Home » Intelligent Design » Sightings: Atheists and theistic evolutionists sip spring water on a panel together, and …

Sightings: Atheists and theistic evolutionists sip spring water on a panel together, and …

I am so glad that Lawrence M. Krauss, cosmologist and director of the Origins Initiative at Arizona State University, exists, so we don’t have to invent him.

He and I turned out to share a taste for talking about religion and about journalism, which I discovered during his evening address at the Canadian Science Writers’ convention in Sudbury in May. Most recently, in “God and Science don’t mix” for the Wall Street Journal (June 26, 2009), he advanced the view that “A scientist can be a believer. But professionally, at least, he can’t act like one.” Nonetheless, he insists,

… while scientific rationality does not require atheism, it is by no means irrational to use it as the basis for arguing against the existence of God, and thus to conclude that claimed miracles like the virgin birth are incompatible with our scientific understanding of nature.

However, I bet he doesn’t have nearly the same sympathy for using facts of science to demonstrate the existence of God, as astronomer Hugh Ross does. A man of science cannot afford to be that broad-minded, after all, … but I digress.

But now, here’s something really interesting: Krauss relates that he was on a “Science, Faith, Religion” panel at the World Science Festival in New York City ( June 13, 2009). As an atheist, he was paired with philosopher Colin McGinn. On the other side were “devoutly Catholic” biologist Ken Miller and Vatican astronomer Brother Guy Consolmagno, with ABC’s Bill Blakemore moderating. Krauss raised the question of the virgin birth of Jesus. He recalls,

When I confronted my two Catholic colleagues on the panel with the apparent miracle of the virgin birth and asked how they could reconcile this with basic biology, I was ultimately told that perhaps this biblical claim merely meant to emphasize what an important event the birth was. Neither came to the explicit defense of what is undeniably one of the central tenets of Catholic theology.

That’s interesting. Because I was myself given to understand through discreet private sources that both men were devout Catholics.

Personally, I don’t see the virgin birth of Jesus as much of an issue for science because it is regarded in the Christian tradition as an explicit act of God, apart from the ordinary workings of nature. So there is nothing to study and never will be.

Now, if you know for sure that there is no God, you know it didn’t happen. If you know there is a God but are quite certain that he “wouldn’t do things that way,” you also know it didn’t happen – though you are on less firm ground, more or less inventing your own modernist version of Christianity.

Dr. Krauss posts here now and then, and perhaps Ken Miller and Guy Consolmagno might also sign in and clarify their views. The latter two are, after all, important theistic evolutionists. With the appointment of near-theistic evolutionist Francis Collins, with his unusual views on the uniqueness of human life, to head of NIH, it might be a good idea to see how closely these guys map the mind space of the people they hope will listen to them.

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35 Responses to Sightings: Atheists and theistic evolutionists sip spring water on a panel together, and …

  1. Jesus’ virgin birth was not that unique. Perseus and Zoroaster, among others, were similarly reputed to have been born of a virgin. Some variants of the story have Mithras born of a virgin, as were several Hindu deities, Purana among others.

    What gets weird is Matthew 1:25 says that Jesus was Mary’s “firstborn son” – Jesus had brothers and sisters, even though Mary is purported to be a perpetual virgin in Catholic doctrine.

  2. Hi Denyse,

    On Ken Miller, the following link may be of interest to you:

    http://creationevolutiondesign.....tions.html

  3. Denyse, I wouldn’t trust Krauss’ summary of Miller on this question. Another commenter (off UD) who attended the debate gave a very different representation of what Miller’s response was – which basically added up to him saying Krauss’ setup to the question couldn’t be answered. If Miller could give a ‘naturalistic’ account of the virgin birth (say, by talking about the possibilities of parthenogenesis), then Krauss would claim that it therefore was no miracle. If Miller appealed to God’s intervention, Krauss would claim Miller was not offering up a scientific explanation. If that’s accurate, it strikes me as a very fair response.

  4. O’Leary: “Personally, I don’t see the virgin birth of Jesus as much of an issue for science because it is regarded in the Christian tradition as an explicit act of God, apart from the ordinary workings of nature. So there is nothing to study and never will be.”

    Perhaps there is nothing to be studied from a truly scientific perspective, but there’s plenty to study from a historical one. Did this event really occur? Why does one Gospel writer not even mention it? Why is there no contemporary historical corroboration (or for that matter of any of Jesus’s life?).

