Monthly Archives: June 2010
The Bible and History
Back in the day, when I used to follow the Rational Response Squad, user Badbark asked the Squad how they viewed the historicity of the Bible. A few answers, starting with Rook Hawkins:
Nothing in the Bible can be accepted as historical. We do not have evidence for very much, and what evidence we do have does not support the Biblical account. I suggest you read the introduction to my book for some bibliographical information, and skim through my blog for additional articles on this subject.
In a nutshell, the bible should be read like one of Homer’s epics. There are real names and places from time to time, but it is a work of fiction.
Even if some of the authors thought they were writing history, their accounts are not reliable unless they are backed up by corroborating evidence.
My favorite answer, from ronin-dog:
None of it. Even if a story is written in a historical setting, it is still fiction.
All this interests me. The Bible, contrary to what these atheists present, is at least attempting to present accurate history. It seems to stand up at least as well as other historical documents from the same eras, if not better. For example, the narratives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have many details confirmed by archeology. We find parallels to Jacob purchasing Esau’s birthright, for example, in other period literature. The blessing of Jacob rendered by Isaac also has historic precedence: such a blessing by a patriarch would have been irrevocable, which is why Isaac is so horrified that Jacob deceived him and received the blessing intended for Esau. Many, including me, have asked, “Why not just take it back?” He couldn’t. We now know that.
The names Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as well as the names of the patriarchs of the twelve tribes, were all found to be in use in that time period. There are also some mentions of a person named Abraham external to the Bible that seem to correspond to the Abraham in the Bible, but no one is for certain. Read the rest of this entry
John W. Loftus seems to have two new books in the works. One is a continuation of The Christian Delusion tentatively titled The End of Christianity. I expect that title to change, as William Dembski recently published a book with that exact title. Truth Be Told has another take on the book’s title.
As Loftus has published abstracts of the chapters appearing in the new book, I will put some tentative responses up on a new site, http://endofchristianity.josiahconcept.org. The final answers (and a spiffier website, perhaps with its own domain name) will be forthcoming when the new book is available, summer 2011. For now, I have some initial thoughts on the first two essays ready to go.
Domain names are getting expensive. Though I was able to purchase godisnotimaginary.info and christiandelusion.info for peanuts, renewing them certainly won’t be as cheap. I could be looking at almost $10 per domain. My plan is to leave those domains active for the next year, but then move the sites to subdomains of my josiahconcept.org domain after that. Therefore, you will be able to access the Loftus refutation at http://christiandelusion.josiahconcept.org and the updated God is NOT Imaginary at http://godisnotimaginary.josiahconcept.org (or, since that’s a mouthful, http://godisreal.josiahconcept.org.) after the other two domains expire.
I’m experimenting with a blog for the God is NOT Imaginary site, as an antidote to select blog entries from the WWGH/GII blog. You can find it at http://blog.godisnotimaginary.info. I’m probably going to end up deleting it, but we’ll see how it goes for right now.
My other blog, Fast Food Management Secrets, is in stasis for the moment. I have a few additional posts to hammer out, but I probably won’t be doing anything further with that blog. Its domain name has been canceled and deleted.
Answer to the Introduction is Up
The first of what I hope to be a barrage of new material has been posted.
I wasn’t even going to do an answer to the book’s introduction, but I changed my mind quickly.
After reading the introduction and suspecting that Loftus had either misunderstood or pulled them entirely out of context, I did some research on Alvin Plantinga and William Lane Craig. Turns out, Loftus was a bit unfair in categorizing his complaints of Plantinga’s properly basic belief and Craig’s exposition of the role of the Holy Spirit in relation to evidence. So I tried to set all of that straight here.
My Copy is Purchased!
I finally broke down, loosed the purse strings, and bought a copy of The Christian Delusion.
So, look for content to be added to the site within the next few days. Hopefully, we can at least add answers for 1 to 2 chapters per week, though that might be a tad bit ambitious considering all of the other writing work that I’m trying to do right now.
