Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Highlights

2012 has been a wonderful year for the Maverick Christian Blog (if for no other reason than this is the year I created it!). In this entry I’ve surveyed what I think to be some of the best of what I’ve written here. To make it more organized I’ve split it up into several categories: atheism versus theism, logic, philosophy of science, Christianity, and one more topic that you’ll have to read on to find out (haha). First up is atheism versus theism.

Atheism versus Theism

Definitely among the highlights of the year is the four-part series on the moral argument.
  1. The Moral Argument for God Part 1: Going from Morality’s Existence to God’s Existence
  2. The Moral Argument for God Part 2: Does Objective Morality Exist If God Does Not Exist?
  3. The Moral Argument for God Part 3: Does Objective Morality Exist?
  4. The Euthyphro Dilemma
  5. Epilogue: Awakening the Sensus Divinitatis
One version of the moral argument I discuss in the series is this:
  1. If God does not exist, then objective morality does not exist.
  2. Objective morality does exist.
  3. Therefore, God exists.
In Does Objective Morality Exist If God Does Not Exist? I argue for the first premise and in Does Objective Morality Exist? I argue for the second premise. While not part of the series, Bad Objections to the Moral Argument was another notable entry of the year that explored some bad but unfortunately popular objections to this sort of moral argument. In that article I explain why objections like “objective morality can exist without God” are a lot worse than what one might think.

Other 2012 highlights on atheism versus theism:
  • The Leibnizian Cosmological Argument for God
    Why is there something rather than nothing? This five-page series addresses that question and describes the Leibnizian cosmological argument.
  • Omnipotence, Creating an Immovable Stone, and YouTube
    Can an omnipotent being create an immovable stone? One popular variation: can God create a stone so heavy that he can’t lift it? I discuss this so-called paradox that was inspired by a YouTube video with the help of some nifty symbolic logic (don’t worry; I explain what the symbols mean and they’re easy to understand).
  • Why Atheists Might Wish God to be a Dictator
    While atheists do not believe that God exists, they believe that God (if only as a fictional character) is a dictator. But if God exists, atheists would if anything be upset if he isn’t more of a dictator, and in this article I explain why.


If you want to be a good thinker, learn logic! I wrote a small series on logic, and I hope to write more on the topic next year.
  1. Introductory Logic, Part 1—Introducing both logic in general (such as the difference between a deductive and inductive argument) and propositional logic in particular
  2. Introductory Logic, Part 2—More propositional logic
  3. A defense of the material conditional—The material conditional of propositional logic has some strange and counter-intuitive properties (e.g. “If 2 + 2 = 5, then grass is air” is a true material conditional) and here I prove that for certain rules of logic to be accepted, any “If P, then Q” sort of statement has to be a material condtional.

Philosophy of Science

This was an unexpected dash of productivity since I hadn’t originally planned on writing on this topic all that much, but there were some fascinating topics to write about. Ever hear of the axiom that all else held constant, the simplest explanation is the best one? How do we know that this axiom is actually true? Thus began my three-part series on simplicity as evidence of truth with some interesting discoveries made along the way.
  1. Simplicity as Evidence of Truth: Justifying Ockham’s Razor
  2. Simplicity as Evidence of Truth: Theories Tying Into Background Knowledge
  3. Simplicity as Evidence of Truth: How Do We Know It?
One other highlight:
  • Spooky Action at a Distance
    Evidence from quantum mechanics suggests that making a measurement on one particle can simultaneously (as in taking literally zero seconds) affect another particle light-years away. Stranger yet, we can’t exploit this to send an information signal faster than light. How does this work and what is the evidence for this craziness? Read this article and find out.


Perhaps the most insightful entry in this category is We Are the Depraved, an article that illustrates why we are sinners in need of redemption. I’ve also written on a couple philosophical challenges to the truth of the Christian faith:
  • Why Relativism Sucks
    The “true for me but not for you” thing sucks, and this article explains why.
  • Why Falsificationism Sucks
    What inspired this one is the objection that theism is not falsifiable, but this article also falls under the “philosophy of science” category.


