Phil Harper's new video with Alan Guth and other leading cosmologists!

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Before the Big Bang 4 : Eternal Inflation & The Multiverse

Was Jesus Accused of Necromancy? by Robert Conner

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Was Jesus Accused of Necromancy? by Robert Conner

   And Herod heard of it, for [Jesus’] name became known and they were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead and be-cause of this the powers are at work in him.”  But others said, “He is Elijah,” but others said, “A prophet, like one of the former prophets.” But when Herod heard, he said, “John, the one I beheaded, this one has been raised!”[1]

Think Christian, Think!

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I posted this on Facebook and got the usual unthinking response. A Christian said: "Actually, Allah is the Arabic word for the God of all the Abrahamic religions and Arab Christians also call him Allah. So that meme above is a mistake." Listen up, next time Christians respond like that ask if they believe in the deity who inspired the Koran. Yes or no?

It Has Finally Arrived!

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A Persian translation of my book is in the works!

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My New Anthology Is Printed And Shipping!

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I was told this morning that copies of Christianity in the Light of Science arrived in the office yesterday and are being shipped out. It won't take long before you can have a copy from online stores. It is sure to be talked about. Help make it a good seller by buying your copy today!

My Interview With Seth Andrews, Host of The Thinking Atheist

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I was interviewed by Seth Andrews, host of The Thinking Atheist. I think it's one of my best interviews. It was done during Reason Rally. Enjoy

I May Not Post Much This Summer!

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This is the first day of summer and it's hot where I live! I'm very busy so I may not post much this summer. There is a lot going on in my life, much too much. I'm still writing one titled Unapologetic: Why Philosophy of Religion Must End. Then sometime this week I'll be proposing yet another book, details forthcoming, 'cause that's what I do. Plus, there is a whole lot of life to be lived, and a whole lot of loved ones to love. Don't neglect to pre-order my next book, Christianity in the Light of Science, due out at the end of July (but will surely, surely be out earlier), which I consider a show stopper!

Carry on in my temporary and spotty absence. Subscribe to DC or become a follower so you don't miss a thing. Who knows but when you least expect it I'll be back in a big way! If you desire to write essays for DC by joining our team let me know in the comments. While you're at it, go ahead and comment on anything you wish to, too!

Tomorrow is the Indiana State Democratic Party Convention Held in Indy

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Tomorrow is the day of the Indiana State Democratic Party Convention held in Indy. I'm driving down with Todd Nightenhelser, who ran as a candidate to represent my 3rd District. This should be chaotic but important and fun.

As a state delegate I get to cast my vote for Bernie Sanders. Then the delegates will vote on our platform, and on which delegates get to represent our state at the national convention.

From Chapter 5: Why Philosophy of Religion Must End

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Let me state for the record what I’m not proposing. This will better clarify my position before I argue it, as sort of a preemptive strike against misguided caricatures of my position. First and most importantly, I’m not saying Philosophy proper is stupid or dead or unnecessary or that there has been no progress in that discipline. Massimo Pigliucci is addressing these questions in his book. Richard Carrier addressed these issues in a cursory fashion in a video. In it Carrier addressed the question “What is pseudo-philosophy?” It’s “Philosophy that relies on fallacious arguments to a conclusion, and/or relies on factually false or undemonstrated premises. And isn’t corrected when discovered.” Based on this accurate definition alone all supernaturalist philosophy is pseudo-philosophy. Religious philosophy is to philosophy what “creation science” is to science.

I’m not proposing atheist philosophers, or anyone else who specializes in a particular religion, should dismiss out-of-hand or ridicule philosophy of religion arguments. They can do so I’ll argue later, but I see no reason why anyone who specializes in a particular religion would do that regularly. Perhaps surprisingly, I’m not even proposing atheist philosophers should cease writing books on PoR or that they should cease all lectures or classes on such topics in the secular universities. I’m not suggesting everyone else should stop discussing the issues of the PoR, or writing books on it. I will however, be showing them all how to do it correctly from now on, if they wish to continue dealing with these issues at all. But if they do the philosophy or religion correctly it would no longer be considered the philosophy of religion, but something else. Finally, I’m not proposing that if students don’t agree with secular or atheist professors they should fail the classes. *Sheesh* Where do these objections come from?

