Saturday, February 25, 2017

Cui Bono?

What did the witnesses to the resurrection get from lying and proclaiming the resurrection? Did the get successful careers as television evangelists, with lots of Cadillacs to drive, and air conditioned dog houses for their animals?
They were proclaiming that a guy the powers that be were able to execute had risen from the dead. How do you think the powers that be are going to take that? 

From Is Theology Poetry by Lewis

"If minds are wholly dependent on brains, and brains on biochemistry, and biochemistry (in the long run) on the meaningless flux of the atoms, I cannot understand how the thought of those minds should have any more significance than the sound of the wind in the trees. And this is to me the final test. This is how I distinguish dreaming and waking. When I am awake I can, in some degree, account for and study my dream. The dragon that pursued me last night can be fitted into my waking world. I know that there are such things as dreams; I know that I had eaten an indigestible dinner; I know that a man of my reading might be expected to dream of dragons. But while in the nightmare I could not have fitted in my waking experience. The waking world is judged more real because it can thus contain the dreaming world; the dreaming world is judged less real because it cannot contain the waking one. For the same reason I am certain that in passing from the scientific points of view to the theological, I have passed from dream to waking. Christian theology can fit in science, art, morality, and the sub-Christian religions. The scientific point of view cannot fit in any of these things, not even science itself. I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." - C. S. Lewis, "Is Theology Poetry?"

The fourth L

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

Lewis's argument is that since the reasons for believing that Jesus was a great moral teacher come from the same sources that say that Jesus claimed to be God, accepting the claim that Jesus was a great moral teacher without accepting that idea that he claimed to be God. Lewis then goes on to argue that claiming to be God if you are not God is psychologically incompatible with being a great moral teacher. 
Some people maintain that besides Liar, Lunatic, and Lord, Lewis overlooks Legend. But the legend theory wouldn't support that claim that Jesus was a great moral teacher but not God, it would instead, undermine both claims. 

Friday, February 24, 2017

The minimal facts argument for the Resurrection


These are the minimal facts:

1. Jesus died by crucifixion
2. The disciples of Jesus were sincerely convinced that he rose from the dead and appeared to them
3. Paul (aka Saul of Tarsus), who was a persecutor of the Christians, suddenly changed his beliefs towards Christianity
4. James (brother of Jesus), who was a skeptic of the Christian faith, suddenly changed his beliefs towards Christianity
5. The Tomb of Jesus was found empty three days after the crucifixion of Jesus (Habermas and Licona 2004, 48-76)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The external world and the burden of proof

If both a proposition and its denial cannot be proved, what rules do we use to decide what to believe? If I say "Can you prove that the external world exists" and you can't prove it, should we then not believe that there is an external world?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Two consistent propositions

The following two positions are consistent with one another. 

1) Abortion is murder. 
2) The Constitution, properly interpreted, makes it unconstitutional to outlaw abortion. 

The arguments for 1 are never identical to the arguments against 2. Arguments supporting 1 do not prove that 2 is false. So 1 and 2 are compatible.

Of course, the Constitution is amendable. Arguments for 2 involve trying to show that the right to privacy is not absolute. The argument is never that the personhood of the fetus is provable. 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Why Trump is not a credible defender of the unborn, or of traditional marriage

Trump isn't a credible defender of the unborn, or of traditional marriage. To oppose abortion and gay marriage you have to push back against the sexual revolution. To do that, he has to repudiate the Playboy mentality that runs through all of his comments about women up to now, and he hasn't even tried to do that. After all, the kind of sexual conduct he described in the Access Hollywood tape is exactly the kind of behavior that causes women to have unwanted pregnancies. The idea that I can have sex with anything that moves so long is it is of the opposite sex, but I can't marry someone of the same sex is hypocritical and leaves you wide open to the charge of being a bigot. A traditional Christian who opposes gay marriage can say, "No, I'm not prejudiced against gay people, it is just that same-sex sexual conduct is proscribed, but lots of heterosexual sexual conduct is also proscribed, and you may or may not get the chance to enter a marriage." Trump can't say that, without fully repenting of the attitudes he has expressed over and over again. No wonder he refuses to reverse Obama's pro-LGBT executive orders. 

