20 Groundbreaking Scientists with Belief in God

GodfreyKneller-IsaacNewton-1689

Sir Isaac Newton by Godfrey Kneller, 1689

You don’t have to search too hard on the internet to find people parroting the tired old refrain that religion—and in particular, Christianity—is responsible for all sorts of ills.  It’s blamed for everything from bigotry and closed-mindedness to war.

We’ll address the baseless claims above in future articles, but today we want to focus on another claim that gets quite a bit of play: Religion (especially Christianity) has historically stifled scientific advancement and if it weren’t for religion getting in the way, then we’d be out exploring the galaxy by now, cancer would be cured, and so on.

For anyone who’s studied the facts, the claim above displays a stunning ignorance of history, as well as an inability to think critically.  After all, it was the belief that God created an ordered universe operating according to natural laws that helped give birth to modern science in the West in the first place. Continue reading

NT Textual Variations and Why They’re Not a Big Deal

Matthew Fragment

Fragment of the Gospel According to Matthew (original autograph: ~60-70 A.D.); This is a copy dating to ~250 A.D. (Wikimedia Commons)

In a 2013 article entitled, Is the New Testament Text Reliable?, Greg Koukl tacked the old assertion that the New Testament has been copied and recopied so many times over the ages that today, we can’t even know what the original texts said.  To kick off that article, Koukl used a great example of how this meme continues to be perpetuated:

In the spring of 1989 syndicated talk show host Larry King interviewed Shirley MacLaine on the New Age. When a Christian caller contested her view with an appeal to the New Testament, MacLaine brushed him off with the objection that the Bible has been changed and translated so many times over the last 2000 years that it’s impossible to have any confidence in its accuracy. King was quick to endorse her “facts.” “Everyone knows that,” he grunted.

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Who Wrote the Gospel of Mark?

St Mark and Peter

St. Mark Writes his Evangelium at the Dictation of St. Peter, Pasquale Ottino, 17th Century

The Christian church teaches that the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are accurate historical accounts of the teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  According to the church, these documents were written by direct eyewitnesses to the events recorded, or by people who captured the first-hand testimony of eyewitnesses.

Some argue that the gospels are not eyewitness accounts, but were instead compiled by anonymous editors several generations after the fact.  However, significant evidence favors the church’s point of view.  In this article, we explore the evidence for Mark’s gospel.

Who Was Mark and When Did He Write?

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Finally Burying the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife

Jesus with his lovely wife?

Jesus with his lovely wife?

This article is about a topic that barely deserves to be addressed (but unfortunately needs to be):  The so-called Gospel of Jesus’ Wife.  For years, some anti-Christian conspiracy theorists have pushed the idea that Jesus was married, that the canonical gospels tell a fabricated story, and that the “truth” can be found in various “lost” gospels (such as the Gnostic “gospels”).  Well, let’s explore the real truth. Continue reading

Contradictions (7): Cleansing the Temple

Driving of the Merchants from the Temple, Scarsellino, 1580-1585

Driving of the Merchants from the Temple, Scarsellino, 1580-1585

The gospels relate a key event in which Jesus cleansed the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, kicking out the money changers and merchants who he felt were defiling that sacred place.  In the synoptic gospels (Matthew 21, Mark 11, and Luke 19), this event is portrayed as taking place at the end of Jesus’ ministry, shortly before his crucifixion.

However, John’s gospel (chapter 2) tells us that this event took place at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.  Critics cite this as an example of contradiction between the gospels, and assert that it demonstrates the gospels’ unreliability as historical documents. Continue reading

Busted (14): Mark’s “Error” Regarding Jewish Handwashing Rituals

Washing-handsCritics are fond of claiming that the gospels are full of historical errors, and that they are therefore unreliable as historical documents.  Today’s article focuses on an alleged error in Mark’s gospel.  Let’s get started by allowing biblical scholar, Bart Ehrman, to enlighten us regarding Mark’s ineptitude as an historian:

Mark 7:3 indicates that the Pharisees ‘and all the Jews’ washed their hands before eating, so as to observe ‘the tradition of the elders.’ This is not true: most Jews did not engage in this ritual.1

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Busted (13):  On Mark’s (& Matthew’s) Geographical Ineptitude

Mark Coptic IconIn this short article, we tackle yet another alleged error in the Gospel of Mark (and address the same “error” in Matthew’s gospel, as well).  Let’s dive right in by reading the first verse in question, Mark 10:1 (NIV):

 Jesus then left that place [Capernaum, in Galilee] and went into the region of Judea and across the Jordan. Again crowds of people came to him, and as was his custom, he taught them.

 Some critics have argued that this verse contains a geographical error because it says that Jesus went from Capernaum, across the Jordan, and into Judea.  That’s impossible, we are told, because Judea is not actually across the Jordan river from Capernaum…They’re both on the same side of the river. Continue reading

Busted (12): Mark’s Alleged Geographical Ignorance

In this article, we tackle an alleged error in the Gospel of Mark.  Critics point to this “error” as clear evidence that Mark’s gospel was not actually written by Mark.  Let’s see if the argument is persuasive.

The passage in question is Mark 7:31, which describes the route that Jesus took on one of his travels.  Here’s the verse:

Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis.

Figure 1

Figure 1

Before we dive into the alleged error, it would be helpful to view Jesus’ route on a map.  As you can see in figure 1, Jesus would have left the vicinity of Tyre, then travelled north, seemingly about 15-20 miles out of his way, before turning south and heading towards the region of the Decapolis. Continue reading

Aren’t All Religions the Same? (Easter Edition)

Painting of the crucified Christ, by Fra Angelico, circa 1437-1446

Painting of the crucified Christ, by Fra Angelico, circa 1437-1446, Wikimedia Commons

As we approach Easter, Christianity’s holiest day, it is natural to wonder if faith in “the risen Christ” represents the only way to have a true relationship with God.  In fact, it is increasingly accepted in modern culture that all religions are equally valid or that there is “one god, but many paths.”  However, is this premise true?  Can other religions provide equally valid ways of knowing God?

To address these questions, we will limit this post to the primary world religions.   There are several practical reasons for this limitation.  First, it is for simplicity’s sake, given the thousands of religions and philosophies that could be evaluated.  Secondly, it is reasonable to assume that if God has revealed Himself, He has done it in an effective way that has attracted many believers.  So under this pretext, we will evaluate Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism since they are generally considered the world’s most prevalent and influential faiths. Continue reading

The War That Wasn’t

Science and ReligionMany skeptics love to talk about the “war” between Science and Christianity.  They characterize Christianity as one of the great evils of the world perpetrating ignorance and superstition while Science is in the noble and relentless pursuit of truth at all costs.  Of course, because of Christianity’s vast reach and power, it has persecuted and suppressed Science in an ultimately fruitless attempt to hide its own fallacies.  At least that’s how the story goes. Continue reading