Posts

Incurious Apostates

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This past week I issued an updated version of part of my past book on the so-called "Jesus Myth" (the thesis that Jesus did not exist, not even as a person on Earth). The focus of the update was references to Jesus in extra-biblical sources like Josephus and Tacitus. 

The update reminded me that one of my chief gauges for whether an atheist is worth any serious attention is their treatment of the reference to Jesus in Tacitus' Annals. I don't think I'm overstating it when I say that my discussion of this reference is the most thorough out there from the perspective of debunking the Jesus Myth thesis. I pulled in works of multiple Tacitean scholars (Syme, Ash, Mendell, etc.) as well as Christian scholars, and I scoured atheist works for any and all arguments I could find. I also keep up on any new ones, if any pop up.

So, whenever I pick up a book by an atheist that I need to review, I immediately turn to the index (or use an online search method) to see what they h…

A Theodicy of Incompleteness

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[The following is an excerpt from an article originally printed in Hope's Reason: A Journal of Apologetics and reprinted as the first chapter of my book Transcending Proof.] Like most of the great mathematical discoveries by the great mathematicians, the famous incompleteness theorems published by Kurt Gödel in 1931 almost completely escape the comprehension of the average man on the street. Nonetheless, scholars familiar with the work of Gödel and his theorems have gone to the trouble of translating his texts – not only from the original German, but from the abstract language of logic and high-level arithmetic. What they describe is a powerful insight with profound limiting implications for otherwise seemingly unbounded areas of research, such as artificial intelligence and theoretical cosmology. I suspect they also have implications for theodicy. Using sophisticated mathematical and logical machinery, Gödel managed to prove with the incompleteness theorems that in most any formal …

Tie breaker: God Cannot be a Brute Fact

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This is called Tie-breaker because it moves us past the log jam that results in saying God is uncased and timeless always has been always will be with cause, vs. the atheist argument that this is no better than  just saying the universe happens to be here for no reason. My friend Eric Sotnak, who has a great gift for sarcasm that is not lost on me, set's it up as a matter of brute facts. There is a huge literature on brute facts but I wont go into it because I don't have time and I'm no expert. A brute fact is a thing that exists for no higher purpose, it has no reason for being it just is. [1] Now some will argue that brute facts can have physical causes or not. Since we have no examples of anything in nature that has no cause that just leaves and the universe as a whole. So the comparison between atheism and theism is between  God who has no cause vs a universe that has no reason for being weather it has a physical cause o not Having no reason means it could as easily no…

Jesus, Myth, and Metaphor

[Note: With me being busier than usual lately, I thought I would dredge up some old material. Years ago at the old FRDB discussion board, I posted the following (edited for format and clarity) in response to a general repudiation of Jesus' historicity by contributors there on a thread called "The Best Case for an Historical Jesus."[1]]
'I've heard it said often that Paul knew nothing of the historical Jesus. Now I confess that I lack the education in Biblical Studies, Historiography, or Ancient Languages supposedly required to understand the intricacies of the arguments in support of this thesis. But I do know that mythicism entails a mythical interpretation of Paul. I decided therefore to personally review Paul's letters, starting with Romans (generally accepted as authentic), his first in the canon, and got no further than this: "Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God which He promised before through …

Where was God during the London Terror Attack?

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Three men walk into a hotel to spend the night. The hotel clerk tells them that the hotel has only one room available, and that room costs $30. Each of the three men contributes $10 towards the bill, the $30 is paid, and the three men go up to their room. Later, the hotel clerk realizes that he overcharged the men, and that the room’s actual cost is only $25. He gives the bellboy $5 to return to the three men. On his way to the room, the bellboy recognizes that the three men will have difficulty splitting the $5 between them, so instead the unethical bellboy gives each of the three men $1 and keeps $2 for himself as a tip. So, in the end, the three men paid $9 each for the room which is $27 and the bellboy kept $2 for himself which is $29. What happened to the final dollar? A few years ago, my brother in law’s father, a devout atheist, posted a really nasty meme on his Facebook page. I don’t remember the details, but it basically accused God of being part of the rape of a child becau…

Salvation of The Modern Individual

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There is a trend in evangelical thinking to a turn from the highly individualistic self of the enlightenment, where salvation is a matter of the individual finding herself in relationship with God alone, to communal sort of thinking where one is part of the tribe as in identity politics. "This culture [of the enlightenment individuality] has also deeply affected the Church of the West. All of our songs are wrapped in the language of me, rather than us. Our taking of the Eucharistic table of the Lord (communion) is highlighted by each one making sure they have no unaccounted for personal sins before taking..."[1] Of each one making sure he or she has no uncounted sins is in the New Testament.

An example of the trend in the church is found in the book Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes by Randolph Richards and Brandon O'Brien. [2] They argue that most of the time when Paul writes "you" it should be read as a collective second person address,such as our souther…