pretendpsychiatrist asked: I've heard some Christians say they believe both the original sin and evolution ((my family being some of these Christians)). It goes something like this: God made the evolution happen. Primates were evolving up until Neanderthal and Homo Erectus. Meanwhile, God created Adam and Eve--using primate DNA I guess???--in the Garden, they did the sin and the fall and boom the bible and Jesus and all that jazz. It's futile pointing out that none of their religious doctrine support this belief

It definitely is futile. It’s ad hoc reasoning. Furthermore, if they say it’s an allegorical interpretation of Genesis 1-3, there’s no basis for that either. Proponents of allegorical interpretations love to point to the church fathers, but even that doesn’t support such reasoning. It’s a perfect example of the mental acrobatics necessary to be a Christian in the modern day. You’re either an extremely ignorant individual verging on the nuthouse or you’re an otherwise intelligent person over-rationalizing to preserve mythology. Other than the apathetic cultural Christians, every devout Christian falls into one of those categories.

The Argument From Evolution: A Defense

After I posted the Argument From Evolution, some discussion ensued. Most comments offered that if one denies the concept of original sin, one need not accept the argument. This suggestion has a problem however. How would a Christian reject original sin, especially given Romans 5:12-21 (i.e. “sin came into the world through one man”) and 1 Corinthians 15:45? It isn’t enough to say that sin entered the world at some point since that begs the question. I agree, however, that if one wants to defeat the argument, P1 should be the target. Let’s revisit the argument.

P1 If evolution is true, there was no original sinner.

P2 Evolution is true.

P3/C1 Therefore, there was no original sinner.

P4 If there was no original sinner, there was no original sin.

P5 There was no original sinner.

P6/C2 Therefore, there was no original sin.

P7 If there was no original sin, there was no continuing sin.

P8 There was no original sin.

P9/C3 Therefore, there was no continuing sin.

P10 If there was no continuing sin, there was no reason for Christ to die.

P11 There was no continuing sin.

C  Therefore, there was no reason for Christ to die.

What feature of evolution disqualifies the notion of an original or first sinner? It may seem enough to state that populations and not individuals evolve. This is what Dawkins illustrates. However, like the difference between semantic and methodological instrumentalism in the philosophy of science1, there’s a difference between semantic evolution and actual evolution. Richard Dawkins’ illustration is a semantic presentation and gives us the gist of evolution; it doesn’t, however, give us the details or actual evolution. That’s all well and good, but if intended to serve as support for the Argument from Evolution, the presentation isn’t enough.

Of the contentions raised, perhaps the most interesting was raised by A.J. Doherty over at icrappoetry. We had extended discussions in private centering around the argument. He isn’t a creationist or an ID advocate, so he didn’t approach the argument with any pretenses of challenging P2 of the argument. He went after P1. He pointed out that Dawkins’ illustration is challenged by predicate vagueness. One would show this by using a sorites paradox.2 In brief, it looks as follows:

P1 One grain of sand doesn’t form a dune.

P2 If one grain of sand doesn’t form a dune then two grains don’t.

P3 If two grains don’t form a dune then three grains don’t.

Pu If 7,000,000,000 grains don’t form a dune then an infinite amount of grains don’t. (u means undefined since no one knows how many premises were necessary to arrive at that conclusion).

This is a variation of the heap. It’s to be noted that one grain can make the difference between a dune and a non-dune. Therefore, we could see this as a line between a dune and non-dune. If we accept this logic, then there’s some difference between a sinner and a non-sinner; in other words, there’s a line dividing sinner from non-sinner. As A.J. offered, for this claim to be approximately true, it doesn’t matter what the species of the sinner was. Given evolution, this species was related to humans; thus, it need not be a homo sapien. I would contend that given what the Bible says, this isn’t theologically sound; however, I’ll set that issue aside. The issue is that predicate vagueness addresses semantics. If anything, it calls into question our use of language. It doesn’t call actual cases into question since we generally agree we know a dune when we see one. This may seem like splitting hairs, but the contention is worth fielding.

