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Showing category "Religion" (Show all posts)

Frank Tipler refuted on his Star of Bethlehem thesis by Aaron Adair

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Friday, August 10, 2012, In : Religion 
To coincide with the recent release of my book The Nativity: A Critical Examination, I wrote a couple of posts concerning issues with the nativity accounts in Luke and Matthew on the Debunking Christianity blog. One Christian commentator, Vincent, made replies to many of my points, all of which I rebutted. There was one point on which he pushed and that was a thesis by Christian physicist Frank Tipler that sets out to defend the Star of Bethlehem from a naturalistic standpoint. Tipler hypoth...

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Is God at the Olympics?

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Monday, August 6, 2012, In : Religion 
I'm loving the Olympics, I really am. I have even been to see some women's volleyball and it was great. It has all been so well organised (and in so being, it's great to put one up Mitt Romney for his silly comments). However, the good ole sporting problem raises its theological head. Who does God support?

I was watching a boxing match which tied. This means that the judges' individual scores were tied so it goes down to who the judges selected in their intuitive press of a button. This the...

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One of the worst Christian arguments that I have argued against

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Sunday, July 22, 2012, In : Religion 
Recently, I posted a piece on biblical contradictions and how Christians harness cognitive dissonance to help them find desperate ways in which to defend ideas of inerrancy. I looked to show that they use a circular approach without realising it:

1) The Bible never makes contradictions
2) All alleged contradictions can be harmonised
3) Since the Bible never makes contradictions, all harmonisations are inherently more probable than the idea that there are contradictions
4) All harmonisations ...

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Biblical contradictions and the Christian mind

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Friday, July 13, 2012, In : Religion 
Recently, elsewhere, I have been discussing the contradictions of the Bible. Many are fairly irrelevant in the scheme of things and don’t really invalidate the core claims of the Bible, only the claims of inerrancy. What it does show, however, is the rationalisation process of the average Christian. Not only is the process hilarious to watch, but the answers given vary so widely amongst defenders of inerrancy (and even amongst liberal defenders who instinctively try to protect the Bible's ...

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Antony Flew on 'Theology and Falsification'

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Wednesday, July 4, 2012, In : Religion 
This superb essay was linked to me by Andreas on another thread. I/t is 44 years old now and was written by Antony Flew in his prime. It is as relevant today as it ever was:



Theology and Falsification

The following excerpt was published in Reason and Responsibility (1968).

by Antony Flew

et us begin with a parable. It is a parable developed from a tale told by John Wisdom in his haunting and revolutionary article "Gods."[1] Once upon a time two explorers came upon a clearing in the jun...

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Heads you win, tails I lose

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Wednesday, July 4, 2012, In : Religion 
Here is a video summing up and previous blog post of mine about theists using evidence at the opposite ends of the spectrum to conclude that God exists.


 
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D Rizdek gives an insightful view on writing Gospels

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Saturday, June 23, 2012, In : Religion 
Here is a good post from another blog which I think is worth reposting. I think people forget to think of the Gospel writers as real people actually sitting down and logistically trying to create something so demanding:

It always puzzles me at the idea that someone might assume one person, be he named Matthew or Sam, just sat down one day and decided to write a book called the Gospel according to Matthew from memory or from his own notes. Is this how literary scholars think things got writ...

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The Nativity and Herod

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Thursday, June 21, 2012, In : Religion 
Whilst some of you may think Christmas has come early, the reality is that I have a new book out which deals with the historicity of the nativity accounts found in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew. As if all the other arguments aren’t enough, there’s nothing like topping it all off with a healthy dose of critical historical analysis.

So the book is called The Nativity: A Critical Examination and the more involved in writing and researching it I became, the more amazed I was that anyone a...

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Heads you win, tails we lose

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Sunday, June 10, 2012, In : Religion 

I would like to investigate in this post the opportunism of the theist. I have been involved in many conversations and debates, and have certainly seen many debates between proponents of most corners of the divides, and there is something which does annoy me. Theists, it seems, like to have their cake and eat it. They seem to enjoy the ‘heads I win, tails you lose’ ethos. There are many arguments where the theist will use the evidence available, in this here world, to support their case. ...


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Valaerie Tarico - I Don’t Believe in a God – What Should I Call Myself?

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Thursday, June 7, 2012, In : Religion 

I Don’t Believe in a God – What Should I Call Myself?


Posted on  


Valerie Tarico


Catholic, Born-Again, Reformed, Jew, Muslim, Shiite, Sunni, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist . . . .  Religions give people labels. The downside can be tribalism, an assumption that insiders are better than outsiders, that they merit more compassion, integrity and generosity or even that violence toward “infidels” is acceptable. But the upside is that religious or spiritual labels offer a way of defining ...


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Matthew and the guards at the tomb

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Thursday, May 31, 2012, In : Religion 

In this post, I am going to look at the resurrection account given by Matthew, in particular his addition found in no other Gospel account, that there were guards stationed at the tomb.

