Behold the Lamb of God

Following up on my last post, I’d like to take a look at the core of Christian morality from a slightly different perspective. As I said before, the heart of the Gospel and the Old Testament sacrificial system is the idea of negotiable guilt—the concept of guilt as something independent of the facts about whodunnit, something negotiable (in the transactional sense) that can be transferred from one person to another. It’s a perverse and corrupt basis for a moral system because it ends up justifying the practice of punishing the innocent so that the wicked can escape justice.

But wait. Didn’t Jesus voluntarily lay down his life, in a heroic self-sacrifice to save the souls of sinners? Didn’t he freely give all to save all, and doesn’t the moral virtue of that humble service outweigh the moral liabilities of the negotiable guilt system?

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Posted in Atheistic Morality, Society, Unapologetics. 4 Comments »

On Christian morality

I have a couple things I’d like to say about the oft-rehearsed claim that modern morality, and indeed all morality, comes from the Judeo-Christian tradition and/or its God. We often hear this claim voiced as a rejection of atheism, as though we would have no basis for our moral judgments without faith in God. I and others have frequently (and easily) refuted this claim by citing sources of morality that Christian apologists are simply ignoring. But today I’d like to go a step further and point out that Christians don’t even get their own morality from Jewish/Christian sources, nor would it be a good thing if they did. Modern believers like to attribute modern virtues to their traditional morality, but if we examine it thoughtfully, it turns out to have a foundation that is irretrievably flawed and corrupt.

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Posted in Atheistic Morality, Society, Unapologetics. 3 Comments »

XFiles Friday: Could Jesus be wrong?

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, chapter 14.)

I have mentioned before that books on apologetics are written to persuade believers, and not skeptics, that their beliefs are really true. As we get deeper and deeper into Chapter 14, it becomes painfully obvious that Geisler and Turek are writing under the assumption that no skeptic in his right mind would have stuck with them this far, and that it is therefore safe to trot out some old and moldy chestnuts that would be downright embarrassing to have displayed in public. Right mind or not, though, we’ve stuck with them this far, and we’ll see it through to the bitter end!

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Posted in IDHEFTBA, Unapologetics, XFiles. 9 Comments »

XFiles: Writing God’s Word for Him

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, chapter 14.)

We’re in chapter 14, out of 15 chapters, in a book entitled I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be and ATHEIST, by Drs. Norm Geisler and Frank Turek. For the last few chapters, Geisler and Turek have been citing “the Scriptures” as reliable, historical, and primary sources of information about what God has allegedly been doing in the real world, and now, in the next to last chapter of the book, they’re finally getting around to defining what “the Scriptures” are. Hey, if you bought the first 13 chapters…

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Posted in IDHEFTBA, Unapologetics, XFiles. 2 Comments »

Truth and context

There is a particular type of flawed reasoning that intelligent and well-educated Christians are more vulnerable to than less thoughtful Christians are, and it goes like this:

  • Jesus is God, therefore Jesus is never wrong.
  • Therefore if Jesus ever appears to be wrong, we must have misunderstood what he was saying.
  • Therefore if we can find a context in which Jesus’ words are understandable, we have solved the problem.

This is a subtle form of straw man argument that takes a potentially dangerous question—was Jesus wrong?—and replaces it with the far less threatening question of whether or not we can understand what Jesus meant. Notice I did not say easier question. Jesus, at times, made assumptions and referred to contemporary social, cultural, and theological traditions that nowadays can only be discovered by diligent historical research by highly trained and experienced specialists.

At times the work of discovery can be so challenging that by the time we figure out what Jesus meant, we want to heave a celebratory sigh and shout, “We’ve done it, we’ve solved the problem.” It was so much work to figure out what Jesus meant, and we did such a good job of documenting that this is in fact what he must have been referring to, that we completely overlook the fact that we’ve been pursuing this non-threatening question instead of dealing with the more dangerous question of whether Jesus’ meaning was really correct.

