(Speaker 3) New Insights Into The New Testament: The Gospels In Review (CONFERENCE)
Our third speaker is Hugo Mendez, who is an expert on the Gospel of John and argues the gospel and the three letters of John are a lineage of literary forgeries. For instance, the gospel of John pretends to be written by Jesus' beloved disciple, even though this is false. John is full of cryptic teaching and esoteric knowledge, Jesus being the divine man revealing secrets that people don't quite understand. Certain key figures are given interpretive keys for his message. The most important is Jesus's farewell discourse to his disciples (John 13:31-17:26). Mendez argues in order to read John effectively, you must read it backward, starting from the farewell discourse. For example, Jesus says he is going to the father, and the disciples can't follow him now, but will later. Jesus has prepared dwellings for the disciples in his father's house. Jesus is going to the father and is himself the way to the father. Jesus is in the father and the father in him, the father dwells in Jesus. The idea of the ... Read Article
The Historical Unreliability of Matthew – Part 2: The Birth Story
There is no story about the birth of Jesus in the earliest gospel: the Gospel of Mark. Although the Gospel of Matthew borrows most of its stories about Jesus from the Gospel of Mark, it does make one obvious and major addition: a story about the birth of Jesus. If this major addition to the stories about Jesus from Mark is historically dubious, then that would give us a good reason to doubt the historical reliability of other changes and additions made by the author of the Gospel of Matthew to the stories from the Gospel of Mark. Jesus Scholars View the Birth Story in Matthew as Historically Dubious Scholars who study the historical Jesus generally agree that the birth story in the Gospel of Matthew is a legend and that it is historically dubious: The clearest cases of invention are in the birth narratives. Matthew and Luke write that Jesus was born in Bethlehem but grew up in Nazareth. This probably reflects two sorts of 'facts': in ordinary history, Jesus was from Nazareth; according to salva ... Read Article
The Historical Unreliability of Matthew – Part 1: General Considerations
The Gospel of Matthew has something significant to offer scholars who study the historical Jesus in terms of the sayings, parables, and teachings of Jesus. The main reason for this is that whenever a saying, parable, or teaching of Jesus is found in the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke, but NOT in the Gospel of Mark, that saying, parable, or teaching probably came from an early source of the words of Jesus known as Q. Without the Gospel of Matthew, it would be very difficult, perhaps impossible, to determine the content of this early source of the sayings, parables, and teachings of Jesus. However, the stories about Jesus found in the Gospel of Matthew might not provide historically reliable information about the life, ministry, and crucifixion of Jesus. If the stories about Jesus in the Gospel of Mark are historically unreliable, then the stories about Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew are also historically unreliable (in general) because most of the stories about Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew c ... Read Article
(Speaker 2) New Insights Into The New Testament: The Gospels In Review (CONFERENCE)
The second speaker Candida Moss looks at Jesus’s parentage and that Jesus was seen as the stepson of Joseph in some of the gospels and the Son of God.  In our oldest gospel, Mark, Jesus does not have a biological relationship with God, but is adopted by God in the tradition of Julius Caesar adopting Augustus.  By the time we get to John, Jesus is a pre-existent divine being. Interestingly, the women in Matthew’s genealogy point to sex scandal, and so that may be offering some suggestions about Mary.  Perhaps Jesus was illegitimate, and Joseph just adopted Jesus.  Some Non-Christian sources from the second to the fourth century supposed Jesus was illegitimate.  Moss supposes that post Jewish War there were many women around without male protectors and a lack of a reference to Jesus’ earthly father just pointed to that.  In any case, that is a flavor of Candida Moss’s presentation and do order the replay of the conference as Moss has further interesting insights into the question of whe ... Read Article
Current Events: The Richard Carrier Controversy
In a recent post, Dr. Richard Carrier has claimed that scholars who affirm the historical Jesus have “no genuine interest in actually checking if Jesus’s historicity is something we should be confident in.” See: https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/25689 Dr. Kipp Davis and Dr. James McGrath will be coming on the Potential Theism Youtube channel October 27 at 1pm EST to dispute Carrier's claims. Check it out: https://www.youtube.com/@potentialtheism ... Read Article