    Whatever your views we cannot say with 100% certainty that this event actually occurred. So, yes, study is important. Indeed, one could even say, as Ms O’Leary is fond of saying, there’s a controversy here.

  5. The whole point of the virgin birth and the resurrection is that they are not naturalistically possible and therefore miracles. This is apparently completely lost on Kauss.

  6. I’m not sure if his thoughts/work are welcome around here, but Frank Tipler made an interesting, scientific (read: testable), case for the virgin birth in The Physics of Christianity.

  7. Parthenogenesis would make Jesus an example of a “XX male”. This could be tested only by extracting DNA from the Shroud of Turin or something. But I think that would say more about the Shroud than Jesus.

  8. Jehu, it’s not lost on Krauss. Did you fail to notice him explicitly calling such things “claimed miracles”? As an atheist, why should he accept the idea of a divine miracle? That’s his whole point: they violate what we know about nature, you can’t verify them, and they undermine the traditional case for theism, which tends to rely heavily on such accounts.

  9. Oh, so Larry the Laff was just settin’ them up, eh? Well, if he doesn’t write in to say any different, that’s where we’re gonna leave it.

    As far as I know, no reasonable person has ever tried to provide a naturalistic account of the virgin birth, because it has never been conceived (so to speak) as a naturalistic event.

    Arguments around whether it occurred generally revolve around issues of theology, not technique.

    I would like to hope that the devout lay Catholic and the Jesuit brother on the panel made that point clearly at least.

  10. On the subject of miracles, I once asked myself, “Self, what is a miracle?” The answer seemed obvious: an event with no naturalistic explanation or cause.

    Then it suddenly dawned on me: The origin of the universe was a miracle, by definition. The origin of the universe could not possibly have a naturalistic explanation or cause, because nature did not exist until the universe came into being.

    We therefore have logical and empirical verification of at least one miracle, and on the grandest scale imaginable.

  11. 11

    I always thought of the impregnation of Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit to be akin to artificial insemination.

    Although I would wager God’s ‘tech’ is a lot less clumsy and messy than ours. Heh.

  12. As far as I know, no reasonable person has ever tried to provide a naturalistic account of the virgin birth, because it has never been conceived (so to speak) as a naturalistic event.

    Actually, one of the brightest thinkers of the ID movement, UD’s own former blog czar DaveScot, tried exactly that here at uncommondescent.com in the following thread: There are more things in heaven and earth, Paul, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. IIRC, starting from John A. Davison’s semi-meiosis hypothesis (for details see “Intelligent Design Links” in the sidebar of this page) he concluded that Jesus must have been 1n.

  13. Then it suddenly dawned on me: The origin of the universe was a miracle, by definition. The origin of the universe could not possibly have a naturalistic explanation or cause, because nature did not exist until the universe came into being.

    Wow—that’s really quite beautiful.

  14. GilDodgen @ 8

    Then it suddenly dawned on me: The origin of the universe was a miracle, by definition. The origin of the universe could not possibly have a naturalistic explanation or cause, because nature did not exist until the universe came into being.

    We therefore have logical and empirical verification of at least one miracle, and on the grandest scale imaginable.

    Not quite.

    My understanding is that the evidence and the physical theories which allow scientists to model the early Universe do not extend to the very beginning. It is fairer to think of it as a question mark. It might be an uncaused event but at this time we simply do not know.

    Bear in mind that we now take for granted things which were unknown to the people of just 100 years ago. Who knows what will be commonplace to the people of 2109 but still a mystery to us? It is simply premature to declare the origin of the Universe a miracle, however much some people would like it to be.

  15. Dear O’Leary or anyone reading this blog. Please could someone explain me why you’re wasting so much time speaking about faith when I.D. is supposed to be a “faith-free” scientific inquiry??? I’ve notice a very worrying trend on this blogs and on others dealing with ID with people that could actually help others understand the limit in Darwinian evolution being bogged down into the stupid argument of the “I’m more Holy than Thou..”.
    Firstly, while the evolutionist have thousands of bloggers speaking about evolution and a really tiny fraction of them speaking about being religious and believing in evolution, the ID’ers don’t have this luxury. So seing wasting their time is really disapointing.
    Secondly: my Dear O’Leary, as a journalist, you should know that the vast majority of catholics, like Collins and others, believe in Evolution. The pope – you know the leader of the catholic faith- believe in Evolution, as well as all the catholics that I know in France. You and Behe are the minority. Why don’t you guys get over it get back to the science??

