Showing posts with label Monday Mornings. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Monday Mornings. Show all posts

An Excerpt From Chapter 2, From "The Outsider Test for Faith", pp. 33-44


Chapter 2: The Fact of Religious Diversity

This chapter supports my first contention—that people who are located in distinct geographical areas around the globe overwhelmingly adopt and justify a wide diversity of mutually exclusive religious faiths due to their particular upbringing and shared cultural heritage. This is the Religious Diversity Thesis (RDVT), and it is a well-established fact in today’s world. The problem of religious diversity cries out for reasonable explanation, something that faith has not provided so far. Attempts to mitigate it or explain it, as we’ll see, either fail to take it seriously or explain religion itself away.

Reality Check: What Must Be the Case if Christianity is True?


In 2011 I did a series of posts called "Reality Check: What Must Be the Case if Christianity is True?"  I put some of them in the third chapter in  The End of Christianity, and the first chapter in God and Horrendous Suffering.

Below I've put together thirty of them that most Christians agree on and why they are all improbable:

1) There must be a God who is a simple being yet made up of three inexplicable persons existing forever outside of time without a beginning, who therefore never learned anything new, never took a risk, never made a decision, never disagreed within the Godhead, and never had a prior moment to freely choose his own nature.

2) There must be a personal non-embodied omnipresent God who created the physical universe ex-nihilo in the first moment of time who will subsequently forever experience a sequence of events in time.

David Eller, "Is Religion Compatible with Science?" An Excerpt from Chapter 11 in "The End Of Christianity"


IS RELIGION COMPATIBLE WITH SCIENCE? by Dr. David Eller (pp. 257-278). [This is a 4000 word excerpt out of 8600 words. Get the book!]

  In most of the squabbles between religion and science, religion is never defined, because, since most of the squabbles are occurring in majority-Christian societies, the assumption is that “religion” means “Christianity.” Worse yet, the assumption is usually that “religion” means “traditional Chris­tianity” or “evangelical/fundamentalist Christianity.” Substituting one of these terms for “religion” in our original question yields the highly problematic inquiry: Is traditional/evangelical/fundamentalist Christianity compatible with science?

The first problem, of course, is that even if it is not, then perhaps some other form—some modernist or liberal form—of Christianity
is com­patible with science; perhaps Christianity can be adjusted and juked to fit with science. The second and more profound problem is that even if traditional/evangelical/ fundamentalist Christianity or any version of Christianity whatsoever is not compatible with science, perhaps some other religion—say, Hinduism or Wicca or ancient Mayan religion or Scientology—is. Yet you will notice that almost no one asks, and almost no one in the United States or any other Christian-dominated society cares, whether Hinduism or ancient Mayan religion is compatible with science, since few people know or care about Hin­duism or ancient Mayan religion. The tempest over religion and science is thus quite a local and parochial brouhaha, people fighting for their particular reli­gion against (some version or idea of) science.

The Christian Illusion of Rational Superiority (Part 2)

[This is one of my earliest posts, published in January 2006] Many Christians will maintain they have a superior foundation for knowing and for choosing to do what is good. They claim to have objective ethical standards for being good, based in a morally good creator God, and that the atheist has no ultimate justification for being moral.

Consider what Dr. William Lane Craig wrote: “If life ends at the grave, then it makes no difference whether one has lived as a Stalin or as a saint.…” “Who is to judge that the values of Adolf Hitler are inferior to those of a saint? “The world was horrified when it learned that at camps like Dachau the Nazis had used prisoners for medical experiments on living humans. But why not? If God does not exist, there can be no objection to using people as human guinea pigs.” [Apologetics: An Introduction, pp. 37-51].

The Christian claims to have absolute and objective ethical standards for knowing right from wrong, which is something they claim atheists don’t have. The Christian standards are grounded in the commands of a good creator God, and these commands come from God’s very nature and revealed to them in the Bible. There is a philosophical foundation for this claim, and then there is the case Christians present that the Bible reveals God’s ethical commands. Both are illusions of superiority. It is an illusion that the Christian moral theory is superior, and it is an illusion that Christians know any better than others how they should morally behave in our world.

The Christian Illusion of Rational Superiority (Part 1)

[This was one of my earliest posts here at DC] Many Christians assume a certain kind of rational superiority over any other system of belief and thought, especially atheism. According to them, their beliefs are rationally superior in the sense that Christianity wins hands down in the marketplace of ideas. They claim that a compelling case can be made for believing in Christianity over any other system of belief and thought.
This way of thinking about the Christian faith is due to what my friend and Christian scholar, Dr. James Sennett calls, “The Illusion of Rational Superiority,” in his forthcoming book: This Much I Know: A Postmodern Apologetic.

