NO PROOF of a SOUL – Sam Harris & Matt Dillahunty This is an interesting brief new talk on how abnormal psychology gives evidence that there is no soul. ... Read Article
Pat Robertson Has Died
Probably the leading face of the religious right and televangelism in America for decades, Pat Robertson has died. For details of his life from CBN ministry, see here ... Read Article
NEW: Richard Dawkins’ Ex-Right-Hand Man Comes to Christ … Again This is interesting and new. Josh Timonen was one of Richard Dawkins’ closest companions from 2006-2010. He was even working for Richard Dawkins when Dawkins was publicly shaming Ray Comfort for videos that appeared as if Ray was saying that bananas prove the existence of God—which eventually culminated in Ray being known as The Banana Man. Over a decade later, Josh ended up coming back to Christianity and publically doing so through Ray Comfort's apologetic organization. The video details this. ... Read Article
(2/2) The Starry Heavens Above Me And The Moral Law Within Me: Immanuel Kant (April 22, 1724 – February 12, 1804)
(above) Kant with the ouroboros snake encircling him, the classical symbol for the mind turning back on itself. LAST TIME: The Starry Heavens Above Me And The Moral Law Within Me: Immanuel Kant (April 22, 1724 – February 12, 1804) NOW, THE CONCLUSION I think it's sometimes overlooked how much Kant's Christianity figures into his philosophy.  Let’s consider his ethics. Kant says there are three a priori conditions for ethical systems: (1) God (2) Immortality (3) Freedom: Let's consider these: (1) GOD A large part of Kant's argument is redefining us in terms of our hardwiring and so with Kant man as the rational animal becomes man as the imperative/rule following moral agent.  Kant fits in precisely with the apostle Paul when Paul attributes ethical behavior to the way God created us: 14 When gentiles, who do not possess the law, by nature do what the law requires, these, though not having the law, are a law to themselves, They show that what the law requires ... Read Article
The Starry Heavens Above Me And The Moral Law Within Me: Immanuel Kant (April 22, 1724 – February 12, 1804)
As you may know, I do Philosophy for Kids over at the Secular Web Kids website, so I thought I'd do a little philosophy here that is a bit more compact and clear than what you might see on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy site . Ideal for the Intellectually Impatient, lol! Immanuel Kant above was a German philosopher and one of the central Enlightenment thinkers. Born in Königsberg, Kant's comprehensive and systematic works in epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, and aesthetics have made him one of the most influential figures in modern Western philosophy. Kant is one of my favorite philosophers to study.  He is challenging to read, but after 2 undergraduate courses, 1 graduate course, and having researched him off an on for 25 years I think I have a pretty good sense of what he’s doing in that I can communicate his message in an accessible way. A good place to start is Kant’s distinction between appearance and thing-in-itself, in that we only know reality as it appears to ... Read Article
(2) LOVE: Jesus the Beloved (Agapetos) and Secular Theology
Last time: LOVE: One of the “True” Human Prejudices Now, the Conclusion What I try to do is take content rich theological ideas and reimagine them in a secular context without the superstition. One concept is that Jesus is the incarnation. Let's think about that in the context of the Greek notion of "theos" or God (like the word theological), and see if we can find any secular meat left on these ancient religious bones. Jesus is the agapetos, the love of God incarnate, and the gospel is this allegory of self-sacrificial love, like Plato’s allegory of the cave is a story of knowledge.  But what is “incarnate” and “theology.”  What is a “God” or “Theos?”  We read from Robert Calasso: Yet there was a time when the gods were not just a literary clich?, but an event, a sudden apparition, an encounter with bandits perhaps, or the sighting of a ship. And it didn't even have to be a vision of the whole. Ajax Oileus recognized Poseidon disguised as Calchas from his gait. He ... Read Article
LOVE: One of the “True” Human Prejudices “I don’t want clever conversation.  I never want to work that hard.  I just want someone I can talk to.  I want you just the way you are." (Billy Joel, “Just The Way You Are”) Kevin Iannucci shown above. The actor has starred in a number of films and TV shows. The title of this post is odd.  Perhaps it isn’t true, then, since truths should be observable and testable by anyone?  Certainly there are many human prejudices, so there is no big deal in singling out one.  But then, “TRUTH” is said in many ways.  There are "true" friends, "true" here meaning "genuine" or "exemplary." Conversely, I could say “1 + 1 = 2” or “The bed I’m writing this on is soft,” and those would be “true” in the sense of “correct,” though by moving to the chair in the other room my sentence about my bed is no longer true since it declares a state of affairs that is incorrect (I’m no longer sitting on the ... Read Article
Dr. Richard Swinburne sneaking in God with the popular Argument From Beauty, and my Poop Defense
I'd like to do a second post today to address something Republican Presidential Candidate Ron DeSantis said on Fox News the other day. Let's argue this way: "God has reason, apparently overriding reason, for making, not merely any orderly world (which we have been considering so far) but a beautiful world—at any rate to the extent to which it lies outside the control of creatures. (And he has reason too, I would suggest, even in whatever respects the world does lie within the control of creatures, to give them experience of beauty to develop, and perhaps also some ugliness to annihilate.) So God has reason to make a basically beautiful world, although also reason to leave some of the beauty or ugliness of the world within the power of creatures to determine; but he would seem to have overriding reason not to make a basically ugly world beyond the powers of creatures to improve. Hence, if there is a God there is more reason to expect a basically beautiful world than a basically ugly one. ... Read Article
(2/2)The Evangelical Christian Right: Solitude and Solitary / Atheism And The Poematic
Last Time: The Evangelical Christian Right: The Rise Of Prosperity Theology In America. Now, the conclusion: How is atheism poetical?  Since the beginning of the West we have known the thinker is not “close to life,” the prime example being Thales walking along in contemplation and falling into a ditch.  If you are lost in thought, you’re no longer there (Nicht-Da-Sein in German, a particularly poematic language). It is a thing of solitude. Original thinking is passive/receptive, as anyone knows who has struggled/searched for weeks in vain for an answer when suddenly ”it comes to you (Es Gibt in German).” Memory is the mother of the muses for the Greeks, and so the poet gets that initial flash of insight, and writes trying to recollect all that was contained in that initial flash Below, 2 minutes of Conservative Evangelical Mega Pastor Rod Parsley on people sowing a financial seed into his ministry to reap a blessing.  For the religious thinker, perhaps this is an ... Read Article
The Evangelical Christian Right: The Rise Of Prosperity Theology In America.
