A Recent Resurrection to Consider this Easter: Reblog of “The Curious Case of Alireza M.”

noose

This Easter, advocates of the traditional Jesus tale might consider a more recent example of “resurrection” that foiled a professional execution in the most startling way. The following was a blog post I originally wrote 18 months ago, though the ending has been appended. We now know how the story really ends.

October 18, 2013

An astonishing news story was posted by CNN this morning, with the following highlights:

Convicted by an Iranian court of possessing a kilogram of crystal meth, the 37-year-old man was sentenced to death by hanging at Bojnurd Prison in northeastern Iran, according to Jam-E-Jam, an official newspaper that offered this wince-inducing account:

On the morning of October 9, Alireza M. was taken from his cell to the gallows, where the judge who had issued the order read his sentence aloud and official papers were signed.

Then, a rope was placed around his neck and he was hanged for 12 minutes, after which his body was lowered and a doctor declared he was dead. The doctor, the judge and the prison head then signed the death certificate, and the body of Alireza M. was taken to a morgue for delivery the following day to his relatives.

But the next day, a worker at the morgue noticed that plastic encasing one of the bodies had steam in front of the mouth.

Consider the tally:

  • Executed by suffocation…
  • By professionals that carry out such executions for a living…
  • Death witnessed by multiple people…
  • Dead body lowered and inspected…
  • Carried away, wrapped, and laid on a flat surface

I can think of one notable case where this sort of thing happened before. [Read more…]

Reblog: From Fundamentalism to Freedom

Feeling strong kinship with the author, and also being impressed by the balanced, compact, and expressive prose, I found this article worth reblogging.

http://new.exchristian.net/2014/05/from-fundamentalism-to-freedom.html

Heaven is for Real: Odometer of Credulity

It is not snobbish to notice the way in which people show their gullibility and their herd instinct, and their wish, or perhaps their need, to be credulous and to be fooled. This is an ancient problem. Credulity may be a form of innocence, and even innocuous in itself, but it provides a standing invitation for the wicked and the clever to exploit their brothers and sisters, and is thus one of humanity’s great vulnerabilities. No honest account of the growth and persistence of religion, or the reception of miracles and revelations, is possible without reference to this stubborn fact.

~ Christopher Hitchens. God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

Heaven is for Real. Sigh. Over the weekend my older two kids and I went to a Barnes and Noble to chat over coffee while looking at books and magazines. While there, I thumbed through and read several sections of this abysmal little pamphlet, for calling it a book would grant it far too much dignity. Not since the Prayer of Jabez have I seen piffle more perfectly suited as a litmus test of human credulity.

Basic Criticisms

Criticisms for the book are easy to discern from directly reading it or perusing critiques on the internet. [Read more…]

Jericho YouTube Playlists

I have created a YouTube channel stocked with several playlists of helpful videos, sampled from the several hundred hours of content that I have reviewed on religious subjects.  Although I have no plans to create video content of my own, I do hope it will serve as a collection of some of the best YouTube content out there on Jericho subjects. This library will continue to be expanded in the future., so feel free to subscribe to the channel for ongoing access.

Trying to do Good, based on Beautiful Lies

My Facebook feed yesterday included a truly saddening story about a principled woman who took a courageous stand for her faith.

The commissioners were ordered to cease opening meetings with prayers that specifically reference Jesus Christ…

But Carroll County Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier not only disagreed with this order, she chose to defy it…

Frazier introduced the prayer as having been authored by George Washington, saying, “This might be a good opportunity to demonstrate how our founding fathers, and leaders all throughout our history, have upheld the idea that we are a nation based on biblical principles…

Apparently aware that she could be charged with contempt of court, Frazier tearfully proclaimed her willingness to go to jail over the issue.

Fred Edwords, The Humanist

Then, the tragic irony of this would-be act of career martyrdom… [Read more…]

“Strictly Speaking, the Gospels are Anonymous” (w/ YouTube)

CaseForChristAs Anonymous as Genesis

“…strictly speaking, the gospels are anonymous”

~ Craig Blomberg, The Case for Christ

This little boulder of information is so frequently passed over. Evangelicals stamp feet and insist that the gospels are eyewitness records. But these are curious eyewitness records indeed, though a person is unlikely to come away from The Case for Christ understanding the following:

  • The gospels never claim to be eyewitness records.
  • They never narrate in the first person.
  • They were written in the wrong language for Galilean disciples.
  • They recount a great deal that the disciples could not have witnessed.
  • But perhaps most disturbing – and perhaps the first flag we should have noticed – is that they are entirely anonymous.

