Debate 023: Ian and Blair debate evolution & the Bible

Ian Rebuttal #001:

Just because fossils and dinosaur bones exist doesn’t at all prove evolution. Carbon dating is a very interesting discovery, but is still an unknown variable. You can estimate the rate of carbon decay and guess your way backwards, but I would hardly call it proof. Do I believe things could be very old in this world? Sure. But from my standpoint, they could have easily been created right with the world.

I’d be happy to hear how the Bible “unravels” itself. I’ve heard most theories, so please explain. From the people I’ve talked to, none could support their claims. I’m not doing this to argue, but to clarify any misconceptions. I will never tell anyone what to believe.

I would like to point out a common misconception that all scientists believe in evolution. Quite a few think it is ludicrous, but alas, education books like preaching on. From my standpoint, one cannot argue for evolution and not be able to explain the details.

Scientific theories say matter cannot be destroyed. It is mearly reallocated in a different form. How can evolution support the claim that matter formed from nothing? Have you heard of Entropy? It is a basic teaching of science that things will always go from order to disorder. How then can evolution miraculously teach that somehow mother nature will go against this basic principle?

Of course things “evolve”. People change over time. There is nothing wrong with change Biblically. Take a look at Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

You mention the OT and NT contradict each other. How? I’ve heard quite a few arguments, and would be curious to hear what you can come up with.

I think you mentioned you are not a Biblical scholar. How then can you argue the Bible is wrong?

I think discussion is great. The best we can do is learn from each other.

Religious Confusion

It is unfortunate there is so much confusion now in days regarding religion. People get tired of not knowing which to choose and instead choose to believe nothing at all. Look at Christianity and how various church bodies have become corrupted over time. Church bodies keep splitting and becoming more scattered. I don’t doubt this. As the world ages, I believe there will be more and more confusion about what to believe. The Bible refers to the breakdown of the church, and while unfortunate, is bound to happen.

Just think of your children. If you has talked to Jesus and witnesses His miracles, you’d certainly tell your children, wouldn’t you? In turn, your children would tell their children…and so forth. But what about a few more generations down the line? Suddenly, Jesus is less credible and sounds more like a story. Would it be proof sufficient for Jesus to come tomorrow and prove Christianity? Not really, as future generations will continue to disbelieve it…although people tomorrow might be convinced. Are we robots? Of course not. We have the capability to make choices…along with whether to believe in God or not.

There has indeed been a ton of scientific discovery in the past 200 years. And that is great. But it doesn’t mean, in the materialistic world we live in, that God doesn’t exist. Aside from pleasure, what does technology really accomplish?

Again, there has been much corruption elsewhere as well. So one really can’t give an excuse not to believe because of the world’s corrupt past. Greed runs rampant in this world and always has. People will always try using the Bible to benefit their own selves.

It is a sad truth. Just look at some of America’s religions…there is documented proof that their leaders became extremely wealthy at the expense of their followers. These people were screwed up and went against everything the Bible teaches (can you say false prophets?). This in of itself does not mean the Bible is flawed. In fact, the Bible shows this will happen and warns against it.

On evolution

Concerning the Big Bang, where did the “molten blobs” come from? I’d like to know. Just like people may argue the molten blobs were always there, people can also argue that God has always been there (as I believe). People have a tendancy to want to play God and not like another power over them….especially in this society where people have such comfort and no fear of outside events.

Of course it is easy to say “God made it”. The Bible isn’t complicated and wasn’t intended to be.

Concerning Biblical Origin

I’m not going to doubt that humans make mistakes. Of course they do. We’re all sinful. But compare our Bibles today to the earliest manuscripts that exist, and they are incredibly accurate. When the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1944, they were accurate and went according to our Bibles today. I guess I don’t see your point. And like I said before, of course sinful men can twist the Bible to suit their desires.

Personally, I think atheism can be a crutch for the religious confusion that is out there. People do not understand the Bible and the millions of belief systems out there, so they choose to believe none of it. If you are ever interested or have questions regarding the Bible, please do ask. I’d be happy to explain.

Christianity in General

You fail to show how the Bible or God are fairy tales. Can you disprove them? Can you disprove Jesus never existed? I still see a lot of assumptions being called proof.

The obvious solution to me is the Bible is your proof. No other book has “survived” like the Bible has. No other book has produced more copies. Don’t you think that if people knew Jesus didn’t exist, they would have not spread Christianity so zelously?

Conclusions

Bibilical translations are necessary to spread the Bible and God’s Word. Do you see any translations being based off previous translations (and so forth) and thus corrupting the Bible? I’m not certain of what some modern day translations have done, but most (in almost every language imaginable) are based off the earliest manuscripts.

If you have questions about what I believe, please do ask. Public or private is fine. I’ve talked to quite a few people about the Bible and what I believe and their opinions have always been based on misconceptions.

 

Response to Ian #001:

IAN: “Just because fossils and dinosaur bones exist doesn’t at all prove evolution.”

That is correct. The fossils alone do not prove the theory of evolution or evolutionary biology. The fossils are part of a massive amount of evidence that supports the theory of evolution and evolutionary biology. One piece of the puzzle does not give one the picture – it is most or all of the pieces that one can ascertain the true picture that the puzzle creates.

IAN: “Carbon dating is a very interesting discovery, but is still an unknown variable. You can estimate the rate of carbon decay and guess your way backwards, but I would hardly call it proof.”

Carbon dating, the dating of materials using Carbon-14 is not used to date material older than 50,000 years and that can be a stretch sometimes. The half-life of Carbon-14 is 5,730 years, so after so many years there should be no detectable Carbon-14. Of course Carbon-14 can only be used to date materials that were biological, such as plants, bones, etc. Carbon-14 cannot be used to date inanimate material such as rocks.

The creationist argument that Carbon-14 is an invalid way to measure things in the millions of years is an accurate argument. However, it is also a stupid argument, because scientists know this and don’t use Carbon-14 to date things older than 50,000 years.

For more information on Carbon-14 dating and what it is used for (not what the creationists think it’s used for), you can check out some reliable online sources such aswww.c14dating.com, and www.radiocarbon.org.

Perhaps you mean radiometric dating, accelerator mass spectrometry, or isochron dating?

IAN: “Do I believe things could be very old in this world? Sure. But from my standpoint, they could have easily been created right with the world.”

Why would your Bible-God create the universe to look and act like it was 14 to 15 billion-years-old? Why would he create the world to look and act like it was 4.5 billion-years-old? Even if the creation account were correct, why would you dismiss the world of evolutionary biologists, geologists, anthropologists, oceanographers, etc for discovering how your Bible-God made it look?

IAN: “I’d be happy to hear how the Bible “unravels” itself. I’ve heard most theories, so please explain.”

I’d be happy to show you how the Bible “unravels” itself.

Let’s start off simple. We’ll take the 12-step program of Bible errancy. We’ll call it Bible study so you feel right at home. I’ll let you do the study so you can personally find and witness the contradictions. I’ll give you 12 questions about the death and resurrection of Jesus. Read all four gospels to answer the questions. Include each answer from each gospel and ensure that there are no contradictions or inconsistencies.

Read the four gospels, answer the questions from each gospel and make the answers work without contradicting each other. If you can do this, you’ll be the first person to ever do it – no theologian or Biblical scholar has ever been able to do it. Good luck!

  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 pace?

After you answer those 12 questions just get back to me with your 100% contradiction-free answers.

IAN: “I would like to point out a common misconception that all scientists believe in evolution. Quite a few think it is ludicrous, but alas, education books like preaching on.”

Please provide a sample of scientists within the field of biology that do not agree with biological evolution. If you would like to give me a list of accredited scientists from accredited universities that do not accept the science of evolution, I’d be happy to look at that, too.

The few “scientists” that I’ve met that rejected the science of evolution came from Christian colleges (although the majority of Christian colleges teach evolutionary biology because they know it’s scientifically sound). A few other scientists that rejected the science of evolution came from fields that had nothing to do with evolutionary biology. Biochemists work without any reference to evolutionary biology – they care about how biochemicals work – not how biochemicals evolved. Michael Behe is a biochemist. Of course, if you read Behe’s book, he is a proponent of evolutionary biology – he just thinks that “god did it.”

IAN: “From my standpoint, one cannot argue for evolution and not be able to explain the details.”

One cannot argue against it if they are not able to explain the details. If you are going to argue for or against something, you must know both sides. I do. Do you?

IAN: “How can evolution support the claim that matter formed from nothing?”

Evolutionary biology does not make that claim. You are confusing evolution with cosmology.

IAN: “Have you heard of Entropy? It is a basic teaching of science that things will always go from order to disorder. How then can evolution miraculously teach that somehow mother nature [sic] will go against this basic principle?”

How do you see evolutionary biology and the theory of evolution as a violation of entropy? For that matter, didn’t the Bible-God violate entropy when he created the world from chaos? Regardless, please explain how the theory of evolution and evolutionary biology violate entropy.

IAN: “I think you mentioned you are not a Biblical scholar. How then can you argue the Bible is wrong?”

You don’t have to be a Biblical scholar to read the Bible and see all the errors, contradictions and inconsistencies. I think you would also find that most biblical scholars recognize the problems and are not apologists. You’d probably be surprised to find out that when new theology students arrive at theology school they are in the 80 percentile of “literalist.” By the time they leave theology school they are only in the 30 percentile of “literalist” (source: Barna Research, 2002).

Why is that? That change occurs because in theology school they teach these students real theology and real biblical scholarship, with criticisms and analysis – something they never learned in Sunday school. The students learn about the contradictions. They learn about the theological problems and inconsistencies and how the apologetics were adopted and ultimately adapted and evolved. The students learn the history of the Bible instead of the Bible as history.

Many students that enter theology school never go on to become priests, pastors, ministers, or preachers. Several atheist friends of mine went through theology and seminary school and it is there that their roots of atheism were founded as they began to learn what Christianity really is instead of what their Sunday school teacher and parents wanted them to know.

I believe that I can speak about the Bible because I have read it several times (straight through). I have studied biblical scholarship and theology. I have attended seminars and lectures given by biblical scholars and theological historians. I have been to Israel to tour the places of the Bible. I have discussed these issues with theologians, biblical scholars, and clergy of many faiths. I have read the statements of one side and the apologetics of the other.

I have read the reason and the rhyme. I have read the pros and the cons. I have made sure that I know both sides so that I can make an educated decision about the issue instead of being told what to believe. I would recommend that you do the same thing.

IAN: “People get tired of not knowing which to choose and instead choose to believe nothing at all.”

Did you look at the other religions of the world? Did you study the Qu’ran, Vedas, Enuma Elish, Koryak, Kitab-i-Aqdas, Kitab-i-Iqan, Apocrypha, Tanakh, Book of Shadows, the Word, Dhammapada, Sutta Nipata, Vinaya, Corpus Hermeticum, Kebra Nagast, Mabinogion, Lun Yu, Ta Hsueh, Chung Yung, Book of the Dead, Thelema, Secret Doctrine of Theosophy, Rosicrucian texts, Devi Gita, The Magus, Akaranga Sutra, Kalpa Sutra, Talmud, Qabalah, Midrash Tanhuma, Kalevala, Shah Namah, Book of Mormon, Walam Olum, Malleus Maleficarum, Prophecies of Nostradamus, Oahspe, Book of Knowledge, Te Pito Te Henua, Kumulipo, Sybilline Oracles, Prophecies of Paracelsus, Kama Sutra, Ananga Ranga, Kojiki, Nihongi, Yengishiki, Kwaidan, Shundai Zatsuwa, Bushido, Shri Guru Granth Sahib, Mishkat Al-Anwar, Rubayyat, Mahanirvana Tantra, Shakti-Shakta, Tao-te Ching, T’ai Shang Kan-Ying P’ien, Yatkar-i-Zariran, Avesta Vendidad and the Khorda Avesta (just to name a few)?

If the Bible-God were as powerful as you make him out to be, one would think that this confusion or “not knowing which to choose” would not be a problem.

IAN: “Just think of your children. If you has talked to Jesus and witnesses His miracles, you’d certainly tell your children, wouldn’t you?”

If I had seen the events as they are told in the Bible, then yes, I would tell my children. Unfortunately, no one at the time seemed to tell their children. With all that happened when Jesus supposedly gave up the ghost, no one seemed to notice. Not a single document of Rome or Judea mentions these events. Not a single historian of the time mentions any of these so-called miracles or heavenly events. Not a single historian or literary of the time mentions it. The only reference you’re your gospels that were written after-the-fact by non-witnesses.

IAN: “Would it be proof sufficient for Jesus to come tomorrow and prove Christianity? Not really, as future generations will continue to disbelieve it…although people tomorrow might be convinced.”

Yes, that would be proof. He can fly down on his magic cloud, set his golden harp aside, fold his white wings back, drape his white robe and sit down and have a cop of coffee with me. We can talk about the creation, the OT, the NT and other things. He can perform a few blatant miracles and I’ll be convinced. The first thing I’ll ask him after he convinces me is, “Why didn’t you do this for everyone? Why let all those people go to Hell when you could have done this with every person in the world?”

