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Showing posts from August, 2007

Ethics and the Third Person--sin and death

Introductory note from Jason Pratt: I am here appending in several parts some excerpts from an unpublished book of mine (not CoJ incidentally), originally composed late 99/early 2000, wherein I work out a progressive synthetic metaphysic. The topic of this Section of chapters is ethical grounding; and in the first several entries I analyzed crippling problems along the three general lines of ethical explanation, including general theism. After this though, I returned to the argument I had already been developing for several hundred (currently unpublished) pages, and used those developed positions to begin solving the philosophical dilemmas I had covered in previous entries. Along the way, I ran into a potential problem last seen back in my (unpublished) Section Three; but slotting that problem into my developing argument allowed me to discover that I should believe that a 3rd Person of God exists. Having covered some introductory inferences regarding the 3rd Person's relationship …

A Defense of Richard Bauckham's Philosophy of Testimony, Part 2

In this series of posts I am addressing the criticisms levelled by Neil Godfrey at Richard Bauckham's philosophy of testimony, as outlined in ch.18 of Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. Here I am responding to the observations found in this post:

Bauckham's use of Paul Ricoeur

Godfrey moves on to Bauckham’s use of Paul Ricoeur’s work on the role of testimony in historical investigation. We have seen that Ricoeur’s axiom in evaluating testimony is to “first trust the word of others, then doubt if there are good reasons for doing so.” Bauckham insists that “This general rule for everyday life applies also to the historian in relation to her sources.” (p.487) Godfrey accuses Bauckham of implying that “Ricoeur himself has persuaded Bauckham to call on historians to believe the sort of sources regarded by biblical scholars as ‘eyewitness historical evidence’ as readily as they believe a neighbour’s report that he has a leaking tap... it is easy for a quick reader to assume that this spin is…

Genre, On the Life of Moses, and Luke-Acts

In a previous post, I discussed the difference a genre can make by focusing on Philo's On the Life of Moses (OLM). Although usually adopting a creative allegorical approach to Jewish scripture, in OLM Philo adopts a relatively straightforward biographical approach to the life of Moses. He makes relatively faithful use of the Old Testament and traditions of his people.

While reading OLM, I was struck by the similarities in many of its features with Luke-Acts. I will begin with the general similarities and then focus in more detail on the similarities of the works' prefaces.

General Features

On the Life of Moses and Luke-Acts are of comparable length, filling two scrolls. OLM is around 32,000 words long and Luke-Acts is around 37,700 words long.

On the Life of Moses and Luke-Acts are both Greco-Jewish works. Their audiences were predominantly Hellenized readers, though possessing an interest in the Jewish faith.

Related to the Jewish aspects of both writings is the regard …

Internet Atheists and Rhetoric, Addendum

After writing about Internet atheists and their rhetorical tactics over the weekend, a commenter provided an example of the type of disingenuous rhetoric that I was referencing. In the blog post entitled Internet Atheists and Rhetoric, I quoted an article by Dr. John Mark Reynolds who stated that Internet atheists don't understand the force of the arguments raised by Dr. William Lane Craig. In response to that blog entry, Internet atheist/gadfly Steven Carr commented:

For example, Criag [sic] argues that it is morally correct to stick a sword into the belly of an expectant mother Here

This article was widely discussed among atheists, the majority of whom found such view revolting.
This is an example of another type of atheist rhetoric: take a long, nuanced argument and boil it down to something that everyone agrees is offensive but which completely misrepresents what the author says. In other words, set up the straw man.

I certainly urge people to read the Craig article. He looks at …

Ethics and the Third Person--the argument from evil

Introductory note from Jason Pratt: I am here appending in several parts some excerpts from an unpublished book of mine (not CoJ incidentally), originally composed late 99/early 2000, wherein I work out a progressive synthetic metaphysic. The topic of this Section of chapters is ethical grounding; and in the first several entries I analyzed crippling problems along the three general lines of ethical explanation, including general theism. After this though, I returned to the argument I had already been developing for several hundred (currently unpublished) pages, and used those developed positions to begin solving the philosophical dilemmas I had covered in previous entries. Along the way, I ran into a potential problem last seen back in my (unpublished) Section Three; but slotting that problem into my developing argument allowed me to discover that I should believe that a 3rd Person of God exists. Having covered some introductory inferences regarding the 3rd Person's relationship …

A Pro-Intelligent Design Movie?

