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What's New Archive1999December

December 30

Added Thomas Henry Huxley by John Patrick Michael Murphy to the Freethought section of the Modern Library.
Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895) was a towering genius of the 19th Century. In 1859 Charles Darwin gave Huxley an advance copy of the Origin of the Species for critical comment. Huxley, upon completing the small book, declared: "How exceedingly stupid not to have thought of that."

December 29

Added "Answers to Prayer" (1999) [ 9K ] by Lee Salisbury to the feature section
Salisbury asks why so many Christians are experiencing extreme difficulties, given Jesus' promise that prayers would be answered (Mt. 7:7).
Updated our "Call for Papers"
If you want to be published on the Secular Web, this page lists some topics we are interested in.
Added a link to "Straight From the Lead Horse's Mouth" (1999) (Off Site) [ 20K ] by James Patrick Holding (Off Site) to our "Known Rebuttals to Jury page" in the Modern Library
Josh McDowell wrote an enormously popular Christian apologetics book entitled, Evidence That Demands a Verdict (hereafter ETDAV). In response, Internet Infidels, Inc. put together an (almost-complete) comprehensive rebuttal to ETDAV; the title of our response is, The Jury Is In. Unlike McDowell, Christian apologist James Patrick Holding has decided to write a response to Jury. Holding charges, among other things, that the Jury project is completely misguided because Josh McDowell never intended for ETDAV to be an apologetic. Jeffery Jay Lowder and Holding have had a lengthy exchange over this issue. In Holding's latest tirade, he now reports to have personally interviewed McDowell and claims that McDowell denied that ETDAV was an apologetic. Moreover, McDowell informed Holding that a revised edition of ETDAV was about to be released; making Jury outdated.
Added a link to Christian Apologetics (Off Site) to our Select Christian Apologetics Web Sites page in the Modern Library
This site focuses on Darwinism. It also contains the patently false accusation that evolutionist web sites are unwilling to link to their critics. The Internet Infidels, as a matter of policy, link to all known rebuttals of our material. Also, we maintain an entire page of links to some of the best Christian apologetics web sites. Moreover, the leading pro-evolution web site, the Talk.Origins Archive also maintains a page with links to select creationist sites. I have written the webmaster of www.apologetics.org demanding that the statement be retracted or highly qualified.
-- Jeffery Jay Lowder

December 28

Added a page on anti-evolutionist William Dembski to the Christian Apologetics and Apologists section of the Modern Library

December 26

Added "Simplicity and Why the Universe Exists" (1997) [ 21K ] by Quentin Smith
Smith defends his atheistic cosmological argument which claims that big bang cosmology is evidence for atheism over theism. Special thanks to Dean Stretton for scanning this article.

December 21

Added Created From Animals: The Moral Implications of Darwinism by James Rachels to the ethics section of the II Bookstore
By emphasizing the link between humans and animals, Darwinism challenges traditional morality, which accords human life a unique value. Purusing the implications of Darwinism, James Rachels argues for a new, more enlightened ethic. Considering afresh the value of human and non-human life, he discusses such issues as animal rights, suicide, and euthanasisa. In addition, he provides an excellent introduction to Darwin's life and thought. Highly recommended.

December 18

Added Percy Bysshe Shelley by John Patrick Michael Murphy to the Freethought section of the Modern Library.
Percy Bysshe Shelley was a sad genius who tried to live a happy life. He mastered Latin and Greek, pondered the great philosophers, and, suddenly he was re-born - he became an amalgam of Lucretius, Pliny, Hume, Locke, d'Holbach, Bacon, Voltaire, Spinoza, Franklin, Paine, and a host of other giants whose thoughts were melded into his flashing mind.

Added "The Uniqueness of the Christian Experience" (1999) [ 248K ] by Ed Babinski

A critique of chapter twelve of Josh McDowell's Evidence That Demands a Verdict. (For a critique of the other chapters of ETDAV, see The Jury Is In.)

December 15

Added "The Unchristian Roots of the Fourth of July" (1999) [ 11K ] by Michael Buckner

Added On Musonius Rufus: a Brief Essay (1999) [ 16K ] by Richard Carrier

Brief essay on a first century example of a pagan moral philosopher who in some respects outshines what we are told about Jesus.

December 14

Added Radio Interview with Dr. Robert M. Price to the radio section of the Modern Library
Price is the author of Beyond Born Again and a member of the Jesus Seminar. Price discusses the historical Jesus and the recent cover story of Time magazine. The interview was produced for the Secular Web by T.J. Walker at TJWalker.com. (For all of today's news, visit TJWalker.com.)
Added "Philosophy Can Clip an Angel's Wings" (1999) [ 24K ]
A touching account of how an atheist was able to support a religious family after the tragic loss of their daughter.
Added Margaret Downey author page

December 12

Added "God and Moral Autonomy" (1997) [ 40K ] by James Rachels
Rachels defends an argument for the nonexistence of God based on the impossibility of a being worthy of worship.
Added James Rachels author page
James Rachels is University Professor of Philosophy at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is the author of Can Ethics Provide Answers?, Created from Animals: The Moral Implications of Darwinism, The End of Life: Euthanasia and Morality, and The Elements of Moral Philosophy. We are very honored to have one of his essays on the Secular Web.
Added "Did 'Top Psychics' Predict Jesus?" (1999) [ 41K ] by Robert M. Price
Robert Price critiques chapter nine of Josh McDowell's Evidence That Demands a Verdict. Price argues that contemporary biblical scholarship has thrown fundamentalist appeals to the "proof from prophecy" so seriously into question that it can no longer be used to defend the true messiahship of Jesus. (For a critique of the other chapters of ETDAV, see The Jury Is In.)

