The historicity of the stolen body

I’m catching up on some issues that ended up on the back burner while I was under the weather, and one of them is this comment by Kevin Harris over at Evangelical Realism, on the topic of whether the “Resurrection theory” is a more historical explanation than the non-supernatural alternatives proposed by critics. Kevin claims that the critical theories are disqualified by application of Craig’s six criteria for historical credibility: historical fit, early independent sources, embarrassment, dissimilarity, semitisms and coherence. Just for fun, I’d like to take one of the alternatives and run it past Craig’s six criteria.

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An honest liar

This looks like it’s going to be, well, amazing…

Justin Weinstein and Tyler Meason, two of the filmmakers behind Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey and Sons of Perdition respectively, are making a documentary about the man, appropriately titled An Honest Liar: The Story of the Amazing James Randi. The film will not only dive into his past and talk to other fellow expert skeptics like Adam Savage, Bill Nye, Richard Dawkins, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Penn and Teller, but it will also serve to document Randi’s next grand debunking as he plans and assembles, “an Ocean’s Eleven-type team for a carefully orchestrated exposure of a fraudulent religious organization.”

Hat tip to Trailer below the fold.

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Ah, progress

Many people are in shock and mourning after the unexpected death of singer Whitney Houston. As reported by the International Business Times, however, others are crying all the way to the bank.

Sony Music raised the price of Houston’s songs just 30 minutes after her death, reports The Guardian. The retail price was raised from about $8 (£4.99) to about $13 (£7.99), which automatically raised the price of digital sales on platforms such as iTunes.

I have just one thing to say about that.

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Sabotaging Science

Via Greg Laden’s blog, this leaked document from climate change denialists:

Dr. Wojick is a consultant with the Office of Scientific and Technical Information at the U.S. Department of Energy in the area of information and communication science. His effort wil focus on providing curriculum that shows that the topic of climate change is controversial and uncertain — two key points that are effective at dissuading teachers from teaching science. We tentatively plan to pay Dr. Wojick $100,000 for 20 modules in 2012, with funding pledged by the Anonymous Donor.

Is that for real? Holy crap.


A simple cold

Last Sunday morning, I woke up with a sharp pain in the back of my nasal passages, as though I’d somehow gotten a grain of sand or something stuck there. I thought it would pass, and it sort of did—by becoming a full-blown sore throat and swollen glands and let’s-just-make-life-a-bit-more-miserable-overall. No biggie, I’ve had head colds before. But this one is slightly different. I just changed jobs, and that means I have no health insurance for the next 3 months. My old company was too small to qualify me for COBRA benefits and my new company has a 3-month break-in period or whatever they call it.

And that’s it. I’m a professional, I make a good salary, I work hard. And I’ve got no health insurance, for myself or my family.

Like I said, it’s just a head cold. I’ve had them before and they never bothered me. But I had insurance then. If they got worse, I went to the doctor. Last time my wife had a bad cough, she went to the doctor and found out she had pneumonia. Me, I’m trying to eat healthy, drink fluids, and get lots of rest, because I don’t have anything else right now. And some people raise kids under these conditions? Something is seriously wrong when a first-world country like the USA can’t even provide decent health care coverage to its citizens.

Gospel Disproof #36: Jesus and Lazarus

One mistake a lot of people make is to assume that Christians have always believed the same Gospel. If we look more closely, however, we can see evidence in the New Testament itself that suggests the resurrection story has evolved significantly, especially in the early decades of the Church. A good way to highlight this evolution is to compare the resurrection stories about Jesus with the story of the resurrection of Lazarus.

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How the Bible drives technology

There’s a fascinating story over at the Atlantic about the impact of the Bible on science and technology. And it’s not what you’d think.

Over the past several decades missionary groups like the Wycliffe Bible Translators have sometimes been among the first visitors to remote cultures to learn those cultures’ languages — and to do some pretty thorough (though often amateurish) ethnographic study: after all, you can’t translate the Bible into a language until you understand not just the linguistic vocabulary of a people but their cultural vocabulary too. (The whole discipline of anthropology has deep roots in Christian missions.) That this study is done for explicitly conversionist purposes makes the Wycliffe translators, and other Christians who do similar work, immensely controversial; but the bodies of ethnographic and linguistic knowledge they have amassed are remarkable.

The main focus of the article is about the latest development in this trend: Christian missionaries working to create Bible translations in people’s native languages, that are accessible via cell phone. In the process, they’re solving unique technical problems that mainstream cell phone apps never bother to tackle, due to the lack of a profitable market.

It’s quite a paradox. On the one hand, it shows that believers can do legitimate scientific and technological work when they put their mind to it. And yet, ironically, their success in such fields only highlights their failures when it comes to the message they’re working so hard to share. If they only thought more clearly about their own faith, they could save themselves a lot of work. And yet, if they failed to do this work, how much would we lose?

Just words

Do you want to kill somebody? No? Then read this.

I have loved things about you and I have hated things about you and there is a lot I don’t understand about you … I will not pray for you.

Ok, how about now? Still no? That’s odd, because according to a report by The Guardian, a Saudi citizen has been arrested in Kuala Lumpur because he tweeted the above remarks about Mohammed. More than 13,000 people have joined a Facebook page demanding his execution. If he is returned to Saudi Arabia, there’s a very real chance he will be charged with apostasy, which is a religious offense punishable by death.

Clergy + power = atrocity. And let’s not get too smug about those “barbaric third-world Muslims.” Christians can be just as bad, when they control the government.


I don’t feel like taking on anything super-heavy today, so let’s see if I can start some kind of meme. Name three fiction books you’ve read more than three times, and why.

The book I’ve read the most is the Bible, due to my Christian past. I lost count of how many times I read it through cover to cover, but it was at least 8, and of course that’s only the times I was counting how many times I read the whole thing. It’s pretty poor fiction, though, so maybe we shouldn’t count this one.

I also read The Chronicles of Narnia any number of times, even as an adult. As a Christian, I enjoyed Narnia a lot more than the Bible even, because Aslan in Narnia seemed so much more like the kind of loving God Jesus should have been. I didn’t really realize it until after I stopped believing the Bible, but in a way the Bible created the kind of hunger a childish fantasy could best satisfy, by promising so much on behalf of a God Who could deliver so little. I can’t read it any more, though, because now it just reminds me of how badly my faith let me down. Fortunately, I’ve also got some secular favorites as well.

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Uh oh

Via Ed Brayton comes news of a new FtB blog: Biodork. Everybody stop by and say howdy, eh?

But wait, what’s this? The first post I see has her agreeing with Bill O’Reilly? That doesn’t sound good.

Oh, never mind—she just caught Bill in a moment of sanity and lucidity. Carry on. And welcome, Biodork, to our global conspira friendly gathering of like-minded individuals.