Debate 011: Travis and Blair debate Creationism & Jesus

Travis Rebuttal #001:

just want to comment on monogenes quickly. you are accurate in saying that it means “one of a kind” or “unique.” that is the correct translation from the Greek. however, i have to take issue with your comment, “Bet they don’t teach you that in Church!” this is an incredibly incorrect statement. i have taught from the pulpit of my own church that monogenes is translated “only begotten” incorrectly in the King James Version, and that the NIV’s rendering “The One and only” is much more accurate. manuscript evidence, of course, points to the fact that this phrase is calling Jesus “the one and only God,” therefore being a strong statement of His deity.

but i just wanted to make you aware that Christian scholarship is up to date on the meaning of monogenes, and that it is being taught in church and Christian organizations. just thought you’d want to be as accurate as possible in your presentation of facts, given that you’re defending such a difficult position.

Response to Travis #001:

Thank your for contacting me via Atheism Awareness. I’m glad to hear that your church is teaching the numerous mistranslations in the KJV. I assume you are also covering the numerous mistranslations in all translations because of all the variants and of course the lack of original manuscripts.

Christian scholarship has been up-to-date for a long time. The problem has not been the scholarship – but disseminating that scholarship to the “flock”. That is why the Jesus Seminar received so much slack for publishing its work. Conventional scholarship faculties were upset that this knowledge was being given to the public.

It’s nice to hear that some churches are teaching Biblical scholarship and criticism.

Travis Rebuttal #002:

thanks for your response. it seems that type of thing happens often, where the rest of the world does not catch up with scholarship. for example, many of the world’s leading evolutionists (now former evolutionists) have said that evolution is the greatest myth ever invented, and that the only thing we really know about evolution is that it should not be taught in schools. yet obviously the schools have not caught up with the scholarship of science.

As for the Jesus Seminar…i’ve got to be honest: to even use the word “scholar” in association with that group seems absurd. it is not only Christian scholars who are up in arms about the findings of the Jesus Seminar. Even non-Christian scholars find their methods to be unscholarly and untrustworthy. (I could provide information on all of this if you’d like).

And yes, there are quite a few textual issues to deal with concerning Scripture. however, i would like to note that if there is any document from antiquity in existence that has enough textual support to make it a reliable text, it is the New Testament. i’m sure you’ve heard the staggering number of NT texts that have been found…somewhere up over 5,000. compare that to Homer’s Illiad, the text from antiquity which comes in second for number of texts, for which we have somewhere over 600. it never ceases to amaze me that we trust things like the historian Tacitus; his Annals is used often as a reliable historical record from the first century, yet the only copy we have of it is dated to the 8th century.

anyway, thanks for your thoughts and your pleasant correspondence. it is good to be able to discuss these things without jumping down each other’s throats.

Response to Travis #002:

I’m friends with several of the world’s leading evolutionary biologists, paleontologists and paleobotanist and have yet to meet any of them that are “former evolutionists”. I’m interested in meeting a few of these ex-leading evolutionists. Could you provide me a few names so that I can contact them? Keep in mind that an ex-leading evolutionist is not someone that just used to agree with evolution, but was an actual scientist with a degree in biology, evolutionary biology, biologic ecology or other related scientific field.

Have you read any of the Jesus Seminar’s material? They are quick to point out their methods and how the votes are carried out. They leave the final decision to the reader. Every member of the Jesus Seminar is a Biblical scholar or theologian. So I fail to see how you can consider it not to be scholarly. I’ve met several of the scholars from the Jesus Seminar. The findings of the Jesus Seminar conclude that Jesus did exist. You’d think the Christians would flock to anything that says Jesus really existed. I agree with most of their findings but disagree with other findings. That’s what makes scholarship fun, I guess – everyone disagreeing and the debates involved with those disagreements. The difference between casual debate and scholarly debate is that the scholars have to prove their idea with evidence – not just speculation.

Yes, there are over 5,000 manuscripts in the Septuagint. However, there are also over 76,000 variations of those 5,000 manuscripts – and none of them are original. The Dead Sea Scrolls identified in Qumran cave #4 only added to the confusion because they found several variations of canon – including texts that were not in the Bible. As variations and manuscripts increase – the odds of identifying the “true” original decreases. Of course the difference between the canon and Homer’s Iliad is that no one claims the Iliad is the word of any God.

Travis Rebuttal #003:

I’m sorry this has taken so long to get to you. i’m still missing some documentation, but i’ll get that to you if you want it. here’s some scientists, most former evolutionists, and many who have turned creationists, who see major issues with evolution.

Dr. S. Lovtrup: “Micro mutations do occur, but the theory that these alone account for evolutionary change is either falsified or else it is an unfalsifiable, hence metaphysical theory. I suppose that nobody will deny that it is a great misfortune if an entire branch of science becomes addicted to a false theory. But this is what happened in biology…I believe that one day the Darwinian myth will be ranked the greatest deceit in the history of science. When this happens, people will pose the question, ‘How did this ever happen?'”

Dr. Stephen J. Gould: “All paleontologists know that the fossil record contains precious little in the way of intermediate forms…indeed our inability, even in our imagination, to construct functional intermediates in many cases, has been a persistent and nagging problem for gradualistic accounts of evolution.”

Evolutionist and paleonotologist, Joseph Weiner sums up the study: “It is quite obvious that modern man could not have arisen from any ape, let alone monkey, at all similar to those of today…it is ridiculous to describe man as “naked” or any other kind of ape.”

Ph.D. Wolfgang Smith agrees with the following statement: “On the fundamental level, it becomes a rigorously demonstrable fact that there are no transitional types, and that the so-called missing links are non-existent.”

Dr. Wilder Smith (chemist and former evolutionist) said: “It isemphatically the case the life could not arise spontaneously in a primeval soup from its kind.”

Evolutionist Frederic B. Jueneman: “The age of our globe is presently thought to be some 4.5 billion years, based on radio-decay rates of uranium and thorium. Such ‘confirmation’ may be short-lived, as nature is not to be discovered quite so easily. There has been in recent years the horrible realization that radio-decay rates are not as constant as previously thought, nor are they immune to environmental influences. And this could mean taht the atomic clocks are reset during some global disaster, and events whih brought the Mesozoic to a close may not be 65 million years ago, but within the memory of man.”

Dr. Harold Slusher, astrophysicist/ geophysicist: “There are a number of indicators that seem to indicate an age of no more than 10,000 years, at the very most, for the solar system and the earth.”

The following example demonstrates the folly of giving unqualified endorsement to the different “clocks” that are reputed to require an aged earth:

1. Studies on submarine basaltic rocks from Hawaii, known to have formed less than 200 years ago, when dated by the potassium-argon method, revealed “ages” from 160 million to almost 3 billion years old.

2. The shells of living mollusks have been dated at up to 2,300 years old!

Dr. Thomas Barnes, one of the most respected magnetic field physicists in the world:“If we went back about 10 thousand years, the Earth’s magnetic field would have been as strong as the field in a magnetic star. A magnetic star is like our Sun; it has a nuclear power source. Surely our earth never had a nuclear source like the Sun. Surely our earth never had a magnetic field stronger than that of a star. That would limit the age of the Earth to 10 thousand years.”

For those who think petrified objects are proof of an old earth: Mr. H.G. Labudda of Kingary in Southeast Queensland (Australia) specializes in the collected of petrified objects. Among the articles of his collection is a perfectly petrified orange. Oranges were not raised in the area until 1868.

Dr. George Wald, Professor Emeritus of Biology as Harvard; Nobel Prizewinner in Biology in 1971: “There are only two possible explanations as to how life arose: spontaneous generation arising to evolution or a supernatural creative act of God … There is no other possibility. Spontaneous generation was scientifically disproved 120 years ago by Louis Pasteur and others. but that just leaves us with only one other possibility…that life came as a supernation act of creation by God, but i can’t accept that philosophy because i don’t want to believe in God. Therefore, i choose to believe in that which i know is scientifically impossible, spontaneous generation leading to evolution.”

Dr. Wolfgang Smith, again: “A growing number of respectable scientists are defecting from the evolution camp … moreover, most of these ‘experts’ have abandoned Darwinism, not on the basis of religious faith or biblical persuasions, but on strictly scientific grounds, and in some instances, regretfully.”

Dr. Colin Patterson, Senior Paleontologist for the British Museum ofNatural History, one of the world’s leading evolutionists and regarded as the world’s foremost fossil scientist, spoken to the American Museum of Natural History, Nov. 5, 1981: “The explanation value of the evolutionary hypothesis of common origin is nil! Evolution not only conveys no knowledge, it seems to convey anti-knowledge. How could i work on evolution 10 years and learn nothing from it? Most of you in this room will have to admit that in the last ten years we have seen the basis of evolution go from fact to faith! It does seem that the level of knowledge about evolution is remarkable shallow. We know it ought not be taught in high schools, and that’s all we know about it.”

Here’s some former evolutionists turned creationists that i could alsoprovide several quotes from:

  • Charlie Lieberts (chemist)
  • Dr. Gary Parker (Biologist)
  • Dr. D. Russell Humphreys (Physicist)
  • Dr. Alan Galbraith (Watershed Science)
  • Dr. Donald Batten (Agriculturist)
  • Dr. David Catchpoole (Plant Physiologist)
  • Dr. A.E. Wilder-Smith (3 Doctorates and a NATO 3-star General)
  • Dr. Robert V. Gentry – (Physicist)

hope this is informative and helpful.