    The Evolutionists won the battle of ideas last century when the creationists and old earth christians were fighting each others rather than stiking to the science. Looks like that lesson haven’t been learned.

    So disappointing. And during this time, evolutionists are laughing out loud about how naive are the ID’s crowd.

    So please, please, please..guys..: get back to work!!!

  16. Kyrilluk, you don’t think Behe “believes in evolution”? Do you know anything – anything at all – about Behe? Let me guess – you think he denies common descent too? Him and Michael Denton, right?

    So much for learning lessons.

  17. @ nullasalus: Evolution is a word that can means a lot of different things. You can say that science evolve, that our understanding of the universe evolve, that the swine flu virus evolve, that the animals evolve, etc.. Is it not obvious that if you want to properly understand a word, you need to attach it to its context?
    Yes Behe believe in “Evolution” but does he believe in a purely undirected evolution like most Evolutionist? Obviously not. And yes he believe in commun descent (just finish his last book).
    Hence, given the fact that 1) Behe is a leader in the ID community and 2) that he oppose many evolutionist tales, one would have understand the way I use the word “evolutionist”.
    If we start using the word “evolutionist” to anyone who believe in some kind of evolution taking place at any point in history, I’m afraid that not only Behe is an evolutionist but probably everyone as we all believe in micro-evolution or in the fact that “stuff evolve”.

    So much for wasting my time.

  18. For Kyrilluk,

    1. You can only waste your own time here. We are not the government, and can’t waste time for you.

    2. Miller and Consolmagno oppose ID and claim to be devout Catholics, so Krauss’s comments were of natural interest to me.

    3. I am the culture bore around here. The tech guys would all seem to be at their cottages just now.

    So what you hear from me is a little different.

    4. You wrote, “If we start using the word “evolutionist” to anyone who believe in some kind of evolution taking place at any point in history, I’m afraid that not only Behe is an evolutionist but probably everyone as we all believe in micro-evolution or in the fact that “stuff evolve”.”

    I do not see anything wrong with that.

  19. 19

    Paul,

    “What gets weird is Matthew 1:25 says that Jesus was Mary’s “firstborn son” – Jesus had brothers and sisters, even though Mary is purported to be a perpetual virgin in Catholic doctrine.”

    This emphasis on Jesus as the firstborn is no doubt because the gospel of Matthew is supposed to have been written to convince a Jewish audience.

    In the Old Testament, there is a long and venerable tradition of the sacrifice of the firstborn, especially if a male.

    Because of this, it does not really mean that Jesus was the first of more than one. Whether there were subsequent births isn’t relevant to the term ‘firstborn’.

  20. 2. Miller and Consolmagno oppose ID and claim to be devout Catholics, so Krauss’s comments were of natural interest to me.
    I understand that.

    But given the fact that the journalists able to dissect and analyse sciences articles are pretty rare these days, especially those who like you don’t seems to believe in the Darwinist tales, is not your duty toward the ID community to focus your attention on the science rather than on the theological side of the argument?

    As a devout catholic yourself you’re surely upset by Miller’s comments. However, being French, I can tell you that Miller’s point of view is actually the “mainstream” view among most Catholics I know. And given the fact that the pope himself seems to despise intelligent design arguments, I think that it will be wiser to focus our attention on the science rather than the “religion-science” issue.

    You have written a lot of interesting articles about cosmology and other scientifics issues. Ultimately, these are the one we can use to win the arguments against blind neo-darwinism evolution.

    Ps: I don’t waste my time reading you. However I consider wasting my time answering obvious question about what the word evolution means when the meaning is actually pretty obvious.

  21. 21

    “vocationist” (#19) wrote: “…it does not really mean that Jesus was the first of more than one. Whether there were subsequent births isn’t relevant to the term ‘firstborn’.

    So “firstborn” does not imply there wasn’t a “secondborn” (or a “thirdborn,” etc.)? So Jesus’ “brothers and sisters” mentioned in several parts of the New Testament were only metaphorically related, not Mary’s children?

    Then can you explain the following:

    “Is this not the carpenter, son of Mary, the brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon? Do not his sister live here near us?” – Mark 6:3

    “But he (Joseph) had no union with her until she gave birth to a son.” – Matthew 1:25

    “…he went down to Capernaum with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples.” – John 2:12

    There’s lots of other verses talking Jesus’ siblings.

