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All Posts

August 2014

  • God Needs a 12-Step Program to Obey His 10 Commandments: If God gave Man the Ten Commandments, you’d think that he’d be the one who followed them the best. You'd be wrong. Perhaps God's guiding principle is “do as I say, not as I do.”
  • Hoare’s Dictum: A computer science pioneer makes a point about simplicity in software that also applies to apologetics arguments: some arguments succeed because they’re plainly correct, but others succeed only because they’re confusing.
  • “I Do Abortions Because I Am a Christian”: I so often focus on Christians with whom I disagree that it’s nice to find one that I can support. Meet a Christian abortion doctor who sees his profession as a ministry.
  • George Washington Couldn’t Tell a Lie … But God Can: You’d think that only fallible humans would have a hard time telling the truth. Perhaps God is only human, because this is a tough one for him, too.
  • Infinity—Nothing to Trifle With (2 of 2): Some casually apologists toss around the idea of infinity. If they understood some of the complexities, perhaps they wouldn’t be so comfortable. (Concluded)
  • Infinity—Nothing to Trifle With: Some casually apologists toss around the idea of infinity. If they understood some of the complexities, perhaps they wouldn’t be so comfortable.
  • Why the Gospel of Mark Is Likely NOT an Eyewitness Account: How do we know that Mark wrote Mark? Why believe the claims that Mark documented eyewitness testimony--or that any of the gospels do? There is evidence, but it’s pretty flimsy. Here’s how apologists justify those claims.

July 2014

  • Human Sacrifice in the Bible (2 of 2): Don’t think the Bible gets saner as you move from the Old Testament to the New. Take a look at the logic behind the Bible’s most important human sacrifice.
  • God Loves the Smell of Burning Flesh: Human Sacrifice in the Bible: Christians like to look down on Israel’s Old Testament neighbors. (“Of course God was justified in wiping them out—they were barbaric!”) Let’s see if Israel wasn't just as bad.
  • The Inevitability of Gay Marriage: Same-sex marriage seems inevitable, and much of the Christian church in America is opposed to this. Let's look at how it's responding to the challenge and speculate on how the church will look back on its handling of the issue.
  • What the Cardiff Giant Hoax Teaches Us About Christians : A hoax that bested showman P.T. Barnum has an interesting religious thread.
  • More Sloppy Thinking from William Lane Craig: William Lane Craig is the insane gift that keeps on giving, a cornucopia of crazy. Let’s look further at the nutty thinking at his book Reasonable Faith.
  • God is Nonexistent: Can science say that anything doesn’t exist? Sure—unicorns, dragons, wizards. It doesn’t say this with certainty but with confidence. By the same logic, God doesn’t exist.
  • The God Debate, 3 of 3 (Fiction): A Christian and an atheist debate God’s existence in this 3-part excerpt from my book Cross Examined.
  • The God Debate, 2 of 3 (Fiction): A Christian and an atheist debate God’s existence in this 3-part excerpt from my book Cross Examined.
  • The God Debate (Fiction): A Christian and an atheist debate God’s existence in this 3-part excerpt from my book Cross Examined.
  • God is as Believable as Unicorns: How do we handle claims of unicorns and other fanciful beasts? These don’t perplex us; we know what to do with them. Similarly, we know what to do with god claims.
  • 10 Rules of Life: This life advice approaches things from a different angle.
  • Arguing the Truth of the Bible (Fiction): A Christian and an atheist debate various arguments for the truth of the Bible in this excerpt from my book Cross Examined.
  • Biblical Slavery (3 of 3): A Christian podcast spent an hour responding to columnist Dan Savage’s public spanking of the Bible. The podcast says that Savage’s claim--that the Bible is “radically pro-slavery”--is hopelessly wrong. Let's let the Bible speak for itself. (Part 3 of 3)
  • War Just an Invention? Then Invent Something Better.: Is war an inherent part of society or is it just an invention? If an invention, perhaps we can invent something better to replace it. Let’s next ask the same question about religion.

June 2014

  • A Response to Pascal’s Wager (Fiction): Mathematician Blaise Pascal famously compared belief in God to a wager. In this scene from my book, a Christian and an atheist argue about the strength of this argument.
  • Biblical Slavery (2 of 3): A Christian podcast spent an hour responding to columnist Dan Savage’s public spanking of the Bible. The podcast says that Savage’s claim--that the Bible is “radically pro-slavery”--is hopelessly wrong. Let's let the Bible speak for itself. (Part 2 of 3)
  • Foolproof Method for Separating History From Legend?: A Christian author proposes four simple rules for winnowing historical truth from legend. Let’s try them out. He concludes with a bizarre standard for knowing truth.
  • The Most Popular Logical Fallacy in Christian Discourse?: One particular logical fallacy springs too easily to many Christians’ lips. It’s easy to spot, and those who care about making sense should look for and eliminate this error.
  • Atheists Do Good Works, Too: It’s not just Christians who do good works. I’d like to tell you about a Seattle-area atheist group working on a project that you might like to help out with.
  • Old Testament Slavery—Not so Bad?: A Christian podcast spent an hour responding to columnist Dan Savage’s public spanking of the Bible. The podcast says that Savage’s claim--that the Bible is “radically pro-slavery”--is hopelessly wrong. Let's let the Bible speak for itself.
  • Houdini vs. Sherlock Holmes: Any of us are susceptible to the allure of the pleasing supernatural answer over harsh reality. Magician Harry Houdini gave Sir Arthur Conan Doyle a choice between natural and supernatural explanations. Guess which one he chose.
  • Christianity: Just Another Marketing Scam: Take a look at this outrageous ad from 30 years ago and see if it doesn’t remind you of someone. Or something.
  • Prayer Cures Disease? Tried and Found Wanting.: Claims that prayer actually does work aren’t hard to find. Finding the evidence to back up such a claim is much more difficult.
  • Superman and Jesus: More Similar than You Might Imagine: Superman comes to earth to save humanity just like Jesus. Though the stories are similar, more interesting is that the methods Christian apologists use to declare Jesus historical come to a similar conclusion for Superman.
  • A “Personal Relationship” With Jesus? Let’s Test That.: “I have a personal relationship with Jesus” comes easily to the lips of many Christians. But have you ever stopped to think what this would mean in practice? Let's explore what a “personal relationship” with Jesus would actually look like.
  • Christians as Star Trek Fans: Christians and Star Trek fans (the kind who dress up like Vulcans and Klingons) share a lot more similarities than Christians may like.
  • Sh*t Christians Say: Christians have a shaky relationship with evidence. They embrace it—in fact, say they’re the rational ones. But look at what else they say.
  • WWJD? Don’t Expect a Consistent Answer: What Would Jesus Do? Ask different Christians, and you’ll get different answers. What good is this slogan?

May 2014

  • Ten Commandments Have no Role in Public: Few Americans can list the Ten Commandments, but so what? What is their relevance in modern society?
  • 10 Questions Christians Must Answer (2 of 2): Here are the final five questions that thoughtful Christians must answer.
  • 10 Questions Christians Must Answer: Here are ten tough questions every thoughtful Christian must answer. In fact, Christians can and do answer them, poorly. But there’s a far simpler answer that makes much more sense of the data.
  • Are Churches More Like Charities or Country Clubs?: We can tell charities from country clubs by their financial statements. Charities do good works with most of their income; country clubs don’t. Which one is more like a typical church?
  • Church Accountability: Senator Grassley was largely ignored by six ministries when he asked for information about their operations four years ago. What are they hiding?
  • Clues that Religion is False: The crazy guy with the tinfoil hat? Today, he’s concerned about the NSA. Decades past, it was telepathic intrusion. Religion also changes with the times and technology, and that doesn’t suggest that it's built on much truth.
  • What Do Churches Have to Hide?: U.S. nonprofits are required to disclose their financial information to the public. It’s a contract—the Internal Revenue Service gives them nonprofit status, and in return they prove that they’re spending that money wisely. This applies to all nonprofits except churches. Isn’t that odd? It’s almost like they have something to hide.
  • In Which I Learn From a Mistake: Seeing our own mistakes makes it easier to sympathize when others are wrong. But how do we encourage someone to get past a big mistake, like a flawed worldview?
  • “God’s Not Dead” Fans: Be the Christian Hero Yourself: Here’s a Hollywood version of an evil atheist philosophy professor. Want a chance to learn from an actual atheist philosophy professor?
  • Greece v. Galloway: How This Will Play Out: The Supremes handed down a surprising decision that permits prayers city council meetings. I think we know how this will work in practice, and I think there’s cause for optimism.
  • More Pointless Parables: Some New Testament parables are pretty good. They make a useful point, and they add to our moral vocabulary. Unfortunately, modern apologetic parables don’t seem to be made to the same standard.
  • Is This a Powerful New Apologetic Argument?: A Christian blogger has a new argument for Jesus. It gets points for being novel, but take a look to see if it’s convincing.
  • Happy Birthday, Patheos!: Let’s take a look back at some highlights of the Cross Examined blog on today’s Patheos anniversary.
  • MS-DOS and Objective Truth: IBM-compatible MS-DOS PCs used to start up displaying a C-prompt (the “C:>” with a blinking cursor). We don’t conclude anything transcendent from this. Similarly, most humans have an innate sense of morality, but we can’t conclude anything transcendent from this either.