Response to Travis #003:

I’m currently working on a response but I need to know one thing. What is your source for these quotes? A book? A document? Creationist web pages?

Travis Rebuttal #004:

the quotes came from a Christian magazine, i believe…i’ll get you the actual source as soon as possible. the last part of the list, the few names there, came from a Christian web site.

Response to Travis #004:

Just a fair warning – I’m having a lot of fun with this rebuttal. It’s so easy that it’s almost like taking candy from a baby…

That’s not your fault, though – that’s the fault of the sources that didn’t give you all the information.

I’ve got your interest peaked now, don’t I? Is the suspense killing you? Can’t wait for my rebuttal? ;-)

I’m almost done. I’ve got to go to bed and I’ll finish it tomorrow night or Thursday night. Tomorrow night I have to attend a function down here in Florida to help a local group get organized.

Travis Rebuttal #005:

i’m definitely interested in your response. a fair warning to you…i’m not a scientist. of the three discussion topics we decided to tackle, this is the one i’ll be able to discuss the least with you.

Response to Travis #005:

Let’s go over each scientist individually:

Dr. Soren Lovtrup: The biggest user of Lovtrup’s “micro mutations” quote is Focus on the Family. However, the most often-used quote from Lovtrup that I encounter in debates is this one,

LOVTRUP: “To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree. (1987)”

The problem is that the human eye is not that great. Squid have better eyes than we do. How does this explain eyes that only differentiate light and dark? The basic problem with the argument of intelligent design when talking about humans is that it forgets about the other animals on this planet. Our ego and anthropocentric approach forgets that man is not the only animal. If you’re a Creationist then didn’t God create the earthworm, too?

The earthworm has a terrible eye – all it does is differentiate light and dark – that’s it. Throughout the animal world there are examples of eyes that are different degrees of our eyes. Our eyes are an evolutionary build-on. They came about as simple eyes were modified and that modification stayed because of environmental conditions.

So what’s the big deal about Dr. Soren Lovtrup? He has issues with some of Darwin’s evolutionary thoughts (NOTE: Since Darwin first proposed a mechanism for evolution, it has been modified and expanded significantly as new data and material have been found, so you can technically say that all scientists have issues with some of Darwin’s evolutionary thoughts.) and some issues with current evolutionary theory, but he clearly states in his book, “Darwinism: The Refutation of a Myth” (Croom Helm ISBN 0-7099-4153-6) that he accepts and believes that evolution does occur.

Dr. Lovtrup’s biggest problem was with Darwin himself and how Creationists started a phenomenon of counter-attack by evolutionists. He proposed that this counter-attack mode by evolutionists, triggered by Creationists, caused a lot of myths and misinformation to enter evolutionary thought and ultimately into textbooks.

LOVTRUP: “I discovered that the history of evolutionary thought, as it is told today, contains a large number of mistakes and misrepresentations – to express it fairly mildly – all of them aimed at adulating Darwin and debunking his opponents. (1987)”

Dr. Lovtrup was an embryologist, not an evolutionary biologist. Dr. Lovtrup’s problem was with Darwinism – not evolution. Dr. Lovtrup accepts that evolution occurs, he just disagrees with the mechanism of evolution, which Darwin coined, “natural selection”. Dr. Lovtrup seems like a bad choice for Creationists to use because of this. He agrees with evolution and also concludes that evolution, as an event and occurrence, is a fact. His disagreement is with the mechanism, or the how, of evolutionary theory.

Of course Dr. Lovtrup fails to mention in his book that most scientists today are still trying to prove Darwin wrong. What? Did I just say that? Of course I did. Science is the process of testing and re-testing in order to prove a hypothesis or theory wrong. If a scientist ever proves Darwin wrong he’ll win a Nobel Prize. As scientists try to prove a theory wrong, two results come out from those tests: 1) the theory is shown to be wrong or a small part of it is shown to need a modification, or 2) the theory is strengthened and new evidence is found to brace that theory up.

The problem is that the backbone of Darwin’s proposed theory has been braced up during this testing and trials. There have been modifications to the theory and add-ons as new evidence and data were collected.

Also keep in mind that Dr. Lovtrup wrote his book in 1987 – prior to the massive amount of genetic information that we now have, before the human genome was mapped and before studies were completed on genetic variations that, as predicted by evolutionary theory, showed more variations in older species and less variation in newer species (older and newer in context to a geologic timescale, of course).

Dr. Stephen J. Gould: The quote you provided me was,

GOULD: “All paleontologists know that the fossil record contains precious little in the way of intermediate forms…indeed our inability, even in our imagination, to construct functional intermediates in many cases, has been a persistent and nagging problem for gradualistic accounts of evolution.”

This one is used and abused. Just for fun I ran a search on Google for a snippet of his quote, “fossil record contains precious little in the way of intermediate forms” and every page (140 plus of them) was a Christian web page. I thought that was pretty funny. So how come the evolution and science pages aren’t quoting Gould?

They aren’t quoting it because Gould is discussing the rate of evolutionary change. When he made this quote (in a book printed in 1977) he was looking at punctuated equilibrium. Gould is not disputing evolution – he’s one of evolutionary biology’s biggest proponents. What Gould was talking about was how most species seemed to “jump”. After he mentioned this he then went on to talk about the rarity of fossils and that these “gaps” were being filled in as more digs were being completed and more species were being identified.

A lot of progress has been made since 1977.

Of course the biggest reason that Creationists quote Gould is because Creationists have a fondness for the “argument from authority”. Religion thrives on authority (authority of God, authority of priestcraft and sacred texts). This means that if they can get a scientist, any scientist, to make a statement that even remotely appears to agree with them – they use it. They say, “See, a scientist, an authority, disagrees with evolution!”

The problem is that science is not a process run on authority. Science has no Pope. Arguments are won on their quality – not the popularity, fame or even quantity (just because you say it over and over again doesn’t make it true).

I would recommend reading a book by Dr. Gould that is more recent. I wonder why Creationists don’t quote anything else from Dr. Gould? Dr. Gould has written tons of books, made thousands of speeches, appeared on hundreds of television shows, documentaries and newscasts – and they can only find one quote from him to “discredit” evolution? That tells me that Dr. Gould was and still is an evolutionary biologists and one of evolution’s biggest proponents.

Dr. Joseph Weiner: The quote you gave me was,

WEINER: “It is quite obvious that modern man could not have arisen from any ape, let alone monkey, at all similar to those of today…it is ridiculous to describe man as “naked” or any other kind of ape.”

This is absolutely hilarious! This quote comes from a period after Dr. Weiner (he was an anthropologist, by the way – not a paleontologist) worked with Dr. Kenneth Oakley and Dr. Le Gros-Clark on the Piltdown Man. They released their report on November 20, 1953. After their report several questions were fielded over the course of a few years and during his comments he said what you quoted.

The three scientists proved Piltdown Man was not only a fake, but a deliberate hoax. It was this team of scientists that figured out why Piltdown Man didn’t figure into human evolution. Other finds of the time contradicted Piltdown Man and many scientists were becoming increasingly skeptical of Piltdown Man.

The Piltdown Man skull was found to have been the skull of an orangutan that was somewhat deformed. The teeth of the orangutan had been deliberately ground down to look more human. The Piltdown Man skull made it look like Homo sapiens had actually come from apes instead of alongside apes.

Dr. Weiner made his comment based on the evolutionary thought of the time (which has been reinforced with additional finds since the 1950’s) that Homo sapiens and modern primates shared a common ancestor. We didn’t evolve from any ape, let alone a monkey – at all similar to those of today, we evolved alongside today’s apes – each from a common ancestor.

Quoting Dr. Weiner’s comments as anti-evolutionary is intellectually dishonest. It would be like me quoting Pat Robertson when he said, “Of course God didn’t actually write the Bible”.

Because I’m intellectually honest I will follow up that quote and tell you that Robertson was talking about how God inspired men to write the Bible. He said that God didn’t actually pick up a pen and do it – he provided the inspiration to the authors.

Creationists crack me up sometimes – I can’t believe they are using that as an anti-evolution quote.

By the way, Dr. Weiner remained an anthropologist and an avid evolutionist. Once Piltdown Man was discounted and proven to be a hoax by him and his counterparts the evolutionary path of Homo sapiens fit the predicted path based on evolutionary theory.

Are you beginning to notice a trend here? Not only are we dealing with major “out of context” quotes, but several intentionally deceiving quotes (What happened to “Thou shalt not lie?”) and ones that are, in scientific thought, very old.

Dr. Wolfgang Smith: The quote you provided me is irrelevant. Dr. Smith is a mathematician and has nothing to do with evolutionary biology. He is a devout Catholic and speaks out against what he calls “scientism”. Dr. Smith concerns himself more with the defense of Catholic Orthodoxy then he does science. Dr. Smith hasn’t performed any real science in a long time because he has concerned himself mostly with writing three books on Catholic Orthodoxy and articles slamming “scientism”. I doubt he would even recognize a lab anymore.

