News Bits

by Luke Muehlhauser on May 6, 2010 in News

my hair is a bearHere are some people I will be interviewing shortly: Richard Carrier, James McGrath, David Basinger, Steven Porter. What questions would you like me to ask? Leave your questions in the comments and I’ll try to include the best ones in the interviews.

6 Legally Blind People Now See. Take your guess: was it (1) science, or (2) a miracle?

Paper of the day: Stephen Wykstra, “The Humean Obstacles to Evidential Arguments from Suffering.”

Brain shuts off in response to healer’s prayer. Ya gotta have faith!

Comedy Central is developing a cartoon about Jesus trying to get by in the modern world.

I discovered a new philosophy podcast today: A Partially Examined Life. Good stuff.

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Justfinethanks May 6, 2010 at 8:03 pm

Steven Porter, as someone who has apparently done some work on the penal substitution of Jesus, is a good candidate to ask some questions about that topic.

The most obvious question to ask is: how is the punishment of an innocent to atone for the crimes of the guility just? What are the moral distinctions to be drawn between the sacrifice of Jesus for the sin of humanity and the beating of a Whipping Boy for a young Prince’s misdeeds?

Secondly, I wonder if he would be able to talk about the forgiving sacrifice of Jesus in light of Derrida’s writing on forgiveness in his short book On Cosmopolitanism and Forgiveness. To my understanding, Derrida separates forgiveness two main ways: “conditional” and “unconditional.” Unconditional forgiveness, which is given wholly freely and requires no penance or apology, is problematic because doesn’t take the misdeed seriously and is ultimately unconscious of the transgression, making it meaningless. And a meaningless transgression needs no forgiveness. But conditional forgiveness, where conditions must be in place before forgiveness is given, is also problematic because it turns forgiveness into a kind of deal or bargain for reconciliation, on par with trading money for groceries, which is far removed from the pious idea that we usually have of forgiveness. And so, forgiveness is somewhat doomed to set out what it wants to do, either by cheapening the transgression (by being unconditional) or cheapening forgiveness itself (by being conditional).

Does penal substitution theory address this dilemma, or perhaps even solve it?

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ichthyscredo May 6, 2010 at 8:13 pm

Could you ask James McGrath why he thinks LOST has been so successful? Why it resonates with so many people?

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Bill Maher May 6, 2010 at 8:36 pm

Can you ask Dr. Carrier about how his research in ancient science effected his views on naturalism? I have always been curious about if he thinks his 2 research passions are related.

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TaiChi May 6, 2010 at 11:10 pm

A question I’d be interested to hear an answer to, whether it’s from yourself or another atheist, is: “Given that you’re an atheist, what do you see as fitting non-religious rituals to mark the important events in a life – birth, marriage, and death?”. Equivalently, you could ask after (or tell us your) experiences of non-religious rituals.

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Rhys Wilkins May 7, 2010 at 1:03 am

Question for Dr Carrier:

What are the problems he sees with Desire Utilitarianism and how does Goal Theory ameliorate them?

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kt45 May 7, 2010 at 1:41 am

Question to carrier. Apologist claim that the sightings of jesus by groups and by individuals after his death cannot be accounted for by naturalisitc theories like mass hallucination. How do you respond to this?

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kt45 May 7, 2010 at 2:10 am

Another question for richard. Regarding the historicity of jesus you take the mythicist position believing he probably did not exist. Is there anyone else in the new testament you also feel never existed like the apostles, or mary etc? If the original christians knew these figures were not real, why would they die for a lie?

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Hermes May 7, 2010 at 3:44 am

If the original christians knew these figures were not real, why would they die for a lie?

Kt45, you realize that people ‘die for a lie’ and they’ve done it in recent memory, right? They even stay behind for a lie as well. Then again, maybe they were right and it wasn’t wrong?

To me, and likely you as well, that is nonsense in the case of Jonestown and Heaven’s Gate. Most likely, they can die believing what they think is true — that it is not a lie to them — but still act and believe based on incomplete and/or invalid information. To me, I include all sorts of religious groups in that category, if they died for what they believed or stay around and promote it, like Rio DiAngelo, an imam, or a priest from countless sects that disagree with each other.

So, why ask Richard Carrier about this when mere ignorance most likely re-frames and covers your question?

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GG May 7, 2010 at 4:12 am

Is there a method to objectively interpret what’s written in the bible?
If there isn’t, what are the meaning of this?

Why is the probability of god low?
Spinoza believed that a personal god necessarily does not exist. How does he get there and why Atheists don’t think like this today?

Why is god given commands (while god saying there are good) are not good as a moral system?
He is all knowing after all according to faith.

What’s there take on Judaism and Jewish Philosophy from an Secular point of view and it’s connection to other religions today.
Is after all probably the oldest monotheist religion.

And most importantly:
How does post-modern philosophy effect religions, humanist tradition & science?
Are we only attacking a text from another text, with no objective grounds?
Is there any point at all in philosophy according to the philosophical spirit today?

