Category: Belief

What people believe about God – a summary of religions and how we might choose if any of them are true.

How accurate is the text of the New Testament?

Is the Bible we read today the same as the one originally written? Has the original text been changed beyond recognition, or do scholars have so many copies that they can reconstruct the text with a great deal of confidence?

Chinese New Year, modern Buddhism and modern Christianity

It is Chinese New Year, and last Saturday we visited the celebrations at Hurstville, the suburb where we both grew up and now home to a large Chinese community. We watched the parade and checked out the stalls, and found plenty to interest us.

The evolution of hell

This scene from the Egyptian Book of the Dead (c 1275 BCE), shows the dead scribe Hunefer’s heart being weighed by the canine-headed Anubis on the scale of Maat. The ibis-headed Thoth, scribe of the gods, records the result. If his heart is lighter than the feather of truth, Hunefer is allowed to pass into […]

The Exodus (book review)

What should we make of the story of the Exodus in the Old Testament? Two million people escape slavery in Egypt after a series of savage plagues, with God leading the way. They escape the pursuing Egyptian army by walking through the waters of the Red Sea, which God miraculously parts, then closes on the […]

Did Jesus suffer from a mental disorder?

In Mark 3, it is recorded that when Jesus’ family heard how he was attracting a great following, they thought he was “out of his mind”. These days a similar charge is sometimes made – that Jesus exhibited behaviour that suggests he suffered from a mental disorder. I’ve come across it several times, most recently […]

Going from the historical Jesus to the Jesus of faith

A reader commenting on this blog asked me some questions about Jesus and history and I thought that they were good questions worthy of a decent response. Part of John’s comment was: “So I was curious as to what your specific Christian beliefs were …. where you stand on Christ’s divinity. It’s one thing to […]

How to read the Bible if you’re an unbeliever

I reckon too many people, christian and non-christians alike, read the Bible in the wrong way. So how should an unbeliever approach the Bible if he or she wants to read it honestly, whether to learn from it or to critique it?

Atheism vs religion: is there a scientific explanation for why we believe or disbelieve?

Last post I looked at the differences between scientific thinking and religious thinking, at least as one social scientist sees it. But where does religious thinking come from? Religious belief has been an important component in virtually every culture in human history. Why is this so? Social scientists have studied this question extensively. Whether you […]

Is God genocidal?

I remember being concerned about it more than 40 years ago. How could God command his people to murder everyone living in each Canaanite city that they captured? And I am not the only one to feel revolted by these commands in the book of Deuteronomy and the accounts in the book of Joshua. Critics […]

Four things the historians tell us about Jesus’ miracles – and one thing they don’t

A few months back I responded to a discussion I was having about Jesus’ miracles by writing a post on the historical evidence. I have since turned that post into a permanent page, Did Jesus really perform miracles?, so I thought I would summarise the main conclusions here. Some of them may be surprising to […]