 

 

According to Matthew, the chief priests were worried that the disciples might steal Jesus’ body to fake a resurrection, so they went to Pilate and got permission to post a guard on the tomb. When Jesus rose from the dead, the guards reported it to the priests, and the priests bribed them to claim that...


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This video scares the bejesus out of me

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Thursday, May 31, 2012, In : Religion 
Oh dear. This is truly terrible.

Terrible.

 
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Everyone's agin it! The church and homophobia

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Wednesday, May 30, 2012, In : Religion 
This has been hitting the news in the US.

Oh dear. Can I even say any more?

 
 


And then a response from one of his idiotic congregation members.
 


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10 Commandments...

Posted by B__e on Thursday, May 24, 2012, In : Religion 
Here is a post from an ex-Christian called B__e who has been ruminating on this for a whiile. See what you think:

Ten Commandments or Ten Suggestions?

By B__e

I have sometimes heard that the Bible has the Ten Commandments and not the “Ten Suggestions.”  I’m not so sure that Yahweh thinks so based on the Scriptures themselves, since He appears to break or flout them all.  You be the judge…

1.       You shall have no other gods before me.

Deuteronomy 6:4 reads:  “Hear, O Israel: Th...


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Outdated morality?

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Wednesday, May 23, 2012, In : Religion 
I like this picture. I can imagine it being pretty true. 

Please refer to my previous posts on the issue. 

 

 

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Guest poster at DC

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Monday, May 21, 2012, In : Religion 
Author John W Loftus has asked me to be a guest poster over at Debunking Christianity. At 130,000 hits+ a month, this is a great privilege and one about which I am very grateful. Thanks to John for the invitation. Hope to see you there!


http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.co.uk/ 

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Why do normal people believe ridiculous things?

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Sunday, May 20, 2012, In : Religion 


Why, indeed, do normal people believe ridiculous things? We have heard much from John Loftus about the OTF – the Outsider Test for Faith – which essentially illustrates that religion is a (geographical) accident of birth. It claims that if believers used the same critical powers they use to assess, and dismiss, other religions and their claims, then they are obliged to turn those critical faculties on their own. If they did, John would claim, then they would surely end up dismissing the c...


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Ockham's Razor and Christianity

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Saturday, May 19, 2012, In : Religion 

OCKHAM’S RAZOR AND CHRISTIANITY

 

Here is a definition of Ockham’s Razor:

 

Occam's Razor: the principle that entities should not be multiplied needlessly; the simplest of two competing theories is to be preferred.

 

This can often be a very useful principle in comparing competing theories which seek to explain the same phenomena. I will like to apply this theory to everything we know and see whether Christianity or atheism is a more attractive theory.

 

 

Let us look at issues w...


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A word on exclusivism

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Thursday, May 17, 2012, In : Religion 

Exclusivism, as I understand it, is merely accepting one belief in denying other similar claims. Which can surely be boiled down to accepting a claim and denying other claims.

 

We all do this, surely.

 

I see people as having two choices for living in a world of evidence.

1) being Pyrrhonian Skeptics

2) being able to make some kind of truth claims (beliefs)

 

For those who don't know Pyrrhonian Skepticism:

Whereas academic skepticism, with Carneades as its most famous adherent, cla...


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Jerry Coyne has dug these maps out - awesome

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Thursday, May 3, 2012, In : Religion 
This map was posted by Jerry Coyne to show, along with John Loftus' Outsider Test For Faith, that religion is an accident of birth.

http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/science-vs-religion-the-outsider-test-for-faith/ 



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Highly Religious People Are Less Motivated by Compassion Than Are Non-Believers

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Thursday, May 3, 2012, In : Religion 

Highly Religious People Are Less Motivated by Compassion Than Are Non-Believers

ScienceDaily (Apr. 30, 2012) — "Love thy neighbor" is preached from many a pulpit. But new research from the University of California, Berkeley, suggests that the highly religious are less motivated by compassion when helping a stranger than are atheists, agnostics and less religious people.


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Homosexuality and Christianity Part 2

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Wednesday, May 2, 2012, In : Religion 

So now it is time to return to the idea of homosexuality and Christianity about which I posted the other day.

 

Having looked at biblical issues concerning the position of deeming h/s morally wrong, let us now look at what makes people h/s and whether it is fair for an all-loving god to judge them.

 

Historically, h/s has been seen as a behavioural choice. However, over recent years, more and more research has been carried out into the causality of h/s.

 

H/s is seen as being "an endur...


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Josephus' Testimonium Flavianum

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Monday, April 30, 2012, In : Religion 
This is an excellent and informative post from Harry McCall on DC which i thought was interesting enough to post here:

 

This is the reply I got from the foremost scholar on Josephus today (apart from Louis Feldman).  Steve Mason is editor-in-chief of EJ Brill’s multi-volume on the works of Josephus:   
 
http://www.brill.nl/publicatio...
 
 
On 18-Feb-09, at 8:27 PM, Harry McCall wrote:

Professor Mason,
 
I have several volumes in the Brill series Flavius Josephus:  Translation and Commenta...