Predicate vagueness no doubt works against semantic evolution. Dawkins’ illustration presents a smooth continuum flowing from one ancestor to the next. Actual evolution, when the details are considered, doesn’t work this way. There are three things to consider: anatomy, structure, and function. For the sake of brevity, I’ll simply agree that evolution implies anatomical and structural similarity from one ancestor to the next (e.g. if homo antercessor was the most recent ancestor of homo sapien, it was anatomically similar to homo sapien). What it doesn’t imply is functional similarity and since we’re talking of a first sinner—in other words, of an individual who knew right from wrong, felt guilt after doing wrong, and was thus, liable for his/her actions—the structure we should focus on is the brain.

I agree that the brains of neanderthals were structurally similar to human brains. But were they functionally similar? Were they capable of understanding right from wrong? It has been suggested that they had the capacity for language,3 which is probably good reason to conclude that they did understand right from wrong. Whether or not language is necessary for this understanding is not of interest for our purposes. One can continue to push the buck back and offer that homo antercessor and homo erectus understood right from wrong. One will eventually arrive at a population that didn’t understand right from wrong. Granted. But how about the notion of a first sinner? Since predicate vagueness only applies semantically and not actually, there was no first individual capable of this understanding—especially since vagueness would not apply to function. Brain function is of central importance when speaking of the capacity to understand right from wrong and feel guilt after doing wrong.4 Brain structure also plays a part.5

Ultimately, the contention deserves careful attention. It is, however, addressed by the fact that there’s nothing vague about function and (probably) structure. In other words, 99% of, for example, an amygdala isn’t the difference between someone who understands right from wrong and someone who doesn’t. Evolution doesn’t work grain to grain like semantic dunes do. Even if we grant that it does, function wouldn’t work this way. We can’t argue that one neuron or one synapse makes the difference between someone who feels guilt for doing wrong and someone who doesn’t. Brain function isn’t linear; it isn’t a smooth continuum. One could offer this semantically, but it is indefensible in actuality. So while the contention is interesting and at first sight seems to threaten the Argument from Evolution, a careful consideration shows that that isn’t the case.

The argument can, however, be defeated but perhaps at a hefty price. If one is to defeat the argument, one would have to reject the doctrine of original sin on theological grounds. To do this, perhaps the best route is to adopt some of the earliest interpretations of the idea expressed in 1 Corinthians 15:45. The earliest idea can be traced to Philo of Alexandria though the idea likely predated him.6 Furthermore, the idea resembles Plato’s forms or ideas. This lends strong credence to the notion that the earliest versions of Christianity were actually versions of Judaism that included hellenic elements, which would thus make for a mystery religion. Also, Philo’s idea—and by extension, Paul’s adaptation of the idea—can be considered gnostic, which in the modern day is considered a heretical view. So to defeat the argument, one would have to adopt an unorthodox theological view that would probably be labelled heretical by modern Christians. One would have to regress to an earlier version of Christianity and admit that what is taught today is false. In essence, this is a hefty price to pay: to avoid the conclusion of an argument, one is then willing to throw Christian theology into disarray. A detailed consideration of Christianity’s history already accomplishes this, but if one wants to pay that price for the sake of defeating the argument, so be it.

Notes

1 Sober, Elliot. "Instrumentalism Revisited." Crítica: Revista Hispanoamericana de Filosofía Vol. 31: 3-39. Web. 26 July 2014.

2 ”Sorites Paradox.” . Stanford University, 17 Jan. 1997. Web. 26 July 2014. <http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/sorites-paradox/>.

3 Frayer, David. "Who’re You’re Calling a Neanderthal." The New York Times. 2 May 2013. Web.

4 Fumagalli, Manuela , and Alberto Priori. "Functional and clinical neuroanatomy of morality." Brain 2012: 1-16. Web. 26 July 2014.

5 Wood, Janice. "Scans Show Psychopaths Have Brain Abnormalities." Psych Central. 11 May 2012. Web.

6 In Philo’s scheme, the first Adam was an invisible perfect man, having no gender and being immortal and imperishable, and this is what explains there being two creation accounts in Genesis (Gen. 1-2.3 vs. Gen. 2.4-25): the first related to the creation of the true man, and the second related to the creation of his mortal copy. Although Philo thinks a lot of the creation account is allegorical (for him there was no Paradise and no Serpent, for example), it is clear other Jewish theologians disagreed with him…And as we saw, even Philo clearly imagines a real cosmos with a real heaven with perfect versions of things, of which the things below are imperfect copies—and the things in heaven can be seen only by higher, spiritual senses (the pure intellect), unlike ordinary ‘material’ things that are seen by our ‘external’ (material) sense.

