Do We Have Free Will? Part 2: Relativity

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As I mentioned last time, there are both causal and non-causal varieties of determinism. Most people think of determinism only in terms of the former: events are determined, they might say, if they are the result of prior states along with strict laws of cause and effect (so that given those prior states and laws, the events could not have failed to occur). But historically there have also been arguments for determinism that have nothing to do with causation, such as logical determinism and the type of theological determinism based on God’s foreknowledge (as opposed to God’s foreordination).

I’ll return to theological determinism next time. Today, I want to talk about a much less well-known kind of non-causal determinism.

According to the theory of relativity, there is no absolute “now,” or present moment. What for you are two simultaneous events won’t necessarily be simultaneous for someone else. So, for instance, take what is going on in a galaxy far, far away at the moment you are reading this. There are events occurring there that, from your perspective, are occurring right now. You can’t know about them yet, of course. If the galaxy is, say, 2.5 million light years away, then you have to wait 2.5 million years for its light to reach us. But if you look at it then, you will see what was happening there at the time you were reading this (approximately). However, you can’t say that those events that for you are occurring right now are occurring right now in any absolute sense — because for someone else right now who is travelling relative to you, what is going on in that galaxy will be some other set of events. But that means the universe as a whole cannot be absolutely divided at each moment into past, present and future.

How Much Faith Must the Faithful Have?

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Exactly how much faith must the faithful have? If I had a dollar for every time a believer smiled serenely at my pesky questions and then replied with the ultimate slap in my logical face: 

“God requires that we have faith,” 

I’d have accrued a sizable little nest egg by now. It’s the deal breaker reply for me and the believer. Stop the train! Let me get off right now. There’s nothing else that I can say. The ardent believer really BELIEVES that they won the argument with a non-argument. God’s tricky like that, apparently. If I insist on proof that she’s there, she gets offended. 

Why can’t I just believe? 

What’s wrong with ME, not what’s wrong with the expectation that I’m required to just have faith that some kind of god is out there, minding my personal business no less. 

Why Faith? Reviewing Mittelberg's Book "Confident Christianity" Part 3

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Mark Mittelberg is a bestselling author, sought-after speaker, and the Executive Director of the Center for Strategic Evangelism, in partnership with Houston Baptist University. He wrote the book Confident Faith: Building a Firm Foundation for Your Belief (2013)—which won the Outreach Magazine's 2014 apologetics book of the year award. Yet, it appears his book has been flying under the atheist radar—so far. I aim to rectify that with a few posts offering my thoughts and criticisms of it.

The third important matter that comes to mind is to wonder what Mittelberg was thinking when he defined faith? He defines faith as "beliefs and actions that are based on something considered to be trustworthy--even in the absence of proof" (p. 2). According to Mittelberg then, if your conclusions (i.e., beliefs) and actions are located above the threshold of what is trustworthy, you have a reasonable faith. If they are located below that threshold, you have an unreasonable faith. His main polemical point is that everyone has faith. For if we base our conclusions on anything less than absolute proof we do so on faith.

Mittelberg brashly tells readers Richard Dawkins has faith because on his 1-7 spectrum of atheist probability Dawkins is only a 6.9! Dawkins's conclusion, he says, "is a belief that he holds in the absence of real proof...one that goes beyond what can be known with certainty." (p. 4) "Dawkins doesn't know there is no God...Rather he takes it on faith there is actually no God" (p. 4, italics from Mittelberg). Dawkins "exhibits what might best be described as a religious faith" Mittelberg says, because he can only say God "almost certainly does not exist" (p. 141, italics from Mittelberg).

Quote of the Day By Sir_Russ On the Outsider Perspective

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The outsider perspective has the capacity to protect people from the consequences of ignorance, whether it's mine or the profound institutional immorality and ignorance of the Christian informed-by-God church. Everyone needs to be protected from the God-informed Christian church's ignorance, superstition and barbarism, and that can only happen by embracing outsider perspectives like those of secularism and science.

