Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

How to falsify a religion using scientific or historical evidence

I notice that a lot of new atheists seem to think that “I don’t like it” can refute a religion. What I often see among atheists is this tendency to set up expectations of how God would have acted and then complain that he doesn’t met those expectations. I don’t think that this is a good way to argue against a religion, because it’s subjective. God isn’t obligated to comport with atheist expectations.

So in this post, I wanted to show how a reasonable person can evaluate and reject different worldviews using evidence.

Falsifying a religion using science

Consider this argument:

  1. Hindu cosmology teaches that the universe cycles between creation and destruction, through infinite time.
  2. The closest cosmological model conforming to Hindu Scriptures is the eternally “oscillating” model of the universe.
  3. The “oscillating” model requires that the universe exist eternally into the past.
  4. But the evidence today shows the the universe, and time itself, had a beginning at the big bang.
  5. The “oscillating” model requires that the expansion of the universe reverse into a collapse, (= crunch).
  6. In 1998, the discovery of the year was that the universe would expand forever. There will be no crunch.
  7. Therefore, the oscillating model is disconfirmed by observations.
  8. The oscillating model also faces theoretical problems with the “bounce” mechanism.

Notice how I falsified the oscillating model with theoretical and experimental reasons.

The absolute origin of the universe out of nothing is also incompatible with atheism, Buddhism, Mormonism, etc. because they also require an eternally existing universe.

Falsifying a religion using history

Consider this argument:

  1. To be a Muslim, you must believe that the Koran is without error.
  2. The Koran claims that Jesus did not die on a cross. (Qur’an, 4: 157-158)
  3. The crucifixion of Jesus is undisputed among non-Muslim historians, including atheist historians.
  4. Therefore, it is not rational for me to become a Muslim.

I’m going to support the premise that Jesus was crucified by citing historians from all backgrounds.

Consider some quotes from the (mostly) non-Christian scholars below:

“Jesus’ death as a consequence of crucifixion is indisputable.” Gert Lüdemann

“That he was crucified is as sure as anything historical can ever be.”  J.D. Crossan

“The passion of Jesus is part of history.” Geza Vermes

Jesus’ death by crucifixion is “historically certain”. Pinchas Lapide

“The single most solid fact about Jesus’ life is his death: he was executed by the Roman prefect Pilate, on or around Passover, in the manner Rome reserved particularly for political insurrectionists, namely, crucifixion.” Paula Fredriksen

“The support for the mode of his death, its agents, and perhaps its co-agents, is overwhelming: Jesus faced a trial before his death, was condemned, and was executed by crucifixion.” L.T. Johnson

“One of the most certain facts of history is that Jesus was crucified on orders of the Roman prefect of Judea, Ponitus Pilate.” Bart Ehrman

That’s 7 famous historians: 3 atheists, 3 Jews and 1 moderate Catholic. The atheists, Ludemann, Crossan and Ehrman, have all debated against the resurrection of Jesus with William Lane Craig. Johnson is the moderate Catholic, the rest are Jewish historians. The Koran was written in the 7th century. That is why no professional historian accepts the Koran as more authoritative than the many earlier Christian and non-Christian sources for the crucifixion story. Many of the sources for the crucifixion are dated to the 1st century. It’s not faith. It’s history.

I have seen debates with Muslim scholars, and I have never once heard them cite a non-Muslim historian to the effect that Jesus was not crucified. To my knowledge, there is no historian who denies the crucifixion of Jesus in his published work.

Can Christianity be falsified by science or history?

Yes. If you prove that the universe is eternal than would falsify the Bible’s claim that God created the universe out of nothing. That would be a scientific disproof. If you could find the body of Jesus still inside a tomb, that would falsify the Bible’s claim about a resurrection. That would be a historical disproof. The nice thing about Christianity is that we make lots of testable claims. Christianity is about forming beliefs that are in line with the available evidence.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Exit polls reveal which religious groups support abortion and gay marriage

Take a look at this data from Pew Research.

