The three gap theory

By Jon Morgan
 
As a believer, I found it difficult to address or dismiss intellectual arguments for God’s existence, even when I doubted his presence. Though over time I did reject some of the arguments, I never did a systematic evaluation. I think I was concerned about whether I would get stuck: What if I couldn’t dismiss the intellectual arguments, but they didn’t help me recover my lost confidence?

One of the things that helped most to evaluate those arguments was a theory that I imaginatively call the “three gap theory”. It showed me clearly why common intellectual arguments couldn’t provide me all the certainty I needed to remain a Christadelphian.

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Eliminating Bias

"I don't believe that", said Alison, "I'd like to see your evidence."

Chris was taken aback. He had not faced someone so skeptical before. In the discussion so far, Alison had seemed polite enough but she was also becoming increasingly closed-minded. At first Chris wasn't sure what to say. He wasn't prepared for this response at all.

Before we continue, let's meet Chris...


The Balfour Declaration: 100 years on

By Jon Morgan

One hundred years ago today, the British Government issued the Balfour Declaration, a statement which supported “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”. Christadelphians who expected the Jews to be supported by the British in a return to the land of Israel immediately seized on it, particularly since the British were advancing against the Ottoman Empire through Palestine. They have continued to view it as important, though I’m not sure how much effect it had on the formation of the state of Israel.

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Some book recommendations

By Jon Morgan

Recently, I put together a short list of books that had helped me when struggling with doubts, and that I wished I had read earlier.  They were:
  • Why I Believed: Reflections of a Former Missionary (available online here)
  • Unbelievable (available online here)
  • Why Evolution is True
  • Sapiens
For more information about how these books helped me, plus some fiction and a couple of other recommendations, see my original blog post.

But it got me thinking: I knew about all of these books because of recommendations by others (some of them on this site). And I'm sure that there are other helpful books that I'm not aware of.  So I thought I'd throw it open to discussion.

Are there any books that you would particularly recommend here?  Books that helped with dealing with doubt or with constructing a new worldview?  Please comment below.

Two In Three Australians Think Religion Does More Harm Than Good In The World

Article From The Sydney Morning Herald

A bigger share of Australians than respondents in most other countries think religion does more harm than good in the world, new polling has revealed.

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What Would It Take to Prove the Resurrection?

Article From Scientific American


According to philosopher Larry Shapiro of the University of Wisconsin–Madison in his 2016 book The Miracle Myth (Columbia University Press), “evidence for the resurrection is nowhere near as complete or convincing as the evidence on which historians rely to justify belief in other historical events such as the destruction of Pompeii.” Because miracles are far less probable than ordinary historical occurrences, such as volcanic eruptions, “the evidence necessary to justify beliefs about them must be many times better than that which would justify our beliefs in run-of-the-mill historical events. But it isn't.”

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They promise eternal life and happiness

A Christadelphian's primary hope is to live forever in a future state of bliss, surrounded by fellow believers and worshipping Jesus and God for eternity. No more sorrow and suffering, no more tears, no more pain, no more death. So the promise goes.

This utopia is apparently available to anyone who wants it. Just give up your ambitions and freedoms in this life, and submit yourself as a slave to a magical, invisible being, and you will be rewarded with more happiness than you can imagine. The sacrifices you make in this life will be more than repaid in the next, and the suffering you endure now will be insignificant compared to the glory you will inherit later. Feeling lucky?

But what are these merchants really selling?

Left the Christadelphians? You’re not alone

By Phynnodderee


When I left the Christadelphian community, I felt completely alone. I felt like the only person who had ever taken this step. I also found myself in the horrible predicament of having to rebuild my worldview almost from scratch. The purpose of this article is to reach out to people in the same situation. It is aimed at those who have recently left the Christadelphians and who are feeling disorientated or isolated as a result. Basically, it’s the kind of supportive advice I wish I could have received when I was going through that phase.

This article is based on my personal experience, so it might resonate with you or it might not. At the very least, I hope it reassures you that you aren’t alone and other people have gone through the process of adjusting to a new life outside the Christadelphians, and have emerged stronger on the other side.

Book review: Atheism for Dummies by Dale McGowan

By Phynnodderee

I spotted this book at my local library recently while I was looking for something else entirely. I found it so interesting that I decided to share this review with you.

Who’s the author?
Dale McGowan, an American atheist and humanist, who is a former music professor and now writer. He writes, blogs and runs workshops on non-religious parenting. You can read his blog at www.parentingbeyondbelief.com/blog.

