Home » Creationism, Culture, Education » PasserBy11′s comment — well said, even though I disagree

PasserBy11′s comment — well said, even though I disagree

[I was incredibly impressed by the testimony of PasserBy11 in the thread Are dinosaurs the real reason young Christians in college desert their faith.

He had the opposite journey that I had in some respects. I have to say however I can so relate to the effect of bad behavior in the Church and the friendship and warm welcome that some can receive in atheist and agnostic circles relative to the judgmental and presumptuous abuse some parishioners subjected me to when I struggled with my questions. (When I say atheists and agnostics, I'm not referring to the internet variety like PZ Myers, that's almost a whole nother species. These were people I know personally.)

Some may argue, "Sal why are you defending this guy?" My response, I'm not defending his final conclusion, I am saying, for the creationist community, even though the choice of what people accept is true is theirs, the creationist community might consider where they can do better in light of what PasserBy11 is saying. If the creationist community believes there is no room for improvement, and is unwilling to even consider that some of the ways the conduct business are hurting their own cause, well that's already a problem...

Let me say this. When I had creationist college students dealing with doubts, I tried to answer them. When they wanted to hear a contrary opinion, I referred them to PZ Myers website. I was confident the bad behavior by PZ Myerists would be quite convincing to creationist college students. I can say the strategy works incredibly well.

The behavior of some creationists isn't exactly welcoming of questions and expressions of doubt, instead, sometimes abuse and ridicule. I don't mind getting in the face of someone like Nick Matzke for his sophistry, but I don't treat sincerely expressed reservations about creation or ID with ridicule or contempt.

You'll see in this account the way that PasserBy11 was persuaded to his current view. That is something creationists would do well to consider, imho, vs. pointing fingers and saying "who are you sleeping with?" when someone expresses sincere doubts about the Christian faith and the doctrine of creation.

I welcome comments of the variety, "In light of what PasserBy11 has said, creationist can improve the way they do business by ...."

Comments of the variety, "PasserBy11 is obviously not understanding....." That won't be consistent with the purposes of discussion, it might make you feel better, but that's not why I'm hosting this discussion.

For example, one could say, "it seems that to many, common descent looks strongly in evidence, why is that? And why do humans perceive or misperceive the evidence this way?" That is a constructive comment. [FYI I gave examples of how to deal with this issue as best as I could when dealing with questions raised by Nick Matzke. See: Two faced Nick Matzke.]

There is a time for everything under the sun, and I think this is a time to confront and a time to console. In this discussion, I encourage us to be welcoming to PasserBy11, not so much to dissuade him, but to consider hyppothetically, what creationists could have done differently if we had the chance. ]

I was reared as a fundamentalist Baptist in the Upper Midwest. On Sundays, my family attended Sunday School and Bible Study, paired with morning and evening services, respectively. (Both of my parents taught SS classes, and my father led the morning Children’s Church service.) Wednesday night meant both Bible Study and Prayer Meeting, and some Thursday evenings found me participating in soul-winning and visitation events with my father. The church took a firm stance on Biblical literalism and inerrancy, distancing itself even from the GARBC, which it called “hypocritical” and “left-leaning.”

I also attended the church-run school, complete with daily Bible Studies and Friday Chapel services, for the first nine years of my education. I was pressured during all of that time to become either a pastor or missionary, just as the girls my age were pressured to become the wives of pastors and missionaries.

One could say that, as a youngster, I had a little bit of Bible — or at least a particular pastor’s interpretation of it — thrown my way. :)

After four years of a public education at the local high school, however, I was leaning more toward Literature or Biology, and my decision to ignore the “warnings” of my church and to attend a public Division II university, also in the Upper Midwest, had nothing to do with evolution. On the contrary, I was a staunch YEC who had read Gish, Denton, et al, and as an eleventh-grader had written a research paper proposing that the Genesis Flood had ultimately been responsible for exterminating the dinosaurs.

While earning a B.S. in Zoology, I never once heard a professor or fellow student badmouth a Creation Scientist, as we called ourselves in those days. Everyone always answered my questions patiently, attentively, and seriously. After graduating, I worked as a TA for some Comparative Chordate Morphology dissection labs before transferring to the Communications department (and eventually finishing my M.S. with them).

I want to point out that evolution wasn’t the only reason I walked away from my faith. Here are a few others:

* Anthropology
* Comparative folklore / mythology / religion
* Scholarly approach to Old and New Testaments
* GOTG
* Personal experience with agnostics and atheists practicing humility, compassion, and moderation without fear of suffering supernatural disfavor
* Personal experiece with self-proclaimed Christian men abusing their wives, with self-proclaimed Christian parents abusing their children, and with self-proclaimed Christians acting so un-Christ-like

But evolution was one of the most important to me, mostly because of my childhood fascinations with — geek alert! — taxonomy and paleontology. And after studying both Scientific Creationism and evolution in pretty detailed fashion, this former Born Again Christian honestly concluded that a Dobzhansky paraphrase was in order: Nothing in Biology makes more sense than evolution, at least at the level I was studying it. While dissecting cats, sharks, salamanders, etc, I personally never saw common design; instead, I saw descent with modification, a concept supported by the ideas outlined in “Origin” — comparative anatomy, biogeography, artificial selection, homology, etc.

Naturally, this change in my worldview forced me to reject a literal interpretation of some passages of Genesis, but I still attended a more modern Baptist church for two years before finally walking away from it all (for the reasons listed previously). That was twenty years ago, and it was a move I’ve never regretted.

Since then, endogenous retroviruses, human chromosome 2, and the prediction and discovery of Tiktaalik have all provided additional support for evolution. The details and mechanisms will undoubtedly be revised over and over again as new facts are uncovered, but the ideas that populations change over time, and that all life on Earth is descended from a single common ancestor (or a small number of common ancestors), are most likely here to stay.

My $2E-02…

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90 Responses to PasserBy11′s comment — well said, even though I disagree

  1. Personal experiece with self-proclaimed Christian men abusing their wives, with self-proclaimed Christian parents abusing their children, and with self-proclaimed Christians acting so un-Christ-like

    That is a real problem. My PCA pastor said when he went to seminary he was aware of two of his peers abusing their wives. Doesn’t surprise me, some people I meet in church are incredibly polemic, and some of those end up in leadership positions.

    I don’t know that there is anything systematic that can be done to solve this. It seems in Paul’s writings, there were lots of abusive leaders and bad behavior in churches he planted. Maybe the creationist and Christian community can try to improve, I hope they improve, but I think if even such things happened to churches the Apostles planted, well we could expect more of the same.

    I suppose all we can do at the individual level is not behave this way. We might not have very much control over the bad behavior of others except to condemn it and not ignore it.

    Why did I remain in the faith? Thank God for those souls who loved me despite my bad behavior. God bless them!

  2. I will never get the ‘bad behavior of self-proclaimed Christians’ line of reasoning. Did people miss the part in the New Testament where the apostles were routinely pretty disheartening? I mean you have Judas straightaway. You have ‘cock crows three times’ / ‘slash off someone’s ear’ Peter. The OT isn’t all that much better.

  3. * Personal experience with agnostics and atheists practicing humility, compassion, and moderation without fear of suffering supernatural disfavor

    It doesn’t help to keep promoting the meme that agnostics and atheists behave immorally of necessity, in fact there is some scripture to the contrary. Even Jesus said, “You being evil know how to give good gifts to your children.” That moral code is embedded in everyone.

    What I do point out however is that I’ve not known a SINGLE case where an immoral religious believer became suddenly moral because he was converted to atheism. Whereas we know of many atheists who behaved immorally that became good citizens after they became Christians.

    That is a very subtle and important nuance to the whole “atheists are immoral” controversy.

    I think atheists like religious people can behave as morally or immorally as anyone else, but the twist is asking the question “when has atheism ever transformed a bad behaving religious person into a moral atheist?”

    I can’t attest that I’ve never met one, but I can attest of many former atheists becoming moral once they became Christians.

    So, that’s how I think the Christian/creationist community can improve in the way it argues its case regarding the personal morality of atheists and agnostics.

  4. you have Judas straightaway

    And that reminds me, Jesus called him “the son of Perdition” a “devil”. Yet we read that Judas hanged himself because of the feeling of guilt, so even an evil person can have a moral conscience! And thus it doesn’t surprise me at all to hear of atheists and agnostics acting morally and doing things even Christians would regard as good. Even “a devil” like Judas still had a moral compass, but he chose to go against it, and like a pilot ignoring his compass and navigation and instruments, Judas crashed and burned (into hell).

    That’s why I think it may hurt the creationists cause to say, “atheism necessitates immoral behavior”. It is better to point out, “atheism cannot cure immoral behavior”.

    I have to laugh a little bit at atheist Peter Bogusian

    A Manual for Creating Atheists

    The goal of this book is to create a generation of Street Epistemologists: people equipped with an array of dialectical and clinical tools who actively go into the streets, the prisons, the bars, the churches, the schools, and the community-into any and every place the faithful reside – and help them abandon their faith and embrace reason.

    Does he offer any evidence that some evil immoral person somehow became a better person by “embracing reason”?

    Sadly, someone who has been part of the Christian church but behaves immorally, I think there is little hope of a cure. He’s already tasted the goodness of God, so what is left that can possibly make him a better person? Surely not “embracing reason” or “embracing atheism”.

    HT Mike Gene

  5. I am a Christian but I would rather hang around PasserBy11 than any fundamentalist Christian, especially YECs and hell fire and brimstone church members. But then again, I can’t stand some of the equally self-righteous atheists and Darwinists like PZ Myers, Jerry Coyne and Richard Dawkins.

  6. * Comparative folklore / mythology / religion

    I don’t completely understand the objection, and I hope PasserBy11 will elaborate. If not, I still thank him for the comment.

    That said, I found this website very helpful:

    http://www.tektonics.org/programhub.html

    Finally, the 21st century Apologist needs to take Apologetics far more seriously. He needs to incorporate Apologetics into every aspect of his or her ministry: every sermon, every class, every evangelistic activity. We have woefully neglected our responsibility to train our young people in the solid case for Christianity, and then we wonder why they depart from the faith under the influence of secular university instruction. We give our parishioners and our missionaries no foundation in the defence of the faith, and then wonder why our evangelistic efforts show so little fruit in a world where people have long moved beyond accepting something just because someone else believes it.

    As with all things regarding questions of history, no argument is airtight (like say inferences we may draw in math), but if one can accept circumstantial arguments, he makes weighty cases.

    I thank God he has made his works available, and they are so readable by ordinary laymen like me.

    I personally would have delighted if an entire 3 years of Sunday sermons would engage along the lines of what he wrote.

    I don’t want to be mean, but standard sermons of “God loves you, go out there and proclaim the gospel, be good, why aren’t you going out there witnessing? You need to be donating more of your time and money to the church, etc.” It can get tiresome.

    Perhaps to illustrate what I mean, it’s like someone nagging you to eat right and exercise, nagging is a very poor way of inspiring conviction and changes in behavior, but lots of preaching is little more than nagging! I thank God for the good pastors he’s brought my way to teach me, but there were a few that were just nagging…

    Apologetics would be incredibly boring to some, and perhaps its just as well pastors don’t tailor their sermons to people like me! But I would delight to hear Apologetics material for the next 3 years on Sunday morning.

    4.Their pastors cannot answer their questions because they too are generally lacking in such knowledge. Their degrees are more geared towards counseling or some form of preaching technique, similar to Sunday School teachers and other figures of authority, who generally have even less relevant education.
    Persons with questions are told such things as questioning is evil or they should have faith, etc. None of which is satisfactory.

    5.The lack of education also extends to the public sector, where people are not taught to think critically, nor to evaluate credibility of sources but rather that everyone’s opinion is as good as anyone else’s. The church often teaches this as well, explicity or implicitly.

    Amen!

    I recall one visiting preacher once preached on the difficulties of life. For about twenty minutes he enumerated all the challenges we’re going to face, and then he answered it by pointing to Psalms, “look what it says here, it says you’re gonna be alright!” He then just started dancing on stage saying “you’re gonna be alright”, and just kept dancing on stage like an entertainer!

    I could watch the tonight show with Jay Leno for such comedic escapism from the horrors facing the world! Seriously, the guy was well meaning, and God bless him for his heart, but hearing sermons like that can convince people the Bible is false since for many it seems that things aren’t going to be alright given what they are experiencing in their lives.

    So what sermons did turn me around, I remember I got some recordings of Reverend David Moore while I was rock bottom in believing. Of all things he really started quoting George Wald and Michael Denton in his sermons. He then described probability arguments which were slightly flawed, but good enough. I had studied discrete math in one of my undergraduate majors so I understood the strength of his arguments. Tears started to well up in my eyes as I listened. I sometimes wondered why the Lord had me change majors from music to science disciplines and endured the tedious classes of mathematics. It prepared me to appreciate Reverend Moore’s sermon. I would have never thought hearing math would put tears in my eyes, but it gave me conviction that if life is a miracle, there is a God!

  7. Since then, endogenous retroviruses, human chromosome 2, and the prediction and discovery of Tiktaalik have all provided additional support for evolution.

    OK wait- ERVs, they are just pieces that “look like” parts of ERVs. In order to get the pattern observed many pieces would have had to have become fixed in a population. And that takes either a severe bottle-neck or design. And taht had to have happened many times. Again no evidence for such a thing only wishful thinking.

    HC2- again unguided evolution cannot account for it. What did it do? Why was it favored?

    Tiktaalik- oh my- the out-of-place fossil that now gives us fish->tetrapods-> fishapods- I doubt that is the pattern we should observe wrt UCD.

  8. The argument is not that atheists can’t be moral. It’s that they can’t ground any morality they have in any sort of objective way with their atheism.

    Atheists have to steal from theism to trust their own rationality, believe in morality, and believe in induction. When they act morally they show themselves to be latent theists.

  9. Isn’t evangelism a heart-to-heart thing? We are more deeply and surely impressed by example than by the words we hear, even those of Scripture, if we have no experience of human goodness to relate them to, however subliminally.

    Happiness, too, a generally sunny temperament, speaks immeasurably more loudly than the false desiderata of ‘worldly success, but with a miserable face’.

    One of the main reasons why youngsters – often temporarily – lose their faith, is that they are scandalised by the imperfections of adults, no wiser than atheists as to their own goodness, such as it might be, being a gift of God, and one which having to deal with the World in adult life, will put in jeopardy.

    The person who most influenced me in my early Christian formation was my brother, who after being confirmed at the age of about seven, seemed to have become an agnostic. He was not at all academic, and, though not one to look for trouble, and a little pip-squeak like me, was a fearless street-fighter. And yet he had a heart full of compassion, big enough for both of us – and any stragglers.

    Of course, it wasn’t he that directly brought me back to Christianity, but he was an epic touch-stone I could relate Christianity to at its deepest level.

    By contrast, I find repeated posts by fundamentalists on a Christian forum, stating: ‘Once saved, always saved’, increasingly obnoxious. It is so desperately fatuous, but characteristic of that crass mindset that seems to think that book learning, of itself, makes a wise Christian, even a teacher of the faith, when the reality is that such wisdom as we possess in interpreting scripture is essentially a fruit of the life of the spirit we have developed over the course of our life; and possibly the greatest ever miracle to have occurred in the world since Gospel times, the Catholic church’s accumulated wisdom in the course of two millennia. ‘Sola scriptura’ makes no sense, but the RC church is the great ‘no-no’, indeed, Satan, to the more fundamentalist Evangelical Baptists, – just as theism, and notably Christianity, is to the materialist.

    On Judgment Day, there will be some explaining to do, to grossly understate the matter, concerning the state of the RC Church, under the centuries long Tridentine dispensation, prior to Vatican II, and the wholesale scandal it must have generated for so long – and compounded of all things by a virulently obnoxious triumphalism. Thank God, literally, for Francis, our new pope, who is seeking to substantially restore the values of the Church to those prevailing during the days of the Gospel.

  10. “Nothing in Biology makes more sense than evolution, at least at the level I was studying it. While dissecting cats, sharks, salamanders, etc, I personally never saw common design; instead, I saw descent with modification, a concept supported by the ideas outlined in “Origin” — comparative anatomy, biogeography, artificial selection, homology, etc.”

    This, to me, is what made Behe’s work a revelation. Evolution is very good at just-so stories, like a modern Aesop’s Fables. Behe put his finger on something that was hard to articulate but could be grasped intuitively. Actually show how these changes can be accomplished at the molecular level.

    There are so many “Darwin of the Gaps” arguments it is amazing any time I hear a “God of the Gaps” complaint.

    We have a little light sensitive spot that somehow sends signals to a nervous system…and then it gets more working parts and eventually becomes an eye. Again, naturalistic just-so stories.

  11. But evolution was one of the most important to me, mostly because of my childhood fascinations with — geek alert! — taxonomy and paleontology. And after studying both Scientific Creationism and evolution in pretty detailed fashion, this former Born Again Christian honestly concluded that a Dobzhansky paraphrase was in order: Nothing in Biology makes more sense than evolution, at least at the level I was studying it. While dissecting cats, sharks, salamanders, etc, I personally never saw common design; instead, I saw descent with modification, a concept supported by the ideas outlined in “Origin” — comparative anatomy, biogeography, artificial selection, homology, etc.

    Again, I point out the purpose of this discussion is to explore whether or not creationists can or cannot do something better to help people in their journey, it is not to directly criticize PasserBy11 for the choice he made.

    In some respects, we might consider the hypothetical scenario of a daughter who ran off with a guy the parents clear saw was a bad boy scumbag rat that will lead almost inevitably to her harm (not always, thank God some men get reformed by their wives). To some extent, the choice is the daughter’s, and maybe no parent on Earth could have changed the outcome. Recall, even the truest 1st parent, God himself, allowed Adam to make his own choices!

    That said, there was an interesting personal account by Michel Denton, himself. We are so blessed that it was published. Denton was Old Earth creationist, turned agnostic, turned atheist, turned agnostic, turned anti-Darwinian, turned ID-sympathizer.

    When Denton was studying to become a medical doctor, he said his atheism got full blown when he was in the dissection room! The reason I find the account very credible is that years later he wrote one of the two books that started the modern ID movement.

    The overpowering impression of physical common descent is there because of the similarity of creatures. What happened however to Denton is he studied the pattern of similarity, and then was astonished when on closer inspection it controverted the pattern of common descent, something I pointed out with here:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ck-matzke/

    The same issues arise at the molecular level which I point out here:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....tion-poof/

    It would be good to get creationist surgeons or MD’s who been in the dissection room and hear why they didn’t perceive the similarities in a way that made them believe in evolutionism.