Chapter 7: It’s Enough To Be Right!

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I’m going to argue in this chapter that it’s enough to be right about something. My focus is on religious beliefs as a subset of paranormal beliefs, of which Christianity is my main target, but I think the case can be made about most any issue. While reasonable people would certainly want more than to just be right, when it comes to solving problems, alleviating misery, and doing what is good, being right is good enough.

Let me begin with a political example. Let’s say there are two people who voted for the same USA presidential candidate. Person A had good reasons to do so. Person B did not. Let’s say every political commenter and scholar agreed that person A had good reasons to so vote (regardless of whether they agreed with those reasons) and person B did not have good reasons to so vote. Now let’s say person A is right to have voted for the chosen presidential candidate for the said reasons (irrespective of how we can know this). Then it is enough for person B to have voted for the same chosen presidential candidate irrespective of the fact that good reasons were not offered for doing so.

I know the point of contention will be on the epistemological question, that is, how we could know Person A voted for the right presidential candidate. However, that changes nothing. If Person A was right to vote for the chosen presidential candidate then so was Person B. Period. The standard definition of knowledge is that it’s justified true belief. So if my critics want to say that due to this definition Person B’s decision to vote was not based on knowledge, since it was not reasonably justified, I can agree. That being admitted, it still does nothing to change the fact that Person B voted rightly.

Richard Dawkins Answers His Critics

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Dawkins was not able to attend Reason Rally but he did send a video. Here it is. In it Dawkins answers his critics (from 3:45 to 5:10), who said he was ignorant for not knowing God is a simple being. What he meant was not something metaphysical. He was asking about the mind of God, that is, how and where does God get all of his knowledge? It's utterly incomprehensible to the point of refutation to believe God has always held true and utterly comprehensive propositional knowledge about everything, even of himself. I still cannot understand how this God chose his nature, or how the trinity came to be joined at the hip. Imagining just one eternal being who knows everything that can be known is incomprehensible on its own, but now there are three such divine beings who have this knowledge and have never disagreed within the Godhead. It's clear obfuscationist philosophers are making shit up as they go to save their Christian faith from refutation, since the only basis for believing this crap are some ancient pre-scientific writings. [Transcript of this part of his speech is below].


Do All Positions About Religion Contradict Each Other?

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Imagine the cognitive dissonance required to pass out these cards!! A street peddler gave me one at the Reason Rally. Christians really do not understand the difference between a person who believes something, from someone who won't believe until there is sufficient evidence to do so. Atheists merely say we won't believe until someone puts forth the required sufficient evidence. That puts us in an entirely different category than believers.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO PRICE: EPISODE 1

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Southern Baptists lost 200,000 members over the past year!

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Conservatism is losing and that's good enough news for today. LINK.

The Top Fifty Humanist/Atheist Books

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There are many humanists and atheists working on behalf of reason and science that most of us will never hear about. When at the Reason Rally I was invited to a Humanist celebration hosted by Ellen Sutliff at a yacht club in Washington, DC. She is the President of Humanists & Freethinkers of New Bern, NC. She was a sheer delight. When Ellen learned I was the author of Why I Became an Atheist she told me something pretty cool. Her group went through a list of humanist/atheist authors and chose the top 50 books to donate to the Craven Community College Library in New Bern, NC. Among the best of the best they chose my book as one of them! You can see the list alphabetized below. It's very impressive. I was very happy to learn mine was one of them.

Reason Rally 2016 Here I Come

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I'm leaving tomorrow to go to the 2016 Reason Rally! I'm pretty pumped about it. I hope to see lots of people I have known only by emails and Facebook messages. LINK. It's way to sad to hear Johnny Depp backed out of the speaking lineup. If you're paying attention to the news then you know why.

New Report: There Are Staggering Numbers of Enslaved People in Today's World

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This new report on where slaves live in today's world breaks me up. I feel helpless. I wish I could pray but praying does no good. If there was a god I wouldn't need to pray for these staggering numbers of enslaved human beings anyway. Wow. I think there's human progress, I do. But then there's this.
A new report estimates 45.8 million people live in contemporary slavery in 167 countries. Nearly 60 percent of those live in just five nations: India, the country with the highest number of slaves, followed by China (3.4 million), Pakistan (2.1 million), Bangladesh (1.5 million), and Uzbekistan (1.2 million). North Korea has the most people enslaved in proportion to population, with 4.4 percent of the country’s people living in conditions of slavery. Slavery is illegal in every country, but it still exists and is common in some poor countries with oppressive governments or few human-rights protections. LINK.
I've written a chapter on slavery for my anthology Christianity is Not Great: How Faith Fails, which I think readers may find very informative.