  22. “what the word evolution means when the meaning is actually pretty obvious.”

    This is not so obvious. The preferred definition in the evolutionary biology community is a change in allele frequency in a population over time. Now that has gone out of favor for some as an allele frequency can remain the same and the expression of the alleles can change due to other genomic elements or non genomic epigenetic elements changing. And then there is the observation that morphological changes or behavior changes are due to a network of genomic changes so the identifying the specific alleles changes is misleading.

    So what is the science definition of evolution? The popular definition of evolution is that things change over time but Darwin’s Finches have gone and come back again so is this evolution? And then there is another popular definition of evolution to mean evolution according to Darwin or more up to date it means evolution according to whatever the latest synthesis is.

    Then there is the definition to mean that all changes that have happened have happened by Darwinian processes or naturalistic processes. This is a metaphysical definition because it assumes a priori the mechanism for the changes but is slipped into discussions of science as if it is a scientific definition.

    So we waste a lot of people’s time around here by not specifying what definition of evolution we are using.

  23. However, being French, I can tell you that Miller’s point of view is actually the “mainstream” view among most Catholics I know.

    I am curious: what does being French have to do, exactly, with the views of Catholics in general?
    Since you (and I assume you are also implying Miller is) are French (are you even Catholic?) most Catholics, therefore, believe what you want them to believe?

    And given the fact that the pope himself seems to despise intelligent design arguments…

    Ah yes, that wonderful weasel-word “seems” that implies that the individual using it has the power of telepathy and can peer into the minds of others, thus divining their true intent absent actual evidence.

  24. Mr Avocationist,

    In the Old Testament, there is a long and venerable tradition of the sacrifice of the firstborn, especially if a male.

    No.

    There is the death of the Egyptian first-born as the last plague of the Exodus story. The first-born of the Jews did not die. The first-born were supposed to become priests, but this plan was changed after the sin of the Golden Calf. (So much for omniscience.)

    Solomon’s older brother was first-born, but died because of David’s sin with Bathsheba. (So much for everyone dies for their own sin.)

  25. Two days ago, Steve Barr wrote, “Krauss makes a false insinuation about the views on miracles and the Virgin Birth of Br. Guy Consolmagno, a Jesuit astrophysicist at the Vatican Observatory. I e-mailed Br. Guy and he assured me that Krauss completely misrepresented his views.” He says no more about that, but he goes on to reply nicely to Krauss:

    http://www.firstthings.com/ont.....cience-mix

  26. I am curious: what does being French have to do, exactly, with the views of Catholics in general?
    Since you (and I assume you are also implying Miller is) are French (are you even Catholic?) most Catholics, therefore, believe what you want them to believe?

    The fact I said that as a French, all the Catholics that I know are evolutionist should have given you a hint as the fact that I was speaking about French Catholics. I don’t imply that absolutely all Catholics believe in Evolution (you know Darwinism and all that) but that in my experience most do. I’ve never heard, excepted in strong derogatory term, any one, even devout catholics, speaking about ID. And I challenge you to find me a book written by a famous ID’s (such as Behe, Myers, etc..) in French that I’ve been widely distributed (ok beside the muslim guy Harun-something).
    If you would have travelled a bit, you would have not failed to realise, I’m sure, that excepted for North America, ID is not “mainstream” in most circles, catholics included.

    Ah yes, that wonderful weasel-word “seems” that implies that the individual using it has the power of telepathy and can peer into the minds of others, thus divining their true intent absent actual evidence.

    Yes, well, I’m just being precautious. After all, you’re right, the pope banned the ID scientist from an important seminar about life’s origin but hey, who knows, he might just have been too shy to ask…
    lol..

  27. 27

    Hello Paul and Nakashima,

    It’s Ms. Avocationist by the way.

    I was not trying to explain away all the references to siblings, merely the emphasis in Matthew on Jesus as a firstborn male, the most desirable sort of sacrifice.

    In some cultures, though, cousins are referred to as brothers and sisters. All the Russians I know do this. Furthermore, the tradition is that Joseph was an older man, and the brothers and sisters of Jesus could have been Joseph’s children. Now, I am not making an argument either way, as I have no particular need for either scenario.

    I’m afraid that the consecration or sacrifice of the firstborn did not end with the golden calf Nor begin either. There is the little story of Abraham, unquestioningly obeying the rather bizarre order to sacrifice his son Isaac. Bizarre, that is, if the idea of sacrificing a child is unthinkable and new…but if it was part of the culture of the time, well, not so much.
    There is some indication from biblical scholarship that Abraham may have indeed sacrificed Isaac, by which he hallowed the land that was later to become Israel. The text was later amended.

