Showing posts from March, 2009

Victor Reppert Offers Some Reasons Why Christianity Makes Sense

Philosopher and author of C.S. Lewis' Dangerous Ideas offers some thoughts on why Christianity makes sense to him.

Want to be a Charitable Person? Go to Church.

This relates to my Want a Good Marriage? post which was prompted by a commentor who argued that Christianity offered nothing based on his dubious representations of social science data, including the erroneous claim that Christians had the same divorce rate as everyone else. That is not the case, as Christians have lower divorce rates than the national average and Christians who attend church regularly have dramatically lower divorce rates. Another social benefit of Christianity is its promotion of charitable giving. As Jonathan Haidt, Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia, notes , “surveys have long shown that religious believers in the United States are happier, healthier, longer-lived, and more generous to charity and to each other than are secular people .” (emphasis added). Dr. Haidt is an atheist. As he states in this November 2007 interview , ”I'm an atheist, I don't believe that gods actually exist, but I part company with the New Atheists

A CleanFlicks world?

Just today I came across a fascinating website: Clean Flicks is an online movie rental store that provides movies without any graphic sex, graphic violence or graphic language of any kind. Apparently they used to actually edit certain movies for content but they cannot do this anymore for straightforward legal reasons. Their movie catalog is predictably quite bland and heavily skewed towards movies made before about 1950. This is not the only example of attempts to restrict access to movies with 'questionable' content, of course. We have come a long way since the days of the Hays Code which regulated not just distribution and ratings but the production of movies itself, but we still frequently hear outcries against movies which supposedly lower moral standards by desensitizing people to extreme violence and foul language. There are any number of ratings websites (many but not all of them religious) that discriminate between movies based not on the depth of characterization, q

A Contra-Positive Deductive Anti-Theist Argument from Suffering

I've been busy in recent months writing as an invited guest-author (on orthodox Christian universalism) over at the Evangelical Universalist forum ; so I haven't had much time (or energy {g}) to contribute new articles here. But my friend Professor Victor Reppert has been posting up new and previous articles on arguments from evil (especially the deductive kind), for his students and readers, at DangIdea recently (as he tends to do about twice a year); and this reminded me that I've been meaning for some time to post up a deductive variation of the anti-theistic argument from suffering that I myself came up with a while ago. (A set of anti-theistic deductive arguments from evil, linked to by Victor during the discussion, can also be found collected by Jeff Lowder at the Secular Web here. ) This is an expanded, detailed and amplified form of an argument my sometime-previous-sparring partner, Richard Carrier, was attempting to make a couple of years ago in the opening statem

Want a Good Marriage? Go to Church.

In the comments of a recent post, a discussion arose about Christian divorce rates. One of the commentors insisted that Christian divorce rates were no different than anyone else’s divorce rates. I pointed to the recent, extensive polling data developed by Gallup and Baylor University on the issue, as presented by one of the leading sociologists in the United States, Rodney Stark , in the book What Americans Really Believe . R. Stark does not provide data on divorce rates by belief, but he informs as to divorce rates correlated with attendance at religious services. “The average person is 50 percent less likely to be divorced or separated if he or she attends religious services at least twice a month.” Stark, Ch. 23, What Americans Really Believe . On the other hand, “[t]he divorce rate among those who never attend religious services is close to double that of weekly church-goers.” Id . I have heard others refer to a study by The Barna Group showing that "born again" C

God and State Mottos/Songs

On a whim, I decided to run down some information about references to God in U.S. mottos and state songs. Sources include Wikipedia, secretary of state websites, and other sites listing lyrics. Here are the results: OFFICIAL MOTTOS For the U.S. and the states/territories that have state mottos which reference God, I provide the motto for the respective state. If the motto is in Latin, I provide an English translation. United States of America : In God We Trust American Samoa : Let God be First Arizona : Ditat Deus ("God Enriches") Colorado : Nil sine numine ("Nothing without God's will") Florida : In God We Trust Kentucky : Deo gratiam habeamus ("Let us be grateful to God") Ohio : With God, all things are possible South Dakota : Under God the People Rule STATE SONGS Below I include only the relevant excerpts from the lyrics. If there is more than one state song, then I also identify the song from which the lyrics are taken. Alabama : "

The virtue of obstinacy in belief

If there's one charge that keeps getting leveled by atheists against Christians (and religious believers in general), it is that they are so darn stubborn. They cling tenaciously to their quaint superstitions, apparently in the teeth of evidence. They seem impervious to the 'devastating' rational challenges to their belief systems. What's more, in their delusion they do not realize that the best proof of the falsity of their own belief system is the existence of other belief systems with adherents equally as intelligent and equally devoted. The implicit criticism here is that a truly open-minded, critically thinking person should hold to something like Clifford's principle in deciding what to believe: one's beliefs should be strictly proportioned to the evidence for them. If there seem to be equally plausible arguments for and against a certain position, the only rational choice is agnosticism concerning that position. From this point of view it is not only cogn

Pascal's Wager: Avoiding the Right Hell?