One interesting article that doesn’t fit neatly into the above categories is my rebuttal to Judith Jarvis Thomson’s famous violinist thought experiment. In her famous violinist thought experiment, philosopher Judith Jarvis Thomson boldly claims that even if abortion entails killing innocent human life, abortion remains morally permissible. This is a well-known argument in philosophy and I enjoyed taking a crack at it, arguing that Thomson’s argument isn’t nearly as good as it first appears.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Star of Bethlehem

Home  >  Christianity  >  General

Much has been said about what the Star of Bethlehem might be, but perhaps the most interesting stuff about it has been put forth by the folks at If you’ve got time to kill, read the articles of this site. Among other things, they say that whatever occurred in the sky had to fit these criteria:
  1. The star indicated birth (confer Matthew 2:2)
  2. The star indicated kingship (confer Matthew 2:2)
  3. It had a Jewish connection (confer Matthew 2:2)
  4. The star rose in the east (confer Matthew 2:2, where the Greek suggests the star rising in the east as opposed to the Magi seeing it while they were in the east)
  5. It appeared at an exact time (confer Matthew 2:7)
  6. Herod didn’t know when it appeared (confer Matthew 2:7), he had to ask.
  7. The star endured over a considerable period of time (confer Matthew 2:8-9)
  8. It went ahead of them as they traveled from Jerusalem to Bethlehem (confer Matthew 2:8-9)
  9. The star stopped (confer Matthew 2:8-9)
From these clues and some knowledge about history, first-century culture, and astronomy, we get some ideas about how the Magi—people who among other things studied the stars—might think they had seen a celestial sign that the King of the Jews was to be born. What follows later in the Star of Bethlehem website (e.g. how the celestial events signified a king) might strike some Christians as being too close to astrology, which is popularly condemned in modern Christian circles. Jupiter was known as the King Planet, which when viewed from the night sky touched the Regulus star (a star that signified royalty) three times within an unusually short span of time, and so forth.

Again, this might strike some Christians as being too close to astrology, but a few points should be kept in mind. Frist, celestial signs are apparent in the Bible. Remember some terminology about the moon turning red (Joel 2:31, Revelation 6:12)? That refers to a total lunar eclipse, where the moon really does appear red (checkout this NASA video; see also this page on the lunar eclipse’s interesting connection to Christ’s crucifixion). Similarly, some believe that the talk about the sun turning to darkness (Joel 2:31, Revelation 6:12) refers to a solar eclipse, or perhaps something a bit more mundate (see this article on this part of Joel 2:31’s possible relevance to Christ’s crucifixion). So there do appear to be at least some cases where celestial signs are legitimate. Second, remember that these Magi folk study the stars and clearly did see a star as a sign that the King of the Jews had come. So celestial phenomena signifying the King of the Jews is unavoidable if we’re to take Scripture seriously here, and at worst it’ll be a matter of degree regarding what is appropriate celestial interpretation by these apparently God-fearing Magi.

Anyway, I watched the video some time ago, and fellow Christians might want to consider watching the Star of Bethlehem DVD themselves. The coinciding of celestial events the DVD goes over seems so remarkable I think it might even be useful for apologetics.

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Bad Santa Analogy

Home  >  Philosophy  >  Atheism/Theism

A number of bad analogies between Santa Claus and God could and have been used. Some of them are so bad they are enjoyed only by atheists bad at philosophy and by bad Santas.

One of those analogies is the following. Disproving God’s existence is something like disproving the existence of Santa. What kind of evidence could be produced? Yet we are still rational to disbelieve Santa just as we are to disbelieve God without having any burden of proof to disprove their existence.

One reason this is a bad analogy is that we can indeed provide evidence against Santa’s existence. Indeed, one of my pet peeves about Christmas movies where Santa Claus is real is that the parents don’t realize it. Consider the following conversation:
Dad: I’m sorry son, but Santa isn’t real.

Son: Then who got me that bike for Christmas?

Dad: We did, your mother and I.

Son: Which one of you actually put it under the three?

Dad: Your mother.

Mom: I didn’t put it under the tree, I thought you did.

Son: And who got me that toy train track for Christmas last year?

Dad: I didn’t.

Mom: Neither did I.

Dad and Mom: HOLY FECES!
The fact that this sort of thing doesn’t happen is pretty good evidence against Santa’s existence.

A better but less interesting analogy is that just as we have no evidence for Santa, we also have no evidence for God. At that point one can just put forth evidence for God, like morality (via the moral argument; see also Bayes’ theorem and the moral argument for a simple mathematical look at the evidence) and the existence of the universe (via the Leibnizian cosmological argument; see also my entry on Bayes’ theorem and the LCA). At any rate, analogies are no substitute for real evidence and substantive arguments for atheism.