Tag Archives: Investigation

Was atheism or Christianity responsible for the Scientific Revolution?

Christianity and the progress of science
Christianity and the progress of science

First, here’s an article from the blog of the peer-reviewed journal Nature, probably the best peer-reviewed journal on science in the world.

The article is written by Dr. James Hannam. He has a PhD in the History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Cambridge and is the author of The Genesis of Science: How the Christian Middle Ages Launched the Scientific Revolution (published in the UK as God’s Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science).


Few topics are as open to misunderstanding as the relationship between faith and reason. The ongoing clash of creationism with evolution obscures the fact that Christianity has actually had a far more positive role to play in the history of science than commonly believed. Indeed, many of the alleged examples of religion holding back scientific progress turn out to be bogus. For instance, the Church has never taught that the Earth is flat and, in the Middle Ages, no one thought so anyway. Popes haven’t tried to ban zero, human dissection or lightening rods, let alone excommunicate Halley’s Comet. No one, I am pleased to say, was ever burnt at the stake for scientific ideas. Yet, all these stories are still regularly trotted out as examples of clerical intransigence in the face of scientific progress.

Admittedly, Galileo was put on trial for claiming it is a fact that the Earth goes around the sun, rather than just a hypothesis as the Catholic Church demanded. Still, historians have found that even his trial was as much a case of papal egotism as scientific conservatism. It hardly deserves to overshadow all the support that the Church has given to scientific investigation over the centuries.

That support took several forms. One was simply financial. Until the French Revolution, the Catholic Church was the leading sponsor of scientific research. Starting in the Middle Ages, it paid for priests, monks and friars to study at the universities. The church even insisted that science and mathematics should be a compulsory part of the syllabus. And after some debate, it accepted that Greek and Arabic natural philosophy were essential tools for defending the faith. By the seventeenth century, the Jesuit order had become the leading scientific organisation in Europe, publishing thousands of papers and spreading new discoveries around the world. The cathedrals themselves were designed to double up as astronomical observatories to allow ever more accurate determination of the calendar. And of course, modern genetics was founded by a future abbot growing peas in the monastic garden.

But religious support for science took deeper forms as well. It was only during the nineteenth century that science began to have any practical applications. Technology had ploughed its own furrow up until the 1830s when the German chemical industry started to employ their first PhDs. Before then, the only reason to study science was curiosity or religious piety. Christians believed that God created the universe and ordained the laws of nature. To study the natural world was to admire the work of God. This could be a religious duty and inspire science when there were few other reasons to bother with it. It was faith that led Copernicus to reject the ugly Ptolemaic universe; that drove Johannes Kepler to discover the constitution of the solar system; and that convinced James Clerk Maxwell he could reduce electromagnetism to a set of equations so elegant they take the breathe away.

Given that the Church has not been an enemy to science, it is less surprising to find that the era which was most dominated by Christian faith, the Middle Ages, was a time of innovation and progress. Inventions like the mechanical clock, glasses, printing and accountancy all burst onto the scene in the late medieval period. In the field of physics, scholars have now found medieval theories about accelerated motion, the rotation of the earth and inertia embedded in the works of Copernicus and Galileo. Even the so-called “dark ages” from 500AD to 1000AD were actually a time of advance after the trough that followed the fall of Rome. Agricultural productivity soared with the use of heavy ploughs, horse collars, crop rotation and watermills, leading to a rapid increase in population.

I don’t know about you, but the first thing I do when I am trying to find a game to play is ask “is it well designed?” If it’s not well-designed, then I will not take the time to learn the rules and practice playing. That was the situation before science started. The non-scientists thought that the universe was chaotic, that there were no rules, and so there was no point in trying to learn the rules. It was the idea that the universe was made by an intelligent Creator and Designer that made the first scientists start to do science. If there are rules to the game, then it’s worth it to learn them. But that’s a belief that’s more at home in a theistic worldview, not in a pagan or atheistic one.

Hillary Clinton told advisor to strip classified markings off document and e-mail it unsecured

Hillary Clinton look bored about the deaths of 4 Americans who asked for her help
Hillary Clinton: the affirmative action candidate for President of the United States

We have a lot of material showing that Hillary Clinton lacks the moral character and professional judgment to be President, but this latest revelation tops them all, in my opinion.