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Homosexuality and Christianity.

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Friday, April 27, 2012, In : Religion 

I am writing a post in reaction to something about which I was talking with my Christian friend (let’s call him Colin). We were talking about homosexuality and his approach to it given his Christian background. Some points were interesting and some I fundamentally disagreed with. Here are his views:

 

  • As according to the Bible, homosexuality is wrong.
  • This morality is grounded in God.
  • He is not homophobic and detests that label as it automatically halts any further informed discu...

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Ehrman, Carrier, everyone else and Jesus mythicism.

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Wednesday, April 25, 2012, In : Religion 

Battles have been raging online over the last month or so with regards to Ehrman's treatment of mythicism in his last book (Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth, cobbled together from his debates, I believe) which was summed up here in his outspoken Huff Post article:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bart-d-ehrman/did-jesus-exist_b_1349544.html

Carrier responded to this with gusto in his excellent piece here:

http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/667

 

Whic...


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Going Dutch

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Friday, April 20, 2012, In : Religion 

This is an article from last year on the BBC which is really interesting. The Dutch certainly do things differently...

 

Dutch rethink Christianity for a doubtful world

By Robert Pigott

Religious affairs correspondent, Amsterdam

 

The Rev Klaas Hendrikse can offer his congregation little hope of life after death, and he's not the sort of man to sugar the pill.

 

An imposing figure in black robes and white clerical collar, Mr Hendrikse presides over the Sunday service at the Exodus Church ...


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Avalos vs Darrel - "Is the bible a source of absolute moral rules for today?"

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Monday, April 16, 2012, In : Religion 

I have seen the opening statements of both. I almost burst out laughing at the poor poor tack taken by Darrel. Firstly, he sets out deconstructing Avalos' epistemology and morality. This is both a red herring and a shifting of the burden of proof. It matters not one jot, because that is not the focus of the debate. The debate is "Is the bible a source of absolute moral rules for today?" I can only see that Darrel should make a defensive stance. Avalos could have come out and said "I derive my...


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Carrier at Skepticon 2

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Thursday, April 12, 2012, In : Religion 
This is a superb video which I have seen a few times. There is a lot of info in it, and it gathers momentum as it goes on. The case Carrier builds up for internal evidence as to the existence of Jesus, or lack thereof, is fantastic. I am not a mythicist: I am agnostic. But he does build a superb case.

 
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New essay on Paul submitted by Sarah Cook.

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Monday, April 9, 2012, In : Religion 
This is an essay submitted by Sarah Cook, an undergraduate student reading Religious and Theological Studies at Cardiff University. It is a good, concise synopsis on whether Paul defends slavery or doesn't; and whether he does so from a position of historical and cultural context or from his own understanding of the morality of slavery. 

See what you think.
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US schools. Eek!

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Saturday, April 7, 2012, In : Religion 
Courtesy of richarddawkins.net:


The Lord’s Army Comes to America’s Public Schools

“Now that you know the truth, who will you share this with?” asked Ian’s fourth-grade teacher. The setting was a March 2012 meeting of the Good News Club in a Pasadena, California public elementary school. Good News Clubs are afterschool “Bible study” programs with a fundamentalist agenda that are ...


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Why burqas / niqabs are controversial

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Monday, April 2, 2012, In : Religion 

Burqas are back on the agenda in the UK. This is because there was a recent furore within the British legal aystem. A Muslim woman was barred from serving on a jury because she refused to remove her veil. In a controversial ruling, a judge said she could not sit on an attempted murder trial because her full face covering (niqab) concealed her expressions.

 

Knowing this is controversial, I would like to give my tuppence worth because I am against the wearing of such veils and I will tell yo...


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"Why is not working?”

Posted by Sergio Paulo Sider on Friday, March 23, 2012, In : Religion 
Here is a post from a fellow freethinker, Sergio Paulo Sider from Brazil. Thanks Sergio!

"Why is not working?”

 

There’s an old joke about a young boy looking at his mum spending a long time doing makeup in front of the mirror.

 

Mum, what are you doing?

I am doing my makeup, darling.

Why?

To look more beautiful.

But why is not working?

 

I remembered this joke when I was thinking about the fact that, without some special and explicit hints, it’s virtually impossible to surely ...


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Can Religion be Destroyed?

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Friday, March 16, 2012, In : Religion 

Can religion be destroyed?

 

I was involved in a little discussion over at Advocatus Atheist the other day with regards to whether a secular and sceptical approach can spell the end of religion. I found this to be interesting. Even if the evidence 9does it not already) overwhelmingly ruled in favour of the disbelief in a personal god, would religion still tenuously hang on to the threads of desperate hope or ritualistic comforts that humanity seems to endure?

 

Firstly, we must accept tha...


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AAAARRRGGHH! The US scares me so much.

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Sunday, March 11, 2012, In : Religion 
A fascinating article from the Guardian, bastion of sense in a world of nutjobs.