Dr. James Sennett argues against the idea that people who reject Christianity do so because they are either “ignorant,” “stupid” or “dishonest with the facts.” That is, he argues against the idea that a “fully rational rejection of Christianity is impossible.” Dr. Sennett calls this objection the Christian “Illusion of Rational Superiority." It's simply an illusion, he claims. [Although, as a Christian philosopher he argues it is an unnecessary illusion due to the fact that even though he has a reasonable faith, it is “not rationally compelling to all.”]

On Vampires and Revenants Resurrecting from the Dead, Written by Kris Keys


[First published on 10/5/20] Because this is the haunted month of Halloween here's something to spook ya all!

I'm always interested in new angles to argue my case against Christianity. Kris Keys does that in the excellently researched essay below. He argues there is more evidence for the resurrection of Vampires and Revenants than there is for the resurrection of Jesus.

Introductory comments by Kris Keys:

Well this is my first time writing a blog post and little did I know it would be for the website Debunking Christianity!! I find this to be completely hilarious as I am not in of myself militantly opposed to Christianity in of itself; I tend to dislike Evangelicals but that is because I view them as hypocritical and blatantly power hungry but of course this description would not apply to all Christians. As probably the readers of this post have deduced by now I am not a Christian, but I am also not an atheist either. I tend to be rather eclectic in my views. I fancy myself to be broad minded and open to change.

I am a schoolteacher by profession, and I have taught both social studies and science at the high school level. I have dual degrees in both fields. In my not remotely enough spare time I enjoy reading folklore, Medieval history, sociology, anthropology and other subjects. Basically a lot of stuff.  Over the years I have heard the Christian argument for the physical resurrection of Jesus and at one time I found this argument to be convincing, but more and more for many varied reasons I became rather skeptical of it. 

None of this explains though, how this essay came about! Nothing remarkable about it really. I was scrolling through Facebook and I saw John Loftus’s profile. In discussion with him I mentioned that one could use the resurrection argument to demonstrate the existence of vampires and I showed him a response I wrote to a friend of mine on this.  John asked me to do a write up for him.

So here is a write up I never seriously figured I would write up on a blog, one that I never suspected I would write for. So I hope everyone enjoys it. So without further ado, here is my attempt to show that the Christian argument for the resurrection of Jesus would also demonstrate vampires exist. I will leave it up to you dear readers to determine if Jesus rose from the dead and if you need to invest in crucifixes and garlics now; or that perhaps claims of the dead returning bodily just should not be given the benefit of the doubt. You decide.

The Parable of the Mysterious Witness by John C. Wathey

The Parable of the Mysterious Witness by John C. Wathey:

This fictitious story begins with a sexual predator who has been stalking a family, watching their house. His eye is on the young daughter. He has studied her habits and those of her parents long enough. He decides to attack. So he enters her room through the window, silences the frantic child with duct tape, and carries her to his car. The predator reaches a wooded area and drags the struggling girl with her muffled screams into the woods, where he brutally beats her, rapes her, and buries her alive in a shallow grave. The predator then drives away.

Shockingly there was a mysterious witness watching him, an undercover policeman. Although he carries a gun he did not intervene. Although he has a police radio he did not call for assistance. He simply watched it all take place then drove home, leaving the girl to suffocate to death. Even more shocking we’re told the policeman is the girl’s father, and that he dearly loves her! “The crime of this sexual predator must surely be among the most despicable imaginable. Yet I expect most readers of this story are even more appalled at the behavior of the mysterious witness. How can one possibly rationalize his utter failure to rescue this poor little girl, his own daughter? And yet, for the believer in the omniscient, omnipotent, and benevolent personal god, every horrendous act of evil in the world, every natural disaster, every injury, illness, and genetic defect that causes senseless suffering has just such a mysterious witness: God himself. [John C. Wathey, The Illusion of God’s Presence: The Biological Origins of Religious Longing (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2016), pp. 38-39.]

Dr. Hector Avalos On Mistranslating The Bible

From his masterful book, The End of Biblical Studies.

Ten Reasons Why Most Believers Don't Seriously Question Their Faith


Every Monday morning I'm posting submitted essays, excerpts from my books, and some of the best posts of the past. Here's one from January 17, 2012.

