Dr. Hector Avalos On Giving Christianity Credit for Charity

A Catholic Christian named kenneth asked a question:
What would the documentary "a day without a christian" be like? Or "a day without religion". Certainly the bombings and violence in the middle east would come to a halt. But who would feed the world's poor, care for the sick, educate the children, and care for the orphans? People would like to say "the state", but the state does an overall aweful job at accomplishing these goals. The lionshare of the world's charitable contributions are made by christians. The Roman Catholic Church feeds more hungry, cares for more sick, educates more children, and cares for more orphans than any other institution on the planet. The secular world simply doesn't carry it's own weight. Where are the great infidel soup kitchens? Why aren't the debunkers caring for the sick in africa? Simply put, the violence may come to end but far more lives would be lost the moment the religious left the planet.
The following is Dr. Avalos's most excellent and unique reply.

A Response to Professor Paul Allen: The Supposed Myth of Religious Violence and Religionism in Secular Academia


Prof. Paul Allen of Concordia University
Religionists are those who see religion as beneficial or necessary for human existence and, therefore, something that should be preserved and protected. I recently visited Montreal, Canada, where the divide between secularists and religionists in academia is very much alive, at least in some institutions.  
Some of these religionists are theologians or professors trained in theology who occupy positions in secular universities. When some of them feel religion is threatened, they respond more as part of an ecclesial-academic complex than as secular analysts of religion. One example is Professor Paul Allen, an associate professor in the Department of Theological Studies at Concordia University in Montreal. His response to religious violence offers an excellent case study of how Christian and religionist apologetics represents itself as scholarship.

Dr. J. R. Daniel Kirk at Fuller Theological Seminary Forced to Resign Over Integrity and Homosexuality

Today Dr. Kirk wrote:
As a New Testament scholar, I see my job as always listening first and foremost to the text in its historical context, and allowing its theology to be the first voice to which we respond. In the end, I will affirm creeds or confessions, if I do, because I believe they contain the right things to say at a given moment in time in which they were written, in light of what scriptures says. In this, I thought I was just being a normal biblical scholar. And Protestant. And Evangelical.

However, a couple of my senior Bible colleagues found this disturbing. It was not enough to affirm that some confessions were correct. One had to start with the confessions and use them as hermeneutical guides in the strong sense. One had to like the idea that we define Christianity by what we believe.

Integrity is crucial for both of us. I define integrity as being true to the historical critical scholarship and bringing that into theological dialogue with the church. They define integrity as being true to the “Grand Tradition of the Church” and allowing that to guide what we see in and say about history.

So when I say, “The Synoptic Gospels show Jesus as an idealized human figure,” I have not said enough. If I cannot say, “And it also shows the divine Jesus, as we learn in the creeds,” I have articulated a theology that “is on a trajectory” away from our shared statement of faith. My senior colleagues and I give different answers to the question, How do we relate the Bible to the theology of the church? And this is one major reason why next year will be my last at Fuller. LINK.
This is typical of a conservative creedal requiring institution, which leads me to say once again that Honest Evangelical Scholarship is a Ruse. There is No Such Thing!

Conservative Witch Hunt Buttressed by Lies at Northwest Nazarene University Claims a Scalp

Dr. Tom Oord, tenured professor of theology, was recently from fired from Northwest Nazarene University. NNU President David Alexander lied by saying "he was being terminated for economic reasons having to do with enrollment declines in the graduate division where Oord taught some of his classes." However, this last year NNU was "enjoying record enrollment and had been issuing press releases celebrating the overall financial health of the institution." Karl Giberson tells us the real reason he was fired:
Oord was the university’s leading scholar, with 20 books on his CV; by most measures he was also the denomination’s leading scholar and one of a tiny number of Nazarene theologians whose reputations reached beyond evangelicalism. Oord had won multiple teaching awards and was wildly popular with students and respected by his colleagues. He had brought over a million dollars of grant money to the university—a remarkable accomplishment for a professor at a small, unsung liberal arts college. Oord, however, was controversial. He strongly supported evolution and had long been a target of creationists in the denomination. He embraced “open theism,” the view that God does not know the future but responds in love—rather than coercive control—to events as they occur, rather than foreordaining everything. Fundamentalist critics called him a heretic and had been vying for his termination for years.
This is typical of a conservative creedal requiring institution, which leads me to say once again that Honest Evangelical Scholarship is a Ruse. There is No Such Thing!

