Boxing Pythagoras

Philosophy from the mind of a fighter

Archive for the tag “apologetics”

On Carrier’s pre-Christian Jesus Myth

Richard Carrier is a freelance historian with a PhD in Ancient History from Columbia University. He is arguably the most prominent proponent of the Christ Myth hypothesis, today, and one of the few historical scholars with actual qualifications in history that holds to such a position. If you are unaware, the Christ Myth hypothesis argues that there never existed an actual, historical Jesus of Nazareth upon whom the Christian faith eventually became focused. Instead, the Jesus of Nazareth presented in the gospels is a deliberate attempt to tie myths about a celestial being into history. This view is generally dismissed, panned, and ignored by the vast majority of mainstream scholarship, and one could quite rightly describe Richard Carrier as a fringe scholar. However, the simple fact that Carrier is a fringe scholar is not a very good reason for dismissing his work, out of hand. The man is actually a qualified historian, with a PhD from a respected university, who has had articles published in respected academic journals. The fact that his hypothesis goes against mainstream scholarship does not invalidate the rest of his qualifications.

Carrier recently published a book entitled On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason to Doubt which lays out his views and arguments. I have been meaning to purchase, read, and review that book for this site since it was released, but I refuse to pay $85 for the hardcover or $35 for the paperback version– I find such prices to be wholly excessive. Unfortunately, the book has not yet received an eBook release, which I might be more inclined to purchase (though not if the price is similarly high). Still, Carrier has engaged in a number of debates and public presentations, and it is easy to find at least an overview of his position. For example, he recently gave a talk at Zeteticon which outlines his view.

One of the major points that Carrier alleges, in his presentation, is that we have evidence that there was a pre-Christian, Jewish belief in a celestial being which was actually named Jesus, and was the firstborn son of God, in the celestial image of God, who acted as God’s agent of creation, and was God’s celestial high priest. I have seen Carrier present this information numerous times, in different talks, including the one which I linked above, and he always presents it without actually quoting from the sources which he cites. Now, as I’ve said, I haven’t yet read On the Historicity of Jesus, and it is fully possible that Carrier addresses some of my contentions there, but I find his entire claim that there was a pre-Christian, Jewish belief in a celestial Jesus to be almost entirely unsupportable.

Read more…

A Finely-Tuned Deception

William Lane Craig’s Reasonable Faith website released a new video, yesterday, highlighting the Fine-Tuning Argument, another extremely popular topic which is quite commonly discussed in modern apologetics circles. If you are unfamiliar with the argument, feel free to watch Craig’s video, below. You can also read the transcript for the video here, if you (like me) would like to digest its claims in a more easily referenced format.

I’m sure this won’t come as much of a surprise to anyone familiar with this blog, but I find that the video is wholly unconvincing. In fact, the entire Fine-Tuning argument is nothing more than a God-of-the-Gaps which has been camouflaged behind a screen of pseudoscience.

Read more…

You must stand clear, Mr. Holmes, or be trodden underfoot.

“That is not danger,” said he. “It is inevitable destruction.  You stand in the way not merely of an individual, but of a mighty organisation, the full extent of which you, with all your cleverness, have been unable to realise.  You must stand clear, Mr. Holmes, or be trodden underfoot.”

The Final Problem, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

A few days ago, I was reading a post from fellow blogger, Andrew Crigler, who writes Entertaining Christianity. He had written a fun little post, jovially comparing blind-faith beliefs to clothing for puppies, which I enjoyed and with which, for the most part, I agreed. However, at the end of the article, Andrew recommended his readers to J. Warner Wallace’s book Cold Case Christianity. If you have been reading my blog for a while, you might remember that I am no fan of J. Warner Wallace and, in fact, I think he is more akin to a crooked cop than an honest detective. I commented on Andrew’s post to convey this, and that began a nice back-and-forth conversation between us regarding Wallace and his claims. At one point, Andrew suggested that Wallace had written other articles which were more convincing, and formed on better logic, than the ones which I had critiqued. I asked him to suggest one, for me, so that I could read and review it here. Andrew provided me with a link to one of Wallace’s posts entitled, “The Case for the Eyewitness Status of the Gospel Authors.”

Unfortunately, I find this article to be just as poor as Wallace’s others.

Read more…

On the Kalam Cosmological Argument

One of the most popular arguments for the existence of God is known as the Kalam Cosmological Argument. In general, the “cosmological” family of arguments attempt to show that some initial condition necessarily pre-exists the universe, and declare this initial condition (or its cause) to be God. There have been many different versions of the cosmological argument, but the Kalam is particularly popular because it is composed of a very simple syllogism with premises that many people find self-evident. This simplicity makes the KCA very easy for laymen to remember and explain, while professional philosophers love the hidden nuances and depth which underlie the seemingly simple premises. The KCA was first developed and refined by medieval Muslim thinkers like Al-Kindi, Al-Ghazali, and Averroes in the time when the Arab world stood at the pinnacle of Western philosophy and science. Today, arguably the most avid and scholarly proponent of the KCA is Christian apologist, William Lane Craig (whose work has been a frequent focus of this blog), and it will be Dr. Craig’s particular formulation of the KCA which I will be discussing.

