Where did evil in the world come from? In this article Edouard Tahmizian considers God's causal influence on the origin of evil. He aims to show that, if biblical hard determinism is true, God would be the efficient cause of Adam and Eve's transgression—the original sin that the rest of humanity inherited when the first humans, Adam and Eve, purportedly ate fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil according to the Book of Genesis. Moreover, he argues, even if biblical hard determinism is not true and all events could have turned out differently, God would still be the final cause of Adam and Eve's sin, making him at least somewhat causally responsible for the sin of Adam and Eve that we all purportedly inherited. In the end, Tahmizian's analysis implies that God is ultimately the source of all evil.
Published on the Secular Web
Tune in to this half-hour discussion between host Edouard Tahmizian and Jesus mythicist David Fitzgerald, a former member of the now defunct Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion, and his wife Dana Fredsti, a sci-fi author and actress who has appeared in such films as Army of Darkness. Edouard's guests survey the plot lines of their cowritten Time Shards trilogy, their favorite draft beers, and whether Jesus mythicism is going to go mainstream. Check out this wide-ranging interview on a variety of interesting topics!
Join Edouard Tahmizian in this over-an-hour interview/presentation with the legend himself, Jeffery Jay Lowder, co-founder of Internet Infidels, as they canvas approaching philosophical topics with a scouting rather than soldiering mindset, cognitive bias in the philosophy of religion, the definition of atheism, the Euthyphro dilemma to classic divine command theory, how inference to the best explanation and Bayesian approaches to evaluating evidence work, whether theism is a better explanation for the existence of objective moral facts than naturalism, William Lane Craig's moral argument for the existence of God, and much more!
Join host Edouard Tahmizian in this 5-minute interview with fellow board member Paul Richards, the top administrator of and board liason for Internet Infidels Discussion Board (IIDB). In this friendly chat, Paul briefly notes the recent history of IIDB and welcomes newbies looking for an online hub to take a look and sign up if they'd like to participate in the lively discussions on a wide range of topics there. The IIDB community has served as a kind of online family for many long-time IIDBrs, and is just a fun place to be for those looking to participate in humor contests or video game strategy rundowns in addition to the more heady discussions of science, skepticism, religion, and politics. There's a bit of something for everybody in the appropriate subforums, so if you're into chatting on discussion forums, check out the new and improved Internet Infidels Discussion Board!
Check out this roughly 10-minute talk between Internet Infidels social media manager Edouard Tahmizian and Grant Kirkhope, a BAFTA-nominated (by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts) composer who composed the soundtrack for the video game series 007 Golden Eye, Perfect Dark, Ghostbusters, Mario Plus, Donkey Kong, and many others selling in excess of 30 millions copies, to say nothing of his movie soundtracks (including movies coming out January and March 2022). Kirkhope outlines his current musical projects, what it's like working with a large team on such projects, how he decides what musical score would be appropriate for a given video game, and the digital composition tools he uses to compose music for video games and movies and whether these have made his compositions easier to produce than before they were available. Tune in for this fascinating interview with an industry insider!
Join host Edouard Tahmizian in this roughly 15-minute interview with Justin Ykema, author of "A Critique of the Free Will Defense: A Comprehensive Look at Alvin Plantinga's Solution to the Problem of Evil." The discussion canvasses Ykema's main points of critique and motivation for writing his paper, such as the problem of evil casting doubt on any God being worthy of worship (since you would have to give up at least one of God's perfect power, knowledge, or goodness in light of the amount and kinds of suffering in the world). The discussion then turns to whether psychology is really a science, or whether it's closer to mathematics, given how heavily psychology relies on statistics, and given that the uniqueness of each individual makes it difficult, if not impossible, to replicate experiments across individuals. Ykema goes on to discuss what he's been doing since he got his philosophy degree before diving into what have been effective teaching styles in Ykema's experience. Check out this wide-ranging interview!
Join host Edouard Tahmizian in this 10-minute interview with Jeana Jorgensen, a lecturer at Butler University (Indiana) with degrees in folklore and gender studies. In this interview their discussion ranges from her goal to make intellectual histories more accessible to everyone (in her new book Folklore 101: An Accessible Introduction to Folklore Studies, for example), her accessible and inclusive teaching style, her blogging about Middle Eastern dance (including belly dancing), current events, and politics at Patheos on the Foxy Folklorist blog since 2017, her future collaborative pieces forthcoming at OnlySky, cooking, and her work on gender, sexuality, sexual education, folklore, fairy tales, and urban legends more generally. Check out this eclectic interview!