And that makes the first four books of the New Testament a whole lot like the first five books of the Old Testament: they all have unfounded traditions about who wrote them; they were all written in the wrong language; they were all written in the wrong voice; and they all include information that doesn’t make sense for eyewitnesses. Yet we like to say that they are eyewitness records – because, hey, that sounds reliable.

~

A few more quotes to flesh out this interesting issue of anonymity: [Read more…]

Marco’s Daddy and the Beginning of Life on Earth

Two Fingers ManHow can my great-great grandfather, Marco, help clarify how we view the beginning of life and the universe? Well, interesting question. Though it will take us circuitously through a barking-mad courtroom, a mock trial, and some rather startling suggestions regarding my own ancestry, the final picture should be crystal clear.

But first things first: a little background. There are two questions that demand (!) an answer.

Just Two Simple Questions

I have friends who are creationists, as indeed I myself once was. We’ve been dialoguing quite a lot since the Ham-on-Nye debate not long ago. So much so, that I have had to put aside some previously planned blog projects and such, and I’ve been spending my time fielding science sorts of questions instead. Or at the very least, I’ve been trying to. [Read more…]

Ravi Apologist Bingo

I have had friends deeply enamored with Ravi Zacharias, but I have found his writing and lectures to be tepid and maddening, respectively. Those who are not familiar with the works of better minds mistake Ravi for a sort of CS Lewis-like figure, or a great intellectual. He doesn’t rise to Lewis’ wasteline, I am afraid. He regurgitates the work of others, and he possesses an unfortunate dimension that was essentially absent from Lewis’ work: malice. Lewis always maintained an eye toward evangelism – really reaching to people outside the church. Ravi’s drivel is perfect cheering fodder for those who already agree with him, but little more.

I was, as such, quite pleased with the cleverness of this wonderful new game: Ravi Apologist Bingo!

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2014/02/17/this-is-a-powerful-way-to-combat-a-christian-speaker-at-your-university/

Conversation Transplant… Minimal Facts Discussion

Well, it seems I’ve been ousted from a blog for the first time, ostensibly because I didn’t talk enough about facts. Though for the life of me, I would say it was more because I challenged a few sacred cows than anything else.

In any case, I have found a few belated comments in response to my remarks on the same thread. They were thoughtful and cogent, so I think they deserve a response. No need for good discussion to die.

Sadly, I don’t really have a great deal of my own initial comments. But – *trumpeting heralds* – one of my interlocutors was good enough to copy/paste most of what I said. Those comments will be below, and then I’ll respond in additional comment bubbles following.

Cheers,

Matt

Reblog: “My Journey to Atheism” ~ Nathan Pratt

Reblog:

Nathan Pratt pens an impactful autobiography in this post, which provided me with a number of strong resonance points as I read it. His path away from Christianity came from a different angle, but the struggle to understand and the responses from others in his life are eerily familiar. A recommended read. I wept.

unpacked thoughts

Something I’d like to get out of the way immediately is that this post is going to be very honest. It’s a brief history of my religious upbringing, my crisis of faith and the final pushes to search for truth. Nothing I’ll say in this post is said out of anger or malice. It’s an honest portrayal of the extreme difficulty of leaving something you’d held to be truth for almost 30 years. I imagine that some of the topics and points will offend, but please read to the end.

One of the more frustrating things to come out of leaving religion is that so many theists think I haven’t thought this out. That I’m just going through a phase. I’d be willing to wager that I’ve gone much farther in my pursuit of truth than about any believer out there. I’ve put a staggering amount of time into this journey…

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iGod, Part 3 – The Practice of the Proxy

HypnosisWe train the new believer in the practice of God-by-proxy from the first day of Gospel witness.

We evangelize by telling the gospel story of Jesus to the unsaved. We encourage them to read the New Testament, and to pray that God would open their eyes. We promise them that if they ask God’s forgiveness and invite Him into their hearts, they will be saved, and they will become children of God. We assure them that the Holy Spirit will reveal Himself to them and show them the Truth of the Scriptures.

And so the sleight of hand begins even before day zero of the Christian life. [Read more…]

As a Matter of Fact

The entire discussion of Christian apologetics would be greatly served if there was a clearer appreciation of a critical distinction: that of (1) facts and (2) contentions.

  1. Fact: A fact is something that has really occurred or is actually the case. The usual test for a statement of fact is verifiability, that is whether it can be proven to correspond to experience. (ref)
  2. Contention: a point contended for or affirmed in controversy. (ref)

The subtle trick of apologetics is get that rubber stamp out: labelling contentions as facts is job one. We do not like doubt. When in doubt, stamp it!