In response to the question of why God put the ‘material’ Adam in Paradise but didn’t do the same for the perfect heavenly Adam, Philo answers that ‘some persons have said, when they imagined Paradise was a garden, that because the man who was created was endowed with senses, therefore he naturally and properly proceeded into a sensible place’, whereas ‘the other man, who is made after God’s own image, being appreciable only by the intellect, and invisible, had all the incorporeal species for his share’; but Philo thinks rather that all this Paradise stuff is allegorical and not literally meant. However, it’s clear that Philo was dissenting from a view other Jews held, and the view of those others was that there were two Paradises, the material one and the heavenly one, or possibly more than two, many levels or ‘emanations,’ from the perfect Paradise on high, to the more material Paradise in the third heaven, to the many gardens on earth, which are all copies of those.

Of the two Adams, Philo says, ‘there are two kinds of men, the one made according to the image of God, the other fashioned out of the earth’, because ‘the image of God is the mold for all other things, and every imitation aims at this, of which it is an imitation.’ And, therefore, ‘the races of men are twofold: for one is the heavenly man, and the other the early man; and ‘the heavenly man, as being born in the image of God, has no participation in any corruptible or earthlike essence’, whereas ‘the earthly man is made of loose material…a lump of clay.’

The doctrine obviously predates Philo, and Philo has simply made his own modifications to it, because the same tradition was also shared by Paul and thus evidently influenced the earliest Christian theology. Philo’s language of ‘the heavenly man’ and ‘the earthly man’, ‘the first man; and ‘the second man’, and the idea of there being two Adams, is paralleled in (but adapted differently by) Paul. We see this, for example, in 1 Cor. 15.45-49 (to be read with 15.21-24). Philo says the heavenly man is imperishable and immortal and the earthly man is ‘by nature’ mortal and perishable, exactly in agreement with Paul. Both also call the earthly Adam the ‘first man’. Paul then calls Jesus the ‘last Adam’, but describes him in terms identical to Philo’s ‘second’ man (who in order of creation was really the first). Notably, Philo’s ‘celestial’ Adam can be seen only by the eye of the intellect, just as Origen says the body of the resurrected Jesus was invisible to the external senses and could be seen only with spiritual vision. Origen also says that this invisible resurrection body was the original ‘mold’ for the body of flesh that Jesus had previously worn, and thus his fleshly body was only an earthly copy of his true, original (and final) body. Paul describes similar notions in 2 Corinthians 5, where it appears our true bodies (of which our present bodies are copies) already await us in heaven.

Carrier, Richard. On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt, p.197-199. Sheffield, England: Sheffield Phoenix Press Ltd, 2014. Print.

Atheists Used to Take the Idea of God Seriously. That’s Why They Mattered. ›

philosopherzeus:

"Science and religion ask different questions about different things. Where religion addresses ontology, science is concerned with ontic description. Indeed, it is what Orthodox theologian David Bentley Hart calls their “austere abdication of metaphysical pretensions” that enables the sciences to do their work. So when, for instance, evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne and pop-cosmologist Lawrence Krauss dismiss the (metaphysical) problem of how something could emerge from nothing by pointing to the Big Bang or quantum fluctuation, it is difficult to be kind: Quantum fluctuations, the uncertainty principle, the laws of quantum physics themselves—these are something. Nothing is not quantum anything. It is nothing. Nonbeing. This, not empty space, is what “nothing” signifies for Plato and Aquinas and Heidegger, no matter what Krauss believes. No particles, no fluctuation, no laws, no principles, no potentialities, no states, no space, no time. No thing at all.”

"Pop-cosmologist." That underhanded ad hominem is enough to expose the author’s bias. Perhaps you’ll benefit from watching this debate. The something from nothing question is no longer interesting because Aristotelian physics is outdated. Every model in cosmology is self-contained. I guess the author will call Sean Carroll a “pop-cosmologist” as well.