My Letter to a Doubting Preacher in the Pulpit

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I received an email from a preacher in the pulpit who is doubting. He said he first reached out to a prominent apologetics preacher, but he had no time for him. So he reached out to me. I agreed to correspond with him. This is what I wrote:
Hi,

Glad to hear from you! How did you find my email address since it's not exactly easy to find? I have published a few books. Have you read them, or my blog?

Usually I tell people I'll only correspond with them after they've read one or more of my books. But since you're a preacher in the pulpit I'll make an exception in your case. That being said, I have a book deadline to meet by June 15th, and must concentrate on that for now.

I'm sorry to tell you that I've read hundreds of personal stories, and have my own as well, so unfortunately I'm not interested in reading your story. Don't hate me for this. Just tell me the issue or issues you are struggling with. I will attempt to answer your questions as best as I can. These answers may take the form of links to my blog or copies of sections from my books, but I will try.

I don't want to talk to anyone playing the devil's advocate. The devil can advocate for himself. And I don't want to argue with you either. If you disagree, then realize I'm only trying to help. Try to learn from me and we'll be fine. If this turns into a series of arguments I'll bow out, for I'm not interested in changing your mind about anything. I write very passionately on my blog and books to convince believers, but on a personal one-on-one basis I really don't care what any given individual believes enough to bother, except that they are kind and empathetic people.

Jean Paul Sartre argued we seek counseling from people we know in advance what they might advise us to do. You first tried a Christian believer so that was one side of the aisle. It's what I did myself when I started doubting. Then at some point the scales tipped to the other side and you now seek the advice of that side. You are already there!

How can I help you?

Best wishes on your intellectual journey,
John W. Loftus

Mark Twain, "Concerning the character of the real God"

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From Mark Twain's Autiobiography, Volume II, Saturday, June 23, 1906

Concerning the character of the real God.

Let us now consider the real God, the genuine God, the great God, the sublime and supreme God, the authentic Creator of the real universe, whose remotenesses are visited by comets only—comets unto which incredibly distant Neptune is merely an outpost, a Sandy Hook to homeward bound spectres of the deeps of space that have not glimpsed it before for generations—a universe not made with hands and suited to an astronomical nursery, but spread abroad through the illimitable reaches of space by the fiat of the real God just mentioned; that God of unthinkable grandeur and majesty, by comparison with whom all the other gods whose myriads infest the feeble imaginations of men are as a swarm of gnats scattered and lost in the infinitudes of the empty sky.

When we think of such a God as this, we cannot associate with Him anything trivial, anything lacking dignity, anything lacking grandeur. We cannot conceive of His passing by Sirius to choose our potato for a footstool. We cannot conceive of His interesting Himself in the affairs of the microscopic human race and enjoying its Sunday flatteries, and experiencing pangs of jealousy when the flatteries grow lax or fail, any more than we can conceive of the Emperor of China being interested in a bottle of microbes and pathetically anxious to stand well with them and harvest their impertinent compliments. If we could conceive of the Emperor of China taking an intemperate interest in his bottle of microbes, we should have to draw the line there; we could not, by any stretch of imagination, conceive of his selecting from these innumerable millions a quarter of a thimbleful of Jew microbes—the least attractive of the whole swarm—and making pets of them and nominating them as his chosen germs, and carrying his infatuation for them so far as to resolve to keep and coddle them alone, and damn all the rest.

Royalty Is Another Facet Of Religion And Should Be Opposed

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5 Reasons Why Angels are Nonsense – Even for Christians

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1. Messengers
2. Hitmen
3. Guardians
4. Furniture Or Draft Animals
5. Singing Sycophants

LINK

Thoughts of God by Mark Twain

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Thoughts of God by Mark Twain, from Fables of Man.
How often we are moved to admit the intelligence exhibited in both the designing and the execution of some of His works. Take the fly, for instance. The planning of the fly was an application of pure intelligence, morals not being concerned. Not one of us could have planned the fly, not one of us could have constructed him; and no one would have considered it wise to try, except under an assumed name.

