Jesus Behaving Badly: The Fig Tree Incident

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It’s hard to act mature all of the time… even for the Son of God.  The gospels contain a number of incidents in which Jesus gets annoyed or angry.  Today, we are going to look at two versions of a story about how Jesus gets pissed off and kills a fig tree.  I don’t want to be too hard on Jesus, because he was hungry and I know how cranky I get, when I’m starving, but nonetheless, shouldn’t we expect better behavior from someone who is supposed to be God in human form?

Has Any Atheist Deconversion Happened Quite Like This?

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John Lloyd was my Youth Pastor when I first became a Christian. A couple of years ago I had lunch with him, which I wrote about here. Today I found a video of him doing a talk at the church he had founded, where he described his conversion and early ministry (starting at about 9:04), of which I was involved. My question to you is this: Has any atheist deconversion happened quite like this? I think not. It was purely experiential while he was on prescription medicine. And yet John Lloyd knows that he knows that he knows that his faith is true. It's a shame, really!


This Weekend is the PA State Atheist/Humanist Conference

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I'll be speaking at this fine conference on Saturday morning about my book The Outsider Test for Faith: How to Know Which Religion Is True.As I'm finalizing my talk I've been re-reading my book again, and although I do say so myself, this book is dynamite! ;-) If you don't already have it, get it and read it. I'm very honored and grateful to be a speaker for this conference, especially given the other speakers who will be there. If you can come out, do so. Here is a link telling you all the details. Hope to see ya there!

Finally! Christianity is Not Great Went to Print!!

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As the editor, this anthology consumed a great deal of my time in the past few months. It went to print this past week and is scheduled for an October 21st release date! I sure hope Christians have the courage to read it and think through the issues we raise. I hope both budding and accomplished Christian apologists do likewise, since, if we're wrong I want to know. I sure hope atheists, agnostics, deists and people of different religious faiths like it and favorably recommend it on their blogs, podcasts and videos on YouTube. We non-Christians are in this together as we face overwhelming numerical and political odds against Christians, especially the religious right in America. To pre-order it on Amazon, where you won't be charged until it ships, follow this link.

The following clip from "The Wrath of Khan" expresses my thoughts as I ponder the impact of this anthology:

If God and Satan were Weighed in a Morality Balance, God Would be Damned: A Problem for Theists

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“ . . . now therefore, listen to the words of the LORD. // “Thus says the LORD of hosts, Now go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.” (1 Samuel 15: 1-3)

For Islamic ISIS fighters, carrying out the supreme commands of God in Qur’an is proof God exists as they shout; "Allah is Great!"
ISIS fighters taunt a Christian child before beheading it.
"Let neither their possessions nor their children impress you.  Allah intends to torment them through them in this worldly life, and that their souls depart while they are disbelievers. (Qur’an 9: 55)

The Evolution of God from Yahweh in a Box to the Super Mega Deity of the Universe

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The God of modern Christian theology is a philosophically supercharged God far removed from the physically limited and dimwitted Yahweh whose identity has as much in common as a horse and buggy does with a Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4.   Ironically, Christian apologists such has WL Craig totally ignore this primitive and limited tribal God in favor of the easy to defend modern concept of a nameless figure that has evolved from the New Testament whose image is rooted in the pagan Classical Tradition. (1)

 When a person “becomes a Christian”, it’s not the ancient Near Eastern tribal Yahweh they are presented with, but a slick modern super deity with few links to the Old Testament . . . known simply as God with a capital “G” who is really an anthology of Classical pagan attributes taken on after having absorbed the myths of other ancient Near Eastern Semitic gods.  This apologetically hopped up deity which grew out of the ideals of Neo-Platonism is constantly gathering apologetic power be they from the Summa Theological concepts of Thomas Aquinas to Karl Rahner’s Systematic Catholic Theology to Barth’s Protestant Church Dogmatics and on to Alfred North Whitehead’s Processed Reality.  The evolution of God is now considerably much like the woman Lucy in the current hit movie of the same title or a God who continues to acquire any philosophical protection the best apologists can mentally bestow upon him.

Practical Steps to Ending the Philosophy of Religion in Secular Colleges

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As announced earlier I intend to do a series of posts on my call to end the philosophy of religion (PoR) discipline in secular universities, by answering the following questions: 1) Why do I propose ending PoR as a subdiscipline of Philosophy proper in the secular universities?; 2) What should we know when it comes to ending the PoR?; 3) What exactly is my proposal?; 4) What are the best ways to examine the claims of religion?; 5) What are some practical steps to help facilitate this proposal?; and 6) Why do secular philosophers of religion object to this proposal? In this post I intend to answer question #5. To read other posts in this series click on the tag below, "Ending Philosophy of Religion."