Why Apologetics Books? Reviewing Mittelberg's "Confident Christianity" Part 2

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Mark Mittelberg is a bestselling author, sought-after speaker, and the Executive Director of the Center for Strategic Evangelism, in partnership with Houston Baptist University. He wrote the book Confident Faith: Building a Firm Foundation for Your Belief (2013)—which won the Outreach Magazine's 2014 apologetics book of the year award. Yet, it appears his book has been flying under the atheist radar—so far. I aim to rectify that with a few posts offering my thoughts and criticisms of it.

Mark begins by telling us what he aims to do. Is this an investigative book giving the pros and cons of Christianity, letting reader decide? No, of course not. It's a polemical book. Does it aim to convince nonbelievers and people of different faiths? Again, no, not primarily anyway. As the subtitle says, it aims to build "a firm foundation for your belief (i.e., your Christian belief)." I know publishers have a big influence on the titles of books. Yet Mark says he's writing mainly for Christians, and only secondarily for others. He says, "if you're a Christian, how certain are you that your faith is based on reliable information--that it's really true? This book will help you answer that question. And if you believe something other than Christianity, how can you test your beliefs if they square with reality? We'll address that issue too." (p. xi)

Apologist Steve Hays On the Outsider Perspective and the Historian

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I copied this debate we had on Facebook. I can't get the pages sized the same, oh well. I typed much of it on the fly using my phone, so I could have done a bit better if I had a computer. I think I did very well. There's new stuff here. It would be well worth your time to read it to better learn how to answer believers.

Getting the Gospels Off on the Wrong Foot

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The strange Jesus in Mark’s story

The Christian church has managed to pull off one of the biggest con jobs in history. It got away with it, I suppose, because lay people did not have access to reading the gospels for the first 1,500 years of Christian history. The laity trusted their priests that Christ the Redeemer was all that mattered; hence the down-and-dirty details in the gospels went unnoticed. As Richard Carrier has put it, “What Jesus did on earth was irrelevant to what he could do for you now that he was exalted in heaven, and it was the heavenly Jesus that was sold to the masses, not some dead carpenter from Galilee.” (The End of Christianity, 2011, ed. John Loftus)

That was the con. Part of which, also, has been the relentless marketing of the good, holy Jesus. For the lay consumers, he has been represented in stained glass, countless works of fine and mediocre art, romanticized and sanitized Bible storybooks, novels, choral works, and hymns. These days people ask, “What would Jesus Do?” assuming that he is the ultimate moral arbiter.

What If You Had to Dance the Polka to Get to Heaven?

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“Honey, please, don’t worry about grandma. She’s in heaven with the angels now. Grandpa is with her and Aunt Rosie and even little Fido. Grandma is happy and someday we’ll see her again.” 

Such beautiful words that on the surface seem harmless enough. 

Of course, to tell anyone, especially our children, such a fantastical story is a big fat lie. I can understand why people love this story. It’s comforting even to an adult to believe that those who have passed on are reunited with family and waiting happily for us to join them some day. Who wouldn’t love for that to be true, especially when you consider how terrifying life can be. We’d all like to believe that we have something better to look forward to someday.

An Introduction to Mark Mittelberg's Book "Confident Christianity" Part 1

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Mark Mittelberg
Mark Mittelberg is a bestselling author, sought-after speaker, and the Executive Director of the Center for Strategic Evangelism, in partnership with Houston Baptist University. He wrote the book Confident Faith: Building a Firm Foundation for Your Belief (2013)—which won the Outreach Magazine's 2014 apologetics book of the year award. Yet, it appears his book has been flying under the atheist radar—so far. I aim to rectify that with a few posts offering my thoughts and criticisms of it.

I found Mark’s book recently in a Goodwill store for $1. That was a lucky find. I didn’t know of his book until then. Thank Good...will. I have met him before, at a debate I had with David Wood. What I didn’t know was how similar our backgrounds are. We both studied at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and we both earned a masters degrees in the philosophy of religion there (him a M.A.; me a Th.M.). We also studied under the late Stuart Hackett while there, as did Paul Copan, as did William Lane Craig before us, who has admitted his debt to Hackett. LINK. Upon Stu’s death I wrote a post remembering him titled, Remembering and Honoring Professor Stuart C. Hackett. Hackett was Mark's "primary philosophical mentor" (Confident Faith, p. 271, note #2). William Lane Craig was mine. Perhaps Craig was gone by the time Mark attended, I don't know.