My approach to apologetics starts with the idea that if given a fair hearing, Christianity is the most reasonable worldview both in its explanatory power and the satisfactory nature of its answers. As such, I have never found Blaise Pascal's Wager particularly useful in my own approach to apologetics. After all, Pascal's Wager (the "Wager") essentially attempts to argue that if a person were to bet wisely on whether or not Christian God exists and to live his life accordingly, the wise man would choose to bet that God exists. Since it begins with the implicit assumption that one cannot come to conclude that God exists in any absolute sense, it generally doesn't jive with my own apologetics approach. Still, I think that it has been unfairly labeled a failure. Pascal's Wager Stated The "Pascal's Wager" essay on the Philosophy of Religion site summarizes the wager as follows: Premise 1 : It is possible that the Christian God exists and it is possib

Note to John Loftus if He's Watching: Why I may quite this stuff

ON Atheist Watch I have taken on Loftus' thing about "Faith is not an Acceptable Answer." it's called "don't' let Atheists steal Your faith." This is a special appeal to John as a friend, not an attack, not intended to humiliate him. I feel that Loftus is wasting his talents. This is related to the same reason why I am considering quitting Internet blogging or any kind of posting. The same stuff over and over and over and over and over and over. Knock down their silly childish arguments based largely upon arguing with the weakest representatives of Christianity, and they just keep saying the same stuff over and over and over. These are all argumetns John knows better than to make. He know there aer theologians who will knock you off your you know what with sharp analysis about the atonement, and there he is doing the same ol same ol atheist game "it's the atonement silly, how can we understand it." Its' not as though he's debat

Answering Atheist Mythology

I have answers to John Loftus' arguments made in the latest comment section to this blog. These are published on Atheist watch. I especially want to direct your attention to the one about Christians going to prison so much more than atheists (some estimate as high as 60x more). This is nothing but a lie and it's based upon reading the tables wrong. It's totally hilarious because I find this bit of sheer propaganda repeated ad infinitum . I disproved it twice on two different websites. The first time it was gone for over three years. It was truly killed because the mistake so blaring. Now they make the same mistake again and change the tables so it's less obvious. I will also be presenting more arguments on different issues raised by Loftus here later this evening. I am realy sick of this atheist mythology that won't die because it's so obviously based upon someone who is not hip to statitistics or the way you read a table. They never catch on because it's be

Setting the record straight: the psychology of one 'true believer'

Bulverism, which C.S. Lewis defined as the art of explaining away dissent from one's own views via psychological mechanisms, has been a mainstay of atheist apologetics for hundreds of years. In the face of what Lewis also aptly called the obstinacy of belief, atheists scramble to find psychological rationales for the persistence of this strange neurosis. John Loftus over at Debunking Christianity has been ramping up his bulverism. In recent posts he claims to have ' figured out ' Christianity and attributes the lack of interest among Christians in reading the 'best' atheist apologetics (which, of course, includes his own at or near the top of the list) to fear that it will undermine their beliefs. The fact that people familiar with apologetics on both sides tend not to be too impressed with his arguments, a few positive reviews notwithstanding, must be puzzling to him. For the most part I've been content to ignore these increasingly belligerent provocations (in

Does Jesus Love Osama bin Laden?

A couple of years ago, the Telegraph ran a story entitled Church's 'Jesus loves Osama' sign criticised . Apparently, some Baptist churches in Sydney, Australia, put up signs which read simply, "Jesus Loves Osama." Smaller print at the bottom contained the Biblical reference supporting that assertion: "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matt. 5:44). The signs were apparently not well received. Even the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, commented on the sign, noting the church "should have chosen a less offensive way of spreading its message." "I understand the Christian motivation of the Baptist church," [Prime Minister Howard] said. "But I hope they will understand that a lot of Australians, including many Australian Christians, will think that the prayer priority of the church on this occasion could have been elsewhere." Peter Jensen, the Anglican archbishop of Sydney, said that the sign - which