Excerpt:

Religiously unaffiliated voters and Jewish voters were firmly in Obama’s corner in 2012 (70% and 69%, respectively). Compared with 2008, support for Obama ticked downward among both Jews and religiously unaffiliated voters in the exit polls, though these declines appear not to be statistically significant. Both of these groups have long been strongly supportive of Democratic candidates in presidential elections. Black Protestants also voted overwhelmingly for Obama (95%).

[...]At the other end of the political spectrum, nearly eight-in-ten white evangelical Protestants voted for Romney (79%), compared with 20% who backed Obama. Romney received as much support from evangelical voters as George W. Bush did in 2004 (79%) and more support from evangelicals than McCain did in 2008 (73%). Mormon voters were also firmly in Romney’s corner; nearly eight-in-ten Mormons (78%) voted for Romney, while 21% voted for Obama. Romney received about the same amount of support from Mormons that Bush received in 2004. (Exit poll data on Mormons was unavailable for 2000 and 2008.)

Compared with religiously unaffiliated and Jewish voters on the left and white evangelicals and Mormons on the right, Catholics and white mainline Protestants were more evenly divided. Among white mainline Protestants in the exit poll, 54% voted for Romney, while 44% supported Obama. This is virtually identical to the 2008 election, when 55% of white mainline Protestants voted for McCain and 44% backed Obama.

White Catholics, by contrast, swung strongly in the Republican direction relative to 2008. Nearly six-in-ten white Catholics (59%) voted for Romney, up from 52% who voted for McCain in 2008. Three-quarters of Hispanic Catholics voted for Obama, and Catholics as a whole were evenly divided in 2012 (50% voted for Obama, while 48% backed Romney).

I am actually one of those rare non-white evangelical Protestants who is strongly pro-life and pro-marriage. I believe that the Bible is the Word of God, and that it prescribes true moral values and moral obligations. There are not too many of us in America, according to these exit polls. I am very proud of my fellow evangelical Christians. We take the Bible seriously as a moral guide, and it affects everything in our lives – including how we vote.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Barack Obama’s real record on Israel

Map of the Middle East

Map of the Middle East

Fox News reports. (H/T Stuart Schneiderman)

Excerpt:

President Obama has never visited Israel during his time in office, despite having been as close as thirty minutes away in Egypt, and managing to go to Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iraq.

President Obama told Jewish leaders in July 2009 that he was deliberately adopting a policy of putting daylight between America and Israel.

President Obama has legitimized the UN body most responsible for demonizing Israel as the world’s worst human rights violator. The president joined the UN Human Rights Council in 2009 and is now seeking a second 3-year term, despite Israel’s requests that he do the opposite.

President Obama made Israeli settlements the key stumbling block in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Starting in 2009 he chose to castigate Israel publicly, often, and in extreme terms at the General Assembly and the Security Council. The Palestinians took the president’s cue and ended direct negotiations until such time as Israel capitulates, even though the subject is supposed to be a final status issue.

President Obama treated Israel’s Prime Minister to a series of insulting snubs during his visit to the White House in March 2010.

President Obama cut a deal with Islamic states at a May 2010 meeting of parties to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, contrary to assurances given to Israel. He agreed to help convene a 2012 international conference intended to pivot attention towards disarming Israel and is currently negotiating the details of this diplomatic onslaught.

President Obama introduced in his September 2010 address to the General Assembly, a September 2011 timeline for full Palestinian statehood and membership in the UN, thus encouraging Palestinians to push the same unilateral move.

President Obama suggested in May 2011 that Israel use the 1967 borders as a starting point for negotiations – knowing full well that Israel considers those borders to be indefensible, and that agreements require the border issue to be determined by the parties themselves.

President Obama created a “global counter-terrorism forum” in September 2011 and invited eleven Muslim states to join – on the grounds that they were “on the front lines in the struggle against terrorism.” At the insistence of Turkey, he then denied entry to Israel.

