CADRE Comments

A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth

Over at Debunking Christianity, John Loftus has declared that religious people are closed-minded, and therefore they cannot accept the evidence that would otherwise overturn their faith:

"There are two problems we face in order to cultivate the intellectual virtue of open-mindedness. The first is to learn what constitutes evidence, since most people are unreasonably persuaded because of anecdotal evidence, or fallacious arguments substituting for the lack of evidence, or even peer-pressure or the accidents of birth into a particular family or a different culture. The second is to learn to avoid confirmation bias as much as possible, which Michael Shermer calls "the mother of all biases." [In The Believing Brain, p. 259].Once we learn about these problems and recognize them as the serious ones they really are, and that they stand in the way of a clear-headed investigation of the truth, we can proceed to be honest investigators of the truth. We would know what kind of evidence to look for and be better able to see any bias we might have and adjust for it....  When it comes to investigating the truth of a religion, open-minded people will reject faith-based subjective private states of the mind in favor of objective scientific evidence...."

Okay, let's stop there. Sensible as it sounds at first glance, this is a false dichotomy. The reason confirmation bias is so widespread in the first place is that each of us is led by "faith-based subjective private states of the mind." Consider an analogy: the Wright Brothers developed a working airplane not by rejecting the effects of gravity, aerodynamic drag, etc., but by taking these unwelcome factors fully into account and working out a solution despite them. Likewise the key to maximizing our own methodological objectivity is to first acknowledge our biases, not "reject" them (impossible) or pretend we don't have them. Loftus certainly has his. A man simply does not build a website and write numerous books wholly dedicated to "Debunking Christianity" without some rather strong and settled predispositions against Christian belief. Projecting at length about the confirmation biases of others won't change that very obvious fact.

For the same reasons opinions will vary quite widely on what is and isn't "objective scientific evidence." Mere collections of facts, data and observations are not evidence until they are worked into a hypothesis. And what is a hypothesis? Well, it's basically a tentative explanation, based on a belief or a hunch, usually inspired by some initial observations or reasonings. Suppose I stumble upon a watch on the ground. If I'm William Paley, I may see evidence that an object's design can be reliably inferred from the functionally complex structure of the object itself. If I'm Sherlock Holmes, on the other hand, I may see evidence that the suspect was near the scene of the crime. What the watch "means" evidentially depends largely on contextual elements – especially the psychological states and purposes of the investigator, not the observation at hand. Inanimate objects cannot generate hypotheses.

Without beliefs and biases science could not possibly get off the ground. As Poincare put it, "Science is built up of facts, as a house is with stones. But a collection of facts is no more a science than a heap of stones is a house." No amount of scientific data will demonstrate that nature is intelligible, that properly derived probability estimates correctly represent the actual probabilistic situation, or that the scientific method is the best way to ascertain truth about the world around us. Those are untestable beliefs we bring to our experiments; the experiments won't confirm them.    

Loftus continues:

"Open-minded people who honestly want to know the truth will consider the evidence as dispassionately as possible, using no double standards. They will do so from the perspective of an outsider in the same way they already reasonably investigate all other religions (which is what The Outsider Test for Faithasks of them). Closed-minded people will not do this. Closed-minded people will even desperately attempt to argue against doing this, even to the point of saying faith is a virtue. But faith has no method and solves no problems. It allows people to remain in their own mutually exclusive certainties. If faith is trust then there is no reason to trust faith.

So when we see Christian defense lawyers like Victor Reppert, David Marshall, Randal Rauser, Thomas Talbott, Mark M. Hanna, Norman Geisler, Matthew Flannagan, Steve Lovell, and others argue differently, you're seeing how faith interrupts the rational thought processes of otherwise intelligent people. Because that's what faith does. Faith itself is a cognitive bias causing people to misjudge the probabilities in favor of one's own faith."

As far as I can tell faith is not a "cognitive bias" but an honest recognition of cognitive limitations, "the evidence of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1). In some cases faith appears to be a reasonable inference drawn from observable facts, as when Jesus said "believe Me for the sake of the works themselves" (John 14:11). But Loftus argues that because religious people have faith, they must be closed-minded and do not objectively weigh the evidence before them. What is the evidence Loftus provides for the closed-mindedness of religious people? None. The deep irony here is that no evidence whatever is provided to back up the assertion that religious people, and not atheists, believe things on insufficient evidence. To add insult to injury, the Christian faith is supported by all kinds of evidence (where evidence is roughly defined as some fact or set of facts that makes the truth of a proposition more probable than it would be otherwise). Here then are some strong sources of evidence for Christian theism: 

·         The correlation of the creation story in Genesis with the basic facts of cosmology and the "fine-tuned" structure of the universe.
·          The astonishing levels of specifiable, functional complexity observable in living creatures, suggesting their deliberate design.
·         General human acknowledgement of a transcendent moral law, pointing to a transcendent moral legislator.
·         The historical origin and prophetically foretold global dispersion and re-gathering of Israel, as recorded in the Scriptures.
·         Countless archaeological confirmations of the narratives of both testaments.
·         The miraculous ministry and uniquely authoritative teaching of Jesus Christ, attested in the accounts of many thousands of early Gospel manuscripts and writings of early church fathers.
·         The birth of the early church in Jerusalem (the very site of Christ's crucifixion) through the preaching of the bodily resurrection of Christ in the face of violent persecution.
·         And perhaps more than the others, unforgettable personal experiences of God's loving presence and healing power, also known as religious experience.

Now by Loftus' own reasoning, I can determine whether he is open to evidence for the truth of Christianity by simply observing whether he accepts or rejects these facts. By accepting, he demonstrates evidence of openness.

How about it, John? :-)







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In the previous post I commented on Sean Carroll, astro-physicist and atheist soldier who wave the banner of scientism. He writes an article:Why (Almost All) Cosmologists are Atheists [1] Actually, he offers no data on the views of cosmologists. I offered reasons in the previous post as to why I think the title here is hyperballe. Good data shows that the majority of scientists believe in God [2]  While it may not be true of cosmologists I have no reason to believe it is not. But this is not the real issue. he real issue is that Carroll's arguments are merely ideological/ all he's doing is imposing a naturalistic ideology upon epistemology and then insisting that he has the mystique of science to back  it up. In other word it's just propaganda.

