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Showing posts from November, 2006

The Jesus Seminar's Upcoming Jesus Movie

Ah . . . the Jesus Seminar. Given the bombastic, pseudo-intellectual tirades of such luminaries as Sam Harris, I was beginning to miss the annual pronouncements of disbelief in all things New Testament by this collection of radical scholars. Almost . . . .

Now, comes a story from Cinema Blend about a new movie that may be in the works: Christ, the Man. The director of this new epic? Paul Verhoeven, member of the Westar Institute, aka, The Jesus Seminar. Yes, the director of that NC-17 movie Showgirls, is considering taking the myth of the non-God Jesus being foisted upon the public by the Jesus Seminar and turning it into another movie.

The rumor comes from the frequently unreliable guys at WENN, so don’t believe it until someone else confirms it, but it is true that there has long been talk of Paul working on such a film. The working title once rumored for it was Christ, the Man, and apparently there’s now some movement on the whole thing again. The current incarnation is supposed tell…

Another New Addition to the Audio Page

While I have used Jeff Downs' Theology Research pages as a matter of course over the past few years, I was not aware of the large assortment of apologetics audio files he has on his apologetics audio page. Consider the following that are just the first few audio files on that page:

Something Much Too Plain to Say (Critique of Michael Martin, etc.)
K. Scott Oliphint Click Here to listen. text version.

God Delusion Debate
David Quinn vs. Richard Dawkins Click Here to listen.

Is God a Delusion? Atheism and the Meaning of Life
Alister McGrath Click Here to listen.

Questions and Answers with Ravi Zacharias at University of Washington
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Who is Alvin Plantinga?
Apologetics.com Click Here to listen.

Apologetic Methodology
Mark Coppenger, Bruce Ware, Ted Cabal and Stephen Wellum Click Here to listen.

No Good Reason to Be an Atheist
Dustin Segers Click Here to listen.
There are at least 100 audio files on the page, and while some of them need to be ordered, many of them are fr…

A Critique of Dawkins' "Virus of the Mind" Part IV: A-religious Arrogance

Recently, in reading up on this neo-atheist evangelist, I was introduced to his essay, Viruses of the Mind as an innovative work. In "Viruses", Dawkins writes that religious belief, as a meme, is akin to a computer virus thereby reducing the former (which in many people's minds is a high and lofty thing) to the level of the latter (which is acknowledged by virtually everyone to be something undesirable). This is Part II of my comments on that essay. For Part I, see here, for part II see here, and for part III see here.

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The Fourth Symptom: We Don't Do What We Should

4. The sufferer may find himself behaving intolerantly towards vectors of rival faiths, in extreme cases even killing them or advocating their deaths. He may be similarly violent in his disposition towards apostates (people who once held the faith but have renounced it); or towards heretics (people who espouse a different --- often, perhaps significantly, only very slightly diffe…

Dennis Prager v. Sam Harris

A friend of mine just pointed out to me a publicized e-mail exchange between the obnoxious Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith and Dennis Prager, conservative Jewish radio talk show host, that has been published on the Internet. They can be found (starting with Sam Harris' opening e-mail) here. I haven't had the opportunity to read each of the e-mails, but after Harris' typical nonsense, Prager begins his discussion with a truly insightful comment.

There is one thing you and I agree on, Sam. You write that you are "quite sure that we need only use words like 'reason,' 'common sense,' 'evidence,' and 'intellectual honesty' to do the job."

I agree because I am certain that use of those wonderful vehicles to truth make the case for God, not for atheism.

Yet you and other atheists—as opposed to agnostics, who simply claim doubts about God—appropriate words like "reason" and "common sense" to maintain a position th…

The Dead Sea Scrolls are Chinese?

Here is a very interesting article from The Toronto Star entitled The Chinese connection -- New discoveries from Asia suggest the Dead Sea Scrolls may not be as old as we think:

The Dead Sea Scrolls have been guarded for 60 years like crown jewels, the possessions of a scholarly elite who were challenged only in the past decade to bring the scrolls to the public. Now, there is accumulating and compelling evidence that these supposedly ancient texts are medieval at best and have a connection with China.

That connection is raising questions about the manuscripts' true dating, origin and possible authenticity.

The scrolls were first discovered in a cave in Jordan's Qumran region near the Dead Sea in 1947. By 1956, archaeologists and Arab treasure hunters found 10 more caves at Qumran that held mostly fragments of some 800 manuscripts, commonly thought to have been written between 200 BC and AD 25.

