Vacation time

This coming Thursday, Americans will be celebrating a holiday we call “Thanksgiving” (in memory of the early Europeans who said “Thank God there were actually some PEOPLE here who knew how to deal with the local climate!”). It’s going to be a hectic week for me due to some travel and other preparations for an extended family get-together, so blogging is going to range from sparse to non-existent this week. So have a nice week everyone, and I hope all you bloody Yanks have a great holiday, and I’ll see you all Dec. 1st.

Cheers.

 
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XFiles Friday: The Events They Wouldn’t Have Invented

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, chapter 11.)

In apologetics, a little bit of truth can sometimes go a long way, but in Chapter 11, it doesn’t go quite as far as Drs. Geisler and Turek would like. They’re trying to convince us that the New Testament writers must have been telling the truth about the resurrection because we can reasonably conclude that they probably told the truth about things that were not miraculous. It’s an appeal to put our faith in the words of men, because ultimately, that’s all Geisler and Turek have to offer: the words of men.

This week we look at point #5 on their “top ten” list of reasons why we ought to believe everything the NT writers tell us.

5. The New Testament Writers Include Events Related to the Resurrection That They Would Not Have Invented.

In addition to the inclusion of embarrassing details regarding themselves and Jesus, the New Testament writers record events related to the Resurrection that they would not have inserted if they had invented the story.

Once again, Geisler and Turek ask us to just take their word for what a clever myth-maker would or would not have invented, and once again it’s really a strawman argument, since they present their case as though the only possible alternative to the Gospel being literally true is if the NT writers deliberately and maliciously invented it to deceive us. The actual evidence they present, however, suggests a much more plausible, third alternative.

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Posted in IDHEFTBA, Unapologetics, XFiles. 3 Comments »

Consent, not coercion

Commenting on yesterday’s post, Erik writes:

If homosexuals can legally marry, then I should be able to marry two women, and my dog. No one should be able to take that right from me, if homosexuals are guaranteed the same right. Prove me wrong.

I think he meant “if homosexuals have the same right to marry as everyone else, then he should be able to marry two wives and a dog,” since legalizing gay marriage would not (and has not) legalized polygamy nor inter-species unions. But he raises an interesting topic, and I think it’s worth having a look at why respect for human rights requires a genuine democracy to base marriage on the concept of consent rather than on coercion.

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Two wrongs and two rights

Chuck Colson complains about the “intolerance” of the gays.

Two days after the election, 2,000 homosexual protesters surrounded a Mormon temple in Los Angeles chanting “Mormon scum.” Protesters picketed Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, holding signs reading “Purpose-Driven Hate.” Calvary Chapel in Chino Hills was spray painted. Church members’ cars have been vandalized, and at least two Christians were assaulted. Protesters even hurled racial epithets at African-Americans because African-Americans voted overwhelmingly in favor of traditional marriage.

This is an outrage. What hypocrisy from those who spend all of their time preaching tolerance to the rest of us!

I’ll give you time to sweep up the smoking remains of your irony meters…

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TIA Tuesday: Getting low on gas

Believe it or not, Vox is still trying to chew his way through what he calls Occam’s Chainsaw, but the teeth on that old saw are just getting duller and duller, and the engine is starting to sputter like it was low on gas. Here’s his rendition of what he calls “The Argument from God’s Character.”

This is another superficial argument popular with Low Church atheists, although it pops up from time to time among the more militant High Church breed. It states that even if God exists, the morality He dictates is so abhorrent to the atheist and inferior to the atheist’s own moral sensibilities that the atheist cannot believe in Him. And in the unlikely event that the atheist is ever confronted by God, he will refuse to acknowledge His divine status let alone His right to rule over Mankind.

One is tempted to think that Vox expects most thoughtful and rational readers to have abandoned his book before now, leaving him free to say whatever he likes without worrying too much about whether or not he can get away with it. Surely by this point only his fans are still tuned in, and they’re not going to worry too much about whether he’s really addressing substantial arguments against God or merely breaking rhetorical wind, so long as he talks like he’s refuting the Bad Guys.

But we’re still here, Vox.

