Sep 13, 2014

Why is there something rather than nothing?

Why is There Something Rather Than Nothing?
Why it's a circular question.
Gottfried Leibniz, a 17th-century German mathematician and philosopher, once asked, "Why is there something (creation) rather than nothing?"
Then he answered it: there's something because the universal designer wanted there to be something. 
In other words "because God did it." 
Of course, it took the existence of the universal designer for granted.
But, for all anybody knows, a material cause of the universe might be eternal itself. 
Eternal God or eternal material--either is impossible to comprehend, anyway.
Try and really understand either. You only come to a dead end.
For the secularist scientist, the frank answer is, “I don’t know and might never know.”
For the theist, “God did it.” Thereby, the blank is filled in.
The theist may define the universal designer as the greatest being. 
At the same time, the theist can't explain what exactly the greatest being is. 
Although he may say it's all powerful, all knowing, and eternal, those properties aren't observed in the world. They're abstract concepts. 
One may wonder how a hypothetical "greatest being" exists eternally to begn with. 
The greatest being neither eats or sleeps. 
The church answer is God just is. Nothing else. 
One wonders too why the greatest being made the cosmos when it didn't need to. 
Or why humankind was made, when the greatest being didn’t need it, either. 
In fact, the Old Testament book of Job says God doesn't need anything from humans--
Job 35:6 If you sin, how does that affect [God]? If your sins are many, what does that do to him? 7 If you are righteous, what do you give to him, or what does he receive from your hand? 
A church answer may say God made the cosmos for his pleasure. 
It sounds as if God needs pleasure, then. 
Leibniz, the above philosopher, contended that this is the best of all possible worlds that God could create. 
The designer always does what's best. 
Leibniz seemed to say he had special knowledge about it. 
But he doesn't say from where he got that special knowledge. 
Or is it that the philosopher didn't have special knowledge. 
Leibniz says that the all powerful being made the universe. 
But his reason is built on ambiguous language. 
What is more, the ambiguity of language supports faith and faith supports the ambiguity of language. One unsubstantiated thing supports the other unsubstantiated thing. 
Liebniz, good luck with the cicularity. You'll need it. 
There's a lesson in what the French philosopher Auguste Comte said in 1835--
He said science will never figure out what the stars are made of. 
But within decades of his saying that, astronomers began to determine the chemical composition of stars; they analyzed the spectrums of light the stars emitted. 
Comte should have said, "I dont' know, but maybe somebody else will later."
Leibniz should have said that, too.

Sep 11, 2014

God made the Earth from pre-existing water

God Made the Earth from Pre-existing Water.
Why God didn't create out of nothing. 

God hovered over primeval water, about to form the heavens and the earth.
As Genesis says--
Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. 3 And God said, "Let there be light, and there was light." 

The water existed before God began to make anything. The water wasn't commanded to appear. The first command made light come. One view is that the water was created, where it says--
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." 
But it's still not made plain that the water was created.
Besides, the opening line is often understood to be only a topical sentence, a summary of what's to come.  

Meantime, the New Testament says God formed the earth out of water--
 2 Peter 3 Long ago God gave a command, and the heavens and earth were created. The earth was formed out of water and by water.

 But Genesis says that the land already existed beneath the water--
Genesis 1:9 And God said, Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear. And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters he called "seas." And God saw that it was good. 

2 Peter and Genesis make different claims.  

Another outside-the-Bible view says that supernatural war destroyed the previous earth.
Apologists say that there was the first-time formation of the heavens and the earth. Then God made angels, the angel Satan warred with God, and the earth was destroyed in the battle. The war, apologists say, had reduced the earth to water. Out of the chaotic water, God reformed the earth during the six days of creation.

The thing is, tradition and not the Bible proposes the primeval war in which the earth was reduced to ruins. 

Okay, but God and Satan are on speaking terms, not at war, in the Old Testament book of Job--
Job 1:6 One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. 7 The Lord said to Satan, "Where have you come from?" Satan answered the Lord, "From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it." 8 Then the Lord said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil." 

Thus God and Satan engage in dialog in the book of Job. Moreover, Satan roams the earth as he pleases, as if God and Satan had made up after the supposed war between them. Uh ... 