Soon after the scrolls' discovery, a scholarly debate broke out over whether the…

A Critique of Dawkins' "Virus of the Mind" Part III: Seeing and Faith

Recently, in reading up on this neo-atheist evangelist, I was introduced to his essay, Viruses of the Mind as an innovative work. In "Viruses", Dawkins writes that religious belief, as a meme, is akin to a computer virus thereby reducing the former (which in many people's minds is a high and lofty thing) to the level of the latter (which is acknowledged by virtually everyone to be something undesirable). This is Part II of my comments on that essay. For Part I, see here and for part II see here/.

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The Second Symptom: Believing but not Seeing

2. Patients typically make a positive virtue of faith's being strong and unshakable, in spite of not being based upon evidence. Indeed, they may feel that the less evidence there is, the more virtuous the belief (see below).
This suffers from the same problem as number one: it asserts that faith is not based on evidence which is a crock. But certainly, there is some grounds for his criticism as believers…

A Critique of Dawkins' "Virus of the Mind" Part II: Assurance of Truth

Recently, in reading up on this neo-atheist evangelist, I was introduced to his essay, Viruses of the Mind as an innovative work. In "Viruses", Dawkins writes that religious belief, as a meme, is akin to a computer virus thereby reducing the former (which in many people's minds is a high and lofty thing) to the level of the latter (which is acknowledged by virtually everyone to be something undesirable). This is Part II of my comments on that essay. For Part I, see here.

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In the crux of his argument, after assuming the truth of his virus/religion viewpoint (contrary to strong evidence), Dawkins speculates what doctors might identify as the symptoms of a person who suffers from a religious mind virus. He develops a list of seven supposed symptoms that would be evidenced by a faith sufferer. Of course, since he has decided that religion is an evil that needs to be stamped out, he only views those "symptoms" that are negative (at least,…

A Critique of Dawkins' "Virus of the Mind" Part I: Things Go Better With God

Richard Dawkins, the heavy-handed author of The God Delusion, has made it his personal mission to decry the evils of religion in order to convince the rest of the world (many of whom find comfort and happinss in a true knowledge of God) that they are misguided fools. Like the worst of snake oil salesmen, Dawkins pedals his wares by pointing to the most flagrant abuses of religious belief, such as the late-Jim Jones, and encourages the offended populace that his tonic is the cure-all for what ails the world. Fortunately, while most people recognize that his cure is probably more injurious than helpful, many people are reading what he has to say as evidenced by the fact that his latest work is at number 7 on the New York Times Best Seller List for Non-Fiction (even though it is really fiction).

Recently, in reading up on this neo-atheist evangelist, I was introduced to his essay, Viruses of the Mind as an innovative work. In "Viruses", Dawkins writes that religious belief, a…

Pope Benedict XVI Enters the Historical Jesus Debate

According to a newstory entitled "First volume of book by pope on Jesus to be published in spring", Pope Benedict XVI will be entering his viewpoint as a scholar into the question of whether the Biblical texts are historically sound. The article notes:

Pope Benedict XVI has put the finishing touches on the first volume of a work titled "Jesus of Nazareth" that will hit the bookstores in the spring, the Vatican has said.

The pope "has finished editing the first part of the book, entitled 'Jesus of Nazareth', and returned it a few days ago to the Vatican publishing service," the Vatican said in a statement.

* * *

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said in a written note to the media that the book "is not an encyclical, which means that it can be freely discussed and criticized."

Benedict has taken into account the most recent research on Jesus to explain how the historical person and the Jesus of the Christian faith are combined in the same …

The Meaning of Harvest Home

Thanksgiving in America would largely be a forgotten holiday if it weren't for the fact that most people have a four day weekend. Halloween had barely ended and the stores were already stocked with Christmas lights, trees, and reindeer. I couldn't go to the hardware store without hearing "Deck the Halls" and "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" floating down the aisles.

But Thanksgiving is actually a holiday that deserves more attention. The Bible exhorts us repeatedly to give thanks to the Lord, and it is worthwhile to take advantage of a day that has been devoted to giving thanks to do just that. The Pilgrims certainly did at that first Thanksgiving, and a hymn which I have always associated with that first Thanksgiving is "Come Ye Thankful People Come." In fact, the song was not around in 1621, but was written in 1844.

When I was growing up, I knew "Come Ye Thankful People Come" by the name of "Harvest Home," and I loved the melod…

Time Magazine: God vs. Science

With attacks on Christianity and religion in general escalating over recent months, it was only a matter of time before Time Magazine entered the fray and did a cover story about the question of whether "religion [can] stand up to the progress of science". And so, in an article entitled "God v. Science" (available on the Internet for a limited time), examines this issue from through a discussion between the bombastic Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion and Francis Collins, author of The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief.