Now’s the Time To End Tax Exemptions for Religious Institutions, by Mark Oppenheimer

LINK. I agree.

Quote of the Day, By Kel

"The sooner we realise that 'I don't know' is an acceptable answer in the face of a lack of definitive information, the better." True dat!

Homosexual Marriages Declared by Supreme Court to Be Legal in Every State of the Nation, Spelling the Death of Evangelicalism

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on Friday that it is legal for all Americans, no matter their gender or sexual orientation, to marry the people they love.

The decision is a historic victory for gay rights activists who have fought for years in the lower courts. Thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia already recognize marriage equality. The remaining 13 states ban these unions, even as public support has reached record levels nationwide.

The justices found that under the 14th Amendment, states must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and recognize same-sex unions that were legally performed in other states. LINK.
Robert Price in his essay, Changing Morals and the Fate of Evangelicalism, predicted that the issue of sexuality, all by itself, could be the death of evangelicalism. If so, with this Supreme Court decision the death of evangelicalism has arrived. It's been long overdue

Bart Ehrman Agrees to Debate Robert Price On Whether Jesus Existed

Ehrman will debate this issue to raise funds for his pet charities. It looks like $13,000 is required for the debate to take place. You can donate to make it happen right here, where you'll see a video from the two participants describing their views, along with an itemized list of the money required. Although agreeing to this debate, Ehrman says:
The question is not really a matter of dispute among experts, even though mythicists as a rule would like it to be and sometimes even insist it is. But the reality is this: if you were to look at the program of the annual meeting of (the many thousands of English-speaking) professors of Biblical Studies, the Society of Biblical Literature meeting (this year in Atlanta), you will not find a session (out of thousands) devoted to arguing both sides of this issue. That’s because there is no debate. LINK.
There are some signs this is not as rock solid of a consensus as Ehrman makes it out to be. For Richard Carrier has defended Jesus mythicism in a book published by Sheffield Phoenix Press, the most prestigious Christian scholarly publisher around, On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt. His massive book is a magisterial treasure trove of research and information. There is a minor difficulty in using Bayesian math to establish something in the past, which seems quite fashionable right now in some circles. For my part I don't have a stake in who wins this debate, so long as both sides agree that the Jesus depicted in the Gospels never existed.

Did a Historical Gospel Jesus Exist? Two Christian Apologist, Kenneth and honeymonster, Say He Did But on What Evidence?

In a number of my posts I have stood firm that the New Testament, Jesus (Christ), never existed.  I’ve already addressed the evident in several posts:  A.  We Know From Hard Evidence Dinosaurs Existed 66 Million Years Ago Yet We Have No Objective Evidence Jesus Existed Just 2 Thousands Years Ago Here  and  B. Even if the Entire Testimony of Josephus on Jesus is Authentic, It’s Apologetically Worthless  Here  and C. As based on the 4th ed of The Oxford Classical Dictionary which has no entry for either Jesus or any of his Apostles (especially for Peter who Catholics contend was their first Pope) as historical:  For the Fourth Time Jesus Fails to Qualify as a Historical Entry In The Oxford Classical Dictionary Here  

