Archive for the ‘Apologetics’ category

Timing the Walls of Jericho

May 25, 2017
Image ID:73289745 Copyright: Buurserstraat38

Old ruins in Tell es-Sultan better known as Jericho the oldest city in the world

I recently attended a conference at which Ted Wright, an archaeologist, presented information related to the exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt and the later conquest of the area of Canaan. Ted Wright has participated in the excavation of Jericho and Khirbet el-Maqatir, thought to be the modern location of the city, Ai, mentioned in the Bible. On thing that Ted Wright said, which has stuck with me, is that modern archaeology continues to affirm people, places and other information contained in biblical accounts.

Ted Wright recounted the story of an archaeologist, John Garstang, who excavated Jericho in the 1930’s and told the world that the site dated to 1400 BC, consistent with the biblical account (John Garstang, “Jericho and the Biblical Story,” p. 1222.):

In a word, in all material details and in date the fall of Jericho took place as described in the Biblical narrative. Our demonstration is limited, however, to material observations: the walls fell, shaken apparently by earthquake, and the city was destroyed by fire, about 1400 B.C. These are the basic facts resulting from our investigations. The link with Joshua and the Israelites is only circumstantial but it seems to be solid and without a flaw.

Ted Wright observed in his talk that most of the battle in modern archaeology is not whether places, like Jericho, really existed, but rather the timing of when they existed. (more…)

On the Proposition of Looking for God

May 20, 2017

depositphotos Image ID: 6393928 Copyright: hilipus

If I can’t find something I am looking for, does that mean it doesn’t exist?

In the context of searching for God, if I can’t “find Him”, does that mean He doesn’t exist?

My inability to find something I’m looking for is not proof that the thing I am looking for doesn’t exist. Ask my wife. She will often describe an object to me and asked me to go retrieve it for her. I am reluctant to say how many times I have come back without what she sent me to retrieve. I might even be embarrassed to admit how many times I’ve wanted to tell her that the object doesn’t exist

How many times have we said to ourselves when looking for something, “It isn’t anywhere!”? Do we mean, literally, that the object isn’t anywhere? Not usually. Intellectually we know that it is somewhere, but we just can’t find it.

Maybe I am looking in the wrong place. If I’m looking for an object I’ve never seen before, maybe I have the wrong picture of the object in my mind and I am not looking for the right thing. Maybe the object isn’t where I thought it was. Maybe the object is hidden and needs to be uncovered.

These examples are allegorical when it comes to the idea of searching for God.

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Was the Jesus Story a Copycat from Pagan Myth?

April 23, 2017


The answer is pretty decisively, no! Much has been said of this popular Internet opinion by actual historians and biblical scholars of every stripe, Christian, agnostic and atheist. No modern scholars, meaning men and woman who have proven themselves in the world of academia, which usually means have been carefully vetted by peer review, hold to this view today.

This is true whether the scholar happens to be a theist or atheist, believer or nonbeliever. There simply isn’t any credible evidence for it. The only evidence lives in the active imaginations of people who want it to be true, like Bill Maher. In fact, he did a movie about it.

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The Resurrection: 2nd Century Legend? or 1st Century Factual Claim?

April 12, 2017

Silhouette of Jesus in the sunlight

Easter is just around the corner so thinking about the Christian claim that a man from Nazareth in 1st Century Palestine died and rose from the dead three days later is a timely consideration. The accounts of this event don’t read like mere story or legend. They have all the characteristics of Greek biographies that are to be considered historical accounts.

Many modern scholars accept the Gospels as part of the Greco-Roman biography genre (focusing on the similarities), while others find them uniquely Jewish (focusing on the differences). Overarching this ongoing debate is the apparent intent of the authors to assert a factual, historical narrative.[1] This is true even though they include fantastic claims of miracles and the resurrection and all of the theological statements, most of which are penned as coming from Jesus, himself.

From early to mid-19th Century, much of the biblical scholarship has leaned in a skeptical direction, and that inertia has continued robustly into the 21st Century. That scholarly trend has produced a progressive consensus that viewed the Gospels, for instance, as 2nd Century manuscripts, written generations after Jesus lived and died, morphing the original message into something akin to legend, And this, they say, accounts for the message of the resurrection.

This view begins with skepticism and ends with a skeptical conclusion explaining the resurrection claim by embellishment that comes with the passage of time. This was the consensus view when I studied religion in the 1970’s. But one man, wrestling with his own doubts, took the facts the skeptics would give him and pieced together an analysis that seems to nail the coffin shut on the view that the resurrection claim is a later embellishment of what the first followers of Jesus believed.

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What’s In Your Primordial Soup?

October 31, 2016

I am reminded of a Farside cartoon when I think of primordial soup. For instance, the amoeba reading a book titled, Primordial Soup for the Soul. The concept of primordial soup isn’t a joke, of course. It is the idea that life began many millions of years ago as elements churned in the boiling atmosphere and electric charges of a primitive earth – a kind of Frankenstein-like beginning to be sure, but a serious scientific concoction.

The ramifications of the quintessential primordial soup are far reaching. They imply that nothing but natural forces were necessary for the creation of life. For many, the ultimate implication is that we don’t need God. We don’t need God to explain the origins of life because there is plausible natural explanation. But is that the case?

For several centuries, people have sought alternative explanations for the origins of the universe and of life as a way of chasing off the specter of God. Richard Dawkins, for instance, asserts that the “greatest achievement” of mankind is the theory of evolution, giving man the power to cast off the shackles of faith in God and allowing man to stand unfettered on his own. But, is that where we really stand today?

What’s in the primordial soup that seems to explain how life can rise from non-life, without need of a God, without anything other than the basic stuff of an infantile universe? (more…)

Did Nature Cause Itself?

October 21, 2016

I haven’t heard anyone ask whether nature caused itself, in so many words, but that is the question begged by any assertion that God doesn’t exist. Anyone who maintains that nature and natural causes are the beginning and the end of all reality is begging that question: did nature cause itself?

Perhaps the greatest obstacle to the assertion that nothing supernatural exists is the Big Bang. The Big Bang is accepted science. The evidence is very compelling, though it wasn’t received well when it was first postulated. The thought that the universe was not eternal and had a beginning was thought to be “repugnant” and to “betray the very foundations of science”.[1] This is because a beginning to the universe suggests that the universe had a Beginner.

The initial reluctance to accept the Big Bang has changed as the evidence has piled up. (more…)

Can You Be Good Without God?

October 18, 2016

Theists claim that people could not do good without God. But, people do good things all the time, even without believing in God. Atheists, agnostics and people of all stripes can do good things and they do good things.

Obviously, believing in God is not a prerequisite to doing good things. A better question, however, is whether good can exist without God?

If there is no God, what basis exists for determining good or bad? Right or wrong? (more…)


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