April 2014

March 2014

February 2014

January 2014

  • Why is the Universe Comprehensible?: Why is the universe comprehensible? A primate doesn’t need to be able to understand calculus or quantum physics—and yet we can. Is this evidence of the hand of God?
  • Does the Old Testament Condemn Homosexuality? (2 of 2): This post concludes our look at homosexuality in the Old Testament with some passages from Leviticus. At first glance, they’re pretty harsh. When properly understood, however, they don’t provide much ammunition to the Christian eager to condemn homosexuality.
  • Does the Old Testament Condemn Homosexuality?: Take a look at the Old Testament story of Sodom and Gomorrah. It doesn't say as much about homosexuality in modern society as many Christians imagine.
  • Spectrum Argument for Abortion, Revisited: The spectrum argument is my primary contribution to the discussion on abortion. It gives a useful perspective on what the unborn is. But a blogger—a secular one at that—objects. Take a look at his analysis of the spectrum argument.
  • Make Your Very Own Prophecy (That Actually Comes True!): Take a prediction from the Bible that seems to have come true. How big a deal is that? And how can you make your own prophecies?
  • Christian Magic Power Doesn’t Work if You Don’t Believe It: Several martial arts masters claim to be able to defeat opponents without punches but with some sort of energy. Problem is, if you don’t believe it, it doesn’t work. This is like many Christian arguments—they’re effective only if you already believe. To the rest of us, they’re like the make-believe martial arts energy.
  • Maybe it Works Better in German: In an homage to a mock-German sign that I remember from the early personal computer days, this is a stern demand (in a very stern font) that people keep their meddling hands off the First Amendment.
  • Christians: Why You Need an Atheist Speaker at Your Next Conference: Christian conferences are often an echo chamber of reassurance and elementary arguments. Do they effectively train Christian apologists? Here’s one missing ingredient.
  • Forget the Cambrian Explosion—Here’s a SERIOUS Biodiversity Event: Stephen Meyer of the Discovery Institute recently launched a book about Charles Darwin and the rapid development of phyla during the Cambrian explosion. Yes, the Cambrian explosion was remarkable, but it’s not the anomaly that Intelligent Design advocates want to believe.
  • Dismantling Irreducible Complexity: A system is irreducibly complex when every part is necessary. Remove any part, and the system breaks, so how could such a system have been built, piece by piece, by nature? Any precursor would have been useless and therefore selected against by evolution. But an example with which we’re all familiar undercuts this argument.
  • Morality’s Ruby Slippers: Christianity makes a grand show of giving us morality, meaning, and purpose. But it simply gives us back what had always been ours.
  • Does Christianity Lead to a Better Society?: Dismiss God by condoning homosexuality and abortion, and he’ll punish society. How often have we heard that a Christian society is a better society? But this is a claim that we can test.
  • Why is it Always Men Advancing the Pro-Life Position?: Isn’t it a little too convenient that the group that’s not directly inconvenienced by pregnancy is the one insisting on it?
  • Interloper (Fiction): I’m starting the new year with something a little different, a short story about a man who finds himself where he least expects to be.

December 2013

November 2013

October 2013

September 2013

  • Where Complaints About Christian Persecution Fall Flat: Today is International Blasphemy Rights Day (remember what happened eight years ago today?). Let’s burst some claims of Christian persecution and see how the outrage can be redirected in a way that works better for all of us, Christian and atheist.
  • What the Pro-Life Position Ignores: If pregnancy wasn’t that big a deal, we could just let the pro-life movement have their way. But it is a big deal. “Just put the baby up for adoption” is remarkably ineffective, and the woman who takes an unplanned child to term is changed forever.
  • Human Memory: Vivid Doesn’t Mean Accurate: Don’t you remember where you were on 9/11? Apologists argue that the remarkable nature of the gospel story meant that it was recorded correctly. But an example shows the dramatic difference between a vivid memory and an accurate one.
  • Jesus and Vampires and Werewolves and Time Travel: How does time travel work? How do vampires interact with sunlight? Different stories have different answers, just like different religions.
  • Five Intuitive Pro-Choice Arguments: Pro-life advocates claim that a single cell and a newborn are both “babies.” Let’s test that claim with five pro-choice arguments that appeal to the emotional or intuitive side of the brain rather than the intellectual.
  • Atheist Monument Critique: Ten Commandments and Ten Punishments: A Christian contrarian is unhappy with a new atheist monument on public property. See how well his attack supports the Ten Commandments and the associated punishments.
  • Atheist Monument Critique: Founding Father Freethinkers: A Christian contrarian is unhappy with a new atheist monument on public property. See how well his attack stands up to quotes from three founding fathers: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin.
  • Rebutting the “God is Simple” Argument: Apologists Alvin Plantinga and William Lane Craig argue that God is simple. Their argument isn’t holy but full of holes.
  • Atheist Monument Critique: Treaty of Tripoli: A Christian contrarian is unhappy with a new atheist monument on public property. See how well his attack stands up to the quote from the Treaty of Tripoli.
  • Atheist Monument Critique: Madalyn Murray O’Hair: A Christian contrarian is unhappy with a new atheist monument on public property. See how well his attack stands up to the quote by Madalyn Murray O’Hair, founder of American Atheists.
  • Football Christianity: Football player Tim Tebow is famous for public praise and Bible verses. But he is a billboard for more than just the run-of-the-mill Bible verses.
  • Church/State Separation—Where Is the Line?: What is the attraction of putting Christian propaganda on public property? American Atheists recently put up a monument in response to a six-ton Ten Commandments on government property. One Christian attacked the monument; let’s critique.
  • “God Did It” Explains Everything … or Maybe Not: “God did it” is an easy answer to many riddles within science. It’s so broad that it can explain anything, but this means that it explains nothing.

August 2013

July 2013

  • Frank Turek’s C.R.I.M.E.S. Argument for Theism is Criminal: Frank Turek summarized his main arguments in favor of Christianity in a recent debate. Let’s examine them one by one. (Spoiler alert: I wasn’t impressed.)
  • Epitaph: My father would have been 84 today.
  • Religion: Billions Into a Black Hole: Religion sucks up $100 billion in the U.S. every year. Where does that money go? Let’s compare the money flow to a similarly-sized company to see if we’re getting our money’s worth.
  • Who Cares What the Bible Says About Gays? Look What it Says About Banks!: Are you interested in what the Bible says about homosexuality? First, let’s be clear about what little it actually does say. Next, be consistent. Given the Bible's concern about the sin of lending with interest is, THAT is where the Christian's focus should be.
  • Objective Truth: Does the Bible Speak Plainly About Homosexuality?: I’m a bit surprised that I wind up agreeing with apologist Greg Koukl on a matter of biblical interpretation. Nevertheless, that doesn’t put his argument against homosexuality in a very good light.
  • Can Christian Scholars be Objective?: Christian scholar Michael Licona made one small challenge to the inerrancy of scripture, and that intellectual honest cost him his job. This shows what can happen if a Christian scholar follows the facts where they lead. More importantly, it means that anything written by Christian scholars bound by their university’s statement of faith, is suspect.
  • Christianity Needs Promotion, Like Soft Drinks: Would you spend unpaid time helping a soda company increase its market share? If not, why do it for a religion?
  • Bible Interpretation Works Like the Paul-is-Dead Rumor: Have you heard of the clues in the Abbey Road album about Paul McCartney being dead? They weren’t put there by the Beatles themselves; they were invented by imaginative fans. What ideas were similarly invented (or ignored) by eager fans of the Bible?
  • An Inept Attempt to Dismiss the Problem of Evil: Christian apologist Greg Koukl tries to turn the tables on the atheist who proposes the Problem of Evil, but his argument collapses.
  • Armageddon Within Our Lifetime? (2 of 2): Are conditions really deteriorating, with signs of the apocalypse visible to those wise enough to understand? Or do people’s natural instincts to overestimate fears (and many leaders’ instincts to fan these flames) cause them to imagine an imminent Armageddon though conditions are actually improving?
  • Armageddon Within Our Lifetime?: What fraction of Americans believe that we’re nearing the end? Perhaps a lot more than you think. Let’s consider their reasons for seeing Armageddon around the corner.
  • A God-Created World Would Look Like a ’60s Family Sitcom: Christians must defend the messed-up world that God gave us, and sometimes they push back and demand to know what the atheist thinks would be better. I’m glad they asked, because I know what a God-created world would look like.
  • How Do We Know the Moon ISN’T Made of Green Cheese?: We all know that the moon isn’t made of green cheese. But is this knowledge justified? And what can this process tell us about more provocative claims such as “Jesus rose from the dead”?
  • The Leaky Noah’s Ark Tale (2 of 2): Some concluding thoughts about the Noah story: the original protagonist (it wasn’t Noah), a critique of God’s omniscience, what the rainbow really means, and the real reason why God launched the flood.
  • The Leaky Noah’s Ark Tale: Put aside your skepticism and take the Noah’s flood story seriously, as most Americans do. How well does it hold up?

June 2013

  • Seven Billion People and Counting: The Quiverfull movement, popular among some Christian groups, urges Christians to “let God decide” how many children they will have. In the 21st century, we have this kind of childish thinking?
  • Illogic of the Garden of Eden Story (2 of 2): Let’s wrap up our look at the Garden of Eden story by looking at the internal consistency of the story. Do the implications of the story fit with both reality and the rest of Christianity?
  • Illogic of the Garden of Eden Story: Far more Americans take the Garden of Eden story as history than you might imagine. Given that, let’s critique the story. Does it hold up? Where did it come from?
  • Tribulations of Leaving Religion: You can leave a company with two weeks’ notice. You can leave a club by not paying dues. But leaving Christianity often brings consequences. How will your fellow parishioners interpret your departure, and how will they respond?
  • Religion in Public Schools: What Does the First Amendment Allow?: What do you do when faced with a law that seems to be ignorant of the First Amendment? Here is a brief primer on how religious freedom applies in public schools.
  • Bible Reading in Schools: Illegal for 50 Years: Bible reading in public schools was declared illegal 50 years ago today. But we can’t rest on our laurels. Consider just one ongoing attack, a new Mississippi law that permits religious speech in schools.
  • Bible Contradictions to the Trinity: The definition of the Trinity is clear about the equality in majesty of the three persons of the Trinity. But does the Bible agree? Consider a number of verses that call this equality into question.
  • God Has Many Names, But Do We Need One More?: Aren’t we missing a fourth name? Father + Son + Holy Spirit = who? Here’s why “The Trinity” doesn’t work.
  • The Long, Strange Story of the Trinity: Muslims have it figured out: there is no god but Allah. That’s it. But it took centuries for Christians to cobble together the idea of the Trinity, picking it among many plausible alternatives. They admit that it’s not understandable. Let’s take a closer look at this contradictory doctrine.
  • Christianity Can Rot Your Brain: God commands a lot of genocide in the Bible. Apparently feeling compelled to justify the savagery of his favorite deity, apologist William Lane Craig actually argues that the slaughter was justified and righteous.
  • Magician Uri Geller Teaches Much About Bible Miracles: Those who make paranormal claims have a lot to teach us about the Bible and its supernatural claims. The apologetics from both camps are surprisingly similar.
  • William Lane Craig Doesn’t Believe in Objective Moral Values: William Lane Craig has linked the existence of God to the existence of objective moral values. He’s also given us a definition for those values, but is that definition objectively true? Let’s put it to the test ...
  • A Powerful Defense of Reason … or Maybe Not: Some Christians argue both sides of the reason issue. Is it God’s greatest gift or is it the devil’s whore as Martin Luther argued? Here is the thinking from an experience pastor.

