Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Category
I listened to this podcast the other day and thought it was a great discussion. Listen to episode 96 on their player. It is a discussion between an atheist (Emory) and fundamentalist Christian (Tony) and a more moderate Christian (Scott). They are going through William Lane Craig’s book On Guard and are on the chapters dealing with the moral argument for the existence of god. I thought it was a very good discussion and there were good points brought up by all sides. I usually agree far more with Emery and I think he made some great points today when dealing with morality. What i really like about these three guys is that they are all intelligent people and they get a long really well and there is no cheap shots or talking over each other. Makes for a profitable discussion to listen to.
Here is the direct link to listen to the show or you can go to the link to the site above.
There are many in the Christian religion that have a concept of God that says he is perfectly just yet also perfectly merciful. This poses an interesting problem which seems to make that completely incoherent.
Justice involves giving someone what they deserve based on their actions. A god then who is ALL just, would be just to all humans without exception. To make an exception would be to not be “all just”. Yet, Christians also speak of God being a merciful God. Mercy involves NOT giving someone what they in fact do deserve. So it would seem that if God is merciful at anytime at all, he is not being totally just at that time. How is it that mercy and justice can co-exist without one canceling out the other completely?
Here is a very interesting post from Luke Muehlhauser over at commonsenseatheism.com on the rise of early Christianity.
It is often said by Christians that the rate of growth of the early Christian church defies natural explanation. It is said that the only explanation is that the resurrection of Christ and the miracles that he was said to have performed had to be true and this is why the early church had such unprecedented growth. In the post above, Luke details how the grown of Mormonism and even the growth of non belief in the 20th century have similar or even better rates of growth. The bottom line is that unfortunately rates of growth have nothing whatsoever to do with the truth or falsity of an idea or truth claim. There are plenty of natural reasons why various movements can grow very very quickly so we should not jump to conclusions about the unseen reasons. This also does not mean that Christianity is therefore false. It simply means that Christianity experienced a rapid rate of growth in it’s early years just like other movements have.
Doug Wilson is a Christian pastor, author, professor and theologian and he co-wrote a paper a few years back defending the ownership of slaves by Christians in the south prior to abolitionism. It is a published pamphlet and it entitled, Southern Slavery As It Was. A Monograph by Steve Wilkins & Douglas Wilson. You can read this pamphlet here in it’s entirety(it is only 22 pages). I recommend that all Christians read this paper. Although you may not agree with his point of view, he is trying to be consistent with what the Bible teaches on the subject of slavery and is not shy about saying so. It will challenge you to think about the issue and to grapple with what the Bible says about it.
When I was an evangelical Christian, I used to listen to and read much of what Doug Wilson has written. He is a very well educated and classically trained man with a great sense of humor and a sharp whit. He has more recently done a documentary with Christopher Hitchens entitled Collision which you can read about here. Wilson and Hitch traveled around the united states doing debates and discussing their differences and much of it is very interesting to watch.
This is a great little 4 minute video by Sam Harris on why trusting miracle claims in the Bible is a foolish and very inconsistent thing to do. There is far better evidence for the miraculous claims of other non Christian people and Christians reject that out of hand. Yet they accept without any critical analysis the miracles found in the pages of the Bible.
When I was a Christian I spent quite a bit of my time reading books on the subject of apologetics. Apologetics is the discipline of defending the faith. I always found myself in a position where I had unbelievers around me who challenged my point of view and so I always want to make sure and be “ready to give an answer for the hope that was within me”. After many years I came upon the school of apologetics called Presuppositional Apologetics (PA). PA critiqued another school of apologetics called Classical Apologetics or evidential apologetics (EA). The EA group also critiqued the PA group. I was persuaded by the PA group that EA was not only a wrong approach but literally an immoral and ungodly way to argue for the faith. Over many years, I then came to see that PA itself had many problems with it’s logic and eventually, my faith completely deteriorated. Not simply because of these bad arguments for the faith, but because I came to see that there were really no GOOD arguments for the faith (and believe me I looked and still am looking).
The EA school of though is basically coming from the point of view that we have to use reason and logic to come to understand that the Bible is true. We look at historical evidence, philosophical evidence, archeological evidence, scientific evidence ALONG WITH our evidence from personal experience and faith.
Luke over at Common Sense Atheism interviewed Chris Hallquist, author of UFOs, Ghosts, and a Rising God: Debunking the Resurrection of Jesus. The interview can be found here. In this interview they discussed the following:
* the claim that there wasn’t enough time between Jesus’ death and the writing of the gospels for legends to develop
* the claim that if the empty tomb story had been fabricated, the fabricators would not have said that women discovered the tomb
* do prophecies point to Jesus as the Jewish Messiah?
* the nature of Christian apologetics
The doctrine of Hell in modern Christianity causes much consternation both with those who are not believers as well as with believers themselves. If you believe in a God that is loving and who cares for humans as if they are his children, it is difficult to fathom how he could send those people to an eternal torture chamber for simply not believing. It is also difficult to stomach the thought of loved ones who have died being tortured for all eternity. I remember as a believer that this caused me much anguish at various times when i was confronted with the death of someone that I knew who was not a “professing Christian”.
On the side of those who are not believers, the tension of a loving god and a fiery Hell is often given as a reason for unbelief. It makes the Christian God out to be a vindictive, unforgiving task master which is a huge turn off to many people. That is at least what the perception is.
This is taken from James Mcgrath’s Blog and I thought it was interesting:
If we adopt a skeptical approach, we are less likely to believe things that are false, but will also probably not believe many things that are true but for which evidence is lacking. If we take a credulous approach, by believing everything, we may be certain that we have believed everything that is true, but we will inevitably believe many things that are false as well.