Internet Goosing the Antithesis

Friday, August 31, 2007

What is Christianity?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Creation Museum: A Brief Tour

Recently, I visited my hometown of Cincinnati. While there, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to visit the Creation Museum run by Ken Ham's Answers in Genesis.

I realize this is somewhat belated, given that there was a huge spike of interest right after it opened at the beginning of the summer. But just as I wanted to see the Discovery Institute Road Show for myself, I also wanted to see the Ken Ham Crowd personally.

Obviously, the pseudoscience of this place has been well-documented, and there's very little I can add in that regard. What I can provide is my impression of the place- without a doubt, this is no "Creation Museum," is is a "Christian Museum."

The entirety of the media on display is not really scientific in nature- sure, there are 25-cent words here and there, and authoritative-looking illustrations, but the real message throughout the museum hung like a droning voice throughout the halls... "The Bible is true... God exists... Jesus will save you..." It was, essentially, a subconscious mantra that pounded incessantly and (for the Christians, anyway) comfortingly into the ears of those present.

Which were substantial, by the way. I showed up before it opened on a weekday, and already there were people lined up, both in large church/school groups, as well as families and individuals. The whole time I was there, the place seemed filled to capacity. And this supports my appraisal of the place as a distinctly Christian attraction- AiG is well known as a young-Earth organization, a minority position within Creationism at large. Several of the Christians that I talked with afterwards admitted that there were many facts presented there that were inaccurate, but felt that the overall message was important enough to overlook them. One notable example of this is the way they portrayed Noah's flood- as caused by a giant tsunami, similarly to that seen in Evan Almighty, but not as written in Genesis.

Ultimately, I see this museum as a defensive move on the part of Creationism. It's the product of a mindset that wants to preserve a particular worldview that can gain no traction in real scientific museums, and builds a monument to it lest it be lost altogether. And that really does seem to be the appeal- there aren't any good shrines to Christianity here in the New World, but this museum comes about as close as you can get.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Mother Theresa, an atheist?

Was Mother Theresa driven to torture herself by her immoral actions? Did she doubt the existence of God? It seems that way.

Although perpetually cheery in public, the Teresa of the letters lived in a state of deep and abiding spiritual pain. In more than 40 communications, many of which have never before been published, she bemoans the "dryness," "darkness," "loneliness" and "torture" she is undergoing. She compares the experience to hell and at one point says it has driven her to doubt the existence of heaven and even of God. She is acutely aware of the discrepancy between her inner state and her public demeanor. "The smile," she writes, is "a mask" or "a cloak that covers everything." Similarly, she wonders whether she is engaged in verbal deception. "I spoke as if my very heart was in love with God — tender, personal love," she remarks to an adviser. "If you were [there], you would have said, 'What hypocrisy.'"

Dr. Craig: The Moral Argument for God (Full Video)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Mother Teresa was into BDSM

And the poor were her subs.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Dawkins Takes On Medical Quackery

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Shermer On Rational Atheism

Michael Shermer recently published an open letter to Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens in Scientific American. In it, he cautions against the overweening perception of atheism among the majority of, if not most of, society at large. He offers five concepts that, if kept close at hand, may help to reduce the amount of antagonism that is currently being stirred up by those who feel threatened by the growing popularity of atheism.
  1. Anti-something movements by themselves will fail.
  2. Positive assertions are necessary.
  3. Rational is as rational does.
  4. The golden rule is symmetrical.
  5. Promote freedom of belief and disbelief.
I think that it is good to keep in mind that, just because atheists don't have a burden of proof necessarily, it doesn't mean that we don't have work to do. Although there may be more of us every day, we're still in the vast minority, and it would be foolish to expect those who disagree with us to just roll over and acquiesce to our respective worldviews.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Atheists on CBS News

CBS News repeats the same hoary chestnuts.

But Stephen Prothero, who chairs the religious studies department at Boston University, says that atheists miss the fact that religion, while being a source of some terrible evil, is also the greatest force for good.

"And so, if you're gonna criticize — you know, religious people for the Inquisition, then you need to praise them for the civil rights movement," he said. "You need to praise them for getting rid of slavery in the United States, which they did. You can't sort of have it both ways. And similarly, if you're going to praise atheists for these things, you need to criticize the Stalinists. I mean, some of the most murderous regimes that we've had in the 20th century were atheistic regimes."

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Dawkins Takes On Superstition

Don't worry Christians... Richard Dawkins has plenty of rational skepticism to go around.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Dr. Craig Meets Dr. Zach

Kevin Harris, whom most of you will remember as the teacher of the "Faith and Reason" apologetics class at the First Baptist Church of Colleyville, has been working professionally with William Lane Craig for some time now as the host and producer of Dr. Craig's new podcast, "Reasonable Faith." Not surprisingly, this arrangment has brought Dr. Craig to Dallas for recording sessions, and he was kind enough to give a presentation to Kevin's class.

