Showing posts from September, 2011

Jesus Traditions and Popular Mythology in the Roman Empire

The Jesus Project was started in 2007 as a forum for skeptical biblical scholars, both professional and amateur, to conduct a 'scientific' investigation of the historicity of the Jesus traditions in the New Testament. Their sessions resulted in an edited volume, Sources of the Jesus Tradition, published last year. In this post I want to take a closer look at an essay by classicist Justin Meggitt called 'Popular Mythology in the Early Empire and the Multiplicity of Jesus Traditions', which provides an alternative, skeptical model of the transmission of Jesus traditions in early Christianity. As Meggitt puts it:
When the popular cultural contexts within which stories about Jesus were first told or retold are taken into account, it becomes apparent that they are likely to be characterized by far more creativity, improvisation, idiosyncrasy, and inconsistency than has hitherto been assumed by most New Testament scholars. Far from being careful and cautious in their handlin…

Which Part of Evolution is Explained?

I know that some Bible-believing Christians who read this blog are strong believers in evolution. When I have spoken with these individuals they explain that they believe that God created the universe, but they are willing to accept what science teaches on the Theory of Evolution. The way they make these two views work together is to adopt a type of Theistic Evolution, i.e., theistic creation via evolution.

There is something to be said for adopting Theistic Evolution: it really does away with the conflict (to the extent it is scientific) between the Theory of Evolution and the Biblical account of Creation. It does so by saying that God is wise enough and all-powerful enough that he could create the initial conditions of the universe in a way the would ultimately lead to the rise of life -- including human life. Thus, whenever a new scientific discovery speculates about how life arose or how it came to be what it is, a person who adopts Theistic Evolution can say, "No problem beca…

Is Everything that Scientists say about the Unborn Scientific?

This past week, I received my e-mail edition of World Science. I enjoy reading this popularizer of science stories, and if you could go back and search my blog entries you would find that many of my posts about science arose from something that I found on this website.

But as a popularizer of science, I find that the website falls victim to the same problem other science popularizers such as Carl Sagan have fallen victim: making unsupportable claims when the evidence does not fully support (or may even counter) my world view. In World Science, I regularly find stories making assertions as if they are supported scientific findings that are either unsupported or inadequately demonstrated to be supported. In fact, in many cases the claims seem to be not only unsupported but incapable of being supported.

Take, as an example, a very interesting story entitled Facial expressions reported to develop before birth. As a person who supports the right to life of the unborn, I am always interested…

Newsflash: Atheists are not Monsters!

Reading through my notifications, I came across an article from the Morning Sun (Serving Central Michigan) that caught my attention by the outrageous title. It was Atheists are not monsters by Eric Baerren.

After commencing his piece by admitting he is an atheist (much to what I am sure must have been the stunned shock and surprise of many), he reports:

There will soon be a billboard in the Grand Rapids area advising motorists that atheists exist and aren't horrible monsters, as they are often assumed to be by many of the Christian majority.
I don't know about you, but this absolutely floored me. Not that atheists are not monsters. That's a given. But that atheists are "often assumed to be [monsters] by the Christian majority." Really? That's odd because as a member of the "Christian majority" I don't know a single Christian who thinks atheists are monsters.
But I guess my little slice of Christian America doesn't count because apparently the…

Cognitive Impairment and Belief

I just finished reading a...well, puzzling OpEd over at OpEdNews by Jack Flash entitled Cognitive Impairment and Belief. Ordinarily, I don't comment on material like this because I don't want to unnecessarily denigrate the author, but I think that he inadvertently raises an interesting point.

Let me attempt to fairly summarize the rambling opinion piece. Mr. Flash begins by seeking to evoke sympathy by saying that he has grown up suffering from a birth defect that caused his teachers to make fun of him and which has made it difficult for him to feel accepted in a "culture that is unforgiving of nature's diversities." Then he reveals that his birth defect is that he is an atheist. No, I'm not kidding. According to Mr. Flash:

My Birth Defect: I was born an atheist! This is what my experience tells me. I have no memories of ever believing in a god. I have searched the world of knowledge and the depths of my mind only to find: NOTHING. There is nothing within me t…

So BK you don't like Global Warming, how do you feel about eternal warming?

The thing to do with Global warming is not to argue agaisnt it. Use it. Atheists are almost bound to believe in it (I believe in it--not the point). Rather than argue against it as an example of bad lock, it's more useful as an example of good logic. This is so because the logic of Global warming is the same logic used in Pascals wager.

I have two observations to make before getting into this. The first one is about the wage itself. The second about the paradigm used for "risk taker analysis."

(1) Atheists mock and ridicule the wage extremely much, over doing it, becuase they don't understand it's function. Most Christian apologists don't understand it either, so no slight to our Atheist friends. Mine you the wage is an argument I never use. Most people take it as attempt at proving God exists. It is not an attempt to prove that God exists. It's meant as a tiebreaker. It's used after the massive collection of arguments Pascal wrote known as the Pensée…

Still Another Unfair Argument

As a Christian apologist, I am constantly exposed to bad reasoning. Sometimes, the bad arguments are found in arguments in favor of Christianity. Most often, the bad arguments are found in arguments against Christianity (this site regularly raises and challenges -- often defeating -- those bad arguments). But bad arguments are not confined to the discussions about the truth of Christianity.

Take, for example, the arguments about global warming. Some people (including me) aren't sold on the idea that global warming is all that it is cracked up to be. In fact, there are three questions that have yet to be conclusively answered in the global warming debate: First, is the earth really warming? Second, if the earth is warming, is the cause of the warming primarily, if not exclusively, human activity? Third, if the cause is human activity, is there anything that can reasonably be done to reverse the process of global warming? Despite protests by global warming activists to the contrary…