Showing posts from July, 2007

Da Vinci Code in Reverse

Just when all of the false information presented about the relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene in The Da Vinci Code is finally beginning to fade, someone has decided to look at The Last Supper painting from a different angle: backwards.

According to Good knight! New images found in Da Vinci's 'Last Supper'?, a computer analyst has discovered that if you reverse the image of Da Vinci's The Last Supper and superimpose the image over the original painting you find some, shall we say, interesting changes to the painting.

Slavisa Pesci claims to have discovered new images in the 15th mural in the dining hall of Milan’s Santa Maria delle Grazie church by superimposing a reverse image on the original image.

When doing so, Pesci said he observed, for example, that the two figures on either end of the long table appear to become knights, and that another figure appears to be holding an infant.

"It came to mind to scan ’The Last Supper’ and print it on transparent pap…

Jesus Myth Flakiness

One of the odder things about the Jesus Myth movement, such as it is, is how permeated it is by flakiness. I do not mean the obvious flakiness in denying the well-attested existence of Jesus. Rather, I mean a weird, over-the-top, desperation, do-even-heavily-biased-people-believe-this stuff kind of flakiness.

Thought those skeptical of Christianity were driven by cold, dispassionate logic and reason? Think again. In this post, I highlight some of the most flaky of the Jesus Myth movement. Jesus was a myth but one that properly understood can raise your cosmic consciousness or reveal you celestial nature or lead to ancestral unity. No, followers of Jesus will lead to the destruction of all mankind! Or perhaps he was a secret code representing the life of Julius Ceasar. No, he was a metaphor for the Emperor Trajan!

The descriptions of these books are not mine but come from Amazon. The emphasis, of course, is added.

The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold by Acharya S

Things That Make Your Head *Pop*, 2nd Installment

This is the second in an occasional series of posts about various bits of news or commentary that I come across that are simply so astoundingly absurd that it is beyond comprehension how someone can believe them. I base the title on radio and television talk show host Glenn Beck's comments that such things are so mind-boggling that they make your head want to explode. Hence, your head goes *pop*.


Theories about Jesus abound. Most of them are based on a belief (which could be considered a prejudice) against the supernatural events described in the New Testament. After all, according to those who doubt the accuracy of the Biblical accounts, it isn't possible that Jesus actually performed miracles, healed the sick, self-volitionally resurrected and claimed to be (in both words and deeds) the one true, unique Son of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. So, rather than accept the story of Jesus as taught in the New Testament, skeptics and some Christians who want a non-supernatu…

William L. Craig's New Website and the Question of the Week

In addition to being one of the leading apologists for the resurrection of Jesus, William L. Craig is one of the leading proponents of the Kalam Cosmological Argument and other philosophical arguments for God's existence. Dr. Craig is also one of the academic defendants of Christianity most available online, with many of his articles available on the internet.

Recently, Dr. Craig launched his Reasonable Faith website. It includes links and descriptions for all of his online articles, audio files of his debates, lectures, and interviews, an open forum on a range of philosophical and apologetic issues, and a weekly Q & A section where Dr. Craig responds to a question submitted to his website.

This week, Dr. Craig responds to one attempted refutation of the Cosmological and Teleological (Design) Arguments for God's existence: the supposed multiverse. Previous Q & A sessions are just as interesting. Check them, and the rest of the website, out.

Support for Suicide Bombings on Decline

The idea that strapping a bomb to someone so that he may enter a marketplace crowded with unarmed civilians and blow himself up is so disgusting to me that I have never understood how any person of any faith could possibly support it. Innocents are harmed, maimed and killed -- many of whom may have no part in the underlying conflict other than living on the wrong side of town. There seems to be few acts of cruelty that can compare when considering the random nature of the people killed and the extent of the harm inflicted. Yet, I have been surprised that many in the Muslim world have either supported or, at minimum, said nothing against this horrendous tactic.

Now, however, good news seems to be developing in the Muslim world: public opinion amongst people of the Islamic faith is turning against suicide bombings as an acceptable tactic. According to A Rising Tide Lifts Mood in the Developing World there has been a sharp decline in support for suicide bombing in most Muslim countries. T…

Ethics and the Third Person--a return to secular ethical grounding?

Introductory note from Jason Pratt: I am here appending in several parts some excerpts from an unpublished book of mine, originally composed late 99/early 2000, wherein I work out a progressive synthetic metaphysic. The current topic is ethical grounding, and an analysis of problems along the three general lines of ethical explanation. The previous entry, which critiqued an extremely common theistic variant of the third general ethical theory, can be found here.