Given the cruelty and barbarism of the religion of Isis I submit this song:

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Damn It! The Saint's Head Breaks Off

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https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=547659308642357

Now there's going to be Hell to pay!

How a Lie about Bill Gates Disproves Pascal’s Wager

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Can you afford not to trust him?!
Hey Facebook, As some of you may know, I’m Bill Gates. If you click that share link, I will give you $5,000. I always deliver, I mean, I brought your Windows XP, right? ” (And it’s still running on Facebook as a “Friend” Shared it with me.)
In just 16 years over 400,000 Facebook users disproved Pascal’s famous 360 year old Wager due to the fact that these Facebook believers took the Pascal’s Wager Challenge and ALL 400,000 proved Pascal’s Wager was wrong! Even though the facts were out for years, people just couldn’t believe that a picture of Bill Gates himself holding a promissory note shared by hundreds of thousands was a huge lie!
 Hey (according to Pascal’s Wager), go ahead; what have you got to lose except tens of thousands of dollars and can you really afford to be that foolish?!  So can you simply afford not to trust what over 400,000 people believed to have been the Gospel Truth?
Finally, someone needs to post a picture of Jesus Christ also holding up a sign claiming eternal Heavenly bliss if you not only believe yourself, but "Share" this divine promissory note with all your friends.  After all, if you’re a non-believer, what have you got to lose?

The Finalized Book Cover of "Christianity is Not Great"

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This is the finalized cover of my anthology "Christianity is Not Great."

To see the description and contents follow this link. To pre-order it on Amazon, where you won't be charged until it ships, follow this link. It's slated for an October 14th publication date. 


This is a "great" book, get it? ;-)

What Are The Best Ways To Examine The Claims Of Religion?

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As announced earlier I intend to do a series of posts on my call to end the philosophy of religion (PoR) discipline in secular universities, by answering the following questions: 1) Why do I propose ending PoR as a subdiscipline of Philosophy proper in the secular universities?; 2) What should we know when it comes to ending the PoR?; 3) What exactly is my proposal?; 4) What are the best ways to examine the claims of religion?; 5) What are some practical steps to help facilitate this proposal?; and 6) Why do secular philosophers of religion object to this proposal? In this post I intend to answer question #4. To read other posts in this series click on the tag below, "Ending Philosophy of Religion."

What Exactly is My Proposal For Ending the Philosophy Of Religion Discipline in Secular Universities?

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As announced earlier I intend to do a series of posts on my call to end the philosophy of religion (PoR) discipline in secular universities, by answering the following questions: 1) Why do I propose ending PoR as a subdiscipline of Philosophy proper in the secular universities?; 2) What should we know when it comes to ending the PoR?; 3) What exactly is my proposal?; 4) What are the best ways to examine the claims of religion?; 5) What are some practical steps to help facilitate this proposal?; and 6) Why do secular philosophers of religion object to this proposal? In this post I intend to answer question #3. To read other posts in this series click on the tag below, "Ending Philosophy of Religion."

James Lindsay On Ending the Philosophy of Religion

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It is very difficult to see the matter of theism as something to treat seriously as a philosophical object. We shouldn't. It is a theological object, and theology is only "pseudo-philosophical," as Carrier puts it, and pseudo-academic, as I outlined above. No one is required to take such a thing seriously or engage its "best" arguments, as if it has any, as if the real contenders haven't already been dealt with thoroughly and repeatedly, and as if any argument stands up to the simple and straightforward question that's been waiting for them all along: "Where's the evidence?"

But because the idea that we should engage any position's best case is generally true in philosophy proper, and all academic debate, it is an easy value to turn into a false virtue. The principle simply doesn't apply here because theology is pseudo-academic, though. Misapplying it as a false virtue, a moral value defining a particular kind of thinker, I think, is exactly what apologists for the philosophy of religion are doing, and I think it constitutes a confusing and unproductive avenue in the conversation that should not continue. LINK.

Christians Have A Gambling Addiction

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 I’ve been pondering Pascal’s Wager, and I think that he might actually have been onto something.  Not in the sense that his wager was valid, of course.  
His bet was far too simplistic.  Its fatal flaw of assuming that the Christian god is the only deity which might exist, is glaringly apparent to everyone except for believers.  Philosophers such as Homer J. Simpson have dissected it:

Some Preliminaries To My Proposal For Ending the Philosophy of Religion

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As announced earlier I intend to do a series of posts on my call to end the philosophy of religion (PoR) discipline in secular universities, by answering the following questions: 1) Why do I propose ending PoR as a subdiscipline of Philosophy proper in the secular universities?; 2) What should we know when it comes to ending the PoR?; 3) What exactly is my proposal?; 4) What are the best ways to examine the claims of religion?; 5) What are some practical steps to help facilitate this proposal?; and 6) Why do secular philosophers of religion object to this proposal? In this post I intend to answer question #2. To read other posts in this series click on the tag below, "Ending Philosophy of Religion."

