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Year: 2013

Causes in Christian History, From Stark’s “The Triumph of Christianity”

Causes in Christian History, From Stark’s “The Triumph of Christianity”

Book Review, Part 1 The Triumph of Christianity: How the Jesus Movement Became the World’s Largest Religion by Rodney Stark. I’m about one-third of my way through Rodney Stark’s 2012 book, The Triumph of Christianity. an historical survey of sociological causes and effects in Christian history. Stark is an historical sociologist; and in this work he speaks with that voice, and that voice only. When he speaks of the Christian movement’s effects, that focused sociological approach works well: he’s well within his…

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“Christianity the Worst Source of Evil? | John G. Stackhouse, Jr.”

“Christianity the Worst Source of Evil? | John G. Stackhouse, Jr.”

Interesting response to an all-too-common question: A friend writes: I have run across the following issue a lot recently: the blaming of Christianity (and belief in God generally) for all the major evil of the world. I had a conversation in Seoul with a Canadian expat who argued that Christianity is to blame for the majority of hatred and violence in the world. She was then unwilling to also have a conversation about what Christianity has contributed to education, human…

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“Why Isn’t God More Obvious?”

“Why Isn’t God More Obvious?”

Atheist Bertrand Russell famously quipped that if he were faced with God when he died, he would demand an explanation for why God made the evidence of his existence so insufficient. We might be tempted to think he was being entirely reasonable. But perhaps the evidence we demand for God is directly related to who we think God is and what we think God’s purposes are. Hiddenness would make no sense if God’s aim was simply to relate to us…

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Does Boghossian Practice the Authenticity He Preaches?

Does Boghossian Practice the Authenticity He Preaches?

Does Peter Boghossian practice the authenticity he preaches?  “Speaking at risk in front of a hostile audience… it has a moral component… it’s often the only way to solve problems and prevent dangerous ideas from spreading.” I sent him my open letter by email, and I’ve tagged him with it frequently on Twitter. His response: not a peep. I can’t find it right now, but I believe he has said he would only debate Ph.D. opponents. I don’t hold a doctorate….

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Surgery (Again) Tomorrow Morning

Surgery (Again) Tomorrow Morning

Almost two years ago I had surgery to repair a torn tendon in my left foot (peroneus longus, for those who care–a complication of a very large accessory ossicle). My foot never healed the way it should have, in spite of my using up all the physical therapy my insurance would allow. The doctor was very slow to recommend a repeat surgery, but he and I (and my wife) finally agreed that was the next step to take with it….

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Expert Reveals: Even Aristotle Thought Humans Were Smarter Than Animals

Expert Reveals: Even Aristotle Thought Humans Were Smarter Than Animals

Are humans smarter than animals? Who do we go to for the answer? A while back I wrote a piece for BreakPoint on “When There Are No Experts.” The idea there was that we’ve developed a culture that won’t make a decision until it’s been supported by scientific experts—and we’ll insist on doing things that way even when there are no experts. In no way do I mean to dismiss or diminish the value of scientific expertise. The problem is…

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An Open Letter to Peter Boghossian On “Doxastic Openness”

An Open Letter to Peter Boghossian On “Doxastic Openness”

Dr. Peter Boghossian Portland State University Dear Dr. Boghossian, In your Manual for Creating Atheists you say it’s really important for people to be willing to examine and revise their beliefs if therre are good reasons to reconsider. On page 51 you call that “doxastic openness.” [“Doxastic” is a technical term meaning “belief-related;” you’re talking about openness related to one’s beliefs.] Again on page 69 you name “a willingness to reconsider” as one attitude that predisposes persons to rationality. On…

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A Message to Our Prayer and Financial Supporters

A Message to Our Prayer and Financial Supporters

This morning, over our traditional holiday breakfast of homemade Norwegian tea ring and scrambled eggs, our family’s conversation turned to how the holidays are being overdone. I wouldn’t have thought it possible, but it’s true: commercialization is increasing every year. Thanksgiving has become as much about Black Friday as giving thanks. In some places Friday isn’t soon enough: Meijer stores near here are having a “Thursday” sale all day today. And so our family had a long talk about how…

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