    It would also be good to expose the young creationists to the work of Geneticist Jeff Tomkins. It dealt with the 98% similarity question and Chromosome 2 etc.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....off-stage/

    I’m of the opinion, at somepoint no level of argument will likely reconvert someone once they are gone even in the face of new data. I’ve not seen it happen, it would be nice, but I know of know case.

    We can however help them have the access to the best arguments before they go down a path from which they might never return in this life.

  12. 12

    Like I said. The idea that this is about getting to lie and cheat is idiotic.

  13. 13

    Sal wrote,

    What happened however to Denton is he studied the pattern of similarity, and then was astonished when on closer inspection it controverted the pattern of common descent, something I pointed out with here

    Eh? You don’t mention Denton in that thread, and he now accepts common ancestry anyway.

    The rest of that thread is just mindless cheap quote-mining of me. You’ve always gone for the “I don’t understand this topic but I’ll blab about it anyway”, Sal, over the whole decade-plus that I’ve known you.

  14. Nick Matzke:

    You don’t mention Denton in that thread, and he now accepts common ancestry anyway.

    Even if true he also says that it isn’t the genome that is the key- see his essay in “Dissent From Darwin”. Here is a sample:

    To understand the challenge to the “superwatch” model by the erosion of the gene-centric view of nature, it is necessary to recall August Weismann’s seminal insight more than a century ago regarding the need for genetic determinants to specify organic form. As Weismann saw so clearly, in order to account for the unerring transmission through time with precise reduplication, for each generation of “complex contingent assemblages of matter” (superwatches), it is necessary to propose the existence of stable abstract genetic blueprints or programs in the genes- he called them “determinants”- sequestered safely in the germ plasm, away from the ever varying and destabilizing influences of the extra-genetic environment.

    Such carefully isolated determinants would theoretically be capable of reliably transmitting contingent order through time and specifying it reliably each generation. Thus, the modern “gene-centric” view of life was born, and with it the heroic twentieth century effort to identify Weismann’s determinants, supposed to be capable of reliably specifying in precise detail all the contingent order of the phenotype. Weismann was correct in this: the contingent view of form and indeed the entire mechanistic conception of life- the superwatch model- is critically dependent on showing that all or at least the vast majority of organic form is specified in precise detail in the genes.

    Yet by the late 1980s it was becoming obvious to most genetic researchers, including myself, since my own main research interest in the ‘80s and ‘90s was human genetics, that the heroic effort to find information specifying life’s order in the genes had failed. There was no longer the slightest justification for believing there exists anything in the genome remotely resembling a program capable of specifying in detail all the complex order of the phenotype. The emerging picture made it increasingly difficult to see genes as Weismann’s “unambiguous bearers of information” or view them as the sole source of the durability and stability of organic form. It is true that genes influence every aspect of development, but influencing something is not the same as determining it. Only a small fraction of all known genes, such as the developmental fate switching genes, can be imputed to have any sort of directing or controlling influence on form generation. From being “isolated directors” of a one-way game of life, genes are now considered to be interactive players in a dynamic two-way dance of almost unfathomable complexity, as described by Keller in The Century of The Gene

    That was written after “Nature’s Destiny”.

  15. The rest of that thread is just mindless cheap quote-mining of me.

    Nick Matzke, nationally renowned Darwinist and hero of the landmark Kitzmiller vs. Dover trial. Thanks for dropping in.

    You’re one of the best engines for helping the next generation of creationists stay creationists. You certainly helped solidify my acceptance of ID and my return to the faith. Thanks for visiting.

  16. For the reader’s benefit that don’t quite understand how Nick helped solidify my acceptance of ID, look at the discussion of a simple question posed to Nick about whether chance can be rejected as an explanation for the appearance of a system of 500 coins laid out all heads on a table.

    Nick said it could be due to a double-headed coin, to which I said in so many words, “in that case chance is still rejected as a mechanism of the pattern.”

    Nick had to find a way to disagree, and said “not really” and went on to give the most absurd explanation as to why.

    I suggested then that in the future ID proponents confront Nick in the following way about his absurdities:

    Nick, Sal said that a 2-headed coin would preclude chance as a mechanism even in principle with respect to a 500 all-heads coin pattern. You disagreed and said, “not really”.

    Can you elaborate further how there is a chance tails could emerge as an outcome with a 2-headed coin since you insist chance can still have a role in the final outcome?

    A Statistics Question for Nick Matzke

    :mrgreen:

    Nick has been a reliable source of such illogic in my exchanges with him over questions over evolutionism over the decade plus that I’ve known him . That was just one illustration.

  17. Personal experience with self-proclaimed Christian men abusing their wives, with self-proclaimed Christian parents abusing their children, and with self-proclaimed Christians acting so un-Christ-like

    I don’t know anyone who has emerged unscathed from someone in the church. Ive has a couple hard knocks myself. It turns out Christians are also sinners. I also have a few friends with similar stories to yours. When I have firsthand knowledge of their stories, I notice that the bad guys are cartoon versions of reality (they rarely have any good points) and the narrator is the humble voice of reason.

    There is room for improvement. I suspect I have rubbed some the wrong way myself. But every story has personal bias built in. I would like to hear what the villains in your story have to say for themselves.

  18. When you walk into a Christian church building or place of fellowship, one needs to remember, Christians are saved sinners… not super sanctified saints

    This is no excuse for Christians to sin or not love one another, but this explains why such can happen. Especially, if it is a church that doesn’t teach the Gospel fully or correctly according to scripture.

  19. First, I am uncomfortable with the underlying presupposition in this discussion that people can reason themselves into or out of Christianity. The Bible states that it is by grace you are saved, through FAITH. Romans tells us that Creation is all the proof we need, and that because of it we are without excuse if we do not believe. But belief is just that – it is a step of faith, not a logical conclusion at the end of a debate.
    Second, all people are sinners, even Christians. Christians are not perfect, just forgiven. So pointing out that some Christians do bad things is kinda like, “duh”. King David, a man that God said was a man after his own heart, was guilty of adultery, murder, polygamy, etc. Belief in God should never be about what someone else does, or says – it is about who God IS, and a personal decision YOU make. Seeing a true Christian following the basic commands of Love God and Love Your Neighbor as Yourself can help lead someone to God – but at the end of the day it is about You and God.
    Third, further to point two, anyone can claim to be a Christian. The Bible says that by their fruits you will know them. I would have serious doubts that anyone who doesn’t show any of the qualities of what the Bible calls “the fruit of the Spirit” is actually a Christian, regardless of what they call themselves.
    Fourth, I feel sorry for PasserBy11′s experiences, and pray he finds his way back to God. But his personal experiences with “Christians” and atheists is just an excuse – anyone who finds evolutionary just-so stories about homology and erv’s and HC2 as evidence that God doesn’t exist and the Bible is false was a house built on sand. As can be seen by the enormous number of very intelligent, very educated individuals who find the evolutionary story lacking and the creation account convincing, evolution fairy tales are far from a slam-dunk case.
    Fifth, the scientific case for or against Creation is at best an encouragement, and support for Belief in God. For all the arguing and debating that goes on around the scientific evidence, sites like creation.com, icr.org and answersingenesis.org are correct when they state that YEC starts with the Bible as a framework, and looks at the science from that perspective. All of PasserBy11′s “evidences” for evolution also fit within a creationist perspective – what matters is your starting point. Clearly PasserBy11′s starting point changed somewhere along the way.
    In conclusion – I’m unconvinced that “Christians” could have done anything, at least from a “how do we market ourselves and our belief about origins and creation”, that would have changed PasserBy11′s life choices. It is fair to say that, had all Christians followed the teachings of scripture better, perhaps his decision to forsake God would have been a little less simple and his excuse less persuasive, but that is true in all things, not just CvE.

  20. For all the bad behavior in the church, there is one ironic benefit that seems to go unnoticed. No matter how badly throughout Christendom’s history the Bible’s teachings weren’t practiced by Christians, the one thing that was NEVER done was to re-write individual books of the Bible to justify a lifestyle or new belief.

    There are at least 3 reasons for this:

    1. if you disregard it as an authority in practice, why bother to re-write it? I have a such a low opinion of Darwin’s writings, if I were to hand it down to posterity, I wouldn’t bother altering one iota of anything he said.

    2. when there were Schisms in the church, it made collusion to re-write the Bible impossible.

    3. if you believe it and revere it you’ll transmit it faithfully to the best of your efforts.

    Thus, with respect to the individual 27 books of the New Testament, whatever one’s religious beliefs, there is little justification to make a large scale revisions to an individual book. Why bother when you can:

    1. just omit the book from your canon
    2. add your own book to the canon

    From the 4th century and on, it was effectively impossible to make large scale revisions without being called out on it, and to some extent, even if you were no longer a practicing Christian (but one only in name), one would prefer to simply ignore individual books of the Bible than re-write them.

    Even in the case of Martin Luther, who had a low opinion of the book of James, the thought never crossed his mind to re-write it, he de-emphasized it, and some said he had doubts of it’s canonical status, but he would never think of re-writing it!

    So then, this fact encouraged me to feel that the essentials of the New Testament were handed down faithfully from at least the time of Constantine.

    Further arguments could also be made, that the evidence of the Schism in Constantine’s time (emperor from 306 to 337) also made it impossible to collude to alter the specific books of the New Testament for many years before Constantine was emperor. The most one could do is introduce new books or suggest books of the New Testament be deleted as authoritative. And as bad as the behavior of Constantine may have been, at best books were burned if he didn’t approve, they were never revised!

    Setting aside the question of the Resurrection, for those that believe Jesus was a myth and not a historical person, where is the explanation of the origin of a “myth” that demanded so much loyalty as to die and be tortured?

    We can then at least say, the “myth” was accepted as early as Diocletian’s time AD 284. Now we have the obvious fact that there were so many other more comfortable and convenient deities to believe in that wouldn’t incur Emperor Diocletian’s wrath. Why the persistence of Christianity?

    Example of around the time of Diocletion involving co-emperor Maximian:

    Marcellus of Tangier

    So even setting aside the issue of the truthfulness of the Gospels for the moment, it is so evident that Christians would have no cause or incentive to actually re-write recognized books of the New Testament, the only thing that could be done would be to write new books, not try to edit existing books that have already been circulated.

    The books were faithfully transmitted as far back as we can see, and that there is both theoretical and empirical evidence people, copyists will not in general intentionally edit the books to their liking any more than I would think to edit Darwin’s writings to my liking. I’ll just copy it, and if there is stuff I don’t like, I’ll write my own book!

    So, ironically, the bad behavior’s lack of altering the transmission of the Bible has made me believe the Bible was transmitted faithfully from the time the individual books were written. Which then poses the question, were the books describing real events?

    I’ve said it before, it’s one thing to die for a lie you sincerely believe is true, quite another to die for a lie you know is a lie, especially one you made up yourself!

    The original books of the New Testament suggest to me several individual sincerely believed they saw the Lord rise from the dead with their own eyes, that several knew him and walked with him while on Earth, so much so that they would instill a tradition of suffering to defend the claim, and they instilled that tradition by being martyred themselves.

    Why did peter, why did others who were eye witnesses, offer their lives. Now one could say that peter, paul and the apostles and the martyrdom were fabrications. Ok, so justify that theory. How does one account for the martyrdom of the next generation of Ignatius and Polycarp, did they make up lies about knowing the apostles and then die for a lie they knew is a lie? So on and so forth up until the time of people lke Marcellus and the martyrs under Diocletian and then the time of the Blessed Emperor Constantine who ended the persecutions.

    One would have to then build theories to explain away the martyrdom of so many of the Christians. When were those stories fabricated, and how was such a story marketed? Frankly, if I were one just willing to believe whatever I wanted, I think I’d choose a deity that wouldn’t demand so much suffering but one that promised good things in this life and the next for the most minimal effort…

  21. JGuy:

    This is no excuse for Christians to sin or not love one another, but this explains why such can happen.

    Nobody can stop sinning even if they wanted to. This is our nature.

    Especially, if it is a church that doesn’t teach the Gospel fully or correctly according to scripture.

    No church teaches the Gospel fully or correctly according to scripture. It’s always someone’s interpretation mixed with a mountain of tradition and BS. And if you believe that scripture is 100% the word of God, I got a bridge to sell you. The devil has his filthy paws in everything, especially in the church. This is why I left organized religion and will never go back. However, unlike PasserBy11, I did not lose my faith.

    As I said elsewhere, the Master said “Search and you shall find”. He did not say, “Let someone else in some church do your searching for you and believe in their interpretations.” Conduct your own search and let God’s spirit guide you, otherwise, you will be led astray. Personally, I have found that faith in God and his sacrifice is the most important thing of all because that is all that is needed for salvation (it is a lie that doing good deeds will save you). Everything else is either icing on the cake or plain BS.

  22. JGuy:

    This is no excuse for Christians to sin or not love one another, but this explains why such can happen.

    Nobody can stop sinning even if they wanted to. This is our nature.

    Agreed… sinners sin…. this is why I wrote in that context that Christians are saved sinners.

    That is… it (being a sinner) is the reason Christians still sin, but not an excuse to sin.

    http://www.biblegateway.com/pa.....rsion=NKJV

  23. drc466,

    First, I am uncomfortable with the underlying presupposition in this discussion that people can reason themselves into or out of Christianity.

    I realize you may perceive it that way, but that is certainly not the case for me, I’m part of reformed PCA church professing most of the essentials of the Westminster Confession, so that should declare where my doctrinal views are in terms of faith.

    – I’m unconvinced that “Christians” could have done anything, at least from a “how do we market ourselves and our belief about origins and creation”, that would have changed PasserBy11?s life choices. It is fair to say that, had all Christians followed the teachings of scripture better, perhaps his decision to forsake God would have been a little less simple and his excuse less persuasive, but that is true in all things, not just CvE.

    But the essential point of our success is not whether someone accepts the message or not, it’s whether we have done our duty, and whether we can do it better in the future. The Lord even commanded one prophet, “speak to them and they will not listen”. Should that prophet say, “Lord what’s the point of talking to them, you already to me they won’t listen, isn’t that a little pointless?”

    Judas Iscariot, the Pharisees and Saducees and many in Capernaum had more evidences provided to them than anyone here, and we know where they ended up. As I said, what people choose is ultimately up to them.

    That said, I’m hoping you’ll consider that maybe this discussion is part of the grace that might be extended to someone in the future that you (or others reading) might be in contact with in the future.

    Suppose some day you encounter someone like the SCordova of 13 years ago? By all appearances he might strike you as PasserBy11 in the way he probes and wrestles with difficult questions of the Christian faith. I’ve laid out how you might be of service to such a person.

    In my case, the struggle lasted about as long as the time my Dad was ill until the time he went to be with the Lord, 3 to 4 years. I persisted in the faith because of God’s grace through the love and support I received from many. I don’t credit callous abusive individuals in the church who on top of their callousness spread evil gossip about me regarding my struggles.

    I hope you’ll consider that if you encounter such a person in your future, you’ll be merciful and patient and hopefully you’ve found something of use in this discussion that will help you provide mercy and grace for him.

  24. 24

    human chromosome 2

    No serious biologist would deny that Homo Sapiens have 46 Chromosomes and the great apes have 48. However, to say this is ‘proof’ of common descent is completely misleading, because to believe that 46-48 chromosomes of close human to apes relationship as ancestry would mean that potatoes,Tobacco and gray tree frogs are direct descents as well for they also have 48 chromosomes.

    prediction and discovery of Tiktaalik

    Actually, Tiktaalik having a bit of trouble remaining as the first fish to evolve walking on land, 18 mya years of trouble.

  25. “Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth – in a word, to know himself – so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves.”

    And again,

    “Reason and faith cannot be separated without diminishing the capacity of men and women to know themselves, the world and God in an appropriate way.”

    (From John Paul II [Fides et Ratio]).

    I agree.

    How sad it is that atheists think they must abandon faith for the sake of reason.

    How sad it is that Christians think they must abandon reason for the sake of faith.

  26. scordova,

    I apologize if it sounded like I was attempting to diminish the value of your post and discussion – I certainly was not.
    I agree that such a discussion is valuable, and I doubly agree that we have an obligation to emulate Christ in our presentation of our beliefs. I was just trying to make the very limited, but (IMHO) very important point that the final destination of a person’s belief system is not contingent on how the creation or ID argument is presented.
    In other words – if PasserBy11′s experiences with creationists and atheists had been other than he proclaims them to be, would his outcome have been different?

  27. Greetings,

    Something I found in the site posted in the 20th comment:

    http://www.christianity.com/ch.....29610.html

    What follows is what I think is relevant to this OP:

    CAECILIUS: Oh, aren’t you so pure and good. That’s another thing that bothers me: you all think you are so righteous and better than the rest of us.

    OCTAVIUS: First you accuse us of cannibalism and orgies, now you’re offended because we seek to lead a holy life. Let me assure you, we do not consider ourselves to be holy. Every Lord’s day we have a service of communion, and it is a service of thanksgiving — thanksgiving because we are forgiven, not because we are holy, and if we are forgiven, then we shall seek to lead lives that are like Christ.

    If this record is true, then such claims are old.

  28. Sal

    I don’t credit callous abusive individuals in the church who on top of their callousness spread evil gossip about me regarding my struggles.

    These uncharitable partisans should have known that it is normal (and often preferable) to have intellectual doubts and spiritual struggles. That they would carry on that way says a lot more about them that it does about you.

    People who never have doubts of any kind can be found flying airplanes into buildings in the hope of obtaining virgin sex slaves. The time to express doubts about the worthiness if such a mission is in advance of its execution.

  29. I have to say, there is so much richness to the New Testament and Christian History that we never learn in Church.

    The New Testament says Jesus had brothers and sisters! Now it stands to reason, if Jesus had brothers and sisters, he was possibly uncle to their children. I do not mean to be irreverent, but imagine, being in such a position as to be told, “your Uncle was Jesus”!

    How did I find this out? Trying to weigh whether the “mythers” (those who insist Jesus was not a real person, much less the risen Christ) have any substantive argument.

    I went back and tried to look at the best historical reconstructions of the past. Consider this Wikipedia article on Jude, brother of Jesus, and then the descendants of Jude that would be the nieces and nephews of Jesus, and great nieces and nephews. I’m not saying this account is necessarily true, but still, it makes one think.