The new legal theory that enables homophobic evangelising in US schools

A campaign funded by the religious right has effectively rewritten the constitutional separation of church and state in education

The PFOX 'ex-gay' flier distributed in Maryland schools
The PFOX 'ex-gay' flier distributed in Maryland schools last month

Last month, 8,000 public high school students in Montgomery County, Maryland, went home with fliers informing them that no one is "born ...


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Heads you win tails I lose.

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Thursday, March 8, 2012, In : Religion 

When thinking about subjects like the fine-tuning argument it becomes apparent that the theist loves to have their cake and eat it. They thrive off a “heads I win, tails you lose scenario”.

 

What I mean by this can be exemplified as follows:

 

In the fine-tuning argument when a sceptic argues:

 

The universe is more fine-tuned for death than life.

The size of the universe is so unbelievably and unnecessarily massive that it appears that it is not designed for human life.

Etc etc

...
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Latest Richard Carrier Debate

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Friday, March 2, 2012, In : Religion 
As a fan of much of Richard Carrier's work, I am looking forward to watching this debate on whether Jesus was the Son of God or a mere apocalyptic prophet.


 
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The Fine-Tuning Argument

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Saturday, February 25, 2012, In : Religion 
Here are some notes I made some time ago on the Fine-Tuning argument. From memory, some of the ideas came from Richard Carrier in Sense and Goodness Without God. The argument looks like this (wiki):

The fine-tuned Universe is the proposition that the conditions that allow life in the Universe can only occur when certain universal fundamental physical constants lie within a very narrow range, so that if any of several fundamental constants were only slightly different, the Universe would be unl...
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Quotations to keep you company #4

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Saturday, February 18, 2012, In : Religion 

The existence of a world without God seems to me less absurd than the presence of a God, existing in all his perfection, creating an imperfect man in order to make him run the risk of Hell - Armand Salacrou.

 

I recall the story of the philosopher and the theologian. The two were engaged in disputation and the theologian used the old quip about a philosopher resembling a blind man, in a dark room, looking for a black cat -- which wasn't there. "That may be," said the philosopher: "but a the...


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Is William Lane Craig Dishonest?

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Saturday, February 11, 2012, In : Religion 
Here is a post aimed at getting some answers out of William Lane Craig about his inner witness of the Holy Spirit. John Loftus at DC would like him to answer dome pertinent questions, as you can see:



Is William Lane Craig Dishonest With the Facts? I've Drawn a Line in the Sand.

Most people know that I defend William Lane Craig against the charge that he is dishonest as an apologist. Among skeptics I am his biggest defender, perhaps the only one. But I have just ask...

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Laurence Krauss on religion and science (from the Guardian)

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Tuesday, February 7, 2012, In : Religion 

The faithful must learn to respect those who question their beliefs

Tensions between religion and science will persist unless believers recognise that skepticism is a hallmark of science

 

 

Issues of personal faith can be a source of respectful debate and discussion. Since faith is often not based on evidence, however, it is hard to imagine how various deep philosophical or religious disagreements can be objectively laid to rest. As a result, skeptics like myself struggle to understand or an...


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Why Christianity is not 'responsible for science' (Part 2)

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Sunday, January 29, 2012, In : Religion 

Epistemologically speaking, truth was often seen as being the product of revelation, whether from God or the Pope. Therefore, empiricism was frowned upon as a method to arrive at truth and certainly could not trump revelation.

 

What was also frowned upon was scientific progress. This value was seen as poor in comparison to the value of the Gospels and spreading the good word, and the resulting relationship with God. These value positions were not antithetical to God, but they likewise did ...


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Why Christianity is not 'responsible for science'. (part 1)

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Saturday, January 28, 2012, In : Religion 

I have recently been involved in an argument online which is a very common argument and one which annoys me just a little. It is also an argument which I have had many times before with Christians. The claim goes something like this:

 

“Christianity is responsible for the development of science.”

 

The word science can be swopped with hospital, charity, education and so on. In the case in hand, there were statements such as:

 

“the essential neccesity of Christianity to the origin...


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Quotes to keep you company #3

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Tuesday, January 3, 2012, In : Religion 

Faith: Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel

 

Pray, v.: To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled on behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy

 

 

If I were personally to define religion, I would say that it is a bandage that man has invented to protect a soul made bloody by circumstances.  -Theodore Dreiser, 1941.

 

I cannot persuade myself that a beneficient and omnipotent God would have designedly cre...


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My Top 5 Atheist / Agnostic songs

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Sunday, January 1, 2012, In : Religion 

I have decided to compile a list of my favourite atheistic / agnostic / philosophical songs. There are many on other lists which I do not know and feel I would like to, but here is my definitive list. I have made a comment with each and maybe copied the odd lyric to explain why it is in the list. I will also try to list any YouTube links to the songs.

 

Please add your own selections in the comments below and if I don’t know them, I am sure to want to check them out.

 

1)      Ring the ...


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More on Craig's position

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Thursday, December 22, 2011, In : Religion 



 

Craig, in the video above, cements the sort of views which I posted in the previous blog entry. Thanks to GearHead Ed who linked this video in the last blog post. Watch this video, and read the last blog post, and you shall see that one can conclude the following about Craig’s views:


1)      The Witness of the Holy Spirit / subjective experience of God trumps every other type of evidence / proof.

