Archive for the ‘The Big Question’ Category

Christmas 2009

December 25th, 2009 No comments

Wishing a Rich and Rewarding Christmas to my Readers

Just thought I would post some end of 2009 updates:

I will address the Shreveport, LA chapter of Reasons to Believe on the 3rd Monday of January, 2010 on the subject ‘The Testimony of the Witnesses’, an investigation into the credibility of the Christian Holy Writ. We will consider the weight of the earliest written testimony in regards to the claim of resurrection of Christ. And we will examine how writers such as Bart Ehrman, John Dominic Crossan, and Elaine Pagels can proceed from the the early Christian literature and arrive at results in diametric opposition to the views of both its authors and its recipients.

Sistine Chapel in Rome

Michelangelo - Fresco From The Sistine Chapel

I posted the following on Facebook in response to various discussions. It is not complete, but holds the germ of a theme upon which I would like to expand  in the future, God willing:

People think that because we live in a free society, we may practice Christianity, when actually the converse is true. Because we practice Christianity we live in a free society.

Ultimately we will each act according to our most deeply held convictions. Likewise, a society will be shaped by the ideology of its members. In predominately Hindu society, for instance, there will be little compassion for the downtrodden – after all, they are merely reaping the fruits of their actions in a previous life. In the Islamic world, there exists little tolerance for opposing viewpoints – possession of a Bible is punishable by death in Saudi Arabia, for instance; even though that nation is generally considered to be a rational, modern society. Likewise Marxism is a jealous god, accepting no rivals.

“But I believe in nothing,” one might say. “I have a secular viewpoint, bound by no primitive superstition.” Even so, this person has a core ideology. After all, this person believes in and wants good things for their self. And with no outside constraint, ethics for each ‘secular’ person generally devolves into ‘what’s good for me’. This leads to a materialistic, self centered society; such as we see developing in the United States as we renounce our Christian heritage, or as we saw in the Roman world after they left Stoicism.

All of the common principles of freedom that we have come to cherish – freedom of speech, freedom of religion, etc. were birthed in western Christian society. The rest of the world not only does not practice these ‘freedoms’, they do not see the advantage in practicing these freedoms. They are ‘foolishness’ to the non-Christian world.

We may judge the viability of a belief system by the merits of the society it produces. And before we run headlong to accept an ‘enlightened’ diverse viewpoint, we should examine the societies where it has been established to see where it leads – to see the conclusion of its adoption. Likewise, we should have a BETTER society in clear view before we renounce a way of life that has led us to freedom, prosperity and world hegemony.

November 24 at 6:19am ·

Here is an open letter from Bishop Tobin to Congressman Kennedy which I found quite interesting: Dear Congressman Kennedy

I will be making submittals to major publishers again in January. I have been somewhat remiss and have not contacted anyone in about 9 months. Depending upon which statistics program referenced, this website generated between 22,830 – 28,608 hits during the month of November from 1974 sites and 984 unique visitors. And this for a one year old site whose readership spreads solely through word of mouth. Many thanks to my readers. The increasing readership of the website should at some point provide additional inducement to prospective publishers. I am very interested in IVP Academic, and would be much obliged to anyone capable of a positive referral.

I am also aware that some of the footnote links are not functional. Its on my ‘to do’ list. You can still scroll manually to find the reference.

Best Wishes to all for 2010,

John Takach

Categories: The Big Question

The Scientific Treatment of Prophecy

October 31st, 2009 No comments

The Curious Case of Joseph ben Matthias

In 67 AD, during the Jewish revolt against Rome, Roman legions under Titus Flavius Vespasianus (Vespasian) conquered the Galilean city of Jotapata, the center of resistance for the Jewish armies in Galilee. Taken alive was Joseph ben Matthias, the commander of the Jewish forces in Galilee, a young man of aristocratic lineage and personal friend of Poppea, wife of the reigning Emperor Nero. It was unusual to capture such a leader. Most

Giulio Romano, The Triumph of Titus and Vespasian

Giulio Romano, The Triumph of Titus and Vespasian

Jewish commanders would suicide rather than face the pain and humiliation which Romans were wont to mete out to rebels. In consequence, Vespasian prepared to send this prestigious prisoner to Nero, an Emperor renowned for his merciless pursuit of self-interest[a].

Joseph was in something of a cleft stick. Whether he went to Nero or stayed with the legions, his outlook was torture and execution. Could he have appealed to Poppea for succor? Could he have made ‘a deal’ with the legions? At best he would be a turncoat, traitor to his people and his cause, never to be trusted by either side.

Joseph tells us in his own writings how these events transpired:

However, Vespasian gave strict orders that he should be kept with great caution, as though he would in a very little time send him to Nero.

