Tuesday, November 23, 2010

God and the Philosophers

I spent all of last week in Atlanta at the annual Evangelical Theological Society/Evangelical Philosophical Society meetings.  The ETS/EPS meetings happened over three days, where top scholars discuss the latest issues of religious significance or Bible understanding. It’s always an informative time and helps me understand then progress currently being made as well as get a good idea of topics to teach on in my apologetics classes.

Some of the papers I heard were very interesting. Dr. Michael Licona spoke about his new book The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach.  I’d received a pre-published version of the hefty book (700 pages!) and have been enjoying it immensely. You can see a small clip of Mike’s presentation here:

Dr. Gary Habermas presented some new findings of the Shroud of Turin that really caught my ear. It seems the Shroud exhibits x-ray type images, where you can see the teeth and metacarpals on the image – very odd for someone to render those if they were trying to fake an image.  There was also a 15 foot full-scale replica of the shroud at the exhibit.

J.P. Moreland defended his argument that consciousness cannot in any way arise from non-conscious material, thereby offering evidence for the existence of God, and William Lane Craig spoke on Peter Van Inwagen’s approach to God and Other Uncreated Beings.

The highlight of the EPS conference was the plenary talk by Dr. Alvin Plantinga, where he demonstrated that the position of naturalism actually contradicts the concept of evolution. Since naturalists deny the supernatural, they must believe in evolution as the origin and development of all life, which means naturalists hold to a self-contradictory view!  The paper was fascinating albeit a bit technical for the non-philosopher.

Along with the Annual Meeting, the EPS also presents an annual Apologetics Conference at a local church.  I was honored to be asked to speak at this year’s event, and I’ll report more on that in my next post.


  1. Anonymous2:59 PM

    Re Gary Habermas'talk, those supposed x-ray type images of teeth and metacarpals are not new claims. They are old claims. And they are widely rejected by almost all shroud scholars. Did Gary explain why so many people think otherwise?

    Don't get me wrong. I believe the shroud is authentic. I think we should be careful to avoid claims that are not very sound. It was just over a week ago that I wrote in my blog about seeing teeth and flowers and coins on the shroud:

    The images of a person, certainly a man if we look closely, exists on the shroud. Many well pronounced features are part of that image. But there may be other parts of the image that some people claim to see that are probably pareidolic perceptions.

    Takeo Watanabe’s views "that subliminally learning something ‘too well’" results in false positives may explain many reported images and features of the shroud image. A botanist may see images of flowers and plants. A numismaticist may see images of ancient coins. A dentist may see what looks like teeth. It would be totally unfair to say that this is what happened when such experts saw these things. But it would be unfair to not suggest the possibility.

    The shroud is dirty, creased and wrinkled. It has been exposed to dust, moisture, smoke from fire and almost certainly candles and incense. It has been exposed to moisture and there are clear water stains in places. It has been folded different ways and rolled up for storage. Folding causes creases. It has been held aloft and probably hung in ways that over time caused stretching. The cloth was woven on a hand loom with handspun thread that is not perfectly uniform. All of this contributes to visual information and visual misinformation.

    So does the banding patterns, the variegated appearance of the cloth (pictured on my blog). We know that it alters the appearance of the face very dramatically. It certainly must contribute to what some say they see on the shroud. For instance, if you look closely, you are likely to see what looks like teeth behind the man’s lips, as though somehow the image contains x-ray qualities. But vertical banding lines may be the reason we see teeth. Clear banding lines extend well beyond the teeth, beyond the face even, and seemingly for the length of the cloth.


  2. How on Earth did Plantinga get to that conclusion?