2)      As such, there is no contrary evidence whatsoever that would invalidate a bel...


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Gadzooks, Craig, what are you thinking?

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Monday, December 19, 2011, In : Religion 
Craig has recently posted a Q&A that beggars belief. I'm not sure I need to explain it - I'll let the man talk for himself:

" This is because the resurrection of Jesus is essential to the truth of Christianity. So if Jesus did not rise from the dead, Christianity would be false. So if the bones of Jesus were discovered, that would entail that he did not rise from the dead and so Christianity would be falsified. ... 

" So, yes, if the bones of Jesus were to be found, then he did not rise and Chr...
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Natural abortions: a miscarriage of divine justice?

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Sunday, December 11, 2011, In : Religion 

The statistics for miscarriages are notoriously difficult to assess completely accurately. This is partly due to the fact that many miscarriages go unreported (those after 6 weeks of gestation, which are known as spontaneous clinical abortions). However, the greater reason is that early pregnancy losses – those that happen during the first 6 weeks of pregnancy, generally tend too happen without the mother even knowing.

 

So why am I writing about this? Well, because statistically, it mean...


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Cognitive Dissonance bunny-style

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Friday, December 9, 2011, In : Religion 
Courtesy Unreasonable Faith



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Bible - metaphor or real?

Posted by Cobourg Atheist on Friday, December 2, 2011, In : Religion 

Posted by Cobourg Atheist. 



Most Christians accept that a large part of the bible is a metaphor, analogy or parable; whatever you call it, a lot is not meant to be taken literally.  In some parts of the gospels, Jesus spells out that he's telling a parable - e.g.  the prodigal son, good Samaritan etc. but in others we have to hear the priest or minister explain that the story should be interpreted as a story that teaches us something.  One major example is the story of creation which is only a...


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Made me think

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Sunday, November 27, 2011, In : Religion 


This one made me think!

I don’t know, I think this works.

Let’s take Craig:

Smart, religious. Dishonest.

Most religious people are honest and religious, but evidently not very smart.

Most secularists are clearly smart and honest, obviously!





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Yey to women! Boo to Bible...

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Sunday, November 27, 2011, In : Religion 
Cheers Unreasonable Faith



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Mormonism - nice reasoning

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Thursday, November 24, 2011, In : Religion 
Courtesy Unreasonable Faith. Cheers.




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Still the best video on religion. Fact.

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Wednesday, November 23, 2011, In : Religion 
Enjoy.
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Quotes to keep you company #2

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Tuesday, November 22, 2011, In : Religion 
 Perhaps our role on this planet is not to worship God - but to create Him. - Arthur C Clarke

 

I have too much respect for the idea of God to hold Him responsible for such an absurd world - Georges Duhamel.

 

IMPIETY, n. Your irreverence toward my deity.

 

INFIDEL, n. In New York, one who does not believe in the Christian religion.  In Constantinople, one who does.

 

Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of ...


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Quotes to keep you company #1

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Sunday, November 20, 2011, In : Religion 
Some nice quotes from history to keep you company:


Blind faith is an ironic gift to return to the Creator of human intelligence - anon

The church says the earth is flat, but I know that it is round, for I have seen the shadow on the moon, and I have more faith in a shadow than in the church - Ferdinand Magellan

Every step which the intelligence of Europe has taken has been in spite of the clerical party - Victor Hugo

All great truths begin as blasphemies - George Bernard Shaw
 
Religion is wha...


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Luke's use of mimesis

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Saturday, November 19, 2011, In : Religion 

In “Does the New Testament Imitate Homer?”, Dennis MacDonald seeks to show how Luke / Acts imitates Homer. Luke, he claims very convincingly, uses mimesis –the copying  / imitating previous works for a variety of reasons – by imitating the works of Homer. This then calls into question the factual historicity of the events accounted.

 

MacDonald show in the introduction how Luke quite obviously uses mimesis with regards to the Old Testament. Over to the author:

 

 

“To illustra...


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Why Samson is clearly a solar myth

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Tuesday, November 15, 2011, In : Religion 
Here are some notes I made from Tim Callahan's "The Secret origin of the Bible" a few years back. Excuse the note form and any spelling / syntax errors. It's still interesting reading and shows how clearly the account is mythological. Samson makes no sense as a stand alone tale, and has no allegorical or symbolic meaning at all, begging the question as to why it's in the bible at all, if not a story lifted from a nearby culture and adopted to Yahweh.



Why is Samson myth?

 

Samson is clearly m...


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Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Friday, November 11, 2011, In : Religion 
Over on the Secular Outpost blog http://secularoutpost.infidels.org/2011/11/christian-nt-scholar-and-apologist.html there is some debate over the resignation of Mike Licona over his interpretation of Matthew 27. 

"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 h...
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The differences in the Passion accounts - harmonisable?