    In the time after the golden calf Jehovah demanded that all firstborn males of humans and animals were to be his. The animals for sacrifice, the humans not so clear – but it seems they could be ‘redeemed’ and not sacrificed. It was later amended to be only the firstborn among the Levites.

    It’s confusing because so many of these biblical tales are told more than once in different places.

    There is also an astonishingly confusing passage in Exodus 4 in which Moses, on his way to do the bidding with Pharaoh, is at an Inn, and Jehovah wants to kill him, but his wife immediately takes a stone and circumcises their son, and offers his foreskin, and she is angry and calls Moses a bloody husband. Was Moses planning to use his son to guarantee success in his mission or to appease Jehovah’s wrath?

    Knowing the propensity of ancient kings of old to sacrifice their sons in times of dire need this is an alarming passage.

    There’s another tale later, after Israel is a nation, in which they are in battle and the other king in desperation takes his son and heir, and sacrifices him upon the wall, at which a “wrath” overtakes the army of Israel and they lose.

    There’s also the story of Jephthah, who sacrificed his 12 year old daughter and only child to Jehovah. It is told as a sad tale, but there were no repercussions or denouncements.

    There are also many passages in which the Israelites are chided for taking part in infant sacrifice to other gods.

  28. Ms Avocationist,

    OK, but that does not add up to a long and venerable tradition of sacrifice of first born sons, that adds up to a lot of isolated incidents from different cultures and anecdotes.

  29. 29

    Nakashima,

    There is a definite pattern of child sacrifice, and yes, it involves the entire culture of the region of the near east with which the Israelites were completely interwoven. I’m not actually sure what your point is. But I’ll tell you what my point is.

    There is a lot of child sacrifice and sometimes adult sacrifice, from that time period around the world, and Jehovah was no exception to the rule.

  30. 30
    EndoplasmicMessenger

    PaulBurnett,

    Then can you explain the following:

    “Is this not the carpenter, son of Mary, the brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon? Do not his sister live here near us?” – Mark 6:3

    “But he (Joseph) had no union with her until she gave birth to a son.” – Matthew 1:25

    “…he went down to Capernaum with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples.” – John 2:12

    I realize this is not an apologetics forum for Catholics, but since these questions were raised, let me at least give an outline of a response, lest people think there is no response.

    The Aramaic language spoke by Jesus had no term for cousin. He therefore would have have used the words “brothers” or “sisters” to refer to less immediate relatives.
    The very verse you quote (Mark 6:3) works against you. It is more accurately translated: “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary…” Notice the definite article ‘the’. If Mary had had more than one son, then the indefinite article ‘a’ would have been used.
    James and Joseph are again mentioned together in Mark 15:40 (see also Matthew 27:56): “And there were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joseph…”. Neither of these two Marys was the mother of Jesus. Hence, we can conclude that James and Joseph were not, in fact, biological brothers of Jesus.
    In agreement with Mark 6:3, Jude is mentioned elsewhere to be the brother of James (see Luke 6:16 “And Jude, the brother of James” and Acts 1:11), but as before, this does not mean that he was the biological brother of Jesus (see preceding point).
    Simon is mentioned with James again in Luke 6:15 (cf Acts 1:13): “Simon who is called Zelotes”. If he were a biological brother of Jesus, he would surely have been called, “Simon the brother of Jesus”. Again, neither Simon nor James is a biological brother of Jesus.
    Regarding the use of “until”, my favorite is 2 Sam 6:23 (“Michal the daughter of Saul had no children until the day of her death.”). This and other uses of “until” (cf Gen 8:7, Dt 34:6) clearly indicate that its use in scripture does not imply any subsequent event. So this verse does not conflict with the Catholic position that Mary remained perpetually virgin.

  31. What does it matter that Aramaic has no word like cousin, if the Gospels are not written in Aramaic, or quoting Jesus? Shouldn’t you base this comment on Greek?

  32. Ms Avocationist,

    I’m not actually sure what your point is.

    My point was that you had made a broad and unsupportable assertion, which you have now softened cosiderably.

    BTW, in Exodus God tells Moses to convey to Pharoah that Israel is his “first born” which makes dramatic sense in terms of the final plague. So it would appear that Jehovah is more likely to save than sacrifice his first born.