    To give a little background, Emperor Domitian was the younger brother of Titus who sacked Jerusalem in the Roman Jewish war where 1,000,000 died. Titus was famous for destroying the Jews, and so some of the anti-Jewish sentiments apparently remained also with Domitian who succeeded him:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J....._of_Jesus)

    Hegesippus, a 2nd-century Christian writer, mentions descendants of Jude living in the reign of Domitian (81-96). Eusebius relates in his Historia Ecclesiae (Book III, ch. 19-20):

    “But when this same Domitian had commanded that the descendants of David should be slain, an ancient tradition says that some of the heretics brought accusation against the descendants of Jude (said to have been a brother of the Saviour according to the flesh), on the ground that they were of the lineage of David and were related to Christ himself. Hegesippus relates these facts in the following words.

    “Of the family of the Lord there were still living the grandchildren of Jude, who is said to have been the Lord’s brother according to the flesh.”Information was given that they belonged to the family of David, and they were brought to the Emperor Domitian by the Evocatus. For Domitian feared the coming of Christ as Herod also had feared it. And he asked them if they were descendants of David, and they confessed that they were. Then he asked them how much property they had, or how much money they owned. And both of them answered that they had only nine thousand denarii, half of which belonged to each of them;and this property did not consist of silver, but of a piece of land which contained only thirty-nine acres, and from which they raised their taxes and supported themselves by their own labor.”

    Then they showed their hands, exhibiting the hardness of their bodies and the callousness produced upon their hands by continuous toil as evidence of their own labor. And when they were asked concerning Christ and his kingdom, of what sort it was and where and when it was to appear, they answered that it was not a temporal nor an earthly kingdom, but a heavenly and angelic one, which would appear at the end of the world, when he should come in glory to judge the quick and the dead, and to give unto every one according to his works. Upon hearing this, Domitian did not pass judgment against them, but, despising them as of no account, he let them go, and by a decree put a stop to the persecution of the Church. But when they were released they ruled the churches because they were witnesses and were also relatives of the Lord. And peace being established, they lived until the time of Trajan. These things are related by Hegesippus.[6]

    Eusebius also relates (in Book III, ch. 32,5f.), that they suffered martyrdom under the Emperor Trajan.

    This is non canonical, but these are part of the historical records of the church. So how many of these and similar accounts do we have to regard as fabrications in addition to the New Testament?

    But what this account does indicate is that by the time of Constantine, there was a considerable body of accepted literature of Church history. If the church was real, it suggests the church fathers were real, and if the church fathers were real, the apostolic fathers were real, and if the apostolic father were real, the apostles were real, and if the apostles were real, Jesus was real. Where in this chain of succession did the “myth” arise? “Myther’s” are in the difficult position of having to revise accepted accounts (even by non-Christians like Tacitus, and Pliny the Younger, and Josephus, and possibly Suetonious) to prove the New Testament was revised. Ah, the irony!

    Here is a beautiful online book that summarizes the First 300 years AD. I found it inspiring, and that’s where I learned of the possibility of Christ being an uncle:
    From Christ to Constantine

  30. F/N: Just for record, I think the discussion here on and in its wider context may be of help to those concerned on issues in this thread, also the slides here. Similarly, I think a sober assessment of what Paul had to say to the learned in Athens c. 50 AD, here on, will be of help. I will say, too, that we need to focus the issue of truth and our duty of care to live by it, despite the fact that genuine and serious Christians can make bad mistakes and slip into awful things that require major repentance, correction and even restitution. Moral struggle is a reality, and the challenge of transformation and the hope of purity and growth are blessings. KF

  31. CAECILIUS: Oh, aren’t you so pure and good. That’s another thing that bothers me: you all think you are so righteous and better than the rest of us.

    This is a common misconception held by many and what I am going to say may offend some.The facts are it is not the Christian that thinks they are righteous and better it is the non believer who are the ones who think they are righteous and better than the Christian. Let me explain.

    The true Christian recognizes the total lack of self righteousness and the depravity of their nature. We are not good and we are so bad that we must rely upon the work and righteousness of Christ.

    This is not to say that there are not many self righteous people who claim to be Christian but by their very actions deny the Gospel. You can scour the NT and you will find that the only group that Christ had utter distain for were those who thought they were righteous. He was constantly criticised because of who He hung out with, tax collectors ( hated by all) prostitutes and those who knew they were sinners.

    What did He say to those who criticised Him? He told them that He came for the sick not the healthy. Those that think they are healthy have no need of Him, it is the sick ( like me) that need Him.

    It is the unbeliever that thinks they are healthy, that their righteousnes is satisfactory, that they are better than the unbeliever.

    Vivid

  32. “Myther’s” are in the difficult position of having to revise accepted accounts (even by non-Christians like Tacitus, and Pliny the Younger, and Josephus, and possibly Suetonious) to prove the New Testament was revised. Ah, the irony!

    Sal, if you go looking you will find the absolute insane mental gymnastics the, as you say, “Mythers” go through to attempt to reason away these accounts. Many state Josephus wasn’t real. Or that if he was real, he was part of the conspiracy.

    The less intelligent use the fact that these accounts were written 60+ years after the death of Jesus as evidence for forgery. These people lack the basic understanding of the chronicling of history.

    Other accounts like that of Pliny the Younger, Origen, or Tacitus are claimed to have been inserted into originally existing historical accounts in order to support the Jesus myth.

    It is all rather absurd.

  33. The rest of that thread is just mindless cheap quote-mining of me.

    New material is always great, but sometimes people just want to hear the Matzke classics.

    Should we go back and read what happened the last time you stated that Nicky-boy, and how you disappeared in shame?

  34. Seventrees,

    Thanks for the link, but it seems there was some serious re-writing of the original in that “adaptation”.

    Here is a translation of the original. You’ll note it looks nothing like the one in the “adaptation”:
    http://www.earlychristianwriti.....avius.html

    I could tell by the writing style the dialogue was nothing like classical literature, so I inferred something was amiss. Sorry to burst your bubble.

    Maybe there were some themes that were similar, but I wouldn’t think the “adapation” is a good representation. The adaptation seemed inauthentic.

    Sal

  35. No, you did not burst my bubble. As I stated above, “If this record is true,…” I gave it that it was not possibly authentic. So, no need for the apologies.

    But thanks for the link you shared.

  36. I hate typo’s and mispellings.

    This is a common misconception held by many and what I am going to say may offend some. The facts are it is not the Christian that thinks they are righteous and better it is the non-believers who are the ones who think they are righteous and better than the Christian. Let me explain.

    The true Christian recognizes the total lack of self-righteousness and the depravity of their nature. We are not good and we are so bad that we must rely upon the work and righteousness of Christ.

    This is not to say that there are not many self-righteous people who claim to be Christian but by their very actions deny the Gospel. You can scour the NT and you will find that the only group that Christ had utter distain for were those who thought they were righteous. He was constantly criticized because of who He hung out with, tax collectors (hated by all) prostitutes and those who knew they were sinners.

    What did He say to those who criticized Him? He told them that He came for the sick not the healthy. Those that think they are healthy have no need of Him, it is the sick ( like me) that need Him.

    It is the unbeliever that thinks they are healthy, that their righteousness is satisfactory, that they are better than the unbeliever.

    Vivid

  37. And misspellings!!!

    Vivid

  38. scordova
    I don’t completely understand the objection [re: comparative folklore / mythology / religion], and I hope PasserBy11 will elaborate.

    After studying the myths and literature of ancient Sumerian, Babylonian, Egyptian, Norse, Greek, and Roman cultures, it was impossible for me not to classify sizable portions of the Bible as mythology.

    When one doesn’t believe in an afterlife, the primary allure of a religion-as-a-worldview or theory-of-human-nature must provide something of value to him or someone he cares about, now or at least sometime before they die. The Christian churches that I used to attend emphasized how things would be so much better in the afterlife, while Buddhism and Taoism, for example, offer practical ways for living in the here and now.

    FWIW… I find that certain verses from Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, and some of the words of Jesus, offer the same type of wisdom re: living one’s life in a mindful and fulfilling way.

    geoffrobinson
    Atheists have to steal from theism to trust their own rationality, believe in morality, and believe in induction.

    IMO… The works of Lao-Tzu, Chuang-Tzu, et al, disprove this statement. Also, chimpanzee troops demonstrate what might be called a basic form of morality when they beat and ostracize a chimp whom they suspect of stealing or withholding from the group.

    bevets
    I would like to hear what the villains in your story have to say for themselves.

    My mother is dead, so she won’t be able to confirm the countless times she smacked me around with objects like belts and wooden spoons, often across the face, and sometimes so hard and out of control that a spoon would fracture in her grasp. My brother was a multiple witness, though, so you might be in luck, should you truly seek to communicate with him for the sole purpose of disproving a stranger’s word on the Internet. Or how about with my father, whom I witnessed beating on my brother with a 2′ x 4′?

    Naturally, you don’t deserve such access to my life.

    But my brother and I might have had it easy compared to a few of our friends and classmates. Their parents called them “Stupid” and “Dummy” to their faces, and the men in their homes would ridicule and belittle their wives nonstop.

    Important Note: I blame only the abusive and enabling members of that particular local church for the abuse that I and my brother endured. I don’t consider it the fault of religion in general or Christianity in particular.

    drc466
    [PasserBy11's] personal experiences with “Christians’ and atheists is just an excuse

    What you dismiss as my “personal experience with ‘Christians’” is actually the first 24 years of my life. And my experiences with atheists didn’t make me want to abandon my faith so I could join the cool kids. Rather, it was like a minority child finally encountering doctors, teachers, and news anchors of the same ethnicity; he might not grow up to be a doctor, teacher, or news anchor himself — probably won’t, in fact — but it’s nice to know those options are available, and that he doesn’t have to pin all of his hopes on making it as a professional athlete.

    BTW… I also posted a reply in the original thread to the Tiktaalik link that tjguy provided.

  39. vividbleau:

    What did He say to those who criticised Him? He told them that He came for the sick not the healthy. Those that think they are healthy have no need of Him, it is the sick ( like me) that need Him.

    It is the unbeliever that thinks they are healthy, that their righteousnes is satisfactory, that they are better than the unbeliever.

    Although I agree with the spirit of your comment, my experience as a Christian is that self-righteousness is rampant in Christianity, probably more so than elsewhere. I grew up in a Christian environment that took pride in being better than non-Christians and looked down on those who did not go church. Prostitutes, atheists, homosexuals, drunks, drug addicts, thieves were all seen as the scum of the earth. It took me a while to realize that I was no better than anyone else and I’m still struggling with that. Then I noticed that the same self-righteousness that I experienced growing up among Christians was also alive and well among atheists and Darwinists.

    This is why I say that everyone is responsible for their own salvation. Do your own research and come to your own conclusions. Sure, you can learn from others but, in the end, you should make up your own mind. Don’t rely on others to do your research for you and don’t take their word at face value. Question everything and everyone, including the Bible itself.

  40. PasserBy11,

    It is so kind of you to relate your story, and I sincerely hope people won’t try to criticize you or argue with you as to your decision. I’ve been in these debates long enough to realize when it is better to simply exchange views and experiences free of confrontation and judgment.

    These are things I think creationists need to hear. I want to hear.

    I hope those reading here will learn something from hearing your account. Thank you very very much for taking the time to relate it.

    Sal

  41. Thanks, Sal. :)

    Posting a link to the Tiktaalik reply that I mentioned in my last post…

  42. Even if chimps exercise “morality” by beating and ostracizing other chimps for their alleged “trespasses”, that still fails to justify the atheist viewpoint that we should behave in a moral manner. WHY should I be compelled to act morally? By what standard do I take a moral stance and say that you SHOULD do something? There are no “shoulds” with atheism, only preferences. I am sorry that you rejected The Way, passerby11, and I can only hope for peace and ultimate redemption in your life before you discover Truth beyond the grave.

  43. And, one other challenge offered to you:

    IF you believe that there is no god and that life is only a parsimonious result coming from nothing and headed toward nothing, then I offer you the only logical alternative–grab hold of the nearest 9mm and pop the cap on your brain. Based on your worldview, the ONLY truth that means anything is to avoid suffering. It is foolish to continue living only to suffer and fade into oblivion.

    Your anger and indignation that you feel at this moment betray the truth of what life is really about. Think about that feeling carefully tonight, and you may again discover the meaningfulness of life.

  44. PasserBy11,

    Thanks, Sal. :)

    You are welcome, and by the way, how did you find our humble weblog?

    Sal

  45. Vividbleau @36 noted

    This is a common misconception held by many and what I am going to say may offend some. The facts are it is not the Christian that thinks they are righteous and better it is the non-believers who are the ones who think they are righteous and better than the Christian. Let me explain.

    Nicely put!

    On weekends, I spend time with some guys that have recently come out of prison, helping them adjust to being out.

    One of them spent 18 years in prison, the other 12 years between county jail and prison. Going in, they were violent drug and alcohol abusers, and the first was also a drug dealer.

    In prison, they accepted Christ, immersed themselves in the Word of God, and have changed dramatically! They are kind, loving, hard working, and dependable guys deeply ashamed of their histories and grateful for the smallest blessing or kindness. I’m humbled by them, trust them more than many other people I know, and honored to have them as friends.

    Their personal relationships with God through the power of Jesus Christ has had an amazing effect on their relationships, values, and their lives. They tell me that phonies and hypocrites are quickly exposed in prison.

    Is it any coincidence that Jesus himself associated himself with the “dregs of society” over the religious snobs, the wealthy, and the politically powerful?

    -Q

  46. Wow, Passer, you really had a tough family life. So sorry about that!

    The good news is that your parents, although perhaps they thought they were well intentioned and were doing what they should, were actually NOT following the teachings of Jesus.

    Child abuse is not what Jesus or the Bible teaches. I do hope you realize that. And I hope that is not the only reason you have rejected Christianity. It certainly would be a good reason though to reject your parent’s style of Christianity and probably their church as well.

  47. One of them spent 18 years in prison, the other 12 years between county jail and prison. Going in, they were violent drug and alcohol abusers, and the first was also a drug dealer.

    In prison, they accepted Christ, immersed themselves in the Word of God, and have changed dramatically! They are kind, loving, hard working, and dependable guys deeply ashamed of their histories and grateful for the smallest blessing or kindness. I’m humbled by them, trust them more than many other people I know, and honored to have them as friends.

    Their personal relationships with God through the power of Jesus Christ has had an amazing effect on their relationships, values, and their lives. They tell me that phonies and hypocrites are quickly exposed in prison.

    Wow, Querious, that rocks! My father in law is a Gideon and he often visits men and has Bible studies with men in prison as well. Keep up the good work.

    I live in Japan and there is nothing I enjoy more than seeing God change the lives of people when they come to know Him!

  48. #36 VB

    The true Christian recognizes the total lack of self-righteousness and the depravity of their nature. We are not good and we are so bad that we must rely upon the work and righteousness of Christ.
    This is not to say that there are not many self-righteous people who claim to be Christian but by their very actions deny the Gospel. You can scour the NT and you will find that the only group that Christ had utter distain for were those who thought they were righteous. He was constantly criticized because of who He hung out with, tax collectors (hated by all) prostitutes and those who knew they were sinners

    I am sure that the NT tells you not to think you are righteous.  So in this sense anyone who believes in Christ and thinks they are righteous is not a true Christian. As you say that still leaves many people that believe in Christ and who think they are righteous.  Whether you label them as false Christians or not is rather irrelevant. They exist.

    It is the unbeliever that thinks they are healthy, that their righteousness is satisfactory, that they are better than the unbeliever.

    It does not follow from lack of belief that you are in any way better than a believer. There are many atheists  who think they are righteousness and better than the unbeliever. There many others that do not. I could label the first group as false unbelievers as they do not accept the logic of their beliefs and the second group as true unbelievers. 

  49. PasserBy11

    My brother was a multiple witness, though, so you might be in luck, should you truly seek to communicate with him for the sole purpose of disproving a stranger’s word on the Internet.

    If it is true, then I can see how that would color your perceptions of Christianity. And you have my sympathy. But you are a stranger on the internet — no one can authenticate your biography.

  50. MF RE 48

    Whether you label them as false Christians or not is rather irrelevant. They exist.

    To be clear I am not labeling anyone as a false Christian because they exhibit self-righteousnes, for sure they are inconsistent. I know this I am in no position to judge.

    It does not follow from lack of belief that you are in any way better than a believer.

    I understand that the sophisticated thinking atheist adheres to the position of “lack of belief” rather than “unbelief” but I am not sure that it is a distinction that makes a difference.

    One will say that ” I lack a belief in the tooth fairy, or pink unicorns, etc, don’t you?” Sure I lack a belief because there is no evidence of their existence. But because of my lack of belief I believe they do not exist. I am probably missing something here.

    Vivid

  51. I began to look up how the notion of “faith” in the original language of the new testament was used. It was not used in the sense of “absolutely proven belief in an idea”, but rather loyalty and fidelity toward something, it is associated I suppose with taking on a vow or making a promise for better or worse.

    The English version of the Greek word psitis fails to capture the whole notion of the meaning of faith. When the US Marines say “Semper Fidelis” it means “always faithful”, here being faithful doesn’t mean believing but loyalty.

    I entrust my life to God, sometimes with doubts, but I surely will not entrust my life to evolutionary theory. My belief, faith, my loyalty, my trust is in Jesus, and that trust was possible because of the evidence of Design. After that it was consideration of the effect of Jesus on people’s lives as Querius described (not one such instance of an immoral person being transformed by acceptance of atheism can I find any documentation or testimony of!), evidence of miracles in my life and that of others, the archaeological evidence. So much! My favorites:

    1. the 5 columns that support the authenticity of John

    2. the various discoveries that converted Ramsey from atheist to believer regarding the writings of Luke and subsequent finding in his field work in Archaology

    3. inscriptions that confirmed names of people in the New Testament on buildings

    4. discovery of the lost cities of Sodom, Gomorah, Admah, Zeboim, Zoar along with the active brimstone (sulpher) that is a particular unique allotrope that burns with high temperature!

    5. discovery of the read sea crossing with Egyptian chariot remains for the entire length of the underwater landbridge

    6. genetic entropy and other genetic evidence affirming the the recency of man

    7. C14, DNA, unracemezied amino acids in dinosaurs, and objects all the way to the jurasic and possibly the Cambrian (we need to try to date the Cambrian).

    8. Geological column more in line with rapid formation than slow sedimentation,

    9. lack of saturation of the seas with minerals and salts (puts a limit on the age of the Earth’s surface).

