Showing posts from November, 2008

The Sign of Insanity

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. ~ John Dryden, Spanish Friar (act II, st. 1) On several occasions, I have blogged about Sr. Luigi Cascioli, an Italian atheist who has filed a lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Church and one of its priests in the Italian Courts. In my second blog on the Sr. Cascioli almost three years ago, I investigated his claims in the lawsuit. The basis for his suit is the claim that the Roman Catholic Church, and his own local church priest, engaged in an "abuse of popular credulity and the substitution of person" by teaching that the Bible was true. The basis for Sr. Cascioli's assertion? According to his original complaint: After long and deep studies consisting of (and not only) textual exegesis of the Old and New Testament and other Sacred Scriptures, the undersigned has come to the conclusion that many of the facts produced and presented as if being true and historical in the so called "

From True Love To Christian Theism

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I'm sorry I haven't been able to contribute more directly to even commentary (much moreso main posts!) here on the Cadre Journal recently. So, to help alleviate that a little--! {g} I occasionally quip, in dialogue with sceptics of various sorts, that I believe in orthodox trinitarian theism... because I believe in atheists! And that's true. But although it can leave the impression that I'm talking about atheists sniping at each other or contradicting one another, that isn't in fact what I'm talking about. I do notice such things, but such things don't factor in much to my beliefs. So, let me present an example of what I am actually talking about, that in one way is broader topically than saying "because I believe in atheists", and in another is more personally particular. Let us say (which happens to be true) that I love a particular agnostic more than anyone else in the world. Would any of our visiting sceptic

Saying Grace (2008)

This is a repost (and slight updating) of an article (sermon, homily, whatever {g}) that I wrote last Thanksgiving for the Cadre. The original article and its subsequent discussion (on a couple of topics) can be found here. ••••••• “Would you say grace?” someone in my family will ask, to an elder before a family meal--a meal such as Thanksgiving, for instance. Of course what they mean is, “Would you give thanks?” But the phrase in English could be more accurately translated, “Would you say ‘grace’?” In our language, ‘grace’ derives from the same Latin root as Spanish ‘gracias’ or Italian ‘grazie’. Strictly speaking our English word traces back to a Middle English translation of an Old French translation of the Latin {gra_tia} (the long ‘a’ being represented by an underscore here): favor, gratitude, agreeableness. The attitude expressed is one of actively receiving love, in fair-togetherness. In New Testament Greek, however, the word that is typically Englished as ‘grace’ does not have

Off the hook? When you really ARE responsible for your sins

Atheists like Richard Dawkins and Lee Randolph argue that as a result of recent advances in behavioral and neural science it is hard to preserve any meaningful concept of moral blame or praiseworthiness. If our behavioral tendencies are largely determined by genetics, upbringing and peer influence, can we say that we are ever truly responsible for our actions? As Randolph puts it : " Since the brain is a biological device. It can be influenced by physiological factors, and physiological factors induce desire and motivation. Since we cannot get outside of our thoughts and feelings, they make up our personality our 'essence'. This renders any judgment by an external supernatural creator meaningless because it would know that we are helpless to feel any other way than our physiological make up will support at the time, and that our behavior and desire will follow that. We are helpless to think any thoughts that are not supported by our physiological make up at the time. The p

Ben Witherington on Hebrews

Ben Witherington III, Ph.D., Amos Professor of NT for Doctoral Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary and author of multiple books, including What Have They Done with Jesus?: Beyond Strange Theories and Bad History--Why We Can Trust the Bible , has published on his blog a very interesting article entitled The Rhetorical Character of Hebrews . This entry is apparently the text of a lecture he is (or was) scheduled to give at the Society of Biblical Literature lecture. At the outset, he takes up the question about the authorship of Hebrews. Of course, there have been numerous theories as to who wrote the book (including some that identify the author as the Apostle Paul), but rather than focus on the "who", he focuses on "why" there is no author identified. It is of course possible that the author is so well known to the audience that there was no need for such an identification here. I would suggest however, that while that may be true, there is another primary reason

James Ossuary Prosecution Faces “Humiliating Collapse”

There have been significant developments in the fraud trial of Oded Golan. One of the key artifacts challenged by the prosecution is the James Ossuary (or, more specifically, the inscription which refers to Jesus' brother, James). The case has dragged on for years, as American concepts like the “Speedy Trial Act” seem to be unknown in Israel. The San Francisco Gate has an article about the collapse of the prosecution’s case. The judge in the case has told the prosecution that its prospects of a guilty verdict are bleak: "After all the evidence we have heard, including the testimony of the prime defendant, is the picture still the same as the one you had when he was charged?" District Court Judge Aharon Farkash pointedly asked public prosecutor, Adi Damti. "Not every case ends in the way you think it will when it starts. Maybe we can save ourselves the rest." "Have you really proved beyond a reasonable doubt that these artifacts are fakes as charged in

U.N. Petition for the Rights of the Unborn

On December 10th, pro-abortion groups will present petitions asking the United Nation's General Assembly to make abortion a universally recognized human right. The Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute created an alternate petition drive that calls for government to interpret the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as protecting the unborn child from abortion. They need at least 100,000 signatures by December 10th, the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Please go to the Online Petition and submit your signature. If you know anyone that would be interested in doing the same you are welcome to forward this on to whomever. "A nation that aborts its own children is a nation without hope." ~ Pope John Paul II