By the way, I take the concept of god seriously. As such, I consider cases not named Yahweh. No matter Hart’s pretenses, his god is still Yahweh. I couldn’t care less how many cherry-picked passages he quotes from church fathers. David Bentley Hart has completely divorced Christ from his version of Christianity. He puts so much emphasis on how new atheists don’t address his panentheistic deity. Well, the Bible simply doesn’t communicate his god concept. Yahweh cannot be divorced from the scripture that tells us of him and morphed into some concept that doesn’t resemble what that scripture tells us of him. I’d have the same problem with Muslims who do this with Allah. Yahweh doesn’t exist and this retreat to metaphysics won’t change that.

Less than 10% of human DNA has functional role, claim scientists

Large stretches may be no more than biological baggage, say researchers after comparing genome with that of other mammals

More than 90% of human DNA is doing nothing very useful, and large stretches may be no more than biological baggage that has built up over years of evolution, Oxford researchers claim.

The scientists arrived at the figure after comparing the human genome with the genetic makeup of other mammals, ranging from dogs and mice to rhinos and horses.

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hereticaldeej asked: You have spoken at length in the past about Jesus' existence and powers (or lack thereof); do you have any similar insight into the Prophet Muhammed? It was something that occurred to me, and I'm going to do some research on it, but I thought you might have something to say on the topic (and your followers might be interested by it to boot.)

Islam, like Christianity, has very obscure origins. The source material for the Qur’an, for instance, was probably a Christian document.1 Also, Christ isn’t on par with Allah and thus, Islamic views of Jesus may have been influenced by non-Trinitarian (Unitarian) sects.2 What’s really interesting to note is that Muhammad, unlike Jesus, isn’t a name. Sure, Jesus comes from the Hebrew word יְשׁוּעָה (pronounced Yeshua). The name means rescuer, which is synonymous to savior. The name was common in the first century, but it is a little fishy that Jesus Christ means anointed savior. Regardless, assuming there was a historical Jesus, his name could have been Jesus. This wouldn’t be the case with a historical Muhammad.

Muhammad, which comes from the Arab word مُحَمَّد, roughly translates as praised one. It’s not a name, it’s a title.3 Interestingly enough, Muhammad could have been a character that developed in response to Jesus first being associated with the title muhammad. Another aspect Islam and Christianity share is the unreliability of documents. If you think the Gospels are problematic, consider the hadiths! They are quite telling of the many factions that existed in early Islam. I am of the view that a historical Muhammad is currently inaccessible. The hadiths and the Qur’an itself are simply unreliable. Furthermore, given that his name is actually a title, we don’t even know where to look. I would recommend Robert Spencer’s works. I’d also recommend Solomon Nigosian’s Islam: Its History, Teachings, and Practices. He shares the following:

The difficulty in discerning the role of Muhammad is enormous, which may come as a surprise to those who are not experts in literary criticism. But every scholar who has tried to study the available sources of information on Muhammad knows that the endeavor of sifting through the evidence to arrive at some tangible historical facts results only in the unpleasant feeling of uncertainty. Critical investigation of the material on Muhammad, both in the Qur’an and in the mass of Muslim traditions, has resulted in profound scholarly disagreements concerning his life and the part he played in the early Muslim community. In fact, the attempt to separate the historical from the unhistorical elements in the available sources has yielded few, if any, positive results regarding the figure of Muhammad or the role he played in Islam. The predicament faced by modern scholars is perhaps best stated by Harald Motzak:

At present, the study of Muhammad, the founder of the Muslim community, is obviously caught in a dilemma. On the other hand, it is not possible to write a historical biography of the Prophet without being accused of using the sources uncritically, while on the other hand, when using the sources critically, it is simply not possible to write such a biography.

Nigosian, S. A.. Islam: Its History, Teachings, and Practices, p.5-6. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004. Print.

Hope this helps! Thanks for the question.

On Salvation, Free Will, and Jesus

dogetalpapist:

academicatheism:

Care has to be read contextually. Sure he cares about the rest of creation according to scripture. That’s not what care means in the context I was using it in nor in the context the article uses it in. The article talked about care as it relates to redemptive salvation. Chimps and dolphins aren’t washed by the blood of Jesus even if they have free will and feel guilt when doing something wrong. Which brings me to my next point.

