Sunday, March 29, 2009

Another Biblical absurdity?

The Bible is a never ending stream of contradictions.

In Acts 3 , Peter makes a lame person walk.

This pales in comparison with Jesus raising the dead, yet apparently this miracle is an utter sensation.

In Acts 4, the opponents of Peter say 'Everybody living in Jerusalem knows they have done an outstanding miracle, and we cannot deny it. But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn these men to speak no longer to anyone in this name.'

So Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead, many people are raised from their graves and appear to many in the city, Jesus himself is resurected, and yet the priests think that if they can keep the story of a lame person walking quiet, they can stop Christianity spreading any further?

Just how absurd is that?

Just why did not all Jerusalem convert to Christianity when Jesus was allegedly doing miracles 1000 times bigger than Peter's miracle?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Norman Geisler and Frank Turek

Evangelical Realism has an excellent post on just how bad the arguments of Christian apologetics are.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Alan Segal on Paul and the Resurrection

Loren Rosson the Third, has an interesting guest post by Alan Segal on Paul's view of the resurrection and the way it was a spiritual body and not the body as portrayed in the Gospels.

I quote from it :-

'Paul, who wrote before the Gospels, never mentions the empty tomb, though he certainly goes out of his way to tell us that Jesus was buried. I suspect that he saw this as a victory over the Roman oppressors because they rarely granted permission for crucified criminals to be buried with honors. It is also clear that the resurrection body is a spiritual body.

But it is nowhere clear that it is the physical body of the Gospels. It may be the same body transformed but that is far from clear in Paul’s 1 Corinthians 15 essay on the subject. It seems out of the question that it is merely the flesh revivified as he says that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom (1 Cor. 15:50). But what it is positively is ambiguous.

The metaphor of the grain of wheat suggests two bodies because the ancient world thought that the seed disappeared and was reborn.

Other parts of the passage suggest a single body transformed. What is clear to me is that it does not automatically cohere with the Gospel story. And why should it? He did not know the finished Gospel tradition. The real question is: “Why do the Gospels ignore Paul?”'

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

10 years jail for praying

The Irish Times reports of a person persecuted for his faith to such a degree that he has just been sentenced to 10 years in jail.

His crime?

He prayed to his god.

Jail for prayers

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Evans and Wright - Jesus , the Final Days

This is the name of a new book where Christian scholars Craig Evans and NT Wright try to prove the Bible accounts of the resurrection are all true, all four of them.

Matthew 28 says 'The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.'

Notice that there was more than one of them, according to the anonymous author of Matthew's Gospel.

On page 70 of the book, Craig Evans writes 'We probably should assume that the evangelist has referred to the custodian, whose placement in the vicinity of tombs set aside for executed criminals was to see that burial laws were not violated'

So even Christian scholars cannot produce evidence that more than one guard would be posted, or that this guard was something not normally done, and was done only because the Pharisees wanted a guard.

Even Christian scholars implicitly admit the bogosity of Matthew's story....

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A church cover up?

The last 2 letters alleged to have been written by Paul and Peter are 2 Timothy and 2 Peter. Both are regarded as forgeries by huge numbers of New Testament scholars.

There are some remarkable coincidences in these books....

Both letters warn against false teachers.

Both attack and insult those false teachers, and warn about events in the last days.

2 Timothy talks about how useful Mark is , and how Luke is with Paul. Curiously, both are alleged Biblical authors.

2 Peter talks about the writings of Paul and how they are scripture. Curiously, Paul also is a Biblical author. 2 Peter also says this is his second letter. Peter only ever wrote 2 letters in his life , it seems.

If 2 Peter is the second letter by Peter, then perhaps 1 Peter is a genuine letter ?!?

Both have a very high view of scripture. In 2 Timothy, Paul asks for his scrolls, while 2 Peter links Paul's writings in with scripture and calls Paul a 'dear brother'.

Methinks, church leaders tidied up these letters to make the church unified against false leaders, and to validate traditional authorship of Biblical books and to declare them to be scripture.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Questions of Truth

This is the name of a book by John Polkinhorne , who is regularly touted as one of the best Christian thinkers. Nicholas Beale helped....

Amazingly, page 87 of the book manages to produce 2 of the silliest arguments for the resurrection.

Even according to the New Testament, the disciples are alleged to have waited 6 weeks before going public, yet Polkinghorne's book claims Christianity could have been refuted if the Romans had produced a decayed corpse of Jesus.

Even though it was unthinkable to touch corpses and though Jewish law said corpses could not be identified after 3 days.

And then Polkinghorne's book goes on to claim that the disciples gave their lives for their beliefs in the resurrection.

Although not one Christian was ever charged with preaching a resurrection, and Galatians 6:12 says that Christians were persecuted on the issue of circumcision, not resurrection, and that Christian leaders avoided persecution by compromising their beliefs.

And this book is supposed to be great Christian thinking?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Christians - not fully human?

Of course Christians are fully human.

However, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor , the Archbishop of Westminster, thinks nothing of saying that atheists are not fully human.

