Philippians 2 and the Historical Jesus

It has been interesting to revisit the death of Jesus in my historical Jesus class this year. I’ve passed through phases of naive credulity and extreme skepticism with respect to the Gospels and other early Christian sources, and am now trying to find a place of balance between the two. On the one hand, there [Read More…]

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Holy Week History

I spent quite a while simply believing the Gospels. And I have spent quite a while being as skeptical of them as I think is reasonable. Now I am at the point where I recognize the pitfalls at either extreme, and seek to be open to what the evidence suggests – and what the evidence [Read More…]

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Skepticism and Consensus

“Nevertheless the opinion of experts, when it is unanimous, must be accepted by non-experts as more likely to be right than the opposite opinion. The scepticism that I advocate amounts only to this: (1) that when the experts are agreed, the opposite opinion cannot be held to be certain; (2) that when they are not [Read More…]

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Faith and Skepticism

Paul Malan recently wrote an article about skepticism and conservative religious views thereof. Let me provide some samples of how it approaches things: Companies have learned that organic and natural say more about the mind of the consumer than they say about the product, and they sell more potato chips when they use words that make us feel good about [Read More…]

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Sagan on Scholarship

This quote from Carl Sagan sums up well a point I have tried to make on this blog many times, about the two poles of scholarship. If one just has openness to new ideas, one is liable to end up embracing all kinds of nonsense. If one just has skepticism, one is liable to be unwilling [Read More…]

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#YCAS2015 Fourth Panel

I chaired this session, and so took the opportunity to take a photo of the audience (see below). The first presenter was Tony Burke, a key organizer of the event, but this was his first time presenting, apparently. His paper explored forgeries in centuries past, and how these things compare to genuine discoveries. Sometimes lack [Read More…]

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Doctor Who meets David Hume

This delightful video explains David Hume’s view of miracles and why you shouldn’t believe in them, using illustrations from Doctor Who. Fantastic! Of course, as I have pointed out before, this is precisely the point at which Doctor Who sends mixed messages. It regularly expresses disdain for superstition and belief in the supernatural, and yet [Read More…]

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The Paranormal Conspiracy

I’m happy to be able to participate in the Patheos Book Club about Timothy Dailey’s book, The Paranormal Conspiracy: The Truth about Ghosts, Aliens and Mysterious Beings. A quote on the front cover describes the book as a mix between Mythbusters and Frank Peretti. In reading the book, I saw plenty of the latter, but [Read More…]

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Counting Manuscripts and Which Manuscripts Count

Peter Gurry shared the above image graphing the number of manuscripts we have from each century. Keep in mind that centuries are a convenient timekeeping device, and it is not as though a manuscript copied new year’s eve on the last day of the second century is more valuable than one copied the following day. In fact, [Read More…]

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Temper Your Criticism With Kindness

The quote is from Sagan’s book The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, and was drawn to my attention in an article from Junior Skeptic magazine shared on the Skeptic website. [Read more…]

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Make the Most of Your Skepticism

See also Nicholas Clairmont’s recent article on “The Skeptic’s Credo.” It wrestles with the challenge of being appropriately and fairly skeptical in practice. And while sometimes doubting the reports of those in authority can be an example of misguided conspiracy theory thinking, when footage is captured that provides evidence, we may have good reason to withhold our [Read More…]

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