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The Argument for Atheism from Christianity

Sun Jan 31, 2010 12:11 am by TheYoungAndRestless

D1. A proposition is either true or false.
D2. To hold to a proposition is to hold that the 1) proposition is true and to hold that 2) holding the proposition does not cause the truth of the proposition.
D3. When X is a proposition, the reason for proposition X is a proposition which is true and but for it, X would be false.
D4. When X is a proposition, the faith in a proposition X is to hold a proposition without reason.
D5. A Christian is one who has faith that God exists.
D6. An atheist is one that holds that one does not have reason to hold that God exists.

P1. It is the case that one holds that God exists or it is not the case that one holds that God exists.
P2. If it is the case that one holds that God exists, then it is the case that one has reason to hold that God exists or it is not the case that one has reason to hold that God exists.
P3. If it is the case that one holds that God exists and it is the case that one has reason to hold that God exists, then it is not the case that one has faith that God exists.
P4. If it is the case that one holds that God exists and it is the not the case that one has reason to hold that God exists, then it is the case that one has faith that God exists.

C1. Given D5 and P3, it is the case that a Christian holds that one does not have reason to hold that God exists.
C2. Given C1 and D6, both Christians and atheists hold that one does not have reason to hold that God exists.

Simplified Version

A Christian is one who has faith that God exists and because he has faith, he holds that one doesn’t have reasons to believe that God exists. Likewise, an atheists holds that one doesn’t have reasons to believe that God exists. It is somehow absurd, therefore, for a Christian to argue that one ought not be an atheist.

Movie Review: Legion (2010)

Sun Jan 24, 2010 4:45 pm by TheYoungAndRestless

My favorite genre, or perhaps second favorite, is religious horror. Essentially, those horror movies where people die but the bad guys are demons or something and the whole movie follows sort of Biblical plot. It’s the intersection between pointless violence and horror… I mean, pointless violence and the Bible (little joke there.)

The Omen(1976) was good. The Exorcist (1973). The Prophecy(1995).

Legion(2010), for the record, is certainly not a shameful entry into the genre, but it’s certainly not going to be the standard by any stretch of the imagination. It involves a supposed second “flood,” but this one, carried out by angels. An extermination of the human race. Unlike Noah, there is no family earmarked for repopulating the planet and this second destruction of the earth also coincides with the birth of child. This child, incidentally, makes no sense. Is he the second coming? Why would God destroy the earth moments before the second coming? Seems bizarre.

There are far less cool angel scenes and a lot of the violence is just trite, ordinary zombie-like violence. The whole world is being destroyed and our vision is limited to a few small miles of desert boredom – unsatisfying.

The movie does, however, make one interesting stab at Christian fundamentalism, whether they realize it not. The main good guy in the movie is the Archangel Michael and he has been ordered by God to lead the extermination of mankind and kill the child… whoever the child really is. Michael searches his conscience and refuses the order, instead joining the humans and protecting the child. You would have gotten that from the trailer so don’t be too mad!

Gabriel, the equally bronzed archangel who takes over after Michael’s departure, is less sensitive to sympathy but argues that following orders is what really matters. Obviously, sympathy wins over blind obedience in the end, but certain parallels to the story of Abraham and Isaac and the Nazis, of course, are somewhat transparent. Sometimes I can understand Abraham’s decisions; sometimes I can’t. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t kill Isaac, but would that be because I had placed sympathy over obedience as an act of courage or because generally I was scared shitless.

For my part, I’m glad that somewhere in cinema “God told me to do it” isn’t a good reason.

★★★☆☆ If you have the time, go have a little fun. But, if you miss it, you didn’t miss anything.

