It’s been a few months since my radio debate with Randal Rauser on the subject of the reliability of the nativity accounts in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew. You can listen to the debate by following the link from here. If you have not listened to it, please let me know what you think.
I love research like this, it just fascinates me, and adds to the mountains of empirical evidence that supports the logical and philosophical evidence / argumentation which underpins determinism (or, more accurately, the lack of libertarian free will) about which I wrote my first book – Free Will? An investigation into whether we have free will or whether I was always going to write this book. Which, you will glad to know, has some cracking reviews.
So I wrote a post some time back which detailed my plans on writing a zombie fiction book which should hopefully include a good deal of philosophy. Well, here is a rough prologue to the book (called Survival of the Fittest – Metamorphosis). What do you think?
Prometheus Books, set up by the late Paul Kurtz, is a flag-bearer for atheist and secular publishing. Check out their many cracking titles, some of which you are sure to have read. SIN’s John Loftus has had several books published by them, and I think Stephen Law, also of SIN, had his Believing Bullshit published by Prometheus, too.
Here is a great question I saw in the Guardian which raises a whole set of other questions, like all good questions do:
Are Christian souls in the afterlife as segregated by gender as we are on earth?
Souls. What are they, and do they engender gender, so to speak?
Over on a previous post and thread, one (Christian) commenter declared that the likes of JP Holding and Jason Engwer had basically dealt with all of the harmonisation issues within the context of the historical problems in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew and their infancy accounts. I will now, as Randal Rauser did in our recent debate, refer to the accounts as M and L.
In my book, The Nativity: A Critical Examination, I did not really deal with the work of Holding and Engwer other than a few passing comments and a reference to Engwer in relation to the spectrum of Christian approaches to the exegesis of these accounts, from the literal and historic approach of Engwer (and Holding) to the more theological approach of scholars like Raymond Brown.
I am hoping to make this my last post on the short book about the Nativity of Jesus by Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger). So far, from what I can tell, I have been one of the few bloggers going through and being critical of its historical contents, which I will continue here. For background, my first post looked at the apparent lack of engagement with the best literature on the subject of Jesus’ birth, including Raymond Brown’s Birth of the Messiah. My second post looked at the arguments His Holiness used to defend the historicity of certain details of the Gospel(s) version(s) of the birth of Christ and how his own arguments were not correctly applied.
On Thursday night I gave another talk on the Nativity to the Portsmouth Skeptics in the Pub. The talk was a great success. I was able to establish the case in some good detail as I set out in my last book The Nativity: A Critical Examination. There was a good turnout for the relaunching of PSITP and it was a nice touch that I gave the lats talk to PSITP 1.0 and the first to PSITP 2.0! However, there was a Winchester Skeptics in the Pub event on the same night which was a shame and attracted away a few key members.
Continuing from my last post, I will take a look at some of the historical claims of the Nativity of Jesus from the Bible and see how Pope Benedict XVI defends them in his most recent book.
First, let’s make a note of an argument that His Holiness seems to use several times in defending the historicity of the stories from modern critics. Many scholars will point to the theological reasons as to why the author of a given Gospel would tell such a story, which in turn gives us reason to suspect that the tale make not be historically authentic. Benedict, on the other hand, says that that is not sufficient to consider the tradition inauthentic. Perhaps not, but it should make us suspicious. Besides, this is not the only reason scholars doubt things such as the birth in Bethlehem or the miraculous conception of Mary. There are other things to consider.
There has been a fair bit of press about the newest publication from the current head of the Catholic Church, Joseph Ratzinger, better known now as Pope Benedict XVI (don’t you just hate sequels?). There was even a humorous take on some of the aspects of the new book from the colossus of comedy Stephen Colbert.
So I gave my first public talk on my book The Nativity: A Critical Examination yesterday. It was a bit…
So, with the release of The Nativity: A Critical Examination this year, I have several speaking events arranged in the local area, with another potential date in the pipeline too. I will be delivering a talk on the reliability of the nativity accounts to the Association of Humanist Societies at Southampton University. The Atheist Society have kindly asked me to talk during a conference they are putting on for other student atheist societies (on how to run them effectively). The talk is penciled in for the afternoon of Saturday 1st December at 3pm at Southampton University, though it is not only for students – the general public can get in on the action too!
Here is my latest video offering to the world of You Tube. Let me know what you think.
I thought I’d re-post this thread from when I was regularly contributing to John’s original Debunking Christianity blog. See what you think:
I was recently talking, an a thread or two, about the historical implausibility of pretty much all of the claims in both Luke and Matthew with regards to the infancy accounts of Jesus’ birth.
The situation is this. I maintain that, to hold to the notion that the accounts are historical, one has to jump through hoops. However, the Christian might say that one or two claims in the accounts may be false, but that does not mean that the other claims are false. But in this approach lie many issues. For example:
1) If we accept that some claims in the accounts are false, does the Christian special plead that the other claims are true?
2) The claims are so interconnected that to falsify one or two of them means that the house of cards comes tumbling down.
3) If we establish that at least some of the claims are false, how does this affect other claims within the same Gospel? How can we know that claims of Jesus’ miracles are true given that the reliability of the writer is accepted as questionable?
And so on.
Season 3 of the Walking Dead is hitting our screens any time soon or now depending on where you live. It’s a great show about an apocalyptic pandemic which turns humanity into zombies and sees the survivors pick up the pieces of their lives and society and figure out how to continue to survive and start up a new society.
What an awesome vehicle for philosophy. The series itself contains some juicy examples of moral dilemmas – enough to get any philosopher hooked. I love the idea of writing my own. So I am.