I’ve yet to get a straight answer on this – perhaps you can answer it. Why did the all-powerful Bible-God choose a specific region for conversion to his new religion of “follow my son, I mean me, my son and that third thing, the grandfather of my father of my son?” One would think that this all-powerful Bible-God could convert the entire world at once. It seems rather silly to send your son to die for the sins of the world and then not tell the world about it.

If the only way to Heaven is through Jesus, and no one knew about it – then everyone went to Hell until the world finally spread. It’s taken almost 2,000 years for the word to spread and there are still people that haven’t heard about Jesus – and everyone that missed the word is going to Hell – even if it wasn’t their fault. All those Native Americans that didn’t find out until the Spanish swords were dripping with the blood – went to Hell. All those people in the OT that were alive before Jesus – went to Hell. All the people in middle and South Africa that didn’t hear about Jesus until their masters on the plantation told them about him – all went to Hell. All the feral children and indigenous peoples of the world that never heard of Jesus – all went to Hell.

All the babies that are killed before their first Sunday school lesson – they go to Hell. All the mentally retarded children that can’t understand the concept and therefore can’t accept Jesus – they go to Hell.

How is that a moral doctrine?

IAN: “But it doesn’t mean, in the materialistic world we live in, that God doesn’t exist.”

That is correct; it doesn’t mean that a god doesn’t exist. It does mean that the Bible-God doesn’t exist. The Noachian flood never happened. A six-day creation never happened. A 40-year exodus in the desert never happened. The Tower of Babel never happened. Adam & Even never happened. The very things that the Bible-God is attributed with doing never happened and that’s because he never happened.

IAN: “Aside from pleasure, what does technology really accomplish?”

Technology has helped considerably with the survival of the species: increased life spans because of advanced medical science, decreased infant mortality rates, increased growth and delivery of food to prevent starvation, and much more.

Technology has also made information wide-spread. The human masses were ignorant before books were widely available. When books became available to the common man, then we began to see social change as man was educated. Then technology increased that knowledge with mass production of books and interstate commerce. Telecommunications and the advent of the wireless and ultimately the Internet increased that knowledge even more. With all major advancements in technology and specifically in the spread of information, a social change occurs.

The Renaissance, the Reformation, the civil rights movement, the woman’s suffrage movement, and the sixties are just examples of these social shifts at the advent of new information and ease of spreading that information.

Satellite communications and the Internet are getting the word out about the reality. The false statements and nonsense issued from the pulpit are responded to and disseminated via these mass-media means. The public learns the history of the Bible instead of the Bible as history. The public learns the hatefulness of the Bible and Qu’ran. The public learns about the cruelty of those that would espouse their god to do harm to others.

This increased information availability has seen a major increase in Freethought around the world. The Holy See has officially declared several countries to be “Officially Pagan” and they are renewing their missionary approach to those countries. Information is available to anyone and the church can no longer control it.

Islam’s current situation is a direct result of this mass media and information availability. Islam has turned in on itself and has attempted to seclude the Islamic population from the information of the world. The media outlets are state-run in theocracies and dictatorships. The information provided to the Islamic public is filtered and full of hatred against Jews and westerners.

Instead of blossoming and becoming a part of the world, Islam has pulled its window shades, bolted the doors and set the alarm – letting no influence in. This lack of education, equality, and economy in that part of the world, coupled with the Qu’ranic blinders of “hear no evil, see no evil” has increased the Fundamentalist extremists of the religion to a boiling point.

Christianity had to deal with this a long time ago. During that time they did the same thing that Islam is doing today. The Spanish Inquisition was how the church dealt with technology and information availability. Luckily for the world, the Reformation occurred and Christianity was watered down. That watering down continues to this day. As you mentioned, the church creates a new split each year as new denominations are formed – each one a watered-down version of its predecessor.

IAN: “People will always try using the Bible to benefit their own selves.”

By using the Bible as a way to get to Heaven, aren’t you doing the same thing?

IAN: “These people were screwed up and went against everything the Bible teaches (can you say false prophets?). This in of itself does not mean the Bible is flawed.”

I would disagree with you. The very fact that there are so many interpretations and so many different views of the Bible is a very testament to its flaws. If the Bible were clear and concise, as one would expect from a so-called all-powerful supreme being, then there would be no discordance among the pious masses. The fact that the common man cannot read the Bible and know exactly what the pious pulpit states is a testimony to the fallibility of the Bible.

Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Bob Jones, James Kennedy, Billy Graham, Benny Hinn, Jim Bakker, and many others get away with it because the sucker that’s born-again every minute can’t understand the Bible on his own. No one is willing to take the time to actually read the entire thing and study its origins and meaning. If they did, then I would aver that the churches would be empty. The churches are relying on the incontinence of the biblical word and the inability of the pious masses to make heads or tales of who, what, when, where, and why.

The lack of knowledge by the public and the commercial genius of the pious pulpit have worked together to make the Bible-God a corporation. I’d like to buy 100 shares of GodCo and Jesus, Inc., please.

IAN: “Concerning the Big Bang, where did the “molten blobs” come from? I’d like to know.”

For information on the Big Bang, please see Where Did It All Come From?

IAN: “Of course it is easy to say “God made it”. The Bible isn’t complicated and wasn’t intended to be.”

The Bible isn’t complicated? Aren’t you the same person that made reference to all the different churches not agreeing on the Bible? If the Bible isn’t complicated then why is it so hard for the churches to agree on it? If the Bible isn’t complicated then why have there been so many councils for thousands of bishops and presbyters to figure out what it meant and “law down the law” on how they interpreted it?

IAN: “But compare our Bibles today to the earliest manuscripts that exist, and they are incredibly accurate.”

Are you sure about that? Most biblical scholars would disagree with that statement.

IAN: “When the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1944, they were accurate and went according to our Bibles today.”

That is entirely false. The finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls, especially Qumran Cave 4, created more variants and more problems for biblical literalists. The book of Isaiah, for example, was found to be missing several chunks (in the Bible version) and the chunks that weren’t missing were found to be full of mistakes. The Dead Sea Scrolls were talked about widely when they were initially discovered. When translation began, they suddenly disappeared. It wasn’t until years later that they were finally brought out in the public again and it was disclosed just how bad they made the Bible look.

The number of variants of manuscripts is ludicrous. The variation of the variants is even more astounding. There are books that aren’t in the Bible – why didn’t they make the cut?

Regardless, the accuracy of the translations of the modern Bible compared to the ancient manuscripts of which they originated is irrelevant in the long run. It doesn’t matter if the translations are accurate or not. Accuracy of translation is not proof of the accuracy of the Bible itself and it certainly is not proof of any god represented therein.

IAN: “Personally, I think atheism can be a crutch for the religious confusion that is out there.”

Personally, you’d be wrong. Atheism is the removal of the crutch. Atheism is the sorting out the confusion and getting the real picture. Atheism is the recognition of the ludicrous nature of religion and breaking free of the imprisonment of thought.

IAN: “If you are ever interested or have questions regarding the Bible, please do ask. I’d be happy to explain.”

I think you have enough explaining to do with the 12 questions I presented you above as a precursor to contradictions in the Bible. No offense, but I doubt there is anything you can tell me about the Bible that I don’t already know or that I haven’t already heard.

IAN: “You fail to show how the Bible or God are fairy tales. Can you disprove them?”

Atheism Awareness does not attempt to do that. The purpose of Atheism Awareness is to address the myths, misconceptions, and misunderstandings of atheism. One page refers to my view that the Bible is nothing more than fairy tales for adults, but the page makes no claim to show that.

All that aside, it is easy to refute and dismiss the personalized, characterized, and defined gods of mankind: Yahweh, Allah, Vishnu, etc all fall under scrutiny. The atheist freely admits that he or she cannot prove that a god does not exist – you cannot prove a negative.

As far as fairy tales go, there is no reason to prove it – just read it. The tale of Noah and his Ark is clearly a fairy tale and never really happened. The tales of the plagues of Egypt at the behest of Moses are fairy tales that never really happened. The tale of Adam & Eve and the talking snake is obviously a fairy tale. Where did the talking snake come from, anyway? We know these are fairy tales not just by the silliness of them and the outlandishness of them, but by the scientific evidence against them (no global food, etc).

IAN: “The Can you disprove Jesus never existed?”

One cannot prove a negative, so one cannot say that Jesus never existed. What I can say is that based on the available evidence, or more accurately, the lack of available evidence, it is more probable that Jesus, as the Christ, never exist. Is it possible? Yes. It is probable? No.

Anything is possible – unicorns, Big Foot, Loch Ness monster, leprechauns, gremlins, ghosts, vampires, werewolves, etc. I’d rather deal with the probable than the possible. Are you willing to admit that leprechauns exist because they possibly exist and no one can prove that they don’t exist?

I would remind you that the burden of proof is in your court. You have made the exceptional claim that a man around 30 CE performed miracles, was executed, died and was buried, resurrected and then ascended up to Heaven where he awaits to return on his whim to Earth to wage holy war against the sinners.

Tell me a great teacher lived in 30 CE and taught a form of Judaism then you’re getting a little more credible, more believable because you have less exceptional claims. Start throwing in all the miracles and metaphysics and you are crossing into the realm of exceptional claims – a realm for which you have no proof.

One mistake of the Christians is to use the Bible to prove the Bible. Where are the outside sources and verifications? None of the so-called references of Jesus that apologists often quote are even remotely legitimate (not a single one). Do Christians fail to recognize the works prior to 30 CE and the supposed life of Jesus? The stories of older gods and goddesses that match the story of Jesus – why aren’t these taken into consideration by Christians?

IAN: “The obvious solution to me is the Bible is your proof. No other book has “survived” like the Bible has.”

That’s an awfully bold statement to make, especially considering that it is wrong. The Bible, as you know it (66 books), has only been around for approximately 1,700 years. The Tanakh, Torah, and Talmud have been around for much longer. The books of Judaism have been around longer than the Bible.

If you are going to use longevity and durability as an argument for accepting a theology, then perhaps you should consider converting to Judaism?

Or perhaps you should consider Hinduism? The Vedas has been around hundreds of years longer than the 66-book Bible. Of course there are other books that are older than the Bible and still around, too.

As to longevity being a proof of something, you are leaving a lot to be desired. How does the longevity of something make a statement of its truth or proof? We’ve seen the destruction of many doctrines of the Christian church fall during the 1,700 years that the 66-book Bible has been around.

The idea of a hard firmament that is described in the book of Genesis fell. The idea of a flat Earth described in the OT and NT fell (although a few die-hards still believe that the Earth is flat). The idea of a geocentric solar system, as described in the Bible, fell.

IAN: “Don’t you think that if people knew Jesus didn’t exist, they would have not spread Christianity so zelously [sic]?”

No, I don’t think that at all. Often the most zealously spread doctrine is a doctrine of lies and deceit. One need only view the historically recent Nazis to see how such zealousness can be produced on a doctrine of lies, deceit and fabrication.

During the time that Christianity was gaining a foothold, the religions of the world were replete with miracles, virgin births, resurrections and other such mythology. The people of the time, not having the technological advances of our time (as we discussed earlier), were not inclined to find the stories false. That does not mean that there were not critics at the time. Unfortunately, the early Christian church set out to destroy all critics and criticisms and few remain to this day.

IAN: “I’m not certain of what some modern day translations have done, but most (in almost every language imaginable) are based off the earliest manuscripts.”

The KJV is a good example. The original manuscripts (which do not exist) would have been written in Hebrew of Aramaic. What remains is the Greek Septuagint. The Greek was translated into Latin. The Latin was translated into German and the German was finally translated into English in order to create the KJV.

If you want a version that is more accurately translated from the Greek Septuagint, I would recommend the Scholar’s Version (SV). Unfortunately, the SV only covers the NT. However, the Tanakh and Torah, the Jewish sacred texts, are good sources to get closer translations to the original Hebrew, as they are still written in Hebrew to this day. You can view the Tanakh, Torah and Talmud online at Sacred Text Archive: Judaism.

And Ian, like most, disappears into the masses…

Debate 021: Ken and Blair debate Biblical inerrancy

Ken and I exchanged a few informal emails back and forth before he decided to initiate a “formal” debate.

 

Ken Rebuttal #001:

Sorry it’s taken so long for me to get back to you, but it’s just been crazy for me with finals and everything else going on.

Anyway, gosh there’s so many topics we could choose from. Since this debate is based solely on the existance of a God, why don’t we start out by examining The Bible-what I believe is the Word of God. I’m curious to see what you believe The Bible is and perhaps if you can find anything in The Bible that would lead you to believe that it is simply a book that man created solely on his own. What I would hope to find here is any evidence that you can find in The Bible that was written about that is either contradictory or proven false (not by theory but by fact).

From my experience, when reading The Bible I have always found it to be much more then some book that mere men could write. I have always found it’s claims to be unique and bold yet always true. The Bible claims to be God-breathed, and in order for that to hold up, The Bible would have to be perfect, for God is by The Bible’s definition flawless, perfect. So that’s where I would like to start if that sounds good to you-let’s examine the evidence for and against The Bible. Feel free to expand on the topic in any way you see fit if you think it’ll add to our discussion.

