October 30, 2008

Archaeologists find oldest Hebrew text

In another fascinating story involving biblical archaeology, Reuters reports that Hebrew University archaeologists have uncovered the oldest Hebrew text ever found.

The HU archaeologists said the ancient Hebrew document found at a site known as the Elah Fortress or Khirbet Qeiyafa near the location where David slew Goliath “was written some 3,000 years ago, predating the Dead Sea Scrolls by 1,000 years.”

Archaeologists may have found King Solomon’s mines

Critics of the Bible often attack its historical credibility because little archaeological evidence has been obtained to substantiate the famous Old Testament kings, David and Solomon. Now, however, archaeological research funded in part by the National Geographic Society's Committee for Research and Exploration has found what they believe are the mines from which King Solomon produced the copper used to build the First Temple in Jerusalem. The mines are located in a region south of the Dead Sea in Jordan’s Faynan district, which is the geographic area in the Old Testament known as the Kingdom of Edom.

According to CNN, “carbon dating placed copper production at Khirbat en-Nahas (Arabic for 'Ruins of copper") in the 10th century -- in line with the biblical narrative of Solomon's rule.” The leader of the study, Thomas Levy, of the University of California San Diego noted that

“…this research represents a confluence between the archaeological and scientific data and the Bible…. Now ... we have evidence that complex societies were indeed active in 10th and 9th centuries BCE and that brings us back to the debate about the historicity of the Hebrew Bible narratives related to this period”

Newsweek has a story on this fascinating news as does National Geographic News.

In another interesting story, in 2007 Muslim workers at the Jerusalem Temple Mount found artifacts dating back to the first Temple period – 8th to 6th centuries BCE. These two fascinating findings alone present a great deal of archaeological evidence linked to Solomon.

October 24, 2008

Famous atheist says aliens originated life on earth?

In Ben Stein’s movie, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, famous atheist Richard Dawkins stated that he believes life on earth may have originated from Extra Terrestrials:

One might think that Dawkins’ argument would come from someone holding to a unique version of Intelligent Design. Dawkins, however, actually opposes Intelligent Design in favor of naturalistic Evolution. Dawkins’ ID argument, which we’ll call ETID (Extra Terrestrial Intelligent Design) is an attempt to explain the origin of life apart from God, but of course it does not account for the origin of Dawkins’ ET’s. It seems absurd for a guy to suggest ETID and simultaneously say theists are irrational.

Famous atheist Richard Dawkins supports ad for Agnosticism?

Famous atheist, Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, is supporting a London advertising campaign promoting atheism. One would think an atheist would not see much value in evangelizing others to atheism, but evidently Dawkins and the British Humanist Association (BHA) think otherwise.

According to MSNBC, the BHA has raised $113,000 for the ad campaign with Dawkins donating $9,000. The ad appearing on the side of London buses says the following:

“There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”

Atheism, however, does not use the word “probably” in reference to the existence of God. Interestingly, Dawkins in Ben Stein’s recent movie, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, said that he is 99% sure God does not exist:

Evidently Dawkins, the BHA and author of the ad, Ariane Sherine, are not actually atheists, but are agnostics. Or perhaps they are hedging their bets as evidently 21% of atheists did who expressed a belief in God in a recent Pew poll. Interestingly, Dawkins admitted that he “wasn’t wild” about using the word “probably,” but apparently he wasn’t too bothered by it because he supports an agnostic message to promote atheism. Apparently in Dawkins’ world this slogan will make people think - and thinking is anathema to religion.”

Sherine said, "Atheists believe this is the only life we have, and we should enjoy it." Evidently enjoying life entails accepting that God “probably” does not exist. Oh happy day! …..probably……for agnostics…ur uh, atheists that is….oh you probably know what I mean!

October 9, 2008

Appeals court rules that Mormon Church is outside of the Protestant Christian faith . . . . .

In a remarkable decision an appellate court ruled that the Mormon Church is outside of the Protestant faith. The decision came in a divorce decree contempt case by the Arkansas Court of Appeals on October 8. According to an October 9 Arkansas Democrat Gazette piece,

“Joel Mark Rownak and Lisa Monette Rownak agreed in their 2005 divorce to raise their children ‘in the Protestant faith.’ The decree bars them from promoting another religion without the other’s consent. In May 2007, Benton County Circuit Judge John R. Scott found Joel Rownak in contempt of that decree based on evidence that Rownak had ‘candidly acknowledged’ promoting the Mormon faith to his sons.”

Interestingly, Mr. Rownak, who is a Mormon testified that the Mormon faith is outside of the Protestant faith. The court, based on Mr. Rownak’s testimony and “evidence to that effect from the [Mormon] church’s Web site” ruled that the Mormon faith was indeed outside of the Protestant faith and therefore found Mr. Rownak in contempt of the divorce decree.

The significance of this ruling of course is that both an active Mormon (Mr. Rownak) and an appellate court both agree that Mormonism is not a Protestant church. The other significant aspect of this ruling is that the court has made a ruling on a theological matter. While the ruling was technically on a divorce decree contempt case, the grounds for the decision were theological.

October 7, 2008

Mormon Church to build Temples in Kansas City, Philadelphia and 3 other cities

The International Herald Tribune reports that the LDS Church plans to build Temples in 5 cities including Kansas City and Philadelphia. The article points out the historic significance of a LDS Temple in the Kansas City-area:

“A Kansas City-area temple should hold great significance for Mormons. In the 1830s church founder Joseph Smith led an early Mormon migration to Independence, Missouri, and declared the area would be the center of Zion and the New Jerusalem. Now a Kansas City suburb, many Mormons also believe the area was the original site of the Garden of Eden.”

The significance of the Temple in Mormonism, however, is much deeper than just the historic significance of a Kansas City-area Temple. Temples are important in Mormonism because of the belief and practice of proxy ordinances for the dead that happen in the Temple ceremony. Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, said, “The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our dead” (History of the Church, 6:313). One important proxy rite that takes place in the Mormon Temple is Baptism for the Dead whereby Mormons believe that via proxy baptism they can grant the deceased a second chance to believe the Mormon Gospel also known as the Restored Gospel or the Law of Eternal Progression.