Why Blaming Islam for Terrorism is Misguided

Yes, we know that suicide terrorists regularly announce that they are killing in the name of Allah and they quote the Koran to justify what they are doing. And, of course we should, must, listen to what they say and take it seriously. Far from denying any of that, I think it is all necessary … Continue reading “Why Blaming Islam for Terrorism is Misguided”


The Decline in Analytic Thinking among U.S. Presidents and the Rise of Propaganda

An interesting article appears in the current issue of Translational Issues in Psychological Science: it describes research (based on analysis of inaugural addresses, presidential documents, State of the Union Addresses, and general election debates) into the level of analytical thinking among United States presidents from Washington to Trump. (H/T Alternet) The article, The exception or the rule: … Continue reading “The Decline in Analytic Thinking among U.S. Presidents and the Rise of Propaganda”


The Founder of Islamist Extremism and Terrorism

Nazi ideology was set out by Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf, Communism was explained for all by Karl Marx in The Communist Manifesto, and radical Islamism was planted with Sayyid Qutb‘s Milestones. Qutb was hanged in 1966 for involvement in a plot to assassinate Egypt’s President Gamal Abdul Nasser. Qutb’s ideas appear to have been … Continue reading “The Founder of Islamist Extremism and Terrorism”


Where Religious Beliefs Come From

Previous posts in this series: Sam Harris: Wrong (again) about Religion and Radicalization Religion: It’s more than we often think Was Religion Invented to Explain Things — or to Compound Mystery? . . . Or. . . ? Since we tend to take it for granted that beliefs in spirit beings and associated myths were invented … Continue reading “Where Religious Beliefs Come From”


When God Commanded the Worship of Adam

The Judaism prior to the destruction of the temple in 70 CE and that was the Judaism known to those responsible for the birth of Christianity was not the rabbinic Judaism that emerged in ensuing centuries. In recent years scholars Hurtado and Bauckham have attempted to defend the historical roots of contemporary Christian orthodoxy in … Continue reading “When God Commanded the Worship of Adam”


What they’re saying about The New Gospel of Mark Fragment

Tim linked to some background info on the reported discovery of the new fragment of the Gospel of Mark. Here is some further discussion that might be of interest: By Roger Pearse (creator of the Tertullian Project website and the Additional Fathers collection) A first century fragment of Mark’s gospel? Some thoughts by an outsider Covers … Continue readingWhat they’re saying about The New Gospel of Mark Fragment”


How a Spurious Letter “From Paul” Inspired the End Time Prophecies of the New Testament

This post is based on the theme of a chapter in St. Paul versus St. Peter: A Tale of Two Missions by Michael Goulder. I depart from Goulder’s own presentation in one significant respect: Goulder wrote as if 2 Thessalonians were a genuine letter by Paul (in which Paul writes about the future in a way he was … Continue reading “How a Spurious Letter “From Paul” Inspired the End Time Prophecies of the New Testament”


Someone get Scott Atran to tell us which soccer club these guys belonged to. — Tweet from Sam Harris

The title was a tweet by Sam Harris: https://twitter.com/samharrisorg/status/337313832814919680 in response to the horrific terrorist murder of Lee Rigby in London. I told someone in a recent comment that I would do a post explaining my perspective on what lies behind Harris’s response. (In that same comment thread one can see a video in which … Continue reading “Someone get Scott Atran to tell us which soccer club these guys belonged to. — Tweet from Sam Harris”


The Historical Jesus and the Demise of History, 1: What Has History To Do With The Facts?

There is something rotten in the state of historical Jesus studies. Ideology has long trumped inconvenient questioning. Postmodernist flim-flam has recently trumped any hope of sound methodology. Some on that side of New Testament studies have curiously accused me of being “a fact fundamentalist” or an antiquated positivist or one who has unrealistic demands for … Continue reading “The Historical Jesus and the Demise of History, 1: What Has History To Do With The Facts?”


Heavenly Visions: the foundation of Paul’s Christianity

The New Testament epistles inform us that the original Gospel was a revelation from God. That means it did not originate by means of spoken tradition relayed from historical events, by word of mouth, from eyewitness or preacher to others. Rather, one might almost say that the medium itself was the message: the revelation or … Continue reading “Heavenly Visions: the foundation of Paul’s Christianity”


Ascents to the Celestial Temple and Heavenly Descents, and what any of this has to do with early Christianity

One of the reasons I am interested in this topic of visionary experiences is that they help flesh out a tangible environment, on the basis of concrete evidence, from which Christianity emerged. This is in contrast to the model of “oral traditions” being the roots of the canonical gospel narratives. The gospel narratives stand at … Continue reading “Ascents to the Celestial Temple and Heavenly Descents, and what any of this has to do with early Christianity”


Visions that laid a foundation for Christianity?

Following the publication of Alan F. Segal’s recent book, it is clear that Jewish mysticism must occupy a more central place than has previously been the case in any construction of the matrices of Paul’s experience and thought. (Morray-Jones, C. R. A. 1993, “Paradise Revisited (2 Cor 12:1-12): The Jewish Mystical Background of Paul’s Apostolate. … Continue reading “Visions that laid a foundation for Christianity?”


Nazareth fictions, Aramaic blindspots and scholarly bias: Filling some gaps in Sheffield’s review of Casey’s ‘Jesus of Nazareth’

I know I said I would not touch Casey’s book (Jesus of Nazareth) again for a while, but Mike Kok’s review of chapter 3 (Historical Method) on the Sheffield Biblical Studies blog does call out for some response. No archaeological evidence for Nazareth in early first century I ignored Casey’s critique of Zindler’s and Salm’s … Continue reading “Nazareth fictions, Aramaic blindspots and scholarly bias: Filling some gaps in Sheffield’s review of Casey’s ‘Jesus of Nazareth’”


Palestinian news sources

updated 20th May 2008 Listed here are news sources that target Palestinian affairs, with an emphasis on the Palestinian media and viewpoints. Most are based in Palestine. Some are run by or in partnership with Palestinians living outside Palestine. One is run by “Israeli anti-occupation activists.” I have in most cases copied a site’s blurb … Continue readingPalestinian news sources