February 20, 2011

Debating: weak without rhetoric

Posted in art, atheism, culture, psychology, religion, science at 8:18 pm by Jerry

People can google the info if evidence is their highest priority. (These people don’t need a debater.)

However, if peoples’ highest priority is wanting to believe in something they think is more worthy than believing in it’s competing beliefs, good debaters are needed.

Good debaters realize they have more to address than the part of the mind that collects and compares information. “Pathos” and “Ethos” are just as important as “Logos” when communicating/relating with others (a lesson I’ve been learning from my favorite rhetorician). And good debaters make good use of rhetoric to counter-act whatever misuses of rhetoric the opposition employs…


February 15, 2011

“My Love is Truer and Greater than Yours!”

Posted in art, atheism, fatherhood, holidays, love, psychology, religion at 10:19 am by Jerry

I’m not sure how I should respond to this pro-atheism picture.

Numerous times, I’ve heard Christians (mostly leaders in churches and bible schools) directly or indirectly quote to me 1 John 4:7-8, pompously communicating to me that God has a monopoly on love, and whoever knows God knows what true love is like.

Of course, my internal response is, “How dare you presume such elitist, exclusionary and condescending position!” Well, to be honest, that’s not exactly how I articulated it in my mind. I meant those words, but my mind used a different dialect. My thoughts actually sounded more like: “FUCK YOU!!”

And then there’s this pro-atheist picture I stumbled upon today, the day after Valentine’s Day.

My immediate response was remembering the moment I saw my little girl for the first time. It’s sappy (and subjective), but my eyes tear up every time I think about it. Much to my surprise, my first Daddy experience felt as if more room for love was made instead of sharing the love I already had for her mother. It was such a new experience for me. Various overwhelmingly emotional feelings seemed to appear in my mind out of thin air and I was a different person, a person that took some time getting use to.

So, when I think about this pro-atheist picture and the pro-Christian views of love, I can’t help but think, “No, it’s not about challenging how ‘true’ another’s experience of love is, nor about challenging how much greater another’s experience of love is. Instead of claiming anothers’ experiences of love to be a shadow of our own, maybe we should just consider the possibility that no two people share the same journey of experiencing different kinds of love… ..whether it be for ideas, people or God.”

And, it just might be a healthy exercise for all of us to question ourselves: is the person or God we love, in some way (or every way), just an idea of some kind of person or God we want to love?

January 13, 2011

What Changes For Social Justice Are You Looking Forward To?

Posted in art, atheism, church, culture, family, history, politics, religion, Secular Humanism at 7:32 pm by Jerry

Here’s something I’d like to see changed:

October 23, 2010

History and Biblical Scholarship

Posted in history, religion, scripture at 3:48 pm by Jerry

In one respect, history is at a serious disadvantage with respect to the hard sciences. When a chemist or physicist makes a hypothesis, we can perform repeated experiments to prove whether the hypothesis is false (or falsifiable, for that matter). Historical events occur once and are lost to the past. We have no direct access to the past, only the recollections of others. So even in the best of cases, we can only establish high probability. You would think that being stuck with late, contradictory, anonymous and pseudonymous sources would make Bible scholars more cautious. You’d be wrong.

Biblical scholarship is the only sub-field of history in which I’ve heard actual scholars use the term “innocence of the text” and accuse others of being “too skeptical.” It’s the only sub-field in which scholars feel obliged to publicly state that they don’t discount supernatural events, as if not believing in miracles and magic would be grounds for dismissal. (I know of no Homeric scholars who feel compelled to say they’re not sure whether Athena appeared on the field of battle at Troy.)

NT scholars are an even rarer breed. They take literary relationships and turn them into historical relationships. They transform plausible scenarios into hard facts. They create source documents out of thin air. They imagine an oral tradition that goes on for 40 years, but still contains factual information. They ostracize dissenters and then ask why they don’t get published in respected journals. Ask yourself, why did Earl Doherty have to self-publish a monumental work like Jesus: Neither God nor Man? Why did Thomas L. Thompson have to leave the U.S. and find a teaching position in Copenhagen? Why is it that Robert M. Price, a man with two earned PhDs, can’t find a position in any American university?


Using Hearsay as Historical Facts

Posted in history, religion, science, scripture at 3:23 pm by Jerry

Imagine a detective beginning with a hearsay account of a murder, and without knowing who made this assertion, and without any empirical evidence that there was a murdered victim, or that the said person had even existed, yet proceeded to seriously investigate the hearsay claims, apply criteria of embarrassment and dissimilarity to that unsourced assertion, and on that basis bring charges against someone in court!


September 9, 2010


Posted in film, religion at 2:35 am by Jerry

May 27, 2010

not so Good but definitely Ol’ Absolute Morality

Posted in atheism, film, history, philosophy, politics, religion, scripture at 10:41 am by Jerry

May 20, 2010


Posted in art, religion at 2:31 pm by Jerry


April 29, 2010

More on the Lack of Basic/Public Facts for the Historical Jesus

Posted in culture, history, religion, scripture at 9:21 am by Jerry

Historians of nonbiblical topics start with public facts. HJ historians start with NO public facts at all. They attempt to create these basic facts with tools that were designed to discover something else.

HJ scholars start with a cultural figure, and a set of documents that our cultural heritage has exalted to authoritative status. No-one knows who wrote them, or when, or for whom. They can speculate, with educated guesses, but no more. Cultural heritage — nothing else — has informed us that they are indeed some sort of attempt, however unreliable, to record some sort of historical event about an historical person.

Contrast the tools used by nonbiblical historians. The Magna Carta, the Ems telegram, Caesar’s and Cicero’s writings, epigraphy. We can have varying levels of knowledge or reasonable beliefs about these documents, but they all constitute public facts. Their nature is verifiable and the facts to which they testify are indisputable basics of historical enquiry. It is from such documents — from the public facts they are evidence for — that we can begin to ask more complex questions about other events that were related to these.

But HJ historians start with nothing but the cultural authority of a set of documents, and proceed to apply tools meant to uncover secondary facts to discover primary basic public facts. They can’t. The tools are not designed for that work, and are designed to uncover only “facts” that will always be debatable or subject to revision.

In other words, HJ historians are walking on air. They have no basic and public facts with which to start any truly historical enquiry.

They have only faith in the assumptions of a certain cultural heritage.

Historians do not have to “think they can prove” that there was a battle of Hastings and it happened in 1066, or “think they can establish that” Captain Cook sighted the east coast of Australia in 1770. As to the reasons for William invading England, or the complex immediate and other reasons Cook was sent on his mission in the first place, are all matters of historical enquiry. They know they can. The evidence is public and indisputable. It is the known basic facts that prompt the historical enquiry in the first place.

Historical enquiry begins with basic and public known and indisputable facts that will never go away. It then attempts to build on these facts with historical tools.

HJ enquiry begins with no facts, but attempts to create its basic facts with tools that are designed to yield questionable and debatable results. And worse, it applies these tools to a document that has no more verification as a historical source than conventional wisdom.


April 5, 2010

Why Do Catholics Go To Church?

Posted in art, atheism, church, culture, religion at 3:37 pm by Jerry

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