This topic interests me to no end. Why don't most believers seriously question their faith? Does it take a special type of individual? Does it require some personality trait that believers don't have? Does that make skeptics different people? Could it be intelligence? Could it be that skeptics have a higher self-esteem than others? Is it that we don't need social approval? Is it that life's experiences have shown us we cannot accept the dominant opinion on a matter? Is it that we question what we're told in general? Perhaps, but when we look at skeptics in general there doesn't seem to be a set pattern. Perhaps a scientific poll might help answer that kind of question. What I do think is that the following ten reasons are almost certainly necessary conditions even if they are not sufficient ones:

On the Incompatibility of Answered Prayers and Science by Daniel Mocsny

By Daniel Mocsny: If outside influences like prayer or meddling gods cannot be excluded, then science cannot proceed - it won't work. The same experiment will get different results depending on who was praying somewhere in the world, or on the whim of some god. Science doesn't just assume that we only use natural explanations, it actually requires that only natural phenomena exist. Otherwise you can't reliably replicate a result. Replication is fundamental to science, and even more important for industries built on science, which replicate the same products billions of times.

Thus the very existence of science is strong evidence against the kinds of gods people worship - gods who intervene routinely in the natural order. The burden of proof is therefore on the theist to explain how we can have science and smartphones that undeniably exist, and at the same time we have their God whose existence and behavior would make science impossible. The plain fact that during the past two centuries the intellectual elite (i.e., those who actually have some claim to expertise on matters of religion, philosophy, and science) have indeed become overwhelmingly skeptical in regard to the existence of a "conscious Creator.”

From Richard Carrier's Essay, "Establishing the Biblical Literalism of Early Christians":

Richard Carrier establishes the fact that early Christians really believed their miracle stories, contrary to liberals who demythologize the Gospels like Rudolph Bultmann and John Dominic Crossan:


Usually I don’t have to argue this because it’s obvious. But there are a few who have attempted to contend that early Christians—say, before the fourth century—never took the Gospels as factually true reports of events but only as allegorical tales, fables conveying a point or deeper truth—essentially, as edifying fiction. Some have even strongly asserted there is no evidence of anyone in that time ever treating the Gospels as historical fact. This is so wildly false I am astonished and perplexed by anyone saying this, particularly when they are erudite, well-trained scholars. But every once in a while this happens: someone assertively insists well-established premises of a field I’m in are false, requiring me to do the work of culling enough of the rather obvious evidence we otherwise take for granted just to put such things to rest and demonstrate that, yes, this time, the premise is a correct assumption of the field, not a sectarian contrivance or modern conceit (and remember, I am always ready to admit when it is not).

To be clear, my argument to follow is not that ancient Christians were radical fundamentalists who rejected every allegorical interpretation of tales in their Bible. Every Christian accepted some things in their stories were edifying fictions, or that they were both literally true and allegorically meaningful (I give extensive evidence of this in On the Historicity of Jesus, Chapter 4, Element 14). But my point here on out is that all extant Christian literature from the first two centuries of the religion, every single text that conveys any position on the matter at all, consistently insists the Gospels are substantially records of historical facts. And they often even insist that anyone who denies this is a loathsome fool damned to hell. Even if those same Christians will give an allegorical meaning of a story here and there, that does not counter my point: that none say the Gospels are wholly allegory, or that anyone can be saved believing they are. Ironically, their shrill insistence on this proves other Christians existed who did think the Gospels were entirely a sacred fiction. But we don’t get to read anything those Christians wrote. They were the enemy, all but erased from history, by that other faction of Christianity that came to dominate the world....We can therefore never say “early Christians simply did not regard the Gospels as historical records.” Put that claim to rest. The evidence against it is vast and unassailable. It simply is not true.

The Trickster’s Apprentice, by David Eller


My plan is to post something of interest every Monday morning. These posts will include excerpts from my books, submitted essays, posts made here in the past, and new ones. Enjoy.

The Trickster’s Apprentice

By David Eller

At the end of the first part of Thus Spake Zarathustra, Nietzsche has Zarathustra withdraw into his solitude, asking, “what matter all believers? You have not yet sought yourselves: and you found me. Thus do all believers; therefore all faith amounts to so little.” In a previous essay, I introduced the figure of the trickster, the mischievous, unrestrained, shape-shifting boundary-crosser to whom many pundits have likened Trump. I realize now that that essay was the first of a two-part musing on faith and following, inspired by this cross-cultural fact: people don’t usually follow tricksters. They may laugh at him (since, as I pointed out previously, a trickster is almost always a male, at least at first), they may be aghast at his disrespect of morals and traditions, they may dread his baleful influence. A trickster is always a destroyer, usually a creator, sometimes a buffoon or cautionary tale, but virtually never a leader. Who would choose the trickster’s world of chimeras, deceptions, and insatiable appetites? 