Dr. Wilder Smith: The quote you gave me was,

SMITH: “It is emphatically the case the life could not arise spontaneously in a primeval soup from its kind.”

The odd part about this quote is that it is not against evolutionary biology. Evolutionary biology has nothing to say about the origin of life and everything to do with the origin of species. Evolution concerns itself with how life evolved after it was formed (created if that word suits you better). It is for this reason that many theists accept the science of evolution because God could have created life and then used evolution as a way to “create” humanity through the ages.

Dr. Smith was not an evolutionary biologist. Dr. Smith received a degree in organic chemistry in 1941 and in pharmacological sciences in 1964.

Creationists like to use Dr. Smith because of the “argument from authority”. I’m glad science doesn’t work from authority.

I don’t mean to sound sarcastic, but didn’t you say you were going to send me a list of former evolutionary biologists? If you didn’t say that I know I clarified it for you in my first email – that a former evolutionist was not just someone that once “believed” in evolution – but actually held a degree in evolutionary biology or similarly related field.

Dr. Frederic B. Jueneman: Dr. Jueneman was a catastrophist and often gives lectures and speeches on catastrophism.

Dr. Jueneman was also involved in the false story about a whale skeleton found standing upright through several strata in California. I was unable to ascertain how significant of a role he played, but I have to question his ability to practice science because he was taken in by this false story. A simple check into the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History and through the California Division of Mines and Geology would have quickly revealed that the story was false and he would have disassociated himself from it. A scientist that accepts something without checking into it first is not doing very good science.

I don’t mean this to be ad hominem, but it plays greatly into his credibility to make any statements whatsoever into the age of the earth, evolutionary biology or anything else scientific.

The other thing that bothers me about Jueneman is that he is a devout follower of Velikovsky. You can find out more about Velikovsky at: http://www.bearfabrique.org/Velikovsky/biovel.html (article no longer available on the web).

Jueneman believed that men and dinosaurs lived together at the same time – that the dinosaurs died in a catastrophe and man lived.

I was unable to ascertain exactly what Dr. Jueneman was a doctor of, but he was not an evolutionary biologist. He is often quoted on anti-fluoride sites for stating that soft tissue absorbs fluoride just as much as teeth do. Somehow I don’t think an evolutionary biologist would be working on fluoride concentration and absorption in teeth and soft tissue.

Dr. Harold Slusher: I’m not even going to mention the quote you gave me because it is irrelevant to our discussion. Dr. Slusher was a co-founder of the Creation Research Society. So what is Dr. Slusher a doctor of?

He claims to have received his doctorate from Columbia Pacific University. CPU is an unaccredited diploma mill in California (I used to get emails from them saying they could get me a doctorate in Divinity for only $100). They are so bad that the California Department of Consumer Affairs ordered them to shut down.

You can read the CDCA’s press release on the CPU at: http://www.dca.ca.gov/press_releases/990210.htm (article no longer available on the web).

I can’t believe that he’s even claiming to be an astrophysicist and geophysicist. As a Creationist I assume he is also a Biblical literalist. Apparently he doesn’t take the Ten Commandments very literally. I hate to be facetious here, but they make it so easy to be facetious.

Dr. Thomas Barnes: I’m trying to figure out who told you that Dr. Barnes was one of the most respected magnetic field physicists. Dr. Barnes is used as an example of how not to conduct science in physics classes today. During my physics classes in high school we discussed Dr. Barnes figures and how he should have done his research and properly extrapolated his data. My physics teacher used him as an example of bad science.

Dr. Barnes conducted his research in 1973 and made huge mistakes in his data and his extrapolations. He used only a few core samples and did not take into account the north-south switch that we have now identified through “banding”. He also only measured the magnetic field squarely between the north and south poles instead of across the entire spectrum. He also assumed that the decay of the magnetic field proceeded at an exponential rate instead of a fluctuating rate.

He used his data incorrectly by extrapolating it out based on his small curve. This gave him a magnetic reading at about 20,000 BC, making the Earth no older than 22000-years-old. The problem is that when you take a larger data collection and look at the “banding” then the Barnes Magnetic Curve is not curved anymore and is straighter. When you take that data and extrapolate it, correctly with control data, you get around 100 million years or so.

Of course even the new data doesn’t provide an accurate age of the Earth because there are events that greatly affect the magnetic field of the Earth. Large impacts from extra-terrestrial objects (comets, asteroids, et al) and polarity switching can influence magnetic fields. There are events that also intensify a magnetic field – making it appear younger than it is.

Dr. Barnes is another example of the Creationist’s insistence upon “argument from authority”. How come the Creationist web pages and books don’t mention that Dr. Barnes was proven wrong within a couple of years and that non-exponential magnetic field influences were identified? How come the Creationist web pages and books don’t mention that Dr. Barnes is used as an example in physics classes on how not to conduct scientific research?

OSGOOD: “For those who think petrified objects are proof of an old earth: Mr. H.G. Labudda of Kingary in Southeast Queensland (Australia) specializes in the collected of petrified objects. Among the articles of his collection is a perfectly petrified orange. Oranges were not raised in the area until 1868.”

This information was taken from an article called Rock Hard Orange by John Osgood in Ex Nihilo magazine (Volume 10, No. 1 – Dec. ’87 – Feb. ’88).

The problem is that Ex Nihilo means “without God”. The article was not proving that the Earth was young – it was talking about a so-called petrified orange found in Australia. The conclusion was that the object was, in-fact, not an orange. There’s that intellectual dishonesty again and failing to follow at least one of the Ten Commandments.

Of course petrified objects don’t necessarily denote an old Earth – just volcanic activity.

Dr. George Wald: The quote you gave me is,

WALD: “There are only two possible explanations as to how life arose: spontaneous generation arising to evolution or a supernatural creative act of God. There is no other possibility. Spontaneous generation was scientifically disproved 120 years ago by Louis Pasteur and others, but that just leaves us with only one other possibility, that life came as a supernatural act of creation by God, but I can’t accept that philosophy because I don’t want to believe in God. Therefore, I choose to believe in that which I know is scientifically impossible, spontaneous generation leading to evolution.”

This quote doesn’t fit very well with the “former evolutionists” because in the end he does say that he’s still an evolutionist.

Dr. Wald did not win his Nobel in biology – he won it in medicine/physiology in 1967. Dr. Ward had a degree in medicine. He was Higgins professor of biology at Harvard, as you indicated.

Prior to Dr. Wald’s death he was an outspoken opponent of genetically altered foods. He stated about genetically altered foods,

WALD: “Up to now, living organisms have evolved very slowly, and new forms have had plenty of time to settle in. Now whole proteins will be transposed overnight into wholly new associations, with consequences no one can foretell, either for the host organism, or their neighbors.”

The problem is that again we are not talking about evolutionary biology. Dr. Wald is talking about abiogenesis – not evolution. Evolution doesn’t deal with the origin of life – it deals with the origin of species.

The other problem with this quote was that he made it in 1954. Creationists love those quotes from the 50’s and 60’s, don’t they? Why do they like those old quotes? Because the old quotes don’t include all the new evidence and information that has come about.

The biggest problem with the quote is that it doesn’t finish Dr. Wald’s statement. The quote comes from the August 1954 edition of Scientific American. The Jehovah’s Witnesses yanked the quote out of that magazine initially and they included it in “Life: How did it get here?” from 1985. After that every other Christian magazine and web page seemed to pick up on it.

So what’s the big deal? The very next sentence in his quote is, “It will help to digress for a moment to ask what one means by ‘impossible’.” Dr. Wald then went on for another page to explain the difference between the word ‘impossible’ in the scientific context and the colloquial.

Dr. Walk was creating a problem in order to launch into his explanation of that problem. The quote is not from him, per se, but is from a paper he did.

One on of my web pages the first sentence says, “Atheists are all immoral.” If someone only quoted that one line from me it would appear that as an atheist, I agreed that all atheists were immoral. However, the next sentence says, “At least that’s what a lot of people mistakenly think.”

The Jehovah’s Witnesses misled people in their article and quoted something written by Dr. Wald that came from a piece and not from his own personal views. They quoted not what Dr. Wald personally thought – but his lead-in to an entire article on the differences between scientific and colloquial use of different words, specifically ‘impossible’.

I’d recommend reading the article from the 1954 Scientific American if you can get a copy of it – it’s a rather good article that clearly supports evolutionary biology.

Is the deceitful nature of Creationists becoming clearer for you now? They live on deceit, misdirection and faith – leaving science completely out of the picture. They rely on emotionalism – not science. They use outdated quotes because new quotes that include new evidence don’t adhere to their standards.

Several Creationist web pages state emphatically that if the evidence contradicts the Bible then they completely ignore it. How is that science?

Anyone can find evidence to back up his or her ideas – the trick is to ensure that ideas are not contradicted by any of the evidence. Creationism can’t do it – so they claim that contradictory evidence is “of the Devil”.

Dr. Wolfgang Smith (again): As I said before, Dr. Smith was a mathematician and not an evolutionary biologist, so he really doesn’t matter. He is a good example of Creationism’s appeal to authority instead of quality. The specific quote in this case is,

SMITH: “A growing number of respectable scientists are defecting from the evolution camp … moreover, most of these ‘experts’ have abandoned Darwinism, not on the basis of religious faith or biblical persuasions, but on strictly scientific grounds, and in some instances, regretfully.”

