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rlclrose22

Very occasionally, in the morning when the weather is not too hot, I step out onto my front porch and sit on a broad wooden bench, looking out into my front yard and that of my neighbor’s, enjoying the coolness of the air with nothing save birdsong to disturb the silence. I may bring a cup of tea with me, and perhaps one of my cats will come to sit near.

For the moment, I am at rest. I own the ground upon which I sit. I am fully provisioned and no enemies appear on my immediate horizon. I am well aware that this is an illusion, but choose to pretend in the moment, that all is well. Now in my fifties, my ambitions are modest. “A home, respect, freedom, and neighbors who want the same” (Lamar). I desire peace and quiet broken only by the occasional company of my extended family and close friends. I think that this is a desire commonly held by the overwhelming majority of mature adults existent across the face of the earth, irrespective of their culture, their history, or their present social and economic position within their particular communities. In the following pages it is my intention to describe the realization of this desire by a certain class of men among the petit-bourgeoisie whom I shall refer to as neo-patriarchs.
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Whosoever spends his days without a wife, has no joy nor blessing, or good in his life. Talmud – Yevamot 62B

The Orthodox Jewish view of Marriage

rlclrose21Any discussion of Orthodox Christians, Jews, and Muslims must logically begin with the House of Israel. According to the Jewish history, God created the world, and its first parents, Adam and Eve, five thousand, seven hundred, and sixty seven years ago.

Approximately two thousand years later, Abraham, Patriarch of the Jews was born and nearly five hundred years after that, his ancestor Moses led captive Israel out of Egypt. (Aklah)  After the exodus from Egypt, the Orthodox Jews tell us that Moses received on Mount Sinai, personally from the God of Universe, the Ten Commandments, and subsequently the rest of the laws written down in the first five books of Moses. This compilation of books called the Pentateuch and others written by the rest of the prophets that called the Torah. It is from the Torah, from the accompanying explanations and commentary about it called the Talmud, and also from the three thousand years of tradition that bring us to the present, that the understanding and customs of Jewish marriage are derived. A study in 1970 determined that there were approximately six hundred thousand orthodox Jews living in the United States. (Elazar)
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Must an omnipotent and omniscient supernatural agency also be morally perfect?

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Too many people take the so-called theory of intelligent design seriously, which is unfortunate since nobody who takes a scientific view of the world should, and everyone ought to take a scientific view of the world. As many have argued, ID theory is not, properly, a theistic explanatory model. However, I am not convinced that this is the case, and for two primary reasons. (Though, I find that insofar as ID theories are not theistic models, they actually suffer from more problems, so they really ought to welcome theistic interpretations. But this we may skip for now.) First, the correlation between theism and ID theory is too great for it to be an accident of honest inquiry. The overwhelming majority of ID theory proponents are theists, and theistic conceptions of god are, not surprisingly, suitable candidates for the intelligent designer. Second, the Discovery Institute, the main intellectual impetus behind ID theory in the English speaking world, published The Wedge, wherein they explicitly advocate for a theistic interpretation of ID theory. (FYI: One may read the document here: The Wedge.)

In any case, what is to follow is a rough and ready argument against theistic explanatory models.

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and if Christ hath not risen, vain is your faith, ye are yet in your sins;

1 Corinthians 15:17

I want to grant the strongest possible case allowable for the resurrection of Jesus. Therefore, I expect to afford much leeway- indeed, more than is rationally justified- to the claims of the historicity and reliability of the Christian texts. That is to say I will grant, though I do not think it is true, that the eyewitness reports in the gospels and the epistles are from individuals who were neither inappropriately credulous, uneducated, nor emotionally and psychologically unfit to provide generally reliable testimonies. I will further grant, though I do not think it is true, that the gospels and the epistles are independent, generally reliable and unbiased historical documents which track the events under consideration accurately- as accurately as any historical text could, that is. I will also grant, though I do not think it is true, that the testimony of the Church Fathers was generally reliable and has transmitted accurately the succeeding 1,800 years to the current day.

I shall further suppose, though I am not sure how they might accomplish this, that historians can exclude all possible naturalistic explanations, with the exception of so-called swoon hypotheses, to include even future explanations which further scientific investigation might disclose and more elaborate explanations such as extraterrestrial interventions not now seriously entertained. Even then, I shall contend, Christians are not justified in believing that Jesus’ reported postmortem sightings were the result of a Christian miracle. I will argue that even on these favorable grounds the Christian is not justified in believing the Christian god rose Jesus from the dead.

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In a recent and very engaging presentation at UNF, Chris Tucker asked for an argument that shows perception is trustworthy that does not already assume that perception is trustworthy, where perception includes vision, hearing, taste, touch, smell, and proprioception.  It was intended to be a trick question as any argument for one type of perception will depend on another.  For example, when asked how I can trust my hearing – e.g. that who I heard speaking at the lecture was Chris Tucker and not a recording being played in the background- I can respond that I watched him speak with my very own eyes.  So it seems that we are left with basic faculties of perception to form rational beliefs that cannot themselves be verified as trustworthy by argument or experience independent of those faculties.  If this is so, argued Tucker, then a common argument against the use of religious experiences to make religious beliefs rational employs inconsistent standards – higher standards are set for religious beliefs than perceptual.  I would like to look more closely at Tucker’s objection and consider a way of responding by arguing that the standards for religious beliefs are not higher than those of perceptual beliefs and that perceptual experiences are supported for reasons independent of those experiences. (more…)

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There is a side-conversation in the comments section of another post  discussing religious experiences and their veracity in affirming the existence of a supernatural or religious ’cause’ of such experiences. This side-conversation reminded me of the discussion of cross-checking procedures beteen Alston and Fales, and so I would like to open up a seperate post for discussion on this topic. Below is an exposition of the largest problem I see with the cross-checking procedure theory.

What I propose is that any attempt to utilize intrapersonal religious experiences in order to justify or prove a specific religious position interpersonally must necessarily fail by virtue of a fundamental disconnect. What’s more, the poverty of cross-checking when applied to transcendent religious experiences is not surprising given the very content of such experiences. By attempting to use the personal to prove the general, the intrapersonal to prove the interpersonal, the profundity of the religious experience is lost and becomes fodder for philosophical skeptics. First I shall begin by discussing the type of transcendent religious experience to which I am referring and by citing specific examples. After that I shall introduce the current discussion surrounding the veracity of religious experiences that has carried on between authors such as Alston and Fales, paying specific attention to the concept of cross-checking. From there I shall argue how, based on the intrapersonal nature of these transcendent religious experiences, cross-checking must be re-evaluated as a verification tool. (more…)

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