    10. The Taylor Prism found in Assyria written by the Assyrians that confirm Hezekiah’s account

    11. The Assyrian tablets that list the 5 cities mentioned in the book of Genesis and Pentateuch: Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboim, Zoar

    12. Imhotep that seems so obviously the Joseph of Genesis

    13. The tower of Babel is a very good explanation for the origin and explanation of language

    There are unresolved problem is long-term and intermediate term radiometric dating, but I hold out hope a solution will be discovered.

    So many evidences. The fact that an agnostic like Richard Milton sees these difficulties in geology tells me the creationists may be on to something.

    We may not know for sure about the Bible, but I know for sure there is no salvation for the human soul in science and Charles Darwin. I thank God for science, I have 4 science degrees, but I know it cannot give me eternal life. Thus even without all the facts, but enough facts that make belief in Jesus promising, I have entrusted my faith and loyalty to Him, the Intelligent Designer of life.

    By the way, there may be out of place fossils as Nye demanded. We just aren’t realizing it. The coelacanth is an example. It is NOT found in an intermediary level from one it was presumed extinct 65 million years ago. It is like a pre-Cambrian rabbit in reverse! We should be able to find more, God willing!

  52. Greetings

    Socrdova at 51:

    I thank God for science, I have 4 science degrees, but I know it cannot give me eternal life.

    True. The second law of thermodynamics will prevent any hopes of immortality for any organism, considering that we rely on energy to survive.

    About faith, there is a translation which says:

    Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.(Hebrews 11:1, Holman Christian Standard Bible)

    King James Version uses the phrase

    …the evidence of things not seen.

    Many of us do not see electromagnetic waves out of the visible light spectrum, but we know they exist. So, I can say the definition of biblical faith as “believing something without evidence” is not true in a Biblical sense. That’s how I see it.

    I got the translations from here:
    http://biblehub.com/hebrews/11-1.htm

    Add to it the fact that the word “hope” does not mean wishing something you desire happens.
    http://www.answersingenesis.or.....ew-of-hope

    Werriam Webster dictionary reveals the same thing when talking about the archaic definition of “hope”:
    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hope

    Language really changes.

  53. I said “True. The second law of thermodynamics will prevent any hopes of immortality for any organism, considering that we rely on energy to survive.”

    Better version (I think): “Science tells me that the second law of thermodynamics will prevent any hopes of immortality for any organism, considering that we rely on energy to survive.”

  54. Sal

    I began to look up how the notion of “faith” in the original language of the new testament was used. It was not used in the sense of “absolutely proven belief in an idea”, but rather loyalty and fidelity toward something, it is associated I suppose with taking on a vow or making a promise for better or worse.

    Actually, there are two meanings of the word “faith” as it relates to the New Testament. The first meaning, as you indicate, refers to a total commitment or loyalty to an idea and the willingness to live for it, or, as the case may be, die for it. It’s love working through faith. The second meaning refers to an an intellectual assent to a Divinely revealed truth. It is the willingness to accept a doctrine even if you don’t fully understand it.

    That is why the term “by faith we are saved” is meaningless unless we know which definition is being used. Everyone, Catholics and Protestants alike, agree that we are saved by faith and grace in the first sense. The problem lies in the claim that we are saved by faith “alone” in the second sense (by mere intellectual assent or acceptance.)

    St. Paul tends to use the word “faith” in the first sense, meaning that we are saved by love working through faith. Both Catholics and Protestants agree with that formulation. Indeed, St. Ambrose of antiquity was using faith in that first sense. That is why Catholics and Lutherans could come together a few years ago with a mutual statement of faith. At last both sides recognized the differences in meaning and the unnecessary division caused by the misunderstanding.

    St. James, however, uses the word “faith” in the second sense. That is why he says that we are “not” saved by faith alone, that is, we are not saved merely by accepting Christian doctrine as true. His teaching is perfectly consistent with Paul. We are saved by faith expressed in works of love, not merely by accepting Divinely revealed truths.

    Luther, of course, would have none of it. He simply decided, on his own authority and whim, to change Christian doctrine into something more to his own personal preferences. He taught that we are saved by merely accepting Christ as our personal savior regardless of whether or not we incorporate that faith into our lives–regardless of whether or not our faith is expressed in works of love. This was, and still is, a heresy.

  55. origin_surgeon
    No serious biologist would deny that Homo Sapiens have 46 Chromosomes and the great apes have 48. However, to say this is ‘proof’ of common descent is completely misleading, because to believe that 46-48 chromosomes of close human to apes relationship as ancestry would mean that potatoes,Tobacco and gray tree frogs are direct descents as well for they also have 48 chromosomes.

    I think most people who have followed this topic are familiar with Kent “Dr. Dino” Hovind and how, before his incarceration, he promoted this particular meme during his sermons. “Evolutionists think we’re related to apes becuase we have 46 chromosomes and they have 48. Wanna know what else has 48 chromosomes?” Pause, then smile. “A tobacco plant.” Titters from the audience. “According to evolution, we’re just as closely related to a tobacco plant as we are to an ape.” Guffaws all around, especially among the children in attendance.

    In reality, the actual genes that comprise a genome affect an organism significantly more than the number of chromosomes over which those genes are divided.

    It’s useful to compare the number of human chromosomes to those of other apes mostly because so much evidence suggests a recent divergence between us. On the other hand, plants diverged from animals (or vice versa) so long ago that science classifies each group in its own kingdom, the highest taxonomic level available. If humans noticed their children being born with an increasing number of tobacco-like traits over successive generations, scientists would be forced to discard almost everything they thought they knew about evolution — not to mention genetics, heredity, etc.

    Human chromosome 2 implies descent with modification because its DNA sequence is nearly identical to sequences found on two different chromosomes in the genomes of chimps, gorillas, and orangutans. Additionally, HC2 possesses a telomere sequence between its not-one-but-two centromeres(!). As a result, the scientifically accepted conclusion is that HC2 formed when two ancestral chromosomes fused together.

    Also, I replied to the regular Tiktaalik questions at Post #66.

    OldArmy94
    Even if chimps exercise “morality” by beating and ostracizing other chimps for their alleged “trespasses”, that still fails to justify the atheist viewpoint that we should behave in a moral manner. WHY should I be compelled to act morally? By what standard do I take a moral stance and say that you SHOULD do something? There are no “should” with atheism, only preferences. I am sorry that you rejected The Way, passerby11, and I can only hope for peace and ultimate redemption in your life before you discover Truth beyond the grave.

    The Chinese didn’t require input from a deity to implement Confucianism or Taoism, two vastly different yet successful schools of morality. And even if you were you able to get away with it, would you truthfully insist that your individual wants always trump everybody else’s needs, even to the degree of causing others pain? Or might you naturally find yourself following a personal version of the Golden Rule? Maybe even subscribe to a mutually agreed-upon code of law?

    Ethologist Frans De Waal said, “I am wary of anyone whose belief system is the only thing standing between them and repulsive behavior.” I tend to agree.

    Also, I explained in Post #66 why no one needs to feel sorry for me. Thanks!

    OldArmy94
    IF you believe that there is no god and that life is only a parsimonious result coming from nothing and headed toward nothing, then I offer you the only logical alternative–grab hold of the nearest 9mm and pop the cap on your brain. Based on your worldview, the ONLY truth that means anything is to avoid suffering. It is foolish to continue living only to suffer and fade into oblivion.

    Unless you’re suggesting that I kill myself because you disagree with me, and I’m hopefully certain you’re not, I’m afraid I don’t understand the logic behind your challenge, mostly because death isn’t the only available mechanism for avoiding suffering.

    Can one be born into suffering the way that he can allegedly be born into sin? If so, then perhaps mindful detachment provides a means for overcoming suffering, much in the way that a belief in Jesus’ sacrifice provides a means for overcoming sin. Nirvana could be tantamount to Heaven, and the enlightened just might be one with the holy.

    scordova
    how did you find our humble weblog?

    I was reading an Amazon book review (or possibly a discussion thread?) about a year and a half ago when someone posted a link that went to a site with a link that went to another site with a link that went to…

    After a few clicks, I ended up at UD. The predictable hatchet-jobs on Darwin and all things Darwin-esque were on display — no offense intended — but one article alerted me to a recent development in a field of interest, and another made a genuinely funny joke at the expense of people like myself. I bookmarked the site and typically visit every three or four weeks.

    When I saw the current topic, I thought, “Given my history, I might consider posting…” :)

    tjguy
    Child abuse is not what Jesus or the Bible teaches. I do hope you realize that. And I hope that is not the only reason you have rejected Christianity.

    Blaming Christianity for child abuse makes as little sense IMO as blaming evolution for the Holocaust. No, the version of Jesus that I have in my head would never condone child abuse. However, humans have a strong, evolutionary need for a lot of what many churches have to offer, and when populations grow as large and culturally diverse as they’ve become in the U.S., the spiritual landscape becomes peppered with niche churches that use Jesus, the Bible, and the pulpit to sell and justify almost anything.

    I don’t really want to emphasize the abuse, though, because it represents merely one facet of only one reason why I personally walked away from Christianity without regret. And also because this is a crevo forum, not an emotional recovery forum. ;)

    bevets
    you are a stranger on the internet — no one can authenticate your biography.

    By extension, nearly everyone in nearly every Web forum is a stranger on the Internet. Most people are undoubtedly aware of this fact, so your public reminder that my words are impossible to verify indicates a distrust of posters who you feel might portray your religion in an unfavorable light.

    People who abuse others, particularly their spouses and children, are IMO tragically affected by genes that promote unhealthy behaviors. Thousands of years ago, the feelings that prompted such behaviors might have saved lives or delivered food to the tribe. In 2014 AD, however, they often produce behaviors that, by most modern definitions, border on savagery.

    Everyone’s peace of mind is victimized by the world our intelligence has created, a world that’s changing too fast for the genes that regulate our emotions to keep pace. When everyone’s a victim, though, then no one really is. We’re all in this together, six billion prehistoric brains tying to co-exist peacefully in a space-age world…

  56. Human chromosome 2 is human lineage specific and has nothing to do with any alleged common ancestry with chimps.

  57. Joe
    Human chromosome 2 is human lineage specific and has nothing to do with any alleged common ancestry with chimps.

    Please elaborate. Your brief reply doesn’t provide readers with any reasons why we might want to reject the scientifically accepted conclusion that HC2 formed when two ancestral chromosomes fused together.

    Do you have a alternate explanation re: the nearly identical DNA sequences found on HC2 and ape chromosomes? How about why HC2 is the only human chromosome with a pair of centromeres that bookend vestigial telomeres?

  58. PasserBy11,

    While you make some good points, please understand that a lot of IDers don’t reject Darwinism because of Christianity, they reject Darwinism because it’s lousy science. Darwinism made a lot of sense in the 19th century when gross morphology, simple protoplasmic blobs called cells, and selective breeding was about all anyone had to go on. The battle against spontaneous generation had barely been won, and Lamarck had been successfully smeared.

    Unfortunately, there have been so many mythologies perpetuated by the Darwinist paradigm that have turned out to be false—”vestigial” organs, evolutionary competition between the higher and lower human “races” (along with the Eugenics movement), non-coding DNA being labeled as “junk,” mysterious “living fossils” that somehow avoided evolving while the species around them did evolve, ontogeny doesn’t recapitulate phylogeny after all (but nice try), stunningly complex cellular organelles and chemical cycles formed ex nihilo, the overwhelming complexity of DNA code (also formed ex nihilo), connective and vascular tissue miraculously surviving millions of years of radioactive cooking (remember that the bones are also radioactive), that the region around the supposed human chromosome 2 fusion site doesn’t provide evidence of correspondence with chromosomes 2A and 2B in chimpanzees, that supposed shared ERVS between humans and some apes, have been found to perform critical functions, and so on.

    Here’s a rough analogy to illustrate the compelling but synthetic stories that can be generated by a mind looking for a pattern:

    When I was in Junior High, there was an art project where we smashed colorful glass bottles, and then created lovely stained glass mosaics by fitting the pieces tightly together to form various images. The small spaces between the pieces were filled with a clear epoxy. The result was not a reconstruction of the original bottles, but a picture from my imagination.

    The same is true for any imaginative theory that collects supporting data rather than following the data where it leads. In this case, instead of a God-of-the-gaps story, we have a more scientific sounding Darwin-of-the-gaps story, which is no more scientific or satisfying than the previous one.

    -Q

  59. PasserBy11:

    I will second Querius’ statement: “While you make some good points, please understand that a lot of IDers don’t reject Darwinism because of Christianity, they reject Darwinism because it’s lousy science.”

    I have no personal religious/philosophical reason to reject Darwinism. Furthermore, I don’t have an issue with the minor micro-evolutionary changes that come under Darwinism (granting, just for purposes of discussion that they in fact result from Darwinian evolution, many of which probably do not) — finch beak sizes, changes in percentage of dark colored moths, bacterial resistance to antibiotics, etc.

    What I do reject are the broader claims of Darwinism and evolutionary theory: that life arose and developed to its current state of diversity and complexity through purely natural processes, that the systems we see in the cell came about through a series of accidents and mutations and drift, that functional specified information arose from random mutations, and so on. I reject it because it is an absolute joke. It flies in the face of the evidence we do have.

  60. PasserBy11:

    Do you have a alternate explanation re: the nearly identical DNA sequences found on HC2 and ape chromosomes?

    Yes. It’s called genetic engineering and design. Just because two designs are similar does not mean they evolved via random mutations and natural selection. Intelligent designers reuse and modify existing designs all the time time. Why? Because it’s the intelligent thing to do. Intelligent designers are not considered intelligent just for grins and giggles.

  61. SB: I should note from Sproul:

    . . . faith is not merely a casual acceptance of Jesus.

    The Protestant Reformers recognized that biblical faith has three essential aspects: notitia, assensus, and fiducia.

    Notitia. Notitia refers to the content of faith, or those things that we believe. We place our faith in something, or more appropriately, someone. In order to believe, we must know something about that someone, who is the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Assensus. Assensus is our conviction that the content of our faith is true. You can know about the Christian faith and yet believe that it is not true. Genuine faith says that the content — the notitia taught by Holy Scripture — is true.

    Fiducia. Fiducia refers to personal trust and reliance. Knowing and believing the content of the Christian faith is not enough, for even demons can do that (James 2:19). Faith is only effectual if, knowing about and assenting to the claims of Jesus, one personally trusts in Him alone for salvation.

    His summary distils hundreds of years of careful thought and is right, backed up by the actual text pretty directly.

    Given our initial status of being rebellious sinners, that entails repentance and conversion, i.e. there is a transformational change without which one does not have saving faith. That change is triggered by a gracious gift of God, and then leads on to a transformed life, without which there is serious reason to challenge claims of faith that do not issue in a pattern of transformed living. But the direction of causation is not form teh works to the faith.

    Exb 1 is Eph 2:8 – 10:

    8 For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favor) that you are saved ([c]delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God;

    9 Not because of works [not the fulfillment of the Law’s demands], lest any man should boast. [It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself.]

    10 For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), [d]recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live]. [AMP]

    Where also let us note the case of Cornelius and co, as preached to by Peter.

    Exhb 2, Ac 10:

    Gentiles Hear the Good News

    34 So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36 As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), 37 you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.

    39 And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

    The Holy Spirit Falls on the Gentiles

    44 While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47 “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.

    Then, when he is challenged back in Jerusalem, and replies summarising the above, the response of the Jewish believers is:

    Ac 11:15 As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. 16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?”

    18 When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

    The organic coupling between saving faith [and note Cornelius and co had only listened and responded in faith, they had done nothing external] and repentance leading tot he trsansformaitonal act of regeneration by the Spirit, and here manifested in a visible/audible outpouring, is clear.

    So clear that this is decisive in the Council of AD 48/9 which met to consider how gentiles could be saved, whether they needed to become Jews and take the Jewish rites of covenant, especially circumcision.

    Exhib 3, Ac 15:

    4 When they [Paul and Barnabas et al] came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they declared all that God had done with them. 5 But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses.”

    6 The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter.

    7 And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe.

    8 And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, 9 and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith.

    10 Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”</blockquote

    Indeed, in the wider context, pistis is the term used for rhetorical proof and we can understand it as soundly arrived at conviction based on authentic testimony and Scripture, leading to a change of heart and issuing in transformed life by the power of the Spirit. This is the key thread in the pivotal passage 2 Tim 3:14 – 17:

    14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed [others render, have become firmly convinced of], knowing from whom[a] you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

    16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God[b] may be complete, equipped for every good work.

    While UD is not5 normally a place for theological debates and expositions, I think this context demands some clarification, given what has been going on.

    A genuine Christian may and will stumble indeed, but there will be a clear reflection of the transformation of life by the Spirit within, showing His presence by those effects. Just as we discern the wind from its effects, as Jesus spoke of in Jn 3 a locus classicus on being born again or regenerated.

    The devils know and believe that there is but one God and they only tremble at their fate at his just hands. We must do better, we who have the privilege, the gift of grace that can lead us to repentance, trust and transformation by the renewing Spirit.

    So, per Eph 2:8 – 10, salvation is by unearned, unmerited gift of grace, which manifests in saving faith that is not anything we can boast of, which then by the transformation and call upon us issues in a transformed life of works that ever more reflect that change.

    KF

  62. Ouch failed to close a blockquote.

  63. KF,

    I tried to fix it. If not feel free to repost, and if you want me to delete the previous I can do that too.

    Thanks for you and StephenB’s for the input.

    UD needs a few threads like this from time to time so people can vent what’s on their mind since ID in biology can have metaphysical implications, and these issues fuel the interest, and without interest, ID dies.

    Sal

  64. Hi, Querius, Eric, and Mapou -

    Thanks for taking the time to reply to my post. Here are some answers.

    Querius
    a lot of IDers … reject Darwinism because it’s lousy science.

    I don’t understand this meme, mostly because it contradicts my own, personal experience with evolution. While I was an undergraduate/graduate Zoology student at a public university, one-hundred percent of the research that we studied, conducted, and extended was built upon the scientific method. What part(s) of evolutionary research do you consider unscientific?

    Darwinism made a lot of sense in the 19th century when gross morphology, simple protoplasmic blobs called cells, and selective breeding was about all anyone had to go on. The battle against spontaneous generation had barely been won, and Lamarck had been successfully smeared.