Do We Have Free Will? Part 1: Physical Determinism

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The most common Christian view holds that human beings are free in the usual libertarian sense of the term — meaning that we can choose from among different courses of action (this is what I’ll mean here by “free will”). Eve and Adam chose to eat the fruit, but they could have chosen to obey Yahweh instead; you chose to read at least this far, but could have stopped after the first sentence; and so on. There are serious problems with such a view, however, and I thought it might be interesting to cover the main ones in a brief series of posts. (Plus, I don’t think I could have chosen otherwise anyway!)

Are We Robots Or Not? Does Free Will Matter?

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Are we biological robots? In an age where evolutionary science and technology reign are we just performing tasks according to our particular inputs, do we have free will? If not, should we hold on to the language of free will? Is free will important? I was happy to be the moderator of a panel of experts who discussed this issue at the Atheist Alliance of America's annual convention 2017, held at DragonCon. Participants were Mark W Gura, Derek Colanduno, together with Annelies Beaty, Timothy Edward Dawson, PhD., and Asher Haig, PhD. in Artificial Intelligence and Psychoanalysis. Asher is also the CEO and Lead Engineer at Strong.AI.

Quote of the Day by Guy P. Harrison

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Guy P. Harrison put the problem of the brain this way. If a skeptic disputes a psychic’s readings, then “the believer’s brain is likely to instinctively go into siege mode. The drawbridge is raised, crocodiles are released into the mote, and defenders man the walls.” He goes on to explain, “The worst part of all this is that the believer usually doesn’t recognize how biased and close-minded he is being. He likely feels that he is completely rational and fair. It doesn’t happen just with fans of psychics. We are all vulnerable to this distorted way of thinking.” [Think: Why You Should Question Everything, 2013), p. 67.] This process happens whenever the brain feels threatened by contrary data. The brain feels physically attacked when confronted with ideas that challenge it, and will do what it takes to deflect that attack. To see more, and learn what's required to overcome this strong tendency of the brain to keep us from the truth, see the tag mind of the believer.

"The brain treats questions about beliefs like physical threats. Can we learn to disarm it?"

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From a recent article with the above title:
Jonas Kaplan is an assistant research professor of psychology at USC’s Brain and Creativity Institute. He studies the human brain using fMRIs to observe how it responds to, among other stimuli, challenges to predisposed beliefs.

In a study that he and his research team published in Scientific Reports last year, they studied the scans of people undergoing simultaneous questioning, and demonstrated the physical effects that take place within the brain during periods when political beliefs were questioned.

The study uncovered a correlation: when a belief is directly challenged by new information, parts of the brain that typically show activity for physical threats expressed greater activity in people who tended to be more resistive to changing their minds.

“The brain can be thought of as a very sophisticated self-defense machine,” Kaplan told me. “If there is a belief that the brain considers part of who we are, it turns on its self-defense mode to protect that belief.”

Kaplan argues that this demonstrates that the brain reacts to belief challenges in the same way that it reacts to perceived physical threats. This would help explain why minds are so resistant to change the beliefs that form one’s perception of reality.
Can we learn to disarm it? The answer is Yes!

Five Things I Wish God Had Told Us Long Ago

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Last summer, while hanging out with a few friends of a certain age, we began to discuss how much life had changed since we were kids. One thing led to another and eventually we arrived at a kind of mutual consensus that our parents had done a pretty poor job of preparing us for the realities of adult life. “I wish my parents had taught me something about finances. Even how to balance a checkbook would’ve been helpful,” one friend confessed. We all laughed in agreement. Sex, marriage, raising children, money, practically all the big topics had been given precious little attention. Furthermore, because we were born in an era where technological change was faster than it had ever been before, our parents wouldn't have been able to imagine the changes in store for their children. 