Interesting Stats on the Blog for WWGHA
It’s really interesting for me to note that the Blog for Why Won’t God Heal Amputees supposedly bills itself as a way for humans to free themselves from all religions, not just a specific religion. The tagline expresses this: “Exploring God and religion in our world today.” The About Page also expresses that sentiment. The site is supposed to be about religion in general.
Yet, what do we see when we look at the stats? The stats say that, as of June 28, 2010, there are 657 total posts. Of these, 588 are about Christianity! The total posts about Judaism and Islam don’t come anywhere near that total.
That means this site is biased particularly against Christianity, while largely leaving other religions alone. Do I see any posts about Ba’his? What about Buddhists? Anything on that site about the absurdity of Jainism or an attempt to refute theosophy or Scientology?
Nope. And I’m not holding my breath for it either.
More Free Material Answered
I’ve answered Richard Carrier’s horribly argued “essay” on the will of God. I was also hoping to have Loftus’s essay “God and Animals” covered, but I didn’t get that far yet.
I’m hoping to start reading the actual book shortly and start getting my own answers to the essays in place. Right now, I’ve been following the book on Google Alerts and trying to get some relevant links up on the various pages. The only Christian I know who’s blogging through the book is Randal Rauser on his blog The Tentative Apologist. I’ve been putting the relevant links up as they become available.
I need to obtain my bachelor’s degree before I can even think about entering a seminary, so this entry pondering a future seminary is rather premature. I had been considering Winebrenner, which is local (Findlay, OH). Even thought it’s a forty-five minute drive, the information packet I had looked at said that I’d only need to attend class one night per week. So that would be doable.
Denver Seminary has a M.Div program with a concentration in philosophy of religion, which would be ideal considering that I want a bachelor’s in philosophy. However, they don’t have a 100% online program at this time, so they’re out. I’m not moving to Denver just to attend seminary.
I was, however, seriously considering Liberty Theological Seminary prior to the debacle with Ergun Caner. Once I started hearing about his dishonesty and misrepresentation regarding his past, I became much less enthusiastic about this option.
Today, I have finally decided that Liberty is not an option for me. A Liberty student’s blog had this to say:
We also discussed the various approaches to apologetics. I do not agree with the presuppositional view. This approach is often known as the Limited Atonement approach. Believes that Christ only died for the elect, and that only the elect can understand the evidence. They must first agree on certain presuppositions before the Gospel can be effectively presented. (source)
She’s in Dr. Caner’s Theology 101 class, and this information came from day one. Presuppositional apologetics has nothing to do with the Limited Atonement or who can understand evidence. An apologist utilizing this approach assumes that the Bible is the revealed Word of God as a matter of course, and argues from there. This is how the apostles witnessed (in every instance of their preaching, neither the existence of God nor the authority of Scripture are up for grabs).
Most apologetics today is evidential; that is, first we prove that a God can exist and that he would reveal himself to mankind in some way. Then we establish the authority of Scripture and go from there.
Dr. Caner’s remarks about presuppositional apologetics reveal his anti-Reformed stance. I refuse to believe that he is just that ignorant about apologetics.
The anti-Reformed bias has nothing to do with my elimination of Liberty as a potential candidate for a seminary. The dishonesty of its leader and the teaching of complete falsehoods to advance an agenda are the reasons I will not be attending Liberty University.
Touchdown Jesus Destroyed!
The huge eyesore near Cincinnati, OH nicknamed Touchdown Jesus (since it looks like our Lord is signaling for a touchdown) has been obliterated.
TurretinFan thinks it’s a divine judgment against idolatry. Could be. I just think it’s the result of constructing a gigantic statue out of highly flammable materials and ensuring it is the tallest object for miles around. Great move, guys!
I’m torn as to whether I should wish them the best on their rebuilding efforts, or if I should point out that $200,000 could fund some missionary work.
Answering HeHe on “Inherited Religion?”
