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What's New Archive2017December


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December 31, 2017

Added Why Scholars Doubt the Traditional Authors of the Gospels (2017) by Matthew Wade Ferguson to the Biblical Criticism page under Christianity, as well as the Argument from Holy Scripture page under Arguments for the Existence of a God in the Modern Documents section of the Secular Web Library.

The traditional authors of the canonical Gospels—Matthew the tax collector, Mark the attendant of Peter, Luke the attendant of Paul, and John the son of Zebedee—are not held to be the Gospels' actual authors by the majority of mainstream New Testament scholars. Christian apologists nevertheless produce a lot of material advocating the view that the Gospels are the eyewitness testimonies of either Jesus' disciples or their attendants. Much of the general public is unfamiliar with the mainstream scholarly view that the Gospels are anonymous works, written in a different language than that of Jesus, in distant lands, after a substantial gap of time, by unknown persons compiling, redacting, and inventing various traditions in order to provide a faith narrative of Christianity's central figure, Jesus Christ. While Matthew Wade Ferguson has previously discussed why scholars do not consider the Gospels to be historical documents, in this essay he explores a number of internal and external reasons why scholars doubt the traditional authorial attributions of the Gospels.


December 22, 2017

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It's long been said that religion provides harmless consolation in the face of an unforgiving world. But the dangerous decline of rational dialogue today belies this convenient fiction. Everywhere we turn, the facts themselves seem up for debate. The uninformed feelings of amateurs are given equal weight to the carefully vetted conclusions of experts. How did we stray so far from our Enlightenment values? Long before fake news entered the lexicon, unquestioning adherence to religious beliefs laid the foundations for our post-truth world. Those Christian institutions that insulated their students from the "fallen" secular world functioned as the original echo chambers.

Nevertheless, we've seen unprecedented grounds for cautious optimism. For the first time in history, almost a full third of Americans (31%) declare that they are neither spiritual nor religious. Compared to 38% of "nones" over 65, 79% of nones under 30 became religiously unaffiliated before they turned 18. While white evangelicals are on the decline, unaffiliated nones have become the majority "religious" demographic in 20 of the 50 US states. Overall, the religiously unaffiliated make up 24% of the US population—up from 7% in 1976, 12% in 1996, 14% in 2000, 17% in 2008, and 20% in 2012!



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