“99% of the Bible Would Not Even Be Missed”

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It’s not the Good Book…and it’s not a good book to curl up with
In April 2015 the Gideons announced that they had given away their two billionth Bible. The American Bible Society probably isn’t far behind. I don’t doubt, moreover, that the Bible is the best selling book of all time, as is often claimed; it’s also been translated into more than 2,000 languages. So a lot of people on the planet own the Bible.

But how many of them read it? No matter how it has reached so many people, most of its owners don’t find it a page-turner. It’s probably the least read best seller of all time. Believers know they ‘ought’ to read it—but, no doubt about it, it’s a chore. They are stumped by so much of what made it into the canon. It doesn’t feel like God’s Word. Shouldn’t it be the best stuff ever?

The Brain of the Believer Is Deceiving Its Host. Why It Does It. And What It Takes To Be An Honest Seeker Of Truth.

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This time, boys and girls, I want to highlight what we see over and over and over again from Christian apologists and wannabe apologists alike without exception. Every single analogy offered in defense of a crucial tenet of faith is disanalogous to the very point being defended. Every. Single. One. Without. Exception. I could write a booklet highlighting them. When seen for the false analogies they really are, all they got is special pleading. So combining a whole lot of false analogies disguised as analogies gets them nothing.

Harold Newman asked Don Camp how we go about verifying his "personal experience with God" claim? "This one is especially puzzling to me because we haven't established that God exists, and you cannot have experiences with something that doesn't exist."

Don Camp:
We can establish that God exists in the very same way that we can be reasonably sure that there was a mouse in my kitchen. But, as you say, not 100%.

If we add the reasonableness of God's existence to the subjective experience of him, I who have that subjective experience can be more than intellectually convinced convinced of the probability; I can be personally convinced.

That is like my experience with the mouse. My report is reasonable based on the investigation and reasoning done. It is probable there was a mouse. My experience seeing the mouse makes it a personal reality.

And I can be reasonably sure that I did not hallucinate the mouse. If I alone had the experience of seeing the mouse, that might still be a possibility. But If others, many others, also see the mouse in my kitchen, the likelihood that we all are hallucinating is minimal.
The DC commenters have already taken Camp to task on this, but let me highlight what's wrong with it. First off mice exist. We have seen plenty of them to know. We can verify the existence of this mouse with objective evidence that would convince everyone; mouse droppings, eaten food, noises in the walls, and/or with our eyes. Again, we can verify the existence of this mouse with objective evidence that would convince everyone. There is no such evidence that convinces everyone Don Camp's sect specific god exists. That's because there is no observable god, unlike mice. Point. Get. The. The proper analogy is not a verifiable mouse. The proper analogy is to substitute Hobbits, Goblins, Unicorns, or gods like Zeus, Thor, Ra or Odin. Those invisible non-verifiable concepts do not admit of evidence that would convince every reasonable person. Let's compare comparables if we want to be honest with the available facts.

Evidence for a Multiverse in NASA & ESA Satellite Data?

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Quote of the Day by Gary M On Faith

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For Christians who believe faith is a gift, Gary M shows your hypocrisy:
Very often when I discuss the claims of Christianity with Christian apologists we get into a dispute over the meaning of the word "faith". We usually arrive at this point because I have made a claim such as this: "Those of us living in modern, educated, western societies are never asked to believe a truth claim by 'faith' except when it comes to the claims of religion."

The Christian apologist will usually object: "We all (Christians and non-Christians) exercise faith every day of our lives, in many different situations! By faith we cross bridges in the morning on our way to work. We do not get out of our car and personally inspect these bridges prior to driving over them. We have faith in the expertise of the engineers who have certified the bridge as safe. Likewise, when we board a plane we have faith that we will arrive safely at our desired destination. We place our faith in the quality construction of the manufacturer of the airplane; we place our faith in the airline operating that airplane that they have performed proper maintenance; and, we place our faith in the pilots of that airplane that they are well trained and that they will operate the plane in a safe, professional manner. Therefore, people living in modern, educated, western societies exercise faith in many areas of their lives, not just in the practice of their religion."