My post titled “Inherited Religion?” has generated so much flame comments that it was necessary to break the comment section down into a few parts. Part three addresses comments left by HeHe. I actually like HeHe. He is much more thoughtful than my other objectors, and he certainly doesn’t disappoint this time:
Well, the thing about religion being inherited is that that property should necessarily motivate someone to compare it with the other possible beliefs (or lack of beliefs). It’s like multiple people having a map to get to say, Destiny town. None of the maps agree. For some reason, you’re only holding onto map M because you were first delivered it in the mail, the others either didn’t come or came after you had read it and been convinced by it. You read it entirely, and it made some sense, if you accepted some unverifiable a priories (maybe severely unverifiable).
Now, if you’re a logical person, and you suddenly realize that there are hundreds of other maps, that people tend to believe the one they were delivered first, you should draw yourself away from the belief you have inherited, PRETEND IT IS FALSE, and look at all the possible beliefs available(about Destiny town) OBJECTIVELY. You may go as far as realize that there is no evidence that Destiny town even exists.
This is interesting, assuming that it is actually possible to do. Most people are unable to look completely objectively at anything. I’m not saying that I’m any better.
Now, at the risk of sounding pragmatic, I’ve found that Christianity just works. I can’t think of any of God’s promises in the Bible that he’s ever broken when it comes down to it. I’ve always had food and clothing, as have my kids (Mt 6:25-24). I sometimes go without my wants, but everything I need has always been provided.
I haven’t considered every single religion out there, and neither have you. But I have found much truth in Christianity.
Then, HeHe immediately follows with this:
Well, as for the rest, it makes God not seem very nice, I think that is indeed Calvinism or something, as Stoo said. So God has pre-condemned most of the world? I’m not an expert, but doesn’t that go counter to Paul’s teachings about converting the Gentiles or something? Shouldn’t people attempt to convert the other religions to Christianity? Doesn’t the bible predict that they would find great success (100 to 1, the sower’s parable)?
Yes, HeHe, I’m a Calvinist. Sorry to burst your bubble of autonomous free will. But this whole concept of predestination alleviates neither the human responsibility to turn to God for redemption nor does it exempt the elect from the command to preach the Gospel. Why it should be this way is a little harder to work out in a brief post like this one. Romans 9:22-24, however, contains a clue. God is enduring the vessels of wrath for a little while in order to make known his grace to those vessels of mercy in a way that would otherwise not be possible if he redeemed all of his creation.
In conclusion, I would just like to say that it was very tempting to categorize these last three posts under my “Comment Spam” heading, but I resisted. That was meant for a laugh. I won’t answer anyone who tries to act otherwise in the comment section of this post.
Paul Allen on the Question of Christianity
Paul Allen of Hope Church Australia sums up the debate I’ve been having with Caleb and Bruce Gerencser on the definition of a Christian. Caleb and Bruce seem to think that anyone (e.g. Fred Phelps) who claims that he is a Christian is (the minimalist view), where I’ve been arguing (to a brick wall, it seems) that there are other factors in determining it (the maximal view). Allen says this:
If you were proposing marriage to someone, what would the one receiving the proposal say if you said, “I want you to know this proposal changes nothing about my allegiances, my behavior, and my daily life; however, I do want you to know that should you accept my proposal, we shall theoretically be considered married. There will be no other changes in me on your behalf.” In a strange way we have minimized every sacred commitment and made it the lowest common denominator. What does my new birth mean to me? That is a question we seldom ask. Who was I before God’s work in me, and who am I now?
The immediate results of coming to know Jesus Christ are the new hungers and new pursuits that are planted within the human will. I well recall that dramatic change in my own way of thinking. There were new longings, new hopes, new dreams, new fulfillments, but most noticeably, there was a new will to do what was God’s will. (source)
Too often, in becoming a Christian, a person just wants the “lowest common denominator” Christianity. They want to go to church on Sunday and claim spirituality, but never really let it affect who they are or what they do. Jesus predicted this when he told the parable of the wheat and weeds (Mt 13:24-30, 36-43).
Despite what many skeptics say, including Bruce and Caleb, there is more in determining someone’s Christianity than merely a profession of faith. In addition to professing faith, the person in question will seek to do God’s will. They will listen to James when he wrote:
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. (Jms 1:22-25)