May 2013

  • Post #333!: Wow—that’s a lot of posts! Let’s pause for a moment and take stock of what we’ve all accomplished.
  • Why We Disagree on Moral Issues: Back and forth we go, arguing about who’s right on moral issues. I know of no easy solution to that problem, but I can offer insights into WHY liberals and conservatives differ. The key is seeing the individual components of morality.
  • Predictions for the End of the World: How common are end-times predictions? Perhaps more common than you think. “The end is nigh!” is a prediction with much backpedaling.
  • A Defense of Boy Scouts: Boy Scouts of America has gotten a lot of pushback against its new policy to allow gay Scouts. Let’s critique one of those attacks. The Boy Scouts' own principles undermine it.
  • Response to Attack on My Naysayer Argument: I got a response to my argument against the naysayer hypothesis. Let’s take a look to see if it holds up.
  • Happy Anniversary of the World Not Ending: You may not realize how lucky you are to be reading this. The world was supposed to have ended two days ago … but I guess it didn’t. Again. (And do you know what today is the anniversary of?)
  • What’s Up With Other Atheist Bloggers?: Want to check out what other atheists at Patheos are blogging about? Here’s a sample.
  • Bungling the Facts Behind Evolution: An apologetic for politicians who attack science falls short.
  • The Childish Faith of John Lennox (2 of 2): Oxford mathematics professor John Lennox is an energetic defender of Christianity, but a recent interview on the Problem of Evil suggests that his mathematical proofs may be a lot stronger than his Christian ones (part 2 of 2).
  • The Childish Faith of John Lennox: Oxford mathematics professor John Lennox is an energetic defender of Christianity, but a recent interview on the Problem of Evil suggests that his mathematical proofs may be a lot stronger than his Christian ones.
  • Quest for the Simplest Explanation: Pick an important leader in any field. Now imagine a detailed history that omits that central figure. You’d notice the absence, right? We’re told that God is a central figure in reality—let’s try the same thought experiment with him.
  • How Religious are Americans? Not as Much as You Think.: Americans are famously religious when compared to other countries in the West. But new studies have peeked behind the curtain to determine how religious Americans really are. It turns out that they’re not as religious as we thought.
  • A Biblical Foundation for American Freedoms?: Some Christian history revisionists eagerly claim biblical precedents for the pioneering rights that the U.S. Constitution. But compare it with the Ten Commandments and the differences become clear.
  • How to Invent a Plausible God: Religions walk a fine line between promising too little and promising too much. Too little and no one cares; too much and you get found out. But there’s a surprising advantage to contradictions in your religion’s story.
  • Why Pretend That There Is a Soul?: Research from neuroscience and physics show that there is no good reason to imagine that souls actually exist. We’ll start with the guy in the photo. A blasting accident shot an iron rod through his head, but he survived to give science early evidence of the mind/brain connection.
  • National Day of Actually DOING Something: Prayer is easy. Doing something is hard. Let’s be adults and realize that prayer does nothing more than make people feel good. Wouldn’t a National Day of Actually DOING Something be more effective than a National Day of Prayer?
  • Does Prayer Actually, Y’know, WORK?: The National Day of Prayer approacheth, which means that it’s a good time to critique the value of prayer.

April 2013

  • Ever Want to Take a Philosophy Class?: Dan Fincke, philosopher and atheist blogger, is offering private philosophy classes.
  • Televangelists Show Prayer is Useless: Televangelists always ask for your prayers, but they always ask for lots of cash as well. What does this tell us about what supports their show? Maybe they're a lot smarter than they seem.
  • New Commenting System!: Comments on the new commenting system for Patheos blogs.
  • God ♥ Genocide: The Bible makes clear what God thinks of genocide. Apologist William Lane Craig attempts a rearguard action, but his defense of God is pretty weak.
  • Do Atheists Borrow From the Christian Worldview?: We’re told, “The atheist borrows from the Christian worldview!” But dig into this claim, and you’ll see there’s nothing there. Here's a parable that illustrates the issue.
  • Interview an Atheist at Church Day, May 5: Do you seek out conversations with people who don’t share your religious views? Here’s a proposal to formalize that process.
  • Same-Sex Marriage Leads to Police State: I recently attended the same-sex wedding of a friend, so I was particularly interested to read an article arguing against it. I was surprised to learn the inevitable terminus of this slippery slope.
  • Thoughts on the Boston Bombing: I have a tenuous connection with the Boston Marathon because I watched a few finishes years ago. It reminds me of another bomb plot that didn’t end the same way.
  • Attack of the Angry Atheists! (2 of 2): A rabbi tries but fails to understand atheists’ anger. Let’s take a look at his guesses to see where they fail.
  • Attack of the Angry Atheists!: Dinesh D’Souza is perplexed by those darn angry atheists. What’s got atheists so worked up? Let me count the ways …
  • 500 Eyewitnesses to the Risen Christ? Not Likely.: The apostle Paul claims that 500 people saw Jesus alive after his crucifixion. This claim is popular among apologists who imagine this as strong evidence that the crucifixion is historical. However, this argument crumbles under scrutiny.
  • A Critique of 1 Corinthians 15: This chapter in Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth makes perhaps Paul’s clearest summary of Christian theology, but Paul’s views don’t match those of many Christians.
  • Shroud of Turin: An Easter Miracle?: What are we to make of the Shroud of Turin? Is it a miracle or a fake?
  • The Curious Case of Antony Flew: In the list of atheists who’ve noisily turned their backs on atheism, philosopher Antony Flew is near the top. I don’t question that Flew became a deist. What I question is how relevant his example is.
  • Unintended Consequences of the Prodigal Son Story: I gotta admit—the Prodigal Son story is one of the good ones. The love and compassion shown by the father sets the bar for the rest of us very high. But if that’s the Bible’s standard for forgiveness, why doesn’t God follow it?

March 2013

  • Jesus: Just One More Dying and Rising Savior: Mythology has many precedents to the story of the resurrection of Jesus. Let’s look at some of these gods and see if they stand up to the challenge.
  • Women at the Tomb Are Weak Evidence for the Resurrection: Apologists love to bring up the women at the tomb. Women weren’t reliable witnesses in Jewish culture at the time, so why would the gospel authors place them there if the story weren’t true? However, a little scrutiny unravels this story.
  • Magic vs. Technology: Jesus performs miracles in the Bible, but are they really all that impressive? Compare them to what we can do with boring old technology, and they may not stand up.
  • Contradictions in the Resurrection Account: How many days did Jesus teach after his resurrection? Was it 40 days as Acts says or less than one as Luke says? Matthew writes about an earthquake that opened graves and sent reanimated corpses walking around Jerusalem. Why didn’t the other gospels write about this remarkable event? These and many more contradictions make us wonder if the gospel account is history or merely legend.
  • Religion is to Science as Homeopathy is to Medicine: Look at the different healing miracles Jesus does in the gospels. Are they any more effective than debunked alternative medicines?
  • Gay Marriage, Abortion, and Open Mindedness: A Republican senator reversed himself on same-sex marriage and now supports it. What causes a change in so fundamental an issue? And how does this apply to abortion?
  • 10 Reasons the Crucifixion Story Makes No Sense: The crucifixion story? Not that big a deal. Here are 10 reasons why it makes no sense.
  • Why Does the Bible Have No Recipe for Soap?: Soap wasn’t known to the ancients, but it’s not hard to make. Why no recipe for it in the Bible? Can we stop with “God has his reasons,” or does this say something about the truth of the Bible?
  • A Debt to Christianity?: A popular article argues that all of us—atheists, too—owe a great debt to Christianity. It grounds the stable Western society that we take for granted. (Or does it?)
  • Lee Strobel’s Fragile Argument: Lee Strobel imagines that he takes a tough journalistic attitude to the Christian message and that evidence shows it to be correct. But a little investigation shows that his case is flimsy.
  • Separating Fact From Fiction: How Does Christianity Fare?: Imagine throwing your Net of Truth into the water. You want to pull up truth and nothing but the truth. What is your procedure for winnowing fact from fiction?
  • What Would a Religious Constitution Look Like?: The U.S. Constitution is secular, which provides protection to both atheists and believers, but this trait is under attack by Christian revisionists. They pretend that it’s actually religious. Let’s consider what a religious constitution would actually look like.
  • The U.S. Constitution is 100 Percent Secular—or Is It?: Christians are eager to imagine the founding fathers building the nation’s foundation on a Christian footing. Is the Law of the Land secular? Or do these Christians have a point?

February 2013

  • Religion and Sports: Just Cultural Traits?: Religion and sports both have important dates throughout the calendar. They both have sacred designs and special clothes. They both have revered spaces. Superstition in sports is like supernatural belief in religion. They both create an “us” and a “them.” How far can we take this comparison?
  • Don’t Believe Christianity Until You Believe in Aliens: The Christian accepts the claims of the gospels. Contrast this with another claim: that aliens have visited the earth. Since that claim beats the Jesus story on every point, does that mean you must accept alien claims?
  • Thoughtless Thinking About Homosexuality: An online Christian ministry has a flabby argument against homosexuality and same-sex marriage that needs dismantling.
  • Response To an Angry Christian (2 of 2): Let’s wrap up our analysis of a Catholic blogger’s rant against atheism. He gives us three more arguments with which he’s not impressed. Curiously, neither am I.
  • Response To an Angry Christian : A Catholic blogger claims to have distilled atheists’ arguments down to just two. And he’s not impressed.
  • Principle of Analogy: Some events are common in our everyday lives. When we see one of these, we know what bin to put it in. Other events are common, but only as legends--raising from the dead, for example. Here's the principle behind this natural categorization.
  • Polytheism in the Bible: Have you come across enigmatic verses where God seems to be one of many? The Old Testament is full of them. Let’s take a look and see the transition from polytheism to monotheism.
  • Atheists: What Would It Take to Change Your Mind?: Listen up, atheists! What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. We’ve asked Christians what it would take them to change their minds. Now: what would it take for you to change YOURS?
  • Christianity is Self-Defeating: The book of Exodus gives God’s demand that the Jews stick with their own kind when they returned to Canaan. God had to make sure that they weren’t corrupted by the other religions. But the Bible wouldn’t have this prohibition unless the religion had been invented! The Bible defeats itself.
  • Christians: What Would It Take to Change Your Mind?: How resilient is Christianity to contrary evidence? Does it blunder on in spite of clear evidence that its claims are false? Or are Christians eager to follow the evidence where it leads?
  • Christianity, the Ultimate Unfalsifiable Hypothesis: A hypothesis should be testable, including “God exists.” How honestly do Christians follow the evidence? And have they made their hypothesis unfalsifiable?
  • The Religious Foundation of Groundhog Day: Groundhog Day (February 2) is a day when we can celebrate some old wives’ tale about groundhogs seeing their shadow, but few know about the religious foundation of this holiday.