What has always intrigued me is that throughout history archeologists have used The Bible as a sort of map to search for ancient cities or civilizations. The physical characteristics described in The Bible are now about 75 percent proven, and that number is on the rise. Furthermore, I have never found anything in The Bible that, when taken correctly in context, is either false or contradictory. That simply can not be claimed by most, if not all, of the world’s religions. But this fact in and of itself does not make The Bible true. I can write a book that is perfectly flawless in physical nature but make claims about God or the universe that are simple false. For example, I could say “the world is round and I, Ken Rogers, am God.” This would simply be false. So what I find is that although the factual evidence for The Bible is wonderful for believers, it is not the only reason to believe in it. What has compelled me to believe in it is the philosophical reasoning behind The Bible and the changes that I have seen it cause in people’s lives. I have seen people (including myself) that have researched and read The Bible and applied it to their life. What I have found is that it gives people meaning for their life in a way that can be backed by truth. I believe that The Bible is unique in that it tells of the one true God that truly cares deeply about His creation and is not simply an authoritarian figure. In other world religions you see a religion based on works or monetary gifts that will supposedly further your standing with God. But The Bible is unique in that it tells of God’s nature that He does not care about money-that money is simply a thing of the world that will be useless after this life anyway. It tells of a God that does not care so much about the things of this world but rather is interested in the well-being of His people. It tells of a God that is longing to be close to and love His creation and who wants to spend eternal life with them, blessing them with His perfect presence in thier life. That’s what sets The Bible apart to me, I’m excited to hear your take on The Bible and what The Bible is to you. Blessings.

 

Response to Ken #001:

KEN: “What I would hope to find here is any evidence that you can find in The Bible that was written about that is either contradictory or proven false (not by theory but by fact).”

Will I be able to hold you to the same? Will you present only fact and not “theory?” Of course I’m assuming that when you use the word “theory” in the sense that you have, that you are referring to a sense of deduction. You obviously are not talking about scientific theory, as a scientific theory is held up by facts – it is an idea supported by the facts. Theories in science are not the same as hunches of common man on the street.

However, I will hold you to the same criteria – you can only present facts (you’ve lost this debate already and don’t even know it).

KEN: “I have always found it’s claims to be unique and bold yet always true.” [sic]

I take it you haven’t read too many books, then. Have you tried the sacred texts of other religions? The Bible is not unique – it was just spread by the sword faster and more efficiently than the other sacred texts of the world’s religions.

KEN: “The Bible claims to be God-breathed, and in order for that to hold up, The Bible would have to be perfect, for God is by The Bible’s definition flawless, perfect.”

Just to make sure I understand your stance, you think that the Bible is God-breathed and is 100% perfect; without error, contradiction or inconsistency. If the Bible claims that God is perfect, and God breathed the Bible, then the Bible is perfect. Circular logic aside, I will hold you to that claim. If I can show that the Bible is not perfect, that it is full of errors, inconsistencies and contradictions, then you must admit, at a minimum, that your Bible-God is imperfect, and preferable, that your Bible-God is nothing more than the fanciful writings of imaginative men.

KEN: “What has always intrigued me is that throughout history archeologists have used The Bible as a sort of map to search for ancient cities or civilizations.”

You should clarify that statement. What archaeologists use is the Hebrew text of the Torah, which was adapted and adopted by Christians as the Old Testament. The references in the Hebrew texts to kings, cities, etc, seem to be mostly accurate. The use of known figures and known cities to establish a timeline and a sense of “awareness” for the reader is not uncommon in most sacred texts and modern writing.

The book Escape from New York is riddled with references to actual cities, streets, historical persons, etc. This does not mean that the story is real or that the characters, such as Snake Plisken, are real. What it does mean is that the author used legitimate references in the storyline in order to help the reader grasp the concepts presented – to have a better feel for the story. It’s a common practice of authors – both then and now.

So what archaeologists are finding is that many of the cities referenced were real. Some of them are still present, but are under different names. Some of them are buried under the sand. What archaeologists are also finding is that while the cities references are real, the stories about them are bogus. Sodom and Gomorrah never succumbed to a great nuclear blast generated by the fingertip of Yahweh. There is no evidence of any mass exodus of millions of Jews across the desert for 40 years.

KEN: “The physical characteristics described in The Bible are now about 75 percent proven, and that number is on the rise.”

Please provide a source for that information. Please elaborate on “physical characteristics.” It seems to me that your reference to the physical is exactly what I am talking about – cities, statesmen, etc – historical characters and cities used as reference points in a story of imagination.

KEN: “Furthermore, I have never found anything in The Bible that, when taken correctly in context, is either false or contradictory.”

Very well, let’s start out simple. What I’ve found is that most Christians have not really read the Bible. What they tend to do is read the passages that their preacher talks about on Sunday or passages that are sent to them via email from someone promoting some specific viewpoint – justifying their nonsense with Biblical prose. Those that have read the Bible cover-to-cover are the ones that notice the problems that are inherent in the Bible. So let’s just take a small portion of them and go from there. We’ll see what you can do with these.

We’ll begin in the New Testament. What I would like you to do is read about the death and resurrection of Jesus in the four gospels. It may be easier to have four Bibles open to each gospel with the aforementioned section open in each. As you are reading each account from the separate gospels, answer the following questions. Then re-write the gospel account, using data from all four gospels, without having any contradictions, inconsistencies or errors. That is your challenge. If you can do it you will be the first person in history to do it. Theologians and Biblical proponents have failed at every attempt so far. We’ll start you off easily with just seven questions. Can you beat them? Let’s see…

  • What women visited Jesus’ tomb?
  • Was the tomb open when the women arrived at Jesus’ tomb?
  • Did the women tell anyone what they had seen at Jesus’ tomb?
  • When did Mary first see Jesus?
  • After appearing before the women at the tomb, who did Jesus next appear to?
  • How long did Jesus stay on Earth before the ascension?
  • Where did Jesus ascend to Heaven?

KEN: “That simply can not be claimed by most, if not all, of the world’s religions.”

It can’t be claimed by yours, either. However, most of the world’s religions make the same claim. The Qu’ran boldly claims that no one can write a Surah to match the beauty and prose of those that are breathed by Allah.

KEN: “What has compelled me to believe in it is the philosophical reasoning behind The Bible and the changes that I have seen it cause in people’s lives.”

Would you give equal merit behind self-help books that do the same? How many people’s lives have been changed by L Ron Hubbard’s Dyanetics and the founding of the Church of Scientology?

How many lives have been changed by the Qu’ran or the Qabalah? How many lives have been changed by reading The Word by Buddha and finding out about the eight-fold path? How many people still quote Confucius from his Analects (Lun Yu) or The Great Learning(Ta Hsueh)?

Or perhaps we can go further back and look at the great influence that the Egyptian Book of the Dead had on people and still has to this day? What about the Vedas of the Hindu or the Akaranga Sutra of Jainism? How about the Tanakh or the Talmud of the Hebrews?

Even more modern is the many lives influenced and changed by the Book of Mormon or The Gardnerian Book of Shadows, which established modern neo-Paganism and Wicca. We can look at our own continent and ask the Cherokee for their Sacred Formulas or travel to Japan and read the Kojiki of the Shinto.

Or perhaps we can read the Shri Guru Granth Sahib of the Sikh religion – a book that has changed the lives of people so profoundly that they are willing to risk discrimination and harassment in public by wearing large turbans and being confused as Muslims in this post-9/11 environment.

Maybe we can visit our local New Age center and after watching Tai-Chi being performed, ask the participants how much they were influenced by reading the Tao-Te Ching? We can visit among those that worship Zoroaster and ask them how much their lives have been influenced by reading the Yatkar-i-Zariran or Khorda Avesta?

We can even ask a few atheists if they’ve been influenced and had their lives changed by reading the Humanist Manifesto or a science book. Ironically, if you ask me what book influenced me the most, I would agree with you – the Bible. It was reading the Bible that influenced my life the most – made me realize what a hypocrisy Christianity is and that it is nothing more than a sham – just like every other religion on this planet.

KEN: “I have seen people (including myself) that have researched and read The Bible and applied it to their life. What I have found is that it gives people meaning for their life in a way that can be backed by truth.”

The fact that a book gives someone meaning to their life is not factual proof of the book itself – or of its supposed author(s). Many books have given “meaning” to the lives of the people that have read them (as discussed above). People need to believe in something it seems. It doesn’t matter what that belief is, because they are all victims of geography.

The only reason that you have latched onto the Bible is because you were not born and raised in New Delhi or Baghdad. If you had, you would be trying to convince me that the Vedas or Qu’ran were “God-breathed” and perfect. Because you were born and raised in a predominantly Christian environment, you latched on to the book that was available in your geographic region. You aren’t a Christian because it is true – you’re a Christian because you were raised that way – brought up in an environment surrounded by the dogma and icons of that religion – it was familiar to you – comfortable – a security blanket of recognition in a world of religious rainbows – you picked the black and white you were used to.

KEN: “I believe that The Bible is unique in that it tells of the one true God that truly cares deeply about His creation and is not simply an authoritarian figure.”

Really? You don’t see the Bible-God as an authoritarian? You don’t see all the rules and “bow before me” and “go to Hell if you don’t believe in me” as authoritarian at all? You don’t see the Bible-God as demanding absolute obedience to his authority? Are you reading the same Bible that everyone else is reading?

KEN: “In other world religions you see a religion based on works or monetary gifts that will supposedly further your standing with God.”

What religions are those? Please provide specific examples and if you can quote from their sacred text that would be even better.

So you don’t see tithing as buying your way into Heaven?

KEN: “It tells of a God that does not care so much about the things of this world but rather is interested in the well-being of His people. It tells of a God that is longing to be close to and love His creation and who wants to spend eternal life with them, blessing them with His perfect presence in thier [sic] life.”

Tell me again how that makes the Bible factual and “truly God-breathed.”

I am still waiting for Ken’s response.

Debate 017: Sarah and Blair debate prophecy

Sarah’s original email was sent to me as a “warning” of end times based on some prophecies and modern prophets. My first reaction to her opening paragraphs were of great interest as I was looking forward to a good debate. Then I ran across the prophecy part and her belief in modern prophets (the Christian word for psychics). My original response was severely facetious and, admittedly, rather insulting. When she responded back I was surprised and decided to give her statements more attention.

 

Sarah Rebuttal #001:

I am Christian that decided to visit your site to make you aware of the future. First of all I do not understand any of your reasoning in why you don’t believe in God. Scientist have developed three main thesis’ on how the universe was formed. It is either eternal, the universe created itself out of nothing, or it was created by a supreme being. Modern science today denies the eternal existence of the universe, they discovered that it has a definite beginning. The other theory which states that the universe was created out of nothing has also been disproved, it clearly contradicts the law of thermodynamics and many other laws that have been created. Therefore the universe was obviously not created out of nothing. The only remaining alternative is that the universe was created by something, or someone.

In the past, atheists suggested that the mind is nothing more than a function of the brain, which is matter; thus the mind and the brain are the same, and matter is all that exists. However, that viewpoint is no longer intellectually credible, as a result of the scientific experiments of British neurologist, Sir John Eccles. Dr. Eccles won the Nobel Prize for distinguishing that the mind is more than merely physical. He showed that the supplementary motor area of the brain may be fired by mere intention to do something, without the motor cortex of the brain (which controls muscle movements) operating. In effect, the mind is to the brain what a librarian is to a library.

From evidence such as that presented here, Robert Jastrow (an agnostic, by his own admission) was forced to conclude: “That there are what I or anyone would call supernatural forces at work is now, I think, a scientifically proven fact” (1982, p. 18). The evidence speaks clearly regarding the existence of a non-contingent, eternal, self-existent Mind that created this Universe and everything within it.

Other things that you may not ever be able to explain are the prophecy’s. There were 55 prophecy’s that were made of the coming messiah. Jesus Christ fulfilled every single one of those. According to a group of mathematicians. The odds of this happening is 1 out of every 1 x 10 to the 56th power. I don’t know about you but it didn’t seem like it happened by chance. The bible code that has been discovered also has similar odds. These are a group of words that are found throughout the bible that have predicted many events throughout time. Many of the odds of these phrases appearing in the bible “by chance” is 1 out of a billion times a trillion.

There is so much more that I could say that would prove God exists, as I said I wrote this e-mail to make you aware of the future.

As almost the whole world knows, on September 11th 2001 we were attacked by a group of terrorists. This along with many other prophecy’s were given to our people from the lord in order to warn America. America is going through a great judgment period along with the rest of the world. Our stock market will soon crash and we will also be attacked by Russia and China initiating the beginning of World War III. Our country will be filled with plagues (anthrax, small pox), our water supply will be contaminated, and famine will sweep across America. Soon more terrorist attacks will be filling the country. The reason this is going to happen is not because God doesn’t love us, but it is because he does. He wants us to turn to him, once you do you will be safe from this judgment that will reach the United States. If you still do not believe once you see these things come to pass ask Jesus Christ into your heart and you will be guaranteed eternal life. Trust me it is very strange but I used to be just like you, doubting that any higher power exists. But now I know for a fact he absolutely does, there is just too much evidence in the world to deny it. All of your theories can be refuted, every single one of them. A man once was dying and the hospital nurse was trying to revive him, after a couple times he came back he screamed “Bring me back I was just in hell!” Please take this warning, is it worth giving up eternal life just because you want to stick with “your principles?”

