Work in progress

If the blog looks quiet, there are certainly works in progress. While some blogs have new a ton of new posts day after day in an incessant, hurried effort, with virtually no mental checkpoint at all between “the first thing that comes to mind and sounds awesome and devastating in my internal monologue because I haven’t paused to examine it for weaknesses” and “the final version that appears on my amazing blog Debunking Christianity” (not looking at anyone in particular!), posting good material actually requires a decent amount of preparation time, which just doesn’t allow the constant barrage of posts. But rest assured, I haven’t forgotten you, and I’m working every day on new material, getting it finished and into shape to be posted only when it’s ready. I hope you appreciate the difference!

So what am I working on? What is this stuff you’re waiting for?

Firstly, there are two podcast episodes in the works. One of them addresses the question, “what is faith”? It’s not about theology but epistemology. When we talk about faith and reason, what is the “faith” have of that couplet? What do Christian theists have when they have faith in God? Is it a kind of will to believe without the need for reasons or evidence? Or is it something else? The second podcast I’m working on is actually another instalment in the popular series In Search of the Soul, where I look at the mind-body problem. When I finished the series previously, I was aware of having omitted any coverage of the view of Aristotle (and of Thomas Aquinas, the Western medieval champion of Aristotelianism). So that’s what I’ll be looking at in that episode.

There are also a few blog entries in the making as well. I’ve already posted part one of a three part series on Richard Carrier’s arguments against the resurrection of Jesus. There I looked at Carrier’s extended comparison of the Rubicon crossing of Julius Caesar and the resurrection of Jesus. I’m working on parts two and three of that series. In part two I will be looking at his claims about the general insufficiency of the resurrection as a argument for Christianity, and also his rather extraordinary claim that Jesus’ survival of his resurrection and his escape from the sealed tomb and defeat of the Roman guards would be a more likely explanation for early Christian belief than his actual resurrection. Then in part three – in my view easily the most important of the three, I’ll be looking at Carrier’s most significant claim, to which he devotes by far the most time as it carries most of his case: His claim that the early Christians did not believe in the physical resurrection of the dead body of Jesus at all, but that they actually believed that while the former body remained dead in the tomb, Jesus left his body and entered a new, spiritual body – and that this is what they believed about the future resurrection of the dead as well.

I’m also chipping away at a post offering a historical perspective on the Classical Liberal political tradition and welfare, looking primarily at John Locke and his theory of property rights, which included his theory of the right of those in need to the support of others. I’ll also be contrasting that view with that of utilitarian John Stuart Mill.

There are a couple of other posts I’ve started, but I’m not sure that they’ll make the final cut, just due to my uncertainty over how much they really interest me: A post explaining the position known as sola scriptura, primarily for the sake of providing a fair explanation of that point of view for some of my Roman Catholic friends who seem to misunderstand that position considerably. The other post I’ve started is one discussing some comments by Thom Stark on whether or not some of the conquest accounts in the Old Testament might be hyperbolic, and whether or not we can tell this is the case (at least in part) by comparing contrasting accounts in those histories.

As is always the case, short term interests will pop up that suddenly occupy my attention and that I’ll write on (as in the last two posts on final punishment), but those are the pieces that I’m currently working on. Suggestions are always welcome!

Glenn Peoples

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23 thoughts on “Work in progress

  1. Glenn,

    I hope to see your post regarding sola scriptura. I actually have a draft completed that I have been debating about posting… I think I’d much rather see yours first.
    ~BW

    PS Perhaps you could throw in a quick mention about solo scriptura, which seems to be manifested here in the States.

  2. Dr. Peoples,

    Believe it or not, you are the first blogger I have ever heard express the idea that blogging takes, or should take if it is to be of high quality, effort and careful preparation.

    I hope that in your podcast on faith you’ll touch on the traditional idea that faith is a gift from God, one of the three so-called theological virtues which include hope and charity as well, and which God alone can give to someone as a gratuitous gift. I haven’t checked to see if this view is traceable to the New Testament, but I know it to be the view of Thomas Aquinas (“…they are infused in us by God alone”; cf. the first article in the Summa Theologiae question on the theological virtues). And here is a modern expression of it from the Reformed tradition: “It is grace and grace ALONE that makes men to differ, not the exertion of men’s wills. While God requires faith of all men He promises to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life his Holy Spirit” (http://www.reformationtheology.com/2006/07/is_faith_the_gift_of_god_what.php).

  3. I have more than 100 posts in drafts in various stages of composition! Though I spend reasonable time on some of them, it is likely less time than yourself.