January 2013

  • It’s a Pro-Slavery Free-For-All!: That God allows slavery in the Old Testament is one of the stickier issues Christian apologists deal with, but instead of dealing with it honestly, some want to ignore the difficult parts. Take a look at what they don’t want you to know.
  • A Deist Argument Is Inadequate: Consider some of the popular science-y Christian apologetics: the Cosmological, Teleological, and Design Arguments, for example. They all share a flaw that gets too little attention.
  • God’s Kryptonite: If anything is unchanging, God should be. But our picture of God (all powerful, omniscient, omnipresent) doesn’t represent the God you get out from the Old Testament. Back in God’s youth, he was a lot weaker than he is now. Consider two examples from the Bible.
  • Pushback on Abortion: My post in honor of the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade has gotten a response. It’s more supportive than many Christian responses. Let’s take a look.
  • A Defense of Abortion Rights: The Spectrum Argument: “Abortion means the death of a baby!” That’s true only if you say that a newborn baby is no different than the single cell that it came from. But this denies a spectrum of personhood that we all acknowledge.
  • Argument from Design Busted!: DNA is marvelously complicated, but mere complexity can make us miss the real issues. When we examine DNA and the sloppy way it’s put together, the Argument from Design collapses.
  • The Perplexing Monty Hall Problem and How It Undercuts Christianity: One of the three doors has a car behind it. You pick one, and the game show host reveals that one of the other two is a goat. Knowing that there’s a total of two goats and one car, do you switch?
  • Design Hypothesis: DNA and Dysteleology: Teleology says that life shows the hand of a designer; dysteleology says the reverse. Four aspects of DNA—the c-value enigma, pseudogenes, endogenous retroviruses, and atavisms—make a clear case for the latter.
  • How Likely the Jesus Miracle Stories?: How can probability be used to help clarify the God question? A quick (and easy) summary of Bayes Theorem will provide a useful tool in weighing competing claims.
  • The Cross Examined Podcast!: I’m now podcasting this blog. If you prefer to listen to a podcast so you can multitask, this may be a fit for you.
  • Rationalizing Away the “Canaanite Problem” (2 of 2): Let’s conclude our look at Greg Koukl’s analysis of the Problem of Evil. We’re on the same page that this is a tough problem for Christianity, but I’m not sure that his resolution is as complete as he thinks.
  • Rationalizing Away the “Canaanite Problem”: A popular fundamentalist Christian wrestles with the Problem of Evil. He’s confident that he’s got this persistent problem under control. Take a look and see if that optimism is well placed.
  • Why Worry About a God That Isn’t There?: You don’t call yourself an a-unicornist. Or an a-Santaist. Why should people without a god belief call themselves a-theists?
  • Weak Analogies Don’t Prove God: How do you describe the relationship between you and Jesus? It’s similar to an ordinary person-to-person relationship … or so goes the popular analogy. Think about it for a moment, however, and this analogy falls apart.

December 2012

  • Top Religion Story of 2012: The Catholic League’s Bill Donohue enjoys getting agitated about this or that perceived insult against his religion, but he’s delighted with a new study showing the religious to be more generous. A little research uncovers a different story, however.
  • Lawyer Thinking, Revisited: A podcaster has pushed back against my recent “Scientist Thinking vs. Lawyer Thinking” post. Let’s give him a hearing and see what that does to my argument.
  • Exponentially Increasing Claims and Christianity : “God exists” is an easy claim to make, but how likely is it? Consider a series of increasingly unlikely categories of claims to see where the Christian claim fits in.
  • Jesus and Santa: Imagine two kids arguing about Santa. Defending Santa’s existence may be easier than you imagine. Indeed, rationalization can defend just about any belief, including belief in Jesus.
  • Christianity Infantilizes Adults: Christians often reshape their view of life’s events to fit and bolster their Christian worldview, but give it a little thought. The simple Christian explanation of God’s hand at work often leads to a bizarre conclusion.
  • Reject the Scientific Consensus? How Do You Justify THAT?: Is a scientific consensus inconvenient? Then just handwave a reason to reject it! Though this is a popular response to unwanted scientific conclusions, it is intellectually indefensible.
  • What Did Paul Know About Jesus? Not Much.: Sift through Paul’s writings, and you get very little of the biography of Jesus. What does this say about how the Jesus story grew over time?
  • And God is not Good, Either: The world lost an eloquent voice with Christopher Hitchens’ death one year ago. Inspired by his book “God is Not Great,” I’d like to continue with that thought: “And God is not good, either.” Let’s take a look at the slavery, genocide, and general barbarity the all-loving Creator of the universe apparently approves of.
  • Scientist Thinking vs. Lawyer Thinking: Consider two kinds of thinking. Each has its place, but we fool ourselves when we use one but pretend that we’re using another.
  • Christmas Time! Time to Investigate the Virgin Birth “Prophecy.”: Matthew grounds his virgin birth story as the fulfillment of a prophecy from the Old Testament book of Isaiah. Let’s take a look at what that chapter is actually talking about to see if Matthew’s claim holds up.
  • Looking for Christmas Gifts? Give Something Thought Provoking This Year.: What do you get those hard-to-buy-for people on your Christmas list? Let me make a shameless suggestion: buy them my book! It’s a novel about the Christian/atheist debate that wrestles with the most popular apologetic arguments that are current in society today.
  • Video: Are the Gospels Eyewitness Accounts?: They tell us that the gospels were written by eyewitnesses, or at least that they are eyewitness testimony. But how do we know that? This video approach to the question shows that the evidence is pretty flimsy.
  • War on Christmas?: Is the zombie atheist army conducting a War on Christmas? Are atheists unlawfully curtailing the rightful place of Christian displays in public places? Or are we seeing the opposite—Christian displays imposed on the state-supported public square in violation of the Constitution?
  • Jesus a Legend: A Dozen Reasons (Part 2): Is the Jesus story a legend? Christians don’t think so. Here are some reasons they give for rejecting the legend hypothesis, with rebuttals. (Part 2 of 2)

November 2012

  • Jesus a Legend: A Dozen Reasons: Is the Jesus story a legend? Christians don’t think so. Here are some reasons they give for rejecting the legend hypothesis, with rebuttals.
  • C.S. Lewis Gets it Wrong: Liar, Lunatic, Lord … or Legend?: C.S. Lewis is rightly famous for his impact on Christian apologetics. With this argument, however, he misses the elephant in the room.
  • Street Preacher Cage Match, Part 2: Here’s the rest of my atheist street banner. And I’d like to get your opinions—what is too much?
  • Street Preacher Cage Match: After reaching my limit with sign-carrying street preachers, I decided to get into the fight myself.
  • Final Thoughts on the Atheist Prayer Experiment: The Experiment is over. I did have some curious experiences. Decide for yourself if they were coincidences or the voice of God.
  • Tips for Dealing with Creationists: Creationists say the craziest things. I’ll save for later a critique of the actual errors in their arguments against evolution. Let’s look instead at some of the higher-level errors they make. Consider this a dose of Creationist vaccine.
  • Imagine a Christianity Without Indoctrination: What would happen if we categorized Christianity as an adult activity? It would be like smoking, drinking, voting, driving, sex, and so on—things that you must be mature enough to handle wisely. This adults-only Christianity would die out within a few generations. What does that say about the truth of Christianity?
  • Gospels vs. the Perfect Miracle Claim: We can argue back and forth for hours about the quality of the evidence in the gospels, but to understand the evidence, let’s simplify. Drop the problematic aspects of the gospel story and ask yourself if this makes it more credible … or less.
  • Are We Just Molecules in Motion?: Can a mechanistic view of the human brain explain consciousness or morality? Some Christian apologists say no, but they need to see these properties as emergent phenomena.
  • Christianity 2.0: Secular Christianity : How might Christianity evolve to become a better global citizen? I propose the idea of secular Christianity.
  • Josephus: A Reliable Source?: Josephus was a Jewish historian whose first-century writings mention Jesus. Christian apologists eagerly point to two references in particular as extra-biblical evidence of the miraculous works of Jesus. We’ll investigate them both to see if they hold up.
  • The Sin of Sodom was Homosexuality ... Right?: The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is often held up as clear evidence that the Bible was against homosexuality. But was homosexuality really the sin of Sodom?
  • Believers are Products of their Environment: What fraction of Christians were not raised in a Christian environment? What fraction of Muslims were not raised in a Muslim environment? What does it say about the validity of religious claims that people typically take on the religion of their culture?

October 2012

  • Saint … or Insane?: Andrea Yates drowned her five children to save them from Satan, but both she and Joan of Arc heard the voice of God. Charles Manson vs. Abraham. Jim Jones vs. Joshua. Who’s the saint, and who’s insane? How do we distinguish them?
  • Kreeft’s Argument from Absolute Conscience Fails Absolutely: Peter Kreeft’s Argument from Conscience assumes an absolute obligation. Like so many other apologists, his assumptions are unfounded. They’re also unnecessary—the natural explanation works just fine.
  • What? MORE on that 9/11 Cross?: The piece of rubble known as the World Trade Center Cross is a popular flash point in atheist/Christian relations. Are atheists being whiners for complaining about a Christian relic in a government-funded museum? Or would it make more sense to display this in a church?
  • 10 Reasons to Just Say Nay to the Naysayer Hypothesis: We’re told that the gospel story must be true because, if it weren’t, eyewitnesses at the time would correct it. In fact, it doesn’t work that way. Here are 10 reasons why this naysayer hypothesis is nonsense.
  • A Flawed Analogy to Morality: Leah Libresco has hit the ball back over the net in our conversation on morality. I respond to her comments, including a challenge that I am actually appealing to an external standard.
  • Christianity Supports Same-Sex Marriage: the Movie: My recent summary of how Christianity, seen correctly, supports same-sex marriage was rather brief. This video explores the topic in more depth.
  • Objective Morality Reconsidered: Leah Libresco (of Unequally Yoked) has commented on my blog post about objective morality. She raises some good points, which is an opportunity to explore this subject further.
  • Why Christianity Looks Invented: Does Christianity look like the one true religion, clearly different from all the thousands of manmade ones? Or does it look the same as all the rest?
  • C.S. Lewis on Morality: C. S. Lewis wrote on a number of apologetic topics. Let’s consider his thinking on morality. His appeal to objective grounding for morals doesn’t stand up to cross examination, and we can explain morality without this assumption.
  • Prayer Doesn’t Work as Advertised: Here’s an excerpt from my book where two characters discuss prayer. What does the Bible claim about prayer? Does it deliver on those claims? Is prayer redundant if God already knows everything? How do we explain unanswered prayer?
  • I’ll Do What I Wanna! Pulpit Freedom Sunday: In which I attend a local church and get a good dose of Pulpit Freedom Sunday. Pastors pretend that the issue is free speech, but it’s simply a matter of keeping your word.
  • Christianity Supports Same-Sex Marriage: Some Christians point to their Bible for reasons to reject same-sex marriage. Religious reasoning may be binding on them, but it doesn’t carry weight in a society governed by a secular constitution. More importantly, this biblical justification doesn't hold, even within a Christian context. Let’s take a closer look.
  • The Prayer Experiment Critiques Itself: The philosophical paper which was the inspiration for the 40-day Atheist Prayer Experiment has some self-critique. Kudos to the author for full disclosure, but this critique takes us to a place he didn’t expect.
  • Getting off Mount Atheism: Here’s an interesting analogy that gives a new perspective on different worldviews and how we move from one to another, trying to find the one that explains reality best.
  • How Could an Atheist Convert to Christianity?: I’ve argued that well-informed atheists can’t be moved by intellectual arguments for religion. Let’s test that by examining three high-profile ex-atheists. What made them convert, and what does that say about my hypothesis?
  • “I Used to be an Atheist, Just Like You”: I can believe that you used to be an atheist. It’s the “just like you” part that I’m having a problem with. If you’d been just like me, you wouldn’t make apologetic arguments to which I have an easy rebuttal.
  • Friend Request from Jesus?: Let me update you on the Atheist Prayer Experiment, week 2. Is the Problem of Divine Hiddenness Christianity’s toughest problem?