Join host Edouard Tahmizian in this quick interview with Josephine Jacob, a biochemistry and molecular biology major and president of the Secular Student Alliance chapter at Trinity University in Texas. Their discussion spans her role on the board of directors of the Secular Student Alliance, the goals, projects, and charitable activities of the Trinity University SSA chapter, and the performance of the Trinity University choir. She even mentions how much she enjoyed reading Edouard’s 2020 Secular Web paper "God is Either the Efficient or Final Cause of Evil.” Check it out!
Join host Edouard Tahmizian in this half-hour interview with Darren M. Slade, a theological historian, systematician, and critical rationalist philosopher who serves as president of the Global Center for Religious Research (GCRR) and serves as editor of its flagship publication, SHERM Journal. Slade summarizes GCRR's groundbreaking work in the first and largest sociological study of the causes, manifestation, and treatment of religious trauma as a real mental health condition before turning to whether the supposed early witnesses to Christianity, like Pappias or Polycarp, actually knew any of Jesus' apostles, or whether claims of a lineage back to Jesus were more of a political means to establish the authority of the early Church. The discussion then turns to whether 2 Peter (and similar scriptures) were ad hoc scriptures written to preserve the second-century Church when the dominant theologies of the time began to fall into doubt (because John failed to live to see the Second Coming of Christ in his lifetime, for example), and which New Testament books should be in the official Church cannon (or whether the question itself is misguided).
Tune in to Edouard Tahmizian’s two-hour-long interview with atheist debater Edward Tabash, a constitutional lawyer in Los Angeles who chairs the board of directors of the Center for Inquiry and has amicus briefs with the US Supreme Court and the California Supreme Court to preserve the separation of church and state. Tabash lays out how the new religious right-wing majority on the US Supreme Court (and other right-wing judges) are threatening government neutrality on matters of religion. The dangers posed to atheists' legal rights (such as religious organizations gaining the right to endorse candidates for public office while secular ones cannot) are compounded by those that flow from giving special legal privileges to religious special interests and no one else (such as churches being exempt from COVID restrictions placed upon all other establishments, or being able to bar same-sex couples from becoming foster parents who would otherwise be protected by antidiscrimination laws). What is particularly under threat today is the long-established principle that no branch of government can favor religion over irreligion, or aid all religions against nonbelievers, but there is also no shortage of attempts to allow religious individuals (and no others) to jeopardize the health and safety of the public or prevent government from meeting its obligations. In the second half of the hour the discussion turns to religious opposition to abortion rights, which if fully successful would represent the first time in history that the US Supreme Court has retracted a constitutional right that it had once granted.
Join host Edouard Tahmizian in this hour-long interview with esteemed biblical scholar Robert M. Price as they discuss Price's early realization that the amount of effort needed to fill in the gaps between the ancient concerns of the biblical writers and the unaddressed modern concerns of today would not be expected of a straightforward revelation from God. Their discussion goes on to consider how the Haggadic midrash, a way to interpret the Old Testament used in the parables attributed to Jesus, undermines the historicity of any Gospel story (as virtually all of them just repurpose an Old Testament story), before finally turning to the ahistoricity of the New Testament characterization of Paul (even if the literary Paul had been inspired by the historical person Simon Magus), the case for Jesus mythicism and the absence of contemporaneous references to Jesus, the implausibility of the penal substitutionary model of atonement, and much more. Check out this fascinating interview with a biblical scholar who became a legend himself!
Tune in to host Edouard Tahmizian's nearly hour-long interview with Jonathan M. S. Pearce, a founding member of the Tippling Philosophers, a friendly group of believers and nonbelievers who regularly meet over a pint of ale to discuss life's big questions. Pearce is the author of several books and a speaker on philosophy, religion, and skepticism best known for his old popular blog A Tippling Philosopher. In this interview, Pearce outlines how William Lane Craig's rendition of the kalam cosmological argument presupposes an implausible Platonism about abstract objects and a particular notion of causation that, if rejected, deflates the force of the argument. The interlocuters also canvass how the only remaining phenomena challenging naturalism are the beginning of the universe and consciousness, whether Jesus would have ever been buried in a tomb at all, why there are contradictions between the Gospels on basic details about the empty tomb story, the flaws in Mike Licona's argument that Paul wouldn't have hallucinated a risen Jesus if he had then seen Jesus as an enemy, the rationality of belief in miracles, the role of motivated reasoning in apologetic arguments, much more! Check out this fascinating interview with a prolific author on the Gospels as more propaganda than history.