President Obama told French President Nicolas Sarkozy in November 2011 – when he thought he was off-mike – that he regretted having to deal with Israel’s Prime Minister.

President Obama asked Congress in February 2012 to waive a ban on American funding of UNESCO. The ban had been imposed following UNESCO’s recognition of Palestinian statehood and was consistent with U.S. law denying funding for any international organization that recognized Palestinian statehood in the absence of a peace agreement with Israel.

President Obama has indeed put daylight between American and Israeli policy on Iran. In August, Joint Chiefs Chairman General Dempsey said: “our clocks are ticking at different paces” and he wouldn’t be “complicit” in an Israeli effort to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities.

In September Secretary Clinton explained this divergence. In her words, the Iranian threat is “existential” only for Israel; only Israel is “right in the bull’s eye.” President Obama’s “pro-Israel” policy, therefore, is to wait past the point that the intended victim of the planned genocide believes is safe.

President Obama denied Prime Minister Netanyahu’s request to meet with him in September, despite the Iranian peril.

President Obama’s UN ambassador, Susan Rice, didn’t even attend the Israeli Prime Minister’s speech to the UN General Assembly in September – during which he made a plea for global attention to the Iranian threat.

Is that a pro-Israel record? I don’t think so. But those are the facts.

Obama got 78% of the Jewish vote in 2008. But the current numbers are lower:

Given the tenuous state of relations between Israel and the United States, it’s surprising that, according to a recent American Jewish Committee survey of Jewish opinion, 61 percent approve of Obama’s handling of U.S.-Israeli relations, while 39 percent disapprove. Those are numbers Romney needs to change Monday night.

He is not going to win the Jewish vote. Obama overpowered Senator John McCain in 2008 by 78 percent to 22 percent among Jews, and the most recent Gallup poll puts Obama ahead this year by 70 percent to 25 percent. But if Romney can narrow that 45 percent margin between him and Obama, he will increase his chance of becoming president.

While Jews are a small minority in the United States, they generally get to the polls in big numbers. Several swing states are home to relatively large populations of Jews, particularly Florida, Nevada and Pennsylvania, but also Virginia, Ohio and Colorado.

It might be worth forwarding that Fox News article to any Jewish friends you have, then you can discuss the items in the list with them. I don’t see how they could vote for Obama with a record like that.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Is the accelerating universe compatible with Hinduism?

First, a news story – and then we’ll see how the accelerating universe relates to the existence of God.

Excerpt:

Three astrophysicists who discovered that the universe’s expansion is accelerating rather than decelerating, as had been expected, win the Nobel Prize in physics.

Adam Riess was sure he’d spotted a blatant error in his results. It was 1997, and the young post-doc’s measurements of distant, exploding stars implied that the universe was expanding at a faster and faster rate, instead of slowing down, as he had expected.

It wasn’t an error at all. Instead, what was at fault were some basic assumptions about the workings of the universe.

On Tuesday, the Johns Hopkins University astrophysicist received the Nobel Prize in physics for the revolutionary discovery and its implications, along with team leader Brian Schmidt of Australian National University and astrophysicist Saul Perlmutter of UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, who had reached the same conclusion independently.

At the time of their work, astrophysicists believed that the rate of expansion of the universe — set in motion by the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago — would be slowing down as matter was pulled together by gravity. The goal at the time was to figure out how rapid the deceleration was.

What the two teams found instead was that the expansion of the universe was accelerating — an observation that could best be explained by the existence of a mysterious “dark energy” that pushes matter farther and farther apart.

Many scientists had thought that, just as the universe started with the Big Bang, it would end with a Big Crunch — with gravity pulling all the matter in the universe inward.

Does anyone remember that week that I wrote those posts about “Why I am not a… <insert some religion here>”? I explained why I was not all kinds of different religions and denominations, including Roman Catholicism, Calvinism, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, etc. Everyone was offended and we fought about it. Ah, I remember it well.