What’s it about?
Atheism for Dummies (2013) is an introduction to atheism: what it is, what it isn’t, why so many people don’t believe in gods, the history of atheist thought and how it has developed over the millennia (yes, millennia – atheism is very old), and how atheists think, see the world and relate to religious people.

Tell me more…

Pascal's Wager: Betting On Infinity

We've seen Pascal's Wager crop up a couple of times in the comments here recently. If you're ever looking for a great video that covers it in more detail, watch this one from TheraminTrees.


Telling Stories

Is Prayer Answered?

By Pansapien

I have heard Christadelphians assert that our prayers are answered in one of three ways; 'Yes', 'No' or 'Not yet'. I think this is an interesting manoeuvre for two reasons. Firstly, because it means that there is no evidence that can possibly be used to falsify this assertion - as a 'truth proposition' it is impossible to verify. And secondly, because if prayer didn't work we would expect to see these exact same outcomes. If the natural course of events were to play out then these are the only three possible options available.

New Flu Virus Specially Created By God Each Year, Argues Creationist

From The Christian Dolphin

"A Christadelphian creationist, brother Des Hein, has argued that new influenza viruses are actually designed and created by God each year, rather than evolving over time as scientists say. Several lines of evidence have been provided by brother Des in support of his claim."

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Confusion As Organist Plays One Verse Too Many


"Confusion and panic erupted at the mid-week Bible Class as the organist accidentally played one verse too many during the final hymn."

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Jesus' trial and crucifixion

By Jon Morgan

I’ve talked about the resurrection narrative, and I’ve talked about the birth narrative, so now seems a good time to talk about the trial and crucifixion narrative. This is mostly for completeness: unlike the birth and resurrection, the stories contain few supernatural claims, and it doesn’t seem so surprising that someone claiming to be the Messiah and upsetting established authorities might end up being crucified.

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Was Jesus born in Bethlehem?

By Jon Morgan

A few days ago, I discussed a positive case for the resurrection story having grown over time. There is a similar case for Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem being a later addition, though it’s a lot simpler: Only Matthew and Luke make explicit claims about Jesus being born in Bethlehem, they have completely separate stories, and prophecy gives a good reason for them to want to claim a birth in Bethlehem.

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The resurrection: What evidence do we need?

By Jon Morgan


Editor's note: This article was written on April 16, 2017.

Today is Easter Sunday. A time when many Christians around the world celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. For some, it is just a matter of faith: they are completely confident that their Lord was raised, and no evidence is required. For others, this is considered one of the strongest arguments for the truth of Christianity. In fact, some skeptics who have attempted to disprove it came to the conclusion the evidence is too strong, and became outspoken Christian apologists.

A few days ago, I questioned the argument that I considered the weakest: that 500 believers saw the resurrected Christ at one time. It was always my intention to go back and address the entire resurrection claim, and discuss why I don’t consider it compelling.

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The Six Day War: Fifty Years On

By Jon Morgan

Fifty years ago today, on the third day of the Six Day War, Israel captured the Wailing Wall, the Temple Mount, and the Old City of Jerusalem, giving them complete control of Jerusalem (which they retain to this day). At the start of the war, Israel’s existence had been threatened, but they came out of the war with a much firmer control of the entire area.

This may have been the high point of Christadelphian apocalyptic expectation. A mere 19 years before, Israel had returned to their land, and now with Jerusalem captured the time of the Gentiles was fulfilled. Everything was in readiness for Christ’s return, which must surely happen soon. There was a sudden spike in numbers of baptisms as young people rushed to make sure they would not miss out.

However, all these events happened long before I was born, and fifty years on there is still no return.

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Debunking Prophets - Part 1


Why I Believe There Is Probably No God

One of the more common criticisms I've heard directed at atheists is that in order to be an atheist, one must claim to know everything that exists in the universe and beyond. That is, in order to claim that no gods exist, one must possess all knowledge about everything that could possibly exist. Since obviously no human could possibly know everything that exists, it is argued that atheists are simply dishonest and arrogant.

While there may be atheists who make such claims, the vast majority do not. This is actually a misunderstanding of atheism on the part of believers who offer this criticism. The majority of atheists do not in fact assert that no gods exist. Most are actually agnostic, and simply remain unconvinced that any particular god exists.

However, in this article I want to go a bit further and put forward some arguments for why it may well be more rational to believe that no gods exist, at least for all practical purposes.