It is believed by some that the fly was introduced to meet a long-felt want. In the course of ages, for some reason or other, there have been millions of these persons, but out of this vast multitude there has not been one who has been willing to explain what the want was. At least satisfactorily. A few have explained that there was need of a creature to remove disease-breeding garbage; but these being then asked to explain what long-felt want the disease-breeding garbage was introduced to supply, they have not been willing to undertake the contract.

England and Wales Are Now Predominantly Nonreligious

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LINK. Any day now the guillotines will be erected and used to chop off the heads of believers. Still anxiously waiting...

Arguing for the End of Philosophy of Religion is Not Being Inconsistent

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I find criticisms of James Lindsay's book Everybody is Wrong About God, and of Peter Boghossian, to be misguided. We're told the rejection of philosophy of religion (PoR) "seems to be expressing views in the philosophy of religion." This reminds me of the criticism thrown at atheists that we believe even though we don't, or that we're religious because we take a position on religion. Not! Using reason to reject the PoR is not the same thing as doing PoR. It’s reasoning, not PoR. Using scientific reasoning to reject creation science is not doing creation science. If one cannot argue for the end of PoR without doing PoR then this catch-22 problem is not the fault of the person arguing for the end of PoR. It’s the fault of the one laying down such a rule. The only other alternative is to stop saying anything at all about the PoR, which is an unreasonable demand if one wants to end the PoR.

Dr. Timothy McGrew's Sermon Response To Me About Prophecy

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In my recent debate with Abdu Murray I had said:
Where’s the Prophetic Evidence?

There is none! I defy someone to come up with one statement in the Old Testament that is specifically fulfilled in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus that can legitimately be understood as a prophecy and singularly points to Jesus as the Messiah using today’s historical-grammatical hermeneutical method. It cannot be done. An expressed hope for a future savior is not to be considered a prediction, unless along with that hope are specific details whereby we can check to see if it was fulfilled in a specific person.
Looks like people were asking how I could say that, which in turn promoted Timothy McGrew to respond. It's long. One thing though. He did not deal with my arguments in chapter 17 of Why I Became an Atheist. McGrew said he has my book (1st edition I presume) but he shows no awareness of it, and he doesn't deal with the force of my arguments.



Throughout this "sermon" of his (really, this is not a lecture where students can ask questions!) he repeatedly says that I disagree with something, or that I say something different. I do yes. But I'm sure as sure can be he's special pleading based on the mother of all cognitive biases, confirmation bias. Surely as an outsider he would not treat any other holy book containing alleged prophecies this way. No, siree bob!

Did Moses Exist?

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I was asked if Moses existed. The answer is no. For detailed answers look here:

1) Read chapter 11 "The Credibility of the Exodus" by Rebecca Bradley in my new anthology.

2) Read this book by Robert M. Price, Moses and Minimalism.

3) Read this book by Murdock D.M. titled, Did Moses Exist?: The Myth of the Israelite Lawgiver.

4) Watch this excellent documentary The Bible Unearthed.

5) Listen to the YouTube podcast below of Robert Price and Hector Avalos discussing the historicity Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, and Jesus.

Resurrection or Ghost Story? by Robert Conner

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 According to Paul, arguably Christianity’s foremost spokesman, belief in the resurrection is the sine qua non of Christian belief and the basis of Christian hope:

But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.[1]

I've Changed My Mind Many Times, Especially About Religion

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I've changed my mind a lot of times. I should be so lucky to have gotten everything correct from the time I was a young adult. I wonder if it's even possible for people never to change their minds if they have any longevity in life at all. Let's imagine for a second that at the age of 20 years old I held the same opinions as I do now, which is to say I was correct about everything I had an opinion about. Now don't get me wrong here. While I think I'm correct about everything I have an opinion about--to the appropriate degrees of probability--I also know with a very high degree of certainty I must be wrong about some of them. I just cannot see that I'm wrong right now. Back to being 20 years old. Even if at the age of 20 I agreed with my older current self about everything, I know I'd change some of my opinions as I grew older. So I don't think changing one's mind is any indicator of ignorance or instability or gullibility or anything like that. It can mean this is just what thinking people do, given time, thought and the experiences of life.

