A few years ago I blogged about the book Inferno, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. Here, I review Escape from Hell, the 2009 sequel. Spoilers from both novels are discussed.
Written in 1976, Inferno is an updated version of Dante’s Inferno. Instead of Dante traveling through hell, however, we have an agnostic science fiction writer – Allen Carpenter -- who dies ignobly while drunk at a party. He ends up in the first circle of hell and – guided by “Benny” – travels deeper and deeper into the inferno, becoming exposed to more and more of its horrors. Carpenter struggles mightily to rationalize all that he sees and refuses to seriously consider that he is in hell. His own explanations become so bizarre that he is finally forced to accept his station. Benny, however, claims to know the way out and the two travel through all the circles of hell, pondering the nature of sin, punishment, and judgment. At the end, Benny indeed escapes -- the way out is to suffer all the circles of hell …
I recently finished reading, God Is Back: How the Global Revival of Faith Is Changing the World, by John Micklethwait, Adrian Wooldridge. One of the authors is a Catholic and the other an atheist. Micklethwait is editor-in-chief of The Economist and Wooldridge is head of that periodical’s Washington desk.
The book is a study of the relationship between modernity and religion. According to the authors, there are two main models for the future of this relationship -- which takes on added importance given the modernizing of India, China, S. America and parts of Africa. One is American the other is European. In the European one, modernity has crushed religion. Europe is highly and aggressively secularized. Religion may be tolerated as a very private affair, but is viewed with suspicion, its demise anticipated, and has no place in the broader culture (and especially not in politics). In America, on the other hand, religion and modernity not only co-exist, they are interrelated, bestowing …
The so-called problem of divine hiddenness has apparently gained currency among skeptics as not only an interesting question, but an affirmative argument for atheism. The argument goes something like this (as Michael Murry describes John Schellenberg's forumlation in Divine Hiddenness and Human Reason):
1. If there is a God, he is perfectly loving. 2. If a perfectly loving God exists, then no one could be a reasonable atheist. 3. But there are people who are reasonable atheists. 4. Thus, no perfectly loving God exists. 5. Thus, there is no God.
There are, of course, variations of the argument and more detailed explanations of each point. You will often hear, for example, Nos. 2 and 3 are phrased in terms of "inculpable disbelief" or "reasonable unbelief," the idea being that there are people who reasonably or justifiably conclude there is no God based on the evidence, or lack of evidence, available to them. The argument does not deny the existence of reasonab…
For those unfamiliar with the Colbert Report, the show is broadcast Monday through Thursday on Comedy Central. Making little attempt to be serious, the show makes fun of everyone and everything largely through mockery. Generally, the show does not take sides on Christianity -- Colbert has done some comedy that many in the Christian community would find quite offensive -- but in a rare serious interview I once saw, Colbert said that he teaches Sunday School at his church. As a result, unlike many of the interviewers I am sure that Bart Ehrman encounters (where the interviewer has never thought through the issues surrounding the evidence supporting Christianity's claims), Colbert had the religious background to actually engage Ehrman on the issues.
This post was published on this blog in Feb of 2006. I am recalling it here in answer to "Callmeirresponsible's" question "why doesn't God heal everyone?" The answer is because the need for everyone to be healed is outweighed by other considerations, ie the need to preserve the search for truth since that manifests internalizing the values of the good.
The Free Will Defense is offered by Christian apologists as an answer to any sort of atheist argument such as the problem of pain or the problem of evil. The argument runs something like: God values free will because "he" ("she"?) doesn't want robots. The problelm with this approach is that it often stops short in analysis as to why free will would be a higher value than anything else. This leaves the atheist in a position of arguing any number of pains and evil deeds and then charging that God had to know these things would happen, thus God must be cruel for creating anything…
This post was not written in response to the comments on this blog in latest round of arguments about miracles. It's been up on my website for several years on my miracle pages. But it answers certain basic issues brought up recently.
In the discussions of miracles several atheists have made some big misconceptions.
(1) mistaken assumptions about my knowledge of correlation and cause.
some assume that since they are clever enough to know the very basic information, the difference in correlation and causality, that I must not know that because I'm a Christian and Christians are stupid, and they are so very clever to know some basic fact that all high school kids should get, correlation is not causality.
But what they don't get is that just becasue I argue inductively that correlation is indicative of a cause if certain conditions obtain, that doesn't mean I don't know the difference.
(2) What these very clever atheist don't get is that correlation is indicative of ca…
In response to the documented miracles that I put up atheists have had two basic responses, which of cousre I knew were coming. These amount to (1) circular reasoning: (2) raising the bar. This entials embarkation down a path of excuses designed to demand a higher level of proof everytime the previous level has been met. In the comment Box Dave Ellis says:
So the question remains:
What is more probable? That the lab made an error or that a person was magically healed.
In other words, how could my world view possibly be wrong? Anything that threatens to challenge my world must be wrong, therefore, no evdience can ever count against my world view. Thus any alleged evidence but be wrong and so can be disregarded.
Which do you think occur more frequently? Human error or miracles.
That's why the subject of amputees and facial disfigurement is far from a red herring.
Of cousre any evidence that counts against the atheist world view has to be a mistake of documentation because after a…
Study: The Miracles: A Doctor says "Yes" by Richard H. Casdorph.(Logos International, 1976)
Richard H. Casdroph collected medical evidence, x-rays, angiograms, and other data from 10 cases associated with the Kathryn Kulhman ministry. Now it will of course strike skeptics as laughable to document the miracles of a faith healer. Ordinarily I myself tend to be highly skeptical of any televangelists. I am still skeptical of Kulhman because of her highly theatrical manner. But I always had the impression that there was actual documentation of her miracles and I guess that impression was created by the Casdorph book.
The Casdroph book goes into great detail on every case. Since these were not the actual patients of Casdroph himself, there are three tiers of medical data and opinion; Casdroph himself and his evaluation of the data, several doctors with whom he consulted on every case (and they vary from case to case), and the original doctors of the patients themselves. The patient…