Let's start with his conclusion:

The question we have addressed is, ”Thinking as good scientists and observing the world in which we live, is it more reasonable to conclude that a materialist or theist picture is most likely to ultimately provide a comprehensive description of the universe?” Although I don’t imagine I have changed many people’s minds, I do hope that my reasoning has been clear. We are looking for a complete, coherent, and simple understanding of reality.
That seems ok so far but here's where he wants to wind up:

 Given what we know about the universe, there seems to be no reason to invoke God as part of this description. In the various ways in which God might have been judged to be a helpful hypothesis — such as explaining the initial conditions for the universe, or the particular set of fields and couplings discovered by particle physics — there are alternative explanations which do not require anything outside a completely formal, materialist description. I am therefore led to conclude that adding God would just make things more complicated, and this hypothesis should be rejected by scientific standards. It’s a venerable conclusion, brought up to date by modern cosmology; but the dialogue between people who feel differently will undoubtedly last a good while longer.

The problem is "what we know" means what we know by the methods that I choose, those methods are chosen because they yield the results I want; other forms of  knowledge I do not have to regard. He argues for a self contained paradigm and true to Thomas Kun's theory he absorbs anomalies into the paradigm so as not to admit that they are contradictions and he defends the paradigm like a political regime. My overall argument is that his rejection of theism is ideological not scientific.

In his abstract to the article he makes his purpose clear, that purpose I to rule out belief in God by moving it of the map as an issue. The way to do that is to assert science's role as the only form of knowlege:
Abstract
Science and religion both make claims about the fundamental workings of the universe. Although these claims are not a priori incompatible (we could imagine being brought to religious belief through scientific investigation), I will argue that in practice they diverge. If we believe that the methods of science can be used to discriminate between fundamental pictures of reality, we are led to a strictly materialist conception of the universe. While the details of modern cosmology are not a necessary part of this argument, they provide interesting clues as to how an ultimate picture may be constructed. [emphasis mine] [3]
Why would we be led to be led to a meticulously materialist view just because we believe that the methods of science can be used to discriminate between fundamental views? It sounds like he is saying that science can determine the truth between differing views. He actually says ifwe believe that it can He's aware that it can't. He knows all he's really doing is just advocating an ideological view point that blinds itself to other possibilities.

As further evidence of his commitment as a solider of atheism he opposes any sort of peaceful coexistence between science and religion:

One increasingly hears rumors of a reconciliation between science and religion. In major news magazines as well as at academic conferences, the claim is made that that belief in the success of science in describing the workings of the world is no longer thought to be in conflict with faith in God. I would like to argue against this trend, in favor of a more old-fashioned point of view that is still more characteristic of most scientists, who tend to disbelieve in any religious component to the workings of the universe.[4]


He disavows any claim to statistical accuracy in the title saying, "The title ''Why cosmologists are atheists'' was chosen ...simply to bring attention to the fact that I am presenting a common and venerable point of view, not advancing a new and insightful line of reasoning." [5] That's a new one, I can make false claims about support because I don't mean them and somehow the fact that I'm advocating traditional views guarantees it's veracity. Talk about propaganda! This "common and venerable view" is outmoded and has been left behind by many in scientific circles. Stpehen J, Guild with his non overlapping magisteria found peace with religion by recognizing that religion and science have different purposes.[6] The National Science Teachers Association echos the same concept that science and religion cover differing domains of knowledge. “Explanations involving non-naturalistic or supernatural events, whether or not explicit reference is made to a supernatural being, are outside the realm of science and not part of a valid scientific curriculum.” [7]

"Essentially I will be defending a position that has come down to us from the Enlightenment, and which has been sharpened along the way by various advances in scientific understanding. In particular, " No scientific understanding has ruled out God. He's appealing to tradition and the emotional investment he's made in enlightenment thinking. "Since very early on, religion has provided a certain way of making sense of the world -- a reason why things are the way they are." I suspect that what he means by that is that religion offered an explanation of the workings of the physical world, such as the river floods because God is mad at us. I have a hard time thinking that Carroll really has a conception of what religion is about.  part of what I base that upon is the the things he thinks beat it out:
In modern times, scientific explorations have provided their own pictures of how the world works, ones which rarely confirm the pre-existing religious pictures. Roughly speaking, science has worked to apparently undermine religious belief by calling into question the crucial explanatory aspects of that belief; it follows that other aspects (moral, spiritual, cultural) lose the warrants for their validity. I will argue that this disagreement is not a priori necessary, but nevertheless does arise as a consequence of the scientific method,

Of course before one can say "X has overcome Y" she/he must know what Y is about. Since science doesn't talk about existential or phenomenological matters one cam only conclude that he must think religion is about explaining where the sun came from and why it rains. This especially so since view he is juxtaposing is cosmology. So he must think that understanding the nature of reality is jus a matter of understanding the cosmic layout, planets and stars.
The essence of materialism is to model the world as a formal system, which is both unambiguous and complete as a description of reality. A materialist model may be said to consist of four elements. First, we model the world as some formal (mathematical) structure. (General relativity describes the world as a curved manifold with a Lorentzian metric, while quantum mechanics describes the world as a state in some Hilbert space.
Complete as a description of reality? That assumes of course that your methods are up to the task of probing all of reality. He speaks of a complete description and yet look at all that he leaves out/, First I refer the reader to my recent essay "can science prove the basis of modern physics?" [8] How can he claim a complete description when it can't tell us what the basic building blocks are made out of? Materialism has to rule out miracles. It will rule them out as a matter of course. That is an ideological imperative. Then in a move of pure circular reasoning it will appeal to it's own authority in declaring miracles to be scientifically disproved. All that really means is that they conflict with the ideological scheme of things. Miracles are a part of my reality. They are paert of other people's observations and have been documented scientifically.[9] [10]Any description of the universe that rules them out without genuinely disproving them is incomplete. Then of course there are issues of phenomenological and existential import.



sources

[1] Sean M. Carroll, "Why (Almost All) Cosmologists are Atheists;" On line resource, Prepared for God and Physical Cosmology: Russian-Anglo American Conference on Cosmology and Theology, Notre Dame, January/February 2003. Published in Faith and Philosophy 22, 622 (2005). See also the pdf version. URL:http://preposterousuniverse.com/writings/nd-paper/  accessed Feb 12, 2016.