As we can tell by this list alone, Dr. Smith is simply full of it. The majority of scientists accept the scientific validity of biologic evolution. If there are a “growing number of respectable scientists” that are jumping ship, then the rest of us aren’t noticing. The most respected Christian schools even teach evolution and hire evolutionary biologists to teach those classes. The young Earth Creationists are a dying breed.

Most old-timer Creationists are not being replaced by the newer generation (with a few exceptions, of course). This is because the newer generation is learning better science and understanding that a young earth is impossible – the evidence is too overwhelming to accept anything other than an old earth. The only young earth people that remain are those that attribute the evidence to “Satan” and those that are ignorant of the evidence – just as people that believed in a flat earth still existed for hundreds of years after it was proven that the Earth was elliptical.

What we are seeing now are old Earth Creationists stepping forward. Even Creationism is evolving. The young pups accept the science of an old Earth and even accept the science of evolution – they just insist that there was a Creator. That’s fine, of course, because evolution doesn’t deal with the origin of life – just the origin of the species. I know I’m repeating that a lot, but it is an important issue that most Creationists don’t understand.

Dr. Colin Patterson: The quote you provided was,

PATTERSON: “The explanation value of the evolutionary hypothesis of common origin is nil! Evolution not only conveys no knowledge, it seems to convey anti-knowledge. How could I work on evolution 10 years and learn nothing from it? Most of you in this room will have to admit that in the last ten years we have seen the basis of evolution go from fact to faith! It does seem that the level of knowledge about evolution is remarkable shallow. We know it ought not be taught in high schools, and that’s all we know about it.”

This quote supposedly comes from a speech given on November 5, 1981 that he was giving before other evolutionary scientists. The speech was given at the American Museum of Natural History in New York to the monthly Systematics Discussion Group. Systematics, by the way, is the science of classifying forms of life.

Apparently this quote comes from a creationist that was in the audience and secretly taped Patterson’s speech. The creationist then distributed a severely flawed transcript, which is where this quote comes from.

However, Patterson did say some of it. You have to have heard the context of the speech and the method of the speech to understand what Patterson was getting at.

Patterson was talking about cladistics during this speech. He was referring to a group of schools that used evolution as a given in their systematics diagram instead of using the logical relatedness of species (as Patterson’s school does). He was arguing that it was important to not use one of your assumptions as one of your conclusions.

Contrary to what the text attempts to portray, Patterson is a huge proponent of evolutionary biology and considers his work in cladograms to be further evidence of evolution.

Charlie Lieberts (chemist), Dr. Gary Parker (Biologist), Dr. D. Russell Humphreys (Physicist), Dr. Alan Galbraith (Watershed Science), Dr. Donald Batten (Agriculturist), Dr. David Catchpoole (Plant Physiologist), Dr. A.E. Wilder-Smith (3 Doctorates and a NATO 3-star General) and Dr. Robert V. Gentry – (Physicist)

Not a single one of those scientists are evolutionary biologists. I don’t think it is necessary for me to continue with any more scientists that you’ve provided. I think I’ve already shows that the list of scientists that you got from your source is inaccurate at best and deceitful and intentionally misleading.

Creationists must rely on the “argument from authority” and deception in order to convince their followers that they are accurate. They can get away with this because most followers are used to taking orders and not doing the research on their own. How many individuals in a congregation actually know about the faith they profess – other than what their clergy has told them?

The facts that Creationists are using these deceitful tactics should you give you pause before trusting any of your sources. It should also give you pause as to the “truth” of Creationism. If a self-described theory relies on lies, deception, misinformation and intentional misleading then it should certainly not be followed or believed in.

Travis Rebuttal #006:

excellent work, i must say.

for the first time, i’m debating someone who does their research. normally sending along a few quotes is enough to get people thinking and questioning, because they haven’t even begun to do the research.

those quotes came from a magazine, i don’t even remember which one now, and were sent along to me by someone else.

your attack on “out of context quotes” is true and necessary. in all fairness, however, you’d also have to check the context in which creationists use some of those quotes. just because an scientist has not left evolution does not mean a Creationist cannot use their quotes to come against some still misunderstood scientific concepts.

again, i’m not a scientist and it would take me some time of research to be able to respond to your rebuttal. so this topic is certainly not my specialty whatsoever.

a few questions…

are we done with the debate about the textual support for Scripture?

have you any interest in exploring some other areas of evidence for the Christian faith? seeing as i’m discussing this stuff with someone who does their research, and seeing as i’m not a scientist and could not possibly at this point continue a debate on creationism vs. evolution, i would like to search out some other issues like archaeology and other historical evidence.

BLAIR: “Evolutionary biology has nothing to say about the origin of life and everything to do with the origin of species. Evolution concerns itself with how life evolved after it was formed.”

so the obvious question is, how was it formed? where did it come from?

BLAIR: “The basic problem with the argument of intelligent design when talking about humans is that it forgets about the other animals on this planet.”

then you use the example of the earthworm, saying it has terrible eyes. the obvious response here from the creationist is that God intended that; the earthworm doesn’t need the eyes of humans, nor does the human need the eyes of a fish, nor does the bird need the eyes of a human. all creatures were given what they need, and just because there are similarities between eyes doesn’t prove evolution or creation, nor do differences. if God created as He willed, then similarities and differences between species were up to Him.

Response to Travis #006:

The “out of context” is only an issue when the meaning of the quote is used in a way inappropriate to the original intent of the person saying it. I have no problem with Creationists quoting scientists. The problem is that when they do quote them, they do not include the entire text or mislead the reader into thinking the person is an anti-evolutionist.

I think this is clearly meant to deceive the reader and is, plain and simply, a form of lying. I have personally been a victim of this misleading on the part of Creationists and when a friend of mine told me about I was furious. Even after I explained it to the person perpetuation this misinformation, he refused to remove the quote or provide the next couple of sentences. He said, “If it helps to convince Creationists that evolutionists question evolution – then that is all that matters.”

What he was quoting from me was, “Yes, there is evidence for creation. The Cambrian explosion is certainly evidence for creation – not evolution.”

What he failed to quote was the entire text of my conversation, “Yes, there is evidence for creation. The Cambrian explosion is certainly evidence for creation – not evolution. However, there is much more evidence that contradicts creation. The Creationists have to come up with a theory that explains all the evidence – not just the bits of evidence that happen to support their wishful thinking.”

We were talking about the scientific method and how all evidence must be considered and a theory must not leave out any evidence – contradictory or not. If there is evidence that contradicts the theory – then the theory fails.

Of course the Cambrian explosion does not contradict the theory of evolution because it is one piece – not THE piece. However, the geologic strata and failed sifting of the fossil record are just two examples of evidence that contradicts creation. However, all I need is one piece of evidence that contradicts creation to show that it is false. Not necessarily 100% false – just false in its present form.

As far as the context of use by the Creationists of these misquotes, I’ve visited ever Creation page I can find and even have the major ones in my Favorites folder in IE. I’ve debated several “professional” Creationists (the ones that have gone to the trouble of getting a diploma mill doctorate). I’ve seen and heard it all. What ‘wins’ for Creationists is not science – but tactics and a plea to authority and emotionalism.

Just to prove a point about how easy it is to get a doctorate – I decided to get one last year. I got a doctorate in divinity from a diploma mill – it cost me $75. I also became an ordained minister just to prove a point, as well. So technically I’m the Rev. Dr. Blair Scott. While they were done as a joke and as a means of proving a point, I do take my ordainment seriously (admittedly I didn’t initially) and have performed two weddings so far.

I am working on the rebuttal to the textual discussion. I haven’t been home in over four months except every other weekend. And when I’m home I spend the time with my kids – not my computer. My references are too bulky to bring with me on the road, so I’m doing a little bit at a time, as I have time on those weekends that I’m home and can access my library.

The evolution one was easy because I’ve memorized a lot of it and have also put a lot of the information I need in an online database for my use on the road. Some other parts of it are already online and I just knew where to get the information that I needed. Getting ancient texts online is a little more difficult.

I am responding, but it will take time because of the constraints on me with my travels and my children. Nothing is more important to me than spending time with my children when I am home. If you’re willing to wait – you will get it. If you’re looking for something a little faster then let me know and I’ll delete it and we can discuss other issues that don’t require so much access to research (I’ve already done the research – I just didn’t memorize all the necessary information – so I have to have research access).

TRAVIS: “so the obvious question is, how was it formed? where did it come from?”

There are several hypotheses for abiogenesis, but no theory. Bottom line is that we just don’t know, yet. However, there is promising research with protocells. Some hypotheses, just to give you a sampling of ideas from all areas, are:

  1. Alien intelligence planted the seeds of life on this planet.
  2. A meteorite or comet impact provided the correct “cooking pot” to create amino acids and protocells that combined – ultimately evolving into complex proteins.
  3. Black smokers have recently gained a lot of attention because no one ever thought life would be there – and not only was it there – but it was thriving. Tiny protocells all the way up to complex organism. Science is now leaning more toward the Black Smokers hypothesis right now – but it is not a theory.
  4. Divine help or special creation (Intelligent design). It’s important to note that Intelligent Design doesn’t prove the Christian god – it just proves an intelligent creator. On that same note – disproving evolution does not prove intelligent design – it just disproves evolution.
  5. Primordial pizza. This is almost the same concept as the old “primordial soup” (which, by the way, is no longer seen by most scientists as a viable hypothesis) but on a land settings or underground setting instead of a water setting.

