This ministry hosts a regular online round table discussing matters of substance and controversy. Christians and NonChristians are invited but it is not necessarily an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ debate. Past topics have included matters of controversy only amongst Christians and due to the flexibility of the discussion, topics can change on a dime. UPDATE: With …
Over the last three hundred years unbounded skepticism has been applied to religion and Christianity especially. Atheist philosopher David Hume was one of the prominent voices calling for stringent criteria in evaluating miracle claims, and the like. Not everyone thought very highly of this criteria. One such person was the Reverend Richard Whately, who skewers Hume’s reasoning by showing how if it were applied consistently, one could not be reasonably certain that Napoleon existed- a public figure that was said to be alive and roaming Europe even as he spoke!
This playful little book is not a treatise by any means, but it provides a glimpse into the conversations of the 1800s and challenges the ‘enlightened’ skeptics to decide: If they won’t apply their principles thoroughly and consistently, but choose only to apply them to certain claims (and how did they choose which ones?), are those principles worth their salt?
I have been involved in apologetics for more than fifteen years, coming in almost literally the moment after Al Gore invented the Internet. The following represents some conclusions I’ve drawn during this time. To be clear, when I say the ‘Five Greatest Challenges to Christianity’ I do not mean it as, ‘here are five great challenges among others.’ What I mean is, THESE. ARE. THE. FIVE. GREATEST. CHALLENGES. I do not suggest that they are all that new. I do propose, however, that apologetics has no answer to them. Is that a surrender by a Christian apologist? Let’s find out.
The beginning of the episode starts off with a Catholic priest taking confession from one person after another that has been knocked around a bit by the implications of the arrival of Visitors from space. Their faith has been rattled, for example. Or, they are impressed by the ‘miracle cures’ that the Visitors are able to perform. I have already touched on this in my two previous posts but I’d like to approach it again from a different angle.
Is it really the case that space Visitors will serve as a stumbling block to faith in God? I contend that we cannot actually know that until they arrive (if they exist and if they come) and that our speculations in the meantime are inferences from what we already believe about reality.
In light of the Visitor’s ability to perform miracle cures, I would like to reflect on a quote common in atheistic thought (If I recall correctly, even Dawkins cites it in his Delusion). Arthur Clark said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
This sort of feeds into chronological snobbery of our modern age (and perhaps some past ages) which tries to dismiss the views and experiences of those in the past as being from an “ignorant gaggle of Bronze age fishermen and peripatetic, militant, marauding, murdering, genocidal goat-herders.”
So ABC’s “V” was on again tonight. I enjoyed it. It lacked the same punch as the first episode but I still liked it. It seems a little hurried to me. Maybe there are too many commercials? I’ve seen other hour long shows that seemed to really carry a narrative so I know its possible. I can’t put my finger on it with “V” but it isn’t enough (yet) to push me away from future viewings.
In my previous post, I hoped that I would see some metaphysical conversation. Perhaps its too early in the series, but there wasn’t much in that regards. Ie, unlike the first episode, this one seemed to lack substance. It still got me thinking anyway. I will now outline some of those thoughts.
The visual effects are far superior to the previous incarnation of the series. Indeed, far superior to any show from the 80’s and earlier. The miracle of CGI!
But isn’t it interesting that we are able to recognize that just because the space ships we see hovering over American cities in this show, despite their incredible life like detail, are fictional? This uncanny ability (most) people have is interesting given our “Seeing is believing” society. There is a great deal on television, movie, and computer screens that appears to be absolutely real. Yet, we know it isn’t.
So, far from being evidence for atheism and far from supporting a presumption of naturalism, the observed patterns of the universe are the pre-requisite, the minimal requirement, for reliably detecting a supernatural agent, namely God. That doesn’t mean that there is a God. It doesn’t mean we have to believe every report of a violation of the laws of nature that we hear. It does mean that we can’t dismiss them out of hand if the very point of our investigation is to decide if there is a God, for it is precisely such accounts- and only these kinds of accounts- that could allow us to reliably determine that there is a God.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, …
It may sound like ‘reducing’ much of the Bible to human revelation about special revelation I have greatly diminished its veracity but in truth what this move does is place our testing of the Bible’s claims into the same category of testing that we use for any other historical claim. In other words, it is the atheists that raise special challenges against the Biblical texts (ie, ‘Extraordinary claims…’) while Christians worth their salt are merely asking atheists to employ the same standards of evidence and proof, the same principles of reasoning, the same sense of fairness, that we apply to any other claim.
I was once asked to provide a concise, no more than 1,000 word essay, on why I believe Christianity to be true. I think the hint was that I can be a little too verbose. 🙂 As I recall, this essay was well received, if only because it met the terms of the request. I …
My new ‘friend’ Rational Man (not to be confused with Hyperbole Boy or the Stalker) has fired off a response to my response one or two blog entries ago. Here it is. I have just a few points. First of all, I loved the instant fixation on the fact that I am a creationist. This …