "A or not-A" styles. Thus, it is not possible to choose some other intermediate ground on these issues. Either the universe had a beginning or it didn't -- there is no middle ground. It is only if the question is answered in the affirmative that one would move on to the second question.

I think that most people now acknowledge that the universe had a beginning. While there remain models for a beginningless universe, most scientists that I have read seems to agree that the universe is expanding and it is accelerati…

Sorry, I've Stopped Listening

I saw an article on Intelligent Design (ID) in the New York Sun that caught my attention. Entitled "Scientists Take on Intelligent Design", the article reviews a book entitled Intelligent Thought: Science versus the Intelligent Design Movementby John Brockman (editor). According to the publisher's notes,

Writer and editor Brockman (What We Believe but Cannot Prove), who publishes the online magazine Edge, has assembled sixteen short essays by prominent scientists on current thinking about evolution.
Okay, it sounds interesting. I thought about buying the book and giving it a read since I certainly don't want these scientists to conclude that people who don't accept their theories haven't listened to them. I was seriously considering spending my own money to afford them their best shot at trying to convince me that ID was wrong. (After all, whenever I read the arguments against Intelligent Design, one of the first arguments is almost always that the scientific…

More on the "Finding" of Noah's Ark

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s8int has located some more background information about Bob Cornuke's discovery of what may be Noah's Ark in Iran. As I noted previously, the interview with John Kasich didn't give much in the way of background information concerning the find, but the article published on s8int by Bill Wilson, Koenig's International, gives a great deal of more detail. The article reports:

1. The object that is being identified as possibly being the remains of Noah's Ark (for convenience, I will reference it as just "the Ark" from this point forward) is located in the mountains about six hours North of Tehran, Iran. The article includes photos of Sabalan Peak Lake, so it appears that the Ark is near that Lake. A photo of Mt. Sabalan is at left.

2. Contrary to the claims of a skeptical blogger that I read, the team that went with Mr. Cornuke to examine the remains consisted of "15 geologists, historians, archeologists, scientists and attorneys." Thus, Mr. Cornuke …

The Culture of Life and the Didache

Breakpoint with Charles Colson published a very interesting article concerning the Didache entitled "A Call to the Faithful: The Didache and Human Life". For those unfamiliar with the Didache (aka The Doctrine of the Twelve Apostles), it is an early Christian document that was not incorporated into the canon of the New Testament. Some would date it prior to the Gospels (around 50 AD) while others date it as late as 160 AD. The document is basically an instruction book for the early church in discipling divided into three parts.

What appears to be undisputed is that the document is a Christian document -- it is not Gnostic or heretical in any major sense (although there are some references in the document that are a bit troublesome). Thus, unlike so many of the more famous early documents that were excluded from the canon because they were Gnostic (such as the Gospel of Judas and the Gospel of Thomas), virtually everyone agrees thath the Didache can actually be read to unders…

A Cadre Member's Grief Observed

On April 9, 2006, Maureen G. -- the wife of Cadre member Jeff G. -- went home to be with her Lord. Her passing was not sudden, as she had suffered for some time from the cancer that took her life. I can think of no greater heartbreak save perhaps the passing of one's child. In this account of his wife's suffering and death, as well his own response to these events, Jeff explores the effect and role of pain and suffering in the life of a Christian.

I came to respect and count Jeff as a friend before his wife died. Having gotten to know him better since, and especially after reading this article, my respect for him has increased yet more. Through Maureen's passing, and Jeff's faith, I have been encouraged in my own walk and have reexamined my own priorites. I trust that if you read Jeff's account that you will experience the same.

Noah's Ark -- Has it Been Found?

According to Hearland on Fox News Saturday Night, Bob Cornuke of the BASE Institute has found the petrified remains of a wooden ship situated approximately 14,000 feet on a mountain-side in Western Iraq. A two and one-half minute video (no sound) of some of the footage shown on Fox News can be found here. I had a couple of reactions to this video I wanted to share.

First, I admit to being one of the people seen as fundamentalists in the eyes of skeptics on the issue of Biblicl inerrancy. (I am not a fundamentalist in my theology, but that seems to make little difference to skeptics who believe that if you believe any portion of Genesis as being true you must be a wild-eyed fanatic.) Thus, I do believe there was an ark as described in the Bible. I do believe that there was a flood, although the extent of that flood is somewhat questionable. Certainly, the time in which the flood took place is very questionable since the Bible does not say when the flood took place in a way that I think …

Where in the World is Noah's Ark?