That’s just a few of them. Perhaps one day we will know for sure…

TRAVIS: “the obvious response here from the creationist is that God intended that; the earthworm doesn’t need the eyes of humans, nor does the human need the eyes of a fish, nor does the bird need the eyes of a human.”

Yes, that is usually the Creationist response. However, the original argument is that the complexity of the human eye denotes intelligent design. The earthworm eye is not complex – so does that denote unintelligent design or no design at all?

Usually the point of bringing up the vanity of humans is to ultimately lead into a lesson on the evolution of the eye, which has been superbly documented in the fossil (living and dead) record.

TRAVIS: “if God created as He willed, then similarities and differences between species were up to Him.”

This is what is called the “God of the gaps”. People that believe in the “God of the gaps” often find their god getting smaller and smaller and his box closing in as science advances. People used to believe that it was the will of God that made the Earth the center of the solar system and made the Earth flat. People used to believe that it was the will of God that allowed demons to possess us and make us sick.

It was science that discovered the Earth was elliptical instead of flat – removing that gap and making god just a bit smaller. It was science that understood the heliocentric solar system and not the geocentric system – removing that gap and making god just a bit smaller. It was science that discovered germs and viruses and proper sanitation – suddenly people weren’t getting as sick and exorcisms and demon possessions seemed to fade away – making the god of the gaps just a bit smaller.

Putting god in places where the answer to our questions is, “I don’t know” is not a good practice – because we have a stubborn habit of finding out sooner or later – pushing god out – making him smaller.

There’s only one reason that Creationists are fighting evolution. A little background will help here. When it was discovered that the Earth was not flat – there was a large outcry of heresy and blasphemy. If it were not for the Queen of Spain then Columbus would have been burned at the stake for heresy. Twice the church had already arrested him – a third time would have been his death. It took the church and the general public almost 400 years to finally accept that the Earth was not flat. Even to this day there are a few people that still believe the Earth is flat.

When it was discovered that the Earth revolved around the sun (heliocentric) instead of the Sun revolving around the Earth (geocentric) it took the church just over 400 years to finally accept this fact. Many astronomers were burned at the stake – the most famous being the Italian, Bruno.

Evolution was only introduced about 150 years ago. We still have 250 years to go before the church finally accepts it. The God of the gaps, which the church embraces, gets smaller all the time.

But here’s the real issue in modern times – original sin.

If evolution is correct – then there was no Adam & Eve. If there was no Adam & Eve then there was no serpent, tree of knowledge, no Garden of Eden and most importantly – no original sin. If there was no original sin then Jesus died in vain on the cross – he died for a cause and belief that never existed.

Evolution encroaches upon Christianity in such a way as no other scientific discovery has – it smashes the very foundation of the Christian Faith – the concept of original sin. This has a lot of people in the Christian faith up in arms. Any religion that has a literal creation account has Creationists – including the Muslims, Hindus and others. But the Christians are the biggest opponents of evolution because their theology is threatened the most because of the New Testament and the suffering and death of Jesus for the sins of man – sins that mean nothing without original sin.

I don’t blame people for reacting the way they do. What I do blame them for is denouncing evolution at their every whim without knowing a thing about it. Research it and learn about it before you dismiss it. There’s a difference between an opinion and an educated opinion.

 

Travis Rebuttal #007:

of the five possibilities you brought out, only one of them has any chance of answering the question, how was the world formed? where did it come from? and that is number five, the idea of intelligent design. the other four all assume previously existing things. an intelligent creator, of course, exists in and of Himself.

as for the earthworm eye, no, an uncomplicated eye does not necessarily mean that there was no intelligent design. on the contrary, God designed the worm just as it needed to be designed. and i would not point only to the human eye as evidence of intelligent design, but the eye of the earthworm, and the eye of every living thing, and the rest of creation.

your statements on “the god of the gaps” certainly deserves a reply, but i will get that to you in a few days. certainly the doctrine of original sin needs to be dealt with.

 

Response to Travis #007:

TRAVIS: “just out of curiosity, what do you know about names such as Dr. Henry Morris, Ken Ham, Dr. Duane Gish, and Philip Johnson? have you debated any of these?”

I know all of these men. Ken Hamm (two M’s) is a really strange person. He’s the one that is opening up the Creation Museum in Kentucky. I’ve met Duane Gish twice in the last two years. Both times he was slaughtered during the debate (not by me – I was attending). You should know that “Dr.” Duane Gish also got his doctorate from a diploma mill (paid about $150 for it) and he also got an honorary doctorate – which is meaningless. Gish is a strange breed of Creationists. He’s still using data from the 60’s in his debates and refuses to admit that he’s been defeated.

NOTE: It should be pointed out that my information in the above paragraph is incorrect. Dr. Gish did in fact get a Ph.D in biochemistry from Berkeley in 1953. During my response I was thinking of Kent “Dr. Dino” Hovind and confused the two in my response. It should be noted, however, that a degree in biochemistry is meaningless in the discussion of evolutionary biology. As an analogy, a biochemist is like a modern car mechanic. They go to school to learn about modern engines and are concerned only about the workings of modern engines. They do not know the evolutionary path of the combustible engine. A biochemist concerns himself with the workings of biochemicals – not with the origins and evolutionary paths of said biochemicals.

During several debates he was shown to be lying and he just pretended that it didn’t happen. He once said, “Show me a snake with legs and I’ll believe in evolution.” Last year a snake with legs was discovered in the fossil record and another snake with leftovers of legs under the skin (leg bones were there but were under the skin and not used) was also found. Also a legless lizard was found, as well. Gish just made excuses and still refused to believe in evolution. Of course “belief” is really the wrong word to use when discussing evolution.

Philip Johnson has recently tried a new tactic. Instead of attacking evolution he is attacking outdated evolution text in biology books across the US. Apparently he thinks that if he can show that if biology books are flawed then so must evolution. Johnson isn’t a scientist, though – so he’s rather useless when it comes to debating.

TRAVIS: “beyond that, i’d eventually like to get to issues like the resurrection of Christ and all the absurd excuses non-Christians come up with to explain that away”

I don’t mind waiting until after the textual discussion, but this comment intrigued me. Why would non-Christians need to explain the resurrection? It would seem that Christians should have to explain the resurrection – not non-Christians.

 

Travis Rebuttal #008:

thanks for your replies on the creationists i asked about.

BLAIR: “Why would non-Christians need to explain the resurrection? It would seem that Christians should have to explain the resurrection – not non-Christians.”

I agree. and so my basic question which would prompt this discussion would be: “What do non-Christians do with the evidence?” how does one explain the empty tomb?

BLAIR: “However, they can safely assume the world existed because, it does, in-fact, exist.”

This misses my point. i’m not concerned so much about abiogenesis as i am about where the heck did all of this come from?

i definitely want to view the PBS series on evolution. know where i can get a copy?

 

Response to Travis #008:

Where “all of this came from” is a question that science is still looking at. The Big Bang theory is certainly gaining a lot of evidence – but it is still not 100% conclusive (and perhaps never will be).

Just like the religionist, atheists would also like to know where all this came from. Unlike the religionists, atheists aren’t putting God into the gaps of knowledge that we have.

You should be able to get a copy of the evolution series from the PBS web page at http://www.pbs.org.

TRAVIS: “”What do non-Christians do with the evidence?” how does one explain the empty tomb?”

What evidence? There is no evidence for the resurrection. If there is an empty tomb that could clearly be shown to be the actual resting place of a man named Jesus then all it would prove is that some time during the past 2,000 years or so the tomb was made empty. An empty tomb doesn’t prove the resurrection any more than an empty cookie jar proves that someone ate all the cookies. The cookie jar may have always been empty or no one ever made any cookies. The cookies may have even been stolen – or the cookie jar is not really a cookie jar at all – just a jar that someone at one time claimed to be full of cookies.

An empty tomb only proves that the tomb is empty – it doesn’t prove anything was there in the first place.

I’ve been to Jerusalem and have visited the church that covers the cave where they think Jesus was buried. The guides are quick to inform everyone that enters that they THINK it is where Jesus was buried – they don’t know for sure because there is no evidence whatsoever.

 

Travis Rebuttal #009:

Again, the “big bang” theory still supposes that there was something there. my question is, where did anything come from? this is a point that evolutionists avoid over and over and over. i ask where did everything come from? “well, the Big Bang.” well, where did the stuff that caused the big bang come from? and never have i been given a sufficient answer. this leads us, of course, to the issue of contingency. something must exist in and of itself, since everything we know of is contingent upon something else for its existence.