  33. In response to avocationist, I’d just like to set things in perspective.

    Here’s a quote from Deuteronomy 12:29-31, as cited in The Book of Deuteronomy (1994) by Peter C. Craigie, at http://books.google.com/books?.....8;resnum=5 :

    29 When the Lord our God cuts off before you the nations, whom you are going to dispossess, then you shall dispossess them and you shall dwell in their land.

    30 You must take care that you are not thrust out after them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not resort to their gods, saying: ‘How do these nations worship their gods, that I too may do the same?’

    31 You shall not do thus to the Lord your God, because they do for their gods every abomination of the Lord, which he hates – they even burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.

    Commentary from The Book of Deuteronomy (1994) by Peter C. Craigie:

    The example given of the heinous nature of foreign religion is child scarifice: they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods. Israelite law described child murder as a capital offense (Lev. 18:21; 20:2-5); for it was tantamount to murder in spite of the supposedly religious reason for it. In spite of the horrible nature of the offense, there are cases of child sacrifice related during the later period of Israelite history. Both Ahaz (2 Chr. 28:3) and Manasseh (2 Kings 21:6) were guilty of child sacrifice. Just as here in Deuteronomy, the crime is described as one that could lead to expulsion from the land, as in fact it happened with the northern kingdom (2 Kings 17:17-18). To assume the right to sacrifice a child was the assume a right that was God’s alone, the prerogative over human life. In the fulness of time, God exercised that prerogative in the sacrifice of his only Son as a complete sacrifice for the sins of men.

    Footnote from the same text:

    For studies dealing with child sacrifice in Canaanite religion, see H. Gese et al. – Die Religionen Alt-Syriens, Alt-Babylonians und Mandaer, p. 175 ff., O. Eissfeldt, Adrammelek under Demarus, Kleine Schiften, III, pp. 335-339. The cult is associated with various deities in the Near East, but principally with the god Molech in the OT records; see J. A. Thompson, NBD, p. 836, for discussion and references.

    Quote from Leviticus 18:10:

    Thou shalt not give of thy seed to cause to pass through the fire for Moloch.

    Quote from Unger’s Bible Dictionary by Merrill F. Unger (Chicago: Moody Press, 1957), page 416, entry “Molech”:

    A detestable Semitic deity honored by the sacrifice of children, in which they were caused to pass through or into the fire. Palestinian excavations have uncovered evidences of infant skeletons in burial places around heathen shrines. Ammonites revered Molech as a protecting father. Worship of Molech was stringently prohibited by Hebrew law. (Lev. 18:21; 20:1-5) Solomon built an altar to Molech at Tophet in the Valley of Hinnon. Manasseh in his idolatrous orgy also honored this deity. Josiah desecrated the Hinnom Valley altar, but Jehoiakim revived the cult.

    Quote from Jeremiah 7:30-31:

    30 The people of Judah have done evil in my eyes, declares the LORD. They have set up their detestable idols in the house that bears my Name and have defiled it. 31 They have built the high places of Topheth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to burn their sons and daughters in the fire — something I did not command, nor did it enter my mind.

    The 12th century rabbi Rashi, commenting on Jeremiah 7:31 stated:

    Tophet is Moloch, which was made of brass; and they heated him from his lower parts; and his hands being stretched out, and made hot, they put the child between his hands, and it was burnt; when it vehemently cried out; but the priests beat a drum, that the father might not hear the voice of his son, and his heart might not be moved.

    Emphases in bold print above are all mine – VJT.

  34. On the subject of Jesus’ brethren, the following articles may be of interest:

    The Brethren of the Lord by Bishop J. B. Lightfoot, 1865.

    Brothers and Sisters of Jesus by Fr. William Most, S.J.

    Catholics are perfectly free to believe that the “brothers” were either Jesus’ cousins (as St. Jerome thought) or brothers by an earlier marriage of Joseph’s (as St. Epiphanius thought).

  35. 35

    Catholics are perfectly free to believe that the “brothers” were either Jesus’ cousins (as St. Jerome thought) or brothers by an earlier marriage of Joseph’s (as St. Epiphanius thought).

    Part of the problem with the “Joseph had other children before his marriage to Mary” school of thought is that Matthew (IIRC) demonstrates with his lineage that Jesus was perceived to be Joseph’s firstborn by everyone around them, although Matthew makes clear that Jesus is the son of God.

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