This is from the non-partisan The Hill.

In an email marked June 17, 2011, that was released by the State Department on Friday, Clinton informs aide Jake Sullivan that she has not yet received a set of talking points.

“They say they’ve had issues sending secure fax,” Sullivan says. “They’re working on it.”“If they can’t, turn into nonpaper w no identifying heading and send nonsecure,” Clinton responds.

[…]The Clinton campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Ia.) chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called the email “disturbing.”

“The State Department’s latest Freedom of Information Act release contains a disturbing email that appears to show the former Secretary of State instructing a subordinate to remove the headings from a classified document and send it to her in an unsecure manner,” he said in a statement on Friday.

“It raises a host of serious questions and underscores the importance of the various inquiries into the transmittal of classified information through her non-government email server,” he added.

[…]The Democratic primary front-runner is under investigation by the FBI for using a private email server during her tenure at State.

Republicans have accused Clinton of compromising classified data and putting national security at risk by using a non-governmental device to transmit and receive her emails.

The State Department released a new batch of 3,007 emails on Friday, in which it said 66 were classified. The total number of classified messages received from Clinton’s server is now up to 1,340.

Reactions to this discovery from prominent conservatives show the impact of what she’s done to her presidential ambitions:

Guy Benson adds at Town Hall:

As Hillary herself has personally attested — is that none of the sensitive material that she wrongfully transmitted through her unsecure server was “marked classified” at the time. Again, this is meaningless, especially when it comes to highly secret material that she was obligated to recognize and protect as soon as it was produced. But the email chain referenced above includes an instruction from Hillary Clinton to a State Department aide (who now works on her campaign) to strip classified information — it remains redacted to this day — of its classified markings [“identifying heading”] and “send nonsecure.”

Which leads us to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air:

Has the State Department released a smoking gun in the Hillary Clinton e-mail scandal? In a thread from June 2011, Hillary exchanges e-mails with Jake Sullivan, then her deputy chief of staff and now her campaign foreign-policy adviser, in which she impatiently waits for a set of talking points. When Sullivan tells her that the source is having trouble with the secure fax, Hillary then orders Sullivan to have the data stripped of its markings and sent through a non-secure channel.

That should be game, set, and match, yes?

“If they can’t, turn into nonpaper w no identifying heading and send nonsecure.” That’s an order to violate the laws handling classified material. There is no other way to read that demand.

Game, set, match, indeed. Every single one of Hillary’s excuses has now evaporated, and this email is a clear instance of giving an order in violation of national security clearance rules.

Hillary Clinton, I don’t need to hasten to add, belongs in jail.

She really does have contempt for rules and regulations that are devised by experts for the good of her country. She does not understand things like encryption and information security. She does not respect the need for national security. She is not qualified to be President. Her only reason for wanting to be President is personal ambition, not the good of her country.

I doubt that she could even survive on her own in this world, without her army of government handlers and assistants driving her around, buying her groceries and showing her how to operate the hardware and software that any teenager can operate. She just hasn’t had the experience needed to be President – she doesn’t know how to do the job. Running around the world trying to push abortion and gay rights on other countries is not good experience for the job.

She needs to retire with her charming husband Bill and talk about the good old days when she was protecting him from the women he assaulted and abused. If she refuses to take responsibility for the terrible harm that she’s done to her country, then maybe she needs to spend the rest of her life in a federal prison.

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House Republicans create Select Committee to investigate Planned Parenthood

Tennessee Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn
Tennessee Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn

So, last week we got some real answers from Hillary Clinton about Benghzi, namely, that she lied about the cause of the attack to the American people in order to avoid losing re-election in 2012.

What I would really like to see is a similar Select Committee on Planned Parenthood, and I would like to see it led by my favorite Congresswoman (since Michele Bachmann retired) Marsha Blackburn.

Well, guess what?

Life News has great news for pro-lifers.

