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October 17, 2016
New in the Kiosk: The Struggle Is the Story: A Philosophical Note on Mankind's Mission (2016) by Mike Chege
Is life meaningless without God and a divine plan? In this essay, Chege tackles the age-old question of whether the apparent lack of a divine plan for mankind necessarily leads to nihilism. He argues that man-made goals are capable of fulfilling the same role as the belief in a divine plan, but by promising a greater life in this world rather than in the next.
October 9, 2016
Killing Jesus, the bestselling blockbuster by Bill O'Reilly, claims to be a purely historical account of the events in the life of Jesus leading up to his crucifixion. New Testament scholar Robert M. Price (a member of the Jesus Seminar) shows how unfounded this claim is in this critical review of O'Reilly's work. In fact, he judges the book to be the number one source of misinformation on Jesus today. Ignoring over one hundred years of New Testament scholarship, O'Reilly and his coauthor, Martin Dugard, have produced what Price describes as a Christian historical thriller that plays fast and loose with the facts.
October 3, 2016
Even though radical Islam is spreading, not much is known about the Koran in Western countries, and there seems to be an unwillingness to have a closer look at the book. Yet without this, informed discussion is not possible, and what debate does take place is no more than an exchange of opinion and ignorance. Amongst other things, the Koran is said to call for holy war (jihad) and sanction domestic violence, but when asked about this, Muslims and Western apologists flatly deny it and one cannot rebut them without precise quotes. They maintain that the Koran does not preach violence, only compassion and justice (and one should well ask whose justice), yet the book they defend does not support their claims. Read the Koran, they say. I have. And I cut through the litany to point out a number of disturbing passages. Each quote is referenced by the number of the line where it begins.
September 27, 2016
A little reflection will show that many religious beliefs and practices have absurd implications. In this paper Ryan Stringer provides several examples of such absurdities and defends them against potential objections. Some of the moral absurdities considered include: the belief that an innocent person like Jesus could pay for the sins of wrongdoers; that God could be simultaneously tyrannical and loving; that a morally perfect God could create a maximally miserable place like Hell; that God wants to form loving relationships with us while simultaneously hiding from us; and that a loving heavenly father also wants us to genuinely fear him. In addition, it is absurd to believe that an all-knowing and all-powerful God needs people to do his work for him instead of doing it himself; that, despite knowing what is best for us, God nevertheless alters his plans in response to prayer; that a maximally good God would create a maximally evil being like Satan knowing Satan's evil nature ahead of time; or that there could be a genuine struggle between good and evil even though God has predetermined everything to happen exactly as he intends. Stringer wraps up his discussion with an appendix on the absurdities generated by a divine command metaethics that maintains that there is nothing morally wrong with anything that God might do so long as God approves of his own actions, for God's approval (and his approval alone) automatically renders any action morally right.
August 20, 2016
"There are a lot of questions that I would like to ask god. The trouble is that god's answers would lead to many more questions, so my questions would have to become a conversation, delving ever deeper into god's answers. From what is said about god he might not like that. God seems to want unconditional obedience, not question and answer sessions. In any case, I here put forth my questions."