Carroll is at the California Institute of Technology.

[2] Neil Gross and Solon Simmons, “How Religious Are America's College and University Professors.” SSRC, (published feb. 2007), PDF URL, accessed 9/4/15 The Author 2009. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the http://religion.ssrc.org/reforum/Gross_Simmons.pdf Association for the Sociology of Religion.

They present a bar graph that show about 35% professor's ar elite research universities believe in God with no doubt. About 27% believe but sometimes have doubts. About 38% are atheists. That actually means that 60% are not atheists. True that's not cosmologists but there is good reason to think the majority of cosmologists are not atheists. The most atheistic groups in the study were psychologists (61%), biologists (about 61%), and mechanical engineers (50%), not physicists (among whose ranks cosmologists number). Contrary to popular Opinion, atheists and agnostics do not comprise a majority of professors..."
 

[3] Carroll, op. cit.

[4] Ibid. "Introduction."

[5] Ibid. all further quotes by Carroll are from this article.

[6]  Stephen Jay Gould. Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life. New York: Ballantine Books. ,2002,

[7] Statement on Teaching Evolution, National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT). Adopted by the NABT Board of Directors on March 15, 1995. no page given, in Three Statememts in Support of Teaching Evolution From Science and Science Education Organizations, A National Science Teachers Association Position Statement (see fn 4) online URL http://www.nap.edu/read/5787/chapter/11#127 (accesed 1/26/2016)

[8] Joe Hinman, Can Science prove the basis of modern Physics?" Metacrock's blog, Feb. 1, 2016, URL:http://metacrock.blogspot.com/2016/02/can-science-really-prove-basis-of.html accessed 2/14/16.
[9] Bernard Francis et al, “The Lourdes Medical Cures Re-visited,” Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, Oxford: Oxford University Press. (10.1093/jhmas/jrs041) 2012 pdf downloaded SMU page 1-28  all the page numbers given are from pdf

Bernard Francis is former professor Emeritus of medicine, Unversite Claude Bernard Lyon. Elisabeth Sternberg taught at National Institute of Mental Health and The National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland. Elisabeth Fee was at National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.

[10] Jacalyn Duffin, Medical Miracles: Doctors, Saints and Healing: Medical Miracles in the Modern World. Oxford University Press; 1 edition (November 21, 2008

from Bio on Amazon.com
 Jacalyn Duffin, M.D. (Toronto 1974), FRCP(C) (1979), Ph.D. (Sorbonne 1985), is Professor in the Hannah Chair of the History of Medicine at Queen's University in Kingston where she has taught in medicine, philosophy, history, and law for more than twenty years. A practicing hematologist, a historian, a mother and grandmother, she has served as President of both the American Association for the History of Medicine and the Canadian Society for the History of Medicine. She holds a number of awards and honours for research, writing, service, and teaching. She is the author of five books, editor of two anthologies, and has published many research articles. Her most recent book is an analysis of the medical aspects of canonization, Medical Miracles; Doctors, Saints, and Healing in the Modern World, Oxford University Press, 2009. It was awarded the Hannah Medal of the Royal Society of Canada...

See also Doxa. miracles pages


On Metacrock's blog today: True Christian concept of the supernatural
 
We are unable to bring you a real post today but I have a good one on my blog.
 
 
http://metacrock.blogspot.com/2016/02/the-true-christian-concept-of-super.html

The New atheists constantly mock the SN as though they know what it is. When the discuss it they include anything not naturalistic. The modern conception is that SN is everything from Bigfoot to the resurrection, include g ghosts, UFOs and Psychic Powers. It never occurs to them Christians were using the term before the modern concept of naturalism so it can't just mean everything that[s not naturalistic. Jerry Coyne is an evolutionary biologist at the University of Chicago. He is also an apologist for atheism. Coyne says something more interesting than than Dawkins does, however, he says that SN could be studied by science.[1] Although, I'm sure Dawkins probably agrees with his reasoning. If SN could not be so studied it would be unreasonable to fault the notion for not having scientific evidence. Coyne asserts that modern science's tendency to set religion aside as belonging to a different order of reality (magisteria) thus being unsuitable is “accomodationist dogma.” [2]

If you’ve frequented this site, you’ll know that I disagree with this stand. I adamantly maintain that science can indeed test the supernatural—at least those claims about the supernatural that involve its interaction with the real world. Indeed, you’ll be familiar with several claims about the supernatural that have already been tested, and refuted : the Genesis story of creation, the story of Adam and Eve, a 6,000-year-old earth, and the efficacy of intercessory prayer, as well as paranormal phenomena like near-death experiences, telepathy, and precognition. If you invoke a form of the supernatural that claims to have real-world consequences, then those consequences necessarily fall within the ambit of science. This means that any type of theistic faith involves hypotheses that are “scientific”.[3]
He;s attacking the wrong concept find out why on Metarcock's blog today.



[1] Jerry Coyne, “Can Science Test The Supernaural, Yes!,” Why Evolution is True. (6/27/2012) URL:


[2] Ibid.


[3] Ibid.

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Yesterday I posted a piece about the atheist propaganda machine know as Center for Inquiry, and particular their attempt to create a Jesus project to dispute the existence of Jesus in history. The  plug was pulled on the project by R.l Joseph Hoffmann who started the project. His reason was that the Jesus mythers were taking over and using it as a platform for their propaganda rather than doing real scholarly work. They only went two of their five years. Yet they have been so totally effective the Jesus myth thing has just exploded. It's everywhere where atheist talk. There are some instructive lessons in looking at the Jesus Project. It's a lesson in Propaganda.


from the website of the project, one would think it's still going. The thing was canceled in 2011 and yet not a  hint on the website that it is not still going.