The argument is as follows:

  1. Anything that begins to exist has a cause.
  2. The universe began to exist.
  3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

Read more…

An Atheist answers “20 Short Arguments Against God’s Existence”

What do you want me to do? LEAVE? Then they'll keep being wrong!

xkcd #386: Duty Calls, by Randall Munroe

This single-panel comic strip succinctly and adequately describes the bulk of my interaction with the other citizens of the Internet over the last couple of decades. If you think that this is an exaggeration, I’ll refer you to my wife, who will attest that we have had some version of this conversation many, many times. I simply have a strange attraction to correcting bad arguments and inane claims, whenever I see them. Now, since I am an avowed and outspoken atheist, one might think that this generally culminates in my conversing with the religious. However, I tend to spend just as much time correcting many of the lies, misconceptions, and really bad arguments that embedded themselves into the modern humanist/materialist/atheist subculture as I spend in debunking poor religious apologetics. The simple fact that someone’s end point-of-view agrees with mine does not make their claims right. Just like in High School math, it doesn’t matter if you stumbled upon the correct answer; you show your work because the process of finding that answer is more important than the answer itself.

To that end, when I saw a video called “20 Short Arguments Against God’s Existence,” by Hemant Mehta, posted on the Friendly Atheist blog, I knew I was going to have to respond.

Read more…

Heathen Apologetics, Part 4: The Argument from the Miraculous

Welcome back to Heathen Apologetics, where we repurpose common, Christian apologetics arguments and instead use them to support the veracity of Norse religious faith. The purpose of this series is to serve as a sort of giant reductio ad absurdum. Using the exact same logical constructs espoused by Christian thinkers, with only minor modifications to the premises made to substitute specifically Christian suppositions with specifically Norse ones, Heathen Apologetics intends to show that these arguments are entirely untenable. Today, we’re going to take a look at the Argument from the Miraculous.

The supernatural power of the runes proves that the gods are real.

Read more…

WLC’s Time, Part 4: General Relativity

When I first began my discussion on William Lane Craig’s ideas about time, I framed it as a debate between two competing models. To briefly recap, Dr. Craig supports the Tensed Theory of Time, which states that events only become real as they occur and that, therefore, the future exists only in potentiality, not in reality. In contrast, he opposes the Tenseless Theory of Time, which asserts that all moments in time– past, present, and future– exist equally in reality, even though we only observe them at the present. In order to support his case, Dr. Craig has offered a genetic fallacy regarding Einstein’s personal philosophy, an assertion which falsely equates Lorentzian relativity with Einstein’s, and complete misunderstandings of the implications of quantum entanglement and the cosmic microwave background. In this fourth installment of this series, I am going to discuss the ideas which Dr. Craig presents about General Relativity, ostensibly as a means of supporting his Tensed Theory of Time.

Almost comically, William Lane Craig’s math and science illiteracy prevent him from realizing that all the evidence which he offers from General Relativity stands in direct and diametric opposition to the Tensed Theory of Time.

Read more…

Bad Reasons for thinking belief in God is Reasonable

Last summer, William Lane Craig spoke at the Apologetics Canada Conference 2013. The topic of Dr. Craig’s speech was the question, “Is belief in God reasonable?” As with many of WLC’s lectures, speeches, and debates, the entire thing is available to watch for free on YouTube, as I found out recently from a friend’s Facebook post. During his speech, Dr. Craig machine-guns his way through eight separate arguments for which he asserts that God is the best explanation. Discussing each of these arguments, briefly, he ultimately combines them into a sort of super-argument to answer his nominal topic. According to Dr. Craig: yes, belief in God is reasonable.

Unfortunately, Dr. Craig’s super-argument for reasonability is built upon a series of badly reasoned arguments.

Read more…

Does Science Disprove God?

Christian apologist Melissa Cain Travis has posted her thoughts on an article written by Dr. Amir Aczel entitled, “Why Science Does Not Disprove God,” a complement to his book of the same name. While Ms. Travis agrees with the thrust of the article, she finds some of its language to be a bit vague, and adds some commentary which she believes clarifies these issues. It is likely unsurprising that Travis, a Christian apologist, would agree with Aczel’s premise.

What may be more surprising to my readers is that I also agree: Science does not disprove God.

Read more…

Heathen Apologetics, Part 3: The Ontological Argument

Welcome back to Heathen Apologetics, where we repurpose common, Christian apologetics arguments and instead use them to support the veracity of Norse religious faith. The purpose of this series is to serve as a sort of giant reductio ad absurdum. Using the exact same logical constructs espoused by Christian thinkers, with only minor modifications to the premises made to substitute specifically Christian suppositions with specifically Norse ones, Heathen Apologetics intends to show that these arguments are entirely untenable. Today, we’re going to take a look at the Ontological Argument for the Existence of the Gods.

The greatness of the gods, itself, leads us to the proof for their existence.

Read more…

Post Navigation