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Interactions of Tom Lawson with Ross Olson
Based on Tom's Website "Reason Vs Faith"

For Version 1.0 of "Reason vs Faith" on which this discussion was based, click HERE. For the new, mutated and, of course, improved version, click HERE.

A Comprehensive Attempt To Critique The Idea That Reason And Faith Are Incompatible
  • Ross Olson 's First Response to Tom's Website 9/24/2000
  • Tom Lawson's Rebuttal 9/29/2000
  • Ross Olson's Response to Tom Lawson's Rebuttal 10/6/2000
  • Tom Lawson's Second Rebuttal 10/9/2000
  • Ross Olson's Final Response to Tom Lawson, 10/15/2000
  • Tom Lawson's Third Rebuttal 10/21/2000
  • Ross Olson's "One More Thing" to Tom Lawson
  • Tom Lawson was asked to respond to this and said that he has already answered everything and the reader can judge.

    So reader! [Hello... Hello? Is anybody out there?] Please go ahead and judge.

  • October 15, 2000

    Dear Tom,

    You mention that our discussion is spread very thin over a large area. I agree, but I think it is partly because you are pretty far up the creek - and a paddle doesn't help much in the middle of the Okefenokee Swamp. (Don't forget Pogo's memorable statement, "We have met the enemy and he is us.")

    Seriously, I do appreciate your gentlemanly approach to disagreement. I have just had a long discussion with another fellow who can't seem to disagree without being disagreeable, and who seems to go along with the principle, "When in doubt, shout!" And semi-seriously, I do appreciate your willingness to air your arguments for all to see. What you are revealing is very instructive - perhaps more than you will ever know.

    Again you misunderstand faith. You have made a decision based on what you think is the best evidence and you live your life in view of it. I do the same. We are both living by faith that we are right. God wants us to use our minds to know He is there, see the evidence for the veracity of His revelation and then live in obedience to Him.

    You have eliminated a whole set of possible answers ahead of time. It is like saying, "There is no number 4, so 2 + 2 must be something else." You refuse to admit that it is not logical or scientific to close yourself to certain types of answers. And you cannot see that by never giving up in your wait for a materialistic answer, you have eliminated the possibility of ever being corrected if you ARE wrong.

    In your view of determinism and free will, you are living on two levels. You say you are completely comfortable with a "molecules in motion" universe, but think that just means that there are pre-existing factors operating in your decisions, like experience and desires. You still cannot see that to be a cog in a cosmic clock means that every word and every thought as well as every action is completely out of your control. Yet you live as if there are changes that can be made and things that can be accomplished.

    And either you misunderstand or deliberately obscure the Biblical concept I have been trying to explain that God made us with choices. He does not control us but knows what we will choose. We are really free to accept His claim over us and voluntarily obey Him or reject Him and go our own way. He knew that you would reject Him - at least so far. Maybe He also knows that you will have a dramatic change of heart and come back -- as the much loved prodigal -- to His arms. I don't know the future so I continue to talk, pray and weep.

    You claim to have hope for a better world, through improvements of technology, medicine, politics, economics and peace making. And that is wonderful. I won't even mention any more that in a universe that is just molecules in motion, no one molecule can decide to go a different direction. But the point here is this, you have no message of comfort or hope to the one for whom all this has failed. What of the child for whom we do not yet have a cure, or the person for whom justice will not come or the one who is persecuted for doing right?

    In claiming that we cannot call living things designed because we only know of human design, you forget that in computer technology we now have very good models of information storage and retrieval systems. In fact we can see that DNA is incredibly sophisticated and miniaturized, a technology like ours but far beyond our capabilities. But even Darwin noted the similarities of the eye to man-made cameras.

    In speaking against a universe that is running down, you claim that although stars are dying, others are being born. Although the birth of new stars and stellar evolution is very speculative, even your most faithful comrades see that with each generation of stars the useful energy in the universe would be further depleted. Finally entropy would be maximized, disorder complete, and the whole thing would be over. You seem curiously uninterested in the origin and destiny of the universe (but, of course, you don't think it will end on your watch - although I think it might!)

    In discussing the similarity of apes and man, after I claim that God might have made the appearance and genetics similar, you counter that there are the same "pseudo genes." I'm glad you mentioned that. "Pseudo-genes" and "junk DNA" are the "vestigial organs" of the present era. The arrogance is to say, "Since I don't know what it is for, it must be useless." Remember that all the "vestigial organs," once so confidently proclaimed to be remnants of an evolutionary past, now have known functions.

    You cannot really comment on the Prayer study, so you try to just bad mouth it and speculate on how it was done, then criticize your speculative scenario. That's not science. If Harvard is conducting a similar study, I would be very interested in how it comes out.

    Your comments on morality indicate that on the one hand you cannot answer my criticism: that even though reciprocal kindness does the most for the masses, one despot can destroy it all the good. But it also betrays your anger at God, something I have told you I at least partially understand because of your childhood experience of having your father die when you were only 5 years old. I do not know either why it happened, but I do know that God loves you and your father. And if you will give God a chance, He will show you that love in a way you cannot mistake.

    You doubt that a person can be trapped in a non-functioning body and brain and still be a person? It is not as simple as you try to make it. People have awakened after prolonged comas. And a person under deep anesthesia is clearly still the same person.

    In dealing with abortion, you really ought to admit that your analogy of a fertilized ovum (zygote) with all the other POSSIBLE zygotes that MIGHT have resulted was a poor illustration of your point. I think I maybe understand how you got there, because in your mind a zygote is only a POTENTIAL person, needing to grow sufficient brain connections to meet your definition of a person. (In this view a newborn also does not qualify, making the partial birth abortion debate another slam-dunk.) Yet, in truth, the zygote is an actual human being and the potential is for the unfolding of all that is locked in that micro-miniature package. A sperm or an egg are not viable for more than a few days unless they unite, and a potential zygote is not real. In fact it is a figment of your imagination.

    It is not hateful to tell a mother of both the reality of her baby and devastation she will most likely feel if she destroys it. It is rather demeaning to the woman to hide these facts, as most abortion clinics do, and assume that they, the professionals know better and therefore informed consent is unnecessary.

    Whether or not the scientist studying peppered moths intended to deceive the public about where the moths rested and thus why a change in color might be adaptive, the fact is that the story DID get spread, perhaps by fawning media personnel or relatively uniformed "popularizers." It illustrates how the evolutionary myths spread and take on the most certainty farthest from the actual research.

    Your answer to the population question indicates that you STILL don't want to do the math. You said that the population could not have reached city size on the Biblical timetable. I pointed out that at reasonable growth rates of 2 - 4% a year it was not a problem. You counter with data that the population of the earth doubled over 1600 years, but you fail to note that by your own data (a population of 508 million in 1650) it increased 10 times in the next 350 years. That is a growth rate of 0.8% per year. And, indeed, some countries are growing much faster than that today.

    Do you really think that in an empty world, Noah's sons and daughters-in-law would have waited 1600 years to have children (in order to have the population doubling over 1600 years that you imply?)? A 4% growth rate is very conservative in any scenario where children are an economic asset, unlike the present developed world.

    But anyway, the unrealistic numbers you bring to the table are still a problem for an ancient age or man. If the population doubled every 1600 years for 19 doublings, one person (ignore the lack of a mate) would have reached a population of 1 million. How many years is that? 30,000! In another 30,000 years, the 1 million, by the miracle of compound interest, would reach 1 trillion. That happened in 60,000 years using a very very low estimate