Alien Civilizations

In June 2016, an article appeared in the New York Times entitled "Yes, There Have Been Aliens." The article was written by University of Rochester astrophysicist Dr. Adam Frank. In this article, Dr. Frank promotes a hypothesis arguing conclusively that advanced alien civilizations have definitely existed in the universe, even if none exist at this moment. The basis of this argument is not any empirical evidence of any such advanced civilization, but rather an exercise in statistics derived from the probable number of exoplanets outside our solar system. Using this calculus, Dr. Frank and his associate argue that over a trillion - yes, trillion - advanced civilizations have existed in the universe. Dr. Frank does not mean a trillion planets featuring life, but a trillion advanced, technological civilizations (where "advanced technological civilization" is defined as one capable of emitting a radio signal).

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Rethinking the Appendix

Since the dawn of the science of human biology in the modern age, it has been taken for granted that the internal organ known as the "appendix" was vestigial. A structure that is "vestigial" is so-called because it is believed to be a "vestige" of the organism at an earlier stage in its evolutionary biology. Vestigial organs or vestigial body parts no longer have any practical function, but they have not yet disappeared from the organism's biology. Another common example is the human tail bone, which is said to be a vestigial remnant of the days when homo sapiens had tails. Thus, vestigiality goes hand in hand with evolutionary biology. The "useless" appendix has always been explained as an organ left over from the days when the human diet consisted mainly in vegetation; this hypothesis was proposed by Charles Darwin himself and had been a staple in scientific assumptions about the appendix for over a century.

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Contradictions in the Bible (part 3)

 

Today we present our final installment in our long series on contradictions in the New Testament with refutations for 63 allegedly contradictory statements from the writings of the Gospels, Acts and the letters of St. Paul. Since it has been awhile since I last posted in this series, let me remind the reader that these alleged "contradictions" are taken from the atheist website Skeptically.org, where they presume to catalog 194 different contradictions in the New Testament. In our previous two installments in this series (Part 1 and Part 2), we demonstrated how the criteria these skeptics employ for what constitutes a "contradiction" is extraordinarily loose. It would behoove the reader to review the introduction to Part 1 in this series where we review what exactly is and is not a real contradiction in the logical sense. It would be better to describe these biblical "contradictions" as misunderstandings, incorrect exegesis, and plain willful ignorance than anything close to a contradiction.

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Probability and Statistical Impossibility

Late last year, Wall Street Journal columnist Eric Metaxas published an interesting piece titled "Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God". The article argues that recent scientific discoveries about the universe increase the likelihood that the cosmos is the result of an intelligent designer. Though the article is brief, we recommend a studious reading of it, as it brings to the fore several essential problems with purely materialist theories of the origin of the universe. In this essay, we will examine the issue of probability and the concept of "statistical impossibility" and how it undermines the materialist assumption that given enough time, anything is possible.

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Deus ex Machina or Fons Entis?

In the ancient Greek plays, it was not uncommon for a protagonist to be saved from a dangerous situation or relieved from an impossible dilemma by the emergence of a deus ex machina ("god from the machine"), a plot device whereby the seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly and abruptly resolved by the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event or character, usually a god or hero. This was usually resorted to when the playwright had painted himself into a corner, so to speak, and could find no other way to resolve his contorted plot than by having some god emerge to miraculously set everything right. The deus ex machina was soundly criticized by the ancients as evidence of poor writing. In the history of modern thought, religion has been similarly criticized as a kind of philosophical deus ex machina, a device that is used to satisfactorily resolve the mysteries of the universe. Where does rain come from? God makes it. Where do earthquakes come from? God makes them. How does gravity work? God does it. Relying on religion to explain the physical properties of the universe in terms of direct acts of God is also known as a "God of the Gaps" theory.

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Contradictions in the Bible (part 2)

Last time in this series, we discussed the common accusation that the Bible is "full of contradictions" and exposed how these alleged contradictions are based on ignorance, malice and misunderstanding. Using an atheist website that alleges to demonstrate "194 Contradictions in the New Testament", we looked at each one in sequence and debunked every single alleged contradiction; not a single one was valid. Furthermore, we explained what a contradiction is and how it is different from a "difficulty." We also opined that those who publish this kind of nonsense are not motivated by any desire to find out what the Biblical text actually means, but rather to debunk Christianity. Do I have a bias in favor of Christianity? Of course I do, but at least I am seeking to find out what these texts actually mean. Today, I present you with the next installment in this series, looking at 65 more alleged contradictions in the Bible.

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Contradictions in the Bible (part 1)

Have you ever heard atheists and religious skeptics talk about how the Bible is "full of contradictions"? While defending the Church's traditional teaching on Christ's mediatorship between God and man, an atheist shot back at me with a link to a website that claimed to point out 194 contradictions in the New Testament. I have been studying the Bible for 19 years and have never found any legitimate contradictions, so I was really curious to see what these atheist critics were coming up with. The results were laughable, as you will see below, where I systematically go through each of these alleged "contradictions" and show how not one is a legitimate contradiction.

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What is Faith?

The Holy Father has proclaimed 2012-2013 to be the Year of Faith. This is quite appropriate, since the act of Faith in general, and the Catholic Faith in particular, are under a very vociferous attack from the proponents of secular humanism and atheism, who deny not only the Catholic Faith, but attack the concept of Faith as being inimical to reason and ultimately an irrational act. Faith and reason, they say, are in true opposition, as because of this religion (which rests on faith) and science (which rests on reason, we are told) are in absolute opposition; to be a proponent of religion is to be against science, and to be scientifically minded is to be hostile to religion. In this post, we will endeavor to show the falsity of this proposition by looking at the act of faith itself and demonstrating that faith and reason are not opposed to one another; in fact, faith is a very reasonable act.
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Lawrence Krauss's Nothing is not Nothing

Atheist apologist Lawrence Krauss's new book A Universe from Nothing takes the final leap in erecting a universe without God by positing the possibility that something truly can come from nothing without the intervention of an omnipotent Creator. Rather than the traditional understanding of "nothing" as absolute negation from which no effect can ever be caused (ex nihilo nihil fit), Krauss sees nothing as something that is dynamic and active, from which things not only can be spontaneously generated, but in fact have been and are constantly. In fact, the entire universe sprung into existence spontaneously from nothing and continues to do so, according to Krauss. Is this the death blow to theism? Far from it. In fact, as we shall see, Krauss can only reach these conclusions by radically redefining "nothing."

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Praying "to be seen by men"

In the Gospel, our Lord warns us:

"And when ye pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, that love to stand and pray in the synagogues and corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men: Amen I say to you, they have received their reward. But thou when you shalt pray, enter into thy chamber, and having shut the door, pray to thy Father in secret: and thy Father who sees in secret will repay you." (Matt. 6:5-6).

How often this verse is trotted out by smug atheists whenever Christians try to make any sort of public demonstration of their faith!

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Stephen Hawking: Heaven is a "fairy story."

Atheist icon Stephen Hawking has stated his opinion that the universe does not "need" a creator God to explain its existence or complexity. He made sure to blast the Christian belief in heaven, which he said was "a fairy story" He stated:

"I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I'm not afraid of death, but I'm in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first...I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark."

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