    This meme is another one that I fail to understand. Is it implying that evolution is outdated because Darwin published “Origin” a long, long time ago? If so, it makes me think of Jesus’ promise to return, as well as some of the events recorded in the Old Testament, and then I start to wonder about people with stones and glass houses and all…

    OTOH… Maybe it’s implying that modern science should discard all evolutionary theory because the first man to present scientific evidence for it did so during the Victorian Era? If so, it’s akin to encouraging literature professors to discard Dickens, Shakespeare, and Bronte because their contemporaries weren’t submitting A-quality manuscripts.

    (FWIW… The Victorian Era did give us N2O2 as an anaesthetic and phenol as an antiseptic.)

    many mythologies perpetuated by the Darwinist paradigm … have turned out to be false

    That’s quite a list, but here’s my $2E-02:

    * Vestigial organs — Example: The jaw in many humans is too small to fit all of our teeth comfortably, the result of the dentary shrinking too fast for our dentition. Additionally, empty hair follicles retain functional arrector (erector) pili muscles, which cause nothing more than goose bumps when cold or potential danger makes them contract. There are more examples in humans and other species, but these two illustrate pretty well why some organs are considered vestigial.
    * Eugenics movement — Blaming evolution for the Eugenics movement is akin to blaming Christianity for the pedophilia scandal in the Catholic Church. Some ideas are certainly bad, but history has shown that bad people sometimes hide behind good ideas that they exploit for immoral purposes.
    * Junk DNA — Scientists used that unfortunate-in-hindsight term as a synonym for non-coding DNA because they thought, based on all available data at the time, that it performed no important biological functions. Then they discovered that some of it does, after all. The idea of descent with modification was unaffected.
    * Living fossils — I don’t understand how extant populations of crocodiles, coelocanths, etc challenge descent with modification.
    * Ontogeny/Phylogeny — Haeckel might have taken some liberties with his drawings, but they don’t contradict what science knew then and knows now about embryology — or what one can see firsthand when studying sliced vertebrate embryos.

    stunningly complex cellular organelles and chemical cycles … overwhelming complexity of DNA code (also formed ex nihilo)

    * This sounds like an argument from incredulity. If you’re interested in the complexities of cell biology, check out the endosymbiotic theory of organelle appropriation. It provides an interesting explanation for why the double-membraned chloroplasts and mitochondria possess their own nuclei, and why they reproduce independently of their plant or animal host cells.

    * Ancient connective tissue — I’m not sure about the “radioactive cooking” part, but I agree that most scientists probably weren’t expecting to find residual connective tissues inside a 60 myo T. rex bone! In very related news… Last year, a team of researchers at NC State performed experiments with ostrich blood to demonstrate how iron nanoparticles, which are closely associated with dinosaurian soft tissue, can generate free radicals that, in turn, act like formaldehyde(!) on amino acids. Given that type of chemistry, it’s not unthinkable to find an occasional, highly degraded sample of connective tissue in a Cretaceous specimen that was preserved under facilitating conditions.
    * Human chromosome 2 — As I posted earlier, HC2 implies descent with modification not only because its DNA sequence is nearly identical to sequences found on two different chromosomes in ape genomes, but because it also possesses vestigial telomeres between a pair of centromeres (from those two chromosomes). Given this evidence, why wouldn’t one accept the scientifically accepted conclusion that HC2 formed when two ancestral chromosomes fused together?
    * Endogenous retroviruses — ERV patterns indicate common descent regardless of whether they’ve been found to perform critical functions.

    LMK if those answers don’t sufficiently address your questions. And thanks for the story. It reminds me of this one, which you might remember:

    In 2005, scores of people flocked to a Chicago underpass to pray before a water stain on the side of a wall. To them, it was unthinkable that the stain could be the result of nothing more than randomly deposited salt. Instead, it could only be an image revealed to everyone who recognizes the Virgin Mary.

    Eric Anderson
    What I do reject are … that life arose … through purely natural processes, that the systems we see in the cell came about through a series of accidents

    Evolution has nothing to say re: the origin of life. Fortunately, as I mentioned in a previous post, just as NASA specialists can factor theories about gravity into their equations even though they can’t explain the origin of matter, paleontologists can employ the theory of evolution to discover fossils like Tiktaalik, even if they don’t yet know the manner by which the first self-replicating molecules were assembled.

    Also… Check out the endosymbiotic theory if you’re interested in cell biology.

    I reject it because it is an absolute joke. It flies in the face of the evidence we do have.

    Can you please be specific re: the evidence that you think contradicts descent with modification?

    Mapou
    It’s called genetic engineering and design.

    Is it your opinion that a genetic designer created HC2 by breaking two chromosomes in a chimp-like animal, and then fusing them together? Or do you think the designer created HC2 in a fashion similar to all the other chromosomes, and the twin centromeres are irrelevant to the discussion?

    Intelligent designers reuse and modify existing designs all the time time.

    These sentiments echo the “one sees descent where another sees design” argument, but descent really does provide more useful answers IMO to questions like why some aquatic animals swim by moving their tails up and down, and others by moving them left to right… why some breathe air, and others water… and why some give birth at sea, and others lay eggs on land. From a scientific standpoint, it’s not trivial that descent provides useful answers to questions like these, while design does not. Design might answer other questions in other fields, I don’t know, but not ones like these in Biology.

    Intelligent designers are not considered intelligent just for grins and giggles.

    Are they considered intelligent for saddling giraffes with unnecessarily lengthy laryngeal nerves? Or for giving sex organs to plants that reproduce by cloning? It almost seems as if everything looks as if it’s intelligently designed… except for when it doesn’t.

  65. PB11:

    Pardon but I think there are two principles you are neglecting: every tub must stand on its own bottom, multiplied by vera causa.

    Simply put, until blind watchmaker mechanisms have been shown capable of generating body plans — shown by observation of the relevant capacity — then they are not reasonable, empirically grounded explanatory constructs. So, they ought not to be introduced or shielded as claimed explanations of the remote unobserved past of origins. We have traces from the past, but unless we can directly show capability, as required, then we cannot properly appeal to what amounts to speculation backed up by ideological domination of key institutions.

    This has nothing in principle to do with debates over short/long timelines on origins or on interpretations of scriptural traditions and texts. It is a simple matter of inductive logical inference to best, empirically grounded explanation. (Unfortunately, that is likely to be lost sight of in the aftermath of the grand red herring exercise involved in the Nye-Ham debate just now past which seemed to — in the mind of Nye et al — pivot on, we can use geodating techniques (never mind anomalies and circularities involved) to show to our a priori materialism circumscribed opinion that life has a long history of maybe 3.5 BY, and QED, blind watchmaker thesis darwinism is the only rational view of origins.)

    The fact is, life is full of functionally specific complex organisation and associated information (FSCO/I), much of it digitally coded, i.e. expressing language and in that context being part of algorithmic systems.

    Thee is but one empirically grounded source for that, design.

    And origin by processes of common descent or even universal common descent have nothing to do with overturning that, as design mechanisms can function in evolutionary ways.

    So, the design challenge stands.

    Though, the indoctrinated in a priori evolutionary materialism will typically be blind to that.

    So, I suggest to you that you think again, starting with the origin of the very first body plan and its associated FSCO/I, in light of evidence and the vera causa principle.

    KF

  66. SC: Thanks, not perfect but at least functional. KF

  67. Kairosfocus, thanks for your thoughtful comments.

    The Protestant Reformers recognized that biblical faith has three essential aspects: notitia, assensus, and fiducia.

    The question is this: Will these three aspects of faith save us or must they be coupled with acts of love? James says both are required; Luther says that they are not.

    Given our initial status of being rebellious sinners, that entails repentance and conversion, i.e. there is a transformational change without which one does not have saving faith. That change is triggered by a gracious gift of God, and then leads on to a transformed life, without which there is serious reason to challenge claims of faith that do not issue in a pattern of transformed living. But the direction of causation is not form teh works to the faith.

    To be sure, God grants the grace that leads to transformation in Christ. However, it is not an automatic process. As rebellious sinners, we can, through the use of our free will, either cooperate or refuse to cooperate with that grace.

    For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favor) that you are saved ([c]delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God;

    Everyone agrees that we cannot merit God’s saving grace. The question is this: After having been given that underserved favor, can we, from that point on, gain merit by cooperating with God’s grace and doing good deeds. Christian theology had always said yes. Luther, for the first time, said no. His doctrine was novel.

    Not because of works [not the fulfillment of the Law’s demands], lest any man should boast. [It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself.]

    Everyone agrees that man cannot achieve salvation through his good works. Man achieves salvation by allowing God to work through him. The question is whether or not he can lose his salvation by refusing to cooperate. Traditional Christianity had always said yes. Luther said no.

    Must Christians be “transformed” into Christ in order to be saved? Traditional Christianity had always said yes. Luther said no. On the contrary, he insisted that we can have righteousness “imputed” to us. This was yet another new doctrine that no one had ever heard of before. It certainly did not come from Jesus Christ or any of his apostles.

    For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), [d]recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live]. [AMP]

    .

    Alas, men (even Christian men) do not always follow God’s plan.

    To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

    Yes. God turns no man away. Among those who hear the Gospel, only those who choose to be without Christ are without Him. Salvation is not for only for God’s chosen people. (That passage should not be interpreted to mean that we are saved by “faith alone” or that faith automatically produces good works. If faith automatically produced good works, no one would ever backslide.)

    When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

    The organic coupling between saving faith [and note Cornelius and co had only listened and responded in faith, they had done nothing external] and repentance leading tot he trsansformaitonal act of regeneration by the Spirit, and here manifested in a visible/audible outpouring, is clear.

    To “respond” to faith is to act on faith—daily and consistently. Sometimes, dramatic change really does occur in a few select individuals. However, the process of transformation in Christ is usually a lifetime project. The faith commitment is only the beginning of long, hard struggle. Many give up and fall away because they cannot abide by the “hard sayings.” Only those who “endure to the end” will be saved. St Paul worried all throughout his ministry that he might come up short. St Peter instructed us to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling.” It’s a drama and we have to play our role. It is more than just believing and trusting.

    “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

    “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,…”

    “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who.”

    “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:”

    Beware of Martin Luther’s doctrine of faith alone. What we do here or do not do here will decide our eternal destiny. It begins with faith and trust, but it certainly doesn’t end there. All those passages about faith and salvation attest to the fact that faith is “necessary” for salvation. It is not “sufficient.”

    While UD is not5 normally a place for theological debates and expositions, I think this context demands some clarification, given what has been going on.

    We may as well take advantage of the opportunity. It isn’t likely come again for a long time. It is a privilege to discuss this vitally important topic with a dedicated Christian. Thank you.

    And thank you to Sal Cordova for providing the opportunity.

    SB

  68. PasserBy11 @64:

    Mapou
    It’s called genetic engineering and design.

    Is it your opinion that a genetic designer created HC2 by breaking two chromosomes in a chimp-like animal, and then fusing them together? Or do you think the designer created HC2 in a fashion similar to all the other chromosomes, and the twin centromeres are irrelevant to the discussion?

    I believe the designers probably had a huge and growing database of DNA sequences from which they could draw whatever they needed and mix them in various ways to achieve whatever goals they had in mind.

    Intelligent designers reuse and modify existing designs all the time time.

    These sentiments echo the “one sees descent where another sees design” argument, but descent really does provide more useful answers IMO to questions like why some aquatic animals swim by moving their tails up and down, and others by moving them left to right… why some breathe air, and others water… and why some give birth at sea, and others lay eggs on land. From a scientific standpoint, it’s not trivial that descent provides useful answers to questions like these, while design does not. Design might answer other questions in other fields, I don’t know, but not ones like these in Biology.

    What strict common descent does not provide is multiple inheritance between complex species residing in distant branches of the genomic hierarchy, i.e., horizontal gene transfers. This would be relatively easy for intelligent designers, IMO.

    Intelligent designers are not considered intelligent just for grins and giggles.

    Are they considered intelligent for saddling giraffes with unnecessarily lengthy laryngeal nerves? Or for giving sex organs to plants that reproduce by cloning? It almost seems as if everything looks as if it’s intelligently designed… except for when it doesn’t.

    And why stop there? Do males need nipples? You’re conflating intelligence with perfection, IMO. I am not a Christian fundamentalist and I don’t believe that the designers were infinitely powerful and knowledgeable. Intelligent designers can make mistakes. In fact, my understanding of intelligence (I am an AI researcher) suggests to me that the ability to learn through trial and error is an inherent and essential part of it. That being said, what looks like a mistake to you may very well turn out to be a brilliant design after further analysis. Besides, design is not just about functionality. It is also about the sense of aesthetics and individual taste of the designer.

  69. Hi, kairosfocus -

    Thanks for replying. When you say…

    until blind watchmaker mechanisms have been shown capable of generating body plans — shown by observation of the relevant capacity — then they are not reasonable, empirically grounded explanatory constructs.

    Are you referring to body plans in general, or strictly to multicellular animals? Or does your statement also include plants, fungi, etc? Prokaryotes? How about the first self-assembling strand of something that vaguely resembled RNA? Your clarification is germane to my reply.

    We have traces from the past, but unless we can directly show capability, as required, then we cannot properly appeal to what amounts to speculation backed up by ideological domination of key institutions.

    No one has demonstrated the capability of subducting tectonic plates to form mountain ranges, either. Nevertheless, the available evidence — including the fact that tectonic plates float across the Earth’s surface at the incredibly slow rate of ~ 1 finch’s beak / year — has led the vast majority of the world’s geologists and laypeople alike to accept plate tectonics as a scientifically valid explanation for mountain formation.

    geodating techniques (never mind anomalies and circularities involved)

    To what geodating circularity are you referring? The teachers and textbooks at the Baptist school that I attended as a child deliberately misrepresented index fossils, repeating the mantra, “Evolutionists use the rocks to date the fosssil, and they use the fossils to date the rocks.” That’s not true at all.

    Instead, useful index fossils are fossils that, across the entire world, have never, ever been found outside a narrow range of geologic strata. As such, they’re useful for making quick identifications in the field. For example, a paleontologist who discovers a new arthropod species alongside a T. subbullatus can feel confident that he is digging in the Triassic layer. If the find proves worthy of publication, additional tests are performed for age verification.

    life is full of functionally specific complex organisation and associated information (FSCO/I), much of it digitally coded

    If the phrase “digitally coded” is the synonym for “binary” that it appears to be, then I think that argument favors simplicity more than complexity.

    the indoctrinated in a priori evolutionary materialism will typically be blind to that.

    Merriam-Webster defines indoctrinate as teaching someone “to fully accept the ideas, opinions, and beliefs of a particular group, and to not consider other ideas, opinions, and beliefs.” The secondary definition is “to imbue with a usually partisan or sectarian opinion, point of view, or principle.” While earning a B.S. in Zoology from a division II college, no professor or student ever badmouthed an IDer (ne Creation Scientist); instead, everyone always dealt with me patiently and attentively.

    On the contrary, those definitions describe my spiritual and educational upbringing as a Baptist quite perfectly. The threat of eternal damnation in the Hell of John’s Revelations far outweighs the potential ridicule of a professor whom, upon graduation, one will never see again.

    Mapou
    What strict common descent does not provide is multiple inheritance between complex species residing in distant branches of the genomic hierarchy, i.e., horizontal gene transfers. This would be relatively easy for intelligent designers, IMO.

    I agree that the presence of nearly identical echolocation-specific genes in bats and dolphins is as unexpected as connective tissue in a T. rex femur, as science has yet to discover a natural process that could assume responsibility for an HGT of that magnitude. However, it’s possible that someone will show the probability of convergence isn’t so remote after all, given the nature of echolocation and the similarities among mammalian brains. The onus is definitely on researchers to provide a scientific explanation for this one, much like the case of the soft dino connective tissue.

    And why stop there?

    Honestly… because it would take too much time to list all of the organs and biological processes that don’t look like they were designed by an intelligent agent, but that, instead, look like strong arguments for descent.

    You’re conflating intelligence with perfection, IMO.

    I think it’s fair to expect a fair degree of efficiency from something that was purportedly designed to be efficient. Further, it’s difficult to identify the point at which one progresses so far in the direction of “intelligent design” that he encounters “perfect design,” much as it’s hard to tell the difference between “imperfect design” and “unintelligent design.” And where is the overlap with snowflakes and other crystalline formations that look like they’re designed, but are instead the result of natural processes?

    design is … also about the sense of aesthetics and individual taste of the designer.

    How does one identify the tastes and aesthetics of an unknown designer?

    I don’t believe that the designers were infinitely powerful and knowledgeable. Intelligent designers can make mistakes.

    I love the idea of life on Earth being nothing more than an alien grad student’s research product. Put it on the ballot, and I’ll vote for it every time! But, you know, extraordinary claims and all that… :)

  70. PB:

    First, it is significant that you have actually read and responded to what I have said. However, the way you did so raises a serious question on the underlying inductive logic.

    The first principle about the remote past of origins is that we have no direct observational access to it.

    That means sound origins sciences must seek to reconstruct the past from its traces and the observed capacity of specific observed forces in the present to characteristically produce materially similar effects. The last part is in effect the vera causa principle. Absent which, we have unconstrained, usually ideologically influenced speculation issuing in just so stories.

    In that context, the observed forces and cases showing power to create from a unicellular organism, the novel bioinfo, cell types, regulated development processes, tissues, organs, systems and whole organisms comparable to origin of arthropods and the like (across several dozen body plans requiring increments of 10 – 100 mn+ base pairs worth of genome) is _____________, and the discoverers are ______________ , winning the ________________ prizes.

    Similarly, the like for origin of encapsulated, gated, metabolising, C-chemistry aqueous medium cell based life styarting from physically, thermodynamically and chemically plausible chemicals and concs in a warm little pond or undersea vent or gas giant moon or comet etc is __________.

    Next, it is not promising that in a significantly technical context, you conflated digital with binary digital.

    Digital, boiled down, is discrete state as opposed to involving effective continuum states. Binary and decimal digital systems are most familiar but the clock face is duodecimal and we break time (and angles) up in light of the old Chaldean sexagesimal one, apparently used by astronomers for calcs as late as the 1500′s – 1600′s. The alphabet is 26 state. Genetic info relies on a four state code, as should be very familiar.

    On geodating, there are several ways in which circularities creep in, such that there is a tendency to intellectual phase locking. This sausage factory case will help bring this out, involving radio-dating (including isochrons) as well as fossil comparisons. But, my remark on that is a caution, it is not primary; I think astrophysical evidence (starting from the dynamics of collapsing giant molecular clouds leading to stellar life cycles and the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram, compared with say that for clusters, and the implications of cosmological red shifts scaling with distance metrics) is a lot more intrinsically robust.