You’re oversimplifying what it means to be the image of god. God, for example is spirt; therefore, we are also spirit. Even if read allegorically, when god breathed into Adam, he was imparting רוּחַ (rûaħ). Rational I’ll take as a given. Whether or not we would have free will is debatable (e.g. Psalm 139:16). I see free choice as incompatible with god’s omniscience and sovereignty. Our volition may be limited; so in this sense, there’d be a kind of determinism in place.

I am also skeptical of the methodology in the field (e.g. the criterion of dissimilarity). However, that we can find scholars who argue for a historical Jesus that roughly matches the Christ of the Gospels says nothing. We have to evaluate the evidence, read all sides of the debate. Minimal historicity and even mythicism (please note that like there are many views of historicity, there are also many views of mythicism) are more cogent than maximal historicity. Maximal historicists put too much stock in the reliability of the Gospels and extra-biblical accounts like those of Josephus, Tacitus, Seutonius, etc. Any view on Jesus that doesn’t include historical, textual, and anthropological (i.e. cross-cultural) analyses isn’t a view worth considering. Habermas, Blomberg, Wright, Craig, etc. all have a view that doesn’t pay enough attention to these analyses. Briefly, that the passion of Romulus was known in Rome at the time (i.e. acted out in annual plays) and that Jesus scores high on the Rank-Raglan scale is already cause for pause.

Care concerning animals does turn on the point that, per traditional Christian theology, they don’t sin. This conversation can delve quickly into discussions of biology and neuroscience, so I am just going to leave it here.

You’re correct, but your original contention was that god would care about non-human animals. I responded by pointing to the context of the word per the article and my comments. You’re correct on the above point, but if care speaks only of redemptive salvation, it wouldn’t apply to non-human animals.

I would counter that instead of simplifying the concept of imagio Dei, I am simply repeating Aquinas’s definition of it, which was is a distilled form from what most of the Western Church Fathers held it to be.  It is hard to get more canonical than that.

Fair enough.

I take the distinction between primary and secondary causality as a necessity in subverting the type of Divine sovereignty arguments that are used to undermine the idea of free will. I certainly do not hold to a view where God is the efficient cause of all that occurs in the material universe, and I am certainly suspicious of even most attempts at casting God’s permissive will as a divine veto. 

I happen to think libertarian free will is indefensible. I lean compatibilism; even if I were still a Christian, I would argue that our wills are compatible with his sovereignty. However, I wouldn’t argue that our wills are free. If Acts is to be trusted, Paul was knocked off whatever animal he was riding or he was knocked to the ground as he was walking; Jesus appeared to him, he was blinded, and he converted (Acts 9). If Jesus is god, then god’s plan deterred Paul’s will.

Evaluating evidence absent a model for evidence is precisely the problem, but still, I think it is a stretch to say that Habermas and Wright do not pay attention to “historical, textual, and anthropological analyses”; I am not familiar with Blomberg, and Craig is a hack in the area of the biblical interpretation.

What I mean to say is that they assume modern Christianity is representative of first century Christianity. This hinders textual analysis (e.g. Paul can be read from a gnostic lens) and historical analysis. They do not, for example, treat other versions of Christianity (e.g. Apollo’s, see Acts 19). Many early versions are lost to us, but that should give one pause (i.e. how do we know what we have today is the real deal?). It’s hinted that Paul and Peter differed in their views (Galatians 2:11-14). Never mind the different schools of gnosticism, docetism, and the Christianities, if you will, of heretics (e.g. Marcion). Never mind the strong possibility that the earliest version of Christianity was a version of Judaism (i.e. Jesus was likely influenced by Essenes).

Also, the Raglan scale is far from an objective standard, but I would dispute that Christ would score highly on it; certainly not 20 like Richard Carrier claims.

I’m quite familiar with Carrier’s writings and you’re skewing what he said. He states the following in his latest book:

Jesus scores twenty out of twenty-two, according to Matthew’s Gospel (…but note that even in Mark’s Gospel, Jesus scores a 14, and even that would place him well above the bottom of the list).