TJP scholars--among the finest on the world-stage--recognize the status and influence of the New Testament as a resource for Christian believers. It is particularly because of that status and influence that the New Testament invites the scrutiny of scholars who can illuminate its background, trace the origins of the movement that brought the documents into existence, and reconstruct the story of its leading figure. [1]

Present tense, they recognize as though they are still in session. They have had more than enough time to take it down or make a note that it quite work. Here's how they justify their propaganda thing:
The Project is also new in opening this investigation to a much wider range of "experts": its scholar associates represent not only professionals in New Testament Studies, but specialists in the social sciences, including archaeology, legal history, intertestamental Judaism, educational studies, Near Eastern studies, philosophy and classics. The Project expresses the growing importance of interdisciplinary studies and the "interdependence of knowledge" in contemporary research. For that reason, TJP emphasizes its character as a scholarly collaboration, a voluntary association of scholar-teachers who believe in the power of conversation and correction. (Ibid)



They are going to open up a wider range of experts, meaning, Propaganda merchants distilling the party line. Note  the Orwellian aspects. As we go down the list we see more and more subtle changes from a scholarly endeavor to shameless propaganda. They do have some real scholars and even believers listed among their fellows. Yet they clearly stacked the deck to have Jesus mythers take over.
The Project will meet, on average, every nine months at academic venues throughout North America and Europe. Its meetings are open to the public, and in all sessions there is opportunity for free and open discussion. CSER, and the TJP, have traditionally maintained that scholarship is a public business--not simply a colloquy of the well-informed--and should be of public benefit. TJP will conduct its business accordingly. Prometheus Books will publish the essays and papers presented at its meetings on a regular basis. (Ibid)


What? Scholarship is not a colloquy of the well informed? Scholarship is not closed to the well informed. So one wonders how they use the term "Scholar" if it doesn't mean well informed. Let's open the seminar up to badly informed people just for the heck of it. Colloqqyy is a word they use in seminary to mean a discussion of scholars. "a gathering for discussion of theological questions." Webster defines it as "a high-level serious discussion :  conference." So we are going to have a high-level discussion with those who are well informed and the ignorant. "Prometheus Books will publish the essays and papers presented at its meetings on a regular basis." Prometheus primarily publishes atheist materials. I tried to get them to publish my book and that's how I found out they don't  publish much that is not of use to atheists. What they really mean is they are making a place for those who have no expertize in Bible and who are committed to Jesus mytherism. That's so people like Carrier who are not teaching at university can be on it.

fellows

 


Paul Kurtz listed as a fellow. What expertise does he have in Bible? As you might recall from yesterday's post he founded the Center for Inquiry and helped to start the New Atheist movement. He is a philosopher but not a historian or Bible scholar. He's bound to be biased. I am not saying they did not have good scholars. But they stacked the deck with mythers, atheists and people they knew would go there way. Richard Carrier is an obvious example. He has made his career as a professional atheist. His career is riding high on the Jesus myth fad he helped to create.

Center for Inquary lists Roland Boer as a fellow:
Roland Boer previously taught at the University of Sydney, McGill University, the University of New England, the United Theological College, Sydney and the University of Western Sydney. He is the author of the following books: Marxist Criticism of the Bible (2003), Last Stop Before Antarctica: The Bible and Postcolonialism in Australia (2001), Knockin' on Heaven's Door: The Bible and Popular Culture (1999), Novel Histories: The Fiction of Biblical Criticism (1997) and Jameson and Jeroboam (1996).[2]\
Doesn't say what he teaches. Doesn't say What his degrees are let's see if we can figure it out. Here is his blog: Roland Boer's Blog: Marxism, Religion, Politics, Bible, whatever …[3]

Top Posts



His books are about the villainous church in oppressing the worker.
The economy ancient Israel. Call me reckless I am going to take a wild guess and say "Marxism." He teaches Marxism. I am not red baiting (I hate that) and I'm not saying he's a  Marxist he has to be wrong. But it is very likely he has biases that make him not ideal to be in a project studying the historical Jesus.

The next one takes the prize. This guy is a study in things seeming what they are not. He has impeccable scholarly credentials yet his bias is blatant.Robert M. Price is a real scholar who is also passionately committed atheist. He is a soldier.

"Drew University, a PhD in Systematic Theology (1981) and a second PhD in New Testament (1993). He has served as Professor of Religion at Mount Olive College, North Carolina, pastor of First Baptist Church, Montclair, NJ, and Director of the Metro NY Center for Inquiry."


This book is an exceptionally well-written, informed and witty smack down of Christian attempts to deny the fact of evolution or incorporate it into their faith. The authors show us in this masterful book, the likes of which I have never seen before, that the implications of evolution are devastating for the Bible and the doctrines based on it. Absolutely brilliant!John W. Loftus, author of Why I Became an Atheist and The Outsider

This is why I call Price a soldier, a soldier of atheism. He's got one of the most zealous atheist apologists, Loftus, hawking his books for him. Price is  real scholar and a good one, by both credential and skill but in my view he violates the basic code of the scholar. He is a soldier a combatant for atheism. That will become even more clear shortly. One of his booka:


The Amazing Colossal Apostle the search for the historical Pail

The story of Paul is one of irony, the New Testament depicting him at the martyrdom of Stephen holding the assassins' cloaks……The stories were didactic tales meant to keep us reverent and obedient. As adults reading the New Testament, we catch glimpses of a very different kind of disciple—a wild ascetic whom Tertullian dubbed “the second apostle of Marcion and the apostle of the heretics.” ...Robert M. Price, in this exciting journey of discovery, gives readers the background for a story we thought we knew.
He is merchandizing. You can buy a price T-shirt: Bible Geek Donation Store. "theology with a twist but without the spin" The twist his he hates religion and doesn't believe in God.[4]


bottom left corner of his home page a graphic with Sater looking guy Zerathustra speaks[5]


Zarathustra Speaks
Proclaiming the death of God and the dawn of the Superman
Bulletin of The Sect of Zarathustra (former member, Alliance of Secular Humanist Societies 1999 - 2001)
The Sect of ZarathustraSheep in Wolves’ Clothing
The Great NoonShe's Not Chinese!




