The Trilemma – Part 1: Origins of the Trilemma
The TRILEMMA (Lord, Liar, or Lunatic?) is an argument for the divinity of Jesus, and it has a very long history. The basic idea is that Jesus claimed to be God, so either he was telling the truth and is God (LORD), or he was NOT telling the truth, in which case he was either deceived (a LUNATIC) or a deceiver (a LIAR). It is then argued that Jesus was neither a lunatic nor a liar, so we are left with the only other alternative: Jesus was God. There are hints of the basic ideas and reasoning of the Trilemma in the New Testament. For example, Paul argues for the resurrection of Jesus on the grounds that Paul would be a liar if Jesus had not actually risen from the dead: 12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised, 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 W ... Read Article
Cases for God: A Short Bibliography
There are hundreds or thousands of books that discuss arguments for and/or against the existence of God. You will never be able to read them all! However, if you read a few books by Christian apologists who are philosophers, and who present a case for the existence of God (consisting of multiple arguments for God), then you will be in a good position to evaluate a number of important arguments for the existence of God. If none of these arguments is a good and strong argument, then you may reasonably conclude that it is unlikely that anyone has proven that God exists or made a strong case for the existence of God. Furthermore, once you have carefully examined a number of arguments for the existence of God, for example, the 20 arguments presented by Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli in their Handbook of Christian Apologetics, and determine that ALL of those arguments have serious flaws and errors, then it will become easier to detect similar flaws and errors in other arguments for God presented by othe ... Read Article
Three Key Christian Apologetics Arguments: A Basic Bibliography
There are three key Christian Apologetic arguments that I would like to carefully and critically evaluate: The Trilemma ("Lord, Liar, or Lunatic?") The Resurrection of Jesus (as evidence for Jesus being God or the Messiah) Fulfilled Messianic Prophecy (as evidence for Jesus being God or the Messiah) These are commonly used arguments so they are presented by many different Christian apologists. I prefer to stick to studying Christian apologists who are philosophers, especially philosophers who specialize in arguing in support of basic Christian beliefs. However, I do make an exception for Josh McDowell, because his writings are very popular and influential, especially concerning these three key arguments. In the case of the argument for "Fulfilled Messianic Prophecy," I have also made an exception for a couple of other authors because apologists who are philosophers tend not to use that argument, and because some non-philosophers have done a decent job of presenting that argument. THR ... Read Article
Thinking Critically about the Christian Worldview
Several years ago, I started making podcasts about the Christian Worldview in a series of podcasts called Thinking Critically About: Is Christianity True? I made six podcasts and then started working on other projects. So, this year I would like to get back on track and produce at least a few more podcasts, enough to finish what I started. This will also be another TOPIC that I can cover in blog posts here at The Secular Frontier. I can work out my ideas on this topic in blog posts here, and then use the ideas from my posts to create more episodes of the podcast. I won't review the content of all my previous podcasts here at The Secular Frontier, but I should at least lay out what I take to be the Christian Worldview, and the key issues that one needs to address in order to think critically about the question "Is Christianity true?" Here are four key slides on the Christian Worldview from a PowerPoint presentation for my podcast #6: ... Read Article
TOPICS for Future Posts
My favorite issues in the philosophy of religion are: Does God exist? Did God raise Jesus from the dead? Is Jesus God? Is the Bible inspired by God? Recently, I have been working on critical evaluations of arguments by Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli in their Handbook of Christian Apologetics (hereafter: HCA). I plan to continue my analysis and evaluation of their case for the resurrection of Jesus in Chapter 8 of that book. I also plan to analyze and evaluate their case for the divinity of Jesus in Chapter 7 of HCA. I think I have covered their case for the existence of God in Chapter 3 of HCA, but I plan to go back through those arguments and do the sort of careful analysis and evaluation that I have been doing on the arguments in their case for the resurrection of Jesus. I also would like to critically analyze and evaluate some arguments for God presented by Edward Feser in his book Five Proofs of the Existence of God. There are three key Christian apologetics arguments that I wa ... Read Article
How to Do Careful Argument Analysis