As for the idea of creation from nothing, the book of Maccabees (it's included in some Bible editions) might have started the view of creation from nothing--
2 Maccabees 7:28 I beseech you, my child, to look at heaven and earth and see everything in them, and know that God made them out of nothing; so also he made the race of man in this way. 

But Genesis says God made humans--the race of man--from clay and his breath, not nothing.
2 Maccabees (120 BCE) has misspoken itself about humans.
The question is whether it screwed up about the earth out of nothing, too.  

Some ancient Bible intellectuals favored the concept of creation out of something.
For example, the Christian intellectual Justin Martyr (2nd century CE) says that material pre-existed for God to use. He says that it was the water over which the spirit of God hovered, and then God shaped it (Justin Martyr, 1 Apology 59).  

As another example, Philo of Alexandria, a Jewish theologian (early 1st century CE), says God shaped creation out of pre-existing matter (The Eternity of the World 5).
At other times, Philo says some of creation came from nothing (On Dreams 1.76).
Philo appears to straddle the question. 

On the whole, it's not clear if creation was from nothing or pre-existent water.
Me, I side with the interpretation of pre-existent water.

Sep 10, 2014

W.L. Craig on objective morality

W.L. Craig on Objective Morality.
Why he's full of beans.

W.L. Craig, a Christian apologist, discusses Socrates' question. 
Socrates asks Euthyphro: Which is it? The gods' laws are good because the gods made them? 
Or the gods are good because they obey good laws, but where did they get the laws? 

Defenders 2: Existence of God Part 20.
W.L. Craig, a Christian apologist, @ 34:00 says that God’s moral values are good because God is good. Whatever God commands is good. For example, it’s impossible for God to command parents to kill their children. 
But @40:30 he says that there are exceptions to the rule. 
Indeed God can command a parent to kill his child. For example, he says God commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, but such a command was for the greater good.
 Okay, now wait. If you do what you believe that God said for you to do for the greater good, you don't tell between good and bad, you only know what you believe God said.
Let's try it from a different angle.
Is God Necessary for Morality? Kagan vs Craig 3/10
W.L. Craig proposes @03:15 that if there is absolute good and evil for humans, then a God is responsible for it.
That's a big "if." Besides, W.L. Craig doesn't say why God would be responsible for it. 
Anything less than a God-given morality has no basis for "objective morality," he says.
But then he says that humans can't know what objective morality is.

Talk about equivocation!
Craig concedes @04:00 that "God isn't necessary in order for human beings to exhibit certain patterns of social behavior which they call acting morally." 

Then he turns around and argues @05:15 that God is necessary for objective morality.
"If God does not exist, no objective moral values exist." 

 Now let me get this straight ...
Humans don't know what objective morals are to being with. But objective morals exist. Moreover, what the Bible says, you believe on faith--that's how you have objective morality.
It's like saying humans can hear about it from the Bible, but can't know if it's true. They can only take it on faith. 
Why didn't he say that to begin with? It was all he really wanted to say. 
He wouldn't have made a very good point if he had said it that way. But it would have saved time. "The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it."
It's the same old apologist's thing.

Sep 9, 2014

God needs rest on 7th day

God Needs Rest on 7th Day.
Why God isn't really almighty. 

Believers scoff at the notion that God needs rest.
But the Bible says God rested.
It says--

Genesis 2:1 On the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. 
Apologists suggest God “ceased work.”
Still most Bibles say "rested."
Exodus, as well, says God rested on the seventh day--
Exodus 31:16 The Israelites shall keep the Sabbath [seventh day]. ... 17 It is a sign for ever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed. 
It gives two Hebrew words, "rested" and "refreshed."
Apologists might say it's not literal.
But, elsewhere the Bible says God grew weary, angry, regretted what he had done, or didn't know the future.
Saying it isn't literal is like asserting it can't mean God is sorry or unable to know people's thoughts. 

Thus apologists wish away the plain meaning.

The thing is, the Bible simply says God, like people, needs to relax, rest and refresh.
(Yet God is almighty. Uh ...)

Sep 8, 2014

W.L. Craig: believe despite evidence

W.L. Craig: Believe Despite Evidence.
Why W.L. Craig doesn't have the witness of the Holy Spirit. 