Daybreakers – a beautiful movie

Sun Jan 10, 2010 6:06 am by TheYoungAndRestless

Daybreakers, the vampire horror film from Peter and Michael Spierig and starring Ethan Hawke, William DeFoe, and Sam Neil, is a disappointing modernization of Charles Dickens’ beloved holiday novella A Christmas Carol. Much of the original’s political commentary has somewhat obviously and probably necessarily been replaced with more contemporary concerns: immigration, the energy crisis, the corruption of big banking, and the half-human-half-vampire bat monsters than live in the sewers. The movie, in this regard, struggles for relevance, which I can appreciate as I have really been feeling depressed lately. I don’t know… I guess it’s the winter or maybe it’s that I didn’t get a lot of Christmas presents this year. I mean, I think I only got two actual presents. And I just broke up my boyfriend a few weeks ago… and it’s not like seeing him in this movie helped. He was good in White Fang, I guess. I’m thinking of opening a deli. It doesn’t seem that hard. We used to talk about that, Ethan and I. And, interestingly enough, I think this movie would have been a little bit more dramatic if more of its scenes were set in a deli. Instead, the movie imagines a future when all humanity has been turned into vampires and their economy revolves around the diminishing supply of human blood. I’m sure this is not what Dickens had in mind! But, still, the audience is invited into an imaginative vision of the future. Blood is mixed into coffee and purchased at coffee stands in the subway. There’s something terrifyingly realistic about how quickly advertising united sex appeal and the pale skin of vampires. It’s almost as if advertising is the real vampire. But, who are we kidding… the real vampire is the movie star who thinks he can just call whenever he feels like it! And when he does, he wants an “open” relationship, whatever the fuck that means! I miss, also, the intense sexuality that is usually evident in vampire films. When I was writing Dracula, it was important to me to depict the feelings of lust that the allure of blood must offer vampire and the fear turning to submission in vampire’s victims. But, in Daybreakers, the vampires are depicted as almost boringly human. The only redeeming excitement of the movie are the occasional bodies ripped apart by mobs of vampires and the cameras relentless willingness to not look away. Fans of gore will enjoy Daybreakers to some extent; fans of Dickens will be shocked.

The Psychology of Plagiarism

Thu Dec 17, 2009 4:30 pm by TheYoungAndRestless

When I was at university, a friend of mine was taking a course which I had taken the semester before – the Bible as Literature or Ancient Judaism, I can’t exactly remember  – and, because he tended to be lazy, he one day told me that he hadn’t started writing a paper that was due the next day and, consequently, would almost certainly fail the class. He showed me the assignment, a page long description of some obscure theory of interpretation which he was supposed to apply to some obscure primary text and the technical requirements for the paper itself, and I realized that the assignment was unchanged from the previous semester and that, somewhere in my files, I had a paper that would meet his assignment’s exact demands. I cannot recall if initially it was his idea or mine – nor do I suppose that it matters since ultimately my decisions and their consequences are my own – but, before long, I had committed to rewriting the paper (and perhaps getting a better grade) and allowing my friend to submit it as his own – I had decided to cheat.

The episode remains among the few knowingly wrong actions I have taken, wrong in my eyes then and now, distinguishing itself from those actions I later realized to be wrong or those actions that are only wrong in the eyes of others. And so, I return, as F. Scott Fitzgerald put it, “boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past,” into that moment, in which, despite being able to recall with unreal vividness the scents in the dormitory air, the temperature of the room, the texture of my desk, and the sounds of my keyboard, I can only say that I do not know why. Our wrong and unequalizable commerce concluded karmically; the paper received an A and was submitted by the professor for a departmental award and won and my friend was appointed a student fellow and I was left to adjust to a life lived with a humble measure of unsoftenable contrition.

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YouTube’s TheoreticalBullshit

Wed Sep 16, 2009 1:28 am by TheYoungAndRestless

“A simple, apostolic yearning for a genuine biblical revival in our day,” Revival Conference, an event held throughout the year, around the world, and with no cost for admission, is an extension of the ministry of SermonIndex.net, both being frequent platforms for Paul Washer, the founder of and Minister of the Gospel, his actual title, at Heart Cry Missionary Society. Revival Conference, SemonIndex.net, Paul Washer, and Heart Cry Missionary Society express non-denomitionalism, but an affiliated church, the Grace Life Church of the Shoals in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, expresses, with emphasis, a devotion to the historic Baptist doctrine and references the Rev. John Newton Brown’s 1833 New Hampshire Confession, although, with doubtlessly unintended irony, it is modified slightly. And, so, while this event and these organizations and this person and, indeed, a great many more, may express non-denominationalism, they are certainly not beyond categorization and one can trace the theological and culture ideologies which inform their current iteration; non-denominationalism, however, is not a theological argument, but an ecclesiological argument.

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“Established Facts.”

Sun Aug 30, 2009 6:55 am by TheYoungAndRestless

But there are actually three established facts recognized by the majority of New Testament historians today which I believe are best explained by the resurrection of Jesus.