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Wednesday, November 9, 2011, In : Religion 

Some apologists explain the separate and different details of the passion narratives by claiming that all the accounts of the passion, particularly the empty tomb sequences, are harmonisable – ie that all the witnesses were at the empty tomb, that all the discrepancies of the gospels were actual individual events, not versions of the same event?  Reading around this, this is a classic situation of conservative vs liberal.  Liberals are not bound to interpret the evidence charitably, and can...


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Bicycle pumps and why prayer seems to work... sometimes...

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Sunday, November 6, 2011, In : Religion 

I have an analogy which I hope will illustrate why at least a lot of examples of alleged successful prayer or interventions of God take place.

 

Yesterday I was pumping up the tyres to my twins’ buggy. I have an old bicycle pump which I bought probably seven years ago. I bought it for £3 – peanuts. This pump has been very hard working – two bicycles and a buggy at regular intervals (the buggy particularly often needing pumping up). The pump has worked tirelessly (pun intended).

 

...
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Ray Bradley vs Craig on hell

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Friday, October 28, 2011, In : Religion 

I have just listened to Ray Bradley debate William Lane Craig. I heard this several years ago but didn't really pay it close attention. This time round I was quite shocked at how many points Craig evaded, or logical demands from Bradley that he met with the terms "God may" and so on.

 

Craig squirmed big time when Bradley pressed him on subsets of compossibles. This is a REALLY important point. I will try to set it out here:

 

Imagine a set of people, call that set A. These are all the people in ...


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A great article on the circularity of God = Good moral argument

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Monday, October 24, 2011, In : Religion 


Does Morality Depend on God? - P. Wesley Edwards
(updated 20-Aug-2004)

Introduction

I have rarely engaged in a debate with a theist where the issue of morality justification has not come up.  The theist’s complaint typically takes the following form.

If there is no God, then why is it wrong to murder and  steal? Even if you don't want to murder and steal, on what grounds can you criticize someone who does, since morals must be completely relative and arbitrary to an atheist?  Without God there ...


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Question

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Monday, October 24, 2011, In : Religion 
What would it take for Christians / The World to stop believing in God?


What is the threshold? What is the evidence needed etc?

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Stephen Law vs William Lane Craig Debate Review, Part 3

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Thursday, October 20, 2011, In : Religion 

So, on to the rebuttals. Craig pointed out in several of his rebuttals that Law has not, and did not seem to want to, critique the cosmological argument. Craig does have some beef here as Law seemed to want to debate Craig’s version of God rather than the more fundamental argument over A God’s existence. Thus in true debate point-scoring, Law would take a hit here. However, as Law plainly stated, and I think this was a wise move, this would have broadened the scope too far and wasn’t im...


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Debate Review: Stephen Law vs William Lane Craig Part 2

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Wednesday, October 19, 2011, In : Religion 

So, on to Law’s opening statements. It’s probably better to get this from the horse’s mouth - http://stephenlaw.blogspot.com/2011/10/opening-speech-craig-debate.html. However, I will duly sum up. Law, much to his credit, claimed he was only interested in defending his position using only one argument, based on the Evidential Problem of Evil. That being, if God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent, then he is able, knows how and is loving enough to want to do something about all ...


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Debate Review: Stephen Law vs William Lane Craig Part 1

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Tuesday, October 18, 2011, In : Religion 

Last night, two friends and I went to the Stephen Law vs William Lane Craig debate at Westminster where the two philosophers were debating ‘Does God Exist?’ Craig’s Reasonable Faith tour has been hotly anticipated by Christians and non-Christians alike, and with the relative unknown of Stephen Law (in debating terms), there was a feeling of unpredictability thrown in to the usual wager that Craig would win.

 

The debate was good, though not necessarily for the straightforward reason o...


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William Lane Craig vs Stephen Law debate review

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Tuesday, October 18, 2011, In : Religion 
I was lucky enough to be in Westminster at the Law vs Craig debate on Craig's Reasonable Faith tour. It was a cracking night. I do not have time to review it yet. Suffice to say that it was probably a draw. The format was good and the contributions good. I thought it was well-narrowed down, and Craig did not produce a scatter-gun approach.

A much larger review to follow.

Also, I got to meet both of them, gave Law my book, and asked Craig a question to which he couldn't answer. Great. 

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Going to see Craig debate tomorrow. My questions for him.

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Sunday, October 16, 2011, In : Religion 
I am going to see William Lane Craig debate Stephen Law tomorrow in Westminster. I am pretty excited, even though the best one can hope for is some kind of philosophical impasse. Anyway, I have penned a couple of questions which I would love the opportunity to ask. I will try and get my tuppence worth in the Q & A:

 

Given that God is perfect, this must either be the perfect creation, or the most perfect created parameters that could achieve the best possible outcome. Since plate tectonic which...


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How useful is claiming God grounds morality?

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Thursday, October 13, 2011, In : Religion 
This comes courtesy of Theoretical Bullshit. It is a precis of the end of his excellent video found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWNW-NXEudk

 

Let’s imagine a thought experiment:

 

God comes to you and tells you there are transcendent, unconditional moral oughts. Just imagine that in this world all the things you ‘ought’ to do, from a moral point of view (a moral ought), happen to cause unfathomable pain, suffering and injustice and will land you up in hell where you will experi...