    My direct point is that evidence of changed life forms across fossil layers may allow us to infer some sort of evolutionary descent, up to possibly universal common descent, is not evidence that in and of itself entails blind watchmaker mechanisms, absent a priori impositions a la Lewontin:

    . . to put a correct view of the universe into people’s heads we must first get an incorrect view out . . . the problem is to get them to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth [[--> NB: this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]. . . . To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident [[--> actually, science and its knowledge claims are plainly not immediately and necessarily true on pain of absurdity, to one who understands them; this is another logical error, begging the question , confused for real self-evidence; whereby a claim shows itself not just true but true on pain of patent absurdity if one tries to deny it . . ] that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality, and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test [[--> i.e. an assertion that tellingly reveals a hostile mindset, not a warranted claim] . . . .

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [[--> another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [[--> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [[From: “Billions and Billions of Demons,” NYRB, January 9, 1997. (And, if you imagine that this is a case of "quote mining" or that the just following allusion to Beck justifies the above, kindly read the wider extract and notes here.]

    And, as ID thinker Philip Johnson replied to Lewontin et al, it is the a priori that drives the conclusion and the certitude, not the actual balance on merits:

    For scientific materialists the materialism comes first; the science comes thereafter. [[Emphasis original] We might more accurately term them “materialists employing science.” And if materialism is true, then some materialistic theory of evolution has to be true simply as a matter of logical deduction, regardless of the evidence. That theory will necessarily be at least roughly like neo-Darwinism, in that it will have to involve some combination of random changes and law-like processes capable of producing complicated organisms that (in Dawkins’ words) “give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”

    . . . . The debate about creation and evolution is not deadlocked . . . Biblical literalism is not the issue. The issue is whether materialism and rationality are the same thing. Darwinism is based on an a priori commitment to materialism, not on a philosophically neutral assessment of the evidence. Separate the philosophy from the science, and the proud tower collapses. [[Emphasis added.] [[The Unraveling of Scientific Materialism, First Things, 77 (Nov. 1997), pp. 22 – 25.]

    KF

  71. PasserBy11,

    one-hundred percent of the research that we studied, conducted, and extended was built upon the scientific method. What part(s) of evolutionary research do you consider unscientific?

    As they say, this is a target-rich environment. ;-)

    Darwinism (and ID for that matter) is a paradigm, and serves as a way of rationalizing the research we do using the scientific method.

    In my analogy, the glass pieces can be *tightly* rejoined into any number of mosaic pictures, whatever you want to see. And you can always claim a God or Darwin of the gaps to fill in the missing pieces.

    However, there are consequences. Dr. Ohno, coming from a Darwinist paradigm assumed that non-coding DNA must be “fossil” genes, non-functional leftovers from evolution. In other words, junk. In contrast, the ID paradigm assumes that there is engineering and an unknown purpose to this same DNA. Now, pragmatically speaking, which paradigm hindered scientific progress in this example?

    Darwinism or ID?

    Scientific theories and paradigms periodically undergo macro changes that dramatically change the model on which research is based. In physics, we’ve had a number of these revolutions, the most famous of which was the theory of relativity. Chaos theory and quantum mechanics are others. Unfortunately, biology hasn’t kept pace—breakthroughs in genetics continue to be jammed into an obsolete model.

    Scientific models are not supposed to be like faith in God, literature, art, music, or romantic dating in which the scientific method is really not the right approach. Scientific models are expected to be overturned when enough information has been assimilated.

    If you believe that acknowledging the stunningly complex organelles and chemical cycles in cells as an “argument from incredulity,” what would you call a claim that an explosion in a guitar factory produced a beautiful grand piano, or an earthquake produced a functioning computer?

    Please don’t take offense, but could it be true that it’s both convenient and necessary to view yourself as a *Victim* to rationalize your desire for complete personal autonomy and non-accountability? Why not be truthful and drop the crutches of rationalization? Just do what you want to do. No apologies, no excuses.

    -Q

  72. Before this thread goes off into cyber oblivion, I wanted to finish out a thought regarding the Early Church.

    It was apparent that by 64 AD, the jews from Jerusalem that new Jesus had reached Rome. The acts of the Apostles describes the missionary journey of Paul through his imprisonment, and Sir William Ramsey was astonished at the accuracy of Luke’s Gospel and Acts, that he became a Christian.

    From the Darwin loving pages of Wiki:

    Sir William Mitchell Ramsay (15 March 1851, Glasgow –20 April 1939) was a Scottish archaeologist and New Testament scholar. By his death in 1939 he had become the foremost authority of his day on the history of Asia Minor and a leading scholar in the study of the New Testament. From the post of Professor of Classical Art and Architecture at Oxford, he was appointed Regius Professor of Humanity (the Latin Professorship) at Aberdeen. Knighted in 1906 to mark his distinguished service to the world of scholarship, Ramsay also gained three honorary fellowships from Oxford colleges, nine honorary doctorates from British, Continental and North American universities and became an honorary member of almost every association devoted to archaeology and historical research. He was one of the original members of the British Academy, was awarded the Gold Medal of Pope Leo XIII in 1893 and the Victorian Medal of the Royal Geographical Society in 1906.

    William Ramsay paid a lot of attention to the New Testament events, particularly the Book of Acts and Pauline Epistles. When he first went to Asia Minor, many of the cities mentioned in Acts had no known location and almost nothing was known of their detailed history or politics. The Acts of the Apostles was the only record and Ramsay, skeptical, fully expected his own research to prove the author of Acts hopelessly inaccurate since no man could possibly know the details of Asia Minor more than a hundred years after the event—this is, when Acts was then supposed to have been written. He therefore set out to put the writer of Acts on trial. He devoted his life to unearthing the ancient cities and documents of Asia Minor. After a lifetime of study, however, he concluded: ‘Further study . . . showed that the book could bear the most minute scrutiny as an authority for the facts of the Aegean world, and that it was written with such judgment, skill, art and perception of truth as to be a model of historical statement’ (The Bearing of Recent Discovery, p. 85). On page 89 of the same book, Ramsay accounted, ‘I set out to look for truth on the borderland where Greece and Asia meet, and found it there [in Acts]. You may press the words of Luke in a degree beyond any other historian’s and they stand the keenest scrutiny and the hardest treatment…’

    And in another thread I’ve suggested further empirical tests of the Luke Chapter 3:
    Nye-Ham and how Darwinism poisons, comment from population genetics and geology and archaeology.

    But the thought that came to mind was regarding pagan senator and historian Tacitus and Emperor Titus. From a secular account by Tacitus regarding the Christian persecutions of AD 64:

    Yet no human effort, no princely largess nor offerings to the gods could make that infamous rumor disappear that Nero had somehow ordered the fire. Therefore, in order to abolish that rumor, Nero falsely accused and executed with the most exquisite punishments those people called Christians, who were infamous for their abominations. The originator of the name, Christ, was executed as a criminal by the procurator Pontius Pilate during the reign of Tiberius; and though repressed, this destructive superstition erupted again, not only through Judea, which was the origin of this evil, but also through the city of Rome, to which all that is horrible and shameful floods together and is celebrated. Therefore, first those were seized who admitted their faith, and then, using the information they provided, a vast multitude were convicted, not so much for the crime of burning the city, but for hatred of the human race. And perishing they were additionally made into sports: they were killed by dogs by having the hides of beasts attached to them, or they were nailed to crosses or set aflame, and, when the daylight passed away, they were used as nighttime lamps. Nero gave his own gardens for this spectacle and performed a Circus game, in the habit of a charioteer mixing with the plebs or driving about the race-course. Even though they were clearly guilty and merited being made the most recent example of the consequences of crime, people began to pity these sufferers, because they were consumed not for the public good but on account of the fierceness of one man.

    So it appears the Christian Church, 30 some years after Christ’s resurrection was spreading nicely through the Roman Empire. Jesus predicted Jerusalem’s destruction and “not one stone would be left on top of another” for the temple.

    This was something I found incredible. Josephus wasn’t some mere historian, but some one of great respected rank!

    Siege of Jerusalem

    Titus surrounded the city, with three legions (V Macedonica, XII Fulminata, XV Apollinaris) on the western side and a fourth (X Fretensis) on the Mount of Olives to the east.[1] He put pressure on the food and water supplies of the inhabitants by allowing pilgrims to enter the city to celebrate Passover, and then refusing to allow them back out. After Jewish allies killed a number of Roman soldiers, Titus sent Josephus, the Jewish historian, to negotiate with the defenders; this ended with Jews wounding the negotiator with an arrow, and another sally was launched shortly after. Titus was almost captured during this sudden attack, but escaped.

    and the details:

    In mid-May Titus set to destroying the newly built Third Wall with a ram, breaching it as well as the Second Wall, and turning his attention to the Fortress of Antonia just north of the Temple Mount. The Romans were then drawn into street fighting with the Zealots, who were then ordered to retreat to the temple to avoid heavy losses. Josephus failed in another attempt at negotiations, and Jewish attacks prevented the construction of siege towers at the Fortress of Antonia. Food, water, and other provisions were dwindling inside the city, but small foraging parties managed to sneak supplies into the city, harrying Roman forces in the process. To put an end to the foragers, orders were issued to build a new wall, and siege tower construction was restarted as well.

    Catapulta, by Edward Poynter (1868). Siege engines such as this would have been used by the Roman army during the attack.
    After several failed attempts to breach or scale the walls of the Antonia Fortress, the Romans finally launched a secret attack, overwhelming the sleeping Zealots and taking the fortress. Overlooking the Temple compound, the fortress provided a perfect point from which to attack the Temple itself. Battering rams made little progress, but the fighting itself eventually set the walls on fire; a Roman soldier threw a burning stick onto one of the Temple’s walls. Destroying the Temple was not among Titus’ goals, possibly due in large part to the massive expansions done by Herod the Great mere decades earlier. Titus had wanted to seize it and transform it into a temple dedicated to the Roman Emperor and the Roman pantheon. The fire spread quickly and was soon out of control. The Temple was destroyed on Tisha B’Av, in the beginning of August, and the flames spread into the residential sections of the city.[1]

    The Roman legions quickly crushed the remaining Jewish resistance. Part of the remaining Jews escaped through hidden underground tunnels, while others made a final stand in the Upper City. This defence halted the Roman advance as they had to construct siege towers to assail the remaining Jews. The city was completely under Roman control by September 7 and the Romans continued to pursue those who had fled the city.

    Let us suppose then that Jesus prophecy was not an after-the-fact insertion by Christians (recall, Christian’s had great reverence for his words, the notion of adding to it was generally anathema). Surely that prophecy of Jesus against his own nation reverberated through the empire for Christian sympathizers.

    Josephus claims that 1,100,000 people were killed during the siege, of which a majority were Jewish, and that 97,000 were captured and enslaved, including Simon bar Giora and John of Giscala.[4]

    “The slaughter within was even more dreadful than the spectacle from without. Men and women, old and young, insurgents and priests, those who fought and those who entreated mercy, were hewn down in indiscriminate carnage. The number of the slain exceeded that of the slayers. The legionaries had to clamber over heaps of dead to carry on the work of extermination.”[5]

    Many fled to areas around the Mediterranean. Titus reportedly refused to accept a wreath of victory, saying that the victory did not come through his own efforts but that he had merely served as an instrument of God’s wrath.[6]

    This among many things would seem to send a message to the entire empire and probably had effect on the spread of Christianity. Thus, the more I study the historical records, the Mythers seem like kooks!

    I mentioned the supreme Myther by the name of Richard Carrier, who seems to insist Jesus never existed. Ironic, Richard Carrier is criticized by fellow atheists for re-writing history of the present day New Atheists. Poetic Justice (warning mature content):

    Richard Carrier: Inept Idiot or Ignorant Simpleton?

    an excerpt:

    Richard Carrier (Dick for short) then goes through and shares his fantasies about Michael Shermer’s sexual experiences.(see above) I think it’s safe to say that Dick Carrier has no idea if what he is writing is even remotely close to the truth. Unless he can travel back in time and make himself invisible so he can witness the events he wasn’t there so it all comes down to- A bunch of sh-t. Dick can write fictional stories. We can put him up there with other fictional writers like say…. L Ron Hubbard. Very impressive but not useful.

    So there you have it, that’s a top-of-the-line Myther in the course of present day events.

  73. This account of Titus:

    http://www.livius.org/ap-ark/a.....html#%A729

    [?29] After [Vespasian's son] Titus had taken Jerusalem, and when the country all round was filled with corpses, the neighboring races offered him a crown; but he disclaimed any such honor to himself, saying that it was not himself that had accomplished this exploit, but that he had merely lent his arms to God, who had so manifested his wrath; and Apollonius praised his action, for therein he displayed a great deal of judgment and understanding of things human and divine, and it showed great moderation on his part that he refused to be crowned because he had shed blood. Accordingly Apollonius indited to him a letter which he sent by the hands of Damis and of which the text was as follows:
    Apollonius sends greetings to Titus the Roman general.

    Whereas you have refused to be proclaimed for success in war and for shedding the blood of your enemies, I myself assign to you the crown of temperance and moderation, because you thoroughly understand what deeds really merit a crown. Farewell.

    Why did people at the time of Titus feel God manifested his wrath to Jerusalem? How did Titus come to the view he was doing God’s will. Recall, Josephus was right there with Titus and even taking an arrow!

    Here is an interesting account by Josephus that describes miraculous signs of God’s judgment:

    http://www.bible.ca/pre-flaviu.....filled.htm

    The Signs That Preceded The Destruction

    3. Thus were the miserable people persuaded by these deceivers, and such as belied God himself; while they did not attend, nor give credit, to the signs that were so evident, and did so plainly foretell their future desolation ; but, like men infatuated, without either eyes to see or minds to consider , did not regard the denunciations that God made to them . Thus there was a star resembling a sword, which stood over the city, and a comet, that continued a whole year. Thus also, before the Jews’ rebellion, and before those commotions which preceded the war, when the people were come in great crowds to the feast of unleavened bread, on the eight day of the month Xanthicus, [Nisan,] and at the ninth hour of the night, so great a light shone round the altar and the holy house, that it appeared to be bright day-time; which light lasted for half an hour . This light seemed to be a good sign to the unskilful, but was so interpreted by the sacred scribes as to portend those events that followed immediately upon it.

    At the same festival also, a heifer, as she was led by the high priest to be sacrificed, brought forth a lamb in the midst of the temple. Moreover, the eastern gate of the inner, [court of the temple,] which was of brass, and vastly heavy, and had been with difficulty shut by twenty men, and rested upon a basis armed with iron, and had bolts fastened very deep into the firm floor, which was there made of one entire stone, was seen to be opened of its own accord about the sixth hour of the night . Now, those that kept watch in the temple came thereupon running to the captain of the temple, and told him of it; who then came up thither, and not without great difficulty was able to shut the gate again. This also appeared to the vulgar to be a very happy prodigy, as if God did thereby open them the gate of happiness. But the men of learning understood it, that the security of their holy house was dissolved of its own accord, and that the gate was opened for the advantage of their enemies. So these publicly declared, that this signal forshewed the desolation that was coming upon them.

    Now Roman emperors have history of being megalomaniacs, but the accounts of Titus were of humility regarding destruction of Jerusalem. Why is that? And why does it seem attested that Titus believed he was an instrument of God’s wrath. Could it be that Titus was witness of these portents, and Josephus was right there with him.

    Josephus echoes some themes of God’s punishment at other times. From the Darwin loving pages of Wiki:

    Josephus on Jesus

    Now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod’s army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the Baptist: for Herod slew him, who was a good man… Herod, who feared lest the great influence John had over the people might put it into his power and inclination to raise a rebellion… Accordingly he was sent a prisoner, out of Herod’s suspicious temper, to Macherus, the castle I before mentioned, and was there put to death.

    and

    Modern scholarship has largely acknowledged the authenticity of the reference in Book 20, Chapter 9, 1 of the Antiquities to “the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James” [12] and considers it as having the highest level of authenticity among the references of Josephus to Christianity.[13][1][2][14][15][16] Almost all modern scholars consider the reference in Book 18, Chapter 5, 2 of the Antiquities to the imprisonment and death of John the Baptist to also be authentic.[17][18][19]

    So the authenticity of James the brother of Jesus and John the Baptist is considered authentic! So will a Myther insist no Jesus, but James brother of Jesus and John the Baptist are real? :roll:

    The reason this was an especially credible account was that it was commissioned by Emperor Vespasian father of Titus. So even supposing the following was a corruption of Josephus, the reality of Jesus as a historical figure seems above reproach. In any case, the disputed section of Josephus work:

    Testimonium Flavianum

    Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.

    Flavius Josephus: Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18, Chapter 3, 3[51]

    Take into account Josephus was aware of the martyrdom of Christians only a few years earlier. He likely was aware of Christian doctrine, and was surely aware of their devotion. He saw the signs, he reported the judgement of Herod for John the Baptist who attested to Christ. So the above seems reasonable for Josephus to say what he did.

    If I may say something, why in all the years I’ve been in church did no one from the pulpit ever take time to share this. It would have so reassured me in my darkest hours that Jesus was real.

    Because I have learned these things, I delight to offer them to the readers.

  74. Sal, thank you for posting those comments on historical Jesus. Those who insist that Jesus is a myth are no better than the Holocaust deniers, IMO.

  75. You are welcome Mapou, and thanks for reading it, though the data is tedious.

    Mythers say Jesus made up story from various pagan cults — that’s about all they can do. That would almost be believable, until one reads the accounts like that of Tacitus and Josephus and (much later) Appolonius.

    There was a theme of God’s wrath on Jerusalem in 70 AD, many Christians died in 64 AD knowing of Christ’s prophecy. That is a far more credible explanation for why belief spread — the judgment of Jerusalem.

    I can imagine the Roman legions returning to Rome and telling their tales, and the Chritian preachers in Rome pointing out the fulfilled prophecy of Jesus and relating the blood of the martyrs under Nero less than a decade earlier was not in vain.

    That is a credible explanation for what contributed the rise of Christianity, not some crazy notion by Carrier that people decided to coopt some other religions because they fancied them.

    Josephus account of John the Baptist and James brother of Jesus I find highly remarkable.

  76. SC:

    Dawkins, of course, in a recent Playboy interview, went on record as being inclined to accept the Jesus is a myth line.