Based on the above, the apologist may give this short summary: "Faith is trust based on past performance."

I don't buy it.

That is not what most Christians mean by "faith" when they invoke this term regarding their belief in the supernatural claims of Christianity. They may incorporate some of the above into their concept of "faith" but the above definition leaves out a key component of Christian "faith". And that key component is this:

"Faith is a gift from God. It is not the product of one's own endeavors (works); it is not the product of one's use of his or her own intelligence, decision-making, or maturity."

Isn't that exactly how the Apostle Paul describes faith in his letter to the Ephesians???

When non-Christians cross over a bridge to go to work in the morning, they do not claim to be exercising secret knowledge gifted to them by an invisible Being to make it safely to the other side? When non-Christians board an airplane, they do not claim to be exercising secret knowledge gifted to them by an invisible Being to make it safely to their destination. It is therefore clear that the term "faith" used by Christians in relationship to the supernatural claims of their religion is not the same "faith" they exercise to cross a bridge or to board a plane. In the latter situations, they are exercising trust based on past performance. In the former situation, they are exercising wishful thinking regarding the unproven existence of an invisible supernatural being who gifts them secret knowledge and powers.

Christian faith is not simply trust based on past performance, my friends. Christian faith is really this: trust based on the reality of magic---and modern, educated people should not believe in magic!

When Arguments Defy Knowledge

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(Adapted from a reply to Vincent Torley)

A mind is a complex thing. Every example of a mind that we can study is the result of a complex system of biological bits and pieces.

There is one apparent exception: the mind that theologists claim created everything. This violates everything we know about minds -- especially the fact that minds are only explained as an emergent property of a complex biological system.

To those theologists, the explanation for that mind is that it's self-explanatory; with the bonus feature that it explains everything from creation of the universe to the laws of nature. We still have a lot to understand about the origins of the universe. it's premature to say we can never find a satisfactory explanation.

Explaining this kind of mind requires knowledge of it's form of existence. It cannot be real, otherwise it would be subject to all the rules of reality that came from that mind. It cannot be abstract, because no abstract "thing" can control the universe in any way. This mind must be a categorically different type of existence, a kind of existence that is otherwise unknown. Theologists cannot explain or defend it, only assert it.

Is Materialism a Faith?

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One often hears the claim that the worldview of atheists is based on faith, so that we have no more reason for our beliefs than the religious have for theirs. (Though many who say such things strangely enough consider their own faith to be perfectly justified!) One of the common atheist beliefs criticized this way is materialism. Supposedly, materialists say there is nothing beyond the physical world simply because they prefer to believe this. But is that true?

What’s God REALLY Like? You might be surprised…

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The God of the Bible could have rivals
Science writer Timothy Ferris has fantasized about an atlas of the entire Milky Way Galaxy. What would it look like? If each star system—with all of its planets—were summarized in just one page, he points out that this atlas…

“…would run to more than ten million volumes of ten thousand pages each. It would take a library the size of Harvard’s to house the atlas, and merely to flip through it, at the rate of a page per second, would require over ten thousand years…it becomes clear that we are never going to learn more than a tiny fraction of the story of our galaxy alone—and there are a hundred million more galaxies.” (Coming of Age in the Milky Way, p. 383)

This may make us feel insignificant, but we also must come to terms with our profound isolation from everything that may be going on “out there.” Ferris quotes physician Lewis Thomas: “The greatest of all the accomplishments of twentieth century science has been the discovery of human ignorance.”

Religion Has Been Harming Children for Centuries

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Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell. Proverbs 23:13

As an elementary principal of a rural school in Maine, I witnessed a lot of family dysfunction. I often marveled that so many children could manage their little worlds in spite of their parents. Family turmoil was pretty much the norm, but sometimes abuse entered the picture as well and that's when things got trickier. That's when I was required by law to involve the Department of Human Services. For the department to step in, however, the abuse had to be proven. To do so can be tricky when you live in a culture that defends the beating of children as a parent's God-given duty. So the agencies were always grappling with whether or not a parent had crossed the line. When was hitting too much hitting? How hard was too hard? What implements were appropriate to use? When was a child too young or too old to hit? Which parts of the body were acceptable for hitting? What kinds of misdemeanors merited smacking, hitting, spanking or whipping? Obviously there was no easy answers, especially when a good number of people held the long cherished belief that by not beating your kid, you run the risk of losing the child to the devil which would naturally up the chances of eternal damnation.

