Apologetics vs. Bible-based faith

I’ve been browsing through some of the articles at the Tekton Apologetics Ministry site, and found this article by James Patrick Holding on “Why Bible Critics Do Not Deserve the Benefit of the Doubt.” He begins by advocating that skeptics be treated with skepticism.

Whenever you run across any person who criticizes the Bible, claims findings of contradiction or error — they do not deserve the benefit of the doubt. They have to earn it from you.

That’s actually some pretty good advice. Skepticism, after all, means having the mental self-discipline to insist on evidentiary support instead of just taking people’s word for things. What Holding is doing here is urging Christians to become skeptics themselves. That’s a good start. But you’ll never believe what justification he offers for why Christians should be skeptical of the skeptics.

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Posted in CAMWatch, Field Trip, Unapologetics. 2 Comments »

XFiles Friday: Gimme a bunch of whoppers, hold the Father

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, chapter 1)

We come now to a section entitled “Can All Religions Be True?” Given the way religious beliefs contradict one another, I was prepared to breeze through this section more or less agreeing with the authors’ conclusion that religious beliefs can’t all be true (though they can, of course, all be equally false). But then I read the opening paragraph:

The moral of [the story about the atheist who lost his brain] is that complete agnosticism or skepticism is self-defeating. Agnostics and skeptics make the truth claim that truth claims cannot be made. They say that truth can’t be known but then claim that their view is true. You can’t have it both ways.

Surely the two authors had to work closely together over long, hard hours in order to cram such enormous whoppers into such a short excerpt!

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Posted in IDHEFTBA, Unapologetics, XFiles. Comments Off

The geology of ancient oxygen

Via Highly Allochthonous comes this fascinating account of how the air we breathe became breathable. Being a science geek, I can’t help being fascinated by little details like the following:

In today’s oxidising atmosphere, when minerals like pyrite (an iron sulphide) and uraninite (uranium oxide) and siderite (iron carbonate) are exposed by erosion, they are quickly broken down. When you look at very old sedimentary sequences in Australia, South Africa and Canada, however, you sometimes find rounded clasts of pyrite and uraninite that have clearly been eroded and transported some distance by rivers without being altered. This can only happen in low-oxygen conditions (less than 1/1000th of the present atmospheric concentration of O2).

Of course, as an ex-creationist, I also can’t help remembering that, according to traditional creationism, those strata were laid down by the Flood, and contain the bones and stones of the things that existed prior to the sixth chapter of Genesis. Which means that there was virtually no breathable oxygen in the Garden of Eden. Nor would a Flood have done much good.–after all, if you’ve learned to get along without oxygen during the good weather, you’re not going to drown no matter how much it rains.

 
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Not exactly current, but still good

At the suggestion of ausyoyo, I went looking for articles by Sam Harris on witchcraft, and I found a good one. Imagine we lived in the early 16th century, when witches (instead of atheists) were the popular scapegoats for everything that went wrong in life. What if you were in the tiny minority of people who didn’t believe in witchcraft?

If your name is Sam Harris, you may produce two fatuous volumes entitled The End of Magic and Letter to a Wiccan Nation. Daniel Dennett would then grapple helplessly with the origins of sorcery in his aptly named, Breaking the Spell. Richard Dawkins — whose bias against witches, warlocks, and even alchemists has long been known — will follow these books with an arrogant screed entitled, The Witch Delusion. And finally Christopher Hitchens will deliver a poisonous eructation at book-length in The Devil is Not Great.

What sort of criticism would these misguided authors likely encounter?

He then proceeds to take critical reviews of recent anti-Christian books, and substitutes witchcraft for Christianity, Devil for God, and skeptic for atheist, to see if it changes the logic or relevance of the arguments in any way. Guess what?

A great article, and highly recommended reading.

 
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Pretty please?

After ORU faculty members passed a “no confidence” vote against Richard Roberts, son of ORU founder Oral Roberts, the beleaguered university president is asking for second chance.

Richard Roberts told professors Wednesday that if he stepped down now, the public would think he was admitting to wrongdoing, said Donald Vance, a professor of biblical languages and literature, who attended the meeting.

Translation: I haven’t done anything wrong, and I promise I’ll do better. Now will you please stop trying to find out what I did?

 
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Stand to Reason on Intelligent Design

Over at the Stand To Reason blog, Amy Hall writes about Intelligent Design, just in time for Judgment Day.

For the life of me, I can’t figure out why the position of intelligent design is so difficult to understand.

Whoa, let’s stop right there. The problem with ID is not that it’s difficult to understand. It’s quite easy to understand, which is why it’s so easy to understand that ID is superstition rather than science. And Amy is just about to provide us with a typical example.

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Mainstreaming atheism

PZ Myers already highlighted this, but there’s a good article up at Bloggasm on How The God Delusion mainstreamed atheism. I don’t have time to say much about it at the moment, but let me just put it on the Recommended Reading list. It’s good.

 
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The so-called “Anti-Religious Bigotry” of the so-called “Elites”

Washington insider and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has a rambling rant about “The (Anti-Religious) Bigotry of the Elites” in DC. Oddly, however, he never gets around to giving us any examples of “bigotry” by any members of any Washington “elite” (a group to which he himself belongs). Instead, he begins with an anecdote about a private property owner issuing a tenant policy that prohibits sectarian religious displays in the public areas of a privately-owned apartment building. And what does this have to do with “anti-religious bigotry” in the government? Well, it’s really all the government’s fault, you see.

The management company blamed federal regulations for its anti-religious directive. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) denies that this is their policy, but they say that religious bans like this are commonplace.

Anti-religious zealots have put property owners and managers on the defensive. Rather than risk a lawsuit, they issue blanket prohibitions that amount to nothing less than anti-religious bigotry.

It’s another example of the biases of the elites — in this case, anti-religious bigotry — being imposed on the American people.

So he checked and found out that, in fact, the government does not have any such policy against sectarian displays in public areas. But why let a mere fact get in the way of a perfectly good rant? Especially when you’ve got a book to sell:

One of the main reasons I wrote Rediscovering God in America: Reflections on the Role of Faith in Our Nation’s History and Future was to combat this anti-religious bigotry.

I trust my readers will forgive me if I omit Newt’s direct link to the Amazon Buy It Now page.

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Announcing the Leprechaun Challenge

Christianity has an undeniable flaw with an inescapable consequence: God does not show up in real life, and therefore men have no choice but to put their faith (gullibility) in their own superstitious fantasies. As a practical exercise that demonstrates this fact, I am happy to announce The Leprechaun Challenge.

I hereby challenge any and all Christian apologists to produce some means by which they can reliably know that the things they attribute to God are not merely the the result of magical pranks performed by invisible leprechauns. In the absence of any reliable Christian way of knowing, I propose a way of knowing that is reliable: truth is consistent with itself, and therefore we can reliably know the difference between what’s true and what isn’t by seeing what is consistent with itself and with the real world.

This can’t be hard, right? I mean, everyone knows that leprechauns aren’t real. Or are they? Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Crunching Noah’s Ark

PZ Myers started it by linking to the original collection. Then Greg Laden singled out the video of Noah’s Flood engulfing the world. Now it’s my turn:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVF2bYeIl0Y&rel=1&border=0]

Just for fun, let’s crunch some numbers, shall we? The last few seconds of the video show the Flood about to strike the Ark. Let’s see if we can calculate the height the Ark would have to fall from in order to equal the impact it’s going to experience when that big wave hits.

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Posted in Amusements, Science. 2 Comments »