    I think you (and onlookers) will find here on a useful reference that discusses that (notice the lead-up on taking back the concept of objective truth . . . after the impact of William G Perry’s relativisation), and will find this from Paul Barnett’s Is the NT History, illuminating:

    On the basis of . . . non-Christian sources [i.e. Tacitus (Annals, on the fire in Rome, AD 64; written ~ AD 115), Rabbi Eliezer (~ 90's AD; cited J. Klausner, Jesus of Nazareth (London: Collier-Macmillan, 1929), p. 34), Pliny (Letters to Trajan from Bithynia, ~ AD 112), Josephus (Antiquities, ~ 90's)] it is possible to draw the following conclusions:

    1] Jesus Christ was executed (by crucifixion?) in Judaea during the period where Tiberius was Emperor (AD 14 – 37) and Pontius Pilate was Governor (AD 26 – 36). [Tacitus]
    2] The movement spread from Judaea to Rome. [Tacitus]
    3] Jesus claimed to be God and that he would depart and return. [Eliezer]
    4] His followers worshipped him as (a) god. [Pliny]
    5] He was called “the Christ.” [Josephus]
    6] His followers were called “Christians.” [Tacitus, Pliny]
    7] They were numerous in Bithynia and Rome [Tacitus, Pliny]
    8] It was a world-wide movement. [Eliezer]
    9] His brother was James. [Josephus]

    [Is the New Testament History? (London, Hodder, 1987), pp. 30 - 31. Cf. McDowell & Wilson, He Walked Among Us (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1993) for more details; free for download here.]

    As well, you will find the Minimal facts approach regarding the historicity of Jesus and its findings . . . based on some 3,000 technical works across the spectrum of viewpoints, useful:

    The minimal facts method only uses sources which are multiply attested, and agreed to by a majority of scholars (ranging from atheist to conservative). This requires that they have one or more of the following criteria which are relevant to textual criticism:

    Multiple sources – If two or more sources attest to the same fact, it is more likely authentic
    Enemy attestation – If the writers enemies corroborate a given fact, it is more likely authentic
    Principle of embarrassment – If the text embarrasses the writer, it is more likely authentic
    Eyewitness testimony – First hand accounts are to be prefered
    Early testimony – an early account is more likely accurate than a later one

    Having first established the well attested facts, the approach then argues that the best explanation of these agreed to facts is the resurrection of Jesus Christ . . . . [Source: "Minimal facts" From Apologetics Wiki. Full article: here (Courtesy, Wayback Machine.)]

    . . . .

    Why is that so?

    The easiest answer is to simply list the facts that meet the above criteria and are accepted by a majority to an overwhelming majority of recent and current scholarship after centuries of intense debate:

    1. Jesus died by crucifixion [--> which implies his historicity!].

    2. He was buried.

    3. His death caused the disciples to despair and lose hope.

    4. The tomb was empty (the most contested).

    5. The disciples had experiences which they believed were literal appearances of the risen Jesus (the most important proof).

    6. The disciples were transformed from doubters to bold proclaimers.

    7. The resurrection was the central message.

    8. They preached the message of Jesus’ resurrection in Jerusalem.

    9. The Church was born and grew.

    10. Orthodox Jews who believed in Christ made Sunday their primary day of worship.

    11. James was converted to the faith when he saw the resurrected Jesus (James was a family skeptic).

    12. Paul was converted to the faith (Paul was an outsider skeptic).

    [Cf. Habermas' paper here and a broader more popular discussion here. NT Wright's papers here and here give a rich and deep background analysis. Here is a video of a pastoral presentation of a subset of the facts. Habermas presents the case as videos here and here, in two parts. Here is a video of a debate he had with Antony Flew.]

    The list of facts is in some respects fairly obvious.

    That a Messiah candidate was captured, tried and crucified — as Gamaliel hinted at — was effectively the death-knell for most such movements in Israel in the era of Roman control; to have to report such a fate was normally embarrassing and discrediting to the extreme in a shame-honour culture. The Jews of C1 Judaea wanted a victorious Greater David to defeat the Romans and usher in the day of ultimate triumph for Israel, not a crucified suffering servant. In the cases where a movement continued, the near relatives took up the mantle. That is facts 1 – 3 right there. Facts 10 – 12 are notorious. While some (it looks like about 25% of the survey of scholarship, from what I have seen) reject no 4, in fact it is hard to see a message about a resurrection in C1 that did not imply that the body was living again, as Wright discusses here. Facts 5 – 9 are again, pretty clearly grounded.

    So, the challenge is to explain this cluster or important subsets of it, without begging questions and without selective hyperskepticism. The old Deist objections (though sometimes renewed today) have deservedly fallen by the wayside . . .

    (I then went on to tabulate and compare the explanatory power of ten major viewpoints.)

    KF

  77. PD: He Walked, here. (A full book.)

  78. PPS: It seems as well that the AD 79 volcanic outburst was seen as a judgement from Heaven against what was done to the Jews taken captive in the war, targetting the very playground of the wealthy where all too many of the women made into slave-prostitutes and portrayed in shocking images, would have been Jewish captives. I have seen suggestions that this played a material part in lending persuasiveness to gospel preaching.

    P^4S: IIRC, Vespasian and/or Titus seem to have made somewhat cynical allusions to messianic prophecies when we see the citation of how men from the east would bear rule.

  79. KF,

    Thank you. Perhaps years ago all the history arguments were not persuasive to me at the time because I was unconvinced of a personal supernatural realm.

    I don’t see God manifesting himself in miraculous ways and talking and responding as humans do with me. If he were speaking audibly every day from the heavens, I would believe that, and thus the historical arguments seemed flimsy, there is the implicit assumption, “God doesn’t seem eager for us to believe in him, otherwise, He’d be showing up and torching people like PZ Myers every time they blaspheme. He’d come to the Earth like a pillar of fire and when people approached him, he’d talk to them and grant them healing at his discretion or strike them with plagues at his discretion.” And years ago when I pondered the historical argument, I thought to myself, “something is wrong, why would such a great God give us so little to go on?”

    But then, I realized this proverb:

    “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, the glory of kings to search out a matter.”

    Prov 25:2

    And then further, if it is so that we are saved by grace, then the mystery is not why aren’t we all saved, but instead why is anyone saved. I then began to be grateful for what little information I had in hand to proceed with…

    The difficulty in perceiving his powerful hand in all things is by design as well, as if to save a surprise for everyone on Judgement day. So to me, God leaves evidence, but it is concealed! You have to dig it up!

    Thus, in many respects, he makes it quite easy for people not to believe if they’re eyes are closed. Belief comes about by seeking him with all your heart and mind.

    Now, some will say, “Sal, you’re just forcing yourself to believe whatever you want.” I respond, “No, you can only lie to yourself for so long. I can’t persuade myself I have a billion dollars in the bank, and likewise no matter how hard I might try, I can’t disbelieve in a Designer of life.”

    Strange as it may seem, the Nick Matzke’s of the world served as a vicarious means of trying to disbelieve in a designer. I watch how he and others made their case, and each time it only made the case of ID stronger.

    But I would not have come to that point if I simply closed my eyes and said, “there is an explanation for OOL, we just haven’t found it.” And then gone on for the rest of my life in darkness…

    Moreso than anyone at UD, I have defended naturalistic forms of intelligence as a valid mode of ID (namely machine intelligence, cellular non-sentient intelligence), but for the origin of life, God is the best explanation. I can’t prove it to the hardened skeptic, and the claim is outside ID proper.

    Once I could believe in God, once I could see OOL and Darwinism failed, then it was possible to believe in miracles, because if you can accept one, you can accept more. As Lewontin feared, the divine foot had made it through the door finally, and it allowed supernatural explanations.

    Once I could accept that God could make dead chemicals alive, it is completely believable he could raise anything from the dead. Then the account of Christ resurrection became believable.

    If one couldn’t accept that, one would have to concoct an incredible story of how the historical record of Jesus came about.

    It makes sense that Dawkins and Carrier are Mythers. They reject the existence of God and his role in the creation of life. If they believed for one moment that life needed God for life to come from lifeless chemicals, then they might be able to believe God could raise the dead (and dead people’s bodies are lifeless chemicals).

    That’s probably why Josh McDowell’s work never had much impact on me, I first needed to believe in the supernatural God, and further the rarity of His visitations seemed incongruous: “Why does He seem so silent.” But now when I view nature, I realize he may be silent in some dimensions but his voice thunders in other dimensions. The fact that design is somewhat concealed is also by design!

    Many biologists I know are closet pantheists. What God made is so wonderous, it can become an object of worship if one does not believe He made it. A lot of Darwinists are closet worshippers of biological life, they just won’t admit it. I see that clearly now, and those were former non-believers have told me as much. Instead for me, when I ponder Design of life, I kneel down in worship of the Intelligent Designer.

    The reason ID is important to me is as articulated by Bill Dembski, it clears the ground of naturalistic and Darwinian rubbish. It makes possible (it does not necessitate) belief in the Divine. And that is why I got involved in the ID movement, it was my journey to finding truth.

    There is no salvation in Tiktaalik, Charles Darwin, or Carl Sagan, but there is salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ.

  80. KF,

    For what it’s worth, Josephus account of the siege of Jerusalem had a tid bit that made my think for a second I was reading something from the modern day. At first I thought it was an insertion by a commenter, till I realized, this was part of the narrative! There are some things that are not new under the sun.

    Book IV, Chapter IX, Section 10 (Entire)

    The Pollutions of the Transvestite Leaders

    10. And now, as soon as Simon had set his wife free, and recovered her from the zealots, he returned back to the remainders of Idumea, and driving the nation all before him from all quarters, he compelled a great number of them to retire to Jerusalem; he followed them himself also to the city, and encompassed the wall all round again; and when he lighted upon any laborers that were coming thither out of the country, he slew them. Now this Simon, who was without the wall, was a greater terror to the people than the Romans themselves, as were the zealots who were within it more heavy upon them than both of the other; and during this time did the mischievous contrivances and courage [of John] corrupt the body of the Galileans; for these Galileans had advanced this John, and made him very potent, who made them suitable requital from the authority he had obtained by their means; for he permitted them to do all things that any of them desired to do, while their inclination to plunder was insatiable, as was their zeal in searching the houses of the rich; and for the murdering of the men, and abusing of the women, it was sport to them. They also devoured what spoils they had taken, together with their blood, and indulged themselves in feminine wantonness, without any disturbance, till they were satiated therewith; while they decked their hair, and put on women’s garments, and were besmeared over with ointments; and that they might appear very comely, they had paints under their eyes, and imitated not only the ornaments, but also the lusts of women, and were guilty of such intolerable uncleanness, that they invented unlawful pleasures of that sort. And thus did they roll themselves up and down the city, as in a brothel-house, and defiled it entirely with their impure actions; nay, while their faces looked like the faces of women, they killed with their right hands; and when their gait was effeminate, they presently attacked men, and became warriors, and drew their swords from under their finely dyed cloaks, and ran every body through whom they alighted upon. However, Simon waited for such as ran away from John, and was the more bloody of the two; and he who had escaped the tyrant within the wall was destroyed by the other that lay before the gates, so that all attempts of flying and deserting to the Romans were cut off, as to those that had a mind so to do.

    http://www.bible.ca/pre-flaviu.....filled.htm

    What are the Mythers going to say now, that this was some forgery by anti LGBT Christians?

  81. kairofocus
    The first principle about the remote past of origins is that we have no direct observational access to it.

    Agreed. As demonstrated with plate tectonics, however, the lack of direct observational access to past events doesn’t prevent researchers from formulating useful scientific theories about natural processes like mountain formation.

    it is not promising that in a significantly technical context, you conflated digital with binary digital.

    With apologies to DeForest Kelley, I’m a zoologist, not an information theorist. :) However, I do know that Gitt’s In the Beginning Was Information was criticized by most of his peers, not only for being grounded outside what’s observed in the natural world, but also for making false comparisons between algorithms and amino acid sequences (never mind that natural selection is capable of countering any proposed entropy associated with the transfer of genetic information).

    It’s crucial to understand that no amount of discussion about digital information, on the Internet or anyplace else, can stop paleontologists from using evolutionary theory to locate transitional fossils anywhere in deep time, anywhere on the planet. Nor can it stop geneticists from using the concept of descent with modification to make and confirm predictions about chromosomal makeup. And that’s what makes it a useful scientific theory, unlike design theory, which in biology is limited to detecting apparent design and claiming, “This feature looks designed.”

    Another crucial point: According to design theory, chimeras like feathered fish and furry frogs are as likely to have existed as warm-blooded reptiles, or whales with legs. The theory of evolution, OTOH, allows us not only to successfully predict the existence of previously unknown organisms, like Tiktaalik, but also to preclude the existence of, say, mammals with gills, no matter the degree to which dolphins and killer whales might have benefitted from such an intelligent design.

    Your replies tend to ignore the demonstrated usefulness of evolution as a scientific theory.

    For scientific materialists, the materialism comes first; the science comes thereafter. … Darwinism is based on an a priori commitment to materialism

    Please contrast this statement with the mindset of people like Ken Haam, who don’t even try to hide their bias that the Bible always comes first, and that science can only follow afterward.

    *sigh*

    Since its inception, science has unabashedly utilized your definition of materialism to make predictions about natural phenomena. Newton might have been inspired by his god, but the deity fails to make an appearance in even a single equation. Supernatural explanations do not allow us to make meaningful and testable predictions about, well, anything. That’s why they’re not introduced into the scientific method.

    Querius
    Darwinism (and ID for that matter) is a paradigm, and serves as a way of rationalizing the research we do using the scientific method.

    No, evolution is a falsifiable scientific theory, built upon 150+ years of observations, data-quantifying, hypothesizing, testing, reformulating, retesting, and doing it all over and over and over again. If you do not understand why the scientific community recognizes the legitimacy of evolutionary research, I recommend re-reading my posts in this thread. Or checking out a book from the library.

    In my analogy, the glass pieces can be *tightly* rejoined into any number of mosaic pictures, whatever you want to see.

    This statement demonstrates the “one sees descent where another sees design” fallacy, which I addressed in a previous post. Essentially, examples like the differing locomotive, respiratory, and reproductive designs of aquatic animals are far greater evidence of descent than design. Additionally, evolution provides useful answers to related questions, while design theory does not.

    Dr. Ohno, coming from a Darwinist paradigm assumed that non-coding DNA must be “fossil” genes, non-functional leftovers from evolution.

    Dr. Ohno made a prediction that couldn’t withstand experimental tests showing that some non-coding DNA actually provides biological functionality. This is the scientific method in action. Am I missing something scandalous?

    Scientific models are not supposed to be like faith in God, literature, art, music, or romantic dating in which the scientific method is really not the right approach. Scientific models are expected to be overturned when enough information has been assimilated.

    This is another meme that continually fascinates me: The Biblical literalist as scientific champion, railing against a corrupt, monolithic establishment that’s allegedly trying to suppress the Truth. Fascinating.

    If you believe that acknowledging the stunningly complex organelles and chemical cycles in cells as an “argument from incredulity,” what would you call a claim that an explosion in a guitar factory produced a beautiful grand piano, or an earthquake produced a functioning computer?

    I’d call that a really poor analogy. No scientist claims that millions of cells just came together instantly in some sort of molecues-to-man accident, or however long it takes for a cyclone to take out a piano factory. Also, computers and instruments aren’t self-replicating organisms.

    could it be true that it’s both convenient and necessary to view yourself as a *Victim* to rationalize your desire for complete personal autonomy and non-accountability?

    Anything’s possible, I suppose, even if no supporting evidence is available. However, your specific assertion represents both a non sequitur and a logical fallacy, as the evidence for Natural Selection stands independently of any motivations ascribed to someone trying to explain it.

    Why not be truthful and drop the crutches of rationalization? Just do what you want to do. No apologies, no excuses.

    This is yet another meme that I fail to understand. Is it implying that atheists deny your version of the Objective Truth mainly because they don’t want to feel guilty for living a lifestyle of which you disapprove? If so, it’s akin to me crediting someone’s morally appropriate behavior to wanting a gift from Santa. People who hold this view toward atheists and agnostics might benefit from genuinely befriending one of them.

    Re: the last few posts in this thread… I don’t believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and I doubt whether he ever called himself that, but the evidence is sufficient for me to conclude that Jesus of Nazareth was a historical figure.

  82. Wow, PasserBy11, are you ever defensive! Even for a zoologist. ;-)

    No, Darwinism is not falsifiable theory, much less a fact. It’s an unfalsifiable paradigm just the same as ID. If Darwinism was a theory, the discovery of numerous “living fossils” that *magically* escaped mutation and survival of the fittest would be enough to falsify the theory. But it obviously hasn’t, so it’s simply not.

    You accused me of using an “argument from incredulity.” I gave you two examples and asked you whether these too are arguments from incredulity, to which you replied with the non sequitur that my examples are poor analogies and don’t apply because instruments and computers don’t reproduce. Huh??? My question to you was about your conception of an “argument from incredulity.” It had nothing to do with cells, what scientists believe, or reproduction.

    Additionally, evolution provides useful answers to related questions, while design theory does not.

    Oh, you mean like Dr. Ohno’s conclusion about “junk DNA”? I noticed that you didn’t answer my question regarding “junk DNA.” I’ll repeat it for your convenience so we can see whether you’re willing to answer it:

    Now, pragmatically speaking, which paradigm hindered scientific progress in this example? Darwinism or ID?

    Hint: The answer will start out with either a yes or a no.

    Then, I asked

    Why not be truthful and drop the crutches of rationalization? Just do what you want to do. No apologies, no excuses.

    To which you answered

    This is yet another meme that I fail to understand. Is it implying that atheists deny your version of the Objective Truth mainly because they don’t want to feel guilty for living a lifestyle of which you disapprove?

    This is not a meme. It’s a question that I’m asking you.

    Your response borders on irrational hysteria. I really don’t care whether you call yourself an atheist, what lifestyle you’ve chosen, or whether or not you believe that Jesus lived or called himself the Son of God. I simply suggested that you be honest with yourself. Your defensive flailing in response tells me a lot.

    -Q

  83. A compelling dramatization can be found of the siege of Jerusalem here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y37rCFAUoMU

    Wow. The ancient world came alive with that dramatization, and it makes the world of the New Testament and Early Christian church so real. Even though there was not one mention of Christians, it highlighted the saga of Josephus, and explains why his writings carry such incredible weight.

