The Real Problem with Miracles

Here is a simple representation using Bayes’ Theorem of how a miracle claim would be assessed, where m is the claim that a miracle has occurred, e is the evidence for the claim, and k is background knowledge: p(e/m & k) × p(m/k) p(m/e & k) = -------------------------------- p(e/k) So, the credibility of a miracle claim given certain evidence and background comes down to three factors:(1) p(e/m & k), the likelihood that we would ha … [Read more...]

Hell and Retribution

The comments on my last post contained a lively exchange about hell. Here is a quote from my piece "Heaven and Hell" in Debating Christian Theism, edited by Moreland, Meister, and Sweis (Oxford: 2013), pp. 539-540. Here I am responding to The Catholic Encyclopedia's defense of the traditional doctrine of an eternal punitive hell.The Catholic Encyclopedia: "Nor can it be said: the wicked will be punished, but not by any positive infliction: for either death will be the end of their existence, … [Read more...]

Fan Mail from a True Christian

This morning I found the following message in my inbox:Hi,I have just been looking at some of the videos of you v William Land Craig and I have to say for sheer stupidity you take some beating!Satan loves people like [you] though he hates you on a personal basis.Rose WhiteTo which I sent the following reply: Ms. White,Thank you for your loving exhibition of Christian charity. Even though I am an atheist, I am truly humbled by your display of kindness and … [Read more...]

Not this Again!

John Mark Reynolds, Provost of Houston Baptist University, has posted an essay reasserting the old canard that atheism is the cause of mass murder. Reynolds commits all the usual fallacies of those who make this claim. For instance, though he notes that correlation is not the same thing as cause, here is what he says in his opening paragraph: Atheistic regimes killed millions in the last century. Nobody denies this fact, though some deny atheism had much to do with the murder…Yet there is d … [Read more...]

Eternal Accountability

Vic Reppert recently posted this on his Dangerous Idea site under the title “Eternal Accountability”:“I don't think atheists appreciate the force of the doctrine of eternal accountability in restraining evil. Unless there is eternal accountability, either of the Hindu karma-birth-rebirth kind, or accountability before a monotheistic God, if we get away with it on earth, we get away with it period.”Response: I don’t think that theists appreciate the lack of force of the doctrine of eternal … [Read more...]

The Evolution of God

From The Onion. Very Funny.http://www.theonion.com/articles/biologists-confirm-god-evolved-from-chimpanzee-dei,35755/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=SocialMarketing&utm_campaign=LinkPreview%3ANA%3AInFocus … [Read more...]

Upcoming Resurrection Debate in the Houston Area

Here is a preview of an upcoming debate on the resurrection to be held at a Houston-area church. I have never heard of either of these debaters. From today's Houston Chronicle.http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Believer-skeptic-to-match-wits-in-debate-about-6180583.phpA couple of observations:(1) Any skeptical debater is going to have to give a convincing account that explains why the Disciples, who were clearly a dejected, demoralized, and frightened … [Read more...]

The Seven Deadly Sins of Christianity

Lust, sloth, gluttony, anger, pride, envy, and greed: These are the sins which Christian teachers and preachers have long cited as “deadly,” that is, the ones most urgently to be avoided since they are vicious in themselves and lie at the root of so many other sins. Of course, precisely defining and delimiting these transgressions has occupied armies of casuists. For instance, just what is gluttony? As Bertrand Russell once observed, if gluttony is eating just for fun, then we risk damnation wit … [Read more...]