Saturday, March 06, 2021

When everyone did what was right in his own eyes

"Applying the Christian Ethic to Specific Issues" (James Anderson)

Book and ebook

John Piper's new book Providence is available. I trust it'll be a good book and worth reading, but that's not the primary reason I'm mentioning it. The primary reason I'm posting about it is because if you order Piper's book through WTS Books, then, according to WTS Books:

Order the hardcover version and receive the eBook FREE. Download link will be emailed after purchase is completed. eBook does not need to be in cart if purchasing hardcover edition.

I think this is a good idea in general, though I could see exceptions where it might not be a good idea. At least I think it might be a promising way for some publishers and bookstores to push back against companies like Amazon, which apparently controls around 80% of the US book market (isn't that effectively a monopoly?). That is, publishers and bookstores offering both the book and the ebook bundled together in some way might be able to attract customers away from Amazon and to their bookstores as well as to give customers who have purchased their book-ebook bundle real ownership over what they've purchased. I think many customers are concerned that Amazon could just "disappear" their purchased ebooks if Amazon wanted to. This would help quell those fears or concerns.

I assume the main concern from publishers is that giving away free ebooks along with physical books (or just bundling an ebook together with a physical book and marketing the ebook as free but really charging for both) could open the door to people pirating ebooks if the ebooks have no DRM protection. I'm not sure how to fix this. Perhaps one could put in place legal requirements that Amazon (and other booksellers) must adhere to before they can remove purchased books if they don't already exist? However, even if publishers prefer DRM protection (or something like it) for their ebooks, offering a physical book + ebook would reassure customers that they own their books because they possess a physical book even if the ebook is removed.

Of course, all this assumes a lower price point for the bundle than for the ebook-book if each was purchased separately. Otherwise there'd be no advantage for people buying the book-ebook bundle.

I guess Amazon could follow suite and do the same. Unless they're broken up somehow.

Anyway I just think we should try to find new ways to have more diversity in the book market and not have to rely on near-monopolies like Amazon.

Update: Desiring God has made Piper's book free to download as a pdf.

Thursday, March 04, 2021

The Eye of the Beholder is out

Jason already noted that Lydia McGrew's latest book The Eye of the Beholder is out.

I wanted to point out Lydia has released a short trailer about her book too:

In addition, Lydia has a meaty post about her book. Her post includes free material like the book's table of contents, its first chapter, and its conclusion. Not to mention endorsements by very notable NT scholars like Stanley Porter and Tom Schreiner. Schreiner is the icing on the cake for those of us who are Reformed, I think.

Finally, since it might be of interest to Triablogue readers, a friend who already has Lydia's book informs us that Lydia has a dedication to Steve Hays in her book and cites him in her book too.

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

We live in a novel, not a computer simulation

Here's a great interview with James Anderson on the simulation hypothesis and the authorial analogy for the God-world relation. By the way, Parker Settecase's Parker's Pensées podcast is fun and interesting if you enjoy musing on philosophy, theology, and/or philosophical theology from a Reformed perspective. Not to say these are always the subjects under discussion in his podcast, but I think that's his inclination. Parker has had a number of fascinating guests as well as topics on his podcast. He seems like a good guy to grab a beer with too.

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

To boldly go where no one has gone before

My aim is to preach the gospel where Christ has not been named, so that I will not build on someone else's foundation (Rom 15:20 CSB).

I appreciate the apostle Paul's attitude about his ministry of missions, church-planting, evangelism, apologetics. He wants to go where no one has gone before with the gospel. He wants to go to those people who have never heard the good news. He wants to be the first in a mission field. The first to share the gospel with a people in a place that hasn't heard about Jesus. That's a noble desire.

I think what the apostle Paul said could be taken on as a kind of principle by other Christians too. Let's consider apologetics. Apologetics paving the road for evangelism or used in concert with evangelism. Of course, there are many commonly used arguments in defense of Christianity and/or in order to critique other worldviews. Nothing necessarily wrong with a Christian apologist using these bread and butter arguments.

However, it likewise would be a good idea for Christian apologists to develop novel arguments, develop novel approaches to old arguments, revitalize retired arguments, and so on. For example, Jason Engwer and Steve Hays have done significant apologetic work involving the occult. Another example is Tim and Lydia McGrew have revitalized the argument from undesigned coincidences. These are the sorts of thing I have in mind.

Of course, what those arguments might be could vary depending on where or when one is ministering. The apologist needs to know their audience, as it were. The apologist needs to be like "the Issacharites, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do" (1 Chron 12:32). Arguments involving science and religion might better suit a secular college student on a typical US campus. Arguments involving fulfilled messianic prophecies might better suit an orthodox Jewish friend. Arguments about Jesus' power over evil spirits might better suit Papua New Guineans. Arguments involving the historical Jesus might better suit Muslims. And there's tremendous room for creativity within these classes of arguments.