What have I changed my mind about? Too many things to say here, for sure. I've changed my opinions about lots of people as I got to know them better, about foods I like, about drinks I like, about which sports I like, about the sports teams I root for, about music I listen to, about art, politics, and religion.

When it comes to religion I began as a Catholic. In my earlier years I went through a paradigm shift of sorts. At the age of 17 I became a "Born Again" Pentecostal who was also taught to believe Dispensationalism and Calvinism. Then I started going to a Church of Christ and had to unlearn what I was converted to. I learned to reject Pentecostalism, Dispensationalism and Calvinist theology. Then I was taught that adult baptism by immersion was necessary for the forgiveness of sins, and that Arminianism and amillennial eschatology were biblically correct. Friends, all of this religious change took place in just 2-3 years of my young adult life. Soon I was set in my ways and stayed that way for two decades on major issues, although with more and more education I changed my mind slowly and gradually on lots of other minor ones.

From 1990 to 2005 I went though a second paradigm shift of sorts. I went from being a conservative to a moderate to a liberal to a deist to an agnostic and finally to an atheist, a weak or agnostic atheist.

Recently in the last 2-3 years to date, I have gone though third paradigm shift of sorts. I am now a strong atheist who has come to the conclusion there is no need to take the obfuscations of Christian philosophers seriously because all philosophical apologetics is special pleading, all of it. Philosophy itself is used to obfuscate the Bible and the theology based on it not to clarify them, because if they were truly clarified believers would see clearly the Christian emperor has no clothes on. Clarifying the Bible and the theology based on it rather than obfuscating them would strip away the blinders from the eyes of believers. Then believers could see the evidence-based truth. They would see their faith is a delusion on a par with Mormonism, Hinduism, Orthodox Judaism and even Scientology, as well as seeing they’ve been indoctrinated and/or brainwashed to believe.

I have changed my mind about faith because I’ve become better informed about it. I should not believe anything. Belief isn’t something any reasonable person should do when it comes to gaining knowledge about matters of fact like the nature of nature, its workings and its origins. Faith adds nothing to the probabilities. It has no method and solves no problems. If faith is trust we should not trust faith. It’s a cognitive bias keeping believers away from understanding the truth rather than strictly going with the probabilities based upon the objective evidence.

I have also changed my mind about the Courtier’s Reply. I now agree it's an appropriate and reasonable response to believers who claim to have evidence for their faith. I say this as someone trained in the philosophy of religion who has changed his mind about his own field of study. Furthermore, while I previously desired a respectful discussion with believers, I no longer think it's of the up-most importance. I have embraced the need for and the value of ridicule.

I get attacked for my present views. People do so, even atheists, not realizing I have been where they are now. I just want them to know I was once where they are now. They may attack me but they cannot claim I'm ignorant, just as Christians may attack me not realizing I was once where they are now. I might be wrong. But again, I'm not ignorant. You should take the fact that I've changed my mind as evidence I'm open-minded enough to consider different views. I have a lot to teach my atheist critics precisely because I have changed my views. For at one time I rejected the views of Dawkins and the subsequent Courtier's Reply as philosophically naive, but I now value them. My atheist critics are playing a pretend game when they take the obfuscations of Christian pseudo-philosophers seriously. They do so because they enjoy an intellectually challenging game, much like chess. While it may be fun and interesting to play the game called "Christian" and want to win at it, by playing the game they grant intellectual respectability to that which is bizarre and absurd.

Concluding Paragraph To Chapter 3

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This is the final paragraph of Chapter 3 in Unapologetic: Why Philosophy of Religion Must End:
Moser is crazy as is Craig, as is Plantinga. They have lost touch with reality. People who believe as they do should not be at the adult table. They should stay at the children’s table. They must grow up before we should listen to them. They are disqualified from teaching us. People like them should not be teaching in any secular university. They are all faith peddlers. Faith is an unreliable way to gain knowledge. Let this be a litmus test for anyone who wants to teach the philosophy of religion. Ask them what they think of Plantinga, Craig and Moser, and if they embrace these ideas do not hire them. If they are in your department get them fired. I’m serious. They are crazy people who should not be teaching our students.
To read some of what I wrote in the chapter see here.