Christian apologist William Lane Craig was once asked to pretend to travel in a time machine.  
It's the day before Easter 33 CE, and he's at the tomb of Jesus.
But nothing happens; and after several weeks, still nothing happens. There's no resurrection.
Jesus is dead in the tomb.  

An atheist asked if he would give up, renounce Christianity then.
After all, he had seen there had been no resurrection.
Craig said he would still believe in Jesus and the resurrection.
Moreover, he would assume that a trick had been played on him.
For he still had the witness of the "holy spirit" within him.

He says that the Holy Spirit witnesses to Christians so that the Bible or evidence isn't needed to bolster faith.
His conviction would remain intact in spite of just about anything to the contrary. 

Well, but Christians in fact make their own science and evidence: namely, "The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it."
They need the Bible after all, wanting more than the witness of the Holy Spirit. 

W.L. Craig says the Holy Spirit is enough for him.
He's known for his five-point argument for the existence of God. 

Uh, the argument shouldn't be needed when the witness of the Holy Spirit is enough.
To top it off, his argument for the existence of God involves strange rhetoric.
For one thing, he's apt to evoke the name of a reputable scholar, with whom he agrees. Then he establishes what he calls facts in accordance with that scholar.
Because he agrees with a scholastic name, he knows the facts to support his argument. They aren't facts because the scholar is right--they are so-called facts because Craig agrees.
Unfortunately for him, it's non sequitur. 

Then he says “I think I have made it clear that ...”
But so far, the only thing that he has done is to agree with some one.
As a result, his rhetoric doesn't get beyond first base.
It doesn't establish facts.
It doesn't demonstrate reliable facts.
It's empty rhetoric. That's all. 

What is more, the scholar in question is often controversial. But W.L. Craig claims established facts because of his agreement with the man, anyway.
He hasn't yet succeeded in bringing a fact to light. But he moves on as if he has.
It's one of his devices. 

Or he agrees with the Bible in lieu of a scholar. Then says he established a fact from the scripture, because he agrees with it; his M.O is the same--
 (Reasonable Faith, W.L. Craig, p. 37) “Suppose someone had been told to believe in God because of an invalid argument. Could he stand before God on judgment day and say, ‘God, those Christians only gave me lousy arguments for believing in you. That is why I didn't believe’? Of course not! The Bible says all men are without excuse. Even those who are given no good reason to believe and many persuasive reasons to disbelieve have no excuse, because the ultimate reason they do not believe is that they have deliberately rejected God's Holy Spirit.” 

All right, he agrees with the Bible.
In effect, he is saying, "The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it."
So big deal.
Meanwhile, like his scholars, the Bible is controversial. 

W.L. Craig doesn't substantiate anything about what "the Bible says," doesn't present any corroborating evidence.
For example, he can't verify that all “deliberately reject God’s Holy Spirit.” He just asserts it and moves on.

It's only preachment.
Reasonable Faith really comes to Circular Faith.
For example he says @ 1:15, “Most philosophers will agree that if God’s existence is even possible, then it follows that God must exist.”

He agrees, of course; so the existence of God is now an established fact. But as usual he doesn't establish a fact.
But then he presses on as if he did.
The words “most philosophers will agree” hasn't got anything to do with it, anyway. A vote can't determine the existence of God. 

W.L. Craig, as well as other Christians, says he has the witness of the Holy Spirit.
It's how he knows that Christianity is true.
But Mormons claim it, too; they say it reveals the truth of Mormonism.
Both sides claim the witness of the Holy Spirit.
Both sides say the other guy is wrong.

As it seems, the so-called witness of the Holy Spirit is a strong feeling of certitude. It indicates confidence in a religious belief. However, that in itself it doesn't indicate truth.
W.L. Craig doesn't even describe the witness of the Holy Spirit as such.
He only asserts that there is such a thing.

It goes without saying that W.L. Craig gives no credence to Mormonism. But Mormons claim the witness of the Holy Spirit.
When either side talks about the witness of the Holy Spirit, they seem to have a mere subjective point of view. That is, you can't be Roman Catholic, Mormon, and W.L. Craig at the same time.
All three have a version of Christianity of their own. And all assert the witness of the Holy Spirit.
Well, then something's wrong somewhere.

