Showing posts from February, 2007

The Jesus Equation -- Looking at the Numbers

What sold author Simcha Jacobovichi of the Jesus Tomb on the idea that the tomb and ossuaries discovered at Talpiot 26 years ago were the tomb and ossuary of Jesus and Mary Magdalene were the odds behind that combination of names appearing in a single tomb. The Jesus Tomb website calls it the "Jesus Equation". In a short video, he makes reference to an analogy of engaging in an archaeological dig in Great Britain 2,000 years from now and finding the tombs of three people together identified on their tombstones only as John, Paul and George. Now, John, Paul and George, of course, are very common names in Great Britain, but taken together they have a strong significance -- they are three of the Fab Four.

Of course, if you were the archaeologist who did Mr. Jacobovichi's analogous dig 2,000 years from now, would you conclude based on the names of Paul, George and John alone that the three graves were the graves of the actual Beatles? I expect that you'd recognize that i…

At Last, Internet TV Featuring Apologetics

I received this in my morning e-mail from Craig Hawkins:

For the last eight years or so, I have had the privilege of co-hosting a radio program called, "Living by the Word" on KKLA in Southern Calif. (and other stations at various times). (Previous to this, I have hosted programs, such as "CRI Perspective," co-hosted "The Bible Answer Man" with Walter Martin the last year of his life, and until just about one year after his death, hosted "AIM for the Truth," and so forth).

Starting on January 14 of this year, my colleagues and I have had the privilege of broadcasting "Living by the Word" on Internet TV. The program is live on Sunday nights from 10:00pm to 12:00am, Pacific Time, and rebroadcast a couple of times during the week, such as on Mondays from 5:00 to 7:00pm, Pacific Time. Our program is hosted on has both a "radio" broadcast and now a TV broadcast. Simply click on one of the TV li…

The Acts of Philip, Mariamne and the Jesus Tomb

One of the claims made on the website about the bone boxes found at Talpiot in 1980 is that one of the ossuaries is inscribed with the name of "“Mariamene e Mara”. From this, it is concluded that this particular ossuary was the ossuary of Mary Magdalene. Why? According to the Jesus Family Tomb website:

From the Acts of Philip, a fourth century work ostensibly written about Mary Magdalene’s brother, Phillip, and recently recovered from a monastery at Mt. Athos in Greece, Professor Fran├žois Bovon (Harvard University) has determined that Magdalene’s name was "Mariamne."
So, the reason that this is supposed to be Mary Magdalene's ossuary is because of the use of the name "Mariamene" which is close to the name of "Mariamne" from the Acts of Philip. Is this a particularly strong claim?

First, I should point out that the claim on the website is overstated. Dr. Bovon hasn't "determined" that the woman named "Mariamne" is Mary Magdale…

More on the Jesus Tomb

Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength has done an excellent job of pulling together more information about the bone boxes that I discussed yesterday.

Also, it is interesting what the official website for the Lost Tomb of Jesus says is the relevance of this discovery:

“The Lost Tomb Of Jesus” does not challenge the fact of the Resurrection. It does, however, ask viewers to consider the possibility that it occurred from another tomb.

The writer of the Gospel of Matthew (28:12-15) addresses a rumor that was circulating in Jerusalem at the time of the Crucifixion, a rumor that we suggest can be taken for the truth. The rumor was that the disciples came by night to remove Jesus’ body from the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, a temporary tomb close enough to bury Jesus before sundown on the Sabbath. They would have moved Jesus to safeguard his remains from desecrators.

His followers then would have taken Jesus to a permanent tomb, a family tomb.

Theologically speaking, even if Jesus were moved from one …

Playing Wack-a-Mole with the Jesus Tomb

Have you ever played Wack-a-Mole? For those that haven't, the game is an electronic game in which various moles are hidden in holes just below the surface of the game board. When the game is running, the moles pop up out of their holes. The person playing the game is given a hammer to wack them on the heads before they fall back below the surface of the game board. Of course, wacking a mole on the head doesn't stop the moles from popping up -- each time you wack a mole a new mole pops up to take it's place.

