Purtill’s Definition of “Miracle” – Part 4

The philosopher Richard Purtill proposed the following definition:A miracle is an event (1) brought about by the power of God that is (2) a temporary (3) exception (4) to the ordinary course of nature (5) for the purpose of showing that God has acted in history. (“Defining Miracles” in In Defense of Miracles, IVP, 1997, p.72).I have argued that condition (5) should be rejected, and in my last post on this subject (posted 6/9/08), I explored some possible alternative requirements on the purpose of … [Read more...]

“Allah meat”

In Catholic cultures, you run into believers who perceive miraculous images of the Virgin Mary appearing in odd circumstances, or who see the face of Jesus on a burnt tortilla.Islamic religious imagery is usually non-representational. But like Catholics who constantly encounter Mary and Jesus iconography, many devout Muslims live in an environment saturated by Arabic script of a few important words, such as "Allah." So the Muslim world is a source of recurrent stories of farmers slicing open a … [Read more...]

Refute Evolution in Five Minutes!

The Texas Freedom Network posted this portion of an e-mail from some religious right organization called The American Family Association. Someone named Jeffrey Howard (anybody ever heard of him?) can teach you how to refute evolution in just five minutes! You can confute "hardened skeptics" and "leave scientists with their mouths hanging open!" Actually, I'm sure this last claim is true. When confronted with hardboiled irrationality, sometimes all you can do is gape. Clearly, a zeppelin … [Read more...]

Late life conversions

There are a number of stereotypes about nonbelief embedded in pop culture that I'd like to know more about. Some may be true, and if not, it's interesting to ask why.For example, there's this notion that a lot of nonbelievers will convert to a religion late in life. As death approaches, the stereotype goes, nonbelief becomes less sustainable.I guess this has some surface plausibility. If you're at a point in life where you're less distracted by daily concerns, and if the closeness of death … [Read more...]

An Argument for Atheism

In Chapter 2 of The God Delusion, Dawkins gives an argument for atheism. The argument has some problems, and may or may not be salvageable. After I point out some flaws, I will make an attempt to fix-up the argument.In fairness to Dawkins, his main argument for atheism is supposed to be given in Chapter 4, “Why There Almost Certainly Is No God”. If the argument in Chapter 2 turns out to be no good, there could still be a strong argument for atheism waiting for us in Chapter 4. When I am finished … [Read more...]

Jesus and Mo

A few weeks ago a reader sent me email including a link to a cartoon. It was part of a online series that is updated twice a week, Jesus and Mo. The cartoon is quite good, actually. I've become a regular reader, so I'm passing on the recommendation. … [Read more...]

God Is Not Dead Yet

The cover of the latest issue of Christianity Today: God Is Not Dead Yet.The lead article is by William Craig. He summarizes five key arguments for the existence of God and refers to modern defenders of these arguments. Evangelicals are definitely aware of the New Atheism (Dawkins, Hitchens, etc.). Craig comments briefly on Dawkins, and argues that we are not living in a postmodern culture, and that the popularity of Dawkins' views on God is evidence of that we are not living in such a … [Read more...]

15 Kinds of Atheism

I have previously pointed out that the word “God” is ambiguous in Richard Dawkins’ book, The God Delusion. This oversimplifies the situation a bit, because a close reading of The God Delusion reveals a reference to at least fifteen different kinds of atheism. So, before I go into critique of Dawkins’ main argument, I will briefly spell out these fifteen different kinds of atheism.A main purpose of The God Delusion, is to convert people to atheism:If this book works as I intend, religious readers … [Read more...]