10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and thus put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts; see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing. (Malachi 3:10) Malachi 3:10 above is the one place in the bible where God says to test him to see if he will reward you. This lies at the heart of American Evangelical Prosperity theology. The Prosperity gospel is basically the idea that we should test God with our tithes and offerings to see him bless us abundantly in return in terms of health, finances, etc. Megachurch pastors like Kenneth Copeland and Creflo Dollar have gotten very wealthy selling this "sowing a financial seed" interpretation of Jesus’ message, but is it biblical? Matthew says the message is actually about thinking of others as more important than ourselves, not increasing our bank account: 38 “You have heard that it ... Read Article
Bart Ehrman Podcast Yesterday Interviewing Dr. Hugo Mendez
Bart Ehrman posted an interview with his colleague Hugo Méndez at UNC Chapel Hill yesterday and it was really interesting: HERE. They discuss whether the Gospel of John is a forgery. The author of the Gospel of John is aware that he is presenting a Jesus who is not present in other gospels, so he makes up the idea that he is Jesus’ closest disciple which is how he knows these things – and that the author is aware these are things Jesus didn’t really teach. Rather, John is providing a lens through which the other gospels are to be read, and so even though Jesus is not God in Mark, if you read John first Mark can then be later understood in that way and through that Johannine lense. The author of John hence lied about his identity and the things Jesus taught. For my essay on the gospel of John which includes discussion of Dr. Méndez, see here. ... Read Article
Traditional Proofs For The Immortality Of The Soul: RECOLLECTION
"Let no one ignorant of geometry enter" (Plato) Plato doesn’t mean here that a prerequisite for learning philosophy is math, rather Mathema means what is eminently learnable, and so we speak of polymaths.  For, in order for me to encounter the triangle as the figure that it is, I must have the rule before my mind’s eye of an enclosed figure with three straight sides.  In order to encounter the triangle in its specificity, the mind must apply the rule of either equilateral, scalene, isosceles, or right triangle.  Plato says one of the ways of seeing the immortality of the soul is through recollection, that the mind knows some ideas prior to experience that makes experience possible, that would in later philosophy be called the a priori.  But what is recollection?  Last time I gave the example of Justice, in that when we learn about justice we do not invent the concept out of whole cloth, but rather when we hear LGBTQ+ rights cry out for the violence being done by the traditional def ... Read Article
Dr. Stephen Sullivan & Edouard Tahmizian | Interview on Divine Command Theory Our podcast guru Ed just did an interesting interview on the topic of morality and God. Check it out! Kant said the two things that stir us with wonder are the starry skies above and moral law within. If we look up at the stars, for instance, we don't see the randomness that is the really real, but rather the order of the constellations. Similarly, there is order with me and my actions, that my mind unconsciously legislates a rule that I accompany all of my actions morally, unlike hamsters or certain mentally challenged individuals who are not morally accountable in that way. But are morals objective even if God doesn't give his authoritative stamp of approval or rejection? In the bible it says Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good, and God separated the light from the darkness. This seems to suggest goodness is a perception God receives, not something God actually does. But what about m ... Read Article
But I Said I’m Sorry!
Many universalists argue that in Christianity everyone will be saved based on passages like Luke 3:6, "and all flesh shall see the salvation of God." A Catholic Universalist like Dr. David Goicoechea will argue that Hitler is in purgatory right now and we should pray for him. But, as the picture above illustrates, the idea of salvation by repentance and faith is an abominable doctrine if we really tease out the implications of it. ... Read Article
CURRENT EVENTS: Exciting Upcoming Paper On Q And John The Baptist
Generally, biblical scholars agree there was a lost document "Q" that we detect as the material common to Matthew and Luke that didn't come from Mark. One of the stars of this document was John the Baptist. I wanted to highlight this because previously on this blog I've critiqued the idea that Jesus knew John the Baptist, but for some reason I was thinking all the source information was coming from Mark and I forgot about Q. Here is a helpful outline from James Tabor. In November, James McGrath will be presenting on this topic at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature. Here is his abstract: John the Baptist and Narrative in Q as Clues about its Composition History John the Baptist is the, or at least a, major focus of the material in the first part of the Q source. This Baptist-focused content takes the form of narrative and dialogue rather than a collection of sayings of Jesus. Rather than representing awkward problems to explain away, this paper will treat these aspects of t ... Read Article
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