In the area of Christianity, there is a different type of Wack-a-Mole game going on. Stories that have been debunked over and over again keep popping back up as if they are new and somehow unanswerable. Such a story is apparently popping up again in the form of the Jesus, Mary and Josephy ossuaries. According to Mysterious bones of Jesus, Joseph and Mary :

In a scene worthy of a Dan Brown novel, archaeologists a quarter of a century ago unearthed a burial chamber near Je…

Ancient Greece Opposed Philosophy?

From our good friend and former blogging partner, Weekend Fisher, at Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength:

Would you say, in the death of Socrates, that Greece had shown its true colors as being against philosophy?

I'd expect not; Greece is the birthplace of many branches of philosophy. The death of Socrates can be understood various ways, but the record as a whole shows there is not a general Greek reaction against or opposition to philosophy; in fairness, few cultures have supported philosophy more.

But that is exactly the same variety of argument that anti-Christians make about Christianity's supposed opposition to science based on the imprisonment of Galileo. It does not matter to them that Christendom is the birthplace of many branches of science. The record as a whole shows there is not a general Christian reaction against or opposition to science, and in fairness few cultures have supported science more than Christian cultures. The modern sciences grew up in Christian culture…

The State of Intelligent Design by Phillip Johnson

Evolution News and Views has posted an entry entitled Phillip Johnson Gives State of the Debate Report in Think Philosophy Journal. In it, Professor Johnson says something that corresponds to my own view:

Today authoritarian rules ban the hypothesis of intelligent design from scientific discussion and fiercely suppress it by lawsuits. A genuinely confident scientific culture that was making continual progress in confirming its theories and solving problems would not need or want to rely on intimidation to silence dissent. It may require many long years of struggle before the hypothesis of real design in biology will be able to receive a fair hearing, but the day of that fair hearing will arrive, and eventually people may wonder how a materialist theory as shaky as Darwinism was able to captivate so many minds for so long. * * * I am still convinced that the possible role of intelligent causes in the history or life will eventually become a subject that leading scientists will want to …

Finding the Hidden Premise

Yesterday, I posted about logic, and I wanted to follow that post up with a tactic that I use when discussing the Bible with skeptics. I call it "Finding the Hidden Premise".

As most people are aware, arguments aren't simply stand alone statements that are expected to be accepted as true. An argument usually consists of one or more premises and a conclusion. The argument is only valid if the premises support the conclusion. Sometimes, however, arguments can have premises that support a conclusion but the premises can be so weak or even silly that simply pointing to the flawed premise is enough to win the argument (even though some skeptics won't concede it even if it is laughably obvious).

In some cases, the premises aren't even spoken; rather, only the conclusion is spoken. For example, if I were to say "Socrates is mortal because all men are mortal," I have stated one premise and the conclusion of the classic deductive argument. What I haven't sta…

Intelligent Design as the Boogeyman

A recent post at Telic Thoughts really leaves me dumbfounded. I don't know how else to say this, but I think that even if Darwinists are so persuaded to the truth of their claims that they feel that Intelligent Design must be defeated at all costs it still isn't acceptable to lie about it. Here's what the Telic Thoughts article says:

One of the reasons I don't take grandiose statements about how "many scientists reject intelligent design" seriously is because the average scientist has no clue as to what intelligent design is about, having only read some anti-ID editorials in the journals they subscribe to. A perfect example is provided by James L. Powell, professor of geology and the former director and president of the L.A. County Museum of Natural History. In a video urging scientists to tell the public what's what regarding intelligent design, he makes this… ahem, incisive argument against intelligent design (HT: Paul Nelson):

We have to say that if cre…

Dealing with the Inductive Argument Against the Resurrection

As every student of logic knows, every argument is composed of at least one premise and a conclusion. The two premises are used to support the argument, and if they fail to support the argument the argument may be invalid or unsound. Thus, in the classic deductive argument about Socrates' mortality, the argument reads like this:

Premise 1 (P1). All men are mortal
Premise 2 (P2). Socrates is a man.
Conclusion: Therefore, Socrates is mortal.