Sep 7, 2014

You can't know good logic if you're not Christian

You Can't Know Good Logic If You're Not Christian.
Why Christians don't know anything special. 

Sye Ten Bruggencate, a Christian apologist, asserts that you can't have good logic unless you're Christian.
But I, myself, could simply claim that those who disagree with my opinions have bad logic, and I could say that I don’t have to prove my claim, either. I could simply make those pronouncements.
And if my claim is challenged, I could say that the challenge doesn't have valid logic.
So big deal to that type of claim from Sye Ten Bruggencate, or me. It's just talk.

Watch the video:
Debunking Sye's TAG Argument for God (C0nc0rdance mirror)

Sep 4, 2014

Non-believers are without excuse

Non-believers Are Without Excuse.
Why Christians are without excuse. 

The apostle Paul promises his flock that God will straighten out the points of Christianity.
If they grasp anything in the wrong way, God will intervene to make it clear‑‑
Philippians 3:10 I want to know Christ--yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,
14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things.
And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

But, on the radio, the Bible Answer Man says nobody can comprehend the nature of the trinity.
They can apprehend it (hear about it) but not comprehend it.
It sounds as if the matter hasn't been made clear.
Paul's promise isn't being kept.

Yet Paul insists that God has made himself plain to non-believers, so that they are without excuse.
Romans 1:20 [S]ince the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. 

Judging by the many sects of Christianity, the churches hold differing views of Christianity.
Catholics believe one thing, Mormons another, Methodists and Baptists, too.
They should be a single church, moving in the same direction.
But churches express different versions of Christianity.
Paul's promise makes them without excuse.
And what's more, God hasn't put them on the right road.

Moreover, Jesus sought unity, praying for everyone to be of one accord--
John 17:20 My prayer is not for them [the disciples] alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23 I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 

Jesus' prayer assures they'll be one church body.
But there's not one church, despite the promise of Paul and the prayer of Jesus. 

Therefore, saying non-believers are without excuse is like the pot calling the kettle black.

Sep 3, 2014

About Christians before 70 AD

Documents About Christianity Before 70 CE.
Why there aren't any. 

Secular documents on Christianity are non-existent before 70 CE.
There are none from Judea, Galilee, Egypt, nor anywhere else.  

Modern authors (such as Josepeh Atwill, Caesar's Messiah) have maintained that Christianity, as we know it today, was a post-70 CE invention. 
Be that argument as it may, the first Christian documentations outside of the New Testament come from the 90s CE.

For example, The Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians (a.k.a. I Clement). It gives the Corinthians the advice that leaders of a church shouldn't be deposed without reasonable grounds. The letter was occasioned by an act of a group of Christians who had banded together against the leaders to depose them from office. Though the letter fails to mention the cause of the bad harmony, it provides a curious instance in which church members clash with one another, not with the evil world. 

Another example comes from after the 90s CE.
The Roman historian Tacitus says a few things about Christians, but wrote in the second century CE. He claims that Christians in Rome angered Emperor Nero. (He ruled from 54 CE to 68 CE.)
It indicates the spread of the religion to Rome by the 50s CE.
(Nero blamed Christians when a fire broke out in a large section of the city.) 

The same Tacitus presents a summary of the Christian tradition, namely that "Christus" was their founder and put to death by Pontius Pilate (Tacitus, Annals 15.44).
It's an irony that early Christian intellectuals fail to mention Tacitus' report when they discuss Nero's persecution of Christians.
 Christian intellectuals Tertullian around 200 CE, Lactantius and Eusebius around 300 CE, and Sulpicius Severus and Augustine of Hippo around 400 CE fail to mention Tacitus.
The collective silence suggests that the passage didn't exist in early manuscripts of Tacitus. Skeptics suspect a Christian editor inserted the passage. (The earliest surviving manuscript of Annals is an eleventh-century Christian scribal copy.)

The Roman historian Suetonius supposedly writes that Christians were in
Rome earlier than Nero's time. (That would be 65 CE.)
Suetonius wrote around 119 CE. He notes that the Jews in Rome were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus; so that they were expelled from the city (Seutonius, Life of Claudius 25.4).