When Josephus heard him give those orders, he said that he had somewhat in his mind that he would willingly say to himself alone. When therefore they were all ordered to withdraw, excepting Titus and two of their friends, he said, “Thou, O Vespasian, thinkest no more than that thou hast taken Josephus himself captive; but I come to thee as a messenger of greater tidings; for had not I been sent by God to thee, I knew what was the law of the Jews in this case? and how it becomes generals to die. Dost thou send me to Nero? For why? Are Nero’s successors till they come to thee still alive? Thou, O Vespasian, art Caesar and emperor, thou, and this thy son. Bind me now still faster, and keep me for thyself, for thou, O Caesar, are not only lord over me, but over the land and the sea, and all mankind; and certainly I deserve to be kept in closer custody than I now am in, in order to be punished, if I rashly affirm any thing of God.” When he had said this, Vespasian at present did not believe him, but supposed that Josephus said this as a cunning trick, in order to his own preservation; but in a little time he was convinced, and believed what he said to be true, God himself erecting his expectations, so as to think of obtaining the empire, and by other signs fore-showing his advancement. He also found Josephus to have spoken truth on other occasions; for one of those friends that were present at that secret conference said to Josephus, “I cannot but wonder how thou couldst not foretell to the people of Jotapata that they should be taken, nor couldst foretell this captivity which hath happened to thyself, unless what thou now sayest be a vain thing, in order to avoid the rage that is risen against thyself.” To which Josephus replied, “I did foretell to the people of Jotapata that they would be taken on the forty-seventh day, and that I should be caught alive by the Romans.” Now when Vespasian had inquired of the captives privately about these predictions, he found them to be true, and then he began to believe those that concerned himself. Yet did he not set Josephus at liberty from his hands, but bestowed on him suits of clothes, and other precious gifts; he treated him also in a very obliging manner, and continued so to do, Titus still joining his interest in the honors that were done him. – Flavius Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book III, Chapter viii, § 398 – 408

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Appeal for Assistance…

September 13th, 2009 2 comments

What’s new for September, 2009:

Hi everyone!
I’m in something of a quandary, and I’m asking my readers if they can help. As you know, I am seeking publication for my manuscript, How to Live Forever. As far as I can tell, this is the first COMPREHENSIVE treatment of the Resurrection of Christ based upon historical data. With all of the Discovery and History Channel specials undermining the evidence in favor of the Resurrection, with the conspicuous presence of such anti-Resurrection authors as Crossan, Ehrmann, and Pagel in modern literature, it certainly seems right that someone actually reveal the ancient record in it’s entirety. And that’s what How to Live Forever is about – letting the evidence determine the verdict.

But I am in that classic dilemma: I have never before published in this field, so I have no resume. I have very few contacts among authors and publishers, and have cold contacted fifty-eight publishers thus far, without finding a place for the book. Due to the number of permissions for various citations and translations which will be required, self-publishing seems out of the question – and I would really like to reach a nation-wide audience from the beginning if at all possible.

So here is the request:

If you, my readers, find some merit in these various posts, (which I believe individually fail to capture the elegance of the completed argument, ) and if you have some connection to someone in the publishing business, then I would appreciate a referral. Lead them to the site, let them look at the material, and let’s see if we can’t get this thing published and clear up the record concerning the Resurrection.

Thanking you for your assistance in this regard, I remain

Yours Very Truly,

John Takach

Categories: The Big Question

The Higher Criticism

August 15th, 2009 No comments

The Higher Critical Method – A Study of Inherent Logical Fallacy

For nearly two-hundred years, since Eichhorn coined the term, higher critical methods have been the accepted means for determination of the authenticity of ancient documents. These techniques as performed by academia today constitute the ONLY procedures for evaluating such documents which are based upon scientific principles. Notwithstanding the pedigree of the work, or ancient testimony to the contrary, the true nature of all ancient literature may be determined ONLY through adherence to this modern approach. So we are told.

But is the higher criticism, as currently practiced, truly the unbiased application of the scientific method to the field of historical literature?  Based upon the examples of higher critical analyses that I have studied, and I have by no means read them all, I have observed a curious systematic acceptance of the sophistic notion that science has somehow disproven the supernatural – that phenomena either unexamined or unproven by modern science have somehow been disproved by the lack of formal treatment. This premise, coupled with the modern prejudice that the ancients were a rather naïve and superstitious lot, incapable of discriminating truth from fable and certainly incapable of teaching anything to a modern man of science, has been invoked to discredit an entire corpus of literature – specifically that literature which claims to be a record of the intervention of the Divine in the affairs of men. “Oh, give me a break,” some might say, “all that buildup to defend a dying faith against the encroachment of science? When will you religious nuts stop being threatened by progress?”