Objective Evidence Trumps Subjective Experiences Every Time

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Q: What about someone who believes God exists wholly apart from evidence, say, on the basis of their religious experience, like William Alston and William Lane Craig argue, who claim the existence of God can be immediately known and experienced wholly apart from objective evidence?

A: I'd say such a claim itself is not based on objective evidence, which is the only reality check we can have against false subjective claims. For the evidence of subjective religious experiences is trumped by the objective evidence that the Christian god, the one they claim to have subjectively experienced, does not exist. That kind of objective evidence abounds. Objective evidence is also the reality check for all people of faith who claim similar subjective experiences are veridical. People of faith who reverse this by claiming subjective religious experiences trump all objective evidence are not thinking like adults, so they must go to the children's table. They are deluded. They are Epistemological Solipsists.

God on the Rampage in West Africa Using Ebola to Kill Both Innocent People and Even His Own Missionaries: What Does the Bible Say?

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Medical workers attend to a dying Ebola victim.
Wrath has come out from the Lord; the plague has started.” Numbers 16: 46

Plague went before him (God); pestilence followed his steps.”  Habakkuk 3:5 

As reported by the Associated Press, a deadly plague is on the move:  Ebola is believed to have killed 672 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since the outbreak began in February, according to the World Health Organization.

Quote of the Day On The Philosophy of Religion, by Loftus

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Secularists should teach the Philosophy of Religion in the classroom the same way they write their books, although they should allow for student interaction and debate. If the discipline is to be taught then this is one of the ways to do it right.

Dr. Hector Avalos Calls For Ending Religionist Philosophy of Religion

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I've been wondering what Hector thinks of my call for ending the Philosophy of Religion, since I'm basing it on his call to end biblical studies. So I asked him. He has not followed the discussion that much but enough to say this (per email):
My proposal is "to end biblical studies as we know it" (The End of Biblical Studies, p. 15),which means in its current religionist and apologetic orientation. So I am for ending the philosophy of religion if its only mission is to defend religion and theism. So, akin to my vision of the end of biblical studies, I would say that the only mission of the philosophy of religion is to end the philosophy of religion as we know it.
He also provided a progress report so far on his call to end biblical studies:

There is No Better Method Than Science

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Philosophers Are Taking Seriously My Call to End the Philosophy of Religion

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Link. On this site Michael Rea, J.L. Schellenberg and Paul Draper respond. This is very gratifying to me. Sometimes the best a person can hope for is to raise an important issue that scholars think is worth talking about, even if they disagree. A few of them even seem to be defending it!

On Ending the Philosophy of Religion Discipline

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I intend to do a series of posts on my call to end the philosophy of religion (PoR) discipline in secular universities, by answering the following questions: 1) Why do I propose ending PoR as a subdiscipline of Philosophy proper in the secular universities?; 2) What should we know when it comes to ending the PoR?; 3) What exactly is my proposal?; 4) What are the best ways to examine the claims of religion?; 5) What are some practical steps to help facilitate this proposal?; and 6) Why do secular philosophers of religion object to this proposal? In this post I intend to answer question #1. To read further posts in this series click on the tag below, "Ending Philosophy of Religion."

I Recommend Dr. James Lindsay's Blog "God Doesn't; We Do"

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Look on his front page right here, especially the post titled "William Lane Craig talking bizarro."

Can religion be destroyed?

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This is something I have posted in one form or another before, but I thought it would be interesting to see what you think about it here at DC. Before I set out, this is not a post to be confused with "should religion be destroyed" as that is an entirely different question.

Dr. Paul Draper on "What is Philosophy of Religion?"

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Earlier I linked to what philosophers of religion think of Philosophy of Religion (PoR). The essay Jeff Lowder has linked to is by Paul Draper, who offers four suggestions on how to best approach the discipline in hopes of reforming it. I want to examine these suggestions in a little detail here.

How A Doctorate in Bible or Christianity Can Stop Scholastic Objectivity

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So you decided to go for the big one  . . . that earned doctorate in Christian studies; you know the one that is suppose to prove to the world you really know the real objective truth behind the Christian tradition.  You strongly believe that that a doctorate demands respect in the religion field, especially in Christianity.  Though you know that many churches have signs stating that the minister is Rev. Dr. Egghead, but your earned PhD will vindicate you as a master of objective truth. 

