Christianity Without Resurrection?

Today in my Sunday school class (discussing John 11), I went off on a tangent to explain the background of Jewish and early Christian thinking about the resurrection. I always consider this important, since for most contemporary Christians, the afterlife is about ‘going to heaven when I die’ and not ‘rising again on the last day’.On the one hand, I think that it is important to be aware of (if not necessarily reassert in the same terms) the early Christian… Read more

Being Good Without God

Bertrand Russell talks about morality as a motivation some people have for adhering to and promoting religious belief. It is a point made more recently by Richard Dawkins. There is certainly some room for criticism of the Christian tradition on this point. Although Matthew’s moral universalization of the Golden Rule as the basis for divine judgment – “What you do unto others, God will do unto you” – may be progress compared to some other systems that are even more… Read more

Evidence and Faith: The Creationist Paradox

There is a fundamental tension in young-earth creationism. It is claimed that there is evidence for not only creation but a young earth that anyone with an open mind will be persuaded by. Many other theologians and preachers, however, have found themselves speaking of a need for faith in order to perceive God’s hand, whether in nature, in history or in personal circumstances. The puzzle is this: if God created things directly and recently in their present form, and was… Read more

Why I Am A Christian

Today the philosophy club at Butler University held a lunchtime discussion of Bertrand Russell’s famous essay, “Why I Am Not A Christian”. One criticism of the essay that I offered in the discussion is that it offers a no more sophisticated or academic a treatment of stories in the New Testament than fundamentalists would.The story of Jesus sending demons into pigs is criticized. This story seems to me to very obviously be an example of political satire. This story from… Read more

The God Gene

On my recent trip I took along Dean Hamer’s book The God Gene: How Faith Is Hardwired into Our Genes. Since he apologizes for the title as not of his choosing, I will not comment on it, except to say that it was a factor that led me to not read the book sooner. I thought it would be predictable where his line of reasoning would go, based on the title, and so I write this as someone who was… Read more

Transdisciplinary Perspectives on Religion, Science and Art

Today was the last day of a conference I was attending entitled TRANSDICIPLINARY APPROACHES OF THE DIALOGUE BETWEEN SCIENCE, ART AND RELIGION IN THE EUROPE OF TOMORROW. For me, in many respects the highlight of the conference was learning that there are actually fans of science fiction in Romania. Apparently I just hadn’t encountered any because I’ve been hanging out with the wrong people. My paper was on religion and artificial intelligence. It has been wonderful having the opportunity to… Read more

The Expanding Universe

Recently, I experienced a moment in which I didn’t simply know theoretically that I am a complex combination of subatomic particles and mostly empty space. I felt it. And as I thought about this further, I wondered whether, if one could view a life form such as a human being at the subatomic level, one would see anything other than what we see looking out into space: elements of complex structural arrangements stretching off beyond the edge of the furthest… Read more

St. Augustine’s Confessions…Stolen!

My colleague in the history department who told me about this thought it could serve nicely as the introduction to a novel or movie. It is true, and so the author/filmmaker could rightly claim “This story is based on real events.” Every copy of St. Augustine’s Confessions (but not his other works) that was in our university library has been stolen! Who would do such a thing? How would you continue the story? An evil cult? But wouldn’t the Pelagians… Read more

The Gospel of James the Lesser

No, this post isn’t about a newly-discovered extracanonical text. It is good news regarding yours truly (using ‘the lesser’ to distinguish myself from my doctoral supervisor, James Dunn). My second book has been accepted for publication by the University of Illinois Press! The title is The Only True God, and it will look at Christology and monotheism in early Christianity and its Jewish context, including some studies of relevant information from Jewish works several centuries earlier and later, in an… Read more

Lifestyle Choice

In our day and age many Christians, including very prominent ones, have chosen a lifestyle that is fundamentally at odds with their claim to be Christians. This is a lifestyle choice I am talking about – it is not something genetic, something innate, something inevitable. It is a sin that is so abominable that it is condemned uncategorically in both Testaments. I am speaking, of course, of the tendency in particular among American Christians, and particularly among our leaders, to… Read more

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