The Power and Effectiveness of Good Ridicule

Since believing scholars are really good at defending the indefensible with their pseudo-scholarship, honest uncommitted seekers who read our debates might go away thinking each side has some good points, or that they're a wash. That being said, can anyone imagine a Christian scholar ever abandoning the Christian faith? Can you imagine that happening to William Lane Craig, Paul Copan, J.P. Moreland, Chad Meister, Norman Geisler, Douglas Groothuis, Craig Bloomberg, Michael Licona, David Wood, Mary Jo Sharp, Daniel Wallace, Ben Witherington, Matthew Flannagan, Steven B. Cowan, William Dembski, Scott Sullivan, Ravi Zacharias, Gary Habermas, Josh McDowell, H. Wayne House, Dennis W. Jowers, Gregory Ganssle, Alvin Plantinga, Nicholas Wolterstorff, Stewart Goetz, Richard Swinburne, R. Douglas Gevett, N.T. Wright, Craig Evans, Francis Beckwith, Dinesh D'Souza, Craig Hazen, Peter Kreeft, David Marshall, Vic Reppert, Thomas Howe, Richard Howe, Craig Blaising, Randal Rauser, Greg Koukl, David Beck, David K. Clark, James Sennett, Thomas Talbott, Paul K. Moser, Abdu Murray, Timothy Keller and many others? I honestly can't. They will all die in their faith no matter what we throw at them. They are impervious to reason, so politely discussing/debating them will not change their minds, ever. We argue with them mainly to reach honest uncommitted seekers, and that's it. They are the goal, the prize.

The power and effectiveness of good ridicule is that it by-passes this perceived stalemate between us. Christian scholars are the last ones to give up their faith because they're the most indoctrinated. They have the most to lose if they abandon it. So we need not gain their approval before we turn to ridicule. We need not reason with them because they cannot be reasoned with. We know they're delusional. So ridicule helps honest uncommitted seekers to understand what non-believers really think. Taking Christian pseudo-scholarly arguments seriously (while needed) does not convey how abysmal we think their arguments really are. To be sure, I don't ridicule Christian scholars very often. But I do seek to justify the use of ridicule for those who do it well. [See tag "Ridicule" for more].

Saudi TV Series Deploys New Weapon Against ISIS: Satire

People hate ridicule. But if you want to get their attention like nothing else then ridicule them. There's just something about it, and Saudi TV is using it against ISIS (or IS), LINK. Michael Rubin, formerly a U.S. State Department official, agrees with this approach: "Islamists cannot handle free thinking in the best of times, but ridicule is their kryptonite, for it shows that the would-be caliphs have no clothes...Hence it should be an essential part of any strategy." [See tag "Ridicule" for more].

Christian, Why Do People Disagree?

Chart A
It's a fact we disagree about religion. Just look at these two religious timeline charts. Chart A comes from the Orthodox Church. Chart B comes from the Church of Christ. Chart A shows us the heretical Catholic Church split off from the Orthodox Church, which is the one true Church. Chart B shows us the one true church is really the Church of Christ, all others are heretical ones. These charts can be found for other denominations claiming to represent the one true church, even from the so-called "cults" like the Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormon Church.

We disagree about more than just religion though. People disagree about everything. You name it and there are people who disagree with each other over it. We disagree over important things. We disagree over what things are important enough to disagree about, even as we're disagreeing over unimportant things!

Chart B
Before we can begin to talk about why we disagree over religion, let's talk in general terms. Christian, why do we disagree? Could it really be that anyone who disagrees with you about something, anything, is not being reasonable? Give us a general theory of disagreement. In general, why do we disagree about anything? Is it due to inferior, or superior DNA, or intelligence or knowledge? Is it due to a wide assortment of biological factors, including one's race, gender, sexuality, age, beauty, or sociological factors such as the desire for wealth or power, or how we were raised to believe, or a combination of these and other factors? So Christian, first give us your general theory of disagreement. Then we can talk. Then you can tell us how your theory can account for religious disagreements and why your God will condemn people for not believing correctly.

Quote of the Day, By Pablo Chavez

I can say without fear of contradiction that the people who comment here at DC are, over-all, some of the most educated, intelligent and respectful ones you'll see out there. Kudos to them. Visitor Pablo Chavez recently said this same thing:
I have been to a lot of discussion forums, and I have never read so many intelligent and civil posts in my life. Tempers flare from time to time, but this is a great site.

Quote Of the Day By Sir_Russ, With Comment

I'm As Bored As I Can Get!
I've been hanging around Mr. Loftus' Debunking Christianity for many years, and now my default position is that Christianity is thoroughly debunked since no Christian can show any Christianity-specific claim to be true... LINK.
His comment was in response to a Catholic who came here to tell us which religion is the trooth. One of the reasons I'm posting less is because I haven't seen anything that warrants accepting one specific religious sect over the others that exist, or accepting religious faith itself. There is nothing coming from the believing side that's even worthy of mentioning. It's all been debunked. But later today, or tomorrow, or the next day, some believer will repeat this same claim with a different religious faith using many of the same tired arguments. Wash, rinse, repeat. Wash, rinse, repeat. Wash, rinse, repeat. Wash, rinse, repeat. I'm as bored as I can get of this.