    What I got out of it is that when Josephus would write about James the Brother of Jesus, or John the Baptist, that tells me the level of circulation of the NT stories.

    For example John the Baptist died around AD 30, and the events were still so ingrained in the culture that Josephus found it worthy of reporting even 60 years after the fact, long after the siege of Jerusalem. In light of the awful trauma of the events of Josephus life, why would he even take notice of John the Baptist unless there was something about the account that had made an incredible impression on the culture. Think about it, most Christians hardly remember John the Baptist, and when Christians write about whatever they write, he may end up getting less mention by them then by Josephus.

    Thus, the Mythers seem more and more like prejudiced kooks the more I study the issue.

    If the story of John the Baptist was widely circulated, how much more the prophecy of Jesus that “not one stone of the temple will be left upon another”. As jewish slaves spread through the Empire, they were a witness to Christian communities of Christ’s prophecy. The Jewish slaves would relate the horrors, and the Christians would learn to fear Christ. In the New Testament church, I suspect it would be unthinkable to them to depict Christ like he is depicted to day like some bud to hang out with, but rather someone with the power of life and death and whom one would face on Judgment day.

    I can only imagine the effect also of the returning Roman legions and Titus’ triumph. Word will get around of Jesus prophecy and the theme of God’s judgment of Jersusalem because they did not receive God’s Son.

    From
    http://www.preteristarchive.co.....light.html

    Eusebius (325)
    “But the people of the church in Jerusalem had been commanded by a revelation, vouchsafed to approved men there before the war, to leave the city and to dwell in a certain town of Perea called Pella. ” (History of the Church 3:5:3)

    “The whole body, however, of the church at Jerusalem, having been commanded by a divine revelation, given to men of approved piety there before the war, removed from the city, and dwelt at a certain town beyond the Jordan, called Pella. Here those that believed in Christ, having removed from Jerusalem, as if holy men had entirely abandoned the royal city itself, and the whole land of Judea; the divine justice, for their crimes against Christ and his apostles finally overtook them, totally destroying the whole generation of these evildoers form the earth. (Eusebius, 3:5.)

    “After all those who believed in Christ had generally come to live in Perea, in a city called Pella of the Decapolis of which it is written in the Gospel and which is situated in the neighborhood of the region of Batanaea and Basanitis, Ebion’s preaching originated here after they had moved to this place and had lived there.” (Panarion 30:2)

    “For when the city was about to be captured and sacked by the Romans, all the disciples were warned beforehand by an angel to remove from the city, doomed as it was to utter destruction. On migrating from it they settled at Pella, the town already indicated, across the Jordan. It is said to belong to Decapolis (de Mens. et Pond., 15).

    “Now this sect of Nazarenes exists in Beroea in Coele-Syria, and in Decapolis in the district of Pella, and in Kochaba of Basanitis– called Kohoraba in Hebrew. For thence it originated after the migration from Jerusalem of all the disciples who resided at Pella, Christ having instructed them to leave Jerusalem and retire from it on account of the impending siege. It was owing to this counsel that they went away, as I have said, to reside for a while at Pella” (Haer 29:7).

    “For when all who believed in Christ had settled down about that time in Peraea, the majority of the emigrants taking up their abode at Pella, a town belonging to the Decapolis mentioned in the Gospel, near Batanea and the district to Basanitis, Ebion got his excuse and opportunity. At first their abode was Kochaba, a village in the district of Carnaim, Arnem, and Astaroth, in the region of Basanitis, according to the information we have received. But I have spoken, in other connections and with regard to other heresies, of the locality of Kochaba and Arabia (Haer 30:2)… “[The Ebionites] spring for the most part from Batanea … and Paneas, as well as from Moabitis and Cochaba in Basanitis on the other side of Adraa” (Haer 30:18).

    a related point of interest, this claim by Eusebius may have some verification because Christian graves were found in Pella that had radiocarbon dates:

    In the West Church in 1967, Smith discovered a sarcophagus that may originally have been the last resting-place of one of these early Christians. The testimony of the burial is not entirely clear, since no inscription remains. Radiocarbon dating obtained soon after the find date the bones to a slightly later period. Evidences in the sarcophagus, however, identified the remains as that of a Christian. The contributions of archaeological activity at Pella are of value as we strive to understand the New Testament. The layout of the civic complex and the ruins of the buildings enable us to have a fuller picture of the nature of the community in the first century. These same contributions reveal striking parallels with the evidence recovered at Abila.”

    Finally, a compelling excerpt by Josephus:

    1. And thus was Jerusalem taken, in the second year of the reign of Vespasian, on the eight day of the month Gorpieus [Elu]. It had been taken five* times before, though this was the second time of its desolation ; for Shishak, the king of Egypt, and after his Antiochus, and after him Pompey, and after him Sosius and Herod took the city, but still preserved it; but before all these, the king of Babylon conquered it, and made it desolate, one thousand four hundred and sixty-eight years and six months after it was built. But he who first built it was a potent man among the Canaanites, and is in our tongue called [Melchizedek] the Righteous King, for such he really was; on which account he was [there] the first priest of God, and first built a temple, [there,] and called the city Jerusalem, which was formerly called Salem. However, David, the king of the Jews, ejected the Canaanites, and settled his own people therein. It was demolished entirely by the Babylonians, four hundred and seventy-seven years and six months after him. And from king David, who was the first of the Jews who reigned therein, to this destruction under Titus, were one thousand one hundred and seventy-nine years; but from its first building, till this last destruction, were two thousand one hundred and seventy-seven years; yet hath not its great antiquity, nor its vast riches, nor the diffusion of its nation over all the habitable earth, nor the greatness of the veneration paid to it on a religious account, been sufficient to preserve it from being destroyed. And thus ended the siege of Jerusalem

  84. Sal.

    Thanks for linking the video dramatization. Watched it just now. Indeed, it brings some history to life.

    The only thing I think I have question about at the moment is why the it was depicted, at least it seems it was depicted, that the Romans took the Ark from the temple. As far as I have read, that simply isn’t known to be the case.

    I regularly keep track developments regarding the rebuilding of the temple. And it seems to me, that the Jews don’t show any concern about where the ark will come form… it’s like they know where it is and are simply waiting for the go ahead to rebuild.

    BTW: As far as I’ve found, this site is about as cutting edge as you can find online regarding temple mount progress:
    http://www.templeinstitute.org/

    On the ark:
    https://www.templeinstitute.org/ark_of_the_covenant.htm

  85. excerpt:
    “Tradition records that even as King Solomon built the First Temple, he already knew, through Divine inspiration, that eventually it would be destroyed. Thus Solomon, the wisest of all men, oversaw the construction of a vast system of labyrinths, mazes, chambers and corridors underneath the Temple Mount complex. He commanded that a special place be built in the bowels of the earth, where the sacred vessels of the Temple could be hidden in case of approaching danger. Midrashic tradition teaches that King Josiah of Israel, who lived about forty years before the destruction of the First Temple, commanded the Levites to hide the Ark, together with the original menorah and several other items*, in this secret hiding place which Solomon had prepared.

    This location is recorded in our sources, and today, there are those who know exactly where this chamber is. And we know that the ark is still there, undisturbed, and waiting for the day when it will be revealed. An attempt was made some few years ago to excavate towards the direction of this chamber. This resulted in widespread Moslem unrest and rioting. They stand a great deal to lose if the Ark is revealed – for it will prove to the whole world that there really was a Holy Temple, and thus, that the Jews really do have a claim to the Temple Mount. (The official position of the Islamic Wakf, the body that governs over the Temple Mount, is that there never was a Holy Temple, and that the Jews have no rights whatsoever to the place).”

  86. JGuy,

    I can tell you where the Ark of the Covenant is, it went home to be with the Lord. :-)

    Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant.

    Rev 11:19

    Even if we find the original physical ark, that verse tells me that’s not the one that really counts. Besides, there is a new covenant, a new testament.

    Sal

  87. Just to be clear, I see the rebuilding of the temple as relevant only in the sense of prophecy being fulfilled. That is, it’s important that the prophecy being fulfilled further confirms what Christians know or believe to be true. I don’t see it as as an act relevant to Christian’s spiritual state. Since Christians are saved by Messiah, being clothed in Messiah’s righteousness, that’s all that matters in terms of spiritual security. It’s just a matter of time from there before either being taken to be with the Lord, or dying and going to be with the Lord.

    I simply enjoy keeping track of Israel and temple mount news because it’s a thermometer of sorts of the prophetic times. It get’s pretty exciting looking back in history and seeing the trajectory of things over the centuries, the last several decades… and especially where things are now. It’s also a kind of wake-up call.

    On the location of the historic ark. It seems the verse quoted (Rev 11:19), if it is referring to the same historic ark, tells us at the least where that ark will be seen. You could be right on where it is now, but it seems that leaves that it may still be on earth. Also, there is a question of whether that verse is even referring to the actual historic ark, since the verse is in metaphor rich Revelations, couldn’t the ark be a metaphor for Christ? Afterall, most of the bible points to Christ.. often times as types (e.g. Abraham and Isaac), Noah’s ark was a type of Christ…etc.. I’m not sure, yet.

    Thanks for the verse.

    By the way, I noticed that verse is in the vicinity of a specific mention of a earthquake killing 7000 people.

    Rev 11:13 “And in that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell; seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.”

    I didn’t carefully read the context…but makes me wonder if that could it be related to this possibility?:
    http://www.israelnationalnews......vbZ9fldV8E

    Just saying.

  88. I respect that people who have done dissections have sometimes become atheists as a result, no less Michael Denton who was unwitting grand father of the modern ID movement. He has now become sympathetic to ID and is no longer an atheist but an agnostic, but the dissection room experience was powerful because prior to those days he was an Old Earth Creationist.

    However, morphology poses other problems, and I really like this essay:

    Problems Characterizing the Protostome Deuterostome Ancestor

    what ever small feel good moment Tiktaalik may yield, I find it a drop in the ocean compared to that essay by 2 PhD scientists with background in appropriate disciplines (Marcus Ross has PhD in a Paleontology field).

  89. Hi, Querius -
    If you perceive the presentation of objective evidence as tantamount to “defensive flailing,” the scales might never fall from your eyes.

    Which is okay, at least by me. People are free IMO to believe whatever they want about anything they want, so long as the actions based on those beliefs affect only the believers themselves and other consenting adults. As John Lennon once sang, “Whatever gets you through the night is all right.” I’m participating in this discussion simply because I replied to a question about the role that evolutionary science played in my personal decision to leave Christianity.

    Darwinism is not falsifiable theory

    This is another meme that should be retired, as the Cambrian-layer discovery of an organism as complex as, say, a human would easily falsify many of the predictions made by our current understanding of evolution.

    It’s an unfalsifiable paradigm

    Again… 150+ years of observations, data-quantifying, hypothesizing, testing, reformulating, and retesting have established Natural Selection as an accepted scientific theory by any definition of the phrase. Natural Selection and the related ideas of evolution and common descent aren’t reduced to “paradigms” just because someone on the Internet, or maybe his pastor, says so.

    If Darwinism was a theory, the discovery of numerous “living fossils” that *magically* escaped mutation and survival of the fittest would be enough to falsify the theory.

    So-called “living fossils” pose no problem for Natural Selection. For starters, such organisms *have* continued to evolve, even if it’s not readily identifiable from a morphological standpoint, adapting at least physiologically to fluctuating temperatures, levels of O3 and CO2, etc. And unlike Special Creation, no magic is involved. Additionally, environments that undergo barely any change are unlikely to drive much evolution in the organisms that live there. Further, it’s possible that some mechanism exists for essentially locking a genome in place.

    You accused me of using an “argument from incredulity.” I gave you two examples and asked you whether these too are arguments from incredulity, to which you replied with the non sequitur that my examples are poor analogies and don’t apply because instruments and computers don’t reproduce.

    The deconstruction of your analogy was tripartite in nature:

    * No scientist claims that millions of cells just came together instantly in some sort of molecules-to-man accident.
    * No scientist claims that millions of cells just came together in the amount of time it takes for a cyclone to take out a banjo factory.
    * Most organisms come into existence because one or more parent organisms make copies of themselves — copies that are similar, or almost identical in some cases, but usually are at least slightly different from the original. Obviously, this process does not describe the origin of computers and instruments, which we know can only be manufactured into existence.

    It is because of all of these reasons that the explosion-in-a-manufacturing-plant analogy is considered a poor one.

    I noticed that you didn’t answer my question regarding “junk DNA.” I’ll repeat it for your convenience so we can see whether you’re willing to answer it: Now, pragmatically speaking, which paradigm hindered scientific progress in this example? Darwinism or ID? Hint: The answer will start out with either a yes or a no.

    When you ask “Which paradigm hindered scientific progress in this example? Darwinism or ID?” the answer in most people’s opinion might be either “Darwinism” (sic) or “ID”, not “yes” or “no”… so I’m not really sure what answer you think you’ve cornered me into giving. Regardless, the formulation and rigorous testing of hypotheses is what drives the scientific method; often, more information is uncovered when a prediction *doesn’t* come true than when it *does*.

    IOW… Falsified predictions are very much a part of what you call “scientific progress.” Dr. Ohno made a prediction based on all available observations, but it didn’t withstand experimental tests. New evidence resulting from those tests — i.e., that some non-coding DNA actually provides biological functionality — was then incorporated into the existing theory so that revised hypotheses could be formulated and retested.

    As stated previously, this is the scientific method in action; it’s how science works. Heliocentrism wasn’t abandoned because the original theory incorrectly predicted perfectly circular orbits, illustrating that any prediction based on quantifiable evidence has the potential to help shape a scientific theory, even if — sometimes especially if — the prediction turns out to be wrong. Because science has never been about getting something right on the first guess, it’s difficult to comprehend your insistence that Ohno’s prediction hindered scientific progress.

    Then, I asked “Why not be truthful and drop the crutches of rationalization? Just do what you want to do. No apologies, no excuses.” … It’s a question that I’m asking you.

    Your question appears grounded in the “atheists and evolutionists reject the notion of God because they don’t want to live the life that He wants them to” meme. If so, I stand by my original response: This implication is akin to crediting someone’s morally appropriate behavior to wanting a gift from Santa. If that reply “borders on irrational hysteria,” then so be it.

    @scordova:

    Thank you for the link. Urbilateria isn’t my specialty, but Cambrian origins are really interesting.

    what ever small feel good moment Tiktaalik may yield, I find it a drop in the ocean compared to that essay by 2 PhD scientists

    Except that Tiktaalik isn’t a standalone moment. Paleontologists have also recovered numerous fossils of species that represent transitions from land to air, land to sea, trees to plains, etc. Tiktaalik remains exceptional, of course, because — like feathered dinosaurs and, outside the scope of paleontology, human chromosome 2 — its existence was predicted before it was found. Further, evolution has seen success beyond predicting the existence of unknown animals across deep time; it has also been highly effective in identifying chimeras that we won’t ever discover, no matter how much sense they make from a design standpoint, like humpbacks with gills.

    The odds of observing all of these data points, and many more, sans common descent are IMO higher than those commonly cited for the self-assembly of a strand of proteins vaguely resembling RNA. And I’m not jesting when I say that.

    Last Monday, when I posted the reply that originated this thread, I committed myself to sticking around for seven days to try to answer any questions that anyone might have. I’m thankful to everyone who contributed to what I learned during these exchanges. That week is now up, though, so I’m returning to my status as an occasional visitor after this post.

    Personally, I don’t have any issue with design theory, per se, or have any objections to its application, as long as it remains free of the supernatural explanations that halt scientific inquiry. If we conclude that Zeus hurls lightning bolts at his whim, we can’t predict the conditions under which they might strike the Earth. Similarly, if we conclude that Yahweh is responsible for painting rainbows, we can’t predict that someone should stand between the sun and the rain to view one of them. There always remains the possibility, however slight, that Yahweh is consciously manipulating water and sunlight every time it rains, anywhere on the planet, but with this particular explanation, the extra layer — the theory of why or how it happens — doesn’t allow us to make useful predictions about creating miniature rainbows of our own with flashlights and garden hoses.

    If someone encounters a potato chip that looks like Abraham Lincoln, what scientific test(s) for design can he employ? I’m not alleging that such tests don’t exist, or that they’re impossible to devise, but the organic potato may or may not have been designed, even without interference from Monsanto. At some point, an intelligent agent probably sliced, seasoned, and fried the potato, but it’s unclear whether the burns that lend contrast to Abe’s beard are deliberate or accidental. And is the uncanny resemblance to a genuine top-hat the result of erosion that occurred naturally during shipping, or did an intelligent agent trim away with tiny scissors? It might be fascinating to watch science try to answer questions like these. Would the test results differ if the chip were evaluated by someone on this board, as opposed to an Inuk equally unfamiliar with potatoes and American history?

    Re: the various permutations of design theory… With theistic evolution and alien engineering, the quest for knowledge ultimately leads to natural explanations for natural processes, despite the designer’s identity. IMO, they have the potential to be more useful scientifically than purely supernatural explanations for explaining the diversity of life on Earth.

    For the Biblical literalists: If I find out when I die that I’ve been wrong, and that there really is an omniscient, supernatural Designer preparing to judge me, he and I will be cool.

    Until then, I’m just one of six billion prehistoric brains tying to co-exist peacefully in this space-age world of ours… :)

  90. PasserBy11,

    Thank you so very much for your efforts to dialogue. It was not really my intent that this discussion every turn into an adversarial debate, but rather an exchange of views and a hope myself and others will LEARN from what you said. As discussions go, though there was some polemics it was much tamer than what I’ve usually seen on the net, and I thank all participants for their restraint and civility.

    I took this discussion as an opportunity to expound my personal journey because I somewhat wondered how we ended in such opposite destinations, and I needed to recount, perhaps to myself (not just others) how it was that I came to an opposite conclusion…

    Upon reflection I think the cause of why we came to opposite conclusions is rooted in the fact that the Christian and creationist faith are not obvious to everyday life at all, that most of the time, everyday life operates in ways that make God and Jesus invisible to natural perception, and really in many ways at extreme variance with natural perception.

    This invisibility is often interpreted as non-existence or irrelevance, and hence I’ve usually taken exception to Christians saying God and the Christian faith are obvious and people only disbelieve because they choose to. I do not agree with that, I consider it a miracle that anyone can believe because it is so at variance with the natural mind…

    Thank you again sincerely for give us so much access to the details of your journey. You did not have to do that, but I hope people will be better for having heard it, I know I was better for having heard it.

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