“religionists” aren’t putting God in a gap that knowledge doesn’t fill yet. i’ll get to the “God of the gaps” theory soon enough. Christians make the logical conclusion that since God exists, He is the source of knowledge. of course, we haven’t spent a lot of time debating the existence of God either. in fact, there’s a lot of things that need to be discussed even before that, such as the nature of proof and of evidence. as for now, if we’re going to postpone the textual discussion, then i’d like to focus on our other conversation, the resurrection of Christ.

BLAIR: “If there is an empty tomb that could clearly be shown to be the actual resting place of a man named Jesus then all it would prove is that some time during the past 2,000 years or so the tomb was made empty”.

Wrong. as early as the 30’s there was controversey over what happened to the body of Christ. the one thing that every party involved agreed on was that the tomb was empty. Romans, Jews, and disciples of Christ all agreed that the tomb was empty. there was never a denial of the claim that the tomb was empty.

BLAIR: “An empty tomb only proves that the tomb is empty – it doesn’t prove anything was there in the first place.”

Do you hold to the “wrong tomb” theory?

the truth is that whether or not we can find a place that is definitely the empty tomb of Christ has no bearing on the issue. right after Jesus was crucified and buried, there was an empty tomb. how did it get empty?

 

Response to Travis #009:

TRAVIS: “my question is, where did anything come from? this is a point that evolutionists avoid over and over and over.”

I think you’re confusing lack of knowledge with avoidance. I’m not saying that some cosmologists (not evolutionists, because evolution has nothing to do with the Big Bang) don’t avoid the topic.

The reason you’re not getting a satisfactory answer is because there is none. We can only go back to 10(-43) seconds after the Big Bang. Before that we hit not only a physical singularity, but a mathematical and physics singularity. A mathematical singularity is a point where our current knowledge of mathematics reaches its limits – we do not have the science or the knowledge to go any further back. We reach a point of ignorance – a singularity of knowledge and capability.

What happened before the Big Bang? What was there? What caused it? We simply do not know. We can look forward to the day when those questions are finally answered. Will I see those answers in my lifetime? I don’t know – but it sure would be nice to know.

Of course the reality of the issue is that it is irrelevant to the serious dogmatic. Let’s say that we find the answer to your question and find the evidence to say where the Big Bang came from and what caused it. Then the dogmatists would simply say, “Yeah, but what came before that? Where did that come from? Surely there was a creator!”

It’s a never-ending cycle. We find knowledge and they retreat back a few steps only to take the same stance – just in a smaller box. The box is getting smaller and smaller and sooner or later the box will collapse on itself or religion will realize its potential and teach humanity instead of dogma, teach about the ethic of the prophets instead of the dogma of egocentric religions.

Until then, we play the same game. We get knowledge, their god gets smaller, they claim the same thing from inside a smaller box, and we make the box smaller – repeating the process. The God of the gaps is a very weak god.

TRAVIS: “something must exist in and of itself, since everything we know of is contingent upon something else for its existence.”

Read your statement again. Even you have acknowledged the limitation we have, “since everything we know of…”

You’re exactly right. Everything that we currently know is based upon a contingency. What about what we don’t know? Even your god doesn’t have a contingency, and therefore violates the same rule you are trying to force science to use.

If you insist that science stick to a ‘action-reaction’ or ‘something-to-something’, then you must also stick to that. Where did God come from? If you say that God is eternal and infinite then you have violated the very code that you demand science stick with. You can’t have it both ways. Either there is a contingency or there is not. Is God infinite or is he simply another pawn in a string of gods that have created each other? Which one? Be careful which one you choose because whatever it is you will make the same decision for science.

TRAVIS: “Christians make the logical conclusion that since God exists, He is the source of knowledge.”

That seems rather ironic since God tried to prevent humans from gaining knowledge. If it wasn’t for the serpent we’d have no knowledge. Remember that we were forbidden from the Tree of Knowledge.

I suppose the call it apologetics because they keep having to apologize for a theology that is full of more holes than a warehouse of Swiss cheese.

TRAVIS: “if we’re going to postpone the textual discussion, then i’d like to focus on our other conversation, the resurrection of Christ.”

Very well. Please provide evidence for the resurrection of Jesus the Christ.

TRAVIS: “Wrong. as early as the 30’s there was controversey over what happened to the body of Christ. the one thing that every party involved agreed on was that the tomb was empty. Romans, Jews, and disciples of Christ all agreed that the tomb was empty. there was never a denial of the claim that the tomb was empty.”

You’re going to have to back that up with some serious evidence. Since there is no documentation of any kind dating back to the 30’s, there is much to be desired about your statement of controversy.

An empty tomb still proves only an empty tomb. It does not prove that Jesus was in it, it does not prove that Jesus existed and it does not prove a resurrection. A bunch of empty cars doesn’t prove that the rapture has happened. It just might prove that you’re standing in a parking lot full of empty cars. :)

TRAVIS: “Do you hold to the “wrong tomb” theory?”

No, I do not hold to that idea (I wouldn’t call it a theory), but it is certainly a possibility (as is anything). I could argue that Jesus never existed and win that debate. There’s not point in it though, because I happen to personally believe that a man named Jesus did exist. If he was crucified by the Romans he would have been buried in a common pit with other criminals – not a special tomb set aside. It is even possible that his body was allowed to be ravaged by dogs, as was a common practice at the time.

The tremendous amount of contradictions between the gospels about the death and supposed resurrection and ’empty tomb’ lead me to believe that the story never happened and was invented in order to make Jesus just like every other god-figure at the time. Every other god-figure at the time was killed or sacrificed and all of them resurrected. In fact, the resurrection ceremony for the pagans was called Ester (you know, what the Christians call Easter). The resurrection is mythology, but that doesn’t mean that the man was.

You might be interested in my article, Did Jesus Exist?

TRAVIS: “Right after Jesus was crucified and buried, there was an empty tomb.”

How do you know that the tomb was empty? All we have is hearsay and major contradictions within that hearsay.

TRAVIS: “How did it get empty?”

Of course your question assumes it was full in the first place. Just for S&G, let’s make that assumption and look at the possibilities that I can come up with in a few seconds:

  1. It was never full.
  2. Grave robbers.
  3. The wrong tomb was opened.
  4. Followers removed his body before others got there.
  5. He survived the crucifixion and fled.
  6. Spontaneous combustion.
  7. A cave-in covered his body but left enough of the cave exposed to appear as if he had disappeared.

That took all of twenty seconds to come up with seven possibilities. I’m not arguing for the validity of any of those and there’s no reason to debate such. I’m offering alternative possibilities to the supernatural. Hell, even other supernatural possibilities could explain it – not a resurrection. What if he was teleported out by an alien race? What his matter began rapid decay and turned into dark matter? What if a fairy came by and sprinkled pixie dust on him and made him float away to Never Never Land?

Do you see what I’m getting at here? You only see one viable possibility because you already have the dogma for it. You aren’t looking for proof – you are looking for a validation of your faith. Why do you need to validate your faith? Is it not strong enough? I don’t mean to be personal or appear demeaning or sarcastic here, that’s not my intent, so please do not take it that way.

There are literally thousands of possibilities and millions of combinations from any of those possibilities. What makes your possibility any greater? More importantly, what are the probabilities of each one?

 

Travis Rebuttal #010:

i know our topic of conversation is going to focus on Jesus and the gospels for a bit, but i promised a response to the “God of the gaps,” so i’m sending this along. It was science that discovered the Earth was elliptical instead of flat – removing that gap and making god just a bit smaller. It was science that understood the heliocentric solar system and not the geocentric system – removing that gap and making god just a bit smaller.

BLAIR: “It was science that discovered germs and viruses and proper sanitation – suddenly people weren’t getting as sick and exorcisms and demon possessions seemed to fade away – making the god of the gaps just a bit smaller.”

so when science discovers something, God gets smaller? i don’t think this is a fair conclusion to the matter. the view of God got no smaller in anyone’s eyes when it was finally accepted that the earth was elliptical. people realized they were mistaken. God remained every bit as big in the eyes of the church; the church (as well as the rest of the world) was simply incorrect. God isn’t any smaller because people were wrong. all the attributes of God remained the same when these discoveries were made.

BLAIR: “Putting god in places where the answer to our questions is, “I don’t know” is not a good practice – because we have a stubborn habit of finding out sooner or later – pushing god out – making him smaller.”

Agreed. when i don’t know something, i don’t need to have an answer.

but what happened, i think, was not that these people put God in a place where the answer was “i don’t know.” what happened was that people believed the earth was flat; they believed that the earth was geocentric; they were wrong. but since faith in God was a constant for them, then of course they would naturally believe that God designed it that way. granted, it took time for stubborn people to accept that they were wrong, because humans have a tendency to be dogmatic about personal preferences that they have held on to for a long time. but this didn’t make God smaller; ultimately, it just made us realize that God did not do things the way we once thought he did.

Your examples provided concerning Columbus and Bruno are fair, and i am in complete agreement with you that the church at the time was stupid. this doesn’t make God smaller, and Christian belief today still thrives regardless of the fact that the church once made mistakes about how God worked in His creation.