All My Published Books Together in One Place!

I've had 6 books published in 6 years (not including the 1st edition of WIBA). I didn't write every chapter in them, but so far they represent 2408 pages of text! The 7th book for the 7th year is scheduled to be published in the Fall. Be the first person on your block to get them all. In doing so you may be the the second person in the world to get them all. ;-) One thing is that they're all affordable.

10 Questions That Fundamentalists Cannot Honestly Answer

Casper Rigsby wrote a post on this topic that's very interesting. He asks the following questions and provides some good hard-hitting commentary.
1. Can you make a moral judgment against rape or slavery using only scripture?
2. Would you sacrifice your child if god asked you to?
3. Is it acceptable to cherry pick the bible and only follow the parts you agree with?
4. How did animal X get from point Y to point Z after the great flood?
5. How did carnivorous dinosaurs supposedly eat plants before the biblical fall of man, when their teeth and digestive systems were not equipped to process a vegetarian diet?
6. Can god tell a lie?
7. Is observable physical evidence more important and valid than what the bible claims to be true?
8. Is there any amount of evidence that would change your views?
9. What physical proof is there that your particular god even exists?
10. Do you believe hell is a justifiable punishment for a simple lack of belief? LINK.
By going to the link and subscribing to Atheist Republic you can download the book "Your God is Too Small" for free.

Quote of the Day By a Christian, Proving There Is No Such Thing as Christianity, Only Christianities

I don’t believe that God has explicitly revealed anything to us as a human race, and it’s here that I part ways with the traditions of mainstream Christianity...So why do I hold this belief, despite my self-identification as a Christian? Well for one thing, if the Bible is God’s be-all end-all of revelatory knowledge, he seems to have done a poor job of unambiguously alerting us to this fact. Are all the individuals who were raised Muslim, or Mormon, or Hindu just supposed to have a Damascus Road experience, and subsequently bow down to the book that completely contradicts their own worldviews that they have been indoctrinated with? Were all the millions of individuals who have perished, and continue to perish, without accepting the “good news” of Christianity simply being rebellious sinners who resisted God’s clear revelation? Forgive me, but I find this to be ridiculous...

This leads us to another point, namely that the act of God supposedly choosing prophets to privately record his revelation seems extremely problematic. Understand that inspiration by God of prophets in order to expound revelation is a private and subjective experience, on the part of the prophet. So how can we, who are not in any way involved in this experience, ever objectively verify that God is behind the scenes pulling the strings, as it were? As outsiders we are in no epistemic position to affirm, or deny, that an individual is indeed a spokesman for the big man upstairs. The role of prophet, then, as a medium for revelation is not satisfactory—at least not if God wants this revelation to be clearly given to all mankind.

This isn’t even the worst part, however,

2067 Marks the Year British Christianity Dies

Damian Thompson has studied the statistics and has bad news to readers of the Spectator: British Christianity will die by the year 2067.
It’s often said that Britain’s church congregations are shrinking, but that doesn’t come close to expressing the scale of the disaster now facing Christianity in this country. Every ten years the census spells out the situation in detail: between 2001 and 2011 the number of Christians born in Britain fell by 5.3 million — about 10,000 a week. If that rate of decline continues, the mission of St Augustine to the English, together with that of the Irish saints to the Scots, will come to an end in 2067.

That is the year in which the Christians who have inherited the faith of their British ancestors will become statistically invisible. Parish churches everywhere will have been adapted for secular use, demolished or abandoned.

Our cathedral buildings will survive, but they won’t be true cathedrals because they will have no bishops. The Church of England is declining faster than other denominations; if it carries on shrinking at the rate suggested by the latest British Social Attitudes survey, Anglicanism will disappear from Britain in 2033. One day the last native-born Christian will die and that will be that.
"The deadliest enemy of western Christianity," he writes, "is not Islam or atheism but the infinitely complex process of secularisation."

