Apologetics.org on “Historical Evidence for the Resurrection”

Over at apologetics.org, the self-identified blog of the “CS Lewis Society,” they seem to be running a series on Historical Evidence for the Resurrection. At least, they’ve got two posts on the topic, labeled “Fact #1 and Fact #2,” so I assume they intend to post more. Let’s have a look, shall we?

“Fact” #1 is that Jesus was crucified. I put “fact” in quotes because I’m not 100% convinced that this is necessarily so. It seems reasonably plausible, however, and is certainly consistent with the events that followed, so I’m willing to grant them that one. Let’s move on to the second fact.

Fact # 2 – Jesus’ disciples believed that he rose and appeared to them.

First, the disciples claimed to have seen the risen Jesus. In addition to their own testimony recorded in the Gospels, we also have the testimony of the Apostle Paul (1 Cor. 15:3-11), the oral tradition that would become the basis of the NT writings, and the written works of the early church. That they claimed to have seen the risen Jesus is without dispute.

This is true, as far as it goes. But context is crucial here. Before we can understand these statements, we need to remember that we’re dealing with Christians, and Christians also believe that God speaks to them and that Jesus comes into their hearts. Before we can draw reliable conclusions about what Christians regard as true, we need to ask “True in what sense?” And there’s more.

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XFiles Friday: What Apologists Don’t Know About Morality

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, chapter 7)

Having misunderstood, denied, distorted, and outright lied about the scientific evidence that something (or somethings) somewhere might somehow have done something no one saw that might in some way have resembled Genesis, Geisler and Turek are now ready to turn their attention to the question of morality, and how it can be exploited as a possible argument for the existence of some kind of deity.

[T]here is a prescription to do good that has been given to all of humanity.

Some call this moral prescription “conscience”; others call it “Natural Law”; still others (like our Founding Fathers) refer to it as “Nature’s Law.” We refer to it as “The Moral Law.” But whatever you call it, the fact that a moral standard has been prescribed on the minds of all human beings points to a Moral Law Prescriber. Every prescription has a prescriber. The Moral Law is no different. Someone must have given us these moral obligations.

This, obviously, is the superstitious approach to morality. We observe that morality exists, and instead of exploring the real-world factors that produce it, so as to better understand where it really comes from, we simply ascribe it to some magical, unobserved Moral Law Prescriber. Let’s contrast this approach with a more reality-based explanation of where morality comes from.

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The nice guys are over there, in last place.

“And now we go to Tony, calling from Orlando. Tony, are you there?”

“Hey, dittos, Rush. Longtime listener, first time caller. I just wanted to call and ask you what’s up with all this global warming stuff. I mean, is the planet really getting warmer, and are people to blame?”

“Well Tony, I’ll tell you. I have an opinion on that, but some people find my style brash and offensive, so I’m just going to sit back and shut up and let someone nicer try and defend the conservative point of view.”

Does that sound a bit strange? It might, if you’ve ever listened to Rush Limbaugh, or Bill O’Reilly, or James Dobson, or D. James Kennedy, or any of the other conservative masters of “framing.” And yet, some people are seriously suggesting that the above approach is the one PZ Myers and Richard Dawkins ought to be taking, in the interests of “framing” science. Don’t the “framing” advocates ever listen to how real framing is actually done, by those whose apparent success is the reason we even want to frame science in the first place?

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More “persecuted” Christians (sigh)

Over at townhall.com, Mike Adams has his skivvies in a wad because UNC apparently does not let criminology professors set the curriculum for the sociology department.

This semester, I learned that one of my colleagues is teaching our Sociology of Religion course with two supplemental texts, neither of which could be characterized as sociological in nature. One is The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins. The other is God is Not Great, by Christopher Hitchens.

Hmm, the course is called Sociology of Religion, and the professor has chosen to include two supplemental texts, “neither of which could be characterized as sociological.” Say, you don’t suppose they might have something to do with religion, do you? What on earth could the sociology prof be thinking, including books that talk about the impact of religion on society, in a class called Sociology of Religion?

Adams goes on to whine about how he tried different ways to defend students against this blatant exposure to atheistic perspectives, with dissatisfying results.

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It’s been over five years now since our faithful Christian president led us into Iraq, on the pretext that Saddam Hussein had developed and was continuing to develop biological, chemical and nuclear “weapons of mass destruction” intended for use against the United States. It was a charge that the Bush administration repeated so often that the acronym WMD became part of common, everyday speech. And yet, who today, a mere half-dozen years later, even remembers the so-called “threat” of Saddam’s alleged WMDs?

Some of us do, of course, when we stop to think about it. But for many Americans, the story has re-written itself. The invasion of Iraq has become “The War on Terror,” even though, as the Bush administration had to admit, “[w]e have no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved in the September 11th attacks.” Despite the fact that the documentation is still there, and is widely available via the Internet, the story has already been re-written, in the minds of many conservative Americans. The Iraq War has become the War on Terror, and few people even remember when it was The War to Get Saddam.

That’s an observation worth remembering today, Easter, 2008, because it shows how little time is needed to transform a story from an embarrassment into something satisfying, noble, and maybe even profound, just by tweaking the facts and shifting the emphasis. Our experience in Iraq, and in how people change their thinking about Iraq, gives us some significant insights into how the death of Jesus could become his resurrection with almost no effort at all.