I do not believe it is worth it, if you would like more information about the prophecy’s and/or more proof on the existence of God I will gladly give it to you. After I truly discovered the truth I was thinking to myself how selfish a lot of my friends were from keeping this from me and other people. They had the security of eternal life if they died while I sat there still trying to figure out if there still was a supreme being. I knew I had to share it now that I found out the truth and decided to go to an atheist website and came to yours.

If you still doubt God please try praying and the lord will send you fulfillment so that you will find the truth.

If you do not believe prayer works, scientific studies have proven that prayer in fact does work. If you pray in the name of Jesus Christ you will get whatever you ask for, however God will not tend to your desires such as money, leisure, women or men, he knows what’s best for you but will always provide you with what you need. If you would like more information about the prophecy’s and/or more proof on the existence of God I will gladly give it to you, thank you for taking the time to read this.

 

Response to Sarah #001:

NOTE: This is a reminder that I was really insulting in my initial response. Ready beware…

For a minute there I though we were going to have an intellectual discussion about cosmology and neurology. I was interested and ready to engage in a lively and intellectual discussion about those issues.

Then in paragraph four you strayed from intelligent to unintelligible.

SARAH: “…on September 11th 2001 we were attacked by a group of terrorists. This along with many other prophecy’s [sic] were given to our people from the lord in order to warn America.”

Where were the attacks of 9/11 prophesied at?

SARAH: “Our stock market will soon crash and we will also be attacked by Russia and China initiating the beginning of World War III.”

Where is this prophesied in the Bible? Please provide the exact scriptural reference that says “the stock market will crash” and where it says “Russia and China will attack the United States”. Also provide any reference to scripture in the Bible that clearly says “World War III”. Also, does this so-called prophesy have any dates or are we all to guess?

SARAH: “Our country will be filled with plagues (anthrax, small pox), our water supply will be contaminated, and famine will sweep across America. Soon more terrorist attacks will be filling the country.”

Again, please provide the exact scripture that says “plagues of anthrax and smallpox, contaminated water and famine will sweep across America”. Does your prophecy provide a list of places that will be hit by terrorists or dates the terrorists will attack? Or is it so vague that anyone can find something to fit it? Don’t give me vague statements about the future – really give me a prophecy that will convince me – give me dates, names and places.

SARAH: “He wants us to turn to him, once you do you will be safe from this judgment that will reach the United States.”

Let me get this straight. God loves me, so he’s going to torture me to force me to love him back? Do you love your children? Would you torture them and force them to love you back? Would you purposely make your children sick, burn them, kill them or otherwise make them suffer in order to force them to “turn to you”? Any god that would purposely torture his creation in order to force them to love him is not worthy of any love, much less worship. A parent that did that would be locked away in prison for life. Your version of god is a sick, twisted and perverted belief.

SARAH: “Please take this warning, is it worth giving up eternal life just because you want to stick with “your principles?””

Is it worth not believing in Allah and giving up eternal life? Let’s face it; the one true god is Allah – not Jesus. There were 600-some-odd Christians on board the airplanes and many more in the Twin Towers and Pentagon. All of them prayed to be saved and their prayers went unanswered. There were 19 Muslims onboard the planes that were all praying to Allah to successfully complete their mission.

Whose prayers were answered? Not the Christians – because the Christian god is just pretend. The Muslim prayers were answered. Allah is risen! Repent infidels and come to Allah before he smites thee for worshiping the pagan Christ.

SARAH: “I do not believe it is worth it, if you would like more information about the prophecy’s [sic] and/or more proof on the existence of God I will gladly give it to you.”

Yes, please provide the following information:

  1. Source of these so-called prophecies.
  2. List of all events that are forthcoming.
  3. List of all the dates for said events.
  4. List of all the places where said events are to take place.
  5. List of all the names of key players in said events.
  6. The comic book character you most closely identify with.
  7. Is it possible to read the Bible when doing it doggie style?
  8. A list of all pharmaceutical (prescribed and non-prescribed) drugs that you are currently taking.
  9. The police file or other documentation of the mental abuse that you suffered as a child.

That should do it for now.

SARAH: “If you still doubt God please try praying and the lord will send you fulfillment so that you will find the truth.”

What is it with born-again Christians and this line of horsesh*t? Do you think that atheists were never Christians before or Muslims or Hindus? Do you think we’ve never prayed before? Do you think we’ve never read the Bible before?

God is just pretend. He’s the adult version of Santa Claus. Take a Prozac and call me in the morning when you’re not so delusional and having hallucinations about the end of the world.

SARAH: “…thank you for taking the time to read this.”

You’re not welcome. That was the biggest load of bullsh*t I’ve ever read in my life. Whatever drugs you are taking – throw them away. Whoever brainwashed you with this load of sh*t – slap them in the face. Wake up to reality before these hallucinations take you in so far that you can’t get out. See a psychologist before it’s too late. I mean this with all sincerity.

Although I guess I should thank you for sending it to me – I needed a good laugh today and your email provided it. I’ll be sure to send it to my friends so we can all laugh at you.

Pathetic doesn’t even begin to describe it…

 

Sarah Rebuttal #002:

I just wanted to say that I was only warning you, I told you these so when you see them come to pass then you will know that God does exist.

If you would like to still have an “intellectual conversation” about cosmology and neurology I would like to hear your theories on how the universe was created. If you must know, those were prophesied by many prophets, it does not clearly say it in the bible but if you wish then I will show you where in Revelations it predicts events much like it. I do not mind if you mock me, go ahead and have a good laugh. I did misjudge you however, i know now that you have probably prayed and might have been a religion before. What religion were you before it if you ever were one? I understand that you think I’m pathetic I probably would have found that letter extremely pathetic if I ready it a year ago.

I have a question though, why do you say that the one true god is allah? I thought you did not believe in a god. Isn’t it hypocritical to say that a god is not worth worshiping if he would punish his creation then say allah will “smite” me for worshiping Christ? It seems like three different people wrote this letter.

 

Response to Sarah #002:

We cannot have an intellectual conversation because of your stance on prophecy. I will ask you the same questions. When you can answer them honestly, including intellectual honesty, then perhaps we can continue with other topics.

SARAH: “…on September 11th 2001 we were attacked by a group of terrorists. This along with many other prophecy’s [sic] were given to our people from the lord in order to warn America.”

Where were the attacks of 9/11 prophesied at?

SARAH: “Our stock market will soon crash and we will also be attacked by Russia and China initiating the beginning of World War III.”

Where is this prophesied in the Bible? Please provide the exact scriptural reference that says “the stock market will crash” and where it says “Russia and China will attack the United States”. Also provide any reference to scripture in the Bible that clearly says “World War III”. Also, does this so-called prophesy have any dates or are we all to guess?

SARAH: “Our country will be filled with plagues (anthrax, small pox), our water supply will be contaminated, and famine will sweep across America. Soon more terrorist attacks will be filling the country.”

Again, please provide the exact scripture that says “plagues of anthrax and smallpox, contaminated water and famine will sweep across America”. Does your prophecy provide a list of places that will be hit by terrorists or dates the terrorists will attack? Or is it so vague that anyone can find something to fit it? Don’t give me vague statements about the future – really give me a prophecy that will convince me – give me dates, names and places.

SARAH: “He wants us to turn to him, once you do you will be safe from this judgment that will reach the United States.”

Let me get this straight. God loves me, so he’s going to torture me to force me to love him back? Do you love your children? Would you torture them and force them to love you back? Would you purposely make your children sick, burn them, kill them or otherwise make them suffer in order to force them to “turn to you”? Any god that would purposely torture his creation in order to force them to love him is not worthy of any love, much less worship. A parent that did that would be locked away in prison for life. Your version of god is a sick, twisted and perverted belief.

SARAH: “I do not believe it is worth it, if you would like more information about the prophecy’s [sic] and/or more proof on the existence of God I will gladly give it to you.”

Yes, please provide the following information:

  1. Source of these so-called prophecies.
  2. List of all events that are forthcoming.
  3. List of all the dates for said events.
  4. List of all the places where said events are to take place.
  5. List of all the names of key players in said events.

The reference to Allah was facetious. I’m an atheist – not a Muslim. Let me put it here again so you can re-read it and hopefully understand what I was trying to say:

SARAH: “Please take this warning, is it worth giving up eternal life just because you want to stick with “your principles?””

Is it worth not believing in Allah and giving up eternal life? Let’s face it; the one true god is Allah – not Jesus. There were 600-some-odd Christians on board the airplanes and many more in the Twin Towers and Pentagon. All of them prayed to be saved and their prayers went unanswered. There were 19 Muslims onboard the planes that were all praying to Allah to successfully complete their mission.

Whose prayers were answered? Not the Christians – because the Christian god is just pretend. The Muslim prayers were answered. Allah is risen! Repent infidels and come to Allah before he smites thee for worshiping the pagan Christ.

 

Sarah Rebuttal #003:

Alright I admit that I was being a little out of perspective for writing these prophecies. I can understand why you would be a little annoyed by them considering the fact that you don’t believe in god and that the bible doesn’t even specifically predict these prophecies.

Since you are very familiar with the bible you know that in revelations it states that there will be famine, war, plagues and so on. I don’t believe I need to point these versus out because they are very easy to find. What prophecies I am telling you about are the one’s that are predicted by many prophets that the lord has given through visions and dreams. If you would like to look at the website here it is. You have to download adobe acrobat reader in order to read them. http://www.telusplanet.net/public/tsgibson/bksart.html

Please remember that god does not give specific dates of certain events, he only wishes to warn us. It even states in the bible in Mark 13:32-33 But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the son, but the father alone. Take heed, keep on alert; for you do not know when the appoint time is. I am not wishing to give you these prophecies just to make you afraid and turn to him. Although I take comfort in the lord protecting me I have found something very disturbing in one of these prophecies. A man that had predicted the falling of the World Trade Centers has also predicted that a nucleur attack will take place in an American city. The whole city will be annihilated and because of this the U.S. will become almost like a third world country. When I read this I was thinking it was going to be city such as Chicago or New York City, but the city he stated was Phoenix,Arizona. I live about 20 minutes away from Phoenix. Now I cannot say for sure and believe me I do not think that every single prophecy that is told by the prophets will take place. However I do believe many of them will happen, and also have already occurred.

When I saw what you wrote about Allah I was very confused, however I finally came to the conclusion that you were in fact being facetious. As for you wondering about why god would hurt his children in these judgements when he is supposed to be a loving god? I believe that god is not the one doing these things to us, he gave us free will so that we may make our own decisions. We were the one’s that chose to hate and murder, not God. The only thing God has done is taken is hand of protection away from our country because we chose to turn away from him (as with many other nations in the world).

I know you think I’m probably not capable of having an intellectual conversation because of my stance on these prophecies, however I am not the idiot you may think. I have answered with my honest opinion. I must admit I have much more respect for you for writing back with a more sincere reply. I have read what many so called “Christians” have done to you. I would like you to know that many Christians (including I) in no way support these acts of hatred.

 

Response to Sarah #003:

SARAH: “I can understand why you would be a little annoyed by them considering the fact that you don’t believe in god and that the bible doesn’t even specifically predict these prophecies.”

I wasn’t annoyed by the “prophecies”. The simple fact remains that none of the so-called prophecies are actually such. None of them are specific enough to qualify as a prophecy. They are vague and many of them are throwbacks. What I mean by a throwback is that when someone is writing in the future, they have the ability to go back into previous text and find items that they can make fit current events or recently past events that they are writing about.

A good example of this is Nostradamus. Nostradamus’ writings are so vague that no one can say with any certainty that one relates to one event or another. What happens is that as each person goes through them, they find the individual quatrains that they think fit a certain era or event. It is not uncommon to find a single quatrain attributed to several events.

This is the problem that is faced with the NT. The writers at the time knew of the so-called prophecies and they were forced to either make up events to fit them or find vague references that would fit actual events. Even if you read different apologetic books, each apologist attributes different events to different references in the OT. Even Biblical apologists are faced with the same dilemma that followers of Nostradamus are.

You have to consider that the writers of the NT, all five gospels (don’t forget about Thomas), knew of the OT references when they were writing. Why do you think there are so many discrepancies and contradictions in the NT? Each of them wrote with their own agenda and their own nuances and thoughts on the OT references. Why do some of the NT writers not mention events? How many of the gospels actually mention the birth of Jesus and specifically where he was born? Of the ones that do finally mention it, which ones actually agree with each other?

You would think that the birth of the Messiah was a significant enough event to warrant mention in all of the gospels, especially since it was supposed to fulfill some vague prophecy from the OT. Yet not all of them mention it. When it is first mentioned, it is the wrong city. The next gospel then corrects that “mistake” and places the birth in the city that actually matches the vague OT prophecy. Three strikes you’re out – and the NT writers struck out.

There’s a reason that the Jews rejected Jesus: he didn’t fulfill the prophecies. This is why a “Second Coming” was necessary for the NT writers to invent, which of course meant they had to invent a method for the “Second Coming”, which is the resurrection. The Messiah was supposed to come with swords blazing and free the Jews from Roman oppression. The Messiah was supposed be “the sword of G-d” that would help the Jews revolt against the Romans. There were many other prophecies that the Jews considered not to be fulfilled.

