Choosing a motto

I was recently asked to provide a quotation that could serve as a “motto” in connection with an interview I gave to a Romanian journalist. I did not have one readily prepared and ready to go, but I quickly decided upon the following:Man’s knowledge and mastery of the world have advanced to such an extent through science and technology that it is no longer possible for anyone seriously to hold the New Testament view of the world – in fact,… Read more

Caught in the act

Today in my Sunday school class (which has been studying John’s Gospel) we reached the beginning of John chapter 8, the story of the woman caught in adultery. The story itself is one of the most famous stories about Jesus there is. Yet among New Testament scholars, the story is famous for other reasons.The textual evidence, although strongly suggestive that the first 11 verses of John 8 did not originally belong to this Gospel, are intriguing. The earliest manuscripts omit… Read more

Sola Scriptura?

Although I am a Protestant, I must confess that the idea of ‘sola Scriptura’, of ‘Scripture alone’, doesn’t work. It could perhaps theoretically work in Islam, where one can (assuming one doesn’t take a critical approach to the text) assume the unity of the book as a given. In the case of the Bible, such assumptions are impossible. In order to speak of ‘Scripture’, one has to accept the authority not only of those Jews and Christians who made the… Read more

You Wouldn’t Steal A Car…

I have a reasonable amount of sympathy for the film and record companies who want us to buy their products. I’d be delighted if, rather than reading the electronic version of my book on NetLibrary or some similar database, all those interested in my book would go buy a copy. The truth is, however, that books like mine (a revised version of my doctoral dissertation) are of specialty interest, and most people who read it will borrow it from a… Read more

A Scanner Darkly

I finished watching the movie A Scanner Darkly based on the novel by Philip K. Dick. I also have a book with collected philosophical and other essays by Dick checked out from the library, in connection with my ongoing research on religion and artificial intelligence. Although AI doesn’t really feature in A Scanner Darkly, religion certainly does, beginning with the title, which alludes to the Biblical image of seeing in a glass or mirror darkly (which of course made sense… Read more

Are You Alive? Prove It!

Fans of the current Battlestar Galactica series will recognize the title of this blog entry as the first words of dialogue spoken on the miniseries that started it. The question is asked by an evolved cylon who poses the challenge to a human armistice officer. It was only today that the full significance of these words struck me, for some reason. The question is presumably one that had, at some point in the past, been asked by humans of the… Read more

What Romania Has Taught Me About the Bible

I lived in Romania for three years, have been married to a Romanian for fifteen, and have had a lot of contact with Romania and Romanians. I love the surprised look on people’s faces when I tell them that I didn’t really understand the New Testament until I lived in Romania.Romania was part of the Roman Empire at one point, but even had this not been the case, it still would be part of that region stretching along the Eastern… Read more

Fossil Hunting

Yesterday I went fossil hunting. After spending Canada Day in Canada, my family and I came back via upstate New York, where two days ago my son and I happened across a crinoid (sea lilly) and a coral fossil on the beach. This led to us spending some time yesterday at Penn Dixie Paleontological and Outdoor Education Center. An abandoned shale quarry, the place doesn’t look like much (a somewhat barren area with piles of rocks and a small booth),… Read more

“What the Bible thinks”

This is just a short entry, just to share a further illustration of how the Bible is mythologized, personalized and in some cases deified by well-meaning but misguided Christians. I received a message from someone who disagreed with an answer of mine on Yahoo! Answers, and this individual said he isn’t interested in what I think but “what the Bible thinks”.The Bible isn’t a person, and even treating it as though it is a single work is misleading. One of… Read more

Nothing new under the sun

I thought I had an original idea with my play on the name of Dembski’s blog. As it turns out, there is a blog dedicated to parodying Dembski’s blog called – you guessed it – Uncommon Dissent. It is allegedly maintained by none other than T. H. Huxley, reports of whose death were apparently, like the reports of the imminent demise of evolution, “greatly exaggerated”.There was also a book published in 2004 entitled Uncommon Dissent, with the subtitle Intellectuals who… Read more

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