I was present at his invited talk, serving dual roles as the audio/visual recorder, as well as the unofficial atheist questioner. I'll provide a brief synopsis of his presentation, and include a few of the questions that I posed to him.

The topic was the Moral Argument for the Existence of God, which he formalizes thusly:

  1. If God does not exist, then there are no objective moral values and duties.

  2. There are objective moral values and duties.

  3. Therefore God exists.

The entirety of his presentation was concerned with establishing the veracity of the first two premises. He was careful to explicitly define the word "objective" as "independent of people's opinions," as well as to point out that he was not arguing that non-Christians or atheists could NOT be moral, only that their respective worldviews (presumably naturalism) was not consistent with the concept of objective values and duties. Craig claimed that naturalism teaches that only those entities which are required by scientific theories exist, and since no scientific theory requires the existence of objective morals, no naturalist can claim them. Further, although many atheists adopt a humanistic approach to ethics, this is foundationally premature, since its presupposition that human well-being is the fundamental moral value is arbitrary and implausible given a naturalistic worldview. Thus, humanistic atheists stubbornly insist in a moral reality that is contradicted by their metaphysics.

I was somewhat unsure of whether Dr. Craig's definition of objective moral values as independent of one's opinion was also mean to exclude the opinion of God, so I asked the following question:

Dr. Craig then, after eviscerating naturalism's claim to objective moral values, turned to defend theism's own claim to the very same. Citing Euthyphro's Dilemma, Craig argued that instead of being forced to choose between God's recognition of a higher morality or the arbitrary moral certitude of divine commands, Christians could be certain that God's own nature was the actual source of and standard for objective moral values. Thus, only by appealing to the very nature of a personal God can anyone justify the existence of such values.

I wondered if simply appealing to God's nature was sufficient to avoid the Dilemma entirely, so I asked the following question:

After having shown that while atheism could not justify the existence of objective moral values, but Christianity could. Dr. Craig then moved on to the second premise, which he had initially thought would be the most contentious, but actually turned out to be widely accepted, even by atheists.

Therefore, following from the truth of the first and second premise, we can accept the conclusion that God exists. According to Dr. Craig, this is the most effective argument for the existence of God against unbelievers, although his favorite argument remains the Kalam Cosmological Argument. Essentially, since one of the most fundemantal aspects of everyone's life is to be as objectively morally good as possible, we can be certain that there is a God.

However, I thought that there might yet be a problem with the ability of Christians to be certain in their interpretation of these objective moral values, and so I asked the following question:

After the presentation, Kevin introduced me to Dr. Craig and I got a chance to talk to him on a more individual basis. I had heard from John Loftus that at some point he had been asked what his response would be if he was taken back in time to 33 CE Palestine on Easter morning, and upon looking inside Joseph of Arimathea's tomb he found it to not be empty, but to still contain the decaying corpse of Jesus. According to this account, Dr. Craig had said that he would still hold true to his Christian faith, even in the face of this contradictory evidence. What he told me was slightly different- while acknowledging that an occupied tomb on Easter morning would be a refutation of his Christian faith, Dr. Craig argued that based on the inner witness of the Holy Spirit, he would be forced to conclude that the tomb was not actually Jesus', or that the corpse belonged to someone else, or another explanation that was not threatening to Christianity. Essentially, he claimed that his experience of the Holy Spirit was epistemologically primary, and any other empirical evidence shown to him would have to conform to that Chrisitan foundation.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

New good Bible passage found

Remember my Bible Challenge? I challenged Christians to find one good moral passage from the Bible. Zachary won with a passage from Ecclesiastes, and I just found another one:

Proverbs 3:21-24
My son, do not lose sight of these— keep sound wisdom and discretion,
and they will be life for your soul and adornment for your neck.
Then you will walk on your way securely, and your foot will not stumble.
If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.

Funny how it's the atheists finding the good passages the Bible, however few they are.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Behe on The Colbert Report

Mormons: Happy To Discriminate Too

Salt Lake City is a beautiful town, with pleasant weather and friendly people. The Mormon religion seems to work out pretty well for heterosexuals (especially men, and even more especially back in the days of Joseph Smith's pro-polygamy teachings), but when it comes to dealing with homosexuals, they're just as bad as the average orthodox Christian institution.

For an example, read this account of the discriminatory policies against homosexuals at Brigham Young University.

via UTI

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Fun with Cretinists- from Alleee

Here's Hellbound Alleee's submission:

Fun with Cretinists


Thursday, August 02, 2007

How They Save Souls Down Under

An Aussie homosexual pedophile priest has been placed on leave merely for spreading the good news!