I Hate Christianity With A Passion!

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I hate what Christianity represents and what it has done to innocent people down through the centuries...with a passion.

See my anthology Christianity is Not Great: How Faith Fails to know why.

How Come That’s in the Bible? Where Do You Draw the Line?

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The holy book needs a good sweeping…

When piety gurus come up with an idea and it takes tenacious hold in minds of the faithful—no matter how bad it is—it can endure for centuries. Relics are first class gimmicks; bad theology, but they’re good for business. I’m told that relics fall into three categories: body parts of a saint, something he or she owned—or even an item that has been touched by the saint. I suspect latent atheism lurks behind the fasciation with relics: Since God cannot be seen, a relic is something tangible. The adoration/veneration of relics gives the faithful something to look at—a fragment of God right there in front of them…so he must be real.

Protestants have their own version of a relic, and it too is highly prized as evidence of God’s presence in the world, right there on paper: for Protestants the ultimate relic is the Bible. It has pride of place on altars, TV preachers wave it around, it’s a talisman for swearing oaths. The concept of canon—a body of works deemed holy, the very word of God—is magical thinking, i.e., a thing provides a way to know God, with no evidence whatever to support the claim. In fact, there is a lot of evidence against it, especially its inferior quality.

Ravi Zacharias Exposed as a Fraud?

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Ravi Zacharias preached at my 1985 graduation from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where I had earned my Th.M. in the Philosophy of Religion under William Lane Craig. I had taken 50% of my classes under Craig and graduated just before Paul Copan began school there. Anyway, Ravi has some explaining to do. Don't ya think? Just as Jeff Lowder does, who co-founded Internet Infidels, and goes around claiming he's a philosopher when all he has is a B.S. in computer science. See this LINK for the video.

The Bad Habit of Overrating Jesus

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Go Ahead, Christians, Follow the Sermon on the Mount, I Dare You
If only the four gospels hadn’t been bound together. Of course, their authors had no idea that would happen—and how much damage it would bring to their credibility.

Mark had no idea, for example, that Matthew would come along and add three chapters of supposedly ‘moral’ teachings, known to us as the Sermon on the Mount—and Matthew plagiarized about 90% of Mark, without mentioning his theft. Matthew had no idea that Luke would trim this Sermon considerably, and change the wording and setting (in Luke it’s at a ‘level place’). John decided to just leave it out.

The Debate Over Definitions of Faith

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The debate over faith is whether Christian definitions of faith make any sense (they don't), whether they are consistent with each other (they're not), and whether Christians do what their own definitions say they do (they don't). No, we emphatically do not have to use a word such as "faith" in the same way Christians use it, when the concept behind it is the debate itself. Although, if faith is trust, as they say, there is no reason to trust faith. If "faith is trust in a person", as they say, there's no reason to trust extraordinary miraculous claims such as the sun appearing as blood, or standing in the sky for a day, or that its shadow backed up a stairway, or it was eclipsed by the moon for more than an hour; nor that a virgin really had a baby in an ancient superstitious era where it was believed several important fetuses were birthed without sex, or that Jesus, Elijah and Moses really levitated before Peter, James and John, or that Zombie's came out of their tombs. There's no reason to trust these claims especially since they come from superstitious ancient people, such as prophets, apostles, priests, rabbis, sorcerers, shamans, and guru's, without having seen them for ourselves, or without being there to investigate them for ourselves.