In a valid deductive argument, the premises are such that if the two premises are true, the conclusion must be true. In the case of an inductive argument, it is often the case that the argument can have one premise and the conclusion is a reasonable inference from the premise. Thus, an example would be:

P1. Every frog that I have ever seen is green.
Conclusion. The next frog that I see will be green.

Of course, the confidence that comes from the inference varies depending upon the strength of the evidence found in the first premise. Thus, if I have on…

An Open Letter To Madonna

Dear Madonna,

This morning's headlines scream that you want to be Jesus. According to Madonna wants to 'be Jesus' in an on-line magazine named Tonight, you are making a claim that is . . . well, pretty absurd. The magazine says:

The controversial singer - who infuriated Christian church leaders by performing while hung from a cross wearing a crown of thorns during her Confessions world tour - wants to be worshipped as a spiritual leader.
But EntertainmentWise, in an article entitled Madonna: I'm Like Gandhi, Lennon, Luther King AND Jesus, you didn't seek to be worshipped. Instead, you only want to be like Jesus in the way that you have an impact on the world.

The amazingly deluded pop star told American radio station Sirius she sees herself up there with the most inspirational figures of the Twentieth Century -- as well as Jesus.

She said, "For me, the best thing in the world is to see something or hear something and go, 'Damn, I wish I did that. That's in…

Dozens of Critiques of Richard Dawkins

The Blasphemy Challenge blog, which is a response to the Rational Response Squad's (RRS) Blasphemy Challenge authored by Frank Walton, has pulled together in a post entitled Book reviews of "God Delusion" which includes more than 30 posts on blogs and book reviews related to Richard Dawkins and his flawed arguments contained in the book, The God Delusion. For people wanting to read some excellent reasons to find Dawkins' book less than worthless, I suggest following some of the links. I'm sure they'll provide dozens of reasons.

Emo Philips Tackles the Problem of Suffering

One of my favorite comedians is Emo Phillips. He is a master of the misdirection joke where he gets you thinking one thing and then abruptly changes direction. For example, Emo jokes, "I ran three miles today, finally I said 'lady take your purse.'" He also jokes, "I was in a bar the other night, hopping from barstool to barstool, trying to get lucky---but there wasn't any gum under any of them."

Personally, I'm convinced that the guy has some Christian training in his background. I don't know if he is a Christian or a kid who was raised in a church who fell away, but his humor shows some occasional insight into things Christian.

On his website he has a page of Infrequently Given Answers, and one of them tackles the problem of suffering. Emo says:

The question is absurd: when you ask, "If God is both all good and all powerful, why then does He allow suffering?", what you are really asking is, "If God is both all good and all powerfu…

Opposing Intellectual Freedom in New Mexico

In the state of New Mexico, a bill was recently introduced into the legislature that was very simple in what it had to say: it encouraged intellectual freedom in the teachings of biological origins.

Leaving off all of the precatory language at the outset of the bill, here's what HJM 14 called for:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO that the public education department be requested to ensure that when a theory of biological origins is taught, public school teachers in New Mexico have the right and freedom to objectively inform students of any scientific information that is relevant to both the strengths and weaknesses of that theory; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the public education department be requested to ensure that teachers are not reassigned, terminated, disciplined or otherwise discriminated against for objectively informing students of scientific information relevant to both the strengths and weaknesses of a theory of biological …

Interpolation Inflation in Doherty's Jesus Myth Theory

An interpolation is an insertion into a text of words, phrases, or passages that were not part of the original text. At times, Earl Doherty has seemed defensive about allegations that he relies on interpolations to eliminate evidence that does not support his theory. At first, Doherty was adamant that he entertained only two possible interpolations in the NT letters as part of his Jesus Myth theory. In response to a reader question, Doherty stated: "I appeal to only two interpolations in all the New Testament epistles, one supported by most liberal scholars; the second is not critical to the argument." He seems rather proud of that fact, repeating the claim in many places. In response to J.P. Holding, Doherty states: "When he goes on to examine my two claims for interpolation in the entire Pauline corpus, including the pseudonymous letters...."