Now let’s apply science to the Hindu religion and see if they go together, especially this new discovery about the expansion of the universe.

Why I am not a Hindu

  1. Hindu cosmology teaches that the universe cycles between creation and destruction, through infinite time.
  2. The closest cosmological model conforming to Hindu Scriptures is the eternally “oscillating” model of the universe.
  3. The “oscillating” model requires that the universe exist eternally into the past.
  4. But the evidence today shows the the universe, and time itself, had a beginning at the big bang.
  5. The “oscillating” model requires that the expansion of the universe reverse into a collapse, (= crunch).
  6. In 1998, the discovery of the year was that the universe would expand forever. There will be no crunch.
  7. Therefore, the oscillating model is disconfirmed by observations.
  8. The oscillating model also faces theoretical problems with the “bounce” mechanism.

So that’s one reason why I am not a Hindu. And now we have more scientific confirmation that there is no cycle of universes coming into being and going out of being.

The absolute origin of the universe out of nothing is also incompatible with Buddhism and Mormonism and maybe other religions. They also require an eternally existing universe.

And modern cosmology disagrees with atheism, too

I think it’s important for all of you to be familiar with the scientific evidence for the Big Bang. It will help you with your cosmological argument, and it will help you to refute many, many other religions that require eternal universes, including atheism.

I wrote about how the Big Bang theory falsifies atheism before.

Excerpt:

According to the Secular Humanist Manifesto, atheism is committed to an eternally existing universe, (See the first item: “Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created.”). If something non-material brought all existing matter into being, that would be a supernatural cause, and atheists deny that anything supernatural exists. The standard Big Bang theory requires that all the matter in the universe come into being out of nothing. The Big Bang has been confirmed by experimental evidence such as redshift measurements, light element abundances and the cosmic microwave background radiation. This falsifies eternal models of the universe, which are required by atheist Scriptures.

The experimental evidence that confirms the Big Bang creation out of nothing falsifies many worldviews. Those who care about evidence will have to choose some other religion that is compatible with what we know from science today.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Gallup: Obama suffers 10% drop in support from Jewish voters

From NewsMax. (H/T ECM)

Excerpt:

In the first significant drop in Jewish support for a Democratic Party candidate in over two decades, President Barack Obama has seen a 10-point plunge in support among Jewish voters, according to the Gallup polling agency.

To put the decline in perspective, Obama is pulling in the same support among Jews as Michael Dukakis, the former Massachusetts governor who lost to George H. W. Bush in 1988.

Gallup notes the 10-point drop is “five points worse than his decline among all registered voters compared with 2008.”

Specifically, Obama currently has the support of 64 percent of Jewish registered voters, according to Gallup. This is 10 percent less than the percentage of Jews who voted for Obama in 2008. Republican Mitt Romney enjoys 29 percent support among Jews.

The move is significant because American Jews have been bedrock supporters of the Democratic Party for decades. Often regarded as instinctively liberal but hawks on support for Israel, Jews are a key voting bloc in Florida, one of a handful of high electoral vote “swing” states Obama must win to defeat Romney. Their votes also could make a difference in a close race in Ohio or Pennsylvania.

The Republican Jewish Coalition notes the 29 percent of Jewish voters who support Romney, represents the “highest level of Jewish support for a Republican presidential candidate in 24 years.” RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said that if the numbers hold in November, they would spell “a disaster” for Obama and his party.

Gallup noted that while Jews are only 2 percent of the general population, Jews tend to vote in higher numbers than other groups – 83 percent of Jewish registered voters said they definitely would vote in comparison to 78 percent of the general public.

Florida (3.4% Jewish), Pennsylvania (2.3%) and Ohio (1.3%) all have significant Jewish populations. If the Republicans win Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, I don’t think they can be defeated. This is a big deal.

Filed under: News, , , , ,

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