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Posted in Atheistic Morality, TIA, Unapologetics. 6 Comments »

The Power of Positive Linking

Jayman brings up another interesting topic in relation to our on-going discussion of Hell and Universal Restorationism.

Nearly all Christians point to the Bible to support their views on the afterlife. Justice and compassion are in the Bible so you can’t call them extra-biblical factors. You can’t go to a site like http://www.tentmaker.org and say the Bible is not playing the primary role in the arguments of Christian universalists.

The Bible is indeed playing a role, or rather, is being used as a tool, by both sides in this debate. And that brings up the matter of how the Scriptures can be used to lay claim to prophetic authority for one’s opinions, without incurring a prophetic responsibility to be right all the time.

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XFiles Friday: The “demanding” sayings of Jesus

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, chapter 11.)

Norm Geisler and Frank Turek have a problem. They want to say that it takes more faith to be an atheist than to be a Christian, but God does not show up in real life. They have no choice, therefore, but to turn to the words of men to support their claims, and right now they’re trying to convince us that we ought to believe everything the New Testament writers tell us. Why? This week, the answer is “Because the NT writers included the ‘demanding’ sayings of Jesus in the New Testament.”

If the New Testament writers were making up a story, they certainly didn’t make up a story that made life easier for them. This Jesus had some very demanding standards.

This means that the Gospel must be true, right? Because nobody ever heard of a priest, prophet, or other religious figure telling people that they need to work hard to please some god, unless the gods were really real.

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Hell again

I’m pleased to see that my post on “The unfairness of Hell” has elicited another comment from Jayman, who has impressed me with his insights and overall reasonableness. He makes some more good points and brings up some issues I would like to discuss further, hence today’s post.

I don’t think your post deals adequately with views of hell that do not involve eternal torture of the damned. It seems that all your objections to hell can be answered by those Christians who hold to the universal restoration of all things.

True enough, I did give only a passing nod to universal restorationism when I said that the unfairness of Hell led some Christians to “come up with all kinds of schemes to get God off the hook somehow, ranging from the notion that Hell is only a temporary therapy to “burn” the evil out of you, to the notion that sinners not only deserve Hell, but actively pursue it.” But it’s an interesting topic in and of itself, so let’s have a deeper look.

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Despotic Democracy

Chuck Colson brings us news of “The Plight of Iraqi Christians.”

The past few weeks have seen an escalated campaign of terror and extermination directed at Christians in the city of Mosul. In one week alone, more than 3,000 Christians fled the city and sought refuge in “churches, monasteries and the homes of relatives in nearby Christian villages and towns.”

What Archbishop Louis Sako called the “campaign of killings and deportations” comes along with the all-too-regular “abduction attempts for paid ransom” directed at Christians…

The killings came after leaflets were distributed in Christian neighborhoods telling Christians to “either convert to Islam . . . pay a tax levied on non-Muslims for protection . . . leave the city or face death . . .”

Apparently, now that the inspired leadership of our conservative Christian president has brought democracy to the Iraqi people, the Muslim majority are attempting to shut out the Christian minority by various means, both legal and illegal. Gosh, bet nobody saw that one coming, eh?

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TIA Tuesday: The unfairness of Hell

There are a lot of arguments you could make with regard to the unreasonableness of the doctrine of Hell, but in Chapter 14 of TIA, Vox manages to come up with one so hopelessly garbled and confused that even he calls it “a particularly stupid one.” Not surprisingly, he does not quote any particular atheist making this particular argument, but he attributes it to atheists anyway.

This argument takes the possibility of the supernatural a little too seriously for any of the New Atheists, but one probably encounters it more often from Low Church atheists than one hears all the previous five arguments combined. And since it’s a Low Church argument, it is naturally a particularly stupid one that manages to ignore huge quantities of readily available evidence pertaining to human behavior while simultaneously assuming perfect long-term rationality on the part of every individual human being. This argument states that because Heaven is really good and Hell is really bad, the purported choice that God offers between the two really isn’t a choice, because what sort of idiot would choose to go to Hell? Therefore, it would be unfair for God to send anyone to Hell, and therefore neither God nor Hell can possibly exist.

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