Check out Edouard Tahmizian’s interview with Michael J. Alter, author of What is the Purpose of Creation? (1991), The Resurrection: A Critical Inquiry(2015), and A Thematic Access-Oriented Bibliography of Jesus’s Resurrection (2020), among other things. In this roughly hour-long discussion, after recommending a number of must-have works on the Resurrection and noting key points addressed in his forthcoming Global Center for Religious Research book (due May 2022), Alter explains why whether the Resurrection actually occurred is important to everyone, but especially important to Christians. Of particular interest is his explanation of why Jews and Muslims reject the Christian reading of 1 Corinthians 15 (which maintains that if there is no Resurrection, then you are still born of sin and pitiful). Who wrote the Gospels? When were they written? Where did Jesus’ disciples go after his crucifixion, and when exactly did it take place? There is little agreement among scholars on any of these questions due to various New Testament contradictions and omissions and the lack of multiple attestation (if Luke copies Matthew, and Matthew in turn copies Mark, then there is no independent testimony corroborating anything). Tune in to this fascinating interview with a world-class scholar who really knows his New Testament scholarship!
In this half-hour talk, Edouard Tahmizian chats with Keith Augustine, Executive Director & Editor-in-Chief of Internet Infidels, about why the future looks bright for secularism and the adoption of a naturalistic worldview in light of the rapid secularization of the United States since the 1990s.
Join host Edouard Tahmizian in this interview with the esteemed William Lane Craig, visiting scholar of philosophy at Talbot School of Theology and professor of philosophy at Houston Baptist University, among many other things. In this roughly 15-minute talk, Tahmizian and Craig canvass what constitutes the chief goal and substantive criticism of the kalam cosmological argument for the existence of God, whether or not Christ has both a human will and a divine will, whether God is the efficient cause of sin or author of evil, whether theistic evolution is biblical, and whether or not intelligent extraterrestrial life exists. Tune in for a fascinating discussion with a world-renowned Christian apologist and prolific writer and debater.
Join host Edouard Tahmizian in this 15-minute talk with John W. Loftus, a former apprentice of William Lane Craig who has authored or edited a dozen counterapologetics books since 2010, as they discuss Loftus' past work, Jesus mythicism, and what Loftus sees as the primary shortcomings of the free will defense that apologists sometimes invoke in response to arguments from horrendous suffering against the existence of an all-good God. Check out this quick and engaging discussion!
Join Freethinker Podcast host Edouard Tahmizian for this just over one-hour interview with Vincent Torley, a skeptical Catholic and former intelligent design proponent who wrote the blog series An A-Z of Unanswered Objections to Christianity over at The Skeptical Zone blog, where he outlines 26 different areas where there is a crisis in Christian apologetics. Join Ed and Dr. Torley for a fascinating discussion of topics like the apologetic reliance on the existence of a problematic libertarian kind of free will, attempts to make room for this sort of free will using quantum mechanics, whether determinism rules out moral responsibility, the failure of apologetic attempts to respond to the problem of evil based on the assumption that God has no moral duty to intervene to prevent evil (particularly "soul-breaking" evil), as well as why Torley doesn't feel that this failure challenges his faith given the existence of beauty and the simple everyday miracle of being alive. Also check out their discussion of whether or not the accounts of the apostles provide evidence for the resurrection of Jesus given that the Gospel accounts were not written contemporaneously with the events that they recount.
Join host Edouard Tahmizian in this 20-minute Freethinker Podcast interview with Steve Cass and Tally Cass of the rock band Monster on Sunday as they canvass their current projects to empower nonbelievers, their forthcoming album Black Sheep, raising children as freethinkers, feeling gratitude in a purposeless universe, atheist rock songs and the inspiration for the name of their band, living life by rational principles, free will vs. determinism, and more! Tune in for a taste of the impact of freethought on the music scene.
Join Internet Infidels social media manager Edouard Tahmizian and Vice President of Internet Infidels John MacDonald for an interesting talk about how little biblical scholars claim to know about Jesus (namely, that he was baptized by John the Baptist and crucified), about whether Jesus even knew John the Baptist, and about the relationship between Jesus and Moses in the Gospel of Matthew as an illustration of how Gospel authors retooled Old Testament stories for new theological purposes in the New Testament. Check out this interview for a quick overview of an important aspect of early Christian history and an update on Secular Web Kids.
Join Freethinker Podcast host Edouard Tahmizian in this shy of half-hour interview with Bill Gaede, cohost of the Rational Science podcast, where they explore an understanding of mathematical physics alternative to physical interpretations of quantum mechanics (on phenomena like action at a distance) and general relativity (on phenomena like gravity) that Gaede calls the rope hypothesis, in which "shape" is a primary physical property. Tune in for Gaede's explanation of how magnets attract and a short history of his previous life as an industrial spy during the Cold War.
Join host Edouard Tahmizian in this 5-minute interview with a mystery guest about the meaning of the word "secular," about why he is not a Christian and doesn't buy the empty tomb narratives as evidence for Jesus' resurrection, about what human and animal suffering can tell us about the existence or nonexistence of God, about whether beauty in the world points to the existence of God, and more! Check out the mystery guest's answers to these deep questions put in words that everyone can understand.
