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June 29, 2009
"We must teach our children to recognize their radiating effects on all they touch, and not only acknowledge their mighty power but embrace the responsibility that comes with it to further humanity's development, not for rewards in an afterlife, but to help make it possible for generations to come to experience living."
June 22, 2009
In the early 20th century anthropologist James Frazer proposed a recurrent dying-and-rising-gods motif in pre-Christian Near Eastern mythology. In The Riddle of Resurrection, Tryggve Mettinger attempts to revive this notion, but only by questionably redefining resurrection to mean some sort of continued existence after death. Mettinger concludes that there is no compelling evidence for a connection between this motif and Christianity, but nevertheless that the existence of such a connection remains an open question. This is an important qualification because popular Christian authors have cited Mettinger's work as evidence that there were no pagan influences on Christian beliefs about Jesus. In fact Mettinger denies having provided any sort of complete study which might support the uniqueness of the Christian concept of resurrection.
June 12, 2009
New in the Bookstore: Not the Impossible Faith: Why Christianity Didn't Need a Miracle to Succeed (2009) by Richard Carrier.
Not the Impossible Faith is a tour de force, dissecting and refuting the oft-repeated claim that Christianity could not have succeeded in the ancient world unless it were true. Dr. Carrier surveys a whole range of topics regarding the origin of Christianity and its cultural context, demonstrating that its success has entirely natural explanations and nothing to do with whether its supernatural claims were true. Written with occasional humor and an easy style, thoroughly referenced, and with many entertaining "gotcha!" moments, Not the Impossible Faith is a must-read for anyone interested in the origins of Christianity.
June 11, 2009
Does horrendous suffering constitute evidence against the existence of an all-powerful, all-knowing, and infinitely benevolent God? In this colorful hypothetical dialogue (based upon a real one in the philosophical literature), Mark Vuletic considers the primary issue of contention between the defender and skeptic of God's goodness: Could any amount of suffering ever constitute evidence against the goodness of God?
June 4, 2009
Added A Bug in William Lane Craig's Kalam Cosmological Argument (2009) by Jeffrey T. Allen to the Theistic Cosmological Arguments page in the Modern Documents section of the Secular Web Library.
A crucial premise of William Lane Craig's kalam cosmological argument (KCA) is that the universe began to exist. Craig supplements the KCA itself with a secondary argument for this crucial premise. That secondary argument, in turn, presumes that an actual infinite cannot exist. In this essay, Jeffrey T. Allen argues that if an omniscient God exists, the premise that an actual infinite cannot exist is false, as an omniscient God would need to know an infinite number of truths about himself. Thus Craig's defense of his KCA appears to entail a premise that contradicts the conclusion of his KCA. As long as Craig does not offer some alternative defense of the KCA premise that the universe began to exist, and unless he can justify limiting to the physical world, his KCA premise that whatever begins to exist has a cause, he must either concede that it is false that an actual infinite cannot exist, or else that God does not exist.