September 2012

  • Don’t Move the Goalposts, Again: About the puzzling questions at the limits of science, apologists often say, “If you can’t answer them, we can!” For the old questions (such as “What causes disease?” or “What causes drought?”) this claim is now laughable. Why is Christianity’s claim to answer the new questions any less so?
  • Public Challenge: Show Me a Miracle: Miracle claims are a little out of vogue. Where they’re made, they’re rarely splashed across the front pages but remain within their small religious community. Let's investigate a particular bold claim to see if it holds up.
  • The Prayer Experiment, Week 1: What’s happened after my first week of daily prayer?
  • Mrs. Jesus: A tiny papyrus scrap, “The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife” has been making the news. What do we make of the manuscript? And what of Christians’ reactions to it?
  • Historians Reject the Bible Story: You never find the story of Jesus in a history book, like you would for Julius Caesar or Alexander the Great. Why is that? Why is the Bible not cataloged in the library in the History section?
  • Where is the Islamic Renaissance?: Contrast the recent violence in the Middle East over perceived insults to Islam with a couple of historical examples (Japan a century ago and the Islamic Golden Age). Has the Islamic world missed an opportunity?
  • The Atheist Prayer Experiment Begins: The 40-day atheist prayer experiment begins today. I'll kick this off with a critique of the article behind the project, “Praying to Stop Being an Atheist.”
  • Finding Jesus Through Board Games: Let’s explore an interesting twist on a popular board game. The resulting game has the motivation of the game completely disconnected with the actions within the game, so it looks like it won’t sell too well. But this broken game parallels Christianity very closely.
  • Failed Prophecy: Isaiah 53: Like our earlier analysis of Psalm 22, only by selecting individual phrases of Isaiah 53 out of context can we imagine that we have a prophecy. Honestly examine the entire chapter, and the “prophecy” vanishes.
  • Should an Atheist Pray?: A worldwide experiment will start in a week in which atheists pray for God to reveal himself. I’ve decided to participate, but does it make any sense for an atheist to pray? (If I’m making a mistake, talk me out of it!)
  • Dr Johnson: Non-Overlapping Magisteria (NOMA): Stephen Jay Gould proposed the idea of Non-Overlapping Magisteria to calm the warring camps of Science and Religion. Well … it was a nice try.
  • Nazi Soldiers Indoctrinated with Darwin? Yeah, Right.: Why were the Nazis so disagreeable? Because they were force-fed evolution, of course! (Or maybe not.)
  • Failed Prophecy: Psalm 22: Apologists claim hundreds of prophecies fulfilled by the life of Jesus, and this psalm is one of the most popular. With a little poking, however, the claim that it predicted the crucifixion unravels.
  • What Makes a Good Prophecy (and Why Bible Prophecies Aren’t): What makes a good prophecy? We all have a decent idea and are not taken in by the predictions of psychics. So why not apply that same skepticism to claims of biblical prophecy?

August 2012

  • Do We REALLY Trust in God?: Is it really true that “In God we trust”? With what do we trust him? It might indeed make Christians feel warm and fuzzy to see that motto on U.S. money, but do they actually believe it?
  • Probability Proves Bible Prophecy (or Not): In which we critique a popular analysis of the probability of Jesus prophecies coming true and find nothing there.
  • Clueless John the Baptist: Throughout the gospels we read snippets about John the Baptist. Put them all together, and you have a confused portrait. (Maybe the gospels shouldn’t be categorized as history.)
  • Dr Johnson: Dunning-Kruger Effect: Has it ever seemed to you that less competent people rate their competence higher than it actually is, while more competent people humbly rate theirs lower? It’s not just your imagination.
  • Christianity's Bogus Claims to Answer Life's Big Questions: Religion claims to be able to answer life’s big questions, but Science does as well. The thing is, Science’s answers are a lot more credible.
  • The Parable of the Professor and the Rocks: A little story about life's priorities.
  • Who Cares About Darwin?: Charles Darwin was a giant force within biology, but I don’t care what he wrote. Creationists, by contrast, do. They seem to imagine that, if they can quote him out of context, they can cast doubt on the validity of evolution. (Wow—where do you begin?)
  • Dr Johnson: Extraordinary Claims and Extraordinary Evidence: Carl Sagan popularized the aphorism, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” Apologist Greg Koukl (Stand to Reason) finds that too heavy a burden to carry and wants to lower the bar. Let’s see how well he does with that project.
  • Why Map of World Religions but not World Science?: A map of world religions shows that, in contrast to science, religious answers to life’s Big Questions depend on location—hardly a compelling foundation on which to build truth claims.
  • The Powerful “Like What?” Test: A plausible natural explanation beats the supernatural explanation. But even when you have an implausible explanation, it can still look a lot more reasonable.
  • World Premiere: The Magician’s Twin: I attended the premiere of the Discovery Institute’s new video about C.S. Lewis and science. Though well produced, the agenda showed through.
  • Dr Johnson: Abiogenesis and Panspermia: Richard Dawkins has been lampooned in Creationist circles for his reference to panspermia as a possible origin of life on earth, but it solves more problems than the Creationists realize.
  • Who Would Die for a Lie? (2 of 2): This is the second part of a dissection of the apologetic “Who would die for a lie?” that argues that the apostles’ deaths are strong evidence that the Jesus story is true. Not only is there scant historical evidence for their martyrdoms, but other elements of the argument smell fishy.
  • Who Would Die for a Lie? (1 of 2): Apologists like to point to the deaths of the apostles and ask, “Who would die for a lie?” What doesn’t get enough attention is the more fundamental question: “Why think that any of the apostles were martyred in the first place?” The evidence that they were is quite flimsy.
  • Post #1: I'm Bob Seidensticker, the blogger behind Cross Examined, and I'd like to introduce myself to the Patheos community.
  • God’s Diminishing Power: Is it just me, or have demonstrations of God’s power waned over time? From creating the world, he’s been reduced to appearing on toast.
  • Dr Johnson: Legend, Myth, and More: How are legend and myth different? Doctrine and dogma? Religion and superstition? Let’s try to clarify some of these fundamental terms.

July 2012

  • OK, Smart Guy—YOU Tell Us What Happened: I don’t find the Christian story compelling. That the gospel story is literally true is far too big a claim with far too little evidence to support it. But instead of attacking the Christian claims this time, it’s time to explain my view. This is what, to me, explains the facts best.
  • The Evolving Jesus Story: The gospel story grew with time, and the New Testament books themselves record this evolution.
  • Dr Johnson: The Angel of Mons: Sure, legend can creep into a story—William Tell, King Arthur, and Robin Hood might have legendary elements. These stories happened long ago, so it’s hard to tell. But that never happens in the modern era, to modern people, right? Think again: the supernatural can indeed corrupt modern history.
  • How Decades of Oral Tradition Produced the Gospels: We delude ourselves when we imagine that the Jesus story was transferred from person to person in pre-scientific Palestine any more reliably than stories travel orally today. The transmission of the gospel was more like gossip than Homer.
  • Is Mark an Eyewitness Account?: How do we know that Mark wrote Mark? Why believe the claims that Mark documented eyewitness testimony? Or that any of the gospels do? There is evidence, but it’s pretty flimsy. Here’s how apologists justify those claims.
  • Project Reason Video Contest: Project Reason's annual video contest has six short, pithy videos. Here's my favorite.
  • Word of the Day: Atheist’s Wager: Pascal’s Wager is a popular apologetic. Let’s turn that on its head to see if the atheist position might actually be the more logical wager.
  • Infinity—Nothing to Trifle With (2 of 2): Some apologists toss around the idea of infinity easily and comfortably. If they understood some of the complexities, perhaps they wouldn’t be so comfortable. (Second of a 2-part post.)
  • Infinity—Nothing to Trifle With: Some apologists toss around the idea of infinity easily and comfortably. If they understood some of the complexities, perhaps they wouldn’t be so comfortable.
  • Gay Marriage Inevitable?: Same-sex marriage seems inevitable. If we assume that, how should the church respond? (And how do you think the church will rewrite history 20 years from now when same-sex marriage is commonplace and unquestioned?)
  • Witch Hunts, Sex Scandals, and the Atheist Community: I’m a big fan of The Amazing Meeting. I’ve been to several of these skeptics conferences, starting in 2004, but TAM is under criticism lately. Is this criticism justified? I can’t say for sure, but I do sense similarities with a famous sex abuse case.

June 2012

  • The Truth of the Bible: The Bible has far more manuscript copies than any book from history, and Christians claim that it holds hundreds of instances of fulfilled prophecy. But how reliable is it? Is it history or just mythology?
  • Word of the Day: Russell’s Teapot: Before the Flying Spaghetti Monster, before the Invisible Pink Unicorn, was Bertrand Russell’s orbiting teapot. This is the classic thought experiment that exercises our ability to distinguish the plausibly real from the merely unfalsifiable.
  • God is Nonexistent: Can science say that anything doesn’t exist? Sure—unicorns, dragons, wizards. It doesn’t say this with certainty but with confidence. By the same logic, God doesn’t exist.
  • God is as Believable as Unicorns: How do we handle claims of unicorns and other fanciful beasts? These don’t perplex us; we know what to do with them. Similarly, we know what to do with god claims.
  • Word of the Day: Shibboleth : This interesting Hebrew word means “torrent of water.” But that’s not what it really means.
  • Biblical Slavery, Part 3: A recent podcast spent an hour responding to Dan Savage’s well-publicized public spanking of the Bible. The podcast says that Savage’s claim, that the Bible is “radically pro-slavery” is hopelessly wrong, but the Bible itself disagrees. (Part 3 of 3)
  • Biblical Slavery, Part 2: A recent podcast spent an hour responding to Dan Savage’s well-publicized public spanking of the Bible. The podcast says that Savage’s claim, that the Bible is “radically pro-slavery” is hopelessly wrong, but the Bible itself disagrees. (Part 2 of 3)
  • Old Testament Slavery—Not so Bad?: A recent podcast spent an hour responding to Dan Savage’s well-publicized public spanking of the Bible. The podcast says that Savage’s claim--that the Bible is “radically pro-slavery”--is hopelessly wrong, but the Bible itself disagrees.
  • Word of the Day: Cottingley Fairies: Though close to a century old, this hoax has lessons that remain valid today.

