Showing posts from July, 2011

The uniqueness of the resurrection claim

One of the more compelling reasons for taking the early Christian resurrection claim seriously, in my opinion, is how different it was from analogous claims advanced by Jews and pagans around that time. There was a wide variety of concepts available in the ancient world to describe afterlife prospects, and stories were told of resuscitations, manifestations of spirits of the dead, the divinization of heroes, etc. There was even a kind of resurrection anticipated in ancient Egyptian religion, which implied a continued bodily existence in the underworld. The Jews around this time, of course, were expecting a general resurrection at the end of time which involved God raising human beings and the rest of creation to new life. But the early Christian claim about what happened to Jesus was strikingly different. As Christopher Bryan says in his excellent new book, The Resurrection of the Messiah : In speaking of their encounters with the risen Christ, the first Christians seem to have gone ou

Limitations of Science part 3: things fall through the cracks

True empirical evidence in a philosophical sense means exact first hand observation. In science it doesn't really mean that, it implies a more truncated process. Consider this, we drop two balls of different size from a tower. Do they fall the same rate or the bigger one falls faster? They are supposed to fall at the same rate, of course. To say we have empirical proof, in the literal sense of the term we would have to observe every single time two balls are dropped for as long as the tower exists. We would have to sit for thousands of years and observe millions of drops and then we couldn't say it was truly in an empirical sense because we might have missed one. That's impractical for science to do this so we cheat with inductive reasoning. We make assumptions of probability. We say we observed this 40,000 times, and it worked the same way every single time. That's a tight correlation, so we will assume there is regularity in the universe that causes it to work this wa

Limitations of Science part 2

The dispute between theists and atheists is, in large part, a squabble over epistemology. Atheists tend to be empiricists, as famous atheist blogger Austin Cline puts it: Atheists tend to be either exclusively or primarily empiricists: they insist that truth-claims be accompanied by clear and convincing evidence which can be studied and tested. Theists tend to be much more wiling to accept rationalism, believing that "truth" can be attained through revelations, mysticism, faith, etc. This is consistent with how atheists tend to place primacy on the existence of matter and argue that the universe is material in nature whereas theists tend to place primacy on the existence of mind (specifically: the mind of God) and argue that existence is more basically spiritual and supernatural in nature. [i] The allure of empirical evidence is apparent. The atheist lives in a socially constructed totality of mutually reinforcing doubt. Anything that is not surface and thing oriented, a mate

An atheist's overview of historical apologetics

A blogger who goes by the moniker 'exapologist' has put together a pretty decent summary (for an ex-apologist!) of the standard evangelical case for the reliability of the Gospel portraits of Jesus, as well as various ancillary issues. What do you think? Is it on target? I found it pretty illuminating myself. Can anyone see any weak links?

Limits of Science part 1

I. A Global approach to knowledge enables us to understand the inadequacy of the scientifically based view that writes God out of the picture. II. Understanding the need for the global approach to knowledge gives us the understanding of the link between ground of being and the divine. III. Understanding these two points gives us the basic realization of the reality of God that frees us from the need to prove. Since Laplace uttered those fateful words, “I have no need of that [God] hypothesis” God has been disassociated from science. Just why he uttered them is another matter but the upshot seems to be that those who find their hobby if not their profession in doubting the reality of the divine do so on the grounds that its not “officially backed” by science. The constant refrain of atheists heard around the net every single day “there’s no proof for YOUR God” echoes the call for scientific evidence as the only form of knowledge.