Point being, I guess I'm not really saying much in my already long-winded post, only that it's good to use commonly used apologetic arguments, but it's also good to push boundaries (within orthodoxy) in developing new arguments, honing old arguments, etc. We can advance the kingdom of God in terms of apologetics too, I think. At least, those promoting other worldivews don't usually stand still, neither should we.

McLatchie on Swamidass

Jonathan McLatchie comments on Joshua Swamidass' theory regarding Adam and Eve and human evolution:

An innovative and provocative attempt to harmonize evolutionary theory with an historical Adam and Eve has recently been proposed by computational biologist Joshua Swamidass of Washington University in St. Louis. [10] Swamidass proposes that Adam and Eve lived approximately six thousand years ago, in accordance with the traditional creationist understanding. He argues that Adam and Eve did not have parents and were in fact created de novo, as described in Genesis 2. Consistent with a face-value reading of Genesis, Swamidass proposes that Adam was formed from the dust of the earth and Eve from Adam’s side. However, Swamidass argues that Adam and Eve were not the first humans. Rather, their genomes became ‘mixed’ with the rest of the human population outside of the garden through interbreeding (that is, humans who, unlike Adam and Eve, arose naturally through evolutionary processes), such that all extant humans can be said to trace their genealogical ancestry back to Adam and Eve, even though their genetic ancestry includes other lineages, unrelated to Adam, as well. Swamidass points out that universal genealogical ancestors (that is, individuals to whom all modern humans can trace their ancestry) are common, arising often throughout human history. Swamidass proposes that “Adam and Eve are to work as priestly rulers alongside Yahweh Elohim, to expand the Garden across the earth. Civilization is rising, and a new era is coming. Their purpose is to welcome everyone into their family, in a new kingdom of God.” [11] Swamidass distinguishes between what he calls “biological humans” and “textual humans.” [12] For Swamidass, “Biological humans are defined taxonomically, from a biological and scientific point of view. From at least AD 1 onward, they are coextensive with textual humans.” [13] On the other hand, “Textual humans are the group of people to whom Scripture refers. I argue that this group is defined by Scripture to be Adam, Eve, and their genealogical descendants, including everyone alive across the globe by, at latest AD 1. They are a chronological subset of biological humans, meaning that some biological humans in the past are not textual humans, but all textual humans are biological humans.” [14]

While Swamidass’ model is superficially attractive in that it does not require positing thousands of gaps in the Genesis genealogies, the problems that it raises are too intolerably great for me to commend Swamidass’ solution. For one thing, in what sense, if any, can non-Adamic biological humans be considered to be fully human? Are they affected by original sin, and did Jesus die to save them? Swamidass conjectures that these biological humans bear God’s image but “are not yet affected by Adam’s fall. They have a sense of right and wrong, written on their hearts (Rom. 2:15), but they are not morally perfect. They do wrong at times. They are subject to physical death, which prevents their wrongdoing from growing into true evil (Gen. 6:3).” [15] The Scriptures, however, make no such distinction between biological humans and textual humans. Swamidass’ view would seem to suggest logically that those individuals who were biological (but not textual) humans are qualitatively indistinct from other animals. But in that case it makes no sense to call their deeds evil, or to postulate that they had a sense of right and wrong. Moreover, if they, as Swamidass suggests, “do wrong at times”, then does this not suggest that Adam’s fall is but one of many falls that have occurred in human history? The theological ramifications that accompany this scenario are too severe for me to entertain Swamidass’ proposal.

Handing orphans over to sodomites

"Major Evangelical Adoption Agency Will Now Serve Gay Parents Nationwide"

An Overview Of The Eye Of The Beholder

Here's a new video in which Lydia McGrew provides an overview of her book that just came out on the historicity of the gospel of John. You can order the book at Amazon or at Barnes & Noble.

Monday, March 01, 2021

How The Personality Of The Enfield Poltergeist Differed From The Personalities Around It

I said a lot about the subject in my 2019 article on the poltergeist voice. I want to expand upon what I wrote there in relation to a certain aspect of the poltergeist's personality.

The poltergeist communicated in a variety of ways (e.g., speaking, knocking, writing), and it communicated through a variety of sources. Most significantly, the poltergeist voice manifested through multiple individuals, not just one, and sometimes was manifested in a disembodied form or through a dog. And some fraud hypotheses would propose that more than one person faked the knocking and writing incidents, for example, which means those hypotheses propose that multiple personalities were behind those phenomena. Even those who believe in the authenticity of one type of phenomenon sometimes reject the authenticity of another (e.g., accepting the knocking while rejecting the voice). So, when there's continuity across multiple types of phenomena and multiple individuals manifesting the phenomena, that continuity can have some significance for a wide variety of views of the case. That's especially true if the continuity involves something that seems to differentiate the poltergeist from the individual(s) thought to have faked the case or thought to have produced the poltergeist through psychic activity.