Those two interpolations are 1 Thessalonians 2:15-16 (describing the Jews as responsible Jesus' death) and Tim…

Christianity as a Global Religion

From Historian Ahead of His Time in Christianity Today:

Most Americans and Europeans think of Christianity as a Western religion. Prominent leaders of the last 50 years, like Billy Graham, Oral Roberts, and Pope John Paul II, are known primarily for their influence in the West, though in fact each of them has played a significant role in wider, global Christianity. But the most important development for the church in the 20th and 21st centuries has not been in the West at all, but in the astonishing shift of Christianity's center of gravity from the Western industrialized nations to Asia, Africa, and Latin America. In a short time, Christianity has been transformed from a European religion to a global one.
This is an extremely important thing to note. Christ called on us to evangelize all people, and it appears that while some in the west (most prominently Western Europe) errantly seem to think that they have grown beyond Christianity, the faith in Jesus Christ continues to thrive i…

The Foolishness of the Blasphemy Challenge

Since it was featured on one of those evening news shows awhile ago, I feel obliged to talk about the blasphemy challenge. As I understand it, the group known as the Rational Response Squad together with Brian Flemming, the maker of the completely irrational film The God Who Wasn't There, have put out a challenge to atheists everywhere to record a video to "publicly renounce any belief in the sky God of Christianity" by committing the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, i.e., the unforgivable sin. (Of course, it is always the way with these people to be disrespectful and insulting in everything they do, so the reference to the "sky God" is not unexpected.) These really sad videos are then posted on YouTube and you can see a collection of them here.

Personally, I'm sure that these atheists think that what they are doing is cute. They view it like saying "I don't believe in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny or Richard Dawkins" because they believe that…

In What Way Did Jesus Come in "the Likeness of Sinful Flesh"?

In the middle of Romans, Paul describes Jesus' incarnation and atoning sacrifice:

8:1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,

4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
The phrase "likeness of sinful flesh" has caused consternation for almost two thousand years; ever since the heretic Marcion seized on it to claim that Jesus had not come as a human, but as a divine being with a different physical nature. Jesus only appeared to be human according to Marcion, whose docetic tendencies found the idea of a flesh and blood human Christ-figure as repulsive. To docetists like M…

A Great Dawkins Parody

DaveScot at Uncommon Descent has linked to a great parody of Richard Dawkins' book The God Delusion that has been put on YouTube entitled The Dawkins Delusion. As commentor J. Parker notes:

Yet not as risible as Dawkins writing itself! Really, if you read his work without emotion, it’s (unintentionally) funny!

In fact, this is so funny because it’s his argument verbatim, just substituting “Dawkins” for God.
I found it very funny, myself. Take the five minutes it takes to watch it -- it will be worth your time.

(HT: CADRE member Jeff G)

Revised Article on Whether Eusebius Invented the Testimonium Flavianum

I have substantially revised my article responding to Ken Olson's argument that not only was the Testimonium Flavianum a complete interpolation, but that it was one foisted on us by Eusebius of Caesarea. There is revised analysis of the linguistic evidence put forward by Olson, but most of the revision addresses the existence of manuscripts of Josephus' Antiquities which contain the Testimonium Flavianum that are independent of Eusebius. Such traditions are fatal to Olson's theory that the Testimonium Flavianum began with Eusebius.

Who Are You To Say?

One rejoinder that I sometimes come across is the old question, "Who are you to say . . . ?" For example, when I say that Jesus is the only Son of God, they may respond, "Who are you to say Jesus was really the Son of God?" If I say, "Jesus died for your sins," they may respond "who are you to say that Jesus died for my sins?"

What's interesting is that I readily admit that I am no one to say. I am just a Christian -- among millions of other Christians -- who trust in God for many reasons. Of course, they really know that. The challenge "who are you to say?" is truly and simply an effort to discredit my views on the basis that I have no authority from which to speak. It is much like a person turning and saying "Who died and left you God?" This really isn't a response, but an effort to dismiss what I am saying by questioning me.

Let me make a suggestion of a response. If you are trying to tell others something about Chr…

New Blog: The Problem of Evil

David Wood, of Answering Infidels, has started a blog entitled, The Problem of Evil, which focuses on, the problem of evil. That also happens to be the focus of his PhD work.

Also, if the topic interests you, check out the CADRE's own page on Theodicy.