Critical Thinking is basically CAREFUL thinking. More specifically, it is thinking in which a person continually strives to conform his or her thinking to the universal standards of thinking, which include the following: Clarity Accuracy & Precision Relevance & Significance Logicalness Breadth (understanding alternative points of view) Depth (understanding the complexity of the issues) Sufficiency (of available evidence to allow for reasonable conclusions) Fairness Careful argument evaluation is the heart and soul of critical thinking. But one cannot do a careful job of evaluating an argument unless one first has a clear understanding of the argument one is trying to evaluate.  Thus, careful argument analysis is essential to critical thinking. In order to be a critical thinker, one must develop the knowledge, skills, abilities, and desire to carefully analyze and clarify arguments. I will be making a presentation for the 43rd Annual International Conf ... Read Article
Bart Ehrman On The Tearing Of The Temple Veil
One way to read the evidence is as Ehrman does here that the ripping of the veil is what Jesus accomplished through his penal substitution super blood magic atoning death, removing the barrier between man and God. Another reading is the Moral Influence reading that the world turned on God's specially chosen beloved (agapetos) son, and so there is nothing an animal sacrifice could ever do to make up for this. There are two main reasons to prefer the Moral Influence reading. One is the Barabbas satire as a gross injustice lampooning of the Yom Kippur atoning goats. Second, for penal substitution you have to suppose the imagery of the tearing of the curtain is completely different in Mark/Matthew and Luke: Matthew and Mark state that the temple veil ripped right after Jesus died, but Luke states that it happened before the Jesus's death. So, it's a question of whether we focus on what Jesus did for the world, or instead what the world did to Jesus. One is easy and feel good, the other is philosophical ... Read Article
An Interesting Video From MythVision Podcast On YHWH And Lying I guess the classic online treatment of lying in the bible is this passage from the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible: Is it wrong to lie? No. 1 God rewarded the Egyptian midwives for lying to the Pharaoh. And the king of Egypt called for the midwives, and said unto them, Why have ye done this thing, and have saved the men-children alive? And the midwives said unto Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are lively, and are delivered ere the midwives come in unto them. Therefore God dealt well with the midwives. Exodus 1:18-20 2 Rahab was "justified" when she lied about Joshua's spies. And the woman [Rahab] took the two men and hid them and said thus: There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were; and it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark that the men went out; whither the men went I wot not; pursue after them quickly, for ye shall overtake them. But she had brought ... Read Article
Some Empty Tomb Analysis From Derek at MythVision Podcast! This is a new interesting well-produced video from Derek at MythVision talking about the ancient idea that the reason a body would go missing is that the dead person had been thought to have become deified. So, the gospel accounts of the empty tomb fit this general mythic structure. Moreover, Derek points out that even if you think there is an historical kernel at the heart of the Jesus legendary empty tomb tale, the disciples would have been motivated to steal the body and pretend it was missing and contending that Jesus became deified. I look at the noble lie theory of Christian Origins in my Justified Lie essay HERE. I talk a fair bit about Dionysus in that essay, but I should also add according to Plutarch, one version of the myth tells that Ariadne hanged herself after being abandoned by Theseus. Dionysus then went to Hades, and brought her and his mother Semele to Mount Olympus, where they were deified. For My Scriptures Study Index SEE ... Read Article
Bart Ehrman on The Arrest of Jesus
Bart D. Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Author and lecturer, agnostic-atheist. Prof Ehrman has a new blog post out today about Were Jesus Followers Really Armed and Dangerous in the Garden of Gethsemane? For regular readers here I tend to think the disciples did clash with the arresting party, whether they were armed or not, because it fits in with the general problem of Mark having to invent stories about Jesus predicting his death and resurrection, but the disciples not understanding. For if the crucifixion and resurrection were the central point, why would the disciples clash with the arresting party and run away? There is an overarching literary theme that renders such discussions unnecessary. Jesus is the specially beloved (agapetos) of God who is conspired against by the evil Jewish Supreme Council, turned on by the crowd, denied Justice by Pilate, abandoned, denied, and has his message of non-resistance/violence ... Read Article
Resolving Euthyphro: If God Was A Slave Or Servant, What Would He Call Holy/Demonic?