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Ray Bradley vs William Lane Craig

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Sunday, October 9, 2011, In : Religion 
I have just listened to Ray Bradley debate William Lane Craig. I heard this several years ago but didn't really pay it close attention. This time round I was quite shocked at how many points Craig evaded, or logical demands from Bradley that he met with the terms "God may" and so on. 

Craig squirmed big time when Bradley pressed him on subsets of compossibles. This is a REALLY important point. I will try to set it out here:

Imagine a set of people, call that set A. These are all the people in t...

Continue reading ...
 

William Lane Craig is disturbed.

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Wednesday, October 5, 2011, In : Religion 
William Lane Craig, debater and apologist extraordinaire, really said this. No, really, he did.
(http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5767)

"So whom does God wrong in commanding the destruction of the Canaanites? Not the Canaanite adults, for they were corrupt and deserving of judgement. Not the children, for they inherit eternal life. So who is wronged? Ironically, I think the most difficult part of this whole debate is the apparent wrong done to the Israeli soldiers t...
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Loftus posts my piece on DC

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Monday, October 3, 2011, In : Religion 
John Loftus, blogger at Debunking Christianity, has posted this piece on his blog, kindly (http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2011/10/is-this-best-possible-world-and-does.html#disqus_thread):


Is this the Best Possible World and does God have Free Will?

Let us assume the triple properties of the classical approach to God: that he is omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent. In terms of the classic Problem of Evil argument, if there is too much evil in the world, ...


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The BBC and BC/AD to be replaced by BCE/CE

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Sunday, September 25, 2011, In : Religion 

I was walking past the newspaper stand in the newsagents and I saw the headline to the Daily Mail. Now, the Daily Mail is a hate-filled diatribe of poor and polemical journalism. Its online message boards more so, with posters who are so right wing, they would be more at home in the Tea Party.

 

Anyhow, what was the headline? Well:

 

BBC turns its back on year of Our Lord: 2,000 years of Christianity jettisoned for politically correct 'Common Era'

This was the headline to an article full...


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Yom Kippur and Pontius Pilate

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Thursday, September 1, 2011, In : Religion 
I think this was originally Carrier:


When Mark says the Roman governor Pontius Pilate had a custom of releasing a prisoner on the annual holiday and the Jews cried for Barabbas, and to crucify Jesus in his place (Mark 15:6-15), what we have is surely a myth and not fact.  No Roman magistrate (least of all the infamously ruthless Pilate), would let a murderous rebel go free, and no such Roman ceremony is attested as ever having existed.  But the ceremony so obviously emulates the Jewish ritual ...


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Nice post by lockley at DC

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Tuesday, August 16, 2011, In : Religion 
Here is Lockley's post:

 

Religions tell you that you must have faith because there is no other reason for believing! One does not need faith where enough evidence exists. I don’t need faith that gravity will suddenly give way because according to all my perceived observations and experiences- gravity has never failed me or anyone else before!

 

Listen believers.....If there really is a god, and there really is some ultimate truth that we humans must know for the sake of our eternal souls, ...


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Gilgamesh flood myth vs Biblical account.

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Monday, August 15, 2011, In : Religion 

I have always maintained that the Flood myth in the bible is dependent upon the earlier Mesopotamian Gilgamesh as a source. Tablet XI (http://www.ancienttexts.org/library/mesopotamian/gilgamesh/tab11.htm) shows clearly that the two stories are so similar as to be beyond chance. This explicitly illustrates how the biblical narrative cannot, in any realistic sense, be anything like the truth. This quote from Cyrus Gordon sums it up (Cyrus H. Gordon and Gary A. Rendsburg, The Bible and the Ancie...


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Christian existence as linear and having problems

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Saturday, August 6, 2011, In : Religion 

I have been wondering recently, ever since writing an essay on the meaning of life, how eternity fits in with happiness and the meaning of life. This is because death is often seen by philosophers as necessary to make sense of life, to give purpose to life since we have only finite time to exist. As such, we are forced to make the most of life and are unable to suffer the lethality of eternal boredom. Eternity promotes boredom, and as philosophers such as Schopenhauer declare, boredom is leth...


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One god amongst many

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Sunday, July 31, 2011, In : Religion 

The Jews definitely thought Yahweh was one god amongst many, and an inferior one at that. I~ have already touched on this in the forum, but it has now been lost.

 

In Deut 32:7-9 we have evidence that Yahweh was one of many gods.

 

"Remember the days of old,
         Consider the years of all generations.
         (O)Ask your father, and he will inform you,
         Your elders, and they will tell you. 
    8"(P)When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance,
         When He separ...


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Great post from Loftus: What must be the case if Christianity is true

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Sunday, July 24, 2011, In : Religion 

Reality Check: What Must Be the Case if Christianity is True?

