December 2014


God's BatallionsI have always heard the Crusades were an example of Christian imperialism, greed, intolerance, and involved all sorts of injustices and evils against Jews and Muslims that have served as a source of bitterness between Christians and Muslims ever since.  After reading, God’s Batallions: The Case for the Crusades by Rodney Stark, I realize that this story of the Crusades is not one that matches the historical record.  Among other things, Stark argues for the following propositions:

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Telephone GameAre the words in the Bibles we read today the same words that the apostles and prophets wrote back then?  Many people assume that the words have been dramatically changed over the centuries, comparing the transmission of Scripture to the Telephone Game.  Daniel Wallace answers this challenge, showing how different the two really are: (more…)

Brute Facts Yellow Garbage CanCaleb Clanton wrote an article in the most recent volume of Philosophia Christi in defense of the cosmological argument.[1] More precisely, he argued for the principle of sufficient reason that undergirds the argument, and against the existence of brute facts which undercuts the argument. Here is a brief summary of his argument.

A contingent being is one whose existence is derived from a source outside of itself.  Everything we see around us is a contingent being: trees, rocks, planets, stars, and even the universe itself.  How did the set of all contingent beings originate?  While the vast majority of all contingent beings can be explained by appealing to a prior contingent being, this cannot go on ad infinitum because an infinite regress is logically absurd.  It follows, then, that the entire set of contingent beings cannot be explained by appealing to another contingent being because as the set of all contingent beings, there can’t be any additional contingent beings.  Only a being that is not contingent can explain the set.  A being that is not contingent is a necessary being, meaning it does not derive its existence from anything outside of itself, but has existence in and of itself by a necessity of its own nature.  Theists identify this necessary being as God. (more…)

jesus-is-truthPostmodern Christians who dismiss the veracity of propositional truth like to cite John 14:26 where Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”  “Jesus is the truth,” they say, “not doctrinal statements.  Jesus is the only truth that matters.”

This way of interpreting Jesus’ statement presumes that Jesus is saying He is identical to the truth, such that to speak of the truth is to speak of Jesus.  Linguists call this the “is of identity.”  An example of this use of “is” would be the statement, “Barack Obama is the president of the United States.”  There is an identity relationship between the man Barack Obama and the office of the president of the United States.  Clearly that’s not the kind of “is” Jesus is referring to.  When Jesus says he is the truth, he is not making an identity statement such that “Jesus = the truth,” otherwise, “to say that ‘2+2=4’ is true is to say that ‘2+2=4’ is Jesus. In other words, Jesus is claiming to be a mathematical statement.”[1]

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Darwin_DoubtFor the previous installments: part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.

Chapter 17

In this chapter, Meyer asks whether it is possible that the cause of the Cambrian explosion is an intelligent agent rather than naturalistic processes.  He argues that it is, and that the design hypothesis is better supported by the evidence than any naturalistic hypothesis.

Meyer looks closely at how historical science works.  It is different than physics and biology because you cannot experiment on the past.  What you can do, however, is develop multiple and competing hypotheses to determine which is the best explanation for the evidence at hand (inference to the best explanation).  One of the best ways to test competing hypotheses is on the basis of their causal adequacy; i.e. is the proposed cause adequate to produce the effect in question?  Remember, we have to explain the origin of biological information.  What sorts of causes, now in operation, are known to produce information?  Only one: intelligent agents.  If the basis of life is information, and the only known cause of information is intelligence, then it follows that an intelligent agent is not just the best explanation for biological information, but the only viable explanation. (more…)

Atheism dictionaryAtheists increasingly like to define atheism as the lack of belief in God rather than the affirmation that God does not exist, essentially transforming atheism from an ontological claim to a psychological state.  Richard Howe recently had an interesting critique of this redefinition, pointing out that on this definition of atheism both atheism and theism could be true:

It is becoming increasingly more common for atheists to define atheism, not as the denial of the existence of God, but as a lack of belief in the existence of God. … This definition of atheism entails the quirky conclusion that atheism is logically compatible with theism. This is so because if atheism is the lack of a belief in god, then it could be the case both that atheism is true (i.e., it could be the case that George Smith, for example, lacks the belief in God) while at the same time that God actually exists.[1]

 

See also:

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[1]Richard Howe, “God Can Exist Even if Atheism is True”; available from http://quodlibetalblog.wordpress.com/2011/11/15/god-can-exist-even-if-atheism-is-true/; Internet; accessed 15 December, 2014.

A federal judge struck down Alaska’s marriage amendment (approved in 1998) on October 12, 2014, effective October 13.  And on October 6, the Supreme Court refused to hear a number of cases where five states were trying to protect their amendments, effectively legalizing same-sex marriage in 30 states.  On October 7, the 9th district appeals court “overturned marriage bans in Nevada and Idaho.”

On November 6 a federal appeals court upheld the marriage laws of Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee.  Since different federal appeals courts came to different decisions, this may force SCOTUS to take up the issue.

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