I’m pleased to announce that Dr. Jennifer Michael Hecht has agreed to join The Secular Outpost as a contributor. Dr. Hecht is the author of three history books and two volumes of poetry and she is currently serving as one of the five judges for the Nonfiction category of the 2010 National Book Award. Her bestseller Doubt: A History demonstrates a long, strong history of religious doubt. Hecht’s The End of the Soul: Scientific Modernity, Atheism, and Anthropology won the Phi… Read more

There is something about Nicholas Everitt’s argument from scale for atheism that appeals to my intuitions, but I haven’t been able to quite put my finger on what it is. So I’m going to try to reformulate the argument from scale as a Bayesian argument. Before I do, however, let’s review Everitt’s formulation of the argument. In his book, The Non-Existence of God, Everitt begins by introducing the generic form for the family of arguments of which the argument from scale… Read more

If found it highly risible that Norman Geisler would criticize fellow apologist Licona for “bad scholarship.” A few years ago Geisler published a critique of the volume The Empty Tomb edited by Jeff Lowder and Bob Price. His critique of my contribution (criticizing Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli on the hallucination argument) was so spectacularly inept, that I am afraid that my reply was a bit intemperate. Readers of SO know that I usually am less truculent with critics, but… Read more

Randall Rauser, a Christian scholar who I respect, has just weighed in on the Michael Licona situation on his blog (see here). I want to comment on just one part of Rauser’s post.The image of a witch hunt has been bandied about by many commentators. One could just as well speak of an academic lynching. But regardless of the chosen metaphor, it is difficult to calculate the egregious impact this kind of fierce attack on honest scholarship will have on… Read more

LINK (HT: Ex-Apologist) Read more

As reported by Christianity Today (see here), New Testament scholar Michael Licona has apparently lost both his job as research professor of New Testament at Southern Evangelical Seminary and been ousted as apologetics coordinator for the North America Mission Board (NAMB). Why? In his 700-page book defending the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection, Licona proposed that the story of the resurrection of the saints described in Matthew 27 might be metaphorical rather than literal history. Why is this a problem? As a… Read more

Just in case Julian Baggini fails to promote his latest Heathen’s Progress article, here’s the link: ‘You just don’t understand my religion’ is not good enough. And here is the best part:Too often I find that faith is mysterious only selectively. Believers constantly attribute all sorts of qualities to their gods and have a list of doctrines as long as your arm. It is only when the questions get tough that, suddenly, their God disappears in a puff of mystery. Ineffability… Read more

A key premise in Swinburne’s (deductive) argument in defense of his inductive version of the Cosmological argument (TCA) goes like this:(TCA9) The probability that there will be a complex physical universe given that God does not exist is low. (EOG, p.151) Based on Swinburne’s explanation of his reasoning in support of this premise (in email dated 10/24/11), I understand his argument for (TCA9) to be (roughly) as follows:1. P(e&~h&~c&k;) is approximately equal to P(eI~h&~c&k;) 2. P(eI~h&~c&k;) is approximately equal to… Read more

(Posted with the permission of Peter Atkins.)Opening StatementMy immediate task is to set out my stall, not to respond to Dr Craig’s arguments at this stage: that will come later. It is, in fact, my task to bring you forward from the eleventh century, where you have been immersed with considerable erudition for the past 20 minutes, to the twenty-first century, and to present arguments based on a thousand years of increasing knowledge about the world. Dr Craig would have… Read more

Philosopher Bede Rundle has died.If you hadn’t heard of him and you are reading this blog, then you will almost certainly want to read his book, Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing (Oxford University Press, 2004). Here’s a summary of Rundle’s argument, taken from his obituary:Since this universe is contingent, that is to say it might not have existed, at some point it did not exist, and at a later point it came into existence. Since something can only… Read more

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