Tag Aaron Adair

Why the quiet?

I must massively apologise to regular commenters such as Daydreamer1, The Thinker, Honest_John_Law, Peter, Neil, John Grove, Andy Schueler and…

The Haunted Egyptian Statue–Good Vibrations?

Several months ago it was reported that the Manchester Museum had an oddity on its shelf. This wasn’t the sort of thing that was from an unknown yet gone civilization, its traces beyond the ability of archaeologists to explain or place into history, but what appeared to be the inexplicable motion of a very old statue. More recently it has become news because of the viral video of its motion using a time-lapse camera. What we see is that, slowly through the day the statue, which is from the Egyptian Middle Kingdom (~4000 years ago), slowly rotates about 180 degrees. And by slowly, I mean it takes hours or days.

Star of Bethlehem Conference in the Netherlands

About two weeks ago I was contacted about participating in a conference next year at the University of Groningen. In 2014 they are celebrating their 400th anniversary so it seems appropriate it relate to something else from 1614. In that year, Johannes Kepler published his tome on chronology, arguing that Jesus was born several years earlier than was the tradition in his time (on Dec 25 in 1 BC). In that book, he also talked about the Star of Bethlehem, and this is the apparent link for this conference.

The Star of Bethlehem Documentary–The Constellation Leo as the Sign of the Jews

This is Part 3 of a critical examination of the MMEL hypothesis of the Star of Bethlehem. Go to the index here.

So far in this critical appraisal of the MMEL hypothesis, there has not been much attention paid to the actual theory of what the Star of Bethlehem was other than to say it deals with conjunctions of Jupiter and Venus in the years 3 and 2 BCE. While already it is falsified as an explanation of Matthew’s account since it takes place after the death of Herod the Great (see Part 1 & Part 2), I shall not ignore what possible astronomical or astrological explanations are here. Perhaps they can explain the Star in another way (including helping create the narrative based on a back-calculation rather than an authentic historical tradition), or the conjunctions of another type can be related to what the Magi were interested in.

Moving the Stones of Baalbek–The Wonders of Roman Engineering

Previously I had talked about an amazing piece of computational engineering from the ancient world, the Antikythera mechanism, which was also posted up at A Tippling Philosopher. In the comments there, a discussion came up about another wonder of antiquity which has attracted all sorts of speculations among alternative thinkers. This is the construction of the temple complex at the city of Baalbek, also known as Heliopolis, in modern-day Lebanon, about 70 kilometers* north of Damascus. The site has considerable antiquity, but it is the large stones at the temple, especially the three known as the Trilithon, that have garnered the greatest attention, each weighing in around 800 tons.* And deservedly so, as they are some of the largest single objects ever moved in the pre-modern era.

The Star of Bethlehem Documentary – Textual Criticism and Josephus

This is Part 2 of a critical examination of the MMEL hypothesis of the Star of Bethlehem. Go to the index here.

In Part 1 of this critical overview of the Star of Bethlehem film and its version of history (which I have called the MMEL hypothesis), I looked at the reasons scholars can say we know Herod died no later than 4 BCE given the information we have from Josephus as well as what we can connect with other accounts. The information from Josephus seemed to be overwhelmingly in favor of a 5/4 BCE date for Herod’s death, which would then contradict the time frame needed for the conjunctions of Jupiter and Venus as the MMEL hypothesis requires. However, there is another argument that is focused on, though not detailed, in the documentary, and it concerns the text that we have of Josephus.

The Star of Bethlehem in the Blogosphere

In my last post I looked at what I could find in the news or related to articles and books on the subject of the Star of Bethlehem. There wasn’t too much going on there, so now I want to explore what is going on in the world of blogs. I think this is showing where the conversations are really moving to rather than in newspapers and journal articles, at least for things not done in a strictly academic fashion.

The Puzzling Figure of Jesus – Man, Myth, Messiah? Our very own Aaron Adair on Jesus.

Recently for my local Secular Student Alliance (SSA) group I gave a talk about what we can know about the historical Jesus, and perhaps he was originally a non-historical figure made flesh. This proposition is not the least bit popular among academics, let alone Evangelicals, but it isn’t necessarily crazy either. You will find some comparing it to Holocaust denial or creationism, but the evidence that Jesus existed is nowhere near as strong as it is for evolution or the Nazi-led Holocaust. There is significant evidence for Jesus, prima facie, but things get hairy when you look again.

A Coincidentally Bad Argument for the Nativity – Adair on Apologist JW Wartick

With the early successes of my tongue-in-cheek War on Christmas, it’s time to open up another front. I recently came across an article defending the Nativity’s historicity via a friend on Facebook. I figure, I already dealt with the Pope, so another apologetic effort for the Nativity is work the while. This comes from J.W. Wartick, a grad student in apologetics at Biola University according to his info page, so that probably makes him a better read on defenses of the faith than the Pope. So let me take a look at what he proposes here that makes the stories of Jesus’ birth in the Gospels more historical than fiction.

A Defining Feature of Pseudoscience?

There is a problem in the world of philosophy (only one?) dealing with the subject of science known as the demarcation problem: what counts as science, what is good or bad science, and what is pseudoscience? Generally there is agreement that there is no fine line between science and pseudoscience, though there are clear examples of both. But what features can we look for to know which is which and avoid the bad?

Skeptical About Astrology: Dealing With Horoscopes

Since about a quarter of people in the US and even more in some countries in Western Europe continue to believe in the powers of astrological prediction, it makes sense to some degree that the blog website Patheos would start up an astrology section in their spirituality section. And since, according to one post there, Saturn the teacher is moving into Scorpio today, I’ll talk a bit about this.

First off, the planet Saturn is currently not in the constellation of Scorpio today, tomorrow, or any time soon. It’s really not, go check for yourself.Right now it is in Virgo, which isn’t even adjacent to Scorpio in the Zodiac. So why this astronomically wrong statement? …