Several top pro-life members of Congress have been named to a new committee that will take the lead in investigating Planned Parenthood’s sale of body parts from aborted babies. The new panel is the same kind of select committee that has been investigating the terrorist attack in Beghazi, Libya responsible for killing an American ambassador and security personnel.

[…]The following are the Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s new Select Investigative Panel. The panel incudes a number of pro-life women, pro-life champion Joe Pitts, and pro-life physician Andy Harris.

  • Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Chairman (R-TN)
  • Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA)
  • Rep. Diane Black (R-TN)
  • Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN)
  • Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI)
  • Rep.  Andy Harris (R-MD)
  • Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO)
  • Rep. Mia Love (R-UT)

Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler of Missouri told LifeNews.com she is proud to have been named ot the investigate committee.

“I am proud to be appointed to the Select Investigative Panel and I thank the Speaker for asking me to serve,” Hartzler said.  “Much has been said on either side of this issue, and Americans are eager to uncover the truth regarding the trafficking of fetal body parts.  I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle as we seek the facts of this issue.”

“Ten videos were released since July showing high-level officials at organizations such as Planned Parenthood, Stem Express, and Advanced BioResources discussing actions that would potentially violate federal law. Moreover, their discussions imply that these criminal actions are widespread. This panel will be tasked with discovery as to the prevalence of these practices,” she added.

Rep. Diane Black, a nurse of more than 40 years and member of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, said the new committee will engage in a “relentless pursuit of the facts.”

“I am grateful for the opportunity to bring my health care expertise to the critical work of this panel,” she told LifeNews. “It is no secret that I am passionately pro-life and have long opposed the federal funding of Planned Parenthood, but every American deserves to know that our laws are followed and that taxpayer dollars are spent with integrity. This panel will help ensure that is the case. We will be relentless in the pursuit of the facts, we will bring the truth out into the light of day, and we will hold responsible parties accountable. This panel has an obligation to taxpayers to conduct a thorough investigation that produces real answers. I am ready to get to work.”.

I had not heard of Vicki Hartzler before, but from this article, it looks like she will be a good addition to the team. She has a BS and MS, and she is an evangelical Christian. Former teacher.

So, I want to make a general point about these Select Committees. I think that these investigations are important. They allow us to find the facts that form the basis of our laws and policies. We have to know why terrorist attacks that kill our people happened, so that we can prevent it from happening again. We have to know whether the taxpayer money we give to certain organizations are being used appropriately, or whether they are being used in violation of American values. If we rely on the mainstream media to find these out, we’ll be waiting forever.

Why did Hillary Clinton blame the Benghazi terrorist attack on an “Internet video”?

What difference does national security make?
What difference does national security make?

Who should I link to to prepare us to understand and discuss the showdown between the Benghazi Select Committee and Hillary Clinton? How about Stephen Hayes from the Weekly Standard – you can’t do better than that.

He says:

Critics of Clinton on Benghazi are most angry about the exchange she had with surviving family members at the solemn ceremony held to receive the bodies of the victims. Pat Smith, the mother of information specialist Sean Smith, who was killed in the attacks, says Clinton told her that the Obama administration would bring to justice the man who made the anti-Islam video that the administration initially blamed for the attacks. “She blamed the video just like all the rest of them did and she also told me she was going to get back to me.”

Charles Woods, father of Tyrone Woods, a NAVY Seal killed in the attacks, says Clinton told him the same thing. “She said we’re going to have the person responsible for that video arrested. I knew she was lying. Her body language, the look in her eyes…I could tell she wasn’t telling the truth.”

But contemporaneous documents and testimony from US officials who were in Libya during the attacks make no mention of the video that would become the centerpiece of the Obama administration’s public narrative about the attacks. Indeed, in messages as the attacks unfolded and in the hours and days that followed, show security and intelligence officials immediately placing blame on al Qaeda and affiliated fighters and pushing back on suggestions from Washington that the video had played a role. Senior State Department officials, including Clinton’s chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, were copied on emails indicating Ansar al Sharia had claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Michael Morell, deputy CIA director at the time of the attacks, and a loyal water-carrier for the administration on Benghazi, testified that the video was simply not part of the intelligence picture during and after the attacks. “There was no mention of the video defaming the Prophet Muhammad as a motivation for the attacks in Benghazi. In fact, there was no mention of the video at all.”