Or, in 25 words or less, finding out the correct context is not the same thing as finding out that the context itself is correct.

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The Reverse Reference Fallacy

Seems like the question of Jesus and his use of Exodus 3 is a hot topic right now, and I’ll have more to say on the subject. Right now, though, I think it would be a good time to turn our attention to a very common fallacy I see a lot of in the area of Bible interpretation, and that’s a fallacy I call the Reverse Reference fallacy. It’s fairly simple to describe, and fairly simple to detect, provided you disagree with whoever is committing the fallacy. Sadly, it is all but impossible to notice when the people promoting it are people you happen to agree with.

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Posted in Unapologetics. 3 Comments »

Bring out your dead!

I’m glad to see Jayman returning to our comments section once again, and he comes back bearing gifts: a commentary from Professor John P. Meier, of the Notre Dame Department of Theology, on the subject of Jesus’ use of Exodus 3. Besides being a Catholic priest, Meier is also an established Biblical scholar, with 9 books and 60-some scholarly articles to his credit. We should find much to learn from his contribution.

The quotes from Meier come from his book A Marginal Jew, part of Meier’s attempt to discover the actual, historical Jesus, as distinct from the Jesus of Christian myth and tradition. It’s a tall task, and one that Meier himself would be the first to classify as claiming only what is probable, not what is certain. His goal is to discover what Jesus meant, not whether Jesus was correct. As such, he brings in much helpful historical context, but leaves open the question of how we are to judge Jesus’ meaning once we know it. Never fear, we’ll pick up where Meier left off!

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Posted in Unapologetics. 3 Comments »

XFiles: Scriptural supremacists

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, chapter 14.)

Geisler and Turek, as you recall, have been spending the first part of their next to last chapter using Jesus to validate the Bible’s authority, which they had previously used to validate Jesus’ authority. Sadly, though, their choice of examples so far has done more to discredit Jesus than to validate Bible (as understood by conservative Christians). And their final attempt fares no better:

7. Has Ultimate Supremacy—Since Jesus taught that the Old Testament is divinely authoritative, imperishable, infallible, inerrant, historically reliable and scientifically accurate, you would expect him to assert that it has ultimate supremacy over any teaching of man. This is exactly what Jesus said. He corrected the Pharisees and the teachers of the law by claiming that they should be obeying the Old Testament Scriptures instead of their own man-made traditions.

Right. And these same Old Testament Scriptures, remember, are the “inspired” writings that upheld selling your daughter as a sex object, keeping a man’s wife and kids as slaves to induce him to “voluntarily” become permanently enslaved to the owner, committing genocide against an entire people including the children, babies and livestock, death by stoning for anyone caught gathering firewood on Saturday, and of course ritual mutilation of the genitals of babies. This is what Jesus gave “ultimate supremacy” to. Not the New Testament, which men had not written yet. This.

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How Jesus (mis)used Exodus 3

Now that the pressure of other demands has finally let up, I wanted to go back and have a look at cl’s reply, posted on his own blog, to my post on the topic of Jesus’ use of Exodus 3:6. I had pointed out that Jesus, in his attempt to find the resurrection mentioned in the Law of Moses, resorted to a text that, in fact, says nothing at all about any future resurrection of the dead. In no less than 3 separate posts, cl attempts to refute that point, and his approach is somewhat intriguing.

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Posted in Unapologetics. 34 Comments »

XFiles: “Scientific facts”

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, chapter 14.)

There’s a famous quote from the movie The Princess Bride in which Inigo Montoya tells Fezzig Vizzini, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” See if you can see why today’s installment from I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST reminds me of that quote:

When asked if divorce was acceptable, Jesus cited a scientific fact out of Genesis. … (Matt. 19:4-6). In other words, the nature of marriage is bound up in the scientific fact that Adam and Eve were created for a purpose.

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Posted in IDHEFTBA, Science, Unapologetics, XFiles. 5 Comments »