While I am aware that many people don't believe that Noah's Ark existed at all, a friend of mine raised the question about where Noah's Ark might have landed assuming it existed at all. The most commonly identified site for the landing is a mountain located in western-most Turkey known as Mount Ararat. But it seems that after many expeditions to Mt. Ararat, most people either no longer believe it is a good candidate for the location of the ark, or they believe that proof is either buried or unlikely to be found.

But what does the Bible say about where Noah's Ark landed? According to Genesis 8:4, the ark came to rest on the seventeenth day of the seventh month "on the mountains of Ararat" (har 'Ararat). The form of the word "mountain" (har) used is plural. Thus, it is a mistake to assume that the reference to the "mountains of Ararat" is to the Mountain known as Ararat itself.

So, what were these "mountains of Ararat"? Accordin…

Press Release from Left Behind

The Bohle Company has issued a press release on behalf of Left Behind: Eternal Forces responding to the Talk2Action piece (see my previous posts here, here, and most recently, here). Here is the release:

The comments by all of those writing/involved with [Talk22Action] have been done without ever having seen the game! It's distressing to see such an egregious misrepresentation of our game. The recent comments posted from the Talk to Action article are nothing short of gross distortions and total untruths. LEFT BEHIND: Eternal Forces is a game loosely based on the first few books in the best selling Left Behind book series. These are novels that trace the adventures of those left behind when the Rapture occurs, a biblical event forecast in the Book of Revelation.

The slanted blurb about our game is carried on an anti-evangelical blog site with a clear agenda, written by someone who clearly never saw or played our game. The blogger never once contacted Left Behind Games to atte…

Evidence of Edom

Everything that follows is quoted from the excellent Christianity Today Weblog:

Evidence that bolsters a doubted biblical tale

An archaeological find in Jordan is making researchers —- who seem terrified of proving the Bible historically accurate —- very skittish. The New York Times reports on the ongoing controversy.

An international team of archaeologists has recorded radiocarbon dates that they say show the tribes of Edom may have indeed come together in a cohesive society as early as the 12th century B.C., certainly by the 10th. The evidence was found in the ruins of a large copper-processing center and fortress at Khirbat en-Nahas, in the lowlands of what was Edom and is now part of Jordan. * * *

The findings, Dr. Levy and Dr. Najjar added, lend credence to biblical accounts of the rivalry between Edom and the Israelites in what was then known as Judah. By extension, they said, this supported the tradition that Judah itself had by the time of David and Solomon, in the early 10th cen…

The Gospels -- The Only Competitors for the Canon

When I was in College, I took a course in political science that focused on recognizing bias in newspaper and magazine news reporting. The professor stressed that to get a real feel for the story required reading deep into the article. Often, facts were buried deep in the bowels of the article that would give a different understanding to the news beyond what the headlines or the first few parpagraphs imply. As a result, whenever I read a news story on anything important, I make sure that even if I am rushed for time to scan through the story to the bottom to see what surprises lurk there.

Today, I came across a story entitled "Inner Awareness : Secrets Jesus reveals to Judas" from the INQ7 Network. The story begins:

"So why did the Bible depict Judas as a traitor?" asked Jun Aquiatan.

"Only the four gospels that are in the present Bible depicted Judas as a traitor. However, there are other writings aside from the four gospels that narrated (differently) and these…

Michael Newdow and the National Motto -- Down in Flames, Again.

I have previously written about my dislike of atheist-evangelist Rev(?!?) Michael Newdow and his one man campaign to use his law degree to try to uproot any vestiges of an acknowledgement of religion in the public square. Well, according to the Thomas More Law Center, Mr. Newdow's latest effort -- a lawsuit to have the National Motto of "In God We Trust" declared unconstitutional -- has gone down in flames.

A California federal trial judge has dismissed the lawsuit filed by Michael Newdow challenging the constitutionality of our national motto, "In God We Trust." Newdow is the atheist who achieved national attention in his previous unsuccessful attempt to remove the Pledge of Allegiance from public schools because it includes the words "one nation under God."

The Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, had filed a friend of the court brief seeking the dismissal of Newdow’s national motto lawsuit.

Edward…

At Least Try to Make a Legitimate Argument

As I've discussed before, arguments can often be won or lost in the way that the argument is framed. For example, in the United States, there is a lot of talk about tax relief. Now, this talk began with the Republicans – the more conservative of the two major political parties in the U.S. – but the language of tax relief was adopted by the Democrats. However, by adopting the idea of tax relief, the Democrats accepted the issues as framed by the Republicans. You see, the words "tax relief" were well-chosen by the Republicans to present their worldview. The word "relief" suggests that someone is being over-burdened by something, and that some sort of aid is needed to keep the unfortunate person from being buried under the problem. What type of relief is needed according to the Republicans? Tax relief is needed. In other words, taxes are overburdening the poor people, and someone needs to provide relief from those overbearing taxes. The Republicans claimed to prov…

Top Scientist Says God Designed Universe and Humans

Intelligent Design has suffered some legal and public relations defeats of late. So I was somewhat surprised to see this article in the London Times: "I’ve found God, says man who cracked the genome."