Join Freethinker Podcast host Edouard Tahmizian for this roughly half-hour interview with prominent historian and freethinker Richard C. Carrier about whether or not the Jewish polemic in Matthew's gospel alluded to by Justin Martyr corroborates the existence of a historical Jesus, about what (assuming that there was a historical Jesus) happened to Jesus' body after his death, about what reasons we have to think that the Josephus quote mentioning Jesus was entirely (rather than partially) forged, and about why the empty tomb narratives were invented, or why contemporaneous sources never call out the fictional nature of Jesus, if Jesus never existed, among other things. Check out this very informative interview!
Join host Edouard Tahmizian in this 15-minute interview with Aron Ra, regional director for American Atheists, author of Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism, host of the Ra-Men podcast, and director of the Phylogeny Explorer Project as they discuss Aron Ra's phylogeny challenge to creationists, how both archeology and genetics testify to the ahistoricity of the Noah's Ark legend, and how religious belief is too closely tied to individuals' identities to promote the search for truth.
Join Edouard Tahmizian in this nearly half-hour interview with Dan Barker, co-president of the long-running Freedom from Religion Foundation, about how the fine-tuning argument for a designer fallaciously equivocates order/organization with intentional design, the best evidence for evolution, the historical reliability of the canonical Gospels and their divergent resurrection accounts, the historicity of Jesus, and more! Check out this fantastic interview with a preacher-turned-atheist who’s done his homework on a wide range of issues.
In this roughly hour-long interview with leading biblical scholar John Dominic Crossan, host Edouard Tahmizian delves into Crossan’s intriguing exploration of how Paul recast the Judaic concept of a general resurrection at the end of time as process that occurs through time, the obscenity of the notion that God oversaw Jesus’ murder so that Jesus could take the punishment for our sins to absolve us from having to receive it, what higher criticism has revealed about the use of “artistic license” in the composition of the canonical Gospels, and whether Jesus was one of many contemporaneous leaders experimenting with nonviolent resistance in response to Roman rule. Check out this intriguing interview with a world-class scholar on all of these issues and more!
In this nearly hour-long interview with the prominent historian and freethinker Richard C. Carrier, Freethinker Podcast host Edouard Tahmizian and fellow Internet Infidels board member John MacDonald talk with Carrier about his conversion from Christianity to Taoism before he adopted metaphysical naturalism, his mystical experiences, the literature on the historicity of Jesus and Jesus mythicism, the original intent of the authors of the canonical Gospels, and much more! Tune in for this fascinating discussion with a long-running scholar and freethought activist.
In this 20-minute overview of his Secular Web paper “God is Either the Efficient or Final Cause of Evil,” Edouard Tahmizian outlines his argument that if the biblical account outlined in Genesis is true, then God is ultimately the source of all evil since he is causally responsible for any original sin that humanity inherited from Adam and Eve’s initial transgression in the Garden of Eden.
In this half-hour long dialog, Edouard Tahmizian (host and board member of Internet Infidels) talks with Dr. David Madison, a pastor-turned-atheist who received his Ph.D. in biblical studies from Boston University School of Theology, Madison recounts how his early obsession with discerning history from legend in the Bible eventually led him to become an atheist. His challenge to theists today is to provide even one verifiable fact about God that all theists agree on, a challenge made particularly daunting by the fact that theists cannot even agree about which revealed text to consult in order to answer it. Madison also talks about the societal damage wrought by Jesus’ alleged words on the unacceptability of divorce, about whether he would return during his immediate followers’ lifetimes, about the historical unreliability of the canonical Gospels, and much more. Tune in for this fascinating discussion!
In this twenty-minute dialog, host and Internet Infidels social media manager Edouard Tahmizian talks with Bob Seidensticker, a retired Microsoft computer programmer and blogger for the last decade at the Patheos blog Cross Examined: Clear Thinking about Christianity. Join Edouard and John as they discuss historical Jesus studies, John’s deconversion and antitheism, the best arguments against the existence of God, the evidence for biological evolution, the lack of manuscripts of the canonical Gospels contemporaneous with the events they depict, and John’s forthcoming book 2-Minute Christianity: 50 Big Ideas Every Christian Should Understand.
In this half-hour dialog with Jesus mythicist David Fitzgerald, a one-time member of the now defunct Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion, host Edouard Tahmizian explores Fitzgerald’s reasons for denying the historicity of Jesus, which were born out of trying to differentiate the historical person from the legendary accretions that built up around him.
In this over half-hour dialog with Dr. Dennis R. MacDonald, John Wesley Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at the Claremont School of Theology, host Edouard Tahmizian explores Dr. MacDonald’s work on the concept of mimesis and on reconstructing the historical Jesus.