A Recent Comment

One of my commenters recently posted the following:

The foundation of the Christian religion is not in fuzzy emotions or the logical coherence of its theology, but in a historical event: the resurrection; that it occurred, that there were many eyewitnesses to it, and that many of those eyewitnesses died attesting to it.

I formerly believe and said exactly the same thing. But is the resurrection a fact, or a contention? [Read more…]

The Curious Case of Alireza M… Thoughts on Resurrection and Being “Mostly Dead”

nooseAn astonishing news story was posted by CNN this morning, with the following highlights:

Convicted by an Iranian court of possessing a kilogram of crystal meth, the 37-year-old man was sentenced to death by hanging at Bojnurd Prison in northeastern Iran, according to Jam-E-Jam, an official newspaper that offered this wince-inducing account:

On the morning of October 9, Alireza M. was taken from his cell to the gallows, where the judge who had issued the order read his sentence aloud and official papers were signed.

Then, a rope was placed around his neck and he was hanged for 12 minutes, after which his body was lowered and a doctor declared he was dead. The doctor, the judge and the prison head then signed the death certificate, and the body of Alireza M. was taken to a morgue for delivery the following day to his relatives.

But the next day, a worker at the morgue noticed that plastic encasing one of the bodies had steam in front of the mouth.

Consider the tally:

  • Executed by suffocation…
  • By professionals that carry out such executions for a living…
  • Death witnessed by multiple people…
  • Dead body lowered and inspected…
  • Carried away, wrapped, and laid on a flat surface

I can think of one notable case where this sort of thing happened before. [Read more…]

20 Christian Academics Speaking About God (YouTube by J. Pararajasingham)

After the past year’s study, I was astonished to learn what leading Christian thinkers actually believed about the Bible, about explanations of evil, and about cosmic/human origins. It was distressing because I believe many of these views are largely unknown to the common man in the pews. I realized just how lost our intellectual vanguard actually was, and how defeated our claims stood on the battlefield of evidence.

The following YouTube video is a compilation of 20 top Christian academics talking about God, the cosmos, the problem of evil, and other topics. Each interview excerpt is long enough not to be taken out of context, and the assemblage is very interesting. Many of these scholars were recommended to me during the past year, and they are A-listers within the Christian scholarly community. I have read their longer works and watched their lectures and debates on YouTube (N.T. Wright, Alvin Plantinga, William Dembski, John Walton, Alister McGrath, etc.). This video captures the project of textual rehabilitation and doctrinal rehabilitation that I have seen at the bottom of the bookpile, and it does so in about 25 minutes.

It illustrates what I previously wrote in the Moral Pivot:

It was our own scholars, and no one else’s, who taught me to despair.

A must watch. Kudos and thanks to J Pararajasingham. Be sure to check out his other videos on YouTube.

 

 

Bringing the argument home to the apologists

As an engineer, I have considered that illustrations would be of great benefit in clarifying the various issues surrounding the Bible and adverse evidence. This illustration was absolutely spot on per my own observations from the past year’s study.

One of my critiques of Plantinga‘s “Where the Conflict Really Lies” was that he made a project of defending a streamlined and generic theism, only to leap to a conclusion that Christianity was therefore more reasonable than non-belief. This illustration depicts precisely the downfall of the entire book. And such conflations abound everywhere.

As I have posted elsewhere, theism or deism may possibly be true, but that does not save Christianity. The Bible’s credibility collapses on the great weight of disconfirming evidences and the many textual ascription crises.

deconversion

The good news is that today’s apologists find their own core belief indefensible. This is leading to an attempt to draw the debate away from the many core logical absurdities found in the “gospel”, and to a focus on arguments absent from what has lead most of them to their faith. These are just a decoy. Any proposal of a spherical cube of gold can be immediately dismissed due to the impossibility of a spherical cube, evidence of gold not withstanding. In like manner, any proposal of the logically impossible Christian god can be dismissed based on the impossibility of that god, in spite of proffered evidence of “changed lives” or “fine tuning” or perceived weaknesses in evolutionary theory or the need for “objective purpose”. Whatever gods may exist, the logically impossible god of the Bible is disqualified as a candidate due to his logical incoherence. Let’s avoid the intentional…

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Secular Wings

My freedom from spiritual abuse happened when I walked away from the abusers. My healing and recovery from the complex trauma of spiritual abusers, spiritually abusive faith and toxic religion happened while I was still a Christian and continues to this day. My deconversion came later after many many years of studying the Bible, Christian apologetics, cults and spiritual abuse. When I realized that the Bible is not the inerrant Word of God, the only honest thing I could do was to stop calling myself a Christian. ~ Zoe

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