    It is the problem of article versus journal log. It think that blogging is more of the later, but good articles are worthwhile. Perhaps a mixture of both are a good balance?

  4. Hi Glenn,
    I am looking forward to your podcast on Faith. I posted on your blog entry for episode 40 (see http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_165203386878102)

    Essentially, I remarked that I had a discussion with my friend and my friend believed that faith and reason were an oxymoron, and that reason destroys faith and so on. He goes on to say that unless something can be falsified, positing any such proposition is meaningless, and since “God exists” cannot be falsified (presumably through scientific endeavor) then it’s a meaningless statement. It seems like scientism or verificationism or something like that to me. Anyway, the discussion broke down into ad hominem tirades and so I stopped it.

    This whole issue seems to be massive for him. He won’t attempt to reason with anyone who says they have faith, because you can’t argue with someone who may as well believe in the tooth fairy (or so he says).

    No matter how I tried, I couldn’t seem to convince him that there were actually good reasons to believe in the existence of God. I named a few arguments, he claimed he had heard them all before and “torn all of them to shreds” by pointing out the various logical fallacies in all of them.

    Help?!

    This is why I’m so looking forward to your podcast on this topic.

    I appreciate the effort that goes into making these blog entries and podcasts so good. The patience, intellectual rigor, and thoroughness are what make it good. And a bit of humor never goes astray 🙂

    – Andrew

  5. Glenn,

    I’ve been peeking in on your blog from time to time ever since our first discussion regarding Carrier. I look forward to your further posts on that topic.

    I understand the desire to not just blog any and every idea that pops into your mind. I’m the same with my blog, though even then you might not be satisfied with the quality of the stuff I’m able to come up with. In any case, you got a mention and quotation on my most recent blog post: http://landonhedrick.blogspot.com/2011/06/new-rule.html

  6. Landon Hedrick,

    The post mentioned above you linked reminded me the ‘birthers’ seeking President Obama’s birth certificate. Once it was released instead of letting the matter rest new theories arose in hopes of discrediting it…

    ~BW

  7. He goes on to say that unless something can be falsified, positing any such proposition is meaningless, and since “God exists” cannot be falsified (presumably through scientific endeavor) then it’s a meaningless statement.

    Oh good lord, Andrew, there are still people saying that? That’s just the old logical positivist canard, which virtually nobody in philosophy would be caught dead affirming now.

    “All statements that are not verifiable are meaningless.”

    What about that statement?

  8. “All statements that are not verifiable are meaningless.”
    What about that statement?

    Yeah, he just says that it is a given and that it is common sense and that it is just how intelligent people operate, and only the religious make claims that are unfounded and have no evidence for.

    That’s about the point where I get stuck. I can see that he has no basis for his assertion, but pointing that out doesn’t get anywhere, because he seems convinced I am talking nonsense and that using my logic, you may as well be stating that the tooth-fairy exists, that it is about as meaningful as that. Also, he launches ad hominem strikes at the religious at this point. haha, he even went on to say that if you look at the world, you find that as intelligence goes up, so does the rate of atheism. Thus implying that atheists are smart, theists are not, and hence 95% of the world are stupid.

    Anyway, thanks again 🙂

  9. Oh – I did say to him that he seems to be going along with old-school verificationism, but he deny’s that and claims he is a post-positivist.

    Thought I should mentione though that emails I have sent to info at beretta-online dot com are bouncing back – is that the correct e-mail address?

  10. Lol. Okay, here is an excerpt from our communications. He is replying to the notion I made about verificationism…

    ————————————-
    verificationism I agree is ludicrous because you can never be sure on anything, even science is not verificationist. No amount of supporting evidence can prove something is ‘true’ whereas only a single piece can show that it is false. That being said we only ever start to entertain the idea if there is supporting evidence (stands up to tests), but even with evidence this does not make it true. Falsificationism on the other hand is an aspect of scientific method and postpositivism. It is important that _if_ something is false, it is able to be demonstrated it is false. This is not the case with christian characterizations of the concept of god, you cannot make tests for an assertion that is not falsifiable. Without the ability to show potentially false statements as false, you again abandon critical thought. Falsifiable theories that have stood up to the tests of scientific testing are said to have been corroborated by past experience (thus supporting evidence)but this still does not make them certain. Verificationism is silly because nothing can be shown to be definitively true, only things can be shown to be false if they are. So we’ve established that i’m not an empiricist and I’m not a verificationist ok?”

    “basically, no supporting evidence can be provided for god because no tests can be created where god is false because the nature of the claims. The same is true of the tooth fairy. Yet you do not give the tooth fairy the same level of belief as god now do you?”