Carrier, Richard. On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt, p.232. Sheffield, England: Sheffield Phoenix Press Ltd, 2014. Print.

It may not be an objective standard, but it’s still curious that he has so much in common with mythological characters. I definitely didn’t intend to survey all of the issues. That has been done. Even if you don’t agree with Carrier, for instance, chapters four and five of the book named above throw the origins of Christianity into disarray. There was a lot (!) going on. Way too much to outline here.

theseanachaidh:

Evidence of God

thenewenlightenmentage asked: Read my responses or shut up about this atheism/agnosticism thing. It's two days old already. I can't be any clearer than I've been. Read my response to somenoiseforthemind over at academicatheism. Changing your opinion about this small matter won't damage your reputation or change your life in any way. I don't get the obstinacy. Belief and knowledge are not the same thing. Consult any introductory text on epistemology. Outside of relevant semantics, you're talking out of your behind.

jtem:

And you’re not an atheist.  Atheists aren’t quite so dogmatic. 

Words have meanings, definitions, and “Atheist” is not French for “Fence Sitter.”  Atheists come down unambiguously on the Is There/Isn’t There a God debate, while agnostics do not. If you are ambiguous, and you claim you are, you are not an atheist.

You’re welcome.

Listen dude, you cry about getting insulted and what not, but now I can see why people are frustrated with you. I am an atheist. I lack belief in gods and by extension, metaphysical entities, the claims of holy books, the efficacy of religious rituals, and so on. Is there a god? I don’t believe there’s a god. Do you know that for sure? Depends on which god you’re talking about. Again, belief is necessary but not sufficient to arrive at knowledge. There are god concepts I don’t even know about either because I haven’t been exposed to them or because they haven’t been thought up yet. How in the world can I know they don’t exist if I’m not even aware of the concept? Thus, I am agnostic; I don’t claim knowledge in all cases, I only claim lack of belief in all cases. Again, read this response. Consult epistemology. Consult the definitions of these terms and you’ll see that there’s no mutual exclusivity to be had. Only one of us is abiding by definitions. It’s not you. This is so basic! Either grasp it or stick to your obstinate, puerile stupidity. I’m seriously done explaining basics to you.

dogetalpapist:

academicatheism:

How Would Christianity Deal with Extraterrestrial Life?

How would the world’s religions react to the discovery of extraterrestrial intelligence? There is, of course, no single answer. But for Christians who believe in the redemption of humanity through a singular event—the Incarnation of God through Christ—the question poses an especially complex dilemma.

To appreciate the conundrum, a good place to start is with the words of Father Jose Funes, a Jesuit astronomer and current director of the Vatican Observatory, who suggested in an interview that the possibility of “brother extraterrestrials” poses no problem for Catholic theology. “As a multiplicity of creatures exists on Earth, so there could be other beings, also intelligent, created by God,” Funes told the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano. “This does not conflict with our faith because we cannot put limits on the creative freedom of God.”

But, L’Osservatore Romano asked, what if these beings were sinners?

"Jesus became man once and for all," Funes responded. "The Incarnation is a single and unique event. So I am sure that also they, in some way, would have the chance to enjoy God’s mercy, just as it has happened with us human beings.”

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There are some really interesting, disturbing, and ultimately wrong-headed views in this article. Exo-evangelism is simply disturbing. It’s also wrong-headed because, as discussed by people like Neil deGrasse Tyson, we can’t just assume aliens would be interested in us—even if intelligent. Does Yahweh only care about humans? Yes. We are supposedly created in his image. It’s dubiously ad hoc to assume that that can apply to extraterrestrials. Jesus on other planets? There’s strong evidence to suggest that even if there was a historical Jesus, he wasn’t the Christ of the Gospels. Thus, Jesus on this planet is highly doubtful; forget other planets! Interesting read nonetheless.

This is actually a subject that goes back to the earliest theological debates within Christianity.  Augustine discusses the idea of strange humanoid creatures located at the antipodes of civilization; it was an ongoing question whether they could be men in the philosophical sense.  Nonetheless, Augustine affirms this.