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XFiles Friday: The war between religion and science

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, chapter 6)

It would be fun to spend some time in Chapter 6, just because it’s such familiar ground. But the creationist distortions, omissions, and outright deceptions which fill this chapter are well-documented elsewhere, so let’s just hit the highlights. In particular, I’d like to look at the ways in which Geisler and Turek’s approach to evolution manifests a corrosive and poisonous brand of “science” that is inherently hostile to the real thing.

Geilser and Turek begin by invoking Sagan’s ghost to try and create the impression that there’s a correlation between the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, and the search for Intelligent Design. Unfortunately, they shoot themselves in the foot again by citing the brain as a structure so complex that it could not have arisen naturally.

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No intelligence allowed! Seriously!

This is almost too funny to be true. Dr. PZ Myers, famous blogger, biologist and unbeliever, showed up at a screening of Ben Stein’s propaganda piece, Expelled: No Intelligence allowed. Apparently that bit about “no intelligence allowed” isn’t just their motto, it’s their screening policy:

I went to attend a screening of the creationist propaganda movie, Expelled, a few minutes ago. Well, I tried … but I was Expelled!

Seriously. They had a uniformed guard pull him out of line and tell him he could not watch the movie that Ben Stein had made about him. But that wasn’t enough. Not only was he not allowed to see the movie, they evicted him from the theater completely, apparently just for being PZ Myers!

But wait, there’s more. Apparently the Ben Stein people are equal opportunity ignoramuses who apply their “No Intelligence” policy to themselves as well as imposing it on others. While they kicked out PZ, they failed to bar his guest: Richard Dawkins. So here they are, making a movie that accuses others of oppression and censorship, which they won’t let the “wrong” people see, a movie accusing scientists of unfairly excluding intelligent design, which they unfairly exclude scientists from seeing—and they can’t even get that right!

They need to put up a big sign out front, with a picture of some drooling moron (played by Ben Stein), that says “Attention patrons: Your IQ must be at least this low in order to watch this movie.” That way it will be clear just who is and is not allowed to be there.

TIA: The War Delusion

Having proved to his own satisfaction that there are no theists in foxholes, Vox continues in the same theme in Chapter 6, “The War Delusion.” His main point is that religion is not the primary cause of most wars, which is perfectly reasonable and accurate. Unfortunately, he pretends that Harris and Dawkins and company are claiming that eliminating religion would eliminate war, which is a pretty blatant straw man. (He even admits at one point that Harris and Dawkins “[never] state that they believe religion is the direct and primary cause of war.”) And even though it’s only a straw man, he still seems to feel compelled to resort to the strategy of oversimplifying, citing a bunch of facts which are inconsistent with the oversimplification, and then claiming to have won the debate. I’ll give him good grades in rhetoric for subtlety and cleverness, but in the end, he still fails to address the question of what role religion does play in human conduct and conflict.

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TIA: “The best strategy is an incompetent enemy.” — Vox Day

Vox Day has announced that he’s not going to address my analysis of his book until I’ve finished, which is too bad. Fortunately, blacknad has convinced him to give us another sample of the approach he intends to take.

TIA: a deeply clueless critic

As I mentioned previously, I’m going to let Evangelical Realism finish his review of TIA before responding to it in its entirety, but since I had a request to respond to one of his more amusing attempts, I shall do so here. It should demonstrate the truth of my battleground aphorism: the best strategy is an incompetent enemy.

You know, he just might be right about that, though perhaps not in the way he expects…

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They DO know…

Pretty sad, in a way. Todd, at Rapture Ready, is using the recent death of his own mother to try and make some kind of personal contact with God.

A few months ago, I was talking with Mom about her eventual departure. Because we both knew she was soon going to meet the Creator of the universe, we concluded there was a special opportunity for her to convey a special message. We agreed that when she met the Lord, she would ask Him to bless Rapture Ready.

It’s not that God would say, “Bless Rapture Ready? What’s that?” There is nothing that He is not aware of. However, I believe it expresses a special level of determination to have God’s divine guidance that we would send someone in “person” to appeal for the continued blessing on this site.

Christians know. They know that their relationship with God somehow falls short of what it should be. If God actually showed up in real life, there would be no need to make a special effort to contact Him via real death. The reason the dead are thought to be closer to God is because He is clearly nowhere near the living—not even for sincere, fervent believers like Todd. And it’s not a failure on their part. God is not here for anyone to get close to. Only the dead are (supposedly) close enough to convey an in-person request to Him. Because God is somewhere over there, out of reach, beyond the Veil. In the next world, not this one.

No matter how much you claim God loves you, no matter how much you claim God has done to eliminate the barriers to fellowship, you just can’t get past the fact that He is manifestly and universally not here spending time with us, the way a genuinely loving God would do once He had solved that old sin problem. In a thousand and one ways, Christians bear witness to God’s absence, not the least being their frustration-driven zeal to try and argue otherwise, and to set up a government-subsidized program for lending an appearance of reality to God.

A real God would not need that. My real God does not need that. But man-made gods, the stuff of myths and superstitions, can’t avoid it.