Saturday, January 31, 2015

Lennox's 10, Part I

Written by reporter Heather Tomlinson, an article published a few months ago in Christian Today features Christian apologist John Lennox offering curt rejoinders to a series of statements that are critical of religion in general and Christianity in particular.

John Lennox is a professor of mathematics at the University of Oxford, he is active in Christian ministry, and he has put in number of appearances in high-profile debates with critics of religion, including Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Michael Shermer. The article, titled Ten quick responses to atheist claims, appears to mingle Tomlinson’s own replies to the prompts sprinkled with little snippets by Lennox.

The article explains:
You don't have to read hundreds of books before you can discuss your faith with an atheist. Sometimes claims and questions that are just short soundbites can be answered just as quickly. At the London Evangelists' Conference yesterday, Professor John Lennox offered some quick responses to some common claims from atheists.
So “soundbites” are the offerings that Christian Today is happy to pass on from the professorial Christian apologist. (It’s an attention span thing.) As one might predict, the prompts to which Prof. Lennox responds are total soft balls. While many have been repeated in passing by atheists over the years, they don’t get to the heart of the conflict, which is faith’s opposition to reason. But an examination of the replies offered to the prompts may be instructive for those who might miss the deeper issues that are systematically washed over when apologetics takes the form of “soundbites.”

In this series, beginning with the present post, I will take a look at the prompts and the reactions which Christian Today has published. I will cover two items in each post, with a total of five entries in this series.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Petersen vs. the Universe

Jason Petersen has posted a reaction to my several posts refuting his faltering attempts to criticize Leonard Peikoff’s assessments of god-belief. Petersen’s article can be found here: A Response to Dawson Bethrick: Leonard Peikoff’s Objections to God’s Exitence. Apparently Petersen believes that by responding to my blog entries, he’s somehow doing his position a service. He does not realize that he is simply giving his critics more ammunition. When religious believers attempt to erect defenses for their worldviews, they very often fail to see the inconsistencies they wander into and end up affirming. I’m glad this isn’t my problem!

Curiously, in examining Petersen’s lengthy diatribe (I don’t find David Smart or Sye Ten Bruggencate – both of whom have complained about the lengthiness of some of my blog entries – whining that Petersen’s article is “longwinded”), I nowhere found any active hyperlinks to my series of blog entries interacting with Petersen's objections to Leonard Peikoff, of which there are five! Petersen does give a few URLs to my blog entries, but in case anyone has missed them, I’m happy to post links to them here:
Now, don’t get me wrong. I admit that I really do like seeing Christians attempting to interact with my writings, if for nothing else the entertainment value that can come of such endeavors. But articles like Petersen’s also help get the word out for me, and given the wide array of issues covered in them, they also provide ample opportunity for more cutting-edge atheology! In fact, a number of my readers have informed me that they had discovered my blog through Christian sources and that they were glad to find my writings. So while Jason Petersen may think he’s out slaying dragons for Jesus, he is in fact helping in his own way to promote my ideas. So for this alone, I want to extend my gratitude to him. May Jason Petersen continue to be the gift that keeps on giving!

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Fringe Outliers or Pioneering Trailblazers?

In an article titled It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas ... Mythicism's in the Air published by on 24 Dec. 2014, Australian author and lecturer John Dickson takes a former student of his to the woodshed for not towing the standard Christian party line about the alleged historicity of the Jesus of the gospel narratives. Who is John Dickson? According to Wikipedia page about him, Dickson is:
an Australian writer, historian, minister and Honorary Fellow in the Department of Ancient History at Macquarie University. He is co-founder and director of the Centre for Public Christianity, a media company which seeks to "promote the public understanding of the Christian faith".
Also, in addition to his lecturing at Macquarie University, Dickson finds time to serve as the senior minister of an Anglican church in Roseville, Australia. Dickson has also published a number of books, with such titles as The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission: Promoting the Gospel with More Than Our Lips, Promoting the Gospel: the Whole of Life for the Cause of Christ and A Spectator's Guide to Jesus: An Introduction to the Man from Nazaret to name but a few.

It seems safe to say, then, that Dickson, as a committed Christian believer and minister, has a confessional investment to protect here. Now in pointing this out, I may be accused of poisoning the well. But in fact, I’m simply pointing out the facts here. And when citing facts is considered fallacious, this tells us something about those who raise objections to citing facts.