Category: theism

PZ Myers to Review my Collection of Short Stories on Richard Dawkins, Antony Flew, and Mother Teresa!

I have just been notified that PZ Myers is going to ‘review’ my short story collection, “Richard Dawkins, Antony Flew, and Mother Teresa Go to Heaven.” ! Apparently he stumbled upon my press release announcing my release of this collection.  If you want to check out the collection and follow along for yourself, here’s a […]

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Atheists on Morality: Jumping out of the Bottomless Pit

Atheists have a problem.  Ok, they have lots of problems.  🙂  But this one is a big one:  how to explain morality. Now, for some reason atheists remained confused on some basic aspects of the issue.   It is common to hear from their camp something to the effect, “We do not need God to be […]

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Richard Dawkins Goes to Heaven? Short Story

“Richard Dawkins, Antony Flew, and Mother Teresa Go to Heaven…” What sounds like the beginning of a very bad joke is actually the title of a collection of three poignant short stories by author Anthony Horvath. Each story draws from what is publicly known about these three notable persons and places them in the presence of God. Antony Flew famously disputed the existence of such a being, Richard Dawkins- the only one of the three still living- infamously derides the notion, and Mother Teresa wondered at God’s absence- in these three stories they each get a chance to ask their questions and speak their minds. Read this short story, along with two others, on Kindle.

Excerpt from Richard Dawkins Goes to Heaven

“You know what sounds like ‘hell’ to me?” Richard asked the accompanying angel, a current of sarcasm carrying the question along.
“I know you’ll tell me,” the angel replied serenely.
“Heaven. Heaven sounds like hell.”

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5 Challenges to Christianity Apologetics Can’t Answer Part 3

If you were looking for a thread that ties all five of these challenges together, it is this: the general view, even among Christians, that there is no objective reality to the areas under dispute. That is, we are all arguing about our own opinions, nothing more. It’s like sitting around having an argument about one’s favorite flavor of ice cream. As such an argument is roundly seen as absurd (and I would agree). Thus- even within the Church- the highest transgression is presenting your favorite ice cream flavor as the absolute best. Now this, paradoxically, I have said is something that apologetics can treat (after saying in 3 parts that it can’t. 😉 ), but read carefully on how precisely.

This is attitude that everything is just subjective is manifested most clearly and dramatically in regards to the marriage and the family. To help understand why, let me provide some anecdotal illustrations.

For example, no doubt many of my readers will be aware of the argument against those who oppose gay marriage that if these people really cherished marriage, they wouldn’t themselves support divorce or have the same level of divorces as those outside that community. I am not here highlighting the apparent hypocrisy involved. I’m talking about something else. Another illustration will perhaps help: “Why won’t God heal Amputees?” You see the argument now: if there is a God, surely he would want to heal people, including amputees. The same reasoning undergirds the absurd but common perception among atheists that a praying people will be healthier, or that in an experiment where one group is prayed for but the other group that isn’t, the group prayed for should show better health. (C. S. Lewis exposed this type of experiment as deeply flawed- who in good conscience, if they cared for the sick people would abstain from praying for one group just to prove a point?!?!?)

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Why I became a Conservative

When I was in college there was this guy 2 1/2 times larger than me… a philosophy major, as I recall… appropriately named ‘Animal.’ I remember having a debate about pain with him. I argued it was all in our minds- just a brain state- and not real. Animal said, “Come here, and I’ll show you unreal pain.”

While I was of the mindset that there were just “brain states” or just “subjective opinions” or just “one’s political views”, I was a liberal. When my mindset changed, so did my ‘political’ stance. This is a realization that congealed more than ten years after the change had happened. Was it just me? Correlation does not prove causation, and yet I see the same ingredients in the conservatives and liberals I meet. What made my mindset change?

I wouldn’t say it happened over night but there was a singular ‘event’ that proved the catalyst. One should understand that at the time, I was a Christian, an apologist, a Christian religion teacher. But I still entertained many viewpoints we’d call ‘liberal.’ The catalyst arose out of my never ending quest to make sure that when I talk about something, I actually know what I’m talking about. In the general course of that, I read a great many writings of Communists, Nazis, and to a lesser extent, the ‘fascists.’ Here I discovered something frightening: these people were advocating many of the same things I was advocating, and for the same reasons.

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The Courage of Their Convictions: Jared Lee Loughner, James Jay Lee and the Power of Belief

We live in a curious time. Good people who are otherwise sane entertain the notions that Lee and Loughner embraced and acted on. Over against those notions they have some memory of the bloodsport of the 20th century and are keen to avoid it a second go around. What they don’t ask is: “Maybe it isn’t just one particular application of these beliefs that ought to be discredited… maybe the beliefs themselves should be chucked?”

To illustrate.

Let us imagine that someone believed that all people with red hair should be killed because they aren’t really people. You talk to him. He’s a perfectly pleasant fellow. Very sane. “So, you aren’t going to actually kill any red haired people or advocate that others do?” you ask him. “Of course not,” he says. That’s a relief, of course. “Why believe it if you won’t carry it out?” you persist. “That would be horrible. I would feel terrible,” he says. “Hmmm,” you might say, “Perhaps the fact that you are deeply uncomfortable with wiping out those with red hair is because even though you say they aren’t people, in fact, you think they are. Why not then dispense with your belief that they aren’t really people?”

Something very much like this is at the root of much thinking among secular humanists. They don’t really believe what they’re saying. If they did, we’d all be in a lot of trouble and they’d probably go a little nuts.

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The Explanatory Fallacy

In the nearly 20 years or so of debating with various kinds of non-Christians, I have often encountered a way of thinking that I think is self-evidently flawed, but oddly common nonetheless. What I mean is this: as soon as you press the point, they drop the principle, recognizing it can’t be maintained as tightly as was presented. A moment later, or in another conversation, the principle is re-presented.