Thoroughly worldly people never understand the world

From G. K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy

Thoroughly worldly people never understand even the world; they rely altogether on a few cynical maxims which are not true. Once I remember walking with a prosperous publisher, who made a remark which I had often heard before; it is, indeed, almost a motto of the modern world. Yet I had heard it once too often, and I saw suddenly that there was nothing in it. The publisher said of somebody, “That man will get on; he believes in himself.” And I remember that as I lifted my head to listen, my eye caught an omnibus on which was written “Hanwell.” I said to him, “Shall I tell you where the men are who believe most in themselves? For I can tell you. I know of men who believe in themselves more colossally than Napoleon or Caesar. I know where flames the fixed star of certainty and success. I can guide you to the thrones of the Super-men. The men who really believe in themselves are all in lunatic asylums.”

Is Trumpism a heresy?


Tuesday, February 07, 2017

I am an Obamacare beneficiary

Due to putting together part-time jobs over the past 25 years, and because of a pre-existing condition, I have been unable to get health insurance before the Affordable Care Act was put into effect. Since 2015 I have had plans from the Marketplace, and during that time I got one operation to prevent a life-threatening condition, and been informed by my doctor that I need one once again.

So, why I am so darn liberal? Could be because I am a lying hypocrite with no regard for the truth. Or, because I want to live.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Did T. H. Huxley Anthropomorphize Nature?

If so, he just relocated the skyhook.

Lennox writes:

However, it is apparent that even more was involved. A central element
in Huxley’s crusade is highlighted by Michael Poole.34 He writes, ‘In this
struggle, the concept of “Nature” was spelt with a capital N and reified.
Huxley vested “Dame Nature”, as he called her, with attributes hitherto
ascribed to God, a tactic eagerly copied by others since. The logical oddity
of crediting nature (every physical thing there is) with planning and
creating every physical thing there is, passed unnoticed. “Dame Nature”,
like some ancient fertility goddess, had taken up residence, her maternal
arms encompassing Victorian scientific naturalism.’ Thus a mythical
conflict was (and still often is) hyped up and shamelessly used as a weapon
in another battle, the real one this time, that is, that between naturalism
and theism.

What does the Galileo story prove

Finally, another lesson in a different direction, but one not often drawn,
is that it was Galileo, who believed in the Bible, who was advancing a better
scientific understanding of the universe, not only, as we have seen, against
the obscurantism of some churchmen, 28 but (and first of all) against the
resistance (and obscurantism) of the secular philosophers of his time who,
like the churchmen, were also convinced disciples of Aristotle. Philosophers
and scientists today also have need of humility in light of facts, even if those
facts are being pointed out to them by a believer in God. Lack of belief
in God is no more of a guarantee of scientific orthodoxy than is belief in
God. What is clear, in Galileo’s time and ours, is that criticism of a reigning
scientific paradigm is fraught with risk, no matter who is engaged in it. We
conclude that the ‘Galileo affair’ really does nothing to confirm a simplistic
conflict view of the relationship of science to religion.- John Lennox,  God's Undertaker. 

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Three things we should insist on from Trump

1) Insisting on complete financial transparency and accountability, including the release of at least the last 5 years of tax forms.
2) Demanding complete divestment form all Trump business enterprises, to avoid possible conflicts of interest.
3) Full and complete cooperation with the effort to investigate any Trump complicity with Russian crimes against the United States such as the hacking of the DNC e-mails, which represent an ongoing threat to our national security.
All three of these things should be done with the threat of impeachment if he does not cooperate. So there are intermediate steps before impeachment, but these have to be insisted upon using the threat of impeachment if there is non-cooperation.