I want to recommend the overview of the article by CADRE contributor The Dawn Treader who has taken the time to record some rather insightful observations about the article in two posts entitled Collins vs. Dawkins, Part I and Collins v. Dawkins, Conclusion. Consider this bit of analysis:

Dawkins claimed that the acceptance of the possibility of miracles destroys scientific investigation. This is a silly argument an…

A Critique of Richard Dawkins' Arguments Against the Existence of God in The God Delusion

Uskon ja ajattelun puolesta - För tro och tänkande has linked to a list of resources that critique the inane ramblings of Richard Dawkins' book The God Delusion. Several of the links give excellent arguments against Dawkins on several fronts, but I really enjoyed both Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? and Calling Dawkins' Bluff by Peter Williams. Mr. Williams briefly goes through the arguments that Dawkins presents against various arguments for the existence of God and shows exactly how vacuous they really are.

For example, consider the following from Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

However, Dawkins' attack upon the historical reliability of the Bible, which draws upon scholars like agnostic Bart Ehrman (who follows Hume's discredited proposal that miracle claims cannot in principle be supported by evidence[9]), is full of demonstrably false and misleading claims. Indeed, Dawkins' critique constitutes a 'greatest hits' of the sort of thing I expect…

Anti-Religious Blackmail

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article today entitled "By Process of Intimidation" about an ACLU and American's United for Separation of Church and State (AUSCS) joint lawsuit against a school in West Virginia that had a portrait of Jesus hanging outside of the principal's office for the last 37 years. As the article points out, the attack on the portrait of Jesus was a bit one-sided since apparently there are also "a two-foot statue and a portrait of Buddha that remain displayed in two classrooms in the school" which were not part of the lawsuit and therefore apparently unobjectionable. But I suspect any type of investigation of the suits filed by organizations like these would reveal that the vast majority of their suits seek to remove Christian symbols with only a few lawsuits seeking to remove other religious symbols.

But what I found most interesting was the discussion of how the ACLU and AUSCS threatened the school with a charge of excessi…

What is the Obsession with Embryonic Stem Cells?

This morning, I saw two articles in the paper about exciting new treatments using stem cells. The first is entitled "Stem cells help dogs with dystrophy". According to the article:

In promising new research, stem cells worked remarkably well at easing symptoms of muscular dystrophy in dogs, an experiment that experts call a significant step toward treating people.

"It's a great breakthrough for all of us working on stem cells for muscular dystrophy," said researcher Johnny Huard of the University of Pittsburgh, who wasn't involved in the work.
The second article is entitled "Scientists grow heart valves from stem cells" talks about using stem cells from amniotic fluid to grow replacement heart valves.

Scientists for the first time have grown human heart valves using stem cells from the fluid that cushions babies in the womb - a revolutionary approach that may be used to repair defective hearts in the future.

The idea is to create these new valves in …

New Addition to Audio Page

After my last post on Natural Law Thinkers in the 16th and 17th Century, I decided to add the entire Acton Institute audio pages to the CADRE Apologetics Audio page. Here is what was added:

Acton Institute -- A selection of recent radio broadcasts from the Acton Institute which organizes seminars aimed at educating religious leaders of all denominations, business executives, entrepreneurs, university professors, and academic researchers in economics principles, and in the connection that can exist between virtue and economic thinking. The Acton Institute also maintains an audio lecture page largely related to lectures on Christianity and economics.
Some of the titles available as of today's date include:

"Evangelical Response to Global Warming"
by Jay W. Richards
Mornings with Scott & Larri, (2006-09-27)

"On Pope Benedict XIV's 'Provocation' of Islam"
by Robert A. Sirico
Keeping Current with Kur, (2006-09-18)

"Interview on Euthanasia"
by Samue…

Natural Law Thinkers in the 16th and 17th Century

Is knowledge of right and wrong written on the human heart? Do people know God from the world around them? Does natural knowledge contribute to Christian doctrine?
Stephen J. Grabill, Ph.D., Research Scholar in Theology and Executive Editor, Journal of Markets & Morality, and author of Rediscovering the Natural Law in Reformed Theological Ethics, has written an article touching on these questions (which questions are more fully addressed in his book) entitled Natural Law and the Protestant Moral Tradition about four ways in which natural law is important to the doctrines of the church. These are:

(1) none of the confessional documents of the magisterial Reformation rejected the doctrine of natural law;

(2) natural law played a significant role in the three uses of law articulated by the Reformers;

(3) the Reformers did not play special revelation off against general revelation, as tends to happen today, both were considered legitimate forms of revelation that served distinct roles in…

New Book Argues that Earth is Especially Suited for Life

Owen Gingerich, Professor of Astronomy and of the History of Science, Emeritus, Department of Astronomy and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, has written a new book which will probably make his materialist-only colleagues squirm. Entitled God's Universe, Professor Gingerich, according to the press release,