Philosophers of Religion On "What is Philosophy of Religion?"

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My Thought on the Blood Atonement of Jesus

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If Jesus had been slain (shed his blood) by King Herod as an infant, there would have been totally no need for the New Testament with all its theological Bull Shit; the Hebrew God’s need of blood sacrifice would have been eternally but quietly satisfied and all humanity could have forgotten this finished Judeo-Christian religion forever! The fact the crucifixion must be continually re-enacted and preached on really proves this whole theological story never happened and is condemned by its own core theology as a hypocritical lie.
When considering the continuing value of the Bible, it is best summed up a by Jesus himself: “It is finished!” 

Jerry Coyne: Let’s stop teaching philosophy of religion in secular colleges

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I'm pleased he links to me. He's now expanded the debate by going after Divinity Schools in secular universities, which I also applaud. Let's have done with them too.
What we don’t need are entire Divinity Schools or Schools of Theology in secular universities. This privileges an entire discipline based on a human endeavor that itself rests on dubious and unsubstantiated claims. Further, they concentrate largely (but not exclusively) on active Abrahamic religions. There are few, if any, courses on atheism in divinity schools, but they should be at least as prominent as courses in religious apologetics. That is distasteful in a country that officially favors no religion in particular. If we are to have such schools, let us then have Ethical Schools, or Schools of Moral Thinking, or The School of Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy. But all of these can simply be subsumed in departments of philosophy or history. LINK.

Christopher Hitchens - Christianity is Immoral

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I'm Very Pleased My Call To End the Philosophy of Religion Made The Richard Dawkins Foundation Site

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LINK. In a similar vein Matt DeStefano, a Ph.D. student, weighs in on this issue over at the "Secular Outpost" with a fair and balanced review, which I responded to. And Keith Parsons offered a major statement in agreement with me, saying "If proclaiming the 'death of PoR' only means the death of a certain way of doing it, then I would certainly applaud this...I think that we have had enough of theistic apologetics. It's over." But then he advocates "a post-Christian POR." LINK. However, the death of Christian apologetics posing as the POR means the death of the POR itself as a discipline. For when faith and apologetics are removed from the secular universities the secular professors would be undermining the discipline by arguing against faith and apologetics, at least if Peter Boghossian and Hector Avalos's proposals are accepted, and I think they should be. There would eventually be no arguments to take seriously enough to have classes on them. Answer me this Keith, which Christian theistic arguments merit discussing in a secular university? That would be the question and secular professors would have to decide, but in deciding they would be saying these arguments are worth discussing, which legitimizes them somewhat, I think. You could no longer teach this discipline because you just couldn't stomach it. Which secular POR professors would continue to bother at that point is the question. Other classes in the university should take over at that point, or soon afterward.

In the end, with secular professors alone arguing against religionist POR they would undermine the discipline by arguing against it and convincing students of this. So eventually students wouldn't bother nor would secular professors. This program, if kept up long enough, would render the POR useless and irrelevant to people who are atheists living in an atheist society. The discipline would eventually run out of material and die. At least we're getting somewhere. Progress is still progress.

More On Ending the Philosophy of Religion Discipline in Secular Universities

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Not all secular philosophers try to disabuse their students of faith. So if I can get more of them to do more of that, without losing their jobs in the process, they would do their students a service and be more in line with the rest of the disciplines in a secular university, where God explanations are not allowed to solve problems.

I agree we should try to understand religion, most emphatically. This isn't an either/or proposal. The questions up for debate are whether religion should be approached philosophically and whether or not other disciplines in the university would be better suited for studying religion. I think there are other disciplines, like comparative religion studies and biblical studies done the way Hector Avalos has proposed. If you want people to see that religious faith has no merit those disciplines are the best ones for this. Anthropology does this as well. Science destroys religion, especially evolutionary science. At that point there would be no need to philosophically examine the arguments for God or gods or religions, since they are seen for what they are, based on faith. In epistemology classes alone, secular philosophers worthy of their position should focus on disabusing students of faith as a virtue. Once that's done properly there's no need to examine the philosophical arguments of faith. When was the last time anyone examined the philosophical arguments for the Canaanite religion and child sacrifice in any class? That's the point. There would be no reason to do so. When secular philosophers of religion merely seek to help students understand the philosophical arguments, rather than critique them by arguing against faith, they are doing their students a disservice. They have to first choose which God or gods to do this for. And how do they choose? What's the criteria? Well, so far as I can tell these secular philosophers choose whatever God or gods are currently believed in their parochial districts. That privileges those particular gods just by taking them seriously.