The principle is this: that a proposition is true if it explains something. Or, a belief is to be preferred if it explains something. Or, the better belief is the one that explains the most.

At first blush, this principle seems pretty solid. After all, don’t we give weight to an idea, hypothesis, or theory if it provides an explanation for something else? If I come across the body of a clearly murdered person and the evidence points to another person who is known to have hated the victim, wouldn’t we say, “Well, that explains that. He hated him.” ? Well, yes. It does explain it, but it still doesn’t follow that he actually murdered anyone. The time honored tradition for hanging a murder verdict on someone does include motive- but also means and opportunity. Merely having a hypothesis that ‘explains’ the facts does not prove the hypothesis. One must corroborate it. If it cannot be corroborated, it doesn’t follow it isn’t true. We just have to be careful how we weight it. We certainly would not (or ought not) sentence a man to death for it.

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Recording of first KnightCon Debate

A couple of nights ago I hosted the first of what I hope will be regular, bi-weekly discussion events using real time video conferencing software. The recording of that event is available here. Note, it is unedited and is a very informal setting.  You can fast forward, and I suggest you do.  Length is about […]

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Is there such a thing as ‘Christian’ music, writing, art, etc?

I try mightily to keep myself from having unexamined beliefs. I turned one up, though, in the last month or so, no doubt because of the writing contest and online apologetics conference I was working on. The writing contest, for example, is labeled as a Christian writing contest. I began to think about how an endeavor like writing, or any endeavor at all, could justify being termed ‘Christian’ and realized I had never really thought about it much before, and had rather accepted the presumptions that had been handed down to me. I hate it when I do that! Even if the presumptions are right!

However, what I turned up when I began my examination may surprise the reader. In Evangelical circles, the Christian sub-culture is a constant temptation and Christianese the prevailing language, which I myself attack in this post warning about Christianese and shibboleths. There is a silly sense within Christendom that you can slap the label ‘Christian’ on front of something and you’ve sanctified it. The truth usually is that it’s merely been rendered more marketable within the Church.

The reader would be wrong if he thought that the presumption handed down to me was the one I just described, however.

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My Letters from Antony Flew About “There is a God.”

In this post find published letters from Antony Flew to Christian apologist Anthony Horvath that bear on the question of whether or not Flew’s book “There is a God” accurately reflects Flew’s views.

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The Epistemological Bottleneck And God’s Respect for Human Inquiry

One of the enduring criticisms against Christianity is that it is anti-knowledge, education, and learning.  This blog has taken aim at this criticism before, most notably taking Richard Dawkins to task for his misuse of an Augustine quote ostensibly about ‘curiosity.’  I currently have an open challenge to Dawkins to repudiate his use of that […]

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Five Things Killing Christianity: Is the End of Christianity At Hand?

The number one thing killing Christianity in America today:

Lovelessness.

All the rest of the things on the list tie back to this. The Christian Church exhibits constant lovelessness in much of what it does. Many readers will jump to the idea that Christians are very loving, and to an extent, I agree. Many readers will find the assertion nauseous because they think of ‘love’ as some wishy washy sentiment. Both sets of readers misunderstand me. One of my contentions is that Love itself is misunderstood, because unlike other doctrines, this one has not been systematically explored from the Scriptures. We all act as though we intuitively know what ‘love’ is. In fact, we have culturally driven notions that are derived from hundreds of years of romanticism. The Bible- the New Testament in particular- portrays a love that is much different. It is earth shattering, and embodied in the activities of the early Christian Church.

None of this should be construed (though it will be, to my chagrin) as a repudiation of all the things we currently do to ‘show’ we love God. It isn’t. If we were doing those things AND loving our fellow Christians… to the death… there would be no problem.

But, I contend, we aren’t doing that. God tells us that if we love him, we’ll love the brothers. We have it stuck in our head that if we love him, we’ll love him.

But that’s not what he said, and that is why outsiders, ultimately, do not find Christianity credible. Indeed, it is why Christians themselves are dubious, and in fact, sometimes falling away altogether.

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Review of The Easter Answer (to Barker’s Easter Challenge) by Stephen Kingsley

My first exposure to Dan Barker was his so called ‘Easter Challenge.’ I had already emerged from my own crisis of faith and had already determined some principles for sorting out alleged Biblical contradictions. The more I read Barker’s writings, the less impressed I was. I put the Challenge to good use, though, having my New Testament courses take up the ‘challenge’ for their spring project.

It never crossed my mind to try to actually correspond with Barker. I assumed the whole thing was just some sort of cheap shot. Having read Kingsley’s book I see that was a mistake. He documents how Barker and other hyper-skeptics really thought they had something here and took the alleged silence of Christians as telling.

I am glad, therefore, to see that Pastor Stephen Kingsley has taken up the ‘challenge.’ According to Kingsley, he has contacted Barker with the ‘answer’ but Barker has demurred and hasn’t yet responded.

Has Kingsley done it? Has Kingsley really and definitively reconciled and harmonized the Easter accounts?

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Christian Self-Interest the Key to Environmentalism?

I discovered today that a post a couple of weeks ago about Christians and the environment popped up on a Christian environmentalist blog. My post was ‘Shouldn’t Christians Care about the Environment?” and the brief response (if it was a response at all) was called ‘Self-interest makes Christians better ecologists.’

I actually couldn’t tell from the entry whether or not the blogger agreed or disagreed with my post. There is only one sentence: “Anthony suggests that the reason Christians make better ecologists is that they put people first.”

This isn’t much to go on but there was still something about it that compelled me to reply.

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