– William Lane Craig

One can imagine the impact on an untutored mind of a phrase as commanding as “established facts’ or the idea that to challenge these facts is to challenge the consensus of historians; one would have to be crazy to go against the mainstream findings of an academic discipline, setting aside Creationism for a moment. Unlike many of the arguments for the existence of God, which are essentially matters of pure philosophy and therefore, while I would prefer to preserve them for the experts, we are all on some level capable to engaging them, the Argument for the Existence of God from the Historicity of the Resurrection requires some skill as an historian to refute and one must have access to substantial library. Offering the Argument for the Existence of God from the Historicity of the Resurrection, however, requires almost no skill as an historian, which is not to suggest that only the unskilled offer it; I am reminded that nonsense is the one of the few things that is harder to destroy than it is to create.

I stopped into a library to see if I could put my hands on a book about the historicity of Jesus, his life, times, death, the near effects of this death, and possibly his resurrection, ‘possibly’ because I can predict that a certain level of skepticism might reject the proposition that history is capable of establishing the existence of a miracle. Charmingly, because it feels like it’s becoming antiquated, the library utilized the Dewey Decimal Classification (it’s no longer a system, as I remember being taught in elementary school) and I made my way to the 232s, putting my finger on The Historical Figure of Jesus by E.P. Sanders. Libraries, I have long believed, are sacred places, mausoleums, on the one hand, and full of life, on the other; it is here, after all, that we store the longest lasting effects of our species’ best minds, and here, inevitably, where we go to better our own. This particular library pleases me: it is small, which means the librarian has to take considerably more care in selected which books which fill the shelves, and, on a personal level, I sat on the committee which hired our current librarian.

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“Fundamentalism is always sporadic.”

Sun Aug 30, 2009 1:30 am by TheYoungAndRestless

Recently, there has been a renewed flurry of interest in the date of Jesus’ execution, and I have added an appendix on this topic. Here I wish to comment generally on the mistakes (as I perceive them to be) of the scholars who bring forth extreme proposals on such points, such as that Jesus was executed in 26 or 36. Since the evidence is diverse and hard to reconcile precisely, there is a tendency to seize on one point, to say that is determinative, and then to beat the other pieces of evidence into the necessary shape. That is, there is a danger of sporadic fundamentalism in studying ancient texts – not just the Bible. ‘Fundamentalism’ refers to the notion that some ancient text – or ancient literature in general – tells the precise and unvarnished truth. Fundamentalism, however, is always sporadic: fundamentalists believe that some people never exaggerated, made mistakes or mislaid their notes; or, at least, that some sections of some texts are perfectly reliable. Reading chronological studies on the New Testament reveals a lot of fundamentalism – usually sporadic. A scholar will maintain, for example, that John’s chronology is better than Mark’s and Matthew’s (and thus that theirs is not true.) Next, he or she will accept John on the numerous points where that gospel disagrees with the other three: there were three Passovers during Jesus’ public career rather than one, he was executed on 14 Nisan rather than 15 Nisan, and during his ministry he was in his forties (he was ‘not yet fifty’, John 8.57) rather than in his thirties, as Luke has it. Having dismissed the chronology of Matthew, Mark and Luke, some scholar then seize upon Matthew’s story of the star that stood over Jesus’ birthplace, and they try to match it with the appearance of a comet – apparently not noticing that this particular star, according to our only description of it, did not blaze across the heavens, but rather ‘stopped over the place where the child was’ (Matt. 2.9). Why take the star of Matthew’s story to be a real astral event and ignore what the author says about it? Why pay attention to Matthew’s star anyway, since he was wrong about the date of Jesus’ death (which John got perfectly right)?

“External Sources,’ The Historical Figure of Jesus, p. 55. E. P. Sanders.

Certainty.

Fri Aug 28, 2009 10:15 pm by TheYoungAndRestless

Most scholars who write about the ancient world feel obliged to warn their readers that our knowledge can be at best partial and that certainty is seldom attained. A book about a first-century Jew who lived in a rather unimportant part of the Roman empire must be prefaced by such a warning. We know about Jesus from books written a few decades after his death, probably by people who were not among his followers during his lifetime. They quote him in Greek, which was not his primary language, and in any case the differences among our sources show that his words and deeds were not perfectly preserved. We have very little information about him apart from the works written to glorify him. Today, we do not have good documentation for such out-of-the-way places as Palestine; nor did the authors of our sources. They had no archives and no official records of any kind. They did not even have access to good maps. These limitations, which were common in the ancient world, result in a good deal of uncertainty.

“Preface,’ The Historical Figure of Jesus. E. P. Sanders.

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