May 2012

  • Claims that Prayer Cures Disease: Claims that prayer actually does work aren’t hard to find. Getting a plausible, evidence-based claim is much more difficult.
  • Christians as Star Trek Fans: Christians and Star Trek fans (the kind who dress up like Vulcans and Klingons) share a lot more similarities than Christians may like.
  • Word of the Day: Public Square: This term has two meanings, and politicians (deliberately?) conflate them to imagine a problem where none exists.
  • Ten Commandments have no Role in Public: Few Americans can list the Ten Commandments, but so what? What is their relevance in modern society?
  • Conference Notes: Here are some thoughts after a weekend freethought conference
  • Humor (or not): God’s Plan: A cartoon with a very pointed response to Christians’ answer to the Problem of Evil
  • Yet Another Conference …: I’m headed out to the Orange County Freethought Alliance Conference.
  • Debate: Does God Exist?: A summary of a recent local debate between a humanist and a Lutheran minister. The topic: “Does God exist?”
  • Are Churches More Like Charities or Country Clubs?: We can tell charities from country clubs by their financial statements. Charities do good works with most of their income; country clubs don’t. Which one is more like a typical church?
  • Word of the Day: Genetic and Ad Hominem Fallacies: Of all the logical fallacies, these are some of the most common. But be careful to understand these well enough to avoid making a false charge of fallacy.
  • Pastors Speak Their Mind (and Flout the Rules): Nonprofit status comes with strings attached, and one of those is that pastors must not advocate for one candidate over another. This quid pro quo seems oppressive to some, and they have organized civil disobedience against it.
  • Church Accountability: Senator Grassley was largely ignored by six ministries when he asked for information about their operations four years ago. What are they hiding?
  • What do Churches Have to Hide?: U.S. nonprofit organizations are required to disclose their financial information to the public. It’s a contract—the Internal Revenue Service gives them nonprofit status, and in return they prove that they’re spending that money wisely. This applies to all nonprofits except churches and religious organizations. Isn’t that odd? It’s almost like they have something to hide.
  • National Day of Actually DOING Something: Prayer is easy. Doing something is hard. Let’s be adults and realize that prayer does nothing more than make people feel good. Wouldn’t a National Day of Actually DOING Something be more effective than a National Day of Prayer?

April 2012

  • More Pointless Parables: Some of the New Testament parables are pretty good. They make a useful point, and they add to our moral vocabulary. Unfortunately, modern apologetic parables don’t seem to be made to the same standard.
  • Word of the Day: Argument from Authority (and How Consensus Fits In): The claim “That’s an Argument from Authority Fallacy!” is common. But when is it actually a fallacy? And when can the Argument from Authority be valid?
  • Book Review on “Bible Geek” Podcast: Noted theologian Dr. Robert Price recently presented a flattering review of my book, Cross Examined, on his Bible Geek podcast.
  • MS-DOS and Objective Truth: IBM-compatible MS-DOS PCs used to start up displaying a C-prompt (the “C:>” with a blinking cursor). We don’t conclude anything transcendental from this. Similarly, most humans have an innate sense of morality, but we can’t conclude anything transcendent from this either.
  • The Bible’s Dark Ages: What happened during the Bible’s Dark Ages, the period from the original documents to our oldest manuscripts? What kinds of monkey business happened during these centuries of turmoil in the early church? We have every reason to suspect that changes happened that we simply have no way of undoing.
  • Word of the Day: Survival of the Fittest: This phrase wasn’t in Darwin’s original edition and is often misunderstood.
  • What Did the Original Books of the Bible Say? (Part 2): What do we do with the contradictory passages in our thousands of copies of New Testament manuscripts? Historians have some inventive approaches to finding the most reliable copies, but there’s plenty of room for error.
  • What Did the Original Books of the Bible Say?: Take a trip back in time to see the hurdles we have in seeing the life of Jesus through the Bible. Obstacles will be peeled back one by one—translations, canonicity, reliable copies, and more.
  • Jesus: Just One More Dying and Rising Savior: Mythology has many precedents to the story of the resurrection of Jesus. Let’s look at some of these gods and see if they stand up to the challenge.
  • The Moon Isn’t Made of Green Cheese … Is It?: We all know that the moon isn’t made of green cheese. But is this knowledge justified? And what can this process tell us about more interesting claims such as “Jesus rose from the dead”?
  • Where Religions Come From: From Mitchell and Webb, a video that explores the origin of religions.
  • Is Christian Heaven More Real than any Other?: You’re comfortable with the concepts you’ve grown up with, but that doesn’t mean that there’s good evidence for them. Let’s look at a very unusual kind of heaven to see if the Christian concept is any more sensible.
  • Contradictions in the Resurrection Account: How many days did Jesus teach after his resurrection? Was it 40 days as Acts says or less than one as Luke says? Matthew writes about an earthquake that opened graves and sent reanimated corpses walking around Jerusalem. Why didn’t the other gospels write about this remarkable event? These and many more contradictions make us wonder if the gospel account is history or merely legend.
  • Women at the Tomb? Weak Evidence for the Resurrection.: Apologists love to bring up the women at the tomb. Women weren’t reliable witnesses in Jewish culture at the time, so why would the gospel authors place them there if the story weren’t true? However, a little scrutiny unravels this story.
  • 10 Reasons the Crucifixion Story Makes No Sense: The story of the crucifixion of Jesus? Not that big a deal. Here are 10 reasons why it makes no sense.
  • Shroud of Turin: An Easter Miracle?: What are we to make of the Shroud of Turin? Is it a miracle or a fake?

March 2012

  • Back from the Reason Rally: I spent an interesting few days at the Reason Rally and that American Atheist conference. Here are some highlights.
  • Homosexuality in Nature: Is homosexuality in humans an aberration? Just another deviation from nature? No, humans have a lot of company in this department.
  • Humor: Paranormal Activity: Hmm … maybe there’s something to that whole psychic thing after all.
  • Marriage—Designed for Procreation?: Marriage, many Christians want us to believe, is for procreation. Nope—not companionship, not love, not even financial support. (I wonder if they know that babies don’t come from marriage but sex.)
  • I Never Thought About it That Way ...: Sometimes a Venn diagram just cuts away the chaff and makes things much clearer.
  • The Irrelevant Wisdom of the Ten Commandments: What do the Ten Commandments say? Maybe not what you expect.
  • Humor: Religion in Other Species: Religion in other species? What would that look like?
  • What Does the New Testament Say about Homosexuality?: Several passages from the New Testament are often cited to condemn homosexuality, but these sources undercut their own credibility.
  • I’m Off to the Reason Rally: The Reason Rally is expected to be the world’s largest secular gathering … and I’ll be there!
  • Does the Old Testament Condemn Homosexuality? (2 of 2): This post concludes our look at homosexuality in the Old Testament with some passages from Leviticus. At first glance, they’re pretty harsh. When properly understood, however, they don’t provide much ammunition to the Christian eager to condemn homosexuality.
  • Word of the Day: Bronze Age Collapse: The medieval Dark Ages in Europe aren’t history’s only dark ages. The great civilizations of the Ancient Near East mysteriously collapsed about 3200 years ago.
  • Does the Old Testament Condemn Homosexuality?: This is the first of two posts about homosexuality in the Old Testament and focuses on the Sodom and Gomorrah story. It doesn't say as much about homosexuality in modern society as many Christians imagine.
  • Maybe it Works Better in German: In an homage to a mock-German sign that I remember from the early personal computer days, this is a stern demand (in a very stern font) that people keep their meddling hands off the First Amendment.
  • Biblical Marriage: Not a Pretty Picture: Do the Bible and the Church make a clear and unambiguous declaration that marriage is between a man and a woman? Nope. Let’s celebrate marriage, but let’s not delude ourselves about how recent our view of marriage is.
  • Word of the Day: Confirmation Bias: We all do it—we sift through the deluge of data that surrounds us and pick a tiny subset to pay attention to. The mind is tuned to select evidence that confirms our preconceptions, and this is confirmation bias.
  • Homosexuality v. Christianity: Christians like to argue that same-sex marriage requires a change in the definition of marriage. True, but it’s not like this definition has been constant.