Monthly Essays Zarathustra Speaks has since been resurrected as RMP's monthly essay's
available as a free subscription through this Web site.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

one of the essays Mausoleum of God. Accepts ossuaries found in Israel with names of Jesus, Joseph Mary and so on as authenthic with 600/1 odds. Holy Irony meter Batman he thinks if othyer bone box of James is reals it doesn't disprove this one biut disproves Jesus and thye Bible. zin otjer

But then, uh-oh!, this set of ossuaries would seem to prove too much! It would mean that, a la Dan Brown and The Da Vinci Code, Jesus survived or escaped crucifixion, got married, and fathered children—much as happens in Jesus’ dream-escape from the cross in The Last Temptation of Christ. No saving death, no resurrection. Yikes.

But it could just as easily mean the other one is fake, they are both fake, why can't he see that/? Here's the irony, the point of his essay: "Bible is no less victim to death by a thousand speculations than the blind gropings of unaided human reason. Because that’s all any of us have anyway, even if, like Bible preachers, you’d like to pretend otherwise."

Gee really ? Then what are his thousand speculations? They are truth and intellectual honesty like pretending  to be a  unbiased Bible scholar while fighting for atheism and making assertions as stupid as any the fundies make.

He has to admit Jesus existed to claim he has his bones. Ironic that he speaks of intellectual honesty because he doesn't have it. He uses his credentials to destroy faith by asserting that these are definitely Jesus' bones but he doesn't even hint that there is counter evidence. No this is totally a fact there's no getting out of it so Christian scholars are hypocrites. Here is what he does not tell you:

(1) The combo of names Jesus son of Joseph has been found on two other tombs this century,[7]

(2) Caruso said he was 95% sure that the “Lost Tomb” proponents had correctly interpreted the shin (Hebrew letter giving the “sh” sound in Yeshua), but could not be more than 10% certain of anything else other than “Jose 90.[8]

(3) Dr. Pfann said that the name is probably Hanun instead of Jesus. Dr. Pfann is the one who excavated the Nazareth farm. [9]

What does this say for prices honesty? For the scholarship of the Jesus project" of the new atheism. Of Bible Scholars in sheep's clothing? Shades of J.P. Holding but that's the Price of his credulity.

for more on the Orwellian nature of New Atheism see Atheistwatch


[1] Website of Jesus Project, Center for Inquiry, URL:
http://www.centerforinquiry.net/jesusproject  (aacessed) 2/2/2016

[2] Ibid. page lists Boer as Fellow
http://www.centerforinquiry.net/jesusproject/fellows/boer_roland/

[3] Roland Boer, Stalin's Mustache :Marxism, Religion, Politics, Bible, whatever blog
http://stalinsmoustache.org/

If I was J.P.Holding I would say he's a Boer.

[4] rmp, Rpbert Prices Hme Page URL:
http://www.robertmprice.mindvendor.com/ (accessed 2/3/16)

[5] Zerat5hustra speaks, Prices more discrete hard to see website

http://www.robertmprice.mindvendor.com/zara/index.htm

[6] Eobert Price, "Mausoleum of God." Zerathustra Speaks website by Robert Price URL
http://www.robertmprice.mindvendor.com/zara/march__2007.htm  (accessed 2/4/16)

[7] Bauckham, “The Names on the Ossuaries,” 100.

[8] Steve Caruso, “The Jesus Son of Joseph Inscription Part 2,” The Aramaic Blog, March 29, 2007. Available at aramaicdesigns.blogspot.com/2007/03jesus-son-of-joseph-inscription-part-2.html. Accessed January 31, 2013

[9] Gary Habermas, The Secret of the Talpiot Tomb: Unravelling the Mystery of the Jesus Family Tomb (Nashville, TN: Holman Reference, 2007), 39





 

These are the voyages of Jesus myther propaganda... (part 1)

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It's five year mission, to seek out new lies and new propaganda slogans, to boldly go where no historians have gone before...
 


