Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Changing Your Views

The topic of changing one’s views is constantly in play in discussions between religious believers and critics of religious beliefs. The question often arises: What would it take to make you believe? or What would it take to make you abandon your beliefs? Questions of this sort seem to have a baiting nature, but they can be rather thought-provoking as well. It is valuable to reflect on how our views have changed over the course of our lives, what they changed from and what they changed to, what prompted the change and what instigated the original belief to begin with.

In his blog entry Ten Questions Biblical Literalists Cannot Honestly Answer, Casper Rigsby asks:
8. Is there any amount of evidence that would change your views?
In a reaction titled 10 questions, Steve Hays responds:
i) It doesn't occur to Casper that we can't change our views in toto. Our view of the evidence is, itself a viewpoint.
It’s not clear how Hays can divine such a sweeping assessment of what Casper has or has not done from a simple question of this sort (perhaps this has occurred to him – his question is sufficiently open-ended to allow for this).
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Sunday, June 07, 2015

From the Horse's Mouth... Again!

Back in IP Year One, I posted an entry titled From the Horse’s Mouth: Apologists Shooting Themselves in the Foot. That entry contained a series of self-implicating statements which I had found in a variety of apologetic publications. For example, I included John Frame’s confession “we know without knowing how we know” (from here) and Phil Fernandes’ admission “I just believe that we are very good about lying to ourselves, and only accepting, uh, or interpreting the evidence the way we would like to” (from here; see also here).

Those are some pretty damning statements, and we should not fail to remind apologists about them.

But on occasion, I come across another one, so a new collection has gathered, and I’d like to have these kinds of things right at my fingertips. So I am assembling a second installment to the From the Horse’s Mouth collection.
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Monday, May 25, 2015

Does Atheism truly "render good and evil nebulous"?

In this follow-up entry to my post Does Atheism Truly Lead to Nihilism? I examine a statement proffered by Steve Hays over on Triablogue which are intended to characterize atheism as such in the most degrading light possible. Hays’ statement comes from the comments section of his blog entry Quest for Nihilism.

In his comment, Hays writes:
atheism is a "bad joke" because it renders good and evil nebulous; values addressing such are the product of nothing more than social and emotive pressures; life has no intrinsic meaning or value.
While such assertions are quite commonly expressed by Christians, I’ve always found them to be quite at odds with the biblical worldview – as well as the implications of certain defenses of it, and for a variety of reasons. For one, I can find no definitions of either ‘good’ or ‘evil’ in any of my bibles. At no point do we find a verse that says “Good means….” and another that says “Evil means….” What could keep the concepts of evil more nebulous than simply failing to state their definitions in an explicit manner?

Sadly, in fact, there are additional ways in which the Christian worldview blurs the meaning of these crucial terms.
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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Does Atheism Truly Lead to Nihilism?

A popular assumption among theists in American culture today is that atheism and nihilism are somehow inherently joined at the hip. As Steve Hays of Triablogue puts it in a recent blog entry, “atheism entails moral and existential nihilism.”

According to this belief, if one is an atheist, then he is either an outright nihilist, or at best a nihilist in denial. Atheism is assumed by Christians to have so irresistible a gravitational pull to nihilism that escape is not possible. Given this, it is further reasoned, theism is to be preferred as though it prevailed by default, without the need to show that any of its tenets are objectively true. If you don’t want to be a nihilist, you’ll have to be a theist, and since every form of theism other than Christianity is supposedly invalid, Christianity is characterized as the only viable alternative to nihilism. These assumptions, as self-serving as they are for the apologetic program, are often re-asserted by believers to keep them alive and consequently provide a source of consolation for the converted. It’s one of the locks that evangelists put on the door to keep believers in the fold.
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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Natural Born Atheists

Over on Triablogue in a post titled ”We are all born atheists”, Steve Hays cites Peter Pike (remember him? He’s the guy who argued that imaginary things are “immaterial” – see here), who had on some blog posting of his (Hays does not give a link; feel free to look for yourselves) the “slogan” which affirms: “we are all born atheists.”

Apparently Hays is uncomfortable with this observation and raised a few objections against it. But it is what Hays does not do that should give us pause before going forward. While Hays is eager to undermine the observation that we are born atheist in some way, he demonstrates no concern for whether or not it is true that we are born atheist. For example, he nowhere challenges the claim that it is true, nor does he show that it is not true.
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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Incinerating Presuppositionalism: Year Ten

Yes, folks, my blog Incinerating Presuppositionalism is turning TEN YEARS OLD today! That’s right, ten years ago today I posted the first entry on this blog, and I’m pleased to report that it’s been going strong ever since.

Swashbuckling away at Christianity’s defenses, exposing their fallacies and untruths, bringing to light their gimmicks and refuting their arguments… all this has been a most delightful undertaking for me these past years. It has brought me a most unique pleasure that must be experienced firsthand in order to be fully understood, and enjoyed. It is a gift that I give to myself first and foremost.

The past year has been very busy for me, given a very demanding work schedule, but I have managed to be productive even on my beloved blog. Not only have I reached the tenth anniversary mark for my blog, but also my 400th blog entry. This may not seem like a lot for ten years, but bear in mind that my blog does not have a “staff” of writers churning out trite posts about where to buy the best scones or how the weather affected the turnout at last Tuesday’s game. Rather, it’s just me writing here, and as any reader knows my blog entries are often many pages long and full of ample doses of research. It really is a labor of love.

This is not to detract from those readers and visitors who post comments. Really, the comments are what make it really interesting here at IP, and there is a loyal core who have been at the forefront of the commenting activity. So to you all (you know who you are), I tip my hat in gratitude! I’m sorry every time you have to wait for me to get around to publishing your comments, but those who have been reading my blog for the past couple years know why I was reluctantly pressed to turning on the moderating procedure, something I still don’t really care for myself.

So what happened this past year? Well, quite a bit now that I look back on it all. Over the past year I’ve interacted with a few apologists for the first time, some presuppositionalist in their bent, others more traditional. And this year I did finally get around to examining arguments by William Lane Craig. Some readers have emailed me here and there over the years asking for my take on WLC’s arguments and debates. Hopefully I have satisfied such curiosity.

To my own surprise, this year saw fifty new blog entries. Here they are:

351. Incinerating Presuppositionalism: Year Nine - March 26, 2014
356. Fumbling at the First Down - May 6, 2014
359. Dawson’s Razor - June 1, 2014
364. Dave’s McPresuppositions, Part V - June 12, 2014
365. A Response to Christian James - June 17, 2014
367. STB: Four Years and Counting - August 27, 2014
369. Deriving “Ought” from Dirt - October 4, 2014
378. Jason Petersen’s “Epistemology” -October 21 , 2014
382. Glossary of Terms - December 10, 2014
385. Petersen vs. the Universe - January 10, 2015
386. Lennox’s 10, Part I - January 31, 2015
387. Lennox’s 10, Part II - February 12, 2015
388. Lennox’s 10, Part III - February 13, 2015
389. Lennox’s 10, Part IV - February 21, 2015
390. Lennox’s 10, Part V - February 28, 2015
400. The Ending of the Gospel of Mark - March 24, 2015

As for moving forward, I have a lot of new ideas and planned blog entries, but I am going through a transition as well. I moved to Thailand back in May of 2011, and my work here is now finished. Soon I will be relocating back to the United States to start my next chapter in life. And while this has been a great growing experience, I do not know how long it will take me to resettle my life and devote my energies to writing for my blog. Given the many demands on my time, I’m a slow worker. But keep your eyes peeled. Maybe I’ll surprise you!

In the meantime, keep pursuing your values and hone your reasoning skills.

by Dawson Bethrick


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Ending of the Gospel of Mark

The final chapter of the gospel of Mark, Mark 16, represents a sore spot for Christian apologetics. The more attention it gets, the more it starts to bleed and fester, like an abrasion on a fingertip that cannot heal because of regular wear and tear.

In every bible that I have seen (which is considerable, but far from universal), the final chapter of Mark has 20 verses. And yet, Christian apologists, when the topic presents itself (and it does), insist that verses 9 through 20 were interpolated by later scribes or copyists and therefore are not original to the gospel. The original gospel either ends at 16:8, or its original ending was lost (as some have argued).

What are the implications of either scenario? Let’s first consider the final 12 verses, the so-called “longer ending,” that are still found in today’s printed bibles.

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