December 8

Added multiple reviews of the videotape of the recent Lowder-Fernandes Debate on naturalism vs. theism.

December 7

Added "R. M. Adams's Theodicy of Grace" (1999) [ 28K ] by Richard Gale
"Robert M. Adams, in a brilliant, thought-provoking essay, 'Must God Create the Best?', puts forth a theodicy for God's creating inferior people to those he could have created or, in general, a less perfect world than he could have created, in terms of his bestowing grace upon these created beings. ... It makes available to God the following excuse for creating free beings who produce a less favorable balance of moral good over moral evil than that which would have been realized by other free beings he could have created: 'Sure I created some rotten apples or, at any rate, people who are morally inferior to others I could have created, but in doing so I was bestowing my grace upon them--creating them without any consideration of their (moral) merit. So don't bug me about why I permitted there to be moral evil, or at least more moral evil than was required, given what my options were.' Whether or not Adams intended this wide an application of his theodicy of grace, it will be instructive to see how it fares when so interpreted."
Added "Swinburne's Argument from Religious Experience" (1994) [ 62K ] by Richard M. Gale
"Of all [Richard Swinburne's] many important contributions to philosophy, the one for which he is most likely to achieve lasting fame is his empirical argument for the existence of God in The Existence of God, a book that will become a classic in my opinion. As a result of this work, a return visit from Hume's Philo is needed, but he had better come loaded for bear, because the weapons that he used so effectively to stop poor Cleanthes in his tracks will be of no avail."
Added "Why Alston's Mystical Doxastic Practice Is Subjective" (1994) [ 22K ] by Richard M. Gale
"Within each of the great religions there is a well established doxastic practice (DP) of taking experiential inputs consisting of apparent direct perceptions of God (M-experiences) as giving prima facie justification, subject to defeat by overriders supplied by that religion, for belief outputs that God exists and is as he presents himself. (This DP is abbreviated as "MP.") William Alston's primary aim in his excellent book, Perceiving God, is to establish that we have epistemic justification for believing that MPs are reliable in that for the most part their belief outputs are true and moreover true of an objective or experience-independent reality, unlike the belief outputs of the DPs based on sensations and feelings, along with the introspective DP whose intentional accusatives, although existing independently of being introspected, fail to be objective because they are themselves conscious states."
Added "Freedom and the Free Will Defense" (1990) [ 62K ] by Richard M. Gale
"It is my purpose to explore some of the problems concerning the relation between divine creation and creaturely freedom by criticizing various versions of the Free Will Defense."
Added Richard M. Gale author page
Professor Richard M. Gale (University of Pittsburgh) is a distinguished philosopher of religion and author of the acclaimed book, On the Nature and Existence of God. We are very honored to host his work on the Secular Web.
Added "The Canon of the Bible" (1999) [ 142K ] by Larry Taylor
Taylor refutes chapter three of Josh McDowell's Evidence That Demands a Verdict. (For a critique of the other chapters of ETDAV, see The Jury Is In.)

December 6

Added "Al Gore on Arrogant Atheists" by James Still to the Features section.

by James Still

If the message boards are not yet crawling with the news they soon will be: U.S. Vice President and Presidential candidate Al Gore admitted that he was a born-again Christian. During a 60 Minutes interview, broadcast on Dec. 5, he also attacked nonbelievers--or what Gore referred to as the "anti-religious view"-- calling them "arrogant" and "intimidating . . . making people who do believe in God feel like they're being put down and I don't like that. I've never liked that."
Added mathew's web.scan for December
At the close of the millenium, mathew explores the end-of-the-world prophecies that are "coming thick and fast." You've read all of the online kooky predictions, the tabloid teasers, and have seen the televangelist's hawking their Y2K survival videos. Now find out the straight dope from the Secular Web's very own Nostradamus of Nonbelief!
Added October Feedback.

Added a paragraph on a statistic generated by Julian Huxley to Are the Odds Against the Origin of Life Too Great to Accept? (1999) [ 91K ] by Richard Carrier.

Recently, a creationist cited yet another dismally misquoted scientific statistic which really takes the cake for best example of an abused reference. Some other minor additions and changes were made throughout the whole essay.

December 3

Updated our Call for Papers

December 1

RESTORED at long last the II Open Discussion Board (Off Site)
Our discussion board is now hosted by Delphi.com. We are excited about our new discussion board; we think you'll agree that the service is vastly superior to our old board software. You can read messages right away; however, you will be asked to register before you can post to the board. Just follow the instructions and have fun!
Added Radio Interview with Dr. Michael Shermer to the radio section of the Modern Library
Shermer is the publisher of Skeptic magazine, the director of the Skeptics Society, and the host of the Skeptics Lecture Series at the California Institute of Technology. The interview was produced for the Secular Web by T.J. Walker at TJWalker.com. (For all of today's news, visit TJWalker.com.)
Added How We Believe: The Search for God in an Age of Science by Michael Shermer as the December 1999 Book of the Month
The intellectual and spiritual quest to understand the universe and our place in it is at the core of religion and the belief in God. At the beginning of the 20th century social scientists predicted that belief in God would decrease by the end of the century because of the secularization of society. In fact, the opposite has occurred. Never in history have so many, and such a high percentage of the population, believed in God. To find out why, social scientist Dr. Michael Shermer has undertaken a monumental study of religion and the belief in God.