 Years ago, way back in 2009 I did a post on Atheistwatch about the Jesus project, not seminar but project. They really did have a five year mission. Last week I did a post on the parent organization, the centerpiece of atheist propaganda machine, the center for inquiry (they do skeptical inquiry magazine). What came of that Jesus project? It's five years  were up in 2013. I said that the time:
"Cracking The Jesus Myth Phony Scholarship Code."
Richard Carrier has a couple of articles on his blog about a big conference for the Jesus Project
held at Amherst last December. O it sounds very scholarly. It presents the image of a group of major scholars meeting to mull over the lattes scientific findings that proving that Jesus never existed. This creates the idea that there is a climate of opinion in the academic world to expose the lies about Jesus as fiction and show that he never existed. But if you follow the trail to see where his lie originated, and the trail is clearly marked, one can see clearly that there's nothing scholarly about it. It's nothing more than a put up job, but it's no accident that the Jesus Myth stupidity though exposed time after time as bankrupt lives on and continues to draw in a group suckers who are hood winked into believing that they are on the cutting edge of scientific search for truth.[1]
guess what? They did not go five years. They were shut down in two. Why? First the head of the center resigned. In an article, "Expelled Founder Paul Kurtz Explains His Departure From The Center for inquiry," After going through a lot of "he said she said" about how he was treated it all came down to this:
While I am of course a strong defender of the right to blaspheme, as this is essential to a free society, I was opposed in principle to CFI’s sponsorship of Blasphemy Day and the cartoons contest, for they ridiculed religion and did not appeal to rational arguments. Moreover, I never intended for the organization to mock religion. Humanism has always stood for — among other things — the thoughtful and critical examination of doctrinaire religion. This has especially been true since day one of the founding of Free Inquiry and the Council for Secular Humanism when we stated unequivocally that our aim was to present a “sophisticated analysis of religious inconsistencies and their social consequences.” [2]
Gee now where Have I heard this before? It would seem this blog is vindicated in the assertions, the wild ridiculous conspiracy theory at the mocking and radicle is organized. That might just cast a hint of suspicion over the Jesus Project since it is a creature of the propaganda machine. Heres a dead give away, I have pointed out the Orwellian nature of New Atheism. [3] in the interview Kurtz says:
EV: Isn’t the refusal to publish your position at odds with an organization that calls itself “Center for Inquiry” or an organization that publishes “Free Inquiry“?
PK: It is similar to thought police. Alas! They refused to publish three of my editorials, and they refused to publish my statement regarding my resignation. What a contradiction. Even though I am the founder of the organizations, their position essentially was that I had no right to publicly express my concerns about the direction of the organization or the new management practices adopted under the current leadership — both of which I have grave reservations about. I consider this as similar to a Board of Bishops seeking to control its Founder.
That I Orwellian because in Animal farm the pigs take over and work Ben the sincere horse into ground until he dies, denying him benefits of leadership and excluding him from decisions. He is so committed he never notices. Kurtz is not the only one the New Atheists have hood winked. This get's at the reason the JP shut down. The project was started by John Hoffmann who is a valid scholar and fine historian. His academic credentials are impeccable. He also believes in the historicity of Jesus. Hoffman's own statement about why yhe pulled the plug:
Alas, The Jesus Project itself became a subject for exploitation: news stories, promotional material and the reactions in the blogosphere focused on the Big Question: “Scholars to Debate whether Jesus Really existed.” Given the affections of media, the only possible newsworthy outcome was assumed to be He didn’t. Such a conclusion had it ever been reached (as it would not have been reached by the majority of participants) would only have been relevant to the people April DeConnick ( a participant) has described as “mythers,” people out to prove through consensus with each other a conclusion they cannot establish through evidence. The first sign of possible trouble came when I was asked by one such “myther” whether we might not start a “Jesus Myth” section of the project devoted exclusively to those who were committed to the thesis that Jesus never existed. I am not sure what “committed to a thesis” entails, but it does not imply the sort of skepticism that the myth theory itself invites. [4].
Note that the only newsworthy conclusion was that Jesus didn't exist. That's because that he did exist is not news. So the majority of fellows of the project would have insisted the did exist, and the myther's biased the proceedings. I said the proceedings would be used propaganda for atheism and they apparently were. The real scholars did want to be part of that. I would like to know how they got involved with the Center for Inquiry. I'm sure the majority including Hoffmann did not set out to produce atheist propaganda. The rub, Hoffmann himself sums it up as to why this venture failed and why others like it will fail: "But the chief reason that it is....because they are examples of the perils of false collaboration: an incoherent anthology of opinion derived from the private prejudices and objectives of Jesus-makers." (emphasis mine).




[1] Metacrock,"Cracking The Jesus Myth Phony Scholarship Code." Atheistwatch

[2]  , "Expelled Founder Paul Kurtz Explains His Departure From The Center for inquiry," Dangerous Intersection: Human  Animals at the Crossroads.  ( October 2, 2010 )  blog URL:    http://dangerousintersection.org/2010/10/02/expelled-founder-paul-kurtz-explains-his-departure-from-the-center-for-inquiry/  (accessed 1/28/2016).

[3] I have made several posts on the Orwellian Nature of New Atheism:

[4] R. Joseph Hoffmann, . "Threnody: Rethinking the Thinking behind The Jesus Project", bibleinterp.com, October 2009, URL: http://www.bibleinterp.com/opeds/hoffman1044.shtml
( accessed 1/30/16).
 

Well, PZ Myers has yet again expended his time and energy, not on conducting scientific research, or educating his students, but instead trashing anyone – intelligent design proponents especially – with the temerity to doubt his own blinkered metaphysical interpretation of natural history. Intelligent design theorists, he says this time around, are "flailing about trying to emphasize their pretense of scholarliness," whose ideas "haven't worked so well" and whose arguments "fall flat." So if intelligent design proponents are really just a bunch of dolts whose arguments are hopelessly ineffectual, why does Myers not move on to more important things and simply let their ideas die a natural death? Why devote endless hours combating them, as if they represented a genuine threat?
 
That's just it. He can't afford to ignore intelligent design, because with no one like him standing in the way some observers might actually (and often do in fact) find it persuasive. At the same time he can't afford to treat intelligent design seriously, because some observers again might find the arguments for it persuasive quite regardless of his best efforts at a serious refutation. Contemptuous insults are pretty much the only strategy left for someone determined to defend orthodoxy without the aid of substantive arguments and explanations. Say what we will about the ad hominem tactic being a fallacy; it's almost always effective. In the hands of a skilled academic bully like Myers, it routinely badgers uncommitted observers (or the "hapless ignorati" as he affectionately terms them) into intellectual submission. After all, most of us would rather not be labeled an idiot, or a pathological liar or a deluded religious crackpot if we can avoid it. 
 
Now aside from all that Myers does make a point that appears legitimate on its face. That is, if intelligent design promoters have wrongly defined Darwinism* in terms of "randomness and unguided evolutionary processes" on one hand, and "adaptation and fitness" on the other, then they should find out which view actually represents Darwinism and stick with that. The problem there is that just about everything already represents Darwinism. So in the case at hand, Darwinists happily explain examples of seemingly useless non-adaptive characteristics like junk DNA as evidence of unguided randomness; but they also explain stunning examples of functional complexity (like the mammalian eye or echolocation in bats) as evidence of boundless adaptability. Similarly every biological eventuality is explainable in terms of "descent with modification," where extremely wide levels of taxa-spanning variation and diversity are evidence of modification, but shared characteristics like homologous structures and identifiable body plans are evidence of (common) descent.
 
In short, there's no conceivable biological feature that Darwinism cannot explain in principle. But if there's nothing that it cannot adequately explain in principle, there's also no way in principle to falsify it. So on this I have to agree with Myers, Dawkins, Coyne, et al: Because his particular brand of evolution is not falsifiable there is nothing in biology that "could not have evolved." But ordinarily science doesn't accept mere possibility as its burden of proof. Under this sort of methodological libertinism the evidence for Darwinism is indeed overwhelming – so overwhelming that it explains not only all the biological evidence currently at our disposal but any biological evidence we can imagine.
 