The edict against Jews was made in 49 CE. The New Testament might have echoed it in the book of Acts. It states that Emperor Claudius (he ruled from 41 CE to 54 CE) acted to forbid Jews in Rome.
Acts (chapter 18), although written in the 80s CE, is set in 49 CE, the year of the edict--
Acts 18:1 "Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 2 There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Riscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome."

The catch is, Jesus wasn't likely the aforementioned Chrestus (the word is a title, "messiah," for a righteous Jewish leader).
A number of militant messiahs rose and fell in the 1st century CE. One of them could've been that Chrestus.
Seutonius' report is about Jews in 49 CE, anyway. There's nothing about Christians in it.  

The Jewish Talmud almost seems to say something about Jesus Christ.
The period of Talmud compilation was between 70 CE and 200 CE. It reports stoning a Jesus and then hanging him (Hebrew Yeshu)--
Tractate Sanhedrin 43a.281 “On the eve of the Passover Yeshu was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald ... cried, 'He is going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy. Any one who can say anything in his favor, let him come forward and plead on his behalf.' But since nothing was brought forward in his favor he was hanged on the eve of the Passover!”
The Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin 43a.281

It says something the New Testament doesn't: a herald cries “He is going forth to be stoned.”
Intriguing though it may be, the conventional date of the document is around 120 CE, nearly an entire a century after the supposed execution of Jesus of the Gospels.
 Moreover, the Talmud segment says Yeshu knew royalty personally--
“Do you suppose that he was one for whom a defense could be made? Was he not a mesith [enticer], concerning whom scripture says, Neither shall you spare, neither shall you conceal him? With Yeshu however it was different, for he was connected with the government [or with royalty, i.e., the influential].”

The New Testament doesn't state that Jesus was personally close to government officials or influential royalty. 

Other Talmud tractates report that a certain Yeshu sorcerer was executed on the eve of Passover around 90 BCE.
All the tractates seem to talk about the same man. But they depict a Yashu that fails to match up with the one of the canonical Gospels.
Thus the Talmud Yashu isn't the Jesus executed in the 30s CE.
In fact, one scholar states that the tractates are about a Yeshu who had a serious falling out with his rabbi teacher, so that Yeshu went away and started his own pagan-like cult around 90 BCE. 

Lastly, there's Thallus, a pagan historian who published around 52 CE. He reports that the sun was darkened at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
 His book has disappeared, and so Thallus is now known only from fragments sited by Christian intellectuals of a later date.
For example, Julius Africanus, around 221 CE--
"Thallus, in the third book of his histories, explains away this darkness [at the crucifixion] as an eclipse of the sun--unreasonably, as it seems to me." 

An eclipse of the sun occurred all right, but in November 29 CE, according to modern astronomy.
The month alone fails to match up with the spring season, the time of the crucifixion.
Furthermore, the "darkening of the sun" by a solar eclipse utterly fails to equate with the way the sun is darkened in the Gospel. The crucifixion was at Passover time when the moon was full. A full moon can't cause a solar eclipse.  

Whenever an ancient document comes close to a report on Christianity before 70 CE, an anomaly gets in the way.
It's how it is.

Sep 2, 2014

In the image of God

In the Image of God.
Why humans weren't made in God's image. 

Although the Bible teaches that God made humans in his image--
Genesis 1:26 Then God said, Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness. 

--Apologists are fond to teach that God is transcendent and non-material. (Whatever those would be.)

 Well, then, God ought to have made humans completely out of non-material in his transcendent image.
(Whatever those would be, too.)

Sep 1, 2014

God's plan went south

God's Plan Went South.
Why God got only part of his way. 
Genesis says God blessed humankind, telling them to increase in number.
Genseis 1:27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it."

But Adam and Eve didn't start a family in the garden where God had put them.
They didn't increase in number.  
Angered by Adam and Eve, God expelled them from the garden.
After the ousting, they had children--
Genesis 3:17 Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. ... 23 So the Lord God banished [Adam] from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. ... 4:4 Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. 

God's original plan was to bless them.
But they ate the forbidden fruit,. So God put them under a curse.
Expelled from the paradiscial garden, they started a family. 
In sum God had told them to be fruitful. But they had no children.
Eventually, God threw them out of the garden. Then they had children.
God's initial plan had gone south.