XFiles Friday: Who’s buried in Grant’s Tomb?

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, chapter 13.)

Last week, Geisler and Turek started to tell us about the amazing messianic “prophecies” in the last several chapters of Isaiah, using Larry Helyer’s list of 14 detailed predictions plus an observation of their own. As we ran through the list of details, however, we noticed something odd: either the “predictions” were vague enough to apply to almost anyone, or else the messianic “fulfillment” consisted of believers simply attributing things to Jesus without there being any way for anyone to verify if they were really true.

Starting with item 12, though, things get a little more evangelical-sounding.

12. The Servant accepts vicarious and substitutionary suffering on behalf of his people (53:4-6, 12).

13. He is put to death after being condemned (53:7-9).

14. Incredibly, he comes back to life and is exalted above all rulers (53:10-12; 52:13-15).

In addition to Helyer’s observation, we note that the servant is also sinless (53:9).

A snippet here, a snippet there, and you can almost make the verses in Isaiah sound like a Gospel. But is that really what Isaiah intended? Who was Isaiah’s “Suffering Servant” anyway?

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Posted in IDHEFTBA, Recommended Reading, Unapologetics, XFiles. 2 Comments »

Competition

Fans of the XFiles Friday series may be interested to know (if they don’t already) that the Daylight Atheism blog has started a series on Lee Stroebel’s book, The Case for a Creator. The first two posts are here and here. As is customary at Daylight Atheism, the writing is excellent (the blog posts, I mean, not the book).

Recommended reading.

 
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Posted in Recommended Reading, Science, Unapologetics. 3 Comments »

Respect and coddling

Rather a change of pace from the themes we’ve been dealing with lately, but I was just catching up on some of the Daylight Atheism posts I’ve been missing, and I spotted this one, on the topic of how atheists should show respect to believers. Lo and behold, he’s stolen one of my posts. Well, that is to say, I was going to write it. He just wrote it first, and said pretty much everything I was going to say. It’s not “respectful” to treat people like spoiled children who can’t be trusted to acknowledge differing ideas without throwing a tantrum. Nor is it respectful to assume that believers are constitutionally incapable of handling the truth.

It is disrespectful to make unsupported accusations against people, e.g. by suggesting that their views are caused by an intrinsically corrupt and immoral nature. I have to say, though, that in my experience atheists like Dawkins are far less likely to make such accusations than to be the target of them. And while it may be tempting at times to think that “the other guy” is arguing out of some personal character flaw rather than a sincere desire to acknowledge the truth, I still think it’s better to debate respectfully, which (as Daylight Atheism points out) means presenting your case honestly, openly, and with a view to the facts.

Recommended reading.

 
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Posted in Recommended Reading, Unapologetics. 3 Comments »

A quick shout out

Just want to say a hearty thank-you to Daniel Florien for including my blog on his list of The Top 30 Atheist/Agnostic/Skeptic Blogs. That’s quite an honor, and I’m flattered to be in such good company. You should drop by if you haven’t already and have a look (don’t forget the blogs mentioned in the comments too).

Thanks also to PZ Myers for repeating the list on his blog Pharyngula. We’re seeing a nice bump in the stats right now thanks to these two mentions, and I appreciate it.

 
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Posted in Blog news, Recommended Reading. 5 Comments »

Happy MLK Day

If you don’t already read Pharyngula, drop by and read his post on Martin Luther King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail. Then reflect, for a minute, that American gays still have a dream, and only a dream, about a nation where they, too, will be free to marry, and to walk down the street without being ambushed and beaten, and/or raped, if they’re women, just for being what they are. We’ve come a long way, and today and tomorrow mark major milestones in American history. But we’ve still got a ways to go.

 
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Is ad hominem a fallacy?

John Wilkins has another great post for our Recommended Reading category. As everybody knows, the ad hominem fallacy is an invalid argument. But what do you do when your opponent really is an ignorant fool? And when is an argument from authority not a case of the “argument from authority” fallacy? Dr. Wilkins explains all.

 
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Should atheists build churches for atheism?

There’s an interesting discussion over at the NoGodBlog on the topic of “Nontheistic Churches.” Basically, the poster raises the question of whether or not atheists ought to build “churches” and hold weekly meetings, like the believers do. The goal would be to grant unbelievers the same social and legal benefits (e.g. tax exemptions) as theistic churches enjoy. Is this a compromise of atheistic principles, though?

The discussion in the comments is particularly interesting as different people weigh in with their perspectives.

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Posted in Recommended Reading, Society. 8 Comments »

Evolving Thoughts: Fun with Christians and worldviews

John Wilkins has a very worthwhile post entitled Fun with Christians and worldviews, over at Evolving Thoughts. He discusses a debate he had with a group of Christians that involved the “competing worldviews” meme. After pointing out that “bald is not a hair color” (i.e. atheism and agnosticism are not religious worldviews in competition with other religions), he writes:

The other error is more widespread. I was in effect accused of having a worldview that precluded the existence of God, and the audience was invited to compare that with my opponents, who had one that permitted God. But the simple fact is, I don’t have a worldview. In fact, neither do they. I don’t think worldviews exist. They are a gross oversimplification of what is actually going on inside people’s heads, and are mere abstractions. If one believes in God, one might still believe things that are inconsistent with a belief in God. Intellectual schemes are not whole cloth, and you can entertain incompatible ideas, and in fact I think you must, because nobody gets a simple set of coherent ideas handed to them at birth, free of all confounding beliefs.

Christians, who have an extensive body of traditional dogma which they like to reassure themselves is true and consistent, like to think also that everybody has something like this. Religions are “rationally reconstructed” as sets of dogma by the Christian tradition (e.g., when doing anthropology by missionary) when in fact there is no dogma at all, just stories, rituals, and ways of life. The idea that one has a worldview by necessity is one that is made by analogy with a false view of themselves…

Recommended Reading.

 
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Posted in Recommended Reading, Unapologetics. 3 Comments »

Bruce Ivins: born again?

Bruce Ivins, who committed suicide when he found out the FBI was preparing to accuse him of sending anthrax-tainted letters that killed 5 people, wrote a number of letters to his local newspaper during his career. These letters are now available online, thanks to the Frederick (MD) News-Post, and they make for some fascinating reading. Dr. Ivins, it seems, was no Richard Dawkins.

August 24, 2006

Rabbi Morris Kosman is entirely correct in summarily rejecting the demands of the Frederick Imam for a “dialogue.”

By blood and faith, Jews are God’s chosen, and have no need for “dialogue” with any gentile. End of “dialogue.”

And there’s more.

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Posted in Current Events, Recommended Reading. 2 Comments »

A thoughtful post

Via the “Incoming Links” section of my blog stats, I see there’s a post about Evangelical Realism up at thinktoomuch.net. Not only does he say nice things about the blog, he also takes a thoughtful look at how meaning and purpose can come from a God like Alethea, who is actually just a personification for Reality itself.

Recommended Reading.

 
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Posted in Atheistic Morality, Recommended Reading. 8 Comments »