Why did Clinton promise to pursue the filmmaker after the US government understood that the attacks were not a result of an out-of-control protest over the video?

Recall that Hillary Clinton blamed the Benghazi attack on “an Internet video”:

However, we now know that the top Democrats knew from the beginning that this was a terrorist attack:

Judicial Watch announced today that on February 11, 2015, it uncovered documents from the U.S. Department of State revealing that top aides for then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, including her then-chief of staff Cheryl Mills, knew from the outset that the Benghazi mission compound was under attack by armed assailants tied to a terrorist group.  The documents were produced as a result of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the State Department (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State ((No. 1:14-cv-01511).  The documents make no reference to a spontaneous demonstration or Internet video, except in an official statement issued by Hillary Clinton.

The Benghazi Select Committee was finally able to get 1300 e-mails sent by Ambassador Stevens (after two years of asking for them). Many of those e-mails requested additional security right before the attack, and they were ignored:

Two months before the fatal 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, then-Ambassador Chris Stevens requested 13 security personnel to help him safely travel around Libya… but he was turned down.

In the July 9, 2012 cable, Stevens reported that, “Overall security conditions continue to be unpredictable, with large numbers of armed groups and individuals not under control of the central government, and frequent clashes in Tripoli and other major population centers.” The cable said 13 security personnel would be the “minimum” needed for “transportation security and incident response capability.”

But a congressional source said Patrick Kennedy, a deputy to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, turned down the request. 

The cable sent under Stevens’ electronic signature shows that he was advocating for additional security and warning that the set-up did not meet State Department standards, as conditions deteriorated in the run-up to the attack that killed Stevens and three other Americans.

This hearing is about finding out why four people were left to die, even after repeatedly requesting additional security from the State Department. The same State Department that Hillary Clinton was in charge of. I hope we can find out why Hillary had so much time to read e-mails from Sidney Blumenthal, and apparently no time to read e-mails from Ambassador Stevens.

UPDATE: The Weekly Standard has posted a new podcast episode with Stephen Hayes on this topic.

UPDATE: Trey Gowdy’s opening statement:

Why did we need this investigation? Because previous “investigations” failed to find Ambassador Stevens’ e-mails, failed to find Hillary Clinton’s e-mails, and failed to interview people on the ground who had direct knowledge of the Benghazi security situation.

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What do skeptical ancient historians think of the earliest Christian creed?


Sherlock Holmes and John Watson
Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson solving a mystery

Here is a post from my friend Eric Chabot. He writes about the earliest historical source for the minimal facts about the resurrection, which is the early creed recorded by Paul in 1 Corinthians: 3-7.

1 Cor 15:3-7:

3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,

4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.

6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.

7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles,

8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

Just in case you didn’t know, Cephas is Peter, one of Jesus’ closest followers.

The general consensus among scholars is the that creed goes back to within 1-3 years after the death if Jesus, when almost all the eyewitnesses were still around.

The creed

In Eric’s post, he quotes very well-known skeptical historians who affirm each part of the creed.

First, the creed as a whole is respected, even by atheist scholars like John Dominic Crossan:

Paul wrote to the Corinthians from Ephesus in the early 50s C.E. But he says in 1 Corinthians 15:3 that “I handed on to you as of first importance which I in turn received.” The most likely source and time for his reception of that tradition would have been Jerusalem in the early 30s when, according to Galatians 1:18, he “went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas [Peter] and stayed with him fifteen days” (3).

And atheist scholar Robert Funk:

The conviction that Jesus had risen from the dead had already taken root by the time Paul was converted about 33 C.E. On the assumption that Jesus died about 30 C.E., the time for development was thus two or three years at most.” — Robert Funk co-founder of the Jesus Seminar.(5)

Let’s take a look at one of the parts of the creed that is respected by skeptical historians… namely, the early belief that Jesus was resurrected shortly after his death.