OFF TOPIC: “Terrorism” Once Again
I agree with probably 90% of what President Joe Biden says in his speeches. But his recent speech about the attack of Hamas on Israel is one that I strongly oppose. Here are some of his statements that I find objectionable: You know, there are moments in this life — and I mean this literally — when the pure, unadulterated evil is unleashed on this world. The people of Israel lived through one such moment this weekend.  The bloody hands of the terrorist organization Hamas — a group whose stated purpose for being is to kill Jews.  This was an act of sheer evil.  More than 1,000 civilians slaughtered — not just killed, slaughtered — in Israel.  Among them, at least 14 American citizens killed. [...] The brutality of Hamas — this bloodthirstiness — brings to mind the worst — the worst rampages of ISIS. This is terrorism. [,,,] We reject — we reject — what we reject is terrorism.  We condemn the indiscriminate evil, just as we’ve ... Read Article
Dawkins’ FAILURE to Refute Aquinas
In his book The God Delusion (hereafter: TGD), Richard Dawkins ends the second chapter ("The God Hypothesis") with these words: ...before proceeding with my main reason for actively disbelieving in God's existence, I have the responsibility to dispose of the positive arguments for belief that have been offered through history. TGD, First Mariner Books edition 2008, p.99 Dawkins attempts to carry out this intellectual responsibility in Chapter 3: "Arguments For God's Existence". First up in Chapter 3 is the case for the existence of God made by Thomas Aquinas. According to Dawkins, the arguments of Aquinas on this issue are EASY to refute: The five 'proofs' asserted by Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century, don't prove anything, and are easily--though I hesitate to say so, given his eminence--exposed as vacuous. TGD, p.100 If it were in fact EASY to refute the case for God made by Aquinas, then Dawkins has shown himself to have very little intellectual ability in the philosophy of religion ... Read Article
America doesn’t need more God. It needs more atheists. (Article: Kate Cohen for The Washington Post)
New Opinion Piece in The Washington Post From the article: "We need Americans who demand — as atheists do — that truth claims be tethered to fact. We need Americans who understand — as atheists do — that the future of the world is in our hands. And in this particular political moment, we need Americans to stand up to Christian nationalists who are using their growing political and judicial power to take away our rights. Atheists can do that." See the article here ... Read Article
(Speaker 1) New Insights Into The New Testament: The Gospels In Review (CONFERENCE)
As I mentioned previously, I attended the first annual NINT conference this year. On Day 1: The first speaker was Dr. Bart Ehrman and his introductory speech explained the various rubrics for understanding the text: Textual Criticism: trying to determine the original words in the text (eg What did the author of Mark actually write) Source Criticism: what sources do we have for learning about Jesus (Mark, Matthew, etc) and what sources did these authors base their writing on (eg M, Q, Paul, etc) Redaction Criticism: How the authors changed their sources (eg., Matthew used Mark and changed him in places.) Literary Criticism: seeing the texts as literary entities as you would a story or poem and approaching them from that lens, not worrying about sources Historical Criticism: What can we learn about history, like the historical Jesus, from the text The word "criticism" above doesn't mean "criticize," but is closer in meaning to assess and evaluate, and in this way for example philosopher ... Read Article
Catholics and Same Sex Unions, Women Priests
Pope Francis has expressed openness to Catholic blessings for same-sex couples, under the condition they are not confused with marriage ceremonies for men and women, in what could be a watershed moment for the global Catholic Church. Pope signals openness to blessings for gay couples, study of women's ordination. See HERE ... Read Article
Apologists And “The Reason For Pain” (Introduction)
The Reason For Pain is a set of apologetic Youtube videos aimed at responding to the problem of how a loving, powerful God (with a plan for your life) could allow terrible unnecessary pain. For example, if we consider childhood cancer Or even the pain of social ostracisation from cleft lip Does this seem "loving" to you? So, here is their first video framing the problem the way they want it addressed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2iM58Jlhb-g&list=PL0f6_epwixV4NfkBdlb3rFur0vG6TO5BB Next time, we'll look at the first main video in the series and consider the arguments. Further Reading, The classic text in this field is Prof Bart Ehrman's "God's Problem," the topic that made Bart leave the Christian faith ... Read Article
Stay Scrappy, Infidels!
