Archive for January, 2011

Defining Atheism #2

January 28, 2011 16 comments

There is a serious logical fault in claiming antitheism. All too often I hear the famous cry, “a lack of evidence, a lack of evidence”, and so the antitheist turns its back to Christianity. There are two major problems with this idea of “a lack of evidence”. First, not all evidence has to be scientific evidence. Historical evidence, archaeological evidence, and Psychological evidence speak boldly for Christianity, and in my experience have gone without adequate refute. When one turns to antitheism for “a lack of evidence” what that usually means is “a lack of evidence for the supernatural”. And so, “a lack of evidence” is truly a masked way to say “a naturalistic bias”.
The second problem with a lack of evidence emerges from the equal lack of evidence that disproves the supernatural. This is a sticky idea, because on the surface it seems to be teetering on the edge of logical fallacy: “There’s no evidence to disprove a pink unicorn, but I don’t, by default, believe it exists.” One cannot, equally by default deny the unicorn’s existence. That denial is based on the same lack of evidence as is the belief. Despite what one may believe, nature does allow for supernature. By definition the two do not overlap. What is the role of the sciences here? Is it not to explore, expose and verify nature? In doing so science will not conflict with the supernatural. In short, there is no evidence for antitheism; one cannot logically reject Christianity and turn to antitheism on the grounds of “a lack of evidence”.
As a side note, I do not believe in pink unicorns (unless it’s a stuffed play thing). There is no archeological, historical, manuscript, philosophical or psychological (Which is scientific, actually) evidence, and quite frankly, it just doesn’t matter if I do or not. In terms of religion, there is significantly more ¬†evidence that lies outside the realm of science, and the implications are immense. It matters if Christianity is true. For that matter, it matters if Hinduism or Islam are true. It is not at all a matter of pink unicorn.


Defining Atheism

January 19, 2011 20 comments

Atheism is derived from the greek theos, meaning, god. Adding “a” in front of a word is like adding “not”. “A-theism” is “not-god”. In the way atheism is being approach recently, as you probably already know, it does not only deny the existence of god(s) but also attacks beliefs and believers. This is not a terrible thing, but rather a necessary part of disbelief. That is, if one rejects theism but accepts objective morality- even situational ethics. More on atheism later, or as I think it is more accurately defined: antitheism.

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Virgin Mary, Really?

January 14, 2011 4 comments

There has been some debate about the nature of the prophesy- or supposed prophesy- of the virgin birth. I looked into, and got some interesting results. The challenging idea, I hope I do it justice, is that the virgin birth was actually a gentile idea that was borrowed and applied to Jesus, for whatever reason. The counter-challenge, to the challenge is found most notably in Isaiah 7:14, which was written long before Jesus’ birth, and therefore the idea of a virgin birth existed before any gentile could have built a makeshift idea of the virgin birth. The problem comes in when you realize that the word translated ‘virgin’ in Isaiah 7:14 does not explicitly mean virgin. The word is question is almah and could mean a young girl.
“Therefore the Lord will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” -Isaiah 7:14. This clearly seems to be talking about Jesus. That is, until you put it in context. I won’t type it all here, but here’s a link to check out: Isaiah 7.

So we have some questions.
1. Is Virgin an accurate translation?
a) Is almah commonly translated virgin?
b) Why did Isaiah use an ambiguous word?

2. Who is the prophesy about?
a) Does the context imply a fulfillment long before Jesus’ birth?
b) What do we know of other supposed individuals to fulfill prophesy?

1. a) Is almah commonly translated virgin?
Almah is translated into English most commonly as maiden, according to my concordances that used KJV or RSV. In context it was never used of  a married woman or any woman who is suspected not to be a virgin. In fact, the word almah is always used talking about a woman who is about to be married. It is not in reference to virginity or not, but to her martial status.
b) Why did Isaiah use such an ambiguous word?
There were plenty of other words that could have been acceptable meaning either virgin or young girl- too young for marriage. Naarah is translated as young woman only in reference to age. Bethulah is translated virgin. Almah has connotation of virginity and is a reference to age. So what the hell, right? I think the answer to the next question will shed light on this one.

2. a) Does the context imply fulfillment long before Jesus’ birth?
Yes. It seems clear from the context of the text that this baby would be born while Aram and Ephriam are still going strong, and before the child could know right from wrong Aram and Ephriam would be destroyed. It puts a time frame on the baby that is long before Jesus. Jesus is not this supposed Immanuel.
b) What do we know of the other candidates to be this Immanuel?
In 8:3 the NLT says “I slept with my wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son.” “went to” in the NIV is a bad translation. It should be “drew near”, a euphemism for sex. The son they have, Maher-shalalhas-baz, could be this Immanuel. This makes a lot of sense, actually, because before he could speak, so it was prohpesied, Assyia destroys Aram and Ephriam (Damascus and Sumeria). The parallel between chapter 7’s Immanuel prophesy and chapter 8’s Maher-shalal-hash-baz seems pretty significant.

Conclusion: Maher-Shalal-hash-baz was prophesied about in Isaiah 7:14 as Immanuel. He symbolized God not allowing Judah to be destroyed. He was a sign that GOd was protecting his people, the meek. Isaiah used the ambiguous term, almah, because when he first prophesied, the woman in question was a young girl, but too old for naarah, and also a virgin. However, by the time the prophesy was fulfilled she was not a virgin. In fact, if the septuagint did not translate almah as virgin, then author of Matthew would probably not have included that scripture in Matthew 1:23. However, I do think it is good that the septuagint was translated this way, and that Matthew did include the scripture. Mary did meet the qualifications of almah no less than the prophetess in Isaiah 8. And Jesus equally represented Immanuel- God not allowing his people to be destroyed by sin. The only difference is Jesus became the object of salvation, not just a representation. There is nothing wrong with this assertion that the text of Isaiah 7 and 8 are both literal and allegorical. Is it necessary to believe this to believe in God, or in the person of Jesus? No. But it’s not hard to believe that a God who created the Universe can create an ingenious dual meaning of scripture.

Also, to address the idea that the gentiles are responsible for idea of the virgin birth applied to Jesus, I disagree. It is the translators of the septuagint that are responsible, before gentile influence.


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