Be Good For Goodness' Sake

Barry Carey at has found a singularly interesting article heading into the holidays which he has posted in an post entitled For Goodness' Sake . Here's what Barry found: I read with a slight chuckle this recent news story about the bus ads planned for the Christmas season by the American Humanist Association. Starting next week and running through December will be ads placed on the sides of buses which state, “Why believe in a God? Just be good for goodness’ sake.” Of course, the reference is to the lyrics of the children’s holiday song, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” It seems the athiests and agnostics are feeling a little left out and lonely during the Christmas holidays. According to a spokesman for the humanist group: We are trying to reach our audience, and sometimes in order to reach an audience, everybody has to hear you… Our reason for doing it during the holidays is there are an awful lot of agnostics, atheists and other types of nontheists w

President-Elect Obama: No Friend to the Unborn

Immediately prior to the election, I wrote an article entitled Abortion: In this Election, One Candidate is Not Viable that discussed President-Elect Obama's horrible record on right-to-life related issues. In writing the post, I used an article by Robert George entitled Obama's Abortion Extremism as a source. While I did not mention it in my blog, the article did discuss President-Elect Obama's extreme views on stem cell research. It noted: For several years, Americans have been debating the use for biomedical research of embryos produced by in vitro fertilization (originally for reproductive purposes) but now left in a frozen condition in cryopreservation units. President Bush has restricted the use of federal funds for stem-cell research of the type that makes use of these embryos and destroys them in the process. I support the President's restriction, but some legislators with excellent pro-life records, including John McCain, argue that the use of federal money s

Suing God: What a Stupid Idea

OMAHA, Neb. — State Sen. Ernie Chambers filed notice today that he intends to appeal a judge’s dismissal of his lawsuit against God. Chambers’ lawsuit asks for a permanent injunction against God, alleging that the defendant has caused “fearsome floods, egregious earthquakes, horrendous hurricanes, terrifying tornadoes, pestilential plagues, ferocious famines, devastating droughts, genocidal wars, birth defects and the like.” An atheist, Chambers has said he filed the lawsuit last year to uphold citizens’ rights to sue “anyone else, even God,” after his colleagues in the Legislature sought to limit so-called frivolous lawsuits. Douglas County District Judge Marlon Polk had dismissed the lawsuit in October, saying there was no evidence that the defendant had been served. What’s more, Polk said, “There can never be service effectuated on the named defendant.” But in his notice of appeal, Chambers says the same court he is appealing to acknowledges God. Chambers cites the invocation read e

The Case for the Real Jesus

A long running fad in some circles is to try to find the "historic Jesus." In this line of thought, the "historic Jesus" cannot be the same Jesus that we find in the Bible. Instead, the "historic Jesus" must be some interesting historical figure (such as a eschatological preacher) who has been layered in myth and clothed in deity by his followers. He certainly wouldn't have claimed to be God (since there is no personal God) and he would have been appalled at what today's Christians would have made of him. People like John Dominic Crossan, Marcus Borg and the Jesus Seminar promote this view in their books (that are always more abundant on the shelves at Barnes and Noble and Borders than the books by more conservative scholars like William Lane Craig or J.P. Moreland). Fortunately, while this fad belief gets far more publicity (especially around Christmas and Easter), at least one author who rejects this view and makes the case for historic Christian

Inalienable Rights -- a different question

It occurred to me that a parallel (or consequent?) discussion might also be held on the question of what difference it makes whether persons have inalienable rights. Which, though obviously related, is different from the question of how (or whether) we can or do have inalienable rights assuming for purposes of argument that this-or-that worldview is true concerning fundamental realities. So I decided to create a discussion thread for that topic, too. {s!} JRP

Inalienable Rights -- an open discussion invitation

Today in the United States many of us will be voting to decide who will lead our nation in many key legislative and executive posts, up to (most obviously) the Presidency. Rather than discuss politics, though, I thought I would open the comments for visitors to talk about how inalienable human rights (or the inalienable rights of any persons) are understood to be constituted within various worldviews. I'm less interested in what those rights are supposed to be, than in how (or whether?) a claim of "inalienable rights" can be true within various worldviews: if X is true about fundamental reality, then inalienable rights can-or-do (or cannot?) follow from that truth, how? Also, I would rather respondents make a positive case (even if briefly) for their own positions first before critiquing someone else's position. Due to hassles back here at home base, I'm not likely to be checking in constantly on this thread, but I did want to start it while I was passing throug

Bumper Sticker Theology: Don't Like Abortion? Don't Have One.

Recently, I was driving to work when I passed an older model Chevy puffing along covered in progressive bumper stickers. Most were political in nature, but a few were related to issues that concern social conservatives and Christian conservatives. One older bumper sticker read: "Don't like Abortion? Don't have one." Obviously, the person supports the idea that this entire abortion controvery would go away if those of us who opposed abortion would simply recognize that its a matter of personal choice and that we should simply not have an abortion if we don't like the practice. *sigh* With all due respect to the owner of this Chevy who I am certain has an IQ higher than a toaster's, I really don't know how anyone can hold a view so incredibly shallow and vapid. Come on, sir. Given that the debate revolves around the question of the humaness of the person being aborted, does it really strike you that this is somehow a solution to the issue? In his article, Ob