This uncritical acceptance of Darwinism may be inspired by the naturalistic metaphysics that arguably drives Darwinism in the first place. For many naturalists, after all, even the strongest conceivable evidence for a miracle would not be strong enough to falsify naturalism. Keith Parsons, for example, says, "Perhaps if all the galaxies in the Virgo cluster were instantly rearranged so that when viewed from earth they spelled out 'PREPARE TO MEET THY GOD' this would be a good candidate for the scientifically inexplicable." But then he hedges his bets: "It nonetheless remains that we do not have, and have little prospect of getting, an adequate criterion for distinguishing the inexplicable from the merely extraordinary." (Science, Confirmation, and the Theistic Hypothesis, 1986).
 
In other words there may yet be a naturalistic explanation for even the most clearly miraculous event. But at least Parsons grants the possibility of a miracle in principle. Myers is unequivocal: "There is no valid god hypothesis, so there can be no god evidence, so let’s stop pretending the believers have a shot at persuading us." To recap: All possible evidence confirms Darwinism by default, while no possible evidence is sufficient to confirm that God exists. It looks as if Myers has created for himself the best of all possible atheistic worlds.  
 
 
* As I use it here, "Darwinism" means belief that the entire range of biodiversity is readily explicable in terms of descent with modification from an original common ancestral stock, by purely natural mechanisms like selection.



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 Jeff Lowder at Secular Outpost, argues against William Lane Craig's fine tuning argument. His objective is to show that even if the argument is valid it doesn't establish probability for God.

Lowdwer's syllogism of the argument:

1. The life-permitting nature of the universe’s initial conditions is either the result of chance, necessity or design. (Premise)
2. It is not the result of chance or necessity. (Premise)
3. Therefore, it is the result of design. (From 1 and 2)

This argument is clearly valid, i.e., the conclusion follows from the premises. We want to know the probability of (3). The probability of (3) will depend upon the probability of (2). If we have a very weak degree of belief that (2) is true, say we think Pr(2)=0.25, then, by itself, this argument only warrants the belief Pr(3)=0.25. N.B. I’m not claiming that (2) has an exact numerical probability equal to 0.25; that value is simply an example to illustrate the point.
Excluding it as a result of chance means showing the improbability of a given variable. For example hitting the target levels necessary for large open bodies of water on a planet. If that is extremely improbable then it's less likely that it "just happened" as the result of chance. The very fact of target levels and the extreme improbability of hitting them all argues against necessity. The universe did not have to turn out as it did. as Paul Davies Tells us:

Paul Davies:
"You might be tempted to suppose that any old rag-bag of laws would produce a complex universe of some sort, with attendant inhabitants convinced of their own specialness. Not so. It turns out that randomly selected laws lead almost inevitably either to unrelieved chaos or boring and uneventful simplicity. Our own universe is poised exquisitely between these unpalatable alternatives, offering a potent mix of freedom and discipline, a sort of restrained creativity. The laws do not tie down physical systems so rigidly that they can accomplish little, but neither are they a recipe for cosmic anarchy. Instead, they encourage matter and energy to develop along pathways of evolution that lead to novel variety-what Freeman Dyson has called the principle of maximum diversity: that in some sense we live in the most interesting possible universe."

"Some scientists have tried to argue that if only we knew enough about the laws of physics, if we were to discover a final theory that united all the fundamental forces and particles of nature into a single mathematical scheme, then we would find that this superlaw, or theory of everything, would describe the only logically consistent world. In other words, the nature of the physical world would be entirely a consequence of logical and mathematical necessity. There would be no choice about it. I think this is demonstrably wrong. There is not a shred of evidence that the universe is logically necessary. Indeed, as a theoretical physicist I find it rather easy to imagine alternative universes that are logically consistent, and therefore equal contenders for reality." [2]
We can eliminate necessity and even Andre Linde himself tells us the probabilities are overwhelmingly against life, meaning it is most unlikely that the universe's life bearing aspect would come about randomly.[3] That means premise two checks out and thus the argument is valid. But I think Lowder is attacking the soundness by brining arguing that the fine turning argument doesn't include all relevant material, that will change the probability factors.

At this point he's going to pull an interesting bait and switch. He's going to transpose fine tuning into design argument so he can argue the counter design argument. But first he brings up the idea that FT dies not reflect all the data:
Second, such arguments fail to embody all of the relevant, available evidence. .... It may well be the case that, by itself, the life-permitting nature of the universe’s initial conditions does make it more probable than not that the universe is designed. But that doesn’t entail that, all things considered, the total available, relevant evidence makes it more probable than not that the universe is designed. In order to defend that claim, you have to look at all of the evidence, including the evidence of evolution, biological role of pain and pleasure, nonresistant nonbelief, etc. And once you do that, it’s far from obvious that the total evidence favors theism, much less Christian theism.
What he's calling "relevant data is anti-design data, FT is a from of design but does it have the same implications such that anti-design evidence would  count against it? Most of us know that evolution is not counter evidence to God. God can use evolution so how is that counter? There is the extinction aspect. The cruelty of nature. He fleshes some of it out thusly:
We also know that so much of our universe is hostile to life due to things such as containing vast amounts of empty space, temperatures near absolute zero, cosmic radiation, and so forth. Given that our universe is life-permitting, the fact that so much of it is hostile to life is much more probable on no-design than on design. So once all of the evidence about cosmic life-permitting conditions has been fully stated, however, it’s far from obvious that facts about cosmic “fine-tuning” favor design over non-design.
That only matters because he's brining in the conventional design arguments or bait and witch. In the conventional design argument the argument turns u[on things looking designed fitting together and seeming like the result of a plan. That's why empty space life threatening aspects are taken as counter design evidence they don't paper life so they are not part of a plan. All he's really doing there is to turn the conditions that make life improbable (counts for FT) into evidence for unplanned universe. That's because he switched arguments. In FT the only appearance of planning is so many totally improbable things working out. All that empty space bad water and so on is actually pro design if the deign is FT. In other words with FT the only aspects of design are where the target levels are hit and how overwhelming  the odds against hitting them. None of his counter design stuff really matters.

see my FT argument on Religious a priori 


More on this in comment section. Please join me there and comment.