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lukeprog May 7, 2010 at 5:21 am

BTW, my first interview with Carrier will be about ancient science. I hope to have him back later to discuss Jesus, morality, and naturalism.

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Chris May 7, 2010 at 5:27 am

Kt45, you realize that people ‘die for a lie’ and they’ve done it in recent memory, right? They even stay behind for a lie as well. Then again, maybe they were right and it wasn’t wrong?To me, and likely you as well, that is nonsense in the case of Jonestown and Heaven’s Gate. Most likely, they can die believing what they think is true — that it is not a lie to them — but still act and believe based on incomplete and/or invalid information. To me, I include all sorts of religious groups in that category, if they died for what they believed or stay around and promote it, like Rio DiAngelo, an imam, or a priest from countless sects that disagree with each other.So, why ask Richard Carrier about this when mere ignorance most likely re-frames and covers your question?  (Quote)

Of course, even if none of this was true, there is still no evidence that the original disciples of Jesus were martyred. Our only sources are multiple, contradictoty, filled-with-miracles legends, and pious church “history” written centuries after the alleged events. I wonder why people don’t bring this up.

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Chris May 7, 2010 at 5:31 am

For James McGrath: What can we confidently say about the fates of Jesus’s original disciples? What are the sources?

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Hermes May 7, 2010 at 5:43 am

Chris, agreed. In addition to what you wote, what I find strange and annoying is running into Christian ideas in translations of explicitly non-Christian texts. Don’t these people have any scruples?

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kt45 May 7, 2010 at 7:43 am

Kt45, you realize that people ‘die for a lie’ and they’ve done it in recent memory, right?They even stay behind for a lie as well.Then again, maybe they were right and it wasn’t wrong?…So, why ask Richard Carrier about this when mere ignorance most likely re-frames and covers your question?  

Good question. As you have said many people do die for a lie. They think something is true and defend it to the death not knowing that what they believed in was actually a lie. But these people died for what they thought was true. When I ask why would they die for a lie, the “they” I am referring to is the people that knew it was a lie. If jesus wasn’t real and the first christians just made him up, why die they for a jesus they knew never existed. Would the guy who made up the flying spaghetti monster die for his fictional character? Of course not so why would the early christians do the same? I know each of you have a response to this question. I have my own response as well but I want richards response given that he holds the mythicist position. I’m assuming he feels they did so because they believed in a spiritual jesus coming back to save them based on interpretation of the old testament but I want to hear it from him

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Bill Maher May 7, 2010 at 9:50 am

BTW, my first interview with Carrier will be about ancient science. I hope to have him back later to discuss Jesus, morality, and naturalism.  

yay :)

can you ask him about the arguments:
(1) Christianity “demythologized” the natural world making science possible.
(2) The Greeks didn’t have science because they lacked the standardized methodology of the scientific method. They were essentially philosophers who occasionally invented clever things.

also,

(3) If rationality and empiricism are built on pagan values, then are scientists and philosophers today “pretending” to be pagans?

(4) can he hurry the f*ck up and release his new book?

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Hermes May 7, 2010 at 10:41 am

kt45, for what it’s worth: Two minutes, Google search using the string “richard carrier” die lie apostles yields this and other results;

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/resurrection/lecture.html

Click the link, and search for die for a lie within the text. In that, you’ll see sentences such as this one;

First, it is based on nothing in the New Testament itself, or on any reliable evidence of any kind.

He provides some details to go along with comments like the above.

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Eric May 7, 2010 at 12:54 pm

Luke, thanks for the link to “A Partially Examined Life” podcast. I listened to the episode on Camus today and enjoyed it quite a bit. Here’s another philosophy podcast I’ve come across, in case you’re not familiar with it (they don’t seem to have done any new episodes for some time, but the archives are full of cool stuff):

http://www.guerrillaradioshow.com/

Enjoy!

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kt45 May 7, 2010 at 2:33 pm

Thanks for the link hermes!

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lukeprog May 7, 2010 at 2:40 pm

Eric,

Yeah, that’s a good one, but they haven’t done any episodes for several years now.

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Lee A.P. May 7, 2010 at 6:43 pm

I have a question for Richard. It is not about science — well maybe political science.

Christians, particularly evangelical Christians are very much aligned with The Republican party and, at least on the surface level, claim to champion the ideals of democracy, liberty and free market economics. They appear to believe that these ideas are Christian in nature and origin. As far as I can tell, the pagan Greeks were the worlds first large scale democracy. Ironically much of the gospels could be read to promote socialism. Can you take us through the origins of these ideals that Americans hold so dear. Is Christianity responsible for any of it? Would an American style democracy be possible without Christianity?

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Taranu May 13, 2010 at 1:36 am

Could you please ask R. Carrier to summarize his chapter in The Christian Delusion entitled: Why the Resurrection is Unbelievable?

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