Friedrich Nietzsche “The slave revolt in morality begins when ‘ressentiment’ itself becomes creative and gives birth to values: the ressentiment of natures that are denied the true reaction, that of deeds, and compensate themselves with an imaginary revenge. While every noble morality develops from a triumphant affirmation of itself, slave morality from the outset says No to what is “outside,” what is “different,” what is “not itself”; and this No is its creative deed.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals It is not immediately evident what we mean when we call something “good.”  For instance, a Blue Jay may be a “good” bird of prey, but we might think it evil for raiding nests and devouring babies of other birds. What was noble about antiquity, power, beauty, strength and wealth, became demonized.  Jesus said it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  What could m ... Read Article
Trans Rights And Sports
Above transgender cyclist Austin Killips won a North Carolina race by five minutes, leading the second-place finisher to suggest creating a separate category. See article here. We would not have a flyweight boxer compete against a heavyweight boxer because such a pairing grossly leans in favor of the heavyweight. This is why the UFC heavyweight champion has the title "The Baddest Man On The Planet." Similarly, time and time again we see trans athletes defeating women in women sport divisions. It is not at all a swipe against LGBTQI+ rights to propose a new division for trans athletes to compete in against one another. ... Read Article
(Post Script Summary) Did St. Mark Read Plato / Did Plato Read Moses?
PREVIOUSLY, Did St. Mark Read Plato / Did Plato Read Moses? (2/2) Did St. Mark Read Plato / Did Plato Read Moses? AND NOW, THE POST SCRIPT Truths today are usually understood as “facts” or things that are “correct,” information, and intelligence is therefore whoever has learned the most through rote and can do the best on Jeopardy or Trivial Pursuit (note the name of the game, lol).  However, in teaching children we make a distinction in that if a child knows 3 X 2 = 6 this is true or correct but not yet made manifest or un-hidden (truth as a-letheia).  To unhide it, we need to model it for the child, such as counters in groups of 3, with 2 such groups, when totaled we get a sum of 6 counters. In the previous post, we saw that when the traditional definition of marriage encounters LGBTQI+ rights on the thought path of life that this meeting un-covered the hidden vileness/violence of the traditional definition.  This is analogous to the Christian idea of the Being of ... Read Article
(2/2) Did St. Mark Read Plato / Did Plato Read Moses?
Above: Saint Paul delivering the Areopagus Sermon in Athens, by Raphael, 1515. LAST TIME: Did St. Mark Read Plato / Did Plato Read Moses? NOW, THE CONCLUSION. Let's consider the Unknown God Paul is preaching about in the above pictured sermon. Here is a brief, general introduction: In Athens, there was a temple specifically dedicated to that god and very often Athenians would swear "in the name of the Unknown God" (Νὴ τὸν Ἄγνωστον, Nē ton Agnōston).  Apollodorus, Philostratus and Pausanias wrote about the Unknown God as well.  According to the book of Acts, contained in the Christian New Testament, when the Apostle Paul visited Athens, he saw an altar with an inscription dedicated to that god and was invited to speak to the Athenian elite at the Areopagus. Because the Jewish God could not be named, it is possible that Paul's Athenian listeners would have considered his God to be "the unknown god par excellence". His listeners may also have understood the introduc ... Read Article
Did St. Mark Read Plato / Did Plato Read Moses?
The fact that we can detect Jesus' followers moving away from his more radical teachings is evidence that we can see a radical teacher/healer who existed, contra the Christ Myth Theory. It's remarkable that we focus so intently on personal salvation and what Jesus did "for" us, that we ignore corporate sin and what we did "to" Jesus. From that latter point of view, perhaps the gospel writers took the known wrongful death of John the Baptist as we find in Josephus, and rewrote it to make it more wrongful and humiliating to anticipate a superlatively wrongful and humiliating death of Jesus (like Elisha being the successor and superior of Elijah). In Josephus John's Death is: Jewish Antiquities 18. 5. 2 John the Baptist gained a large following. Herod Antipas feared the widely popular John the Baptist would incite his followers to launch a rebellion against his rule. Therefore, he had John the Baptist arrested and imprisoned at Macherus. Herod Antipas later had John the Baptist executed 'to preve ... Read Article
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