The early belief in the resurrection

Skeptical scholar E.P. Sanders:

That Jesus’ followers (and later Paul) had resurrection experiences is, in my judgment, a fact. What the reality was that gave rise to the experiences I do not know. “I do not regard deliberate fraud as a worthwhile explanation. Many of the people in these lists were to spend the rest of their lives proclaiming that they had seen the risen Lord, and several of them would die for their cause. Moreover, a calculated deception should have produced great unanimity. Instead, there seem to have been competitors: ‘I saw him first!’ ‘No! I did.’ Paul’s tradition that 500 people saw Jesus at the same time has led some people to suggest that Jesus’ followers suffered mass hysteria. But mass hysteria does not explain the other traditions.” “Finally we know that after his death his followers experienced what they described as the ‘resurrection’: the appearance of a living but transformed person who had actually died. They believed this, they lived it, and they died for it. (14)

Skeptical scholar Bart Ehrman:

Historians, of course, have no difficulty whatsoever speaking about the belief in Jesus’ resurrection, since this is a matter of public record. (17)

Why, then, did some of the disciples claim to see Jesus alive after his crucifixion? I don’t doubt at all that some disciples claimed this. We don’t have any of their written testimony, but Paul, writing about twenty-five years later, indicates that this is what they claimed, and I don’t think he is making it up. And he knew are least a couple of them, whom he met just three years after the event (Galatians 1:18-19). (18)

You know, if all you did was give someone his post, I think that would be enough to show people that a more complete investigation of the historical Jesus was certainly a reasonable thing to do. It’s amazing to me that people who grow up at this time when access to the data is so easy do not take the opportunity to look into Christianity.

List of virtually undeniable facts

Finally, below is a list of facts about the historical Jesus that are accepted by ancient historians – Christian, non-Christian, atheist.

These are compiled by non-Christian scholar E.P. Sanders:

From his book “Jesus and Judaism” (1985):

  • Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist.
  • Jesus called disciples and spoke of there being twelve.
  • Jesus confined his activity to Israel.
  • Jesus was a Galilean who preached and healed.
  • Jesus engaged in a controversy about the temple.
  • Jesus was crucified outside Jerusalem by the Roman authorities.
  • After his death, his followers continued as an identifiable movement.
  • At least some Jews persecuted at least parts of the new movement.

From his book “The Historical Figure of Jesus” (1993):

  • Jesus was born c.4 BCE, near the time of the death of Herod the Great;
  • He spent his childhood and early adult years in Nazareth, a Galilean village;
  • He was baptized by John the Baptist;
  • He called disciples;
  • He taught in the towns, villages, and countryside of Galilee (apparently not the cities);
  • He preached “the kingdom of God”;
  • Around the year 30 he went to Jerusalem for Passover;
  • He created a disturbance in the temple area;
  • He had a final meal with the disciples;
  • He was arrested and interrogated by Jewish authorities, specifically the high priest;
  • He was executed on the orders of the Roman prefect, Pontius Pilate;
  • His disciples at first fled;
  • They saw him (in what sense is uncertain) after his death;
  • As a consequence they believed he would return to found the kingdom;
  • They formed a community to await his return and sought to win others to faith in him as God’s Messiah.

The way the resurrection of Jesus is presented on TV, you would think that mythical stories about Jesus emerged decades and even centuries after the fact in other parts of the world from where the events happened. But the trouble is that no ancient historian thinks that. Only Hollywood TV producers and movie makers think that. Now, if you are getting your view of the historical accuracy of basic Christian beliefs from television and movies, then don’t be surprised if you are wrong. No one is saying that you have to go to Christian pastors and preachers for the facts, but you should go to the historians. They at least know the minimal facts.

The best way for a skeptic to tackle these issues is, I think, to watch a decent debate on the resurrection of Jesus between two respected scholars. My favorite debate on the resurrection is William Lane Craig versus atheist historian James Crossley. I have a video and a summary already ready made just waiting for you to check it out. Don’t worry, no one will be looking over your shoulder making you change everything your life should you be convinced. Just watch the debate and decide what you are going to do with it on your own. You don’t have to change your whole life overnight. Becoming a Christian is instantaneous and easy to do. Living like a Christian is a process, and it’s between you and God how fast you go. So just see what the facts are to start with and then take it from there.