SARAH: “Since you are very familiar with the bible you know that in revelations it states that there will be famine, war, plagues and so on. I don’t believe I need to point these versus out because they are very easy to find.”

Yes, there are references to such events. But they are all vague and provide no data or dates. Also, if you consider the Jewish/Aramaic use of numerology at the time, the book of Revelation has nothing to do with the “Second Coming” of Jesus, but of Nero. The numbers 666 are the numerological translation for Emperor Nero. The Jews were scared to death that he would come back. Any good Biblical scholar will tell you that, especially a Jewish scholar that knows the use of numerology in sacred texts, such as Revelation and the Torah.

Perhaps you can explain the Biblical statement, “Know that a generation shall not pass before the Kingdom of God is established” (variations thereof depending on translation used)? Jesus was telling the disciples that they would see the “Kingdom of God” in their lifetime; the “Second Coming” would be before they die. They all thought it was going to happen soon. When it didn’t happen it became necessary in a later gospel to say, “No one but the Father shall know the time and place”.

SARAH: “What prophecies I am telling you about are the one’s that are predicted by many prophets that the lord has given through visions and dreams. If you would like to look at the website here it is. You have to download adobe acrobat reader in order to read them.http://www.telusplanet.net/public/tsgibson/bksart.html

I didn’t have the opportunity to view the “visions and dreams” of prophets. What I can tell you, though, is that anyone can say they received a vision from God. Visions of Armageddon are not prophetic, they are natural nightmares. We all dream about the end of the world, but that doesn’t make us prophets. Where is the proof of their so-called visions? Do you not require them to prove that they are a vessel of God before accepting their visions? Why do you accept their statements so arbitrarily without asking if they are authentic or imposters?

SARAH: “Please remember that god does not give specific dates of certain events, he only wishes to warn us.”

What’s the point, then? Why bother to warn us at all if there is no timeframe? If you knew exactly when and where your kids were going to be killed, wouldn’t you tell them when and where and how to avoid it? Or would you just tell them that at some point in the next fifty years they are going to die? Would you be vague with the ones that you loved?

SARAH: “It even states in the bible in Mark 13:32-33 But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the son, but the father alone.”

I’ve already addressed that issue, haven’t I? That was added in order to account for the misinformation provided in an earlier gospel about a generation not passing before the Kingdom of God was established on Earth. It was the earliest form of apologetics – only they forgot to change the original. Modern apologists are still trying to explain that one without admitting that the Bible is contradictory.

SARAH: “I am not wishing to give you these prophecies just to make you afraid and turn to him.”

You wouldn’t be able to make me “turn to him” out of fear. After all, any deity that says he loves you and then threatens to burn you for eternity in a lake of fire unless you worship him is not worthy of worship in the first place. Would you worship a King that threatened to kill you if you didn’t worship him? What makes your God impervious to such?

SARAH: “A man that had predicted the falling of the World Trade Centers has also predicted that a nucleur [sic] attack will take place in an American city.”

Please give me the exact statements from this so-called prophet that predicted the demise of the World Trade Center of 9/11 at 8AM in the morning. I also need to know the exact date and time that this prediction was made. Can this man provide that information or did you find out about it after the fact?

SARAH: “The whole city will be annihilated and because of this the U.S. will become almost like a third world country.”

This is highly unlikely, even if the prophecy is true. Certainly a nuclear explosion in a major economic area such as Los Angeles would have a devastating effect, but not in a way to make us a third world country.

SARAH: “When I read this I was thinking it was going to be city such as Chicago or New York City, but the city he stated was Phoenix, Arizona.”

There is absolutely no way that a city-wide destruction of Phoenix would turn the US into a third world country. Phoenix is big, but in the overall scheme of things, it is a drop in the bucket economically as far as the US goes. We’d see similar effects after 9/11 where the economy dives for a bit and then starts to recover. This would be no different than a major 8.0 earthquake in a major city.

SARAH: “As for you wondering about why god would hurt his children in these judgements when he is supposed to be a loving god? I believe that god is not the one doing these things to us, he gave us free will so that we may make our own decisions.”

So you admit that God is not omni-benevolent and omnipotent?

SARAH: “We were the one’s that chose to hate and murder, not God.”

Perhaps you should read the OT again. God is the perpetrator of mass genocide, even on a global scale (Noachian flood). Murder is murder, regardless of any reasoning some deity has to do it.

SARAH: “The only thing God has done is taken is hand of protection away from our country because we chose to turn away from him (as with many other nations in the world).”

Do you not see your contradiction here? You say that God is not “doing it”, but at the same time you say that he let it happen by “removing his hand of protection”. Would you allow your child to be killed if you knew about it ahead of time just because your child was a little disobedient? Are your children, whom you supposedly love, worth the sacrifice just because of disobedience? If God let it happen then he did do it. If God removed protection from the intended target, then he is guilty of murder through negligence and association. If God knew the terrorists were going to kill 3,000 plus people and let it happen, then he is guilty of conspiracy to commit murder.

SARAH: “I know you think I’m probably not capable of having an intellectual conversation because of my stance on these prophecies, however I am not the idiot you may think.”

I don’t think you’re an idiot. What I do think is that you have been improperly misled into believing a bunch of bologna. You have been misled either because you needed to believe it or because you are ignorant of the information out there debunking such nonsense.

SARAH: “I have read what many so called “Christians” have done to you. I would like you to know that many Christians (including I) in no way support these acts of hatred.”

Thank you.

 

Sarah Rebuttal #004:

BLAIR: “They are vague and many of them are throwbacks. What I mean by a throwback is that when someone is writing in the future, they have the ability to go back into previous text and find items that they can make fit current events or recently past events that they are writing about.”

The NT text has already created many theories on what the actual end times entail as described in the bible. The decisions based on their research has been almost unanimous among biblical scholars today. I believe only time will tell as to if these prophecies will be fulfilled including the new world order, a world wide religion that will be imposed on most of mankind and so on.

BLAIR: “There is absolutely no way that a city-wide destruction of Phoenix would turn the US into a third world country. Phoenix is big, but in the overall scheme of things, it is a drop in the bucket economically as far as the US goes.”

I very much hope that you are right about this.

BLAIR: “Do you not see your contradiction here? You say that God is not “doing it”, but at the same time you say that he let it happen by “removing his hand of protection”. Would you allow your child to be killed if you knew about it ahead of time just because your child was a little disobedient?”

I cannot pretend I know everything about god therefore I cannot answer this question very effectively.

I believe I could make an effective argument towards Christianity but I would rather like to revert the debate back to cosmology and other subjects. I have deleted my proceeding e-mails so I do not remember the subjects I brought up with you in my first e-mail. If you would like to bring up any new subjects or even cease this debate since you are very busy I will not be offended.

NOTE: I have not yet responded to Sarah. I wasn’t going to respond because her last email was not worth any response. However, her call to go back to her original email before the “sidetrack” of prophecy may be worth it. I’m still considering…

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.

Debate 010: John and Blair debate Atheism

John Rebuttal #001:

I just wanted to ask you a few questions if that is okay. I am a Christian and I am currently studying atheism. I am not intimidated by atheism or afraid of it. I just don’t understand the reasoning behind it.

I am not going to try to dispel any of your arguments. That would probably be a waste of time for both us since I think we are both very firm in our beliefs. That being said, my first question is why do you think we exist?

What is our purpose for living? I would also like to know what you think happens to us when we die? Are you really not concerned about what might happen after death?

I guess that is my first series of questions. This more along the lines of reasoning and logic. First of all, do you believe in the supernatural? It’s okay if you don’t; I am just wondering. If you do, do you think that our simple, finite minds should be able to comprehend an infinite supernatural Being? Do you think that there are certain supernatural things that cannot be explained by natural reasoning or by science?

Finally, I would like to ask you about the rise of Christianity. I know that you made arguments against changed lives being evidence for the truth of Christianity. You said that other religions have witnessed changed lives. I am not going to dispute that. I would simply like to ask you to explain the change in the 12 apostles lives after the resurrection of Christ. How do you explain the incredible rise of Christianity led by these 12 men after the death of Christ? 11 of the 12 were killed for believing in Christ. Why would these men die for a lie?

That is all the questions that I have for now. I would like to ask some more in the future, but I would like to hear your response to these first. Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Response to John #001:

Thank you for your non-proselytizing questions. I appreciate your inquisitiveness without resorting to proselytizing and evangelizing. Thanks again!

I’ll answer your questions as presented.

JOHN: “I am not intimidated by atheism or afraid of it. I just don’t understand the reasoning behind it.”

Just for clarification, you should have no reason to be intimidated or afraid of atheism. Do you mind if I ask why you felt compelled to say that? Have you run across people that are afraid of atheism or intimidated by it?

Also, the “reasoning” for an arrival at atheistic views differs for each person. The only thing atheists have in common is their atheism, which is nothing more than a lack of belief in gods and supernatural beings. Beyond that, each atheist is as unique as a fingerprint with different ideologies, philosophies, convictions, and thought processes.

JOHN: “Why do you think we exist?”

We “exist” to procreate and perpetuate the species.

JOHN: “What is our purpose for living?”

Our “purpose” is to perpetuation of the species. The greatest fallacy of humanity is to search for a “purpose” to our lives. We want there to be more than there is because we are wishful thinkers. We almost need to think there is “more to life than this”.

JOHN: “I would also like to know what you think happens to us when we die? Are you really not concerned about what might happen after death?”

What happens when we die is that our body begins to decay rapidly. Cell growth ceases (except fingernails and hair for a slightly longer period) and decomposition begins within hours of death. Depending on the environment the composition can be rapid or prolonged. I’m sure you know the science behind death so I won’t go into detail.

If you are referring more to what happens to us “after” we die in the metaphysical sense, then the answer is simply, “nothing”.

I’m not concerned at all about what might happen after death. There’s no reason to be concerned. I will lead a good life, I will raise my children to be moral human beings, and I will pass on my knowledge to them.

JOHN: “Do you believe in the supernatural?”

No, I do not believe in anything supernatural. However, I do grant that anything is possible. I prefer to deal in probability instead of possibility. If we believe in everything that is possible then we’d be a bunch of raving lunatics going on-and-on about leprechauns, pixies, fairies, unicorns, Big Foot, the Loch Ness monster, alien abductions, ESP, and more, and more, and more, and more.

I don’t automatically dismiss them, but I have to be convinced. There are many “paranormal” events that have been explained by science and yet people still latch on to the paranormal explanation. That’s akin, in my view, to still insisting that lightning is caused by Zeus. There are a lot of supposedly paranormal events that have enough evidence against them to dismiss them completely, though.

JOHN: “If you do, do you think that our simple, finite minds should be able to comprehend an infinite supernatural Being?”

Why shouldn’t we? If said supernatural being interacts with the universe, then said supernatural being should leave some sort of “fingerprint”. The trick, of course, is finding the “fingerprint” and being able to test for a supernatural cause. This is why we are at the mutual position of not being able to prove each other’s side. You can’t prove a god exists and I can’t prove that a god doesn’t. What we have to rely on in that case is what we “do” know and base our conclusions on that. We can’t (or at least shouldn’t) base our conclusions on what we don’t know.

JOHN: “Do you think that there are certain supernatural things that cannot be explained by natural reasoning or by science?”

No. There may be things that we deem as supernatural that we cannot currently explain, but to say that we may never explain them, or to attribute supernaturalism because we cannot explain them currently is not what science is or what I personally feel should be our methodology.

JOHN: “I would simply like to ask you to explain the change in the 12 apostles lives after the resurrection of Christ. How do you explain the incredible rise of Christianity led by these 12 men after the death of Christ? 11 of the 12 were killed for believing in Christ. Why would these men die for a lie?”

Why would people commit mass suicides for lies? People die for lies all the time. The Germans died willingly on the battlefield for a lie. People die for their beliefs all the time, even when those beliefs are false. Muslims die for their faith all the time, does that make Allah just as “real” as Yahweh?

Of course your premise is that the stories relayed in the Bible are factual in the first place. The rise of Christianity had nothing to do with the 12 original apostles in all actuality. The original “Christians” were nothing more than a sect of Judaism (which, in a way, it still is to this day). There were two things that helped to perpetuate this sect into mainstream, and ultimately, to what we know Christianity to be to this day. The first was the destruction of The Temple in 70 CE by the Romans. This event decapitated (temporarily) the Judaic hierarchy. This allowed the sect of Judaism to step up and fill the void.

The second was the Pagan Roman emperor, Constantine. Constantine needed to bring the Roman Empire back together and had two choices. He could choose the religion of the Centurions, which was Mithraism, or he could choose the religion of the cities, which was Christianity. Constantine decided that the power of Rome lay in the cities and not in the Army and chose Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire.