Later on, Aquinas pondered whether on far flung celestial bodies there exist races of creatures with a rational soul and corporal body.  He leaves this question open, as he cannot ascribe any theological or philosophical rationale why it would be incorrect, not can it be settled absent further empirical evidence.

If you read some writings from the early 20th century, one is actually surprised with how easily theologians admit to the likelihood of extraterrestrial life.

So, this isn’t new.  Your critiques are based around a few misunderstandings, though.

It is quite apparent by Scripture that God cares for more than just humans (all that talk about sparrows, lilies, leviathans, the mysterious mention of the singing of the morning stars).  Furthermore, the image of God simply means that a creature posses free will and intellect in the most proper sense.  It is not something that is unique to humans. 

As for the historical Jesus debate, I am quite skeptical of some of the premises that the field is founded upon.  Still, one can find many scholars that are willing to say that the Christ of the Gospels is, substantially, the historical Jesus.

Care has to be read contextually. Sure he cares about the rest of creation according to scripture. That’s not what care means in the context I was using it in nor in the context the article uses it in. The article talked about care as it relates to redemptive salvation. Chimps and dolphins aren’t washed by the blood of Jesus even if they have free will and feel guilt when doing something wrong. Which brings me to my next point.

You’re oversimplifying what it means to be the image of god. God, for example is spirt; therefore, we are also spirit. Even if read allegorically, when god breathed into Adam, he was imparting רוּחַ (rûaħ). Rational I’ll take as a given. Whether or not we would have free will is debatable (e.g. Psalm 139:16). I see free choice as incompatible with god’s omniscience and sovereignty. Our volition may be limited; so in this sense, there’d be a kind of determinism in place.

I am also skeptical of the methodology in the field (e.g. the criterion of dissimilarity). However, that we can find scholars who argue for a historical Jesus that roughly matches the Christ of the Gospels says nothing. We have to evaluate the evidence, read all sides of the debate. Minimal historicity and even mythicism (please note that like there are many views of historicity, there are also many views of mythicism) are more cogent than maximal historicity. Maximal historicists put too much stock in the reliability of the Gospels and extra-biblical accounts like those of Josephus, Tacitus, Seutonius, etc. Any view on Jesus that doesn’t include historical, textual, and anthropological (i.e. cross-cultural) analyses isn’t a view worth considering. Habermas, Blomberg, Wright, Craig, etc. all have a view that doesn’t pay enough attention to these analyses. Briefly, that the passion of Romulus was known in Rome at the time (i.e. acted out in annual plays) and that Jesus scores high on the Rank-Raglan scale is already cause for pause.

tannermiller asked: agnosticism and atheism are mutually exclusive. One has to do with beliefs, one has to do with knowledge.

somenoiseforthemind:

theraginghottruth:

somenoiseforthemind:

academicatheism:

Look up agnosticism and atheism. Then look up agnostic atheism. Seriously, this is basic. It’s a waste of time trying to explain something so basic to obstinate people. It can’t be this hard to change an opinion. This is like a day old already. You’re wrong. Get over it. The fact that another person agrees with your idiotic opinion doesn’t change the fact that it’s an idiotic opinion. Agnosticism and (a)theism are not mutually exclusive.

I really do think the asker is right. Agnostic atheism is non-sense, is something like astrology compared to astronomy. If you are an atheist there is no point in being agnostic, when atheism clearly denies, refuses the existence of any deity. If you don’t believe in the existence of a deity, then there is no logic in believing he might exist, but we don’t know in what form or shape as an agnostic would say. Believing, or leaving the door open for an uknown deity is not atheism. Of course it’s cool to combine all these definitions and act all intelligent, and call people idiots, but there is absoiutely no logic in agnostic atheism. 