Catholic Bigotry is where you can hear Catholics say things about atheists that would be shocking if they heard themselves speak.

The bigotry starts at 20 minutes.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

John Polkinghorne and Questions of Truth

The Reverend John Polkinghorne has a new book out called 'Questions of Truth'

Many years ago, I read another of his books Serious Talk

The arguments in it were really bad.

I quote from my review of the book :=

Dr. Polkinghorne's official web pages describe him as 'one of the greatest living writers and thinkers on science and religion', so I was naturally curious to know what would persuade a world-class scientist and a Fellow of the Royal Society to believe in God. It turns out that the book consists of rationalisations. Clearly, Polkinghorne is a very nice man and he needs to believe that the Universe is as nice as he is. In his preface he writes ' that it is a coherent hope that all shall in the end be well.' . In the book Polkinghorne creates a God to fulfil this hope. The God Polkinghorne has created is very like himself. Polkinghorne's God does not know the future but prepares himself for whatever it may bring, just as we do. Polkinghorne's God suffers like we do and has human values of beauty and truth , order and morals.

Polkinghorne needs a God to make sense to him of the world we live. I am reminded of the people in Ramachandran's book 'Phantoms in the Brain' who rationalise away any evidence which might disturb their world-view. Some people cannot see or have paralysed limbs , yet maintain that they are not disabled in any way. To protect this world view, they must improvise rationalisations. What is surprising is the facility and ease with which they produce explanations on the spot of why their inability to see or move their arm has nothing to do with their blindness or paralysis - after all, they are not paralysed or blind , are they? For example, they might say that they cannot move their arm, not because it is paralysed, but because the arm at their shoulder actually belongs to their brother, not to themselves. These people are perfectly sane, but are an extreme example of how people can fit facts to their worldview, regardless of evidence.

Polkinghorne does very similar things. Faced with a difficulty , he simply invents a new attribute of God to cover that situation. Just like the patients in Ramachandran's book, he need produce no evidence to back up his rationalisation, but it suffices just to produce an answer. Each rationalisation is consistent with itself, but they are hopelessly inconsistent with each other.

It appears that the arguments in Questions of Truth have not improved in the meantime...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Darwin's Dangerous Idea

Darwin's Dangerous Idea is the name of BBC programme presented by Andrew Marr.

Darwin's idea was too dangerous for Hitler, who said 'Woher nehmen wir das Recht zu glauben, der Mensch sei nicht von Uranfaengen das gewesen , was er heute ist? Der Blick in die Natur zeigt uns, dass im Bereich der Pflanzen und Tiere Veraenderungen und Weiterbildungen vorkommen. Aber nirgends zeigt sich innherhalb einer Gattung eine Entwicklung von der Weite des Sprungs, den der Mensch gemacht haben muesste, sollte er sich aus einem affenartigen Zustand zu dem, was er ist, fortgebildet haben.'

I shall translate Hitler's words, as recorded by the stenographer.

'From where do we get the right to believe that man was not from the very beginning what he is today.

A glance in Nature shows us , that changes and developments happen in the realm of plants and animals. But nowhere do we see inside a kind, a development of the size of the leap that Man must have made, if he supposedly has advanced from an ape-like condition to what he is' (now)

The Nazis banned books on Darwinism

Also banned were books that '...ridicule, belittle or besmirch the Christian religion and its institution, faith in God, or other things that are holy to the healthy sentiments of the Volk.'

Atheists - be wary of them

Advice on atheists

Here the author says 'Atheists are a few in number, but many of them have a sectarian and fundamentalist psychology and behaviour. It makes them potentially dangerous and hostile, so it seems wise to keep them in a reasonable distance from you and your loved ones.'

Why are atheists acceptable targets of hate speech?

The Passion of the Christ

I saw excerpts from that yesterday.

As I watched the acted out violence, I was reminded of Paul's words in Romans 13
'Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority?'

Clearly, Paul wasn't really aware that the innocent Jesus had been crucified by the rulers on Earth.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Putting one house on top of another

On page 368 of 'The Resurrection of the Son of God', the Bishop of Durham, NT Wright claims Paul used a metaphor of putting one house on top of another to describe how the earthly body would be transformed into the resurrected body.

And that the new 'house' came from Heaven, but was made of the material in the old 'house', but transformed in some manner.

Presumably in the way you transform your old clothes by having 'a new and larger suit of clothes to be put on over the existing ones'.

I am not joking. This is what one of the world's top Christian scholars says , in all seriousness.

Who transforms their house by putting a new house on top of the old one, somehow using the material of the old one to make the new one?

Who wears two jackets, and claims he has changed his old jacket by putting 'a new and larger' jacket over the top of his old jacket?

Let us assume that Paul's metaphors were designed not to be nonsense.

You take off old clothes. You put on new clothes.

You leave one house. You move to another house.

Clearly Paul is teaching that Jesus left his old body behind and moved to a new body.

This is so obvious that Wright has to claim that Paul said we put one house on top of another house , and when we get new clothes, we just put them on top of the old ones.