Presentism and Infinite History
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” While the world definitely had a beginning, there’s a question of whether we can prove this by reason alone (i.e., by philosophical arguments). Defenders of the Kalaam cosmological argument often use an argument like this one, which is found in William Lane Craig’s book Reasonable Faith: 1) An actually infinite number of things cannot exist.2) A beginningless series of events in time entails an actually infinite... Read More
Using the Kalaam Argument Correctly
In recent years, one of the most popular arguments for the existence of God has been the Kalaam cosmological argument. Ultimately, I think this argument is successful, but many of the ways it has been employed are unsuccessful. It is an argument that needs to be used carefully—with the proper qualifiers. Stating the Argument We can state the Kalaam argument like this: 1) Everything that has a beginning has a cause.2) The universe has a beginning.3) Therefore, the universe... Read More
Traversing an Infinite?
by Jimmy Akin
Filed under The Existence of God, Uncategorized
God created the universe a finite time ago, but there’s a question of whether we can prove this by reason alone. Defenders of the Kalaam cosmological argument often claim that the universe cannot have an infinite history because “traversing an infinite” is impossible. In his book Reasonable Faith (pp. 120-124), William Lane Craig puts the argument this way 1. The series of events in time is a collection formed by adding one member after another2. A collection... Read More
What’s Wrong with the Countdown Paradox?
Sometimes defenders of the Kalaam cosmological argument defend its second premise (i.e., that the world couldn’t have an infinite past) by proposing a paradox involving counting. The line of reasoning goes something like this: A. Suppose that the universe has an infinite history (the kind of history you’d need to do an infinite countdown).B. Suppose that a person has been counting down the infinite set of negative numbers (. . . -3, -2, -1) for all eternity, and... Read More
Are Fine-Tuning Arguments for God (or the Multiverse) Circular?
In a recent video, theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder argues that design arguments for God’s existence commit the fallacy of begging the question—also known as circular reasoning. Do they? Before we began, I want to lay my cards on the table and say that I’m a fan of Sabine Hossenfelder. She’s smart, well qualified, and a research fellow at the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies. I appreciate her commitment to explaining physics in comprehensible terms and... Read More
Bart Ehrman’s Botched Source
by Jimmy Akin
Filed under History
Atheist scholar Bart Ehrman is a smart guy, but he sometimes handles his sources in the most frustrating and misleading manner. For example, in his 2012 book Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth (where he is on the right side for once), he writes: Several significant studies of literacy have appeared in recent years showing just how low literacy rates were in antiquity. The most frequently cited study is by Columbia professor William Harris in a book titled Ancient... Read More
What Year Was Jesus Born? The Answer May Surprise You
What year was Jesus born? The answer may surprise you. You might think that Jesus was born in the Year Zero–between 1 B.C. and A.D. 1. You often hear that Jesus was born around 6-7 B.C. The evidence from the Bible and the Church Fathers, however, support a different year. Here’s what the evidence says . . . Not in Year Zero There is a good reason why Jesus wasn’t born in Year Zero: there wasn’t one. The sequence of years before Christ ends at 1 B.C. and the A.D. series picks up the very... Read More
Jesus’ Birth and when Herod the Great *Really* Died
The Gospel of Matthew tells us that Jesus Christ was born in the final years of the tyrant known as Herod the Great. He tells us that when Jesus was born, Herod panicked and had all the baby boys in Bethlehem killed. Fortunately, the Jesus' family escaped to Egypt and remained there until Herod was dead. They didn't have to stay long, though. Here's when Herod the Great actually died . . . Setting Aside a Common Mistake For just over a hundred years, the question of when Herod the... Read More
Does Luke Contradict Himself on When Jesus Was Born?
St. Luke begins the second chapter of his Gospel with a chronological note about when Jesus was born, writing: "In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria." (Luke 2:1-2) This passage has been subject to a lot of criticism, because Luke has already linked the birth of Jesus to reign of Herod the Great (Luke 1:5), and Quirinius did not become governor of Syria until years afterwards. What... Read More
The 100-Year Old Mistake About the Birth of Jesus
You know how people often say that Jesus was born in 4 B.C., 6 B.C., 7 B.C., or a time earlier still? The calculations that lead to these dates are all based on a proposal that was made just over a hundred years ago. But now scholars are challenging this proposal, because it looks like it's wrong. And it's been distorting our understanding of when Jesus was born for over a hundred years. Here's the story. . . . When Herod Died The Gospel of Matthew records that Jesus was born during the... Read More