To digress a bit, The latter, Richard Carrier, is the proverbial “self-made man in love with his creator” who proclaims on his hideous self-referential and self-worshiping blog that he is “renowned” and “His avid fans span the world from Hong Kong to Poland.” *Gag.* He also seems to have found a niche industry—he can convince the atheist innumerate (of which there appear to be innumerable, from Hong Kong to Poland) that his (ab)use of freshman probability (Bayes’ Theorem) surely means that his conclusions are sound and profound—given all those symbols and equations. They look so mathy! Proof by invoking math that is impenetrable to your choir is very analogous to Dembski’s tactics. (Although, to his credit, Dembski, based on the evidence at-hand, knows infinitely more math than Carrier.) Other “philosophers” take the same approach using the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle—wow the readers with quantum indeterminacy.
Carrier is currently preening that he has a peer-reviewed article (one is again reminded of the IDers, who also treat peer-reviewed articles as the Holy Grail) disproving the authenticity of the Testimonium Flavianum, the disputed reference to Jesus in Josephus’ Antiquities.
Antiquities 18.3.3. "Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct to this day."He seems to have missed the memo that Christian scholars, for the most part, already acknowledge that this was possibly if not most likely an interpolation by misguided early Christians.
Of course, most scholars are not as in love with themselves (or at least are clever enough to hide the fact) as Carrier is. They present their case and allow readers to reach their own evidence-based conclusions. Carrier, in contrast, not only presents his argument--such as it may be-- but also tells us what definitive conclusion we must reach—because he is, after all, Richard Carrier:
… combined with the arguments I assemble in my article for JECS, spells the final death knell for any hope of restoring any part of the Testimonium Flavianum. It is 100% Christian fabrication.What a loser!
Back to John Loftus. He has a post boldly (I mean that sincerely) entitled In a Godless Universe the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting is What We'd Expect Would Happen. Of course Loftus condemns the massacre. However he then writes:
In a godless universe shit happens without rhyme nor reason. Life is predatory from the ground up. Creatures eat one another by trapping unsuspecting victims in unusual ways, launching surprise attacks out of the blue, and hunting in packs by overpowering prey with brute force and numbers. Sometimes a creature just goes wacko for no reason at all. Humans are not exempt. Sometimes the wiring in our brains goes haywire and we snap. We too are violent and we inherited this trait from our animal predecessors. We also show care and concern to our kith and kin but we can lash out in horrific ways at what we consider an uncaring world.On the one hand, a very illuminating observation. On the other hand it is nothing more than yet another attempt at the proof of godlessness by the existence of evil. Axiomatic atheism is, if you will, a one-trick pony: Bad things happen, ergo no god. They also throw in “show me god exists” – a reasonable request from their perspective—but this is a negative statement rather than a positive. The only positive argument atheism has is, as Loftus puts it, shit happens. He writes:
In a universe where there is an all powerful, perfectly good, all knowing God this tragedy is not what we would expect to happen.Here Loftus is 100% wrong. He is operating under the misguided assumption that Christianity is a religion that teaches shit never happens.
The bible teaches us to enjoy life, God’s bounty, and temporal happiness. It also promises, like a prescription medication: side effects may include pain, despair, suffering, lapses into grievous sin, weakness, apparent senselessness, persecution, misery, and physical death. Why atheists think that fallen man in a fallen world behaving exactly as the bible tells us is somehow a problem for Christianity is unfathomable. Shit happens. Loftus is correct that a godless world predicts as much. He is incorrect that a world with the god of the bible does not. Both hypotheses fit the data.