Also, incidentally, I have gone back and updated links in my previous entries, to make it easier for navigation between them. Any entry with a subsequent entry, now features a hyperlink at the bottom leading to the next entry. I plan to include a 'prequel' link to "The Heart of Freedom" at the bottom of each entry, but I haven't gotten around to doing it yet. Hopefully next time!

Technically I would here be starting chapter 32, "the solution to the question of ethics"; but as it happens, I'm i…

Keith Parsons submits Atheist Manifesto

Dr. Keith Parsons, an old sparring partner of mine from pre-journal days, and mutual friend of Victor Reppert (who has known and debated him a heck of a lot longer than I have), has decided to join several of his Secular Web fellows in contributing to their online journal (hosted by Blogger), The Secular Outpost. For his opening post, and in honor of a nephew of his (evangelical Christian "of the progressive Jim Wallis type") who asked him to explain briefly why he is an atheist, Keith has submitted an Atheist Manifesto, and has called for some comments on it. Victor has provide his own brief opening reply here, where it overlaps Victor's current-semester discussions and reposts about the Cosmological Argument. (The recently reposted debate in the comments of this post here between Steve Lovell and Exapologist is quite good, too.)

I like KP a lot, as well as several other SecWeb correspondents of my experience (Jim Lippard comes immediately to mind, among others.) I'm…

The Gospels as Artifact

a poster named Hinch leaves this message as a comment to my last article, the one below, "The Historical Validity of the Gospels."

However, i do challenge your comment that "we do know who wrote the gospels". Although mainstream scholarly opinion may point to community authorship, this does not tell us anything concrete about the authors; we may be able to label a community as Johannine, yet that does not tell us if the community were eyewitnesses to the events they describe, or whether they sought to accurately record those events; indeed, it tells us almost nothing about the methods or motivations of the community for writing the gospels.

I disagree. Certainly we can tell some things about the author of a document by reading the document. IF we cannot assume that this can be done we might as well disband all history departments, fire all English teachers and stop trying to teach liberal arts. If this is the case human communication and understanding between people …

Historical Validity of the Gospels

In response to the comments on the huge post by Brain2 that was removed, "anonymous" makes the comment:

Because Jesus didn’t write the bible. From his alleged words (of which no one could’ve possibly scribed in wax, ink, or stone as quickly as he would’ve spoken) to the Bible you have in your hands is at LEAST 5 generations of hearsay, interpretation, and the good old game of “telephone”. I was being generous. It’s probably more like 10th- or 12th- hand accounts, what you are reading. That is, unless you’ve read the original tablets, scribes, and scrolls… which would themselves be at least 3rd- or 4th- hand themselves."
This is a pretty standard spin for most atheists on the boards. It's not that we have failed to refute it many times. Although, we have allowed atheists to remove the bible from the debate. We have allowed them to speak of it as garbage so many times that they just think of it as almost non existent. For the practical purposes of documenting Jesus life…

The Heart of Freedom

[Note from Jason Pratt, 7/19/07: Professor Victor Reppert over at Dangerous Idea, has been redating his discussions on human rights in the context of the founding of the United States (which he does every semester or so, for discussion among his students, as well as his readers). At about the same time BK mentioned in a pretty good Cadre post on Uber-Turtles {g} that he didn't know a theist who rolled a particular way in regard to a certain ontological claim. On the ground of this curious, or perhaps providential, conflation of topics, I've decided to redate my "Heart of Freedom" post from Independence Day this year, back up to the top of the main page (with a couple of composition repairs). The first Eth&t3rdPers entry can be found here; but the entry briefly referenced below, can be found here. Sceptics may appreciate that entry a lot, btw.]

This week, the United States will celebrate our annual Independence Day (July 4th--the day in 1776 we declared, a bit pre…

Origen, James the Brother of Jesus, and Josephus

In Book 20 of Josephus' Antiquities there is what could be called a passing reference to Jesus in a paragraph describing the murder of Jesus' brother, James, at the hands of Ananus, the High Priest.

But the younger Ananus who, as we said, received the high priesthood, was of a bold disposition and exceptionally daring; he followed the party of the Sadducees, who are severe in judgment above all the Jews, as we have already shown. As therefore Ananus was of such a disposition, he thought he had now a good opportunity, as Festus was now dead, and Albinus was still on the road; so he assembled a council of judges, and brought before it the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ, whose name was James, together with some others, and having accused them as lawbreakers, he delivered them over to be stoned.
Jewish Antiquities 20.9.1 (emphasis added).

According to the leading Josephus scholar Louis H. Feldman, the authenticity of the reference to Jesus and James "has been almost univ…