. . . argues that an individual can be both a creative scientist and a believer in divine design--that indeed the very motivation for scientific research can derive from a desire to trace God's handiwork. The scientist with theistic metaphysics will approach laboratory problems much the same as does his atheistic colleague across the hall. Both are likely to view the astonishing adaptations in nature with a sense of surprise, wonder, and mystery.
According to the Los Angeles Times book review

Taking the Bible seriously does not have to mean interpreting it literally. Indeed, Gingerich deplores this approach to Scripture. He notes the inconsistency of the biblica…

Roman Catholic Church Position on Embryonic Stem Cell Research

In today's Albuquerque Journal, Archbishop Michael Sheehan of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe wrote a clear explanation of the Roman Catholic Church's stand on the issue of embryonic stem cell research entitled Church Believes in Cures That Don't Sacrifice Life. I think that this is one of the clearest statements I have seen as to why many Christians oppose embryonic stem cell research. Here is part of what Archbishop Sheehan had to say:

Even a small embryo is a human being. We all started out as embryonic stem cells. To harvest embryonic stem cells— even to help human life— is wrong because it kills the embryo. It means in effect using tiny human body parts for scientific purposes.

The end does not justify the means.

We know that the genetic package is really complete when conception takes place and sonar pictures of the living infant in the womb clearly show human life as it grows and develops.

Human-life issues are the bedrock of our faith. Respect for life is central to Cathol…

Las Cruces Crosses on Logo Update

Las Cruces, New Mexico, has been sued by one of the enlightened to remove the crosses that have been part of the city logo for many, many years. Never mind that the name "Las Cruces" is Spanish for "The Crosses", the mere presence of the crosses on the seal was enough to apparently trouble Paul Weinbaum, Olivia Weinbaum and Martin Boyd so thoroughly that they felt a need to foist their collective viewpoint on the rest of the city by bringing a lawsuit against Las Cruces to have the crosses removed (but, of course, such a suit doesn't change the offense since he still lives in a city named "the Crosses" -- I guess that was the planned follow-up suit).

In a fit of common sense, the judge has now thrown out the lawsuit:

A judge has rejected an effort to prohibit the city of Las Cruces from using Christian crosses on its logos or vehicles.

U-S District Judge Robert Brack yesterday dismissed the lawsuit filed by Paul Weinbaum of Las Cruces, his daughter Olivi…

Responses to Sam Harris

I have not read Sam Harris' book Letter to a Christian Nation, but what I read from him in interviews tells me that there's little point to doing so. Based upon his interviews, he is simply a modern, lesser version of Thomas Paine whose own book The Age of Reason has made him a champion among skeptics, but whose work is rightfully dismissed by Christians. Still, because he is getting some press, I thought it worthwhile to link to some resources that do respond to Mr. Harris' work.

First, Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason responds to the major claim of Harris' earlier book, The End of Faith by challenging the idea that Christianity has had some pernicious effect on society in his radio program of September 24, 2006. The discussion takes place between approximately the 40 and 50 minute marks.

A bit more thorough, if not more flippant, response can be found with J.P. Holding's Tektonics in his Letter to a Maladjusted Misotheist.

William F. Vallicella, Ph.D., The Maverick Phi…

Christianity As An Intellectual Pursuit

I was driving to work today, and I saw a very . . . um, quaint bumper sticker. I was fairly certain before I read it that it would be counter to one of my beliefs because it was on the back of a car with a large number of bumper stickers. It has long been an observation of mine that skeptics and Democrats are the two groups most likely to load down their car with bumper stickers. I wasn't disappointed. This particular bumper sticker had words to this effect: "Keep Your Prayer Out Of My Schools; I'll Keep Thought Out Of Your Church."

Needless to say, I was rolling on the floor laughing. After all, I can't imagine anything more clever than that. (Please note the dripping sarcasm.)

But, of course, this is simply a perpetuation of the straw man characterization of Christianity that it is not an intellectual pursuit. The old catch phrase is that Chrsitianity is a matter of faith, not facts. In one respect, I understand the attitude because too often in Christian church…

Where Does Our Hatred of Malevolence Come From?

About three months ago (wow, how time flies), I was writing a series about Richard Carrier's attempted rebuttal of J.P. Moreland's argument on Morality found in his book Scaling the Secular City. (Carrier's original essay can be found here and the first part of this series can be found here, the second part can be found here, and the third part can be found here.) I took the position that Moreland’s argument on Morality was unscathed by Carrier’s rebuttal. In the process, we discussed whether there was any humanistic alternative basis for morality. One reader, Bruce, made what I considered to be one of the better arguments for a basis for humanistic morality that I have seen, and I promised him I would give it a response. Well, three months have passed and I thought I had better do it before I completely forget.

Here is what Bruce wrote:

Secular humanists have still another reason to be moral, which I personally take to be the most compelling in my own life, and it should b…