Below I've put together all thirty theses (so far) that most Christians agree on and why they are all improbable:

1) There must be a God who is a simple being yet made up of three inexplicable persons existing forever outside of time without a beginning, who therefore never learned anything new, never took a risk, never made a decision, never disagreed within the Godhead, and never had a prior moment to ...

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Tickled me a little

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Sunday, July 17, 2011, In : Religion 

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God is a consequentialist

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Friday, July 8, 2011, In : Religion 

When debating morality and ethics with Christian theists, scorn is often poured on secular ethicists who adhere to moral disciplines that are not grounded in God. Usually, these moral approaches are consequentialist in nature. In other words, moral actions are defined by the consequences they deliver as opposed to the intrinsic morality of the action itself. The ends justify the means. As an example, such an approach might well be utilitarianism. Though this appears in many guises (for exampl...


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God cannot be contrary to his own predictions

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Sunday, June 19, 2011, In : Religion 

Here is a criticism about God’s omniscience and omnipotence based upon a point made by John D. barrow in Impossibility, drawing on the work of cognitive scientists Donald Mackay. To put it into simple terms, it might be easier to state it as follows:

 

It has long been understood that with God’s omniscience, he cannot be contrary to his own predictions. For example, if you were claimed as being omniscient and omnipotent and you predicted beforehand that you would make yourself spaghetti...


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God cannot know he is omniscient

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Monday, June 13, 2011, In : Religion 
Theists, the world over, claim that God is omniscient. However, this is not an easy claim to make for a whole host of reasons, one of which is worth looking into here. I want to look at the idea that in many instances, you cannot know that you don’t know something. If there is a situation where you cannot know something, then if it is claimed that you are omniscient, this would invalidate that claim.

For example, there could conceivably be something that God does not know. Conceivably, p...

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Religion is...

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Saturday, June 4, 2011, In : Religion 
In the same discussion as the previous post was involved in, this comment by papalinton deserves a mention. It is a great summation of religion:

brdeadite99,
You say, "... Atheism is not a belief system."

It is just as you say; with atheism there is no doctrine, no 'good' book, no dogma, no catechism, no organised tradition, no institutional body or theological administrative organisation underpinning the ritual and  ceremony; there is no  procedural observance; no service, no sacrament, no litu...

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Atheism is a belief...

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Saturday, June 4, 2011, In : Religion 
In response to a discussion on Debunking Christianity, I posted this response:

I would concur that atheism is not a belief system - I think we have fairly well evinced that notion. However, is atheism not a faith statement? It would seem to me that atheism is as much of a faith statement as theism.

This is why I, although I act and intuitively see myself as an atheist, am logically an agnostic. To move from agnosticism to atheist takes faith. Faith that there is no God. Personally, the belief t...

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Argument From Format

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Tuesday, May 3, 2011, In : Religion 

I have been ruminating on what, as far as I know, might be a new theory (which I have named the Argument from Format) showing that either God is not omnipotent or does not exist. Bear with me, as it might need refining, might be easily debunkable, or need changing in some radical way. It has developed out of my section on souls in the book that I am just getting published called Free Will? An investigation into whether we have free will or whether I was always going to write this book. In thi...


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God has no free will. The universe is immutably set in stone.

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Saturday, April 16, 2011, In : Religion 

I was wondering recently about the issue of God’s foreknowledge. It has long been understood that with God’s omniscience, he could not be contrary to his own predictions. This means that if God predicted beforehand that he would make himself a spaghetti bolognaise for supper on Friday, then when it came to making Friday’s supper, he would have no choice but to make the spaghetti bolognaise. This is because if he decided to be contrary to his own prediction and cook, say, pizza, then his...


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William Lane Craig vs Laurence Krauss. Grrr.

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Monday, April 4, 2011, In : Religion 
What annoys me is the fact that by now people should know how to debate Craig. Price and Ahmed pretty much tried the right tack with some success. It sounds close to ad hom, but you need to set your stall out by attacking Craig's methodology. I lie in bed at night sometimes dreaming of how I would debate Craig. This is the definition of sad, I know. He puts himself in an unassailable position in debate terms because he

1) uses a scatter-gun approach that means that you have to answer about 100...
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Systematic theology?

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Thursday, March 31, 2011, In : Religion 
I think one of the many problems that Christianity faces is the lack of a systematic theology. There is no coherence across the religion and across the bible. The responsibility of this lies on the lap of an all powerful and system designing god. And this itself is incoherent with such a god as defined by Christians.

What I mean by this is a religion that has 32,000 denominations that argue to toss over different aspects of theology, different core beliefs and so on is, to me at least, an obvi...

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God as an explanation

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Friday, March 25, 2011, In : Religion 

There are some very powerful and simple arguments to indicate that this universe is far more likely NOT to be the result of [the Christian] God.


This should be done in terms of explanatory scope: the hypothesis explains many facts, not just one or two, and why this universe exists and not some other, why these properties and not others. 


And explanatory power: the hypothesis explains the facts with high probability. Ie, given that explanation as a fact we would very likely, or even expect...


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