The fact that "not religiously affiliated" people are continually on the rise in polls is really a testament to the fact that religion is ultimately superstition. Where I live, in Canada, there are 6 Faith based television networks on basic cable: Daystar, Salt and Light, Corco, FAITHTV, Joytv, and Vision. Conversely there are no networks set up to promote and defend secularism. Daystar is interesting because it is a source of misinformation, long promoting anti-vaccination conspiracies even after it's founder and president, Marcus Lamb, died of Covid. It's always interesting to see extremist Christian celebrities using their fame to promote their superstition. Actor Kirk Cameron, for instance, recently attracted attention for trying to hold conservative Christian read-alouds for kids at public libraries. Similarly, anti-trans actor Kevin Sorbo has a new kids' book out promoting male masculinity. It's because of this Secular Web Kids is so necessary, since kids need the tools to fight agai ... Read Article
Some Thoughts on Critical Thinking
I have recently made some comments about Critical Thinking and skepticism. I made the comments in response to a comment posted by John Loftus connected to an article posted by John Loftus on his Debunking Christianity website: "In Defense of Richard Dawkins". My response to a comment by John Loftus There is a whole lot to think about in your response. For now, I will focus on just one key issue: What is the relationship between critical thinking and skepticism? On the one hand, you make a legitimate point: a critical thinker can be superstitious and gullible and foolish, just like an intelligent person can believe complete bullshit, like various conspiracy theories. More to the point, a critical thinker can be lacking in appropriate skepticism. This is the case because we often use the term "critical thinker" to mean a person who has mastered some basic intellectual skills of logic and reasoning. For example, passing a college final exam in an Introduction to Logic course would be eviden ... Read Article
An Example of Poor-Quality Thinking by Dawkins in THE GOD DELUSION
I have recently made some comments about Richard Dawkins' case against the existence of God in his book The God Delusion (hereafter: TGD). I made the comments in response to an article posted by John Loftus on his Debunking Christianity website: "In Defense of Richard Dawkins". Here is the main comment I posted on this topic: OK. I have an example for you [of poor quality thinking by Dawkins in TGD]. CLARITY is one of the universal standards of thinking. In fact, it is one of the most important of the universal standards of thinking. If you study philosophy in the US or England you will probably be exposed to analytic philosophy, which was the dominant form of philosophy in the 20th century in the US and England. Analytic philosophy is very focused on the standard of CLARITY. So, one would expect a philosopher in the US, especially one who studied philosophy in the US or in England, to be focused on the standard of CLARITY and to care about CLARITY in his/her thinking and writing. Thus it is ... Read Article
Kreeft’s Case Against the Swoon Theory – Part 11: The Sub-Argument for Premise (2a)
THE SUB-ARGUMENT FOR THE KEY PREMISE (2A) Premise (2a) is a key premise in the core argument for Objection #4 against the Swoon Theory. Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli provide a sub-argument in support of premise (2a), so we need to consider that argument: 4a. According to the Gospel of John (Jn 19:38-42), on Friday evening, after Jesus’ body was removed from the cross, it was placed into a stone tomb. B. The Gospel of John provides a reliable and accurate account of the life of Jesus, including what happened to Jesus’ body after he was crucified. THEREFORE: 2a. On Friday evening, after Jesus’ body was removed from the cross, it was placed into a stone tomb. EVALUATION OF THE SUB-ARGUMENT FOR THE KEY PREMISE (2A) Although the passage referenced in Chapter 19 of the Gospel of John does not specifically state that the tomb was a stone tomb, that seems to be implied by the passage, and I'm not aware of there being any other kinds of "tombs" available in Jerusalem at that time. ... Read Article
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