Leaving creationism, meeting a new authority or learning to think for oneself

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by Neil Godfrey

There’s an interesting response to McGrath’s recent post. It traces one person’s evolution from a belief in creationism to belief in evolution — and, I think, ironically identifies something that went “wrong” in the process. No, of course I don’t think creationism is right and evolution wrong. So let me explain. First, here is the key part of the comment:

Maybe you had this experience too; but I remember reading a book arguing for creationism, it was well-written, finessed, and aid out all this data, had charts and figures, asked thoroughly compelling questions, and well, just seemed to reveal that the whole academy of science was just wrong- demonstrably wrong. Thankfully, through reading peer-reviewed, academic scientific studies I am no longer a creationist. I realized the lines they were given me were rhetorical, the gaping holes they pointed out that seemed just so persuasive and ground breaking were, once I became more scientifically literate, a chimera of rhetorical making. The questions they strung together just did not make sense once you realized the field,-and I noticed that I would need to read several books just to reveal a error in one dot in their whole join-the-dots technique spread across a chapter.

At the end of it I felt rather embarrassed that I listened to self-published, amateur scholarship, that I didn’t spot that despite the thousands of scientists there were in the world, it seemed to be only those with marginal nor tentative qualifications in the field though this was ground-breaking and became fawning enthusiastic devotees of pseudo-science.

That journey was a little different from mine and I am sure from many others who left creationism. Continue reading “Leaving creationism, meeting a new authority or learning to think for oneself”

Fear of mythicism?

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by Neil Godfrey

What is it about the mythicism that inspires the following sorts of venom and outlandish accusations?

  1. Amazing how these kooks all sound alike. (comparing mythicism with intelligent design and holocaust denial) (http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/2011/07/27/mythicism-and-peer-review/#comment-279858598)
  2. while you don’t seem like a Neo-Nazi, you are as stupid and dishonest as one. (http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/2011/07/27/mythicism-and-peer-review/#comment-279798340)
  3. you expect people to take your kooky imaginings seriously and honestly think your rejection by the academy is because they can’t handle your wonderfulness. (http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/2011/07/27/mythicism-and-peer-review/#comment-278526746)
  4. Mytherists are compelled to reject the scholarly consensus in a range of fields in order to privilege their position. So we can expect them to follow Doherty on the issue of Jesus, we can expect them to reject the standard professional lexicons, we can expect them to take Thompson’s view of Israel’s history, and naturally we can expect them to accept DM Murdock’s claims concerning a global civilization of genius pygmies. It is also no surprise when we find Mytherists claming vaccinations are of no use, questioning germ theory, and doubting that HIV causes AIDS. (http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/2011/07/14/review-of-earl-dohertys-jesus-neither-god-nor-man-chapter-8/#comment-279752483)
  5. This is tantamount to would-be book burning aimed at whole schools of historical research. It is growing quite terrifying, frankly, . . . . It is no exaggeration to suggest that, if unchallenged, this profoundly anti-intellectual outlook against most modern serious historians and scholars of the ancient world might soon imperil freedom of inquiry way beyond the parameters of the online world. (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/crosstalk2/message/23512)
  6. Giving credence to the Jesus Myth is no different then giving credence to holocaust denial . . . .  someone who defends minimalism and mytherism has an extreme chip on his shoulder to the subject in question no matter how much they protest to the contrary. (http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/2011/07/14/review-of-earl-dohertys-jesus-neither-god-nor-man-chapter-8/#comment-280066941)

I can read rational, evidence-based rebuttals of holocaust denial, psychic powers, creationism, etc.

I am reminded of why I left Christianity and belief in the Bible. The more I searched for answers the more I realized that there were no rational, evidence-based answers.


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by Roger Parvus

5th post in the series by Roger Parvus. The complete series is archived here.

TDOP = The Death of Peregrinus by Lucian. Harmon’s translation here.

So far I have called attention to the many similarities between Peregrinus and the author of the so-called Ignatians. I have explained that, to account for the similarities, it is not enough to simply claim that Lucian, for his portrait of Peregrinus, probably borrowed from Ignatius. It is not enough, for instance, to say with William Schoedel that “Lucian (as Lightfoot and others have suggested) probably had Ignatius in mind when he wrote the following concerning Peregrinus: ‘They say that he sent letters to almost all the famous cities more or less as testaments, counsels, and laws; and he appointed … certain of his companions as ambassadors… for the purpose, calling them messengers of the dead and couriers of the shades…” (“Ignatius of Antioch,” p. 279). Or to say with Allen Brent that “Lucian, as he describes Peregrinus, endows him with many of the characteristics of Ignatius as typical of an imprisoned Christian martyr.” (“Ignatius of Antioch – A Martyr Bishop and the origin of the Episcopacy,” p. 50). That explanation doesn’t work. That kind of borrowing by Lucian would only have compromised his ridicule of Peregrinus. He couldn’t have expected to convincingly expose Peregrinus by substituting a lot of characteristics from someone else, especially when he was writing so soon after the demise of his target. People would have noticed that his portrait was false.

But I have also now shown that the letters themselves contain puzzling features that point to a different explanation for the similarities. The similarities exist because the letters were in fact written by Peregrinus, but the puzzles exist because changes were later made to the letters to disguise his authorship. Fortunately, with help from TDOP, enough telltale traces of the true provenance of the letters remain so that the puzzles can be solved. Authorship by Peregrinus provides a more convincing reason for the urgency of the request that Ambassadors of God be sent from Asia to Antioch. And that request for Asian Ambassadors matches up with the presence of Asian delegates in Syria who, according to Lucian, helped, defended and encouraged Peregrinus. My theory also provides a more convincing reason for the request that a most God-pleasing council be convoked. And it can plausibly reconstruct the circumstances of Peregrinus’ arrest and detect the route that was originally in the letters. It can give a definite meaning to the otherwise vague expression “May I have the joy of you.” Moreover the theory can explain, for instance, why the name of Polycarp is not found in the letter to the Smyrneans, but is found awkwardly lodged in another letter. And why, for instance, only in the so-called letter to Rome is there no mention of a bishop, presbyters and deacons. And it can explain the ‘filtering out’ that has occurred in the church addressed by that letter. Other lesser anomalies find similarly satisfying solutions. And, of course, since Peregrinus at some point became an apostate, there is an overall plausible reason why a later Christian would have needed to disguise the letters if he wanted to use them.