Weekly Buzz: 1/12/15

Did the Exodus really happen?

A new film, coming to theaters next Monday, looks at the historicity of the Exodus. Watch the trailer now, and see why it makes me think of Oprah.

New Movie about the Exodus

No, I’m not talking about the Christian Bale movie. I’m talking about Patterns of Evidence: The Exodus. The film claims to have unearthed the true history behind the Exodus:

What does the hard evidence really have to say about the foundational story of the Old Testament: the Exodus out of Egypt? An in-depth investigation by documentary filmmaker Tim Mahoney searches for answers to these questions amid startling new finds that may change traditional views of history and the Bible.

Check out the trailer for yourself.

Whenever a book or movie claims to “change traditional views” or present “startling new finds” to the public, I feel like skeptical Oprah.

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I hope this documentary surprises me, but I doubt it. I suspect its bold claims are more of a marketing gimmick than a preview of some shocking new evidence. In the words of Charles Barkley, “I may be wrong, but I doubt it.”

For a quick, very informative read about the Exodus and history, check out a short interview with Duke scholar Carol Meyers.

What do you think of this new movie?

“Chats with John Polkinghorne”

The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion released the first episode of a new series: “Chats with John Polkinghorne.” Who is this guy? He’s a physicist, theologian, and Anglican clergymen. He’s written many great books on science and Christianity.

In this first chat, Polkinghorne talks with Rev. Prof. David Wilkinson. They discuss the relationship between extraterrestial life and Christian theology. Spoiler alert: Polkinghorne takes a different approach than Ken Ham.

What do you make of Polkinghorne’s musings?

Ed Feser on Evolution and Original Sin

Speaking of science and Christianity, Catholic philosopher Ed Feser wrote an interesting blog post over at Strange NotionsHe asks a great question about original sin and evolution:

How can the doctrine of original sin be reconciled with what contemporary biology says about human origins?  For the doctrine requires descent from a single original ancestor, whereas contemporary biologists hold that the genetic evidence indicates that modern humans descended from a population of at least several thousand individuals (emphasis added).

This question is a tough one, and his solution is worth considering. (I hadn’t heard of it before today.) Feser summarizes an idea by Mike Flynn and Kenneth Kemp:

The Flynn-Kemp proposal is this.  . . . On this scenario, the modern human population has the genes it does because it is descended from this group of several thousand individuals, initially only two of whom [Adam and Eve] had rational or human souls.  But only those later individuals who had this pair among their ancestors (even if they also had as ancestors members of the original group which did not have human souls) have descendents [sic] living today.  In that sense, every modern human is both descended from an original population of several thousand and from an original pair.  There is no contradiction, because the claim that modern humans are descended from an original pair does not entail that they received all their genes from that pair alone [emphasis added].

This proposal is kind of appealing, but it also strikes me as a bit too clever. Moreover, it seems unnecessary: I don’t think the historicity of Adam and Eve is essential to Christian orthodoxy. Check out alternative readings of Adam and Eve, such as this great post by Peter Enns. He notes the similarities between Israel’s story and Adam’s story. Enns presents a reading of the text in which Adam is the beginning of Israel, not humanity.”

What do you think of Feser’s post?  How do you view the relationship between original sin and evolution?

“Daniel Dennett: Stop Telling People They Don’t Have Free Will”

Big Think just released a new clip of Daniel Dennett, a New Atheist and a philosopher, talking about free will. Dennett talks about the consequences of telling people that they lack it.

Love the buzz? Hate it? Please write a comment!

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