August 2007

Oh brotherI saw a post on John Depoe's blog today where he listed eight random facts about himself. Since I haven't made a post in awhile (yes I'm still slowly working through The God Delusion) I figured I'd also post eight random facts about me:

  • I'm a huge Simpsons fan (I have a Simpsons trivia calendar on my desk) but haven't seen the Simpsons Movie.
  • I'm working through Biola's Certificate in Christian Apologetics. I submitted my first module recently. Though I have a Masters degree from Tyndale Seminary I'd love to go back to school someday to earn a second Masters and eventually a PhD.
  • My favorite band in high school / university was The Ramones. I own every studio album they ever released plus several live CDs and collections.
  • Although I've generally been quite healthy throughout my life, I've had gastroenteritis, pneumonia, mononucleosis, shingles, had an adenoidectomy, and have corneal edema.
  • I was an agnostic (occasionally atheist depending on my mood) for the first 22 years of my life. I was as surprised as anyone when that changed.
  • I enjoy many diverse web comics, including Penny Arcade, xkcd, Savage Chickens, Sinfest, Nemu Nemu, Ctrl-Alt-Del, and Activities for Rainy Days.
  • Although I don't play as often (or as hardcore) as I used to, I enjoy video games. I own a Wii and a DS. Nintendo FTW!
  • I used to write music using an antiquated DOS program (and still try every few months or so, usually unsuccessfully), but I'm really self-conscious about my songs so I can count on one hand the number of people who have heard any of them. In total I have about 60 finished songs of varying quality.

EarthI'm still slowly working my way through Dawkins' The God Delusion. I'm about halfway done with chapter four, "Why God Almost Certainly Doesn't Exist". Chapter three, in which Dawkins attempts to refute the positive case for God's existence, was unconvincing, for the reasons that have already been noted as well as others. I'm making copious notes as I read so that I'll be able to make a series of posts when I finish reading it, but because of this it's taking a long time to read.

One of the threads on the FORU.MS discussion board was deleted recently, and one of my old posts went along with it. (Not sure why the thread was removed.) A mod was kind enough to forward my post in the thread to me before it was removed, so here's my reply below to someone who posted some comments on science and faith, which I have edited & expanded a bit for this blog: (original poster's comments in italics; assume all spelling errors in his/her writing were in their original post)

Christians don't trust in Science because it clean's their clock. I mean Noah's ark? Camon.


Old bookLately I've been hanging around (formerly known as, RIP), mostly in the Apologetics, Christian Philosophy & Ethics, and College / Bible College forums. Recently I observed a fine example of a fallacious sort of argument that we might call "argument from overwhelming".

Greg Koukl might call it the steamroller tactic. In its electronic, forum-based version, a person will post (usually as his/her first and only post(s) on a forum) a ridiculous amount of information, usually copied and pasted from other websites. Then, they will add their own comments as the last paragraph of the post, something along the lines of "See Christianity has been proven wrong!"

Now, I'm sure people of every religious persuasion are guilty of doing the very same thing. But this sort of tactic is dishonest regardless of who is doing it. The perpetrator can confidently fold his or her arms and gloat, since it'd be practically impossible for someone to respond to everything that has been pasted into the thread.

Anyways, the post on CF demonstrated a second fallacy. The thread I quote from below has been rightly deleted as trolling/spam, but I saved a copy of the post before it was removed. Here's a portion of what the author actually wrote him/herself:

The truth is that all religions were simply made up by ancient peasants that didn't have the science and facts we do today and just took a guess based on nothing which is that a ghost with magical powers created everything.

Here we have an example of the fallacy of chronological snobbery. (Which, I just learned, was coined by C. S. Lewis and friend Owen Barfield.) Essentially, it is the unjustified assumption that all thinking, art, science, etc of previous eras is inherently inferior to our own. (As an aside, this comment also uses loaded language as its author builds a straw man depiction of God.)

Chronological snobbery assumes that all "ancient" people were ignoramuses who can't be trusted. Where the line is to be drawn in history to divide these supposedly ignorant savages from today's enlightened, intelligent thinkers is never explicitly stated, but likely lies just prior to the birth of the person espousing such a view. I certainly hope that, a hundred years hence, everything we think and believe isn't dismissed out of hand by those living in 2107 just because "Everyone in 2007 was ignorant of modern science."

Even though ancient peoples were indeed ignorant of many areas of modern science, they still knew how to make accurate historical claims. For example, people knew that, generally speaking, dead people stay dead. Unless, of course many independent witnesses were convinced, to the point of their own deaths, that a dead mad had risen …

Related reading:

  • The Facts Concerning the Resurrection – Dr Gary Habermas explains why even if we don't accept the Bible as "inerrant" we can build a case for the resurrection using only facts agreed upon by the vast majority of critical scholars.
  • Good people – What makes a person "good"? What did Jesus say when he was asked this question?

Melinda Penner made a thoughtful post on the nature of faith on the Stand to Reason Blog today … I think she's "in rare form, as usual"1:

It's common these days for people to talk about how their "faith" will get them through a difficult and trying experience. This is said without qualification of what the faith is placed in and of anyone who exhibits faith. It seems as though "faith" is usually treated as a quality which, in and of itself, has the power to endow strength, endurance, and hope.

1 Extremely obscure STR inside joke

Next Page »