Daniel Mocsny's Rebuttal of Paul Moser's Definitional Apologetics, Which Obfuscates the Fact That Christianity is Utter Nonsense!

Christian apologist and philosopher Paul K Moser is wrong, dead wrong, but at least he allows comments that disagree. I got to him though, when I said at the end of some extensive prodding, that what he believes is "utter nonsense." That comment was deleted. His main problem was that I refused to state what "objective evidence" is, putting it in quotation marks, as if he might not know. Then he chides me, saying "Note how you have ignored this key issue."

I have refrained from doing so, because doing so is an endless quagmire of me chasing him down the rabbits hole of this, then that, then this, then that, getting no closer to the truth. It's something believing philosophers of religion are experts in, and it's a trick called definitional apologetics, which obfuscates the truth. Here's a quote I wrote in my book Unapologetic: Why Philosophy of Religion Must End (p. 28):
Over the last decade I have found that one bastion for Christian apologists has been philosophy, especially the philosophy of religion. The scholars have honed their definitional apologetics in such a fine-tuned manner that when engaging them in this discipline, it’s like trying to catch a greased pig. Or, to switch metaphors, trying to chase them down the rabbit’s hole in an endless and ultimately fruitless quest for definitions. What’s an extraordinary claim? What constitutes evidence? What’s the definition of supernatural? What’s the scientific method? What’s a miracle? What’s a basic belief? What’s a veridical religious experience? What’s evil? They do this just like others have done over questions like, “What is the definition of pornography?” And then they gerrymander around the plain simple facts of experience. I would rather deal in concrete examples like a virgin who supposedly had a baby and a man who supposedly was raised from the dead.
The reason why I prefer to deal in concrete examples is because of how Christian philosophers use definitions to obfuscate their own theology. It isn't because I'm anti-intellectual. Nor do I think definitions are unimportant. I just want truth to prevail.

Anyway, Daniel Mocsny has written a nice rebutal of Moser's attempt which I highly recommend.

What Motivates an Atheist to be a Good Person?

Every Monday morning I'm posting submitted essays, excerpts from my books, and some of the best posts of the past. This post today is one of the first ones I made to this blog back in 2006. Enjoy!

Many Christians will claim that atheists simply do not have an ultimate motivation for being good. What motivates an atheist to be a good and kind person? Why should we act morally? J.P. Moreland believes atheists can and in fact do good moral deeds, “But what I’m arguing,” he says, “is, What would be the point? Why should I do these things if they are not satisfying to me or if they are not in my interests? [Does God Exist: The Great Debate (Thomas Nelson, 1990), pp. 118].
C. Stephen Layman argues in a similar fashion. He points out that the main difference between secular and religious moral views are that “the only goods available from a secular perspective are earthly goods,” whereas a religious perspective “recognizes these earthly goods as good, but it insists that there are non-earthly or transcendent goods.” Secular ethics, he says, must pay for the individual here on earth. “By way of contrast with the secular view, it is not difficult to see how morality might pay if there is a God of the Christian type.” [The Shape of the Good: Christian Reflections on the Foundations of Ethics (Univ. of Notre Dame Press, 1991)].

Trump is a God—Just Not the One That Christians Believe, by David Eller


Loki, the Norseman Trickster Chaos god
Beginning today, and every Monday morning that follows, I'll be posting submitted essays, excerpts from my books, and some of the best posts of the past. Today is a post by Professor David Eller. He's no stranger to readers of my books. He's one of our best and important scholars on religion. 
So as the author of an excellent book on Donald Trump, I asked him to write something for us all to ponder, especially in light of being a twice impeached one-term multiple indicted president. Dr. Eller sent me this:




Trump’s greatest trick is convincing Christians he is not a trickster.


The slavish and really obscene worship of Donald Trump by his misguided acolytes is incomprehensible from a purely political or personal perspective: Americans do not typically grovel at the feet of politicians or erect golden-calf images of them, and Trump is obviously a more despicable person than most would-be leaders. 


However, as others have commented, Trump’s Svengali hold on his “base” makes more sense from a religious viewpoint: Christians and conservatives, who have been programmed to genuflect to power and who see him as a perfectly-flawed suffering servant display the same unquestioning commitment to him and his untruths as they do to their god and its untruth.

I Plan On Monday Posts

My plan is to post excerpts from my books on Mondays. This will include excerpts from all of the authors too. I must resist the urge to revise most everything I wrote! Okay now, OPEN THREAD!