It seems that you appear to lack an understanding of what agnosticism or atheism actually entail. Please watch the following, as it explains quite clearly how both work, and how they can fit together:

     I saw this video, but with all due respect this won’t change my point of view on atheism and agnosticism. What this video is telling me is that basically atheism gives a chance for a supreme entity, creator, or let’s name it god (not necessarily the christian God). To me this does not make any sense, since atheism is simply denying the exitence of any deity. We can make it look nicer, or acceptable, or add something to it every year from now on, but that won’t change the precise atheistic view: there is no deity. This video is trying to befriend or unite the atheistic view with the agnostic one, in a nice, lovely, dramatic way (that’s what can touch the heart, right?). Honestly this won’t change my view, I will stay an “oldschool” atheist ~even if I’m young~, and I will never leave a door open for any deity, no matter if it’s an unknown (agnosticism) one. 
To me atheism will be by definition:
Koine Greek (ἄθεος - atheos) : one who disdains or denies God or the gods and their laws, god-denier, atheist
 and agnosticism will be:
Koine Greek (αγνωστος · agnostos) : to that which is unknown because of lack of information, unknown [BGAG 3rd Edition]

So me as an atheist, I am denying the existence of any deity. This is what atheism means to me and this is how every dictionary and encyclopaedia defines it. If someone wants to give it some colors, everyone is free to do what they want, and believe in what/who they want, but again that won’t change what “pure”, “raw” atheism is (to me). Agnosticism gives a chance, a possibility for a deity, supreme being to exist, on the other hand atheism doesn’t. We can combine everything we want, like satanistic christianity, muslim buddhism, muslim catholicism, catholic shamanism and so on, but these won’t change the core of the system.   

The video isn’t trying to “unite the atheistic view with the agnostic view.” The video is clearly explaining what I explained earlier. Please consider the following.

Think of atheism and agnosticism as being answers to separate questions. Do you know god(s) exists? Or alternatively, do you know that god(s) doesn’t exist? You may hear this asked instead with, are you sure god(s) exists? Your answer will decide whether or not you’re agnostic. Briefly, agnostic stems from the Greek word γνῶσις (gnōsis), which means knowledge—specifically spiritual knowledge. 

Do you believe in a god? Your answer will decide whether or not you’re an atheist. Thus, an agnostic atheist is someone who doesn’t believe in gods. However, this person won’t claim to know that there isn’t at least one god out there; in other words, this person isn’t a gnostic atheist. In brief, agnosticism is a claim of knowledge while atheism is a stance on belief (disbelief or non-beleif). By the way, it is entirely possible to be an agnostic theist. Agnosticism and (a)theism aren’t mutually exclusive.

With that considered, agnosticism doesn’t “give a chance…for a deity…to exist.” Agnosticism simply means you don’t know or aren’t sure that this or that deity exists. You could, for instance, be certain when concerning Thor, Wotan, Ahura Mazda, and Vishnu but unsure when concerning Spinoza’s god, Thomas Paine’s god of nature, or the Brahman. If your words are taken at face value, you’d qualify as a gnostic atheist. You deny all gods and claim to know they don’t exist. Consult epistemology because you’ll realize that your knowledge isn’t justified and thus, isn’t knowledge at all. So when your gnostic atheism is put under the microscope, it turns out that you aren’t gnostic. Justification is necessary for knowledge and since you have no justification for dismissing, for instance, the Brahman, you don’t know that it doesn’t exist. You could believe it doesn’t, but it doesn’t follow that you know. This is why I’m an agnostic atheist. Like you, I don’t believe in any deities and by extension, in metaphysical entities (e.g. ghosts, fairies, demons, asuras). However, I don’t claim to know in all cases and in order for me to claim knowledge, justification is required.

Interestingly enough, gnostic atheism is possible. If one goes through the trouble of developing archetypes, one could provide justification for dismissing, for example, demigods (e.g. Hercules, Krishna, Jesus, Osiris). Gods share characteristics and thus, demigods would belong (perhaps) to one category. Monotheistic gods like Yahweh, Ahura Mazda, and Allah would belong to another category. Abstract concepts like Spinoza’s god, Aristotle’s Prime Mover, Plato’s Demiurge, and Paine’s god of nature will occupy yet another category. If, for instance, you can show that attributes are incoherent or contradictory, you would provide justification. Thus, you’ll be able to say I don’t believe in Yahweh, Allah, and Ahura Mazda because they all share the following characteristics: perfection & a demand for worship. A perfect being would lack deficiencies and thus, the demand for worship and perfection are incompatible. This example isn’t meant to be ample, but you see the point. I hope to write a book on the possibility of gnostic atheism someday. This idea will feature prominently in my reasoning.