This applies again to today. if evolution is proven to be true, perhaps it will take time for the church to accept it because of pre-conceived notions that we’ve held for years (and, i believe, because of some textual issues in Genesis 1). however, that still will not threaten Christian theology nor make our God smaller. evolution does not negate original sin. the language in Genesis 1 could be taken as allegorical; it fits the allegorical style, and our interpretation may be wrong. (though i am personally persuaded, at this point in time, against this view).

but if God decided to use evolution to bring this world about (there are many theistic evolutionists out there), then it is still just as possible that mankind could fall from good standing with God, and so bring sin into the world, once God established relationship with human beings when the time came for Him to do that. (this especially fits well with the “Seminal headship” theory of original sin).

So again, the scientific discoveries that are made do not threaten the size of God or the theology of Christianity. scientific discoveries simply open our eyes to the way in which God did things that we don’t have records of in Scripture. and just because the church took longer than it should have to recognize that science had made these discoveries and that they were true doesn’t mean our God has gotten any smaller, nor does it mean that God doesn’t exist. we haven’t changed our view on the character and attributes of God one bit. we have only changed our view on how He chose to do some things.

It’s interesting though, that you bring this theory up, because the same thing has been happening with archaeology, only the other way around. biblical critics challenged Scripture all the time, based on things they did not know. it was once believed that Moses couldn’t have possibly written the Pentateuch because there wasn’t writing back then. Archaeology has proven that wrong. biblical critics once believed that the Bible’s account of the Hittites existence at the time of Abraham must have been false, because we had no record of that. again, they were wrong; archaeology has found plenty of evidence for the Hittites. and this isn’t even scratching the surface of all the things that biblical critics have been wrong about.

does this mean we should thrown out the whole idea of biblical skepticism, because it’s “getting smaller”?

BLAIR: “I don’t blame people for reacting the way they do. What I do blame them for is denouncing evolution at their every whim without knowing a thing about it. Research it and learn about it before you dismiss it. There’s a difference between an opinion and an educated opinion.”

Agreed. i, as well as you, am tired of irresponsible “scholars” and uneducated opinions. John F. Kennedy once said, “Many people enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thinking.” absolutely.

this, of course, is why i’ll be ordering a copy of PBS’s evolution series as soon as i get the chance.

The tremendous amount of contradictions between the gospels about the death and supposed resurrection and ’empty tomb’ lead me to believe that the story never happened this type of reasoning against Christianity has always amazed me. of the story of Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps, we have three different accounts, and all of them contradict themselves worse than the gospels ever do (if they even do); yet no one argues that because of that, the event never took place.

BLAIR: “You might be interested in my article, Did Jesus Exist? So What? It is available at Atheism Awareness.”

already read it. i was hoping it would come up, because it is full of errors.

BLAIR: “Why do you need to validate your faith? Is it not strong enough?”

actually, no. my faith stands firmly regardless. i just figure that if what i believe is actually true, and it is, then there should be some evidence to back it up. the possibility of the resurrection (and probability of it) seems very high when one considers the claims Jesus made about Himself. if Jesus was (and is) God, then the idea of a resurrection not only becomes a possibility, but a probability, and gives us reason to rule out silly things like aliens and pixie dust.

furthermore, if the gospel records are to be taken seriously (and we have every reason to believe they should be), then ideas such as disciples stealing the body seem absurd. obviously, if you know anything about crucifixion, then the “swoon theory” is also absurd. no one survived crucifixion.

it sounds to me like the root issue here is going to be whether or not the gospel accounts are trustworthy. and now we’re back to textual issues. why don’t we procede from here with a discussion focused on the gospel texts? then we can hit on textual and historical issues, as well as dealing with the Jesus Seminar, which is bound to come up.

admittedly, it will be difficult to deal with evidence for the resurrection without dealing with the trustworthiness of the gospel texts.

 

Response to Travis #010:

TRAVIS: “all the attributes of God remained the same when these discoveries were made.”

Not true. The whole point of the geocentric solar system was that man, as god’s creation, was special and was the center of god’s attention. When the heliocentric system was introduced it was viewed as heresy and people were burned at the stake. After the heliocentric solar system was finally accepted the apologetics had to change and man’s place in god’s universe was altered. The centering of humanity had to be altered to fit the new view of the solar system.

God was attributed with creating a geocentric solar system, a flat earth and everything else that a literalist insists upon. When those attributes are shown to be false then the literalists’ definition of god becomes smaller – or excuses have to be made. They call it apologetics for a reason – it is an apology for false doctrine or theological errors and inconsistencies.

TRAVIS: “i think, was not that these people put God in a place where the answer was “i don’t know.” what happened was that people believed the earth was flat; they believed that the earth was geocentric; they were wrong.”

It wasn’t the people that were arguing for a geocentric solar system or flat earth – it was the church. They church based its conclusions on god’s creation from the Bible. The church burned people at the stake for saying the earth was elliptical or round or that the earth was not the center of the solar system. The people weren’t wrong – they were just ignorant and following what the church told them. The church was wrong not because of failed science – but because it used the Bible as a reference point for its “science”.

The beliefs of the time came straight from the Bible and anyone that disagreed was a heretic and often burned at the stake or tortured. It took the church almost 400 years to finally (officially) accept the heliocentric view and the elliptical earth.

Sickness was attributed to demons and possessions, as it says in the Bible (hence the phrase, “God bless you” when sneezing). It took almost 400 years for the church to accept germ theory, psychology and mental illness as causes instead of demon possession. It will probably take just as long for the church to accept evolution. Of course the Vatican learned its lesson with geocentrism, flat-earth and demon possession – they officially accepted evolutionary theory in 1994.

TRAVIS: “it just made us realize that God did not do things the way we once thought he did.”

If that is the case then it only places emphasis on the point that the Bible is not “god-breathed”, “god-inspired” or “the word of god”. If either of those were true then there would be no scientific inaccuracies, no contradictions, no inconsistencies and no errors.

TRAVIS: “…and Christian belief today still thrives regardless of the fact that the church once made mistakes about how God worked in His creation.”

Yes, Christianity is still here – but it has evolved as science has advanced. Christianity has been forced (although not all adherents change) to alter its dogma, doctrine and beliefs on several issues because of scientific advancement.

Evolution may be a different issue, though. Unlike previous scientific discoveries this one goes straight to the heart of Christian theology. But we’ve already discussed the concept of Original Sin and how it relates to the theory of evolution.

TRAVIS: “however, that still will not threaten Christian theology nor make our God smaller.”

For liberal Christians that will hold true. For the Biblical literalists that insists that God created the Earth in six days, created Adam & Eve and used the Tower of Babel to form races and languages – this will certainly make God smaller as well as the idea that man is God’s special creation.

TRAVIS: “evolution does not negate original sin. the language in Genesis 1 could be taken as allegorical; it fits the allegorical style, and our interpretation may be wrong.”

Since the majority of Christians (last survey indicated 84%) accept the science of evolution then I would say that for most Christians this already holds true – that they see Genesis as an allegorical story or an attempt by man at the time to explain origins without the scientific knowledge that we have today. That is why Creationism has evolved into Intelligent Design – they know that belief in a literal creation, based on Genesis, is not believable and contradicts everything we know about biology, seismology, geology and most other -ologies.

The Intelligent Design proponents cannot profess a literal belief in Genesis and still claim to be scientific. They are forced to use science to promote their religion – so they have to adhere to the science standards (thought they rarely do). Young Earth Creationism is almost dead. Old Earth Creationism is dying. Intelligent Design is about mid-way through its life and dying quickly. Its last bastion of belief (in quantity) is America – but even here the fastest growing “religion” is non-religion.

TRAVIS: “but if God decided to use evolution to bring this world about (there are many theistic evolutionists out there), then it is still just as possible that mankind could fall from good standing with God, and so bring sin into the world, once God established relationship with human beings when the time came for Him to do that.”

Sure, it’s still possible – anything is possible. However, if this is what happened then again it shows the fallacy of the Bible and the fact that God, as we know him/her/it, is not the actual God that is possible. Defined gods are too easy to tear down. When religions resort back to the undefined impersonal gods then they will have an easier time selling themselves.

So again, the scientific discoveries that are made do not threaten the size of God or the theology of Christianity.

Perhaps you misunderstand what I mean by, “God gets smaller as we fill in the gaps”. What I mean is not that he gets smaller in size, adherents, spiritual connectedness or similar. What I mean is that his defined characteristics get smaller and his necessity in explaining things gets smaller. We no longer say, “God did it” to earthquakes, volcanoes, lightning and other natural phenomena. We’ve identified the science behind it. The Church was furious when the workings of the rainbow were discovered. They were mad because the rainbow was supposed to be a sign from god – not a natural phenomenon that would occur before god supposedly created the rainbow.

The laws of physics would have applied before the Noachian flood – unless light failed to refract at all before it (meaning there was near darkness all the time).

We know the Noachian flood on the scale in the Bible didn’t happen. This means that God didn’t do what he was said to have done. Does this mean he doesn’t exist and man invented the stories? Perhaps. Does this mean he didn’t write the Bible or inspire it? Perhaps. Does this mean that the defined god is too easy to pick apart and that he has gotten smaller (less needed as an explanation) because of scientific discoveries? Yep.

TRAVIS: “does this mean we should thrown out the whole idea of biblical skepticism, because it’s “getting smaller”?”