[1] Jeffery Jay Lowder, "WLC Denies That Anyone Has Ever Died a Sincere Seeker Without Finding God" Secular Out Post, January 2, 2016 (blog URL)
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularoutpost/2016/01/02/wlc-denies-that-anyone-has-ever-died-a-sincere-seeker-without-finding-god/  Accessed 1/10/16
all quotations from Lowder will be from this source.

[2] Paul Davies  "Physics and The Mind of G: The Tempelton Prize Address,"First Things, August 5 (1995) On line URL:
http://www.firstthings.com/article/1995/08/003-physics-and-the-mind-of-god-the-templeton-prize-address-24  accessed 1/20/16

[3] Andre Linde,"The Self  Reproducing Inflationary Universe, Scientifi9c American Nov 19994, 48-55

Now Linde is confident that the new inflationary theires will explain all of this, and indeed states that their purpose is to revolve the ambiguity with which cosmologists are forced to cope. His co-author in inflationary theory. Physicist Paul Steinhardt, had doubts about it as early as his first paper on the subject (1982). He admits that the point of the theory was to eliminate fine tuning (a major God argument), but the theory only works if one fine tunes the constants that control the inflationary period.

John Horgan, “Physicist slams Cosmic Theory he Helped Conceive,” Scientific American Blogs, December 1, 2014. on line, URL http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/physicist-slams-cosmic-theory-he-helped-conceive/ accessed 10/5/15. Horgan interviews Steinhardt.
“The whole point of inflation was to get rid of fine-tuning – to explain features of the original big bang model that must be fine-tuned to match observations. The fact that we had to introduce one fine-tuning to remove another was worrisome. This problem has never been resolved."



 

[This is a slightly reworked version of something I posted at Transcending Proof not long ago] 

Christian apologists like me have sometimes been accused of "denialism" regarding certain truth claims that seem dreadfully important to atheists. Among these are the truth claims of metaphysical naturalism, the virtually limitless creative power of natural selection, and the self-evident superiority of the scientific method to every other traditional means of ascertaining truth: philosophical reflection, religious faith, even historical research and deductive logic. Evidently taking their cue from Richard Dawkins, our accusers assert that we are guilty of mindless "personal incredulity" in refusing to acknowledge the overwhelming, indeed mountainous, evidence in support of those claims, and more importantly, their atheistic implications. Now let's park that thought for a moment while we consider another.

Scientists nowadays for the most part agree that the evidence for what has been termed the fine-tuning of the universe is both qualitatively unmistakable and quantitatively abundant. The set of measurable physical constants governing, for example, the fundamental forces of the universe –  gravity, electromagnetism, the weak nuclear force, and the strong nuclear force –  are so precisely specified for the function of human life against the ranges of their possible values that to alter those numbers even very slightly, in a typical case by as little as one part in ten to the thirty-first power, would render human life physically impossible.*

Atheists by and large have been reluctant, for obvious reasons, to acknowledge either the legitimacy of these findings or their theistic implications, or both. Now recall the bold and insulting assertions of Dawkins and company: Is this not, by their own understanding of denial, sheer fine-tuning denialism? Can refusal to acknowledge the overwhelming evidence for fine-tuning be anything but atheistic personal incredulity at the thought that the initial conditions and natural laws governing the universe were established precisely and purposefully so that human life might emerge and flourish?

In any event, the unusually entrenched bias that apparently underlies fine-tuning denialism spells trouble for the very scientific enterprise otherwise held in such high esteem among atheists and naturalists. I say this mainly because science depends on acceptance of evidence. But even an atheistic reading that accepts the evidence but denies its theistic implications is unfriendly to science, for the particular argument raised against theistic explanation of fine-tuning undercuts scientific explanation at the same time. Consider what appears to be the most common rejoinder to fine-tuning, based on the "multiverse" hypothesis. On the multiverse hypothesis, ours is but one of a vast, if not infinite, number of universes. Given a vast, if not infinite, number of universes, it is not implausible that just one would feature a set of life-permitting physical constants, and that ours happens to be that universe.

The problem is that such reasoning would reduce any explanation for anything to cosmological happenstance. The very laws of nature presumably discovered by careful adherence to the scientific method would be, on the same logic that denies fine-tuning, just a really, really remarkable coincidence. So, for example, if every time that an apple is released above the ground it falls, this does not mean that there is a law of gravity or any other law of science. It only means that, given enough universes, there would be one in which apples happen to fall whenever released above the ground. Presumably there would be other universes in which apples float above the ground consistently, and other universes still in which apples sometimes float above the ground arbitrarily and other times fall, universes in which apples float above the ground only when no one is looking, etc. The same could be said for any other set of observations used to advance the scientific enterprise.

On the premise that otherwise highly improbable scenarios become probable in a multiverse, the following argument can be constructed:

1. It is highly improbable that each of the countless factual observations presumed to instantiate the laws of science in our particular universe actually occurs at random.
2. What is highly improbable in our particular universe is probable in a multiverse.
3. That each of the countless factual observations presumed to instantiate the laws of science in our particular universe actually occurs at random is probable in a multiverse.
 

The upshot of all this is that decreasing improbabilities by multiplying universes is not an explanation, certainly not a scientific explanation, for anything. Thus a consistent application of the logic behind fine-tuning denialism would entail the demise of scientific explanations, hence the demise of science. But even if my argument appears sound, atheists can still take heart: Given enough universes there would almost certainly be one in which a bunch of letters arranged on an Internet blog post appear to spell out a sound argument that fine-tuning denialism entails the demise of science.



* Robin Collins, "God, Design, and Fine-Tuning," in God Matters: Readings in the Philosophy of Religion (New York, Longman, 2003), p. 121.



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