Because of this sad state of faith, atheists and skeptics have come up with definitions of faith that make sense, are consistent with each other and describe what believers actually do. Here are some of mine:
Faith is an irrational leap over and beyond the available evidence.
Faith is an irrational leap over the need for evidence.
Faith is a mother of all cognitive biases.
Faith prohibits one's cognitive faculties from functioning properly.
Faith is the permission believers give themselves to accept bullshit as the truth.
Faith is trusting in a god who is believed as trustworthy based on faith that he is trustworthy.
Faith is an irrational leap over the probabilities. (OTF, p.207)
Faith is an attitude or feeling whereby believers attribute a higher degree of probability to the evidence than what the evidence calls for. (OTF, p.207)
Faith is an irrational, unevidenced, or misplaced trust in something or someone. (Unapologetic, p.152)
Faith is a cognitive bias that causes believers to overestimate any confirming evidence and underestimate any disconfirming evidence. (Unapologetic, p. 55)
Here are a few of Dr. Matt McCormick's definitions, from chapter 11, "The 'F' Word", in his book, Atheism and the Case Against Christ:

Why Is It That Scientific Minded People Cannot Believe?

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Scientific minded people who are consistently scientifically minded, without compartmentalization, cannot believe. Why is that? Why is science so successful yet god(s) condemn scientifically minded people who cannot believe? It doesn't make any sense, but then faith makes no sense. To see why everyone should think like a scientist read the first chapter in my anthology, Christianity in the Light of Science. The evidence is there that people who truly require sufficient objective empirical evidence cannot believe in invisible gods based on paltry testimonial evidence coming from an ancient superstitious world. Adopting methodological naturalism is all it takes to make scientists into metaphysical naturalists. Yet methodological naturalism is required for science. Let me put this point in the clearest most forceful way I can:

Five Books On Christianity and Women

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There's something very important you should know about traditional conservative biblical scholarship on the status and the roles of women in the Bible, and that is, it doesn't exist anymore. Poof! It's gone. Find me a book defending male patriarchal headship in the home or church or society and it's either not written by legitimate biblical scholars, or it gives way too much ground to current scholarship, such that traditional authors would've rejected it--or I'll be damned!

Theologians need not apply. Apologists need not apply.
There is a reason why. The traditional male headship position can no longer be maintained under critical study or research. That's because the Bible is a sexist, misogynistic book and honest biblical scholars cannot in good conscience say otherwise. Everyone should be a feminist. I am, as much as a male can be. Since the Bible is anti-feminist we should reject the Bible and the Christian faith. But many of these moderates and liberals are trying to reinvent the Christian faith, trying to force their faith into a Procrustean Bed of their own making.

Galatians 3:28, says: There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. The same guy who wrote Galatians 3:28 also told women not to speak in church (I Corinthians 14:34) and is believed to have said they are to submit to their husbands "in everything" (Ephesians 5:22-24). Seriously now, in a patriarchal society why would a perfectly good god merely say women were equally valuable to him? Even Muslims say this, and better, that women are even MORE special, and so they have to be protected...blah blah blah...while believing in an utterly misogynistic religion. The only reason Christians see more in Galatians 3:28 than is actually there, is because of social changes that opened their eyes to see it. Now for the five recommended books:

Quote of the Day by Chuck Johnson

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The universe of human thought is vast.
The universe of available facts is vast.

By picking and choosing, just about any idea can be justified, and that justification can look logical, reasonable, well-supported empirically, etc.

But religionists are powerfully motivated to prove that their religious beliefs are true. This motivation has been present for many thousands of years. This is a political motivation, the need to be successfully persuasive.

Scientists, on the other hand, are powerfully motivated to learn the truth, to discover more truth, and to share discovered truths with our fellow human beings. This is a scientific motivation, to discover the truth and to then let that discovered truth do the persuading.

The religionists indulge in groupthink, and then they believe that they have discovered the truth.

Scientists engage in independent thinking, discussion and contention, and empirical testing of new ideas.
This is so that groupthink is kept to a minimum and true, useful, well-thought-out, well tested-facts and theories are presented to the scientific community.

Groupthink is an ancient, intuition-based way to arrive at answers.
Science is a modern intuition-based plus empiricism-based way to arrive at answers.