February 2012

  • “This is Guaranteed to Convert You!”: Imagine the claim, “I hold in my hand a pamphlet that will undercut your worldview!” How would a Christian and an atheist respond to this? The same way? Or would they respond differently? How would you respond?
  • Christianity Can’t be Deduced from Nature: Imagine a post-apocalyptic world with no evidence of Christianity. Could it be recreated?
  • Word of the Day: Theory and Law: Saying “Evolution is just a theory” is like saying “He only won the Nobel Peace Prize.” In science, a theory is as good as it gets. Evolution deniers in particular often get this wrong. Let’s review “theory,” “law,” and similar components of scientific conclusions to make sure they’re used correctly.
  • Don’t Like Abortion? Then Support Sex Education: An excellent infographic makes clear the problems caused by poor sex education.
  • It’s Funny Until Someone Gets Hurt, then it’s Hilarious: There is a bit of malicious joy in sitting at the sidelines watching the nutty Christian extremists make their nutty anti-science statements. Turns out that there’s a lot more harm to the Christian community than simply making fools of themselves.
  • 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire: The San Francisco earthquake was predicted by the Azusa Street church in Los Angeles. This remarkable event is true story that inspired my book, Cross Examined.
  • 16 Arguments Against Abortion, Addendum: What do Christians say to these arguments? Here are yet more responses to the pro-choice position, with my rebuttals.
  • Word of the Day: Haggard’s Law: Rev. Ted Haggard preached loudly against homosexuality but was discovered to be gay himself. This hypocritical disconnect between words and actions is now called Haggard’s Law.
  • Prayer Doesn’t Work as Advertised: Here’s an excerpt from my book where two characters discuss prayer and whether it is effective.
  • F**kin’ Magnets—How do They Work?: This popular meme from 2010 comes from a song that celebrates wonder at the universe but also celebrates ignorance. Christians sometimes wallow in a similar ignorance when it suits them. Magnets are pretty well understood, as is much of the rest of reality, thanks to science.
  • Ray Comfort’s Anti-Abortion Video “180”: Ray Comfort’s “180” documentary spends surprisingly little time arguing against abortion, and no time making coherent, intellectual arguments against abortion. What it does talk about is predictable.
  • Word of the Day: Hyperactive Agency Detection: In honor of Charles Darwin’s birthday on February 12, let’s look at some concepts that tie together religion and evolution.
  • The Declaration of Independence—A Christian Document?: Many Christians like to point to the word “Creator” in the Declaration, but that word doesn’t mean what they think it does. In fact, the Declaration of Independence makes quite clear where the government’s power comes from, and it’s not God.
  • Biblical Analysis of the Super Bowl: Tim Tebow and 316—his 316 yards pass completion in his come-from-behind victory over the Steelers clearly points to John 3:16. Let’s apply that same logic to Eli Manning’s 296 yard Super Bowl win on Sunday.
  • Word of the Day: Burqa, Niqab, Hijab: Muslim traditional clothing requirements for women are often in the news. Let’s get the names straight for the different elements of clothing and look at some of their consequences.
  • 5 Recommendations to the Pro-Life Movement: Why would I want to improve the stance of the pro-life position? Because there’s actually a lot of common ground, and we’re missing the chance to work together.
  • Does the Christian Care About the Poor or Not?: Do Christians really care about the poor? Millions do, of course. But prosperity-gospel preachers and many conservative politicians seem to have lost touch with this constituency. TV host Stephen Colbert has a stinging response.
  • The Religious Foundation of Groundhog Day: Groundhog Day (February 2) is a day when we can celebrate some old wives’ tale about groundhogs seeing their shadow, but few people know about the religious foundation of this day.

January 2012

  • The U.S. Constitution is 100 Percent Secular—or Is It?: Christians are eager to imagine the founding fathers building the nation’s foundation on a Christian footing. Is the Constitution secular? Or do these Christians have a point?
  • Word of the Day: Irreducible Complexity: A system is irreducibly complex when every part is necessary. Remove any part, and the system breaks, so how could such a system have been built, piece by piece, by nature? Any precursor would have been useless and therefore selected against by evolution. But an example with which we’re all familiar undercuts this argument.
  • 16 Arguments Against Abortion, with Rebuttals (Part 2): What do Christians say to these arguments? Here are 16 responses to my pro-choice position, with rebuttals (part 2 of 2).
  • Post #100: It’s post #100! Time to take stock of where we’ve been and where we’re going.
  • Why is it Always Men Advancing the Pro-Life Position?: Today is Blog for Choice Day, the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court’s decision that made abortion legal in the U.S. Let’s ask why it seems to always be men advancing the pro-choice position. Does it seem too convenient that the group that’s not directly inconvenienced by pregnancy is the one pushing it?
  • 16 Arguments Against Abortion, with Rebuttals: What do Christians say to my arguments? Here are 16 responses to my pro-choice position, with my rebuttals (part 1 of 2).
  • Marriage vs. Religious Freedom: A recent document from conservative Christians declared that the legalization of same-sex marriage would impose unfair burdens on them by barring discrimination against same-sex couples. After U.S. laws against mixed-race marriage were overturned in 1967, do you supposed the church complained in the same way, that they would no longer be able to discriminate against marriages that they didn’t like?
  • What Does the Bible Say About Abortion? Not Much.: God has no problem killing men, women, and children, so what’s the big deal? There’s no prohibition against abortion in the Bible. And that “thou shalt not murder” thing? It’s not even in the Ten Commandments.
  • Word of the Day: Beg the Question: To beg the question means to assume the conclusion in your premise. This fallacy is similar to the fallacy of circular logic. Since most people don’t use “beg the question” correctly, I suggest avoiding it.
  • Christianity Infantilizes Adults: Christians often reshape their view of life’s events to fit and bolster their Christian worldview, but the simple Christian explanation of God’s hand at work often leads to a bizarre conclusion when given a little thought.
  • What’s Wrong with the Pro-Life Position?: If pregnancy wasn’t that big a deal, we could just let the pro-life movement have their way. But it is a big deal. “Just put the baby up for adoption” doesn’t work, and the woman who takes an unplanned child to term is changed forever. She needs the chance to opt out.
  • “Cross Examined” Available on Kindle!: Have you been waiting for my new book, “Cross Examined: An Unconventional Spiritual Journey,” in Kindle format? Wait no longer!
  • Football Christianity: Football player Tim Tebow is famous for public praise and Bible verses. But he is a billboard for more than just the run-of-the-mill Bible verses.
  • Word of the Day: Shermer’s Law: Michael Shermer made a useful distinction between how we came to a belief and how we now defend that belief. Often, we came to a belief without much consideration, but if we’re forced to defend it, we won’t admit the weak justification. Rather, we’ll apply all our intellect to cobble together our best defense and then fool ourselves that that’s the reason.
  • Five Emotional Pro-Choice Arguments: Pro-life advocates claim that a single cell and a newborn are both “babies.” Let’s test that claim with five pro-choice arguments that appeal to the emotional or intuitive side of the brain rather than the intellectual.
  • A Defense of Abortion Rights: the Spectrum Argument: “Abortion means the death of a baby!” That’s true only if you say that a newborn baby is no different than the single cell that it came from. But this denies a spectrum of personhood that we all acknowledge.
  • The “God is Simple” Argument: Apologists argue that God is simple. But their argument isn’t holy but full of holes.
  • Harold Camping's New Year's Resolutions: Let's take a peek at Harold "The sky is falling" Camping's New Year's resolutions.

December 2011

  • Word of the Day: Systems and Wicked Problems: We all deal with systems—for example, the many parts that work together to make a car work or the many people who work together (or not) to make a community work. The concepts of tame vs. wicked problems provide insight into how systems work.
  • The Christian Message: This video from The Thinking Atheist is too good to not pass on. It gives the Christian message in a loving and sympathetic way, but this frank portrayal doesn’t make Christianity look very good. Maybe that’s why Christians don’t give frank portrayals of their religion!
  • “God Did It” Explains Everything … or Maybe Not: “God did it” is an easy answer to many riddles within science. It’s so broad that it can explain anything, but this means that it explains nothing.
  • HTML 101 (For More Expressive Comments): This blog has well over 1000 comments, which has made it a more invigorating place to be. To help make these comments clearer, here are a few HTML suggestions.
  • Word of the Day: CE and BCE: AD/BC (Anno Domini/Before Christ) as year labeling conventions are being replaced by CE/BCE (Common Era/Before Common Era). Here’s a little background.
  • War on Christmas?: Is there a War on Christmas? Is the rightful place of Christian displays in public places being unlawfully curtailed? Or are we seeing the opposite—Christian displays imposed on the state-supported public square in violation of the Constitution?
  • 500 Eyewitnesses to the Risen Christ? Not likely.: In 1 Cor. 15:6, Paul claims that 500 people saw Jesus risen after his crucifixion. This verse is popular among apologists who imagine this as strong evidence that the crucifixion is historical. However, this argument crumbles under scrutiny.
  • Understanding Morality—It’s Really Not that Hard: When apologist Greg Kokul critiques atheist morality, it’s hard to imagine that he’ll get so many things wrong.
  • Word of the Day: Pareidolia: Pareidolia is perceiving meaning in something random—a face in a cloud, for example. Or Mary in a grilled cheese sandwich. We don’t need to imagine a supernatural explanation for these images when the natural explanation explains the evidence.
  • And God isn't Good, Either: The world lost an eloquent voice with Christopher Hitchens’ death. Inspired by his book “God is Not Great,” I’d like to continue with that thought: “And God is not good, either.” Let’s take a look at the slavery, genocide, general barbarity the all-loving Creator of the universe apparently approves of.
  • It’s Launch Day for my Book, Cross Examined!: It’s launch day for “Cross Examined: An Unconventional Spiritual Journey”! This novel argues that if God exists, he made Reason to be used. There are many nonfiction books that discuss apologetics and many novels with atheist characters, but this may be the first novel that pulls in apologetic arguments both for and against Christianity, with the debate taking on the role of an additional character.
  • Give Something Thought Provoking for Christmas: What do you get those hard-to-buy-for people on your Christmas list? Let me make a shameless plug: buy my new book! It’s a novel about the Christian/atheist debate that wrestles with the most popular apologetic arguments.
  • An Atheist Ad Campaign—a Holiday Tradition!: Seattle Atheists launched a bus ad campaign for the holiday season. Several different banner ads will show ordinary people in ordinary scenes with the tag line, “1 in 4 is an atheist.”
  • Word of the Day: Poe’s Law: How do you tell the extreme Christians like Fred Phelps from the parodies? Sometimes it’s impossible.
  • Jesus and Santa Claus: Imagine two kids arguing about Santa. Defending Santa’s existence may be easier than you imagine. Indeed, rationalization can defend just about any belief, including belief in Jesus.
  • Plantinga’s Nutty Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism: Respected Christian philosopher Alvin Plantinga wants to show that the idea of evolution is self-defeating. Unfortunately, he’s outside his area of expertise. His argument hasn't convinced biologists, and it shouldn’t convince you.
  • How Science Works (and How Christianity Thinks it Wins): Creationists like to point to discarded ideas that science has left behind—geocentrism, Piltdown Man, ether, the steady-state universe. What they don’t seem to realize is that science’s ability to change in the face of new facts is a strength, not a weakness.
  • Word of the Day: Apologetics: It’s time we define one of the most important words in our area of interest.
  • Pointless Parables: Some of the New Testament parables are pretty good. They make a useful point, and they add to our moral vocabulary. I explore a few of the recent apologetic parables that, unfortunately, weren’t made to the same standard.