We Need Scholars Who Write for the University Student and the Masses.

Etched on the tombstone of Karl Marx are his words: “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." This is my motto. My goal isn't to publish in peer-reviewed journals, although I have in Philosophy Now (which exists behind a pay-wall), and may do so again when I have nothing left to do. My goal isn't to finish my Ph.D. either, since I'm already doing what most atheist Ph.D's would be happy doing, and because earning three master's degrees should be enough time spent in a delusion. The main reason is because of my motto. It's been my motto from the beginning. My goal is to change the religious landscape one person at a time. So it's no surprise to learn my goal has been confirmed in an article for The Sunday Times, which begins by saying, "An average academic journal article is read in its entirety by about 10 people. To shape policy, professors should start penning commentaries in popular media."
Up to 1.5 million peer-reviewed articles are published annually. However, many are ignored even within scientific communities - 82 per cent of articles published in humanities are not even cited once. No one ever refers to 32 per cent of the peer-reviewed articles in the social and 27 per cent in the natural sciences.

If a paper is cited, this does not imply it has actually been read. According to one estimate, only 20 per cent of papers cited have actually been read. We estimate that an average paper in a peer-reviewed journal is read completely by no more than 10 people. Hence, impacts of most peer-reviewed publications even within the scientific community are minuscule.

Many scholars aspire to contribute to their discipline's knowledge and to influence practitioners' decision-making.

However, practitioners very rarely read articles published in peer-reviewed journals. We know of no senior policymaker or senior business leader who ever read regularly any peer-reviewed papers in well-recognised journals like Nature, Science or Lancet. LINK.
Dr. Hector Avalos speaks to the masses by writing a monthly column in the Ames Iowa Tribune. For my part I'm writing for the university student and the educated person in the Pew, bringing scholarly arguments down to them.

The bottom line is that most scholars are only talking to themselves, at best. We need them, no doubt. What they do is extremely valuable, especially the scientists and atheists among us since we cannot let believers win the intellectual wars in the scholarly world. But in most cases scholars write on mundane issues that other scholars don't seem to care that much about, even in the same field. They write to gain respect from their peers, or tenure. While those are worthy goals no doubt, in most cases that's all they seek to do. -- Okay, blast away.

"Theism" Only Exists In The Abstract

Since so many people have been taught incorrectly, I have to repeat myself. There is no such thing as theism except in the abstract. Beliefs are always held by people, for one thing. Furthermore, the word "theism" must be defined before we can know what any particular person means by the word. For all we know, a particular theist could be a polytheist. And although there are a large group of philosophers of religion who have agreed to define the word in extremely minimal terms for discussion, they are discussing "theism" in the abstract too. Hardly anyone defines their beliefs using this minimalist definition of theism, which was adopted in the Occident by Christian dominated philosophy of religion departments, rather than in the Orient by eastern philosophers, or in Comparative Religion departments. No one I ever heard even says "the ONLY things I believe are that God exists, is personal, is omnipresent, omnibenelovent, omniscient, omnipotent, and created the universe. I believe nothing beyond those things." No siree, bob. That person adheres to a much larger religion, guaranteed. Since I think the best way to evaluate a religion is to do so as a whole, when Christians want to talk about theism in the abstract I'll just insist on discussing the evidence for concrete examples, like the reliability and inspiration of the Bible, a Jesus who levitated with Moses and Elijah, a virgin birth, the resurrection of Jesus and his ascension into the sky.

Ten Lessons From Randal Rauser On How Not to Lose Gracefully

Dr. Randal Rauser and I co-wrote the debate book, God or Godless?, according to which, on most accounts he lost. So he's reviewing his own book on his blog. That's not bad in itself, so long as its educational. One should learn from failed attempts, yes. But he's whining, mischaracterizing and special pleading his case. Typical Christian apologist. Take for instance his review of chapter five. In that chapter he wanted to debate whether science is a substitute for religion. *Cough* Commenting after the fact on his blog he adds:

Three Definitive Answers To What It Would Take to Convince Atheists To Believe!

Here is the Christian challenge: "I don't believe that if God appeared to us, atheists would believe. For atheists can always make the case that the appearance of God was a hallucination, or a trick by super-advanced extraterrestrials."

