It’s been a while since I have posted, but I have been super-busy with getting my PhD and other research-related activities. But there has been some great news when it comes to my work on The Star of Bethlehem. Over on Amazon, the reviews have been very positive, with one exception–though that person has proven to not be a charitable reader to put it nicely.
So, the celebrations are upon us to commemorate good ole Jesus and his rather miraculous (and dare I say imaginary) birth. Well, he may have been born, but not like that. But enough of that. Or maybe not. I have two rather decent suggestions with which to fill your stockings (Christmas, not underwear).
I came across this quote in response to someone posting my notes on fine-tuning on the Why Doesn’t God Heal Amputees forum. I like it a lot:
The biggest problem I find with the fine-tuned argument is that it is incompatible with dualism, and therefore Christianity.
In a new study, Dartmouth researchers rule out a controversial theory that the accelerating expansion of the universe is an illusion.
Aaron Adair, contributor of skeptically themed posts to this here blog, has written an awesome book called The Star of Bethlehem: A Skeptical View. The book has received some great reviews which I will tell you about in another post. I edited this book and it is released by my own imprint, Onus Books.
As you will know from a couple of previous posts, I have edited a book by Aaron Adair about the…
[Just to remind readers that the book I have recently edited, written by contributor Aaron Adair, called The Star of Bethlehem: A Skeptical View. is out now in all formats from a variety of sellers. It is a great book, and one which Richard Carrier has said is “awesome”. Please support our work by buying it! It’ll make an awesome Christmas present! Over to Aaron’s launch piece for those who missed it – JP]
Nearly two millennia ago, a story was told of a wondrous star in the heavens, beaming forth to proclaim the birth of an infant, destined to rule. Coaxing priests from an eastern kingdom to travel in search of this infant, the object led them to their destination and allow for the worship of the savior of the world.
Or so the story goes. But did it really happen, and if so, what was this magnificent star? A comet? An exploding star? An astrological portent? Something more bizarre?
It’s been a good, long time since I have seen a bright, naked-eye comet in the sky. The last I remember was Hale-Bopp back in 1996, and that was a remarkable sight. But there is a lot of hope now for Comet ISON (aka C/2012 S1), which was discovered only a matter of months ago. Not only it is slated to be a very bright object, but what is more interesting to me is its orbit.
I love Skydivephil. He/She/They have had some properly good ding-dongs with our favourite apologist, William Lane Craig, most recently on…
Here are some notes I made some time ago, based on various sources, some of which are linked below. Richard Carrier’s book “Sense and Goodness Without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism” provided an excellent backbone to the first set of points.
The methodological and other problems:
So in my post, the Part 2 of why Vincent Torley is a Christian, Vincent called into question some of Counter Apologist’s work undermining William Lane Craig’s use of science and metaphysics to try to show that the A-Theory of time is true or that the B-Theory is false.
Craig’s case is this:
Here is another guest post. The last one by The Thinker has had a thread which has exploded. This one…
So I posted this meme to my facebook profile:
Now I thought that was pretty funny. Prayer is notoriously ineffective. But a Catholic friend posted this reply:
Hmm…and space exploration has benefited humanity so much!
This is Part 2 of a critical examination of the MMEL hypothesis of the Star of Bethlehem. Go to the index here.
In Part 1 of this critical overview of the Star of Bethlehem film and its version of history (which I have called the MMEL hypothesis), I looked at the reasons scholars can say we know Herod died no later than 4 BCE given the information we have from Josephus as well as what we can connect with other accounts. The information from Josephus seemed to be overwhelmingly in favor of a 5/4 BCE date for Herod’s death, which would then contradict the time frame needed for the conjunctions of Jupiter and Venus as the MMEL hypothesis requires. However, there is another argument that is focused on, though not detailed, in the documentary, and it concerns the text that we have of Josephus.
The BBC have produced the following fascinating article. What do you good people think?
Scientists say they may be able to determine the eventual fate of the cosmos as they probe the properties of the Higgs boson.
A concept known as vacuum instability could result, billions of years from now, in a new universe opening up in the present one and replacing it.
In my last post I looked at what I could find in the news or related to articles and books on the subject of the Star of Bethlehem. There wasn’t too much going on there, so now I want to explore what is going on in the world of blogs. I think this is showing where the conversations are really moving to rather than in newspapers and journal articles, at least for things not done in a strictly academic fashion.
This is Part 1 of a critical examination of the MMEL hypothesis of the Star of Bethlehem. Go to the index…
On 15 October, a group of theologians, philosophers and physicists came together for two days in Geneva to talk about the Big Bang.
So what happened when people of such different – very different – views of the Universe came together to discuss how it all began?
“I realised there was a need to discuss this,” says Rolf Heuer, Cern’s director general.
“There’s a need for us, as naive scientists, to discuss with philosophers and theologians the time before or around the Big Bang.”
So I went to see theoretical physicist and cosmologist Lawrence Krauss last night in Portsmouth. This was great for two reasons. Firstly, Krauss is a great public speaker and a seemingly top bloke. Secondly, it shows that, occasionally, Portsmouth (UK) is not the cultural wasteland many think it is. Occasionally. Very occasionally.
The night started off well as a few of us Tippling Philosophers met in a pub and got talking to a playwright who had a vast and interesting array of knowledge in some areas close to our hearts – the making of Messiahs, philosophy and such like (so much so that he bought one of my books, The Nativity: A Critical Examination, there and then). After some fascinating discussions ranging from cognitive dissonance to Sabbatai Zavi and Appolonius of Tyana, we moved to the venue for the talk.
Krauss started off superbly by talking about the for of the question “why is there something rather than nothing” being problematic and question-begging. Funnily enough, we had just been talking about purpose in the pub, and this very problem. Krauss rightly pointed out that you cannot ask why questions without presupposing the notion of a purposer. ‘Why’ is seeking a purpose – ‘for what purpose did this happen?’. And an objective purpose requires there to be an ultimate being to give purpose. Intrinsic purposes are incoherent. For more on this, see my essay on the meaning of life.