Of course Constantine had to get Christians to agree on what Christianity was and wasn’t. Christians were killing each other over disagreements about doctrine, dogma, and ideologies. Constantine convened the Council of Nicea in 325 CE. He placed all the “leaders” into a building and placed it under siege. No one could go in or out and no food was brought in. The foundation of Christianity was created in less than 24 hours under armed guard and threat of life. Out of the Council of Nicea came the following staples of Christianity: Jesus was the “Son of God” (this was disagreed upon by most of the early Christians because many though he was simply a prophet), the Sabbath was changed from Saturday to Sunday, and the ideology of the Trinity was born.

The Council also voted on the canon that would ultimately become what we know as the Bible. The vote, according to Eusebius, was a vote by five. If five people had voted differently the Bible would contain more of the Apocrypha (the books that were voted against). The Nicean Creed was created and everyone left. Of course that was not the end of the conflict because the votes were so close that fighting persisted for years and even continues to this day. Constantine later converted to Christianity and helped to import Pagan beliefs and rituals into Christianity.

You really want the founder of Christianity? Look at Constantine, the Pagan emperor of Rome.

John Rebuttal #002:

Thank you for your response. I appreciate your time in answering my questions. Just to clear a couple of things up, I would like to explain why I made the statement, “I am not intimidated by atheism or afraid of it.” I said this because your site said that theists are intimidated by atheists. I just was stating my disagreement with this statement. There may be some who are afraid or intimidated, but most Christians like myself welcome questions about our faith. I definitely want to look at all the issues. I find that it helps me to understand why I believe what I believe.

Also, I noticed that you said that the supernatural would have to leave a “fingerprint” behind. I believe that God has done that. The Bible tells us that creation reveals his glory. Romans 1:18-20 explains how God has revealed himself through nature, but that man has misunderstood it and begun to worship the creation rather than the Creator. When I look around at the world, I cannot explain how else this incredible world could be here except by some divine creation. I have a hard time believing that everything exists because of an accident. How would you explain this world?

I also want to make a couple statements about Constantine and the Council of Nicea. I have done much studying of church history. I agree with you that Constantine was not exactly a great man. He had his problems. But as far as the Council of Nicea, the beliefs of the Christian faith did not originate here. That is the error that most people make. The doctrines and beliefs of Christianity were widely accepted from the time Christ left the earth and the apostles started their ministry. However, there were many heretical groups who began to try to influence false teaching in the church. The books of the Bible were already accepted by the church. But these heretical groups began to accept other books and leave out some of the canonized books of the Bible. The purpose of the Council of Nicea was to officially formulate the doctrine into writing and officially formulate the accepted canon of scripture.

I apologize if I appear to be proselytizing or evangelizing. I am simply trying to respond to the statements you made. I guess I have a tendency to go a little long sometimes. Would you please respond to these statements. I would like to continue dialogue with you. I am very interested in understanding the arguments for atheism. Thank you again for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.

Response to John #002:

Thanks again for your comments and non-evangelizing response. I don’t think I can emphasize enough how refreshing it is to receive comments and responses that do not attempt to proselytize or evangelize. Thanks again!

JOHN: “I said this because your site said that theists are intimidated by atheists.”

Yes, my site says that. I say that not because they should be, but because many are. I don’t think theists should be intimidated or afraid of atheists. I think a lot of the intimidation and/or fear comes from the misconceptions and myths about atheism and atheists (like that we are all Satanists or immoral).

JOHN: “The Bible tells us that creation reveals his glory. Romans 1:18-20 explains how God has revealed himself through nature, but that man has misunderstood it and begun to worship the creation rather than the Creator.”

Revealing one’s “glory” is not the same thing as leaving a fingerprint of one’s creative efforts. For example (I’ll work on the assumption that inference of design is correct for this analogy) if we look at a painting we can say, “Someone had to create this painting.” The problem then becomes identifying the painter. If the painter has left no signature then we can only speculate. Some will say that Picasso painted it and others will insist Michelangelo did the painting. Others will interject their ideas about who did or did not paint the picture. The bottom line is that we really won’t know until the painter identifies himself or herself.

Science does not attempt to justify the supernatural because it is beyond the scope of science, and honestly, beyond the knowledge of science (although that constantly changes). Science can only explain the world in a natural way and present that information to the general public. Science cannot dictate policy or ideology to the general public. It is the general public’s job to decide what to do with the information.

The last thing religion wants is for science to investigate its dogmas and theologies. What if science proves that God exists and they find out that it is Krishna or Allah? What if they prove a god exists and it turns out to be the god of Deism or Wicca? What if they prove that Jesus never existed or that he was buried instead of being placed in a tomb? Does religion really want science to delve into this area and take the risk of exposing ideologies as mythology? I know that if I were a theist I would not want science doing that.

JOHN: “How would you explain this world?”

I’m not really sure what you are looking for with this question. I have looked at the scientific evidence, the theories, and hypothesis and come to my own conclusion about the origins of the universe, the solar system, the Earth, and the life that lives upon it. I feel no need to attribute the Earth or the universe to a divine creator because natural explanations do not require one. As I said before, I base my conclusions on what we “do” know and not what we “do not” know.

JOHN: “But as far as the Council of Nicea, the beliefs of the Christian faith did not originate here. That is the error that most people make.”

Yes, the beliefs of the Christian faith originated prior to the Council of Nicea. The problem is that the dogmas and doctrines that Christianity currently holds were not firm and were not the common beliefs. Fighting amongst Christians was widespread and very bloody. If the beliefs and faiths were so secure there would have been no need for all this infighting to occur. Constantine was forced to convene the Council to get Christians to agree because the fighting was helping to ruin the Roman Empire. To this day the dogmas and doctrines are fought over and disagreed upon.

The Council of Nicea made it official that the Sabbath would move from Saturday to Sunday. To say that because some Christians already celebrated the Sabbath on Sunday before the Council of Nicea defines the Christian faith before the Council is begging the question and is irrelevant. To make an analogy, we don’t see the end of slavery 30 years before the Civil War; we look at the Civil War as the defining moment to the end of slavery in the United States. We can look back and identify those that helped create the environment to end slavery, but that does not take away from the impact of the Civil War.

JOHN: “The doctrines and beliefs of Christianity were widely accepted from the time Christ left the earth and the apostles started their ministry.”

That is hardly a true statement, especially considering that none of the original 12 apostles wrote anything to let us know that. The gospels were not written by the apostles, but by later contemporaries. Even the gospel writers disagree with each other on several key issues. The only information we have on the original apostles is what comes from the gospels writers themselves. I’ve always wondered why the betrayer of Jesus is named Judas, which happens to be “Jew”. Hmm…

JOHN: “However, there were many heretical groups who began to try to influence false teaching in the church.”

That applies, really, to anyone that wanted to create a church in the first place. Jesus made no mention of starting a new religion.

JOHN: “The books of the Bible were already accepted by the church.”

That is not a true or remotely accurate statement. There were over 500 books that were voted on by the Council of Nicea. According to Eusebius the vote was very close (by five votes), so I fail to see how you can say they were already accepted. The dispute raged beyond the Council of Nicea and required the convening of the Council of Trent (50 years later) to re-emphasize the canon and re-evaluate the decisions made at the Council of Nicea.

Even after the Council of Nicea there were many clergy that embraced the books that were not chosen and continued to fight. When Constantinople became “Christian City”, it was one of the bloodiest cities in world history because of fighting over the dogmas, doctrines, and Christian rule.

JOHN: “The purpose of the Council of Nicea was to officially formulate the doctrine into writing and officially formulate the accepted canon of scripture.”

The history writers of the time disagree with your statement, including Christian historian Eusebius and Alexander (who wrote about the disagreements over “Easter”). Historian Rick Chaimberlain writes,

CHAIMBERLIN: “Christians were no longer persecuted by the pagans. Instead, Christians persecuted others (including other Christians) with zeal and a vengeance that would shock the pagans. More Christians were killed (by other Christians!) in the first century after the Council of Nicea than had been killed by pagans in the century before Nicea.”

It was also during this time that the cross became the symbol of Christianity (Seymour, The Cross in Tradition, History, and Art, 1897, New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, pp. 9-26.)

Many of the attending Bishops disagreed with the definition of “Son” when referring to Jesus. Constantine sent a letter to the dissenting Bishops requiring that they accept the agreements of the Council because they were “truly Divine injunction” and he forced this threat by persecuting dissidents and calling them “haters and enemies of truth and life, in league with destruction.”

With all the historical information available to indicate how the “agreement” was not that much of an agreement, I fail to see how you can arrive at the conclusion that the Council only made official what the church was already doing. History disagrees with you.

John Rebuttal #003:

Thanks again for replying. I really appreciate you taking the time to explain your points. I hope that you don’t get tired of me asking you questions. I feel that I am learning a lot about atheism. I agree with you about possible reasons that people may be afraid of atheists. I think it is lack of knowledge. People are often afraid of things they don’t know about.

I would like to make one statement though. I noticed that you said that people think that you are all Satanists or immoral. I am not passing any judgment on anybody, but I understand why people would think this. I don’t think that being an atheist makes a person immoral. I am sure that many atheists as well as people from other religions appear to be moral people. Some may even appear to be more moral than many Christians. The problem is that no one is moral in God’s eyes. We are all immoral to God, including myself and all Christians. Romans 3:23 says, “All sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” There is no one righteous in His eyes.

Often times people will object to this and say what about the good things that I do. I have wondered that, but the problem is that the good we do cannot measure up the holy standards of God. In fact Isaiah 64:6 says, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” I believe this may be the reason make statements like that about atheists. The problem is that sometimes us theists forget to make these statements about ourselves. We are all in the same boat together. We are all sinners.

As far as people considering you to be a Satanists. I understand why people argue this. I do not believe that because you do not worship God that you worship Satan. In fact, I understand that you do not even believe that he exists. However, people make this argument because of what Jesus said in Matthew 12:30, “He who is not for Me is against Me and he who does not gather with Me scatters.” Jesus said that there are only two sides. His side and the other, Satan’s side. I am not calling you a Satanist, but Jesus said if you are not serving Him, you are serving Satan. This is why I believe people make these claims about you. These are the claims people made against me before I became a Christian. I agree with them. I realize that I was serving Satan even though I did not know it.

Also, about God leaving fingerprints, I noticed your analogy about a painter. I agree that we cannot tell much about who created the universe, just like we cannot tell who created a painting without a signature. However, God’s revelation in nature was never intended to tell us much about Him. It was intended to show us that “Someone” exists. That is what nature does. In turn this points us to His other revelation, the Bible. This is where we find out who the “Painter” is. His signature is all over it.

I agree with you that science cannot prove God. It is not supposed to. Science is the natural world. God is the supernatural. I do welcome the scientific attempts to explain theology. I believe that we are supposed to love God with “all our heart, mind, and soul.” I don’t want to believe without evidence. Yes there is faith, but there is also reasoning. I must believe in my heart and my head. I guess that is why I am studying other beliefs, like atheism. I am not afraid of having my beliefs challenged. I want to see all the evidence. If someone ever successfully proved Christianity false, I would really have to consider my beliefs, but at this point I find no such evidence. At this point, Christianity is the truth to me. That is why I believe.

As far as your argument about the Council of Nicea goes, I have not heard of some of the points you have brought up. I am going to have to study about it a little more. But I do know that celebrating the Sabbath on Sunday is not the only Christian dogma that was established before the Council. In fact, it doesn’t matter what day the Sabbath is on. But that is beside the point. The New Testament is full of letters from the apostles to churches. These churches were struggling with false teachers and heretical doctrine. The apostles wrote to warn the churches from falling always from the things that Jesus taught. People questioned things about the humanity of Christ, the relationship between faith and works, and things about the end of time. In fact many warn about false teachers and false “Christ’s” that have gone out into the world to deceive. This was going on during the time of the apostles and the Council of Nicea, and it is still going on today. There will forever be people who teach false things. Sometimes people become very hostile about it. I know that there we many fights about doctrine. I admit that the church has had it’s problems. It is not perfect. It never will be. Doctrine may go astray and people may sin, but Christ who is the head of the church will never be destroyed.

The people who wrote the gospels were not all apostles, but disciples of Christ. This argument has been made that no apostles wrote the gospels. However, John, an apostle of Jesus, testified that he was the one who witnessed these things. Matthew was another apostle. Luke and Mark were followers or disciples who were not considered apostles, but were there throughout Jesus’ ministry. These gospel writers do not disagree with each other. They simply report things from different perspective. Matthew wrote for the Jews. Mark wrote for the Romans and gentiles. Luke wrote to a general audience with the most detailed account. And John wrote to gentiles as well, not so much with a historical account, but with an attempt to show God’s grace as revealed in Jesus.

When you say Jesus’ betrayer is named Judas, are you saying that Judas means “Jew?” If so, I have never heard that, but I do find it very interesting. There is prophecy throughout the Old Testament that says that Jesus would be betrayed by one of His own. Judas was certainly one of His own. It also doesn’t surprise me that a Jew betrayed Him. After all, the Jews rejected Him. This was part of God’s plan of salvation. Because the Jews rejected Christ, salvation is offered to the gentiles (that is you and me). The Bible talks about this in Romans 9-11, mainly 11:11, where it says, “because of their transgression, salvation has come to the gentiles to make Israel envious. Frankly, I am glad that the Jews rejected Him. Without it, I would not have salvation offered to me. I am not saying that I am happy that Jesus had to suffer, but I am thankful that He chose to suffer for me.

