Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Pagan?

If you've interacted at all with internet atheist types, then you've run across the old canard that Easter is derived from a pagan ritual. I've never really known what the big deal is, unless they're trying to imply that Jesus never existed and this ritual somehow morphed into what it is today, which is highly implausible, and not even remotely suggested by the majority of historians. It would more than likely be scoffed at.

However, I was curious as to whether Christian did co-opt a pagan ritual to celebrate Christ's resurrection. This article disputes the claim.

The author makes these points:

  1. Even if Christians did co-opt the celebration, so fllippin what? Christians have often tried to redeem the cultures they lived in, and if they took over this so that they could celebrate Christ's resurrection, more power to them.
  2. The earliest claim we have that Easter was derived from a pagan fertility goddess worship ritual is from the 8th century by the Venerable Bede. The culture he was speaking of, however, was converted relatively late to Christianity, and so if Easter was celebrated prior to those dates, Bede's account of Eostre is insignificant. There is in fact evidence that Christians celebrated Easter by the second century.
  3. Professor Ronald Hutton has criticized Bede's sketchy knowledge of supposed pagan rituals, and says that he makes a mistake with Eostre as well.
  4. There is no evidence outside of Bede's account that would support the claim that the pagan goddess Eostre existed.
  5. The name "Easter" was more likely derived from the latin phrase "in albis ("in white")which Christians used in reference to Easter week, found its way into Old High German as eostarum, or 'dawn.'"
  6. The title of the celebration has never been the issue. It is what we are celebrating that is the issue.
Praise God for He is risen!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Trying New Comment Client

I'm trying out the Intense Debate comment client to see how it goes. It seems to be more streamlined than the blogger default. Let me know what you think.

The Aftermath of Craig Destroys Harris

Wow. I want to preface this post by saying how glad I am to be within the tradition of Christian philosophy and apologetics.

Out of curiosity, I meandered on over to a few atheist blogs to see what they were saying about the debate. Several of the big ones are, for lack of a better way to put it, in simple denial. 

Take this post at a blog called The Uncredible Hallq. This individual says he is a philosophy graduate, which means he ought to know better. Yet he spends almost 2,000 words praising Harris and denigrating Dr. Craig's honesty and ability as a philosopher. I see a lot of bluster, a lot of personal jabs at Dr. Craig, but no substance. No reason why Craig's arguments were bad, or how Harris had refuted any of them. Do none of the Harris fans have the ability to see that his rebuttal was one long red herring? If this is the state of atheism now, I'm glad to not be a part of it. Furthermore, he says Craig relies on rhetoric to win his debates. And this Hallq guy is supposed to be a philosophy graduate? Does he not realize when someone has left the issue up for debate? Has he not heard of a red herring?

Regarding Craig's rhetoric, Steve Hays at Triablogue had something to say about that:

[W]hile Craig is a fine debater, he also lacks some of the virtues of a great public speaker. He doesn’t have a great speaking voice. He’s not an eloquent wordsmith. He’s not a spellbinding storyteller. He can’t manipulate the emotions of the audience the way a great preacher or actor can.

So, in some fundamental respects, he’s overrated as a debater. You can’t chalk up his winning streak to oratory alone.

Philosophy is really, at base, becoming good at thinking about and making good sound arguments. A debate showcases in a spoken format two people giving arguments for a specific position. Craig not only gave a positive case for his position, but refuted Harris' case. Harris spent his rebuttal period insulting Christianity and religious people and saying religion leads to evil. But he never defended his case after Craig had refuted it.

This philosophy major doesn't make his alma matter's philosophy department look very appealing if this is the quality of thinker they are producing.

As I said at the beginning, I am so glad to be square in the middle of a renaissance in Christian philosophy and apologetics. I am so glad that I don't have to shirk reason to hold the views that I do. I'm so glad I'm not reduced to defending an indefensible position, and cheer-leading for someone who was utterly unable to defend his view that he spend so long putting into book form. If this is what it takes to be an atheist, thank God I'm not one.

BTW, I made the hasty decision to post a part of this on John Loftus' blog, which may have been a mistake, haha. I will enable moderation for a while.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Craig Destroys Harris

So the debate is over. I tweeted along with it instead of doing it here, so you can check what I and others said as the debate progressed here.

Craig demolished Harris, who was unable to refute Craig's devastating critique of his version of utilitarianism. Craig showed how 1) God provides a sound foundation for morality and, 2) that without God, no sound ground of morality would exist. He pointed out that Harris was simply redefining morality to be identical to human well being, but Craig not only showed how this was entirely insufficient and arbitrary, but also how it was logically incoherent. Harris really blew it by completely ignoring the topic of the debate in his second speech and just talking about completely irrelevant red herrings. I don't even think that Harris' vaunted rhetorical mind games were that impressive. Sure you can call God a big fat meanie pants, but you just start sounding bitter.

Another great showing for Dr. Craig, and great for theism that all four stooges of atheism have been  eviscerated by such a keen mind. To God go the glory.

Brian at Apologetics 315 has posted the audio of the debate.

Reviews of the debate:

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Gary Habermas on NDE's

Brian over at apologetics 315 linked to a talk Gary Habermas did on NDE's a couple of years ago. Very interesting.