This bald assertion is akin to a second Christian claim that the reason atheists don't believe is because we are in conscious (or unconscious) rebellion against God, their particular God. Completely oblivious are they of the fact that they aren't in conscious (or unconscious) rebellion against Allah, or the Jewish God Adonai, or any other different God, or god, or goddess, or demon with their different (and bizarre) moral demands. Christians are narrow-atheists with regard to these other gods, so they judge them to be lacking in sufficient evidence just like wide-atheists do who reject them all. Christians themselves would scoff at the notion they are in rebellion against Allah, you see. So Christians who make this second ignorant assertion cannot be taken seriously if they also make the former ignorant one. The ignorance is one and the same.

Skepticism is a virtue anyway. I think intelligent adults should double-check their experiences to see if they comport with reality. Mature adults should question whether an experience that feels like God might be better explained as a hallucination or produced by aliens. What's wrong with doing this? Nothing I can see at all. I wish believers would do that with their own private subjective experiences, just as former believers like myself have done.

When it comes to believing despite the evidence, readers to consider that the reverse is actually the case, from what I've seen. I've seen Christians revise their faith so much in my lifetime, as the evidence shows one doctrine then another incorrect, that they would probably refuse to believe if scientists discovered the elusive Theory of Everything. They would just say God did it. So I think Christians are projecting upon atheists what they themselves would do in light of a massive amount of counter-evidence. They would still believe despite it. In fact, they already do.

Nudist tourists held in Malaysia for making ‘mountain spirits mad,’ sparking deadly quake

This is not a joke folks. People of faith can be this stupid. That's why I say faith (concerning the nature of nature and its workings) is irrational. LINK.

Death and Religion

Religion is a highly psychological affair. In fact, I would argue that the entirety of that which religion really is, to humanity, is psychological. Everything that religion is and does for its adherents is psychological in nature. One of the strongest dimensions of religion is its dealings with death. I have talked about this before with regard to Terror Management Theory.

The Politics of Duggar Family Values

I have written a newspaper column about the Duggar sex scandal and the decline of American Christianity, especially among the so-called Millennials.  The defenses of the Duggars by Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee, a current presidential hopeful, are briefly addressed.

Karl Giberson Says Adam and Eve Never Existed, What Next?

The utter resiliency of believers to continue to believe despite the beating their faith has taken over and over again, like we see in the 1967 movie Cool Hand Luke, is an amazing thing to behold.

I have become convinced that the only origins issue that really matters to most Christians is Adam and Eve. Leave Adam and Eve—and their Fall—in place, and most opposition to the Big Bang, evolution, and the great age of the earth will recede. The historicity of Adam and Eve is the single most important issue driving evangelical Christianity’s widespread, deep, and disturbing opposition to science.

Evangelical opposition to science is no small matter. It spills over into Catholicism, and moderate and liberal Christianity to a degree. It has taken up residence in the GOP where it is worn as a badge of pride by leaders who reject much of mainstream science and deflect concerns with the populist refrain “I am not a scientist.” This opposition plays a significant role in America’s declining global leadership in science. It plays into a general distrust of science in America that nurtures the rejection of modern cosmology, climate science and vaccinations.

Adam and Eve stand on the bulls-eye of this controversy, which has risen steadily over the past few decades as the human genome has been mapped. This progress has established with near certainty that humans are closely related to chimps and bonobos, with whom they share a common ancestor; that the human race originated in Africa millennia before the events in Genesis took place; and that the human race never consisted of only two people. Link.

Apocalypse Later: Harold Camping vs The End of the World

Zeke Piestrup did a documentary on Harold Camping, the preacher who predicted Jesus would return on May 21, 2011, and later died on December 15, 2013. This is an excellent case study in understanding the mind of a believer who knows with certainty Jesus is coming, but who ends up admitting nobody knows that day. It portrays Mr. Camping as a likeable guy, but at the same time delusional. Included are spot on comments from biblical scholars like John Collins and Bart Ehrman. It's entertaining, informative and very well-done! You can watch it at the Hulu link. But it's available on iTunes, YouTube, Amazon, Xbox, Playstation, Google Play, Vudu, others. Again it's really well-done! Watch it if you haven't already done so. LINK to Hulu

God Is So Very Thoughtful Isn't He!


