January 2011

I was doing some research on William Lane Craig’s website the other day when I stumbled on an interesting objection to the kalam cosmological argument (KCA) I had not heard before.  I thought it was interesting, so I’m passing it along.  It requires a brief set-up.

According to Aristotle there are four types of causes:

1.      Material cause (that of which something is made)
2.      Formal cause (a thing’s essence, form, or pattern)
3.      Efficient cause (the thing that produces the change)
4.      Final cause (the purpose for which something is caused)

Consider a marble statue.  The block of marble from which it was formed is the material cause, the precise shape of the statue is the formal cause, the sculptor is the efficient cause, and beauty is the final cause.

The two causes we are most familiar with are material and efficient causes.  Point to anything in the universe and we can tell you what it is made of, and what caused it to exist.  But what about the universe itself?  The origin of the universe marks the beginning of material stuff, so it cannot have a material cause.  It came into being ex nihilo.  The KCA argues, however, that the universe still needs an efficient cause.  Something outside the universe is needed to cause the universe to come into being because contingent entities don’t just pop into existence uncaused.


God created every animal as a male-female pair at the same time, except for humans.  Why didn’t God create Adam and Eve at the same time?  What reason did He have for delaying the creation of Eve?


One of the more unfortunate aspects of blogging is that good posts quickly get buried, and eventually “lost” over time.  Most people do not have the time or patience to search through 100s or 1000s of past posts to find the gems.  To solve for this problem I have created a “best of TR” page featuring links to the most-viewed, most-talked about, and most intellectually stimulating posts on Theosophical Ruminations. The page link is located in the upper right corner of the home page.  Check it out when you get a chance!

Oneness Pentecostals believe God is one in both essence and person, and that Jesus is the incarnation of this single divine person.  On this view, the deity of Jesus is numerically and personally identical to the deity of the Father.  The Father and Son differ, not in their person, but in their mode of existence.

A common Trinitarian objection to Oneness theology is that it entails the idea that the Father suffered, and even died on the cross.  The ancients called this view “Patripassianism” (Latin for “the Father suffers”) and deemed it heretical.  But why?

It is to be expected that Trinitarians would object to the claim that the Father suffered in Christ since they believe God is three persons, of whom only the second (God the Son) became incarnate.  The Trinitarian objection to Patripassianism, however, was not limited to the identity of the one who experienced the suffering, but extended to the very metaphysical possibility of the Father experiencing suffering.  On their view, it was more than just a factual/historical error to think God the Father was the divine person who experienced suffering in Christ; it was metaphysically impossible for Him to do so.  Only God the Son was capable of such.


The Guttmacher Institute (leading authority on abortion statistics) recently released their data for U.S. abortions in 2008.  Not much has changed since 2005.  Here are some of the most important findings[1]:

  • In 2008 there were 6.4 million pregnancies to the 62 million women of reproductive age.  Of those, 19% ended in abortion, 66% ended in live birth, and 15% ended in miscarriage.  That means there were approximately 1.21 million abortions.
  • The abortion rate is 19.6 abortions per 1000 women, up 1% from 2005 (19.4).
  • In 2008, women in their 20s obtained > half of all abortions.
  • 61% of women who obtain abortions are mothers (i.e. they have previously given birth to at least one child).
  • Chemical/medical abortions accounted for 17% of all abortions in 2008 (the rest were surgical).
  • There are 1793 abortion facilities, representing a 3% decline from 2005.
  • States with the most abortions: CA (214,190), NY (153,110), FL (94,360), TX (84,610), IL (54,920).
  • States with the fewest abortions: WY (90), SD (850), ND (1400), VT (1510), AK (1700), ID (1800).
  • States with the highest abortion rates: DE (40), NY (37.6), NJ (31.3), DC (29.9), MD (29), CA (27.6), FL (27.2), NV (25.9), CT (24.6), RI (22.9).
  • States with the lowest abortion rates: WY (0.9), MS (4.6), KY (5.1), SD (5.6), ID (6), WV (6.6), UT (6.7).
  • 24% of CA pregnancies resulted in abortion (representing 17.7% of all U.S. abortions) and 61% in live birth (15% miscarriage).

[1]Rachel K. Jones and Kathryn Kooistra of the Guttmacher Institute, “Abortion Incidence and Access to Services In the United States, 2008,” Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, Volume 43, Number 1; March 2011; pp. 41-50.  Available from http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/4304111.pdf; Internet; accessed 10 January 2011.

Some of you have probably heard the news that in 2009, 41% of all non-miscarried pregnancies in New York City ended in abortion (87,273 abortions, 26,774 births, 11,620 miscarriages.).  For every 1000 babies born, 688 are aborted.

This is staggering in itself, but when you break it down by race it gets worse.  Among white women, 21.4% of pregnancies ended in abortion (9,853); among Asians, 22.7% (5,212); among Hispanics, 41.3% (28,364); among blacks, 60% (40,798).  So for every 2 black babies born in NYC, 3 are aborted.  While this is a wake-up call for all communities, a special plea needs to go out to the black community to wake up to these statistics.  By killing more of your children than you allow to be born, you have become your own worst enemy.  As one commentator wrote in response to what’s going on in NYC, “The Ku Klux Klan and the Aryan Nation are giving ‘fist bumps’ all around.”  Let it not be said.

A new website, The Ehrman Project, has launched.  It’s dedicated to evaluating and responding to Bart Ehrman’s claims.  It examines each of his three best-selling books: Misquoting Jesus, God’s Problem, Jesus Interrupted.  There are eight video responses to each book, each one covering a different topic.  There are also links to related books and articles. 

Participating scholars include Ben Witherington, Darrel Bock, D.A. Carson, Daniel Wallace, Alvin Plantinga, et al.  One of the coolest features of the site is that you can pose a question on the blog, and it will be answered by one of the scholars!  So if you have any difficult questions related to the issues Ehrman raises, now is the time to ask them.

HT: Ben Witherington

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