    I do not know why you don’t treat god as you do other mythical non falsifiable supernatural claims of things like the toothfairy and leprechauns.”

    I could make up a concept, claim it is supernatural and has no effects on the world, and you would have just as much trouble supporting or detracting from it as you would a supernatural definition of god. There would be no basis in my made up thing, just as there would be no basis of the supernatural definition of god.

    I just fail to understand why people of faith find it so hard to admit that their belief is in faith and has no basis. Fair enough that people believe what they want to believe, but why struggle so hard to justify it?

    None of the arguments you listed I have not seen before, and none of them really present a case for god. While I am sure there are plenty more, I have seen plenty more too. If there were a presently existing strong case for god, you would have far less atheists.

    [[I said to him: ]] “As I say, on the surface, atheism is plausible, but the more you examine it, the more the philosophy unravels itself.”

    [[He replied: ]] “How so? Atheism (lack of belief in a god) is the default rational position to take so long as the existence cannot be shown. Since we dont’ believe in unsupported things. As mentioned before, there would be a whole lot less atheists if you could show god.”

    —————————

    Sorry that’s so long, But anyway that snippet gives you an idea of how the conversation has gone. Sorry to bore you, It’s just that the conversation might be useful to you for framing your podcast, or at least it might prompt an interesting question in your mind and you might say something that is useful to me in my conversation with my atheist friend.

    Thanks so much once again!

    – Andy Gray

  11. I agree with Casey, it really shows your sincerity that you spend a consistently high amount of time reading, preparing and executing your blog and podcast. Too many blogs are shallow, polemical and obtuse, with little or nothing to add to the debate. Yours stands out from the crowd.

    I just hope that you’re not going to burn out or completely lose interest in blogging with a few years because I’ve witnessed that happen countless times. Perseverance produces character, brother, and character hope! And of course we know that this hope does not disappoint us. Amen! ;P

  12. So what you’re basically doing is trying to apply a constraint by embarrassment on the free expression of views and opinions by the general public using the online medium ?

  13. You stated at the top that you take your time in posting OPs and then made a comment about another blogger who appeared to take less time inferring that quality suffers with increased haste to post and that such bloggers should be embarrassed to blog in that manner.

    “While some blogs have new a ton of new posts day after day in an incessant, hurried effort, with virtually no mental checkpoint at all between “the first thing that comes to mind and sounds awesome and devastating in my internal monologue because I haven’t paused to examine it for weaknesses” and “the final version that appears on my amazing blog Debunking Christianity” (not looking at anyone in particular!), posting good material actually requires a decent amount of preparation time, which just doesn’t allow the constant barrage of posts.”

    Blogging by it’s very nature can be a stream of consciousness journal, although less so than Twitter, or Facebook, or even the comments thread on someones elses blog.

    But I don’t think anyone should feel the slightest bit embarrassed by what they post – I’ve read good stuff and total crap from all sides, but I’d still encourage anyone and everyone to blog. We don’t all have access to academia and the associated journals and somewhere in that morass of crap that we all post there might the odd point or two that is actually worth reading.

  14. While we might not all have access to academia, we do all have access to out brains and to time. What a wonderful world it would be if we could all avail ourselves to those two a liitle more.

  15. Glenn, I’m not sure if this would take too much time, but would it be possible to offer PDF attachments along with all your posts? You mentioned placing series in the article section (e.g., the ones concerning Richard Carrier), but sometimes there are individual ones that I would like to save and, due to the limitations of the blog software, don’t print too well.

  16. Paul, I notice that both of your posts mentioned embarrassment, but although I checked a couple of times in this blog post, I can’t see anywhere where I said that other people should feel embarrassed. You appear to have inferred – without my help – that posting low quality material that doesn’t appear to be very well thought out or prepared should be a cause for embarrassment.

    I’m not disagreeing with what you seem to think – but I didn’t say it in this blog post (although now that you’ve chosen to bring it up without my assistance, I will say that I share this belief).

    The reality is, people are free to post anything online, be it well prepared, hasty, excellent or terrible. But I have tried to make it clear what I want to do as an explanation of why the pace of this blog is slower than some others.

  17. A couple of points relating to Andrew’s comments, if I may. First, as a science student, I find the idea of atheism itself having a “rate” (as in ‘speed’) mildly funny – perhaps it is meant in the sense of “cost”?! Secondly this post of mine I think quite nicely shows up issues for falsificationism and its frequent overuse – while it may be the “scientist’s philosophy of science”, it’s less useful as a general way of gaining knowledge than many believe. http://www.mandm.org.nz/2011/01/false-alarm-falsificationism-and-its-misapplication.html

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