November 2011

  • Churches and the Corporate Org Chart: Economic growth results from companies producing goods and services that actually help customers and that they're willing to pay for. And companies are organized to produce those goods and services effectively and efficiently. But what about churches, which produce neither goods nor services? How are THEY organized? (This is a guest post from Richard S. Russell.)
  • Using the Monty Hall Problem to Undercut Christianity: The Monty Hall problem is a simple puzzle with a paradoxical answer. It has a lot to say about the validity of religious belief.
  • Finding Jesus Through Board Games: Let’s explore an interesting twist on a popular board game. The resulting game has the motivation of the game completely disconnected with the actions within the game, so it looks like it won’t sell too well. But this broken game parallels Christianity very closely.
  • Philosophical Grounding: A Parable: We’re told, “The atheist borrows from the Christian worldview!” But dig into this claim, and you’ll see there’s nothing there.
  • 10 Reasons the Crucifixion Story Makes No Sense: The story of the crucifixion of Jesus? Not that big a deal. Here are 10 reasons why it makes no sense.
  • James Dobson Needs My Money (and an Education): In a fundraising letter, James Dobson makes clear the social problems he sees with the country and how making ourselves right with God would set everything right. It’s irresistible to pass up the opportunity to point out a few errors.
  • Humor: Does God Exist?: The television show "Big Talk" tries to get to the bottom of the question "Does God Exist?" (video, 1:28).
  • Religion: Billions into a Black Hole: Religion sucks up $100 billion in the U.S. every year. Where does that money go? Let’s compare the money flow to a similarly-sized company to see if we’re getting our money’s worth.
  • Don’t Move the Goalposts: Apologists often say about the puzzling questions at the limits of science, “If you can’t answer them, we can!” For the old questions (such as “What causes disease?” or “What causes drought?”) this claim is now laughable. Why is Christianity’s claim to answer the new questions any less so?
  • Can Christian Scholars Be Objective?: Christian scholar Michael Licona recently made one small challenge to the inerrancy of scripture, and that intellectual honest cost him his job. This shows what can happen if a Christian scholar follows the facts where they lead. More importantly, it means that anything written by a Christian scholar bound by his university’s statement of faith is suspect.
  • Word of the Day: Opiate of the Masses: Karl Marx’s “Religion is the opiate of the masses” quote doesn’t mean what most people think it means. Surprisingly, it gives clues to why religion is here and what would cause it to wither away.
  • On 11/11/11, Let's Crank it to 11!: You only get one Spinal Tap day every century—11/11/11—and today is it. Spinal Tap was a fictional heavy metal group whose amps had dials that didn’t stop at 10 but went to 11. Today is a day to crank it to 11 by considering some similar nonsensical thinking within Christianity.
  • An Inept Attempt to Defang the Problem of Evil: Christian apologist Greg Kokul tries to turn the tables on the atheist who proposes the Problem of Evil, but his argument collapses into cogently-argued rubble.
  • The Moon Isn’t Made of Green Cheese … Is It?: We all know that the moon isn’t made of green cheese. But is this knowledge justified? And what can this process tell us about more interesting claims such as “Jesus rose from the dead”?
  • Word of the Day: Deepity: A deepity is basically the opposite of a profundity. A deepity is a statement that, to the extent that it’s true, is trivial, and to the extent that it’s profound, is false.
  • A Powerful Defense of Reason ... or Maybe Not: Some Christians argue both sides of the reason issue. Is it God’s greatest gift or is it the devil’s whore as Martin Luther argued? Here is the input from an experience pastor.
  • 10 Reasons to Just Say Nay to the Naysayer Hypothesis: We’re told that the gospel story must be true because, if it weren’t, eyewitnesses at the time would correct it. In fact, it doesn’t work that way. Here are 10 reasons why this naysayer hypothesis is nonsense.

October 2011

  • Welcome the World’s 7 Billionth Citizen: Today, the world gets its seven billionth citizen. The Quiverfull movement, popular among some Christian groups, urges Christians to “let God decide” how many children they will have. In the 21st century, we have this kind of irresponsible thinking? It’s as if people don’t know where babies come from or the impact that population has on the world’s finite resources.
  • No Apologies or even Admission of Failure from Camping: Harold Camping’s Family Radio has scrubbed its web site of any reference to its humiliating end-of-the-world failure. In what other industry could such a catastrophic failure be ignored so completely?
  • Cartoon: Mythology and Science Just Don't Mix: Cartoon: Genetics meets the Adam 'n Eve story, and it's like salt on a slug.
  • The Bible Shows Why Prayer Doesn’t Work: I’ve figured out why prayer doesn’t work! The clues are all within a single book of the Bible.
  • Tribulations of Leaving Religion: You can leave a company with two weeks’ notice. You can leave a club by not paying dues. But leaving Christianity often brings consequences. How will your fellow parishioners interpret your departure, and how will they respond?
  • Christianity Can Rot Your Brain: God commands a lot of genocide in the Bible. Apparently feeling compelled to justify the savagery of his favorite deity, apologist William Lane Craig actually argues that the slaughter was justified and righteous.
  • Word of the Day: Hoare’s Dictum: A computer science pioneer makes a point about simplicity in software that also applies to apologetics arguments: some arguments succeed because they’re plainly correct, but others succeed only because they’re confusing.
  • End of the World (Again): I’ve enjoyed it, but this is the last day for this blog. That’s because this is the last day for everything. Yes, today is another in a long list of dates for the end of the world. But remember: celebrate sensibly! (Because tomorrow just might come after all ...)
  • How Religious are Americans? Not as Much as You Think.: Americans are famously religious when compared to other countries in the West. But new studies have peeked behind the curtain to determine how religious Americans really are. It turns out that they’re not as religious as we thought, and that raises a new question.
  • Contradictions in the Resurrection Account: How many days did Jesus teach after his resurrection? Was it 40 days as Acts says or less than one as Luke says? Matthew writes about an earthquake that opened graves and sent reanimated corpses walking around Jerusalem. Why didn’t the other gospels write about this remarkable event? These and many more contradictions make us wonder if the gospel account is history or merely legend.
  • Atheist Toast: Even squinting, you can't see anything special in this toast.
  • Televangelists Prove Prayer Is Useless: Televangelist TV is one long infomercial that always ends with a direct appeal in two parts: (1) please pray for us and (2) please send lots of cash. But why bother with the request for money? Who cares about donations when you can get help from the creator of the universe?
  • Lee Strobel’s Fragile Argument: Lee Strobel imagines that he takes a tough journalistic attitude to the Christian message and that evidence shows it to be correct. But a little investigation shows that his case is flimsy.
  • Stephen Hawking Speaks: Stephen Hawking inspired an excellent and approachable video that explains the Big Bang and why Science has no need for a Creator.
  • Escape from the Creation Conference (2 of 2): I attended a local Creationism conference and made it out to tell the tale (part 2 of 2).
  • Faith Shows the Emperor has No Clothes: Defending an invisible God and celebrating faith is exactly what Christians would do if their religion were manmade. Faith is always the last resort. If there were convincing evidence, Christians would be celebrating that, not faith.
  • Bungling the Facts Behind Evolution: Is it reasonable for politicians to question science? A defense falls short.
  • “I Used to be an Atheist, Just Like You”: I can believe that you used to be an atheist. It’s the “just like you” part that I’m having a problem with. If you’d been just like me, you wouldn’t make apologetic arguments to which I have an immediate rebuttal.
  • I Survived the Creation Conference (1 of 2): I attended a local Creationism conference and made it out to tell the tale (part 1 of 2).
  • Confused Thinking About Homosexuality: An online Christian ministry has a long argument against homosexuality and same-sex marriage that needs dismantling.

September 2011

  • Christianity is Self-Defeating: The book of Exodus gives God’s demand that the Jews stick with their own kind when they returned to Canaan. God had to make sure that they weren’t corrupted by the other religions. But the Bible wouldn’t have this prohibition unless the religion had been invented! The Bible defeats itself.
  • Jesus and Aliens: Consider belief in Jesus and belief in space aliens. Which one is nuttier?
  • Compatibility Problems with IE9?: Fixing problems viewing this site using Internet Explorer
  • Why Worry About a God That Isn’t There?: You don’t call yourself an a-unicornist. Or an a-Santaist. Why call yourself an a-theist?
  • Nazi Soldiers Indoctrinated with Darwin? How Convenient.: Why were the Nazis so disagreeable? Because they were force-fed evolution, of course! (Or maybe not.)
  • Do We Really Trust in God?: Is it really true that “In God we trust”? With what do we trust him? It might indeed make Christians feel warm and fuzzy to see that motto on U.S. money, but do they actually believe it?
  • Feedback!: I'd like to get your feedback. Help me make this a better blog! What topics interest you the most?
  • Only 21 More Shopping Days Till the End of the World!: The world will end one month from today on October 21, 2011—or so Harold Camping would have us believe. Many Christians use the Bible to attack his claim. But the Bible is a sock puppet, able to say just about anything you want it to, and Camping is able to respond.
  • Comments on a Robert Price vs. James White Debate: Drs. Price and White debated the question “Is the Bible True?” The Christian side (White) made a couple of blunders that I explore—emphasizing consistency (which actually seems to be a weak point) and rejecting presuppositions (ditto).
  • God Doesn’t Exist: Believers are Products of their Environment: What fraction of Muslims were not raised in a Muslim environment? What fraction of Christians were not raised in a Christian environment? What does it say about the validity of religious claims that people typically take on the religion of their culture?
  • Christianity 2.0: Secular Christianity: How might Christianity evolve to become a better global citizen? I propose the idea of secular Christianity.
  • Interesting Insight: David Hawyard's cartoon makes me wonder if I'm actually a believer.
  • God Doesn’t Exist: Christianity Looks Invented: Does Christianity look like the one true religion, clearly different from all the thousands of manmade ones? Or does it look the same as all the rest?
  • Christian Shenanigans Mar 9/11 Remembrance: The tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks brings predictable attempts to pull Christianity into state-supported memorials. Don’t we have secular reasons enough to have a public remembrance event? Can’t Christians inject religious ideas into this on their own time?
  • Creationism Lacks Qualified Spokespeople: The Discovery Institute is up to its old tricks, bypassing the scientific process and trying instead to convince the public that Creationism is the best explanation for life on earth.
  • God Doesn’t Exist: Christianity Relies on Indoctrination: What would happen if we categorized Christianity as an adult activity? It would be like smoking, drinking, voting, driving, sex, and so on—things that you must be mature enough to handle wisely. This adults-only Christianity would die out within a few generations.
  • Humor: Good Samaritan: Jesus explains the parable of the Good Samaritan (video, 2:11).
  • God Doesn’t Exist: Historians Reject the Bible Story: You never find the story of Jesus in a history book, like you would for Julius Caesar or Alexander the Great. Why is that? Why is the Bible not cataloged in the library in the History section?
  • Burden of Proof: The idea of the burden of proof is fundamental to the “Does God exist?” question. And it’s an idea that we comfortably use every day to separate sensible from nutty claims.
  • A National Registry of Atheists? Y'know--Like Sex Offenders.: Who wants a national registry of atheists?
  • We Have an Admirer!: Matt Slick of the CARM apologetics blog responded to one of my posts. This encouraged me to tweak the argument in the "Science Answers the Big Questions" post.
  • Science Answers the Big Questions: Religion claims to be able to answer life’s big questions, but Science does as well. The thing is, Science’s answers are a lot more credible.
  • Map of the History of Religion:

August 2011


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