Links and News — 21-Nov-11

Moment of Zen

Science vs. Faith Flowchart@Unreasonable Faith
Science vs Religion Sudoko” @Unreasonable Faith

Interactions Between Secular Outpost Authors and Theistic Blog Authors

Stephen Law:

Jeffery Jay Lowder:

Atheism

The Argument from Locality@Ebon Musings

  • [Editor's Note (Lowder): The article sums up the argument this way: "The fact that all religions originated in one specific culture, at one specific time and place, points strongly to their being the product of that culture, time and place - and not the product of divine revelation." I need to think about this argument before endorsing it, but I think it's very interesting.]

Proving God’s Existence is Impossible” by John Shook (@Center for Inquiry)

  • [Editor's Note (Lowder): My initial, knee-jerk reaction to Shook's argument was, "That's much too strong of a claim." It's one thing to say that no one has "proved" God's existence; it is quite another to say that it is impossible to do so. After giving his argument some thought, I can see his point but remain unconvinced. Furthermore, even if Shook's argument is sound, it seems to me that he makes things a bit too easy for himself by (implicitly) assuming that if an infinite God is unprovable, metaphysical naturalism is not subject to an empirical challenge by a competing worldview. It's logically possible that an infinite God is unprovable, but a finite supernatural being is provable. Disclaimer: I have not read Shook's book, The God Debates, so it's possible Shook has already addressed my points there.]

Articles By or About Tim and Lydia McGrew

Reply to Drange’s Argument from Biblical Defects” by Tim McGrew (@Dangerous Idea)

  • Drange’s article may be found here.
  • [Editor's Note (Lowder): McGrew probably has a point about the limited scope of ANB's target, but somehow the recent Geisler-Licona controversy seems relevant. Even if the controversy is not a perfect example or analogy, it does seem to provide evidence that the focus of ANB is a legitimate target, however small or unrepresentative of Evangelical Christianity as a whole it may be. ]

Reply to Drange’s Argument from Confusion” by Tim McGrew (@Dangerous Idea)

  • Drange’s article may be found here.
  • [Editor's Note (Lowder): I think McGrew's reply is weaker when applied to confusion regarding morality and salvation than when his reply is applied to confusion about the other topics mentioned by Drange.]

Carrier’s Treatment of Luke and Josephus” by Tim McGrew (@Dangerous Idea)

  • Carrier’s article may be found here.

My Rebuttal to the McGrews — Rewritten” by Jeffrey Amos (@Failing The Insider Test) (HT: Debunking Christianity)

  • [Editor's Note (Lowder): The McGrews have written an extremely impressive defense of the historicity of Jesus' resurrection, drawing upon their obvious expertise in Bayesian confirmation theory. No skeptical, academic work on the resurrection can afford to ignore their article. I haven't studied Amos' rebuttal enough to have an opinion on whether I think it is successful; I include it here simply because I think many readers will find it of interest.]

Strawmen Burning” by Tim McGrew: a response to some misinterpretations of the McGrews’ article on the resurrection

  • [Editor's Note (Lowder): In fairness to Amos, it's worth pointing out that the above article by Amos is not mentioned by McGrew as an example of a misinterpretation.]

Atheism and Morality

Nazi Racial Ideology was Religious, Creationist, and Opposed to Darwinism” by Coel Hellier (HT: Jerry Coyne)

Church-State Separation and the U.S. Department of Defense

There Are Atheists in Foxholes“: an editorial in the Los Angeles Times defending the idea of a chaplain for nonbelievers (HT: Eddie Tabash)

Christianity

When the Saints Go Marching In (Matthew 27:52-53): Historicity, Apocalyptic Symbol, and Biblical Inerrancy” by Michael R. Licona

  • This is the text of Licona’s paper, mentioned in the previous links and commentary, responding to Geisler.

How Evangelicals Become Over-Committed to the Bible and What Can Be Done About It” by J.P. Moreland

Survey Says Catholics Are Becoming Less Catholic” by Hemant Mehta (@Friendly Atheist)

  • [Editor's Note (Lowder): I'm not sure which conclusions of philosophical significance, if any, can be legitimately drawn from this survey, but this is very interesting.]

Six Reasons Young Christians Leave Church“: results of a study by the Barna Group (HT: Jim Underdown)

  • [Editor's Note (Lowder): Reason #6 is, "The church feels unfriendly to those who doubt." Though the scope of the survey is broader than Evangelical Christianity, this finding is consistent with my earlier posts questioning whether Evangelicalism is compatible with freethought.]

Book Announcements and Reviews

Where the Substance Really Isn’t” by Tim Callahan: a review of Alvin Plantinga’s Where the Conflict Really Lies

  • [Editor's Note (Lowder): I'm still reading Plantinga's book, so I may change my mind about this, but my initial reaction to Callahan's review is that at least part of it seems very uncharitable. With all due respect to Callahan, I have to wonder how much of the book's final chapter he understood. It's a shame that Skeptic magazine didn't publish a review by an author who demonstrated even a basic familiarity with Plantinga's well-known evolutionary argument against naturalism (EAAN), as opposed to someone who complains about the need for a translation of Plantinga's prose into plain English, and who wonders out loud if they have missed something in their understanding of the argument. Competent critics of EAAN are not hard to find; see here for an anthology filled with chapters by such authors.]

The Divinity of Doubt by Vincent Bugliosi, a Book Review” by Bruce Gerencser (@Fallen From Grace)

Miscellaneous

Transgender Day of Remembrance” by Natalie (@Skepchick)

  • [Editor's Note (Lowder): Although metaphysical naturalism does not entail any beliefs regarding the moral issues involved with transsexualism, it is safe to say that religion has traditionally been one of the biggest, if not the biggest, source of opposition to LGBT rights. It's no coincidence, then, that probably most or virtually all metaphysical naturalists support LGBT rights. I'm especially happy to support to LGBT nontheists.]

About Jeffery Jay Lowder

Jeffery Jay Lowder is President Emeritus of Internet Infidels, Inc., which he co-founded in 1995. He is also co-editor of the book, The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13074560270292195498 Robert

    Re: "A Cumulative Case for the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth", I think you should see Yvain's comment here.

    We have abundant evidence that people did in fact make up miracle stories about Jesus. So given some historical tradition of Jesus (like his death and apocalyptic sayings), what's the probability it would have been embellished with made-up miracles and people writing false gospels?

    "Approximately 1: both Christians and atheists agree that the vast majority of the few dozen extant Gospels are false."

    Lydia McGrew isn't going to deny that tons of false miracle stories were circulating about early Christianity, but she doesn't think that's strong evidence against the resurrection story either. She says there are critical differences between early martyrs and the authors of say – the Gospel of Thomas and the Infancy Gospel of Thomas: Early martyrs were far less likely to create an elaborated resurrection story because [1] they were in a position to know what really happened (non-canonical gospel writers were possibly not) and [2] they died for the truth of the resurrection anyway (non-canonical gospel writers did not).

    At this point, I'm ignorant of the relevant facts:

    1.) How many testimonies do we actually have of a physical resurrection?

    2.) How many early Christians died for believing in a physical resurrection?

    3.) How many were given the chance to recant?

    4.) Can mystical experience generate false memories about a man like Jesus?

    etc …


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