A new documentary film is being released featuring comedian and commentator Ben Stein. The film is entitled Expelled and sub-titled "No Intelligence Allowed".

Here is an excerpt from the e-mail announcment I received:

Ben Stein, the lovable, monotone teacher from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and The Wonder Years is on a journey to answer one of the biggest questions ever asked: Were we designed or are we simply the end result of an ancient mud puddle struck by lightning? Stein, who is also a lawyer, an economist, a former presidential speechwriter, author and social commentator, is stunned by what he finds on his journey. He discovers an elitist scientific establishment that has traded in its skepticism for dogma. But even worse, along the way, Stein uncovers a long line of biologists, astronomers, chemists and philosophers who have had their reputations destroyed and their careers ruined by a scientific establishment that allows absolutely no dissent from Charles Darwin’s theory…

A Defense of Richard Bauckham's Philosophy of Testimony, Part I

In the last chapter of his monumental new book Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, Richard Bauckham attempts a philosophical discussion of testimony as an epistemological category to make sense of the kind of historiography found in the canonical Gospels, and as a theological category appropriate to the kind of access to Jesus which Christians have through those Gospels (p.473). Drawing on the work of philosophers such as C.A.J. Coady and Paul Ricoeur, as well as historians like Samuel Byrskog, Bauckham argues that testimony represents a properly basic cognitive process on par with memory, sensation and inference. More specifically, testimony is irreducible to other kinds of knowing. He notes that “It is simply not true that each of us has done anything approaching sufficient observation for ourselves of the correlation between testimony and observable facts to justify our reliance on testimony.” (p.477) This implies that the proper approach to the evaluation of testimony begins with a fundam…

Ethics and the Third Person--the waging of sin

Introductory note from Jason Pratt: I am here appending in several parts some excerpts from an unpublished book of mine (not CoJ incidentally), originally composed late 99/early 2000, wherein I work out a progressive synthetic metaphysic. The topic of this Section of chapters is ethical grounding; and in the first several entries I analyzed crippling problems along the three general lines of ethical explanation, including general theism. After this though, I returned to the argument I had already been developing for several hundred (currently unpublished) pages, and used those developed positions to begin solving the philosophical dilemmas I had covered in previous entries. Along the way, I ran into a potential problem last seen back in my (unpublished) Section Three; but slotting that problem into my developing argument allowed me to discover that I should believe that a 3rd Person of God exists. Having covered some introductory inferences regarding the 3rd Person's relationship …

David Marshall's The Truth Behind the New Atheism

Speaking of the New Atheism movement...

My friend David Marshall, former missionary to Southeast Asia, now an increasingly prolific author of popular-level Christian apologetics, just alerted me that stock has arrived for his new book The Truth Behind the New Atheism: Responding to the Emerging Challenges to God and Christianity.

I expect this is an expanded version of an article he was going to write for _First Things_ last year, on Dennett's (then-)new book about the (merely) evolutionary source of religion--when he heard Dawkins was going to release _The God Delusion_, he decided to just wait and do a full book addressing both authors as his primary topical focus. (That's an educated guess on my part; hopefully I'll be able to find a way to do an interview for the site.)

He has managed to snag a couple of good pre-press reviews, too, from people like Paul Griffiths, Warren Chair of Catholic Thought at Duke Divinity School; and Rodney Stark, sociologist and historian, re-in…

Internet Atheists and Rhetoric

A couple of days ago, I published the tongue-in-cheek Freethinkers' Guide to Debating Christians on the Internet. While I published that as humor, there is some truth behind the guide: the majority of Internet atheists use the same rhetorical tactics when discussing Christianity. Often, these rhetorical tactics are not meant to be honest discussion, but rather to obscure the truth.

In the Guide, point number six read:

6. Make sure that in any discussion of their beliefs that you refer to it in the most arrogant, mean and nasty way possible. DO NOT SAY, "I do not believe in the Bible because I have seen no proof of it's authenticity." Rather say, "I have to much love in my heart to put my blind faith in some foul book responsible for so much bloodshed throughout history. It may serve for fools who enjoy forcing indigenous people into believing it at gunpoint, but for any real man with brains, it's just plain trash." -- Big, Nasty, Angsty emotional flags d…