The scientist at issue is none other than Francis Collins, the director of the US National Human Genome Research Institute. As a result of all that he has learned -- and the Human Genone Project has learned more about human genetics than any other scientific endeavor -- Dr. Collins "claims there is a rational basis for a creator and that scientific discoveries bring man 'closer to God'." Indeed, Dr. Collins has a book coming out that details his argument for just that belief: The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief.

According to Dr. Collins:

When you have for the first time in front of you this 3.1 billion-letter instruction book that conveys all kinds of information and all kinds of mystery about humankind, you can’t survey that goi…

Mark Goodacre Makes Some Good Points About Redaction Criticism

Mark Goodacre, of NT Gateway (and Duke Univ.), has posted a piece articulating what is wrong with present day redaction criticism, a tool used in biblical studies. As explained by Encyclopdia Britannica Online:

Redaction criticism concentrates on the end product, studying the way in which the final authors or editors used the traditional material that they received and the special purpose that each had in view in incorporating this material into his literary composition. It has led of late to important conclusions about the respective outlooks and aims of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
Professor Goodacre is not dismissive of redaction criticism, but he stresses its limitations and the problems it must overcome to be useful. The post is short, to the point, and persuasive.

Layman's Response to The Da Vinci Code

I was privileged to do three presentations at two different churches on The Da Vinci Code the week the movie version opened. I thought they went well and a number of people asked me for my notes or if I was providing a written response. In fact, I put a lot of my research into a final version of notes that served as the guide to the presentations, which were conducted in a Q & A format. I have finally made the time to polish the notes up and put them up on the CADRE site. It is in Word version and is available here. From the description on the website's The Da Vinci Code page:

The notes from CADRE member Christopher Price's presentation on The Da Vinci Code. The notes reflect the Q & A format of the presentations. Provides a summary of controversial points made in TDC, with Question and Answers on issues such as Jesus' divinity, the gathering of the NT, supposed Christian copying of pagan beliefs, the Council of Nicea, and whether Jesus was married.
In case you …

An Enthusiastic Recommendation for a New Apologetics Book

I was asked to review a new book, Reinventing Jesus, What The Da Vinci Code And Other Novel Speculations Don't Tell You, by J. Ed Komoszewski, M. James Saywer, and, Daniel B. Wallace. In some ways the title is unfortunate, because Reinventing Jesus is so much more than another response to The Da Vinci Code (as good as some of those are). What this book provides is excellent scholarship on a number of issues that have been inadequately addressed, if addressed at all, by traditional apologists. The authors have actually lowered themselves to address arguments and theories that academics rarely encounter in scholarly circles. As noted in Reinventing Jesus, much of said sludge has flowed forth as a result of -- in the author's words -- "ready access to unfiltered information via the Internet and the influential power of this medium. The result is junk food for the mind--a pseudointellectual meal that is as easy to swallow as it is devoid of substance." Id. at 221-2…

More Pagan Raw Data on Jesus' Divinity Within Early Christian Thought

In an earlier post, I provided some of the raw data from early post-NT Christian writers proving their belief in the divinity of Jesus well before the Council of Nicea. I included one reference by the Roman governor Pliny the Younger who noted that Christians gave worship to Jesus as "to a God." I was remiss in that I left out two other pagan witnesses to this belief.

Lucian of Samosata

Lucian was a Greek satirist who turned his sharp wit on Christians around 165-75 AD. Mocking them for their belief, he stated:

The Christians . . . worship a man to this day--the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account. . . . [It] was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws.
Lucian, The Passing of Peregrinus, trans. A.M. Harmon, at 11.

By noting the Christian worship of the man Jesus, …

Talk2Action Tries to Defend Itself (Part 1)

Talk2Action has finally responded to my original post on their original piece on the Left Behind video game. They follow a rather tortured and selective path in their attempt to justify their inaccurate report and to discredit me. So let us get down to the response.

The Charge Against Me

I supposedly have "organized a campaign against Talk to Action and its series." Not hardly. The "campaign" is just me, one Christian blogger, spending more time than I would have preferred to respond to the more outrageous lies about a game that I had no intention of ever playing. As I have said previously, I do not share the theology of the Left Behind series and have not read the books though I have seen two of the movies. No one else is involved in my "campaign." Additionally, I was not responding to a "series," I was responding to Talk2Action's original piece, "The Purpose Driven Life Takers."

Here is how Talk2Action characterizes my react…