Of course not. What it means is that people were doing what they were supposed to do – being skeptical until something could be proven. We’ve already talked about the difference between an exceptional claim and a regular claim – the same standards apply here. The Bible making the exceptional claim and has to prove itself.

Of course actual scientific archaeologists have contradicted a lot of the claims by Biblical “archaeologists”. Many of the finds have been retracted. It may behoove you to read more current documentation from an actual scientific source instead of a Christian apologist source. That is not to say that some cities have been identified as historic – that is not in contest.

We know the people that wrote the Bible were trying to write about history. The problem is that they threw in the supernatural for things that they couldn’t explain. They did their best, based on the knowledge they had at the time. The blamed God for the destruction of cities when we know the area was (and is) active in both the seismic and volcanic areas. In the lat 80’s a Biblical “archaeologist” claimed to find Sodom and Gomorrah – only to be discredited and discounted in the 90’s. Yet, Christian apologist books continue to quote the information from the 80’s – neglecting to tell readers about the findings in the 90’s and his rejection by the scientific community. That happens a lot in the Christian literature of today.

I have no problem accepting something from a Biblical scholar or archeologist as long as they can prove their data and use the same scientific rules and principles that actual scientists follow. Instead of speculating from one find or one site – keep digging and find out for sure. Most scientific archaeological reports state something along the lines of, “A recent find may be…” or “It is possible that the city…” They are careful not to make positive claims until enough evidence is gathered and the data has been peer-reviewed.

TRAVIS: “this, of course, is why i’ll be ordering a copy of PBS’s evolution series as soon as i get the chance.”

I’m glad to hear that. The program’s last section discusses the evolution versus creationism issue. I was a little disappointed with the program – but that is because it is public television and its funding is dependent upon the public – so they had to “walk on eggshells” on many issues. Even so, the program is one of the better ones because it uses layman terms and actually states the science behind the conclusion. Too many evolution shows are guilty of stating conclusions and not stating why that conclusion was reached. I think it is in the best interest of the public to know why certain conclusions were made and what the evidence is.

TRAVIS: “this type of reasoning against Christianity has always amazed me. of the story of Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps, we have three different accounts, and all of them contradict themselves worse than the gospels ever do (if they even do); yet no one argues that because of that, the event never took place.”

There’s a big difference between a resurrected God-figure and a marching army of a king. If I tell you that I have a poodle at home, do you have any reason to doubt me? Not really, because poodles are common and many people own poodles. If I tell you that I have a pink poodle that is psychic and flies, do you have any reason to doubt me? Of course you do – psychic and flying poodles are an exceptional claim.

If I tell you the next day that I have a maltepoo at home, do you have any reason to doubt me? A little bit because I told you a poodle yesterday. However, a maltepoo is a cross between a Maltese and poodle, so while there is a minor contradiction – the premise remains. The biggest issue here is that there is no exceptional claim.

If I tell you the next day that I have a green poodle that is psychic, flies and is visited by alien intelligence, do you have a reason to doubt me? Of course you do because the exceptional claim still exists but now I have added two contradictions/inconsistencies that give credence to the doubt.

The doubt is there regardless of the contradictions because of the exceptional claim and lack of evidence. The doubt is bolstered because of the contradictions. The contradictions don’t cause doubt – they just help it along.

Just for clarification purposes, the book I have about Hannibal mentions the contradictions in the stories. Does the Bible mention its contradictions?

You stated, “If they even do”, concerning contradictions in the gospels. Have you not noticed them? Let’s participate in an exercise to help you identify the problems that exaggerate the existing doubt because of the exceptional claim and repeated legend/myth:

Using all the gospels answer the following questions:

  1. What time did the women visit the tomb?
  2. Which women visited the tomb?
  3. Was the tomb open when they arrived?
  4. Who was at the tomb when they got there?
  5. What did the messenger tell the women?
  6. Did the women tell what happened?
  7. Did Mary know Jesus had resurrected when she returned to the tomb?
  8. When did Mary first see the resurrected Jesus?
  9. After visiting the women at the tomb, whom did the resurrected Jesus visit next?
  10. Where did the resurrected Jesus first appear to the disciples?
  11. Did the resurrected Jesus stay on Earth or depart that same day for Heaven?
  12. Where did the ascension take place?

TRAVIS: “already read it. i was hoping it would come up, because it is full of errors.”

Care to discuss the errors that you see? I’m always open to constructive criticism – provided you can back your claims up, of course.

TRAVIS: “i just figure that if what i believe is actually true, and it is, then there should be some evidence to back it up.”

Correct, if it is true then there should be evidence. Problem is that there is no evidence.

TRAVIS: “the possibility of the resurrection (and probability of it) seems very high when one considers the claims Jesus made about Himself.”

The problem is that you are using the Bible to prove the Bible. Before you can use the Bible as evidence you have to prove that the Bible is accurate and viable as evidence. You have to show that there is no contradictory information contained therein and other criteria for valid evidence. That will never happen – just answer the 12 questions above and you’ll see that.

TRAVIS: “furthermore, if the gospel records are to be taken seriously (and we have every reason to believe they should be), then ideas such as disciples stealing the body seem absurd.”

I have every reason to believe that the gospels should not be taken seriously. The disciples stealing Jesus’ dead body is not an exceptional claim and is therefore more probably than a resurrection. That is not to say it is true – just more probable. I agree that the probability of surviving the crucifixion is slim, but it is also more probable than a resurrection.

They are more probably and the gospels are not taken seriously because of other resurrection myths prior to Jesus. Jesus is not unique in any way. Before Jesus there were messiahs in other religions. They were all born of virgins. They all were crucified, buried and resurrected. Several of them parallel the story of Jesus so closely that the plagiarism is blaringly obvious. All of this information, lack of evidence, exceptional claims, duplication of myth, contradictions, archaeology and other sciences and other material all lead me and many others to the conclusion that the New Testament is nothing by fantasy with a twist of politics and discussion of the times (each gospel addresses their own agenda based on the social context and political environment of the time).

TRAVIS: “it sounds to me like the root issue here is going to be whether or not the gospel accounts are trustworthy.”

Trustworthiness is not the issue. They are trustworthy in the perpetuation of myth and messiah complex religions. What is at issue is the very historicity of Jesus based on other religions before Jesus and the obvious plagiarism and incorporation of pagan rituals and beliefs into the Jesus myth. That is not to say that a rabbi named Yeshua didn’t exist. What that does say is that people altered the stories of Yeshua after the fact and embellished them with aspects that would sell to a pagan-oriented society. How could they sell the concept of Jesus to the pagans if Jesus couldn’t compete with them? If Mithras was born on December 25th (as he was) and was crucified, buried and resurrected in three days (as he was) and performed miracles (as he did) then Jesus had to do the same in order to convert the followers of Mithras.

It has nothing to do with trustworthiness or authenticity and everything to do with salesmanship.

TRAVIS: “why don’t we procede from here with a discussion focused on the gospel texts?

Very well. Start by answering the 12 questions above and proving there are no contradictions, inconsistencies and errors. We can then discuss other textual issues after you’ve at least acknowledged that the gospels are full of holes and full of sh…

TRAVIS: “it will be difficult to deal with evidence for the resurrection without dealing with the trustworthiness of the gospel texts.”

With or without the trustworthiness the resurrection is still difficult to deal with. The claim is that a man was born of a virgin that was raped by a deity and then went on to walk on water, heal sick people, turn water into wine, die at the hands of Rome and resurrect in full form and rise to heaven. That’s hard to swallow – period. Do you believe in the trustworthiness of other accounts of resurrection from gods and prophets preceding Jesus? Why do you give the gospels more validity than other accounts?

There is a story of a man born of a virgin with a carpenter for a father. He was the Son of God and spoke on parables to teach morality and lessons to the people. He was ultimately crucified between two thieves and resurrected three days later whereupon he ascended to heaven. He is the “way, truth and light” and no one gets to Heaven and the Father except through him. Who is this person? Chrishna of Hindu is this person – a god worshiped 1700 years before Jesus.

 

Travis Rebuttal #011:

i’m working on the research, but i’m going to need to check your references. what are your sources for your information on Mithras and Chrishna?

 

Response to Travis #011:

References for Christ myth:

  • The Christ Myth by Arthur Wells
  • The Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy by Dennis McKinsey
  • The Jesus Myth by George Wells
  • Remedial Christianity: What Every Believer Should Know About The Faith, But Probably Doesn’t by Dr. Paul Laughlin
  • The Quest for the Historical Jesus by Dr. Albert Schweitzer
  • The Origins of Christianity and the Quest for the Historical Jesus by Acharya S

References for Mithraism

  • Macmillan Encyclopedia of World Religions
  • Paganism Today by Graham Harvey and Charlotte Hardman
  • Christmas Unwrapped: the History of Christmas by The History Channel (documentary)
  • The History of Christmas by The History Channel/BBC (documentary)
  • Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries by David Ulansey
  • Mysteries of Mithra by Franz Comut
  • Mithraism in Ostia Mystery Religion and Christianity by S. Laeuchli
  • Mithras by Reinhold Merkelbach

This is not an all-inclusive list. I’ve only listed the major references and not the minor references. Needless to say, I have an extensive library behind me on my bookshelves. ;-)

NOTE: Travis never got back to me.

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