Sunday, March 10, 2019

The Speeches in Acts: History or Legend?

Apologists routinely point to the Book of Acts as reliable history. Well, they sort of have to, given their dogmatic determination to protect their confessional investment in Christian literalism. Though while the proclamation that Acts records accurate history seems redundant in the case of the choir, it is perhaps more than a stretch for those outside the holy tent.

Its formal title is The Acts of the Apostles, though curiously it focuses primarily on two apostles (Peter and Paul), makes some references to a third (Stephen) and says very little about any of the others (it gives their names, and that’s about it!). In fact, all apostles other than Peter and Paul are completely dropped midway through the book without explanation, and the New Testament gives no indication of their fate. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Steve Hays' Invisible Friend

Steve Hays of Triablogue is frustrated. He's upset because atheists liken Jesus or Yahweh to an invisible friend. In spite of his hurt feelings, his attempts to recover his worldview from this comparison are pretty flimsy. In fact, instead of serving to advance his position, Hays’ points only tend to backfire.

As is his customary procedure, Hays seeks to turn the tables on those dastardly atheists he has in mind by pointing to a series of would-be foils which, on a good day with ample hallucinogens, might suggest that the atheist’s “mocking” is out of line. On a more sober reading, however, Hays’ whole post comes across as a rather juvenile “I’ll show you!” outburst which quickly collapses under its own weight. It’s nothing epic, unless of course we consider the fail factor.

Before going any further (full disclosure alert), I’ll point out for readers that this is not the first time the notion of imaginary friends has come up on Incinerating Presuppositionalism. Back in the summer of 2006, I posted an entry titled Christianity: The Imaginary Friend’s Network, which readers are invited to read at their leisure. 

Saturday, January 05, 2019

The Metaphysics of Wishing

If religious apologists deny that their worldview finds its basis in the metaphysics of wishing makes it so, it is incumbent upon them to articulate what a worldview that is based on the metaphysics of wishing would look like and how their religious beliefs can be reliably differentiated from such a worldview.

This would be particularly difficult (I would say impossible) for those who believe that a supernatural consciousness created the universe by an act of consciousness –  an entity available to us only by means of imagination which essentially wished the universe into being. 

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Are the Gospel Crucifixion Scenes Eyewitness Accounts?

Everyone agrees that Jesus was crucified and died on the cross, right? Maybe. But even if that’s true, widespread agreement on a claim does not make it true. Human beings are neither infallible nor omniscient, and all too often people accept what they’ve been told uncritically and believe what they’ve been told is true without actually looking into the relevant facts. After all, that’s more and more what public schooling seems designed to do. Some things never do change.

But the inclination to exploit this gaping human defect is not reserved to the public sector. It’s been going on for millennia and can be seen in action today in Sunday schools across the world as well. The belief that Jesus was crucified outside Jerusalem under Pilate and at the instigation of chief priests, comes to us pre-packaged in a set of narratives whose authors are nowhere around to answer questions. So to examine the stories we have at our disposal, we’re left to our own devices. Thus it’s instructive to compare what those narratives say against each other and explore the context in which we find them, not least with regard to the writings that came before those narratives.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Faith and Imagining

One of the more prickly topics in debates between Christians and their critics, at least in my experience, is the issue of faith – what it means, how it works, what it does. Apologists will scold non-believers for misunderstanding the meaning and nature of faith, presumably contorting it intentionally to malign it. Then again, biblical and apologetic sources are not only unhelpful, but in fact contribute to the fog which perpetually shrouds the topic of faith in obscurity and haziness. It’s no wonder that apologists typically don’t raise the issue of faith in their dialogues with non-Christians. 

Monday, October 29, 2018

Is human life really “futile” without a god?

I’ve often heard claims to the effect that “life would be futile without God.” It’s not always clear what specifically this statement is intended to mean, and it should not surprise us to find that those who sympathize with the statement on its face value mean different things by it. Are they saying that life would be futile if their god did not exist? If so, that raises questions regarding the nature of the premises upon which they base this assessment. Are they saying that life would be futile if one does not believe in their god? If so, that would seem to boil down to a set of beliefs that have been accepted as fundamental drivers of their view of life overall. And those beliefs themselves would need to be examined for what they entail and for whether or not they are rationally defensible.

Perhaps the statement “life would be futile without God” is intended to suggest that those who do not believe in a god are leading futile lives. According to whom? And wouldn’t such a view invite further assessments of the value – or nonvalue – of the lives of those who don’t believe in whichever god is supposed to provide “meaning” to people’s lives? How many stages is the concept “dispensable” in the mind of the believer removed from the concept “futile,” if he buys into the view that “life would be futile without God”? Is the believer who believes that life is futile without his god inclined to suppose that eliminating people who do not believe in his god is just and fair? Could the “life would be futile without God” premise be used to dehumanize people whose beliefs are different from one’s own?

These considerations of course in turn point to the fact that the claim that “life would be futile without God” is certainly not self-evidently true, so consequently it must be argued for in order for those not already accepting it to give it any credence.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Parsing the Haysian Square-Circle

Here I will post some thoughts and counterpoints to a post Steve Hays published on Triablogue at the end of July this year called Square one.

Hays begins by linking to an entry he posted in February (here) stating “an atheist attempted to refute my post.” In that February post, Hays writes:
To take a comparison, consider a typical debate with a village atheist. They lead with a particular reason for rejecting Christianity. If you shoot down their stated reason, it doesn't faze them at all. They just reach into the bag for another reason. You can go down the list, and it makes no difference.
I did not see the comment of the challenger on that blog entry, so either it was sent to Hays apart from the comments of that blog entry, or if it were originally posted as a reply to that entry, it appears to have been deleted.