I am sorry if I went a little long on this. Once again, I am not trying to attack you. I just wanted to present my case to your statements. Would please respond to these statements. If you have any evidence or reference points to your arguments that I could see, would you please let me know. Thanks for your time, and again, I look forward to hearing from you.

Response to JOHN #003:

JOHN: “The problem is that no one is moral in God’s eyes. We are all immoral to God, including myself and all Christians.”

I agree that theologically speaking, from a Pauline view anyway, everyone is “immoral”. However, I think the word immoral may be the incorrect word to use in this case. Paul was clear about peccatum originale (Original Sin) and how that was transferred to everyone after Adam blew it (even though there is no mention of it in Genesis). What Paul was trying to say was that we are all damned and not really “immoral” in the sense of the word that we know it.

When I hear the statement that all atheists are immoral, it never has anything to do with being immoral in God’s eyes. The statement is usually made to the effect, “How can you be moral if you don’t have a higher power to answer to?”

My answer can be simple or long-winded. I’ll give you the simple version first and see where it goes from there.

When someone does something good because “God is watching” they are not making a moral decision. They are doing something for a reward or to avoid punishment. When an atheist does something good it is because they want to. That doesn’t mean ulterior motives don’t exist, but what is more moral: doing it because you’re told to, want a reward, or afraid of punishment or doing it because it is the right thing to do?

JOHN: “The problem is that sometimes us theists forget to make these statements about ourselves. We are all in the same boat together. We are all sinners.”

The problem is that such doctrine did not exist until Paul distorted the story in Genesis and fabricated peccatum originale (Original Sin). Even St. Augustine had a hard time figuring out how to reconcile Paul’s “out there” interpretations with soul transference and the behavior of man.

Read the book of Genesis again (closely this time). Where is the apple? Where is Satan? Where does it say Satan is the serpent? Where is “Original Sin”? They are not there.

Original Sin was born as a way to justify the death of Jesus on the cross. Without Original Sin, then Jesus died for naught. I honestly think that may be why there is such a resistance to the theory of evolution – because it nulls and voids the story of Adam & Eve and therefore the misguided doctrine of Original Sin.

JOHN: “However, people make this argument because of what Jesus said in Matthew 12:30, “He who is not for Me is against Me and he who does not gather with Me scatters.””

I know exactly where the argument comes from. The problem that I see is that the most Christians are “Cafeteria Christians”. They pick and choose what parts of the Bible they want to believe and ignore the rest. If everyone believed everything in the Bible and tried to live by it then most would be committed to an insane asylum within months.

When Christians use this verse in Matthew they are only looking for a means to justify their own personal beliefs. Jesus did not say that non-believers were in league with Satan. You can be “for” Jesus without recognizing his metaphysical state. Personally, I embrace much of the ethic of Jesus (even though it is borrowed from Eastern religions and therefore more fair to say that I embrace the ethic of Buddha) but I do not recognize the metaphysical (the Christ over the Jesus (Yeshua)). In this manner I am “for” Jesus and not against him. Jesus didn’t say that you had to believe he was the Son of God (which in correct Hebrew translation really means “god-like”) or that he died for our sins. Those were the words of Paul…

Islam recognized Jesus as a great prophet (they call him Saint Issa) and embraces his ethic. Therefore, Muslims are “for” Jesus and not against him. Even Jews recognize that Jesus was a teacher (even if he did distort the law).

JOHN: “His side and the other, Satan’s side. I am not calling you a Satanist, but Jesus said if you are not serving Him, you are serving Satan.”

He said that directly? Or are you interpreting “for” and “against” as God v. Satan?

What’s really funny about the whole thing is that Satan as a nemesis of God doesn’t exist until Paul (Paul screwed up a lot, didn’t he?). Satan was an envoy of God, an employee if you will, that carried out the will of God. Satan only appears three times in the OT and in each case he is carrying out God’s orders. He is not against God nor is he a fallen angel (where did that come from?).

When a Christian says that I’m a Satanist it clearly shows their lack of knowledge about the history of Christianity and knowledge about the very faith they profess. The Christian has more in common with the Satanist than an atheist. There are only two groups of people that have made Satan a God that is equal in strength to Yahweh… Christians and Satanists. Ironic, huh?

JOHN: “I realize that I was serving Satan even though I did not know it.”

How were you serving him? If you follow the true origins of Satan then followers of Satan are doing God’s work. If you follow the Pauline origin of Satan then you must have been doing some really bad things. Were you a murderer, child molester, rapist, or were you sacrificing babies on the altar of fire?

JOHN: “However, God’s revelation in nature was never intended to tell us much about Him.”

I disagree. The inventor of Judaism (the Jewish Mystics) clearly thought that Creation identified their God. The bases of many theological thoughts about God are founded in the account in Genesis. Omnipotence, the need to “rest”, and others are all sourced from Genesis.

JOHN: “In turn this points us to His other revelation, the Bible. This is where we find out who the “Painter” is. His signature is all over it.”

What about other revelations in other sacred texts? There are many that pre-date the Bible. Also, which God in Genesis created the universe? Genesis clearly identifies more than one God in the creation process. Perhaps it was Zeus, after all…

JOHN: “I don’t want to believe without evidence. Yes there is faith, but there is also reasoning.”

What evidence is there that God exists? The Bible? How many other texts out there make the same claims about other gods? How do you know you have the right one?

Nature (as you already discussed)? What if it was Allah, Zeus, Zoroaster, or Mithra? Sounds like more faith than reasoning to me.

JOHN: “I am not afraid of having my beliefs challenged.”

That makes you unique. Many Christians (certainly not all) are afraid to learn the history and origins of their faith. It was my pursuit of such knowledge that led me to atheism in the first place. It was actually reading the Bible (instead of listening to it at church) that led me to atheism.

JOHN: “If someone ever successfully proved Christianity false, I would really have to consider my beliefs, but at this point I find no such evidence.”

Christianity proves itself false in its doctrines, dogma, contradictions, theological fallacies, and inconsistencies. Christianity proves itself false by making claims that cannot be proven and insisting on claims that have been proven to be false (such as the global flood).

When most theists begin questioning they go through a denial and faith justification stage. Although they see evidence against their religious claims, they don’t really SEE it. There is faith justification that prevents the evidence from being seen as it truly should be. Creationism is the biggest example of that I can think of in our modern times. In past history one only need look at Geocentrism, Flat Earth, and others.

JOHN: “This was going on during the time of the apostles and the Council of Nicea, and it is still going on today.”

Granted. That is why there are over 35,000 sects of Christianity today. Each disagreeing with the other 34,999 sects. You would think that such a seemingly important message would be more clear-cut…

JOHN: “There will forever be people who teach false things.”

Of course the issue then becomes… how do you know? What if David Koresh was right and he was the Second Coming? Her certainly went out in a way similar to that described in Revelation. :-)

JOHN: “These gospel writers do not disagree with each other. They simply report things from different perspective.”

Apologetics and faith justification at its finest! Bravo!

Okay, seriously… this argument of perspective v. contradictions is a major apologetic because theologians cannot get around the MAJOR contradictions. We’re not talking about whether the temperature was 50 or 55 degrees, whether it was partly cloudy or partly sunny, or even whether the time of day was noon or evening. We are talking about major contradictions.

If the gospel writers were aware of Jesus and worked with him (as you have proclaimed) then their knowledge of details should have been more acute.

For example, let’s look at the different accounts of the Resurrection story and ask yourself (and try to answer) the following questions (from Dan Barker’s article, “Leave No Stone Unturned”):

  • Who were the women that visited the tomb?
  • What time did the women visit the tomb?
  • Was the tomb open when the women arrived?
  • What was the purpose of the women visiting the tomb?
  • Who was at the tomb when the women arrived?
  • Where were the messengers at when the women arrived at the tomb?
  • What did the messengers say to the women?
  • Did the women tell anyone what happened?
  • When did Mary first see Jesus after the resurrection?
  • Could Jesus be touched after the resurrection?
  • After the women at the tomb, whom did Jesus first appear to?
  • Where did Jesus first appear to the disciples?
  • What happened during that appearance?
  • Did the disciples believe the two men?
  • Did Jesus stay on Earth for a while?
  • Where did Jesus ascend to Heaven?

JOHN: “Matthew wrote for the Jews. Mark wrote for the Romans and gentiles. Luke wrote to a general audience with the most detailed account. And John wrote to gentiles…”

That’s the whole point. Each of them wrote under a different social and cultural context. Each one had to make Jesus believable to their audience. This was done through adding saying that were never said, re-wording statements, and making things up to be convincing based on that culture. For example, almost every religion at the time had “healers” and it was not uncommon to find healer “offices” throughout the Roman Empire and especially in Rome itself. Talking to Romans about Jesus would have been unimpressive if he hadn’t been a “healer”. Did Paul make the healings up? That is certainly possible given the daunting task that Paul set himself upon.

JOHN: “When you say Jesus’ betrayer is named Judas, are you saying that Judas means “Jew?” If so, I have never heard that, but I do find it very interesting.”

That is correct. Judas literally means “Jew”. Coincidence or creative writing? My reasoning tells me that the gospel writers should have submitted the gospels to a creative writing contest and not a historical documentary.

JOHN: “It also doesn’t surprise me that a Jew betrayed Him. After all, the Jews rejected Him. This was part of God’s plan of salvation.”

Okay, for argument’s sake, let’s pretend this actually happened. (Okay… I’ll pretend it actually happened and you stay as you are.)

I’m still trying to figure out (some) Christians despise Jews so much for “killing Christ”. If it was part of God’s plan and the death of Jesus (as the Christ) was necessary in order to forgive the “Original Sin”, then should Christianity embrace Jews and Judaism for fulfilling the prophecy? The Jews were supposed to reject him. They had no choice. It was God’s plan… his plan of salvation.

Okay, back to reality… :-)

JOHN: “Because the Jews rejected Christ, salvation is offered to the gentiles (that is you and me).”

Let me get this straight. Jesus and others warn of “false prophets”. The Jews think Jesus is a false prophet (they are doing what they’ve been told by God in the OT) and because they reject Jesus as such, are passed over as the “chosen” and now the Gentiles are the “chosen people”. So the Jews are being persecuted for doing what God told them to do in the first place? Okay, I guess that sounds right.

Of course Jesus was helping the Gentiles before the Jews rejected him…

JOHN: “…because of their transgression, salvation has come to the gentiles to make Israel envious.”

Of course the Jews never have been and never will be jealous or envious. They still see Jesus as a teacher and self-proclaimed (read false) prophet.

JOHN: “Frankly, I am glad that the Jews rejected Him. Without it, I would not have salvation offered to me.”

Thank you! I have finally met a Christian that is honest enough to say this! Thank you, thank you, and thank you!

Do you know how hard it can be to get Christians to admit that? I usually receive negative remarks about Jews when it comes to Jesus-talk. As I said before, you are truly unique.

JOHN: “If you have any evidence or reference points to your arguments that I could see, would you please let me know.”

First, here are some links you might be interested in:

Second, here are some recommended books:

That should keep you busy for a while, huh? :-)

Of course neither of those lists are comprehensive and are just “for starters”.

John Rebuttal #004:

You said that you agree that we are all “immoral” from the Pauline view, but that this was not exactly what he implied. Yes, Paul did believe that all men were damned because of the Original Sin, but he also taught that man is immoral by his own sinful acts as well. The idea of Original Sin didn’t just begin with Paul either. This is the teaching found throughout the whole Bible. I understand that there is nowhere that this is clearly stated, but you can see this applied in the fact that after Adam sinned ALL men began to offer sacrifices. All men were born sinners. Adam was the only perfect man ever made, but he screwed it up and the whole race has continued in his sin ever since. Adam and Eve were both sinful. Two sinful people could not have produced a perfect seed, only a sinful seed. David realized this when he wrote “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me,” in Psalm 51:5. He knew just like the other writers of scripture from the Bible that He was sinful from birth because all men are under the curse of the Original Sin.

BLAIR: “Original Sin was born as a way to justify the death of Jesus on the cross.”

This is actually backwards. Jesus’ death on the cross was a way to justify sinners guilty of Original Sin and our own sin. God’s plan to crucify Jesus has been set since before the creation of the world. Man did not need to find a way to justify Jesus’ death. It happened the way God intended it. You can see this throughout scripture. I will give you a few examples.