Michael Alter's Encyclopedic Book On the Resurrection Destroys Natural Theology

[Alter's book next to my favorite brew for size comparison.]
I've written before against the attempt to defend Christianity via Natural Theology. Michael Alter destroys it, and along the way refutes the claims of the resurrection of Jesus in his book, The Resurrection: A Critical Inquiry.Natural theologians claim they can argue to the existence of God and then argue there is sufficient evidence for the resurrection of Jesus afterward. I've argued they cannot legitimately do that right here. Alter's book is premised on all of the things that the arguments to God's existence grant. And yet, even as a Jewish theist who believes in God, the inspiration of Old Testament, miracles, and certain other things about Jesus, he rejects the resurrection. His book is a massive one at 746 pages of text with 81 additional pages of bibliography! [Below are a couple of pages as samples]

On Keeping it Simple Stupid!

One of the highest compliments I've received from my work was written by biblical scholar Robert M. Price. Of my contributions in the co-edited book God or Godless?he said I write "with unpretentious clarity, common sense, and broad but inconspicuous erudition." If anyone wants to see how high a compliment that is then look up each word he used. Let me highlight just two of his words, unpretentious and inconspicuous.

Unpretentious: I don't seek to impress my readers with Bayesian math, or the technical philosophical, theological, or scientific terminology, nor do I use the original languages of the Biblical texts much at all. I remember teaching my first philosophy class in 1985 at the College of Lake County, in Grayslake, Illinois. I lost about half my class because the students could not understand me. Yep, that's right. Having just come from a Ph.D. program at Marquette University I didn't know how to bring the information down to college students. Over the years I learned how to communicate to the average person. My goal is to keep it as simple as possible, and no simpler. The problem with this goal is that there are some readers who think I'm ignorant, for if I was smarter and better educated it would reflect in my vocabulary. Smart, educated people, it's assumed, use the nomenclature requisite with their educational achievements.

Inconspicuous: Even though Price says I have a broad erudition, it's inconspicuous or unnoticeable. It wasn't inconspicuous to him. But it's inconspicuous to others. The people for whom it might be inconspicuous would be the uniformed and ignorant, Price intimates. [Another equally high compliment of my work, which mirrors what Price said, was written by biblical scholar Hector Avalos.] It's extremely gratifying to know some important people say such things.

Joshua Willms's Excellent TEDx Talk Based On the Outsider Test for Faith

Joshua Willms gave an excellent TEDx talk on searching for religious truth, and he attributed the use of an "Outsider Test" to me at about 5:50. Willms is an M.D./Ph.D. student at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, and aspires to a career in medicine and neuroscience. He received a B.S. in biology and a B.A. in classics from Texas Tech University in 2014 and completed an Honors Thesis in philosophy on the fine-tuning of physics for abiogenesis.

For the Fourth Time Jesus Fails to Qualify as a Historical Entry In The Oxford Classical Dictionary

The Oxford Classical Dictionary, 4th ed.
A Booklist 2012 Editors' Choice Selection
"For more than half a century, the Oxford Classical Dictionary has been the unrivaled one-volume reference work on the Greco-Roman world. Whether one is interested in literature or art, philosophy or law, mythology or science, intimate details of daily life or broad cultural and historical trends, the OCD is the first place to turn for clear, authoritative information on all aspects of ancient culture. 
Now comes the Fourth Edition of this redoubtable resource, thoroughly revised and updated, with numerous new entries and two new focus areas (on reception and anthropology). Here, in over six thousand entries ranging from long articles to brief identifications, readers can find information on virtually any topic of interest--athletics, bee-keeping, botany, magic, religious rites, postal service, slavery, navigation, and the reckoning of time. The Oxford Classical Dictionary profiles every major figure of Greece and Rome, from Homer and Virgil to Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great. Readers will find entries on mythological and legendary figures, on major cities, famous buildings, and important geographical landmarks, and on legal, rhetorical, literary, and political terms and concepts."  See:  Oxford University Press

Dr. Valerie Tarico On Motivated Belief