But I submit for your consideration the defense that science does not hold a monopoly on truth. Indeed, the long and chequered annals of science include many embarrassing incidents of entrenched hostility towards new theories by adherents of previous doctrines; and conversely, the acceptance of rather dubious conclusions based upon the prestige of their proponents[a]. Even well supported theories come and go with the passage of time. The Newtonian mechanics that you learned in school were already known to be incomplete, having been augmented by Einstein’s Relativity, long before you were taught Newton.

So to say that something is the ‘accepted’ scientific theory of the day is really no endorsement at all. True science can be built only upon hard data by sound logical arguments. Many things science has yet to measure, so the requisite evidence needed for development of a theory has not even been gathered. As a physicist, one of the ‘hard’ scientists, I am well aware that each of my working theories rests upon data and underlying assumptions. This being said, I may only apply a theory to a problem INSOFAR as that problem does not violate one of the theory’s underlying premises.

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Prologue: I Want To Live

December 24th, 2008 4 comments

Prologue: I Want To Live

It is appointed unto man once to die and then the judgment…

We are all going to die. We become aware of our mortality at a tender age, and we are taught by society to accept this eventuality as the price of life. Well adjusted individuals reconcile themselves to death as a part of their reality.kalvaria_-_banska_stiavnica4

But instinctively we know that death is our enemy. And no healthy person wants to die.

So we wax philosophic and derive comfort from the axiom that “death is a part of life… (heavy sigh)” – Which it is not. Death is the cessation of life; this precious life being the gift of God.

Many of us believe that if the way we live our life has meaning, Death will seem less bitter at the end. This attitude is both admirable and constructive. The death which follows is still not good. But by all means put the best face on it.

So we live our lives the best that we can, and try to keep our minds off of the sudden stop at the end. We work hard to fill our lives with things, or to pass down to our children. Some may party and chase women or men to fill empty hours with meaning. Or if we are noble, we fill our lives with service. Even so, there is not much that we wouldn’t do to avoid death. But what CAN we do?

Medical science may someday be able to prolong or restore life. Or maybe not. I’m not certain that we even understand the force that we call life. What substance inhabits living tissue which causes it to differ from the dead? I sincerely hope that there are medical professionals who are hot on the trail. But I don’t expect a breakthrough this week. And the fate of men who live a thousand years from now is scant comfort to me.

Literature is replete with examples of man somehow achieving immortality. Mary Shelley introduces us to a world in which science has unlocked the mystery of life. Vampire stories reveal a race of once-men who will live forever, (although usually at the expense of their immortal souls.) Even Shangra La’s promise of a few hundred years seems hopeful to those of us doomed to a life of three score and ten. These stories illustrate our hopes and desires. But they are just stories.

In the real world, where can we turn? A plethora of religions claims to provide insight to an afterlife. An Afterlife! What a wonderful idea if it exists! If dying is just a doorway to a new and possibly better existence, then Death has lost its sting. All that is necessary then is to determine which belief system is correct, and to adhere to that faith. A correct choice guarantees an afterlife in a far better state. Of course a wrong choice might have dire consequences.

A prevalent view today is that all paths lead to God, that one religion is as good as another as long as you are sincere and a “good” person. If you are certain of this view, you may stop reading now. You have nothing left to learn, and your ascent to a positive afterlife is guaranteed no matter what you believe. In the afterlife you may chide me about my vain and fruitless search for the one true path to God. I have noticed though, that those who adhere to this doctrine don’t really believe in anything with certainty. They appear to be just hoping for the best.

These include the “modernists” who first explain away historical written records of the supernatural in terms of the limited understanding of primitive writers, and then use the “lack” of the miraculous to “prove” the lack of the Divine. As well as the “New Agers” who believe that it is arrogant and boorish to claim that your path is any better than the one that they just thought up. Like Aristotle they have no need to test their hypotheses. If it seems right in their head it must be right. It never occurs to them that a true God might just set His own perfect standard for reasons not totally comprehensible to we the finite.

And the testimony of the various religions contradicts this view as well. Many diverse religions claim exclusive access to God. Obviously some are mistaken.

So how do we “test” our hypothesis? How do we make certain that we are on the path to God without having already died? (Which may be too late?) The answer is simple: Just find a man who has overcome Death, and follow His leadership.

To find this man we must commit ourselves to the historical record. Who remembers the splendor of the Tutankhamen exhibits which toured the USA in the late 1970’s? King Tut was an important historical figure. These exhibits from his tomb indicate that Death overcame him. Likewise, a little research provides insight into the deaths of Gaius Julius Caesar, Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson, Richard Coeur de Lion, Saladin, Zhu Yuanzhang and most other historical figures. History usually tells us how a famous person died. The written record also indicates that they tend to remain dead.

Categories: The Big Question