  • His forsaken cry Prophecy: Psalm 22:1 Fulfillment: Matthew 27:46
  • Ridiculed by men Prophecy: Psalm 22:7-8 Fulfillment: Matthew 27:39,43
  • Crucifixion Prophecy: Psalm 22:14 Fulfillment: Matthew 27:27-50, Mark 15:16-39, Luke 23:26-46, John 19:17-30
  • Would thirst at time of death Prophecy: Psalm 22:15 Fulfillment: Matthew 27:18, Mark 15:36, John 19:28-29
  • Hands and feet would be pierced Prophecy: Psalm 22:16 Fulfillment: John 20:25
  • None of His bones would be broken Prophecy: Psalm 22:17 Fulfillment: John 19:33-36
  • Soldiers would gamble for clothing Prophecy: Psalm 22:18 Fulfillment: John 19:24
  • Resurrection Prophecy: Psalm 22:22 Fulfillment: Matthew 28:6
  • No beauty or majesty Prophecy: Isaiah 53:2 Fulfillment: 2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 Peter 2:24
  • Rejected by His own people Prophecy: Isaiah 53:3 Fulfillment: John 7:5, John 7:48
  • Took on the sins of the world Prophecy: Isaiah 53:4 Fulfillment: Matthew 2:6
  • Scourging and pierced Prophecy: Isaiah 53:5 Fulfillment: John 19:1,18,37
  • Silent before accusers Prophecy: Isaiah 53:7 Fulfillment: Matthew 27:12-19, Mark 14:60-61
  • Death Prophecy: Isaiah 53:8 Fulfillment: Luke 23:46
  • Buried in rich man’s tomb Prophecy: Isaiah 53:9 Fulfillment: Matthew 27:57-60
  • Crucified between thieves Prophecy: Isaiah 53:9 Fulfillment: Matthew 27:38
  • Resurrection Prophecy: Isaiah 53:9 Fulfillment: 1 Corinthians 15:3-4
  • Bore the sins of the world Prophecy: Isaiah 53:11-12 Fulfillment: Matthew 2:6,27:46
  • He will be exalted because of obedience Prophecy: Isaiah 53:11-12 Fulfillment: Philippians 2:6-11
  • His side pierced Prophecy: Zechariah 12:10 Fulfillment: John 19:34

I apologize if I went a little long on this. I just wanted to give you a fair amount of evidence to show you that God planned Jesus’ death from the beginning. The list that I gave you is just the beginning. The Bible is full of many more prophecies about His life and death.

BLAIR: “How can you be moral if you don’t have a higher power to answer to?”

Would you agree that we all have a sense of what is moral whether or not we believe in God? I think we both notice when someone has wronged us or someone commits a horrible crime. We know when something is wrong. God has given every man sense of right and wrong. He has written His laws on our hearts. Granted some people distort this (this is also explain in the Bible), but for the most part all men can know what is moral and what is immoral. Whether you believe in God or not, you can still be moral or immoral. Some men may appear to be moral when compared to other men, but all are immoral when compared to God. I think this is a problem that many Christians make in judging you as immoral. If they are comparing you to themselves and calling you immoral, they are judging you improperly and guilty of sin. However, if they are comparing you to God’s standards and placing themselves in the same category when calling you immoral, then their analysis is justified. Christians aren’t perfect. We make mistakes. After all, we are still sinners. We do not have the right to judge you, but we do have the obligation to show you your need for salvation from your sins.

BLAIR: “…what is more moral: doing it because you’re told to, want a reward, or afraid of punishment or doing it because it is the right thing to do?”

I’m not sure if you understand why Christians seek to do good works (if we can even call them that–no one actually has ANY good works in God’s eyes). It is not for a reward or because we seek to avoid punishment. It is completely out of gratitude for being saved from our sins. God chooses to save man by His grace. Salvation is a free gift that cannot be earned or merited. I know that I do not deserve to be saved from my sins, but I do know that God has given me a gift in my salvation. Out of sheer gratitude, I seek to serve Him. I know that my good deeds aren’t going to get me anything. In fact, they sometimes cost me in this life. My good works are out of love and appreciation to my Savior, Jesus Christ.

BLAIR: “Jesus did not say that non-believers were in league with Satan. You can be “for” Jesus without recognizing his metaphysical state.”

This is a mistake that most of the world makes. You are not saved by simply believing Jesus’ teachings. You are saved by believing He was who He said He was and giving your life to Him. There are many people who embrace His teaching, but not Him. Jesus Himself tells us that on Judgment Day there will be many who claimed to have done things in His name, but that He will send them away telling them that He never knew them.

The problems with accepting Jesus as prophet as you say the Muslims do or as a great moral teacher as the Jews and Buddhists do (and apparently as you do) is that this is an impossible scenario. Jesus did not leave us any room to accept Him as a prophet of God or as a simple moral teacher. Basically, you have three options in believing in Jesus. He is either a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord. There is no middle ground. It doesn’t matter how many great things Jesus taught, if he was wrong about being the Son of God. If He lied or was insane when claiming this, then he is not a great moral teacher and definitely not a prophet of God.

The very character of Christ argues persuasively against His being a liar. He spoke of truth and virtue on every occasion. His life exemplified the very message He proclaimed. In fact, very few people will make this claim. The evidence is weighted heavily in favor of Christ being a paragon of truth and virtue rather than a liar. The consistent life and testimony of Christ make it clear as well that He was not a lunatic. A lunatic displays abnormalities and imbalance as part of his lifestyle. You may know some people like this. When we analyze the life of Christ we do not find inconsistencies and imbalance. To the contrary, we discover a man who is mentally sound and balanced. If Christ is neither a liar nor a lunatic, then He is who He claimed to be- Lord of all, the only way by which man can be saved. The objective data for the truth of Christianity comes from two sources- the Bible and the legal history of the Resurrection. When I say legal-history of the Resurrection, I mean the fact that no one ever disproved it. All someone ever had to do to disprove the Resurrection was produce a body. No one ever did. Cleary, the evidence points me to the fact that Jesus is Lord.

BLAIR: “Jesus didn’t say that you had to believe he was the Son of God (which in correct Hebrew translation really means “god-like”) or that he died for our sins.”

Jesus did say “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father, but through me” in John 14:6. He also said in John 3:18, “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” and in John 8:24 “I said therefore to you, that you shall die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins.” Jesus did claim to be the Son of God. In Hebrew culture, when a person described Himself as the son of someone, he was stating that he is in the order of that person. This is equivalent to making yourself equal with that person. This is what Jesus did.

Christ supported His case for deity by ascribing to himself various attributes of God. He claimed to be eternal (John 17:5) and omniscient (Matt. 18:20, 28:20). He also spoke of His sinless ness (John 8:46). His indirect claims included His acceptance of worship by men (Matt. 14:33, John 9:35-39, 20:27-29), His ability to forgive sins (Mark 2:5-11, Luke 7:48-50), and His claim that all men would face Him in judgment (John 5:24-28).

Christ clearly claimed to be the only way and His apostles affirmed this in their writings. Skeptics speculate that Christ could not have meant what the apostles understood Him to say. It is important that we understand that not only did his disciples hear him proclaim His exclusiveness and deity, but so did the critics of His day. Frequently when He made these dramatic claims, the Jews accused Him of blasphemy. In fact, this is what led to His crucifixion. The people who had Him crucified clearly understood what He was teaching. They correctly understood the implications of what He was saying, realizing that He was making himself to be an equal with God. Both His friends and His enemies recognized that He was claiming to be and God and the sole means to God.

BLAIR: “What’s really funny about the whole thing is that Satan as a nemesis of God doesn’t exist until Paul (Paul screwed up a lot, didn’t he?). Satan was an envoy of God, an employee if you will, that carried out the will of God. Satan only appears three times in the OT and in each case he is carrying out God’s orders. He is not against God nor is he a fallen angel (where did that come from?).”

Satan is seen throughout scripture, and He is not seen as doing God’s will. He also wasn’t invented by Paul. Much of the time we do not recognize things as Satan, but we can see his influence. One major example of Satan in the OT is seen in the book of Job. This book is believed to be the oldest in the Bible. Satan is seen as roaming around the earth looking for trouble. He ASKS God if He can do things against Job. God allows it, but this is in no way God’s will.

The fall of Satan is seen in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28. These are both prophecies about the fall of men, but like much of scripture we see prophecies revealed about other things. In both passages we see the fall of Satan from his position as an angel to the being that we no him as today. These passages parallel the passages seen in Revelation.

BLAIR: “If you follow the true origins of Satan then followers of Satan are doing God’s work.”

What are the true origins of Satan? I have a tendency to follow the origins God has given in His written Word. After all, I figure He would know best. When we look at things in this light, nothing that followers of Satan do is glorifying to God. When I say that I was following Satan, I was doing things that were not glorifying to God. I did not physically commit some of the things that Paul mentions, but I did in my mind. Jesus tells us that if we even think a bad thought against our brother, we are guilty of murder. If we even look at a woman the wrong way, we are guilty of adultery. I have done all of these things. I am guilty of them all. This is why I am so thankful for God’s grace.

BLAIR: “Genesis clearly identifies more than one God in the creation process.”

Here is our first glimpse at the Trinity. We see clearly one God who is the creator, but we see all three personal manifestations in the creation account. This is a hard concept to understand, but it is the clear teaching of the Bible. There is only one God. He manifests Himself in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

BLAIR: “What evidence is there that God exists? The Bible? How many other texts out there make the same claims about other gods? How do you know you have the right one?”

I have already explained that the evidence for the existence of God is seen in creation and the prophetic evidence of the Bible. No other religion that I have investigated can measure up to the internal evidence of the Bible. What evidence is there that God does not exist? What evidence is there that the Bible is not true?

BLAIR: “Many Christians (certainly not all) are afraid to learn the history and origins of their faith. It was my pursuit of such knowledge that led me to atheism in the first place. It was actually reading the Bible (instead of listening to it at church) that led me to atheism.”

There are many cases of people setting out to disprove Christianity that end up becoming Christians. Look at C.S. Lewis and Josh McDowell. I guess it all depends on what evidence you are looking at or possibly biased to.

BLAIR: “What if David Koresh was right and he was the Second Coming? Her certainly went out in a way similar to that described in Revelation.”

The problem with David Koresh and many other is that they have not come in the manner that the Bible prophecies about. The Bible clearly identifies many signs that will occur before He comes back and that He will come down in the same manner that He ascended to heaven for all men to see. Also, the way David Koresh went out is the way that Satan is talked about going out in Revelation. Jesus never goes out. He reigns forever. This is what Revelation teaches us.

BLAIR: “This argument of perspective v. contradictions is a major apologetic because theologians cannot get around the MAJOR contradictions.”

This argument of contradictions is not valid. I will agree that there are many things that people mention as contradictions, but when investigated these are seen as different perspectives of the same story. Yes, some accounts do not give the same information. Yes, some accounts mention some people that other accounts do not. But no, these do not contradict. I realize that we will probably not agree on this. You think that I am refusing to accept your evidence. I think that you will not consider different perspectives. But I can assure you that every “contradiction” that you claim exists has an explanation. I would be glad to discuss these on a case by case basis with you if you like.

BLAIR: “Judas literally means “Jew”. Coincidence or creative writing? My reasoning tells me that the gospel writers should have submitted the gospels to a creative writing contest and not a historical documentary.”

It’s no that the Jews came up with this. God orchestrated all of this. You will see the meaning of names coming in to play throughout the entire Bible. This is not the only case in the Bible. God chose these people with these names to carry out His will time and time again. The names of the people have been symbolic in the role they played in God’s overall plan.

BLAIR: “Jesus and others warn of “false prophets”. The Jews think Jesus is a false prophet (they are doing what they’ve been told by God in the OT) and because they reject Jesus as such, are passed over as the “chosen” and now the Gentiles are the “chosen people”. So the Jews are being persecuted for doing what God told them to do in the first place?”

The problem with this argument is that Jesus was not a false prophet. He never made a false prophecy and in Him all prophecies were fulfilled. They are also still God’s chosen people. However, the OT teaches that in the last days (which began with the resurrection of Jesus) that God’s people will include the Gentiles. This is why today we see some Jews and some Gentiles saved just like in the time of Jesus and the apostles.

I would also like to clear up something. I am thankful that the Jews rejected Christ so that salvation was offered to me. I am not thankful to see any of the Jews being punished in hell. I do not wish that on anyone. But I am thankful that God’s plan was carried out just as he prophesied about. This is another step in confirming the truth of what I believe.

I did not respond back to John because of email address problems. I posted the email problems on the original debate page and asked John to get in touch with me. He did, but not because of my note: he thought I was ignoring him.

John Rebuttal #004 (Continued):

You haven’t responded to my last posting. What are your views on the many prophecies that I list concerning Jesus Christ? I realize that you will have a hard time accepting the Bible as God’s Word considering you do not believe in God, but you will have to consider the fact that the prophecies that were written in the Bible were written between 400 and 1500 years before Jesus was born. What are the chances of someone fulfilling all of these?

I do have another point that I would I would like for you to consider. Atheism claims that there is no God. This cannot be proven anymore than you can prove that God exists. The problem with atheism is that it is not a valid option. In order for atheism to be valid in claiming that there is no God, you would had to have seen all of the evidence in the universe. The only way to know for 100% sure that God does not exist is to see all the evidence. No one has done this. It most likely will never be done. The universe is too vast. Therefore, no one can claim that they know that God does not exist. You have to admit the possiblity that God DOES exist. Atheism has to accept that God does not exist based on faith. If there is the possibility that God exists, then you must consider the consequences of not believing in Him if He does exist. Have you considered the consequences of not believing in God if He does exist?

Let me know what you think. It’s good to open up this conversation again. Sorry that it has bee so long in the making. I have moved to a new state, started a new job, and had my first child (my wife actually had the baby). Look forward to hearing from you soon.

NOTE: I forgot all about this debate as new ones came in and I moved on to other things. At this point, there is no reason to respond to John, so he gets the last word.