Wednesday, November 11, 2015

W.L. Craig, the Resurrection, and the Complaint of Presuppositional Bias

Apologists often presume that they’re scoring significant debating points when in fact they’re only succeeding at multiplying their own burdens. A clear case of this can be found in the common complaint that non-believers approach the topic of Jesus’ resurrection and other miracle stories with an “anti-supernatural bias.” This bias, they allege, is philosophically unwarranted and thus marks non-believers as operating from personal preferences, protecting emotional safe zones, and unfairly ruling out the possibility of the resurrection and/or other miracle claims before they get off the ground.

In this video segment featuring Christian apologist William Lane Craig, the following question is asked:
What role do one’s philosophical assumptions play in doing historical research, particularly related to the resurrection of Jesus?
Before getting to Craig’s answer to this question, consider the following alternative scenarios.
Scenario 1: the investigator approaches historical research on the basis of the recognitions that (a) existence exists independent of conscious activity; (b) a thing which exists is itself and acts according to its nature; (c) knowledge is something we must discover by gathering facts which we find in the world when we look outward and validate by an objective method; (d) reason is man’s only means of knowledge, standard of judgment and guide to action; (e) wishing doesn’t make it so; (f) logic is the conceptual process of non-contradictory identification; (g) truth is the non-contradictory, objective identification of fact; (h) science is the systematic application of reason to some specific area of study (including not only natural phenomena, but also moral values and human history), etc.  
Scenario 2: the investigator approaches historical research on the basis of the assumptions that: (i) existence is a product of conscious activity; (j) things are whatever a ruling consciousness wants them to be and act in conformity with a ruling consciousness’ will; (k) knowledge is something we “receive” by assimilating dogmatic affirmations which we acquire by looking inward; (l) dreaming – cf. Mt. 1:20; 2:12-13, 19, etc. – and “visions” – cf. Acts. 9:10-12; 10:3-19; 11:5; 12:9; 16:9-10; 18:9; Rev. 9:17, etc. – are “valid” sources of “knowledge”; (m) wishing in fact does make it so; (n) logic is the “reflection” of a being which is said to be supernatural and infinite; (o) contradictory notions are only “apparently contradictory” to man because of his “finitude”; that “truth” is whatever the ruling consciousness wills; (p) man’s cognitive faculties have been corrupted by “the noetic effects of sin”; (q) reason (which the venomously anti-Semitic Martin Luther called “the devil’s greatest whore”) has the power to “deceive” (see for example here); (r) foreskins are more important than an understanding of conceptual integration; (s) advances in science typically represent a threat to religious adherence and therefore must be resisted, etc.
Just mull on these two alternatives and consider which approach is better equipped to accurately assess the relevant facts.

Not sure yet?

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Saturday, November 07, 2015

Is the Resurrection Story “too improbable” to Believe?

I thought it would be instructive to interact with this recent caricature piece by Steve Hays: Even if it happened, I refuse to believe it!. There Hays writes:
Unbelievers typically say they reject the Resurrection because it's too improbable.
I guess I’m atypical then. I reject “the Resurrection” claim as well as all mystical claims because I don’t think they’re true. This is not a matter of probability. My view is not that there’s 0.000001% chance that “the Resurrection” may have happened. My view is that Christianity’s mystical claims are 100% untrue. The believer doesn’t have to like this if he doesn’t want to, but there’s no “probably” about it here.

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Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Walking on Water vs. Reality

A famous passage in the gospel of Matthew goes as follows:
And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God. (Matthew 14:22-33)
A number of issues could be raised in response to this passage.

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Sunday, September 20, 2015

Fishing with a Chick Tract

So there I was this last Friday afternoon, minding my own business waiting for the Green Line on my way home from work. I had just moments before disembarked from a Blue Line train, and as is my normal habit, I immediately checked the telescreen to see when the next Green Line would come. The telescreen indicated that I had an 18-minute wait. Seriously? Eighteen minutes?

So, as the sun was still high enough in the sky to matter, I sought refuge in the shade of a bus idling nearby, its driver off to the loo or wolfing down a sandwich someplace.

I glanced around and saw a motley assortment of humanity gathered round, waiting for whatever line to take them wherever. The crowd on the platform at this moment was rather light, with a few folks here and there, some coming, some going, some standing around waiting like me.

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Saturday, September 12, 2015

“…it’s easy to imagine all the saved in heaven…”

It’s a particularly delicious treat when apologists unwittingly make damning concessions. Of course, this happens quite routinely, only it often has a subliminal effect since most non-Christians are as clueless about fundamentals as Christianity requires its adherents to be.

For example, when a Christian makes a statement like, “just because you don’t believe in the resurrection doesn’t mean it didn’t happen,” he along with most non-believing skeptics apparently don’t recognize how the believer is making use of a fundamental principle which directly conflicts with the metaphysical foundations of Christianity.

Or consider when apologists make the absurd claim that they begin with the assumption that the bible is true. For example, when Jason Petersen writes (details here):
I guess let me just explain my epistemology, if you don’t mind. I start with the revelation of Scripture. I view Scripture as sufficient.
Such statements are simply an admission that their beliefs cannot possibly be rational, since their very starting point constitutes a radical departure from reality. They only multiply this absurdity when they assume the truth of what they later come along and claim to be able to “prove.”

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Saturday, September 05, 2015

The Hideous Rigors of Christian Salvation Doubt

Apologists routinely present their religious faith as though they were as certain of their alleged truth as rock is hard. In fact, the bible even likens faith to rock. But even the biblical imagery is at odds with itself: faith as solid as a rock is a virtue, but a heart of stone signifies vice; and yet a heat of flesh is the mark of piety and righteousness, and yet the flesh is spiritually weak and sinful.

But going by the bravado which apologists present in their debate performances and the tone of unflinching certainty they never fail to project in their writings, one might never suspect that, in the private corners of their minds, they are in fact shivering frenetically in a chilly, endless winter of persisting doubt. The tough exterior of certitude and sureness might in fact be nothing more than a tenuously thin shell concealing a frightened hollowness that is all that is left behind once the Christian devotional program has done its task in getting the believer to reject himself, surrender his virtue, and eviscerate his own character.

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Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Tragedy that is Christian Morality

Over on Triablogue, blogger and long-time visitor to my blog Justin Hall challenged Steve Hays on his naïve, one-size-fits-all attempts to malign atheism and those who hold no god-beliefs – those dastardly evil people known as “atheists.” In his blog entry, Atheism has no brakes, Hays is apparently attempting to blame atheism for the tragic goings-on that have recently come to light concerning Planned Parenthood. Not surprisingly, he has a difficult time making any connection between the two.

Ironically, Hays laments the evil that goes on in the world while his own worldview teaches that “God controls whatsoever comes to pass” (Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, p. 160) and that “God has a morally sufficient reason for the evil which exists” (Bahnsen, Always Ready, p. 172). Given Hays’ worldview, the people at Planned Parenthood are nothing more than puppets doing the will of the Christian god as they fulfill its “divine plan.” Since, according to Christianity, everything that happens in the world, happens according to “God’s plan,” Planned Parenthood is just one more instance of planned evil.

It’s pretty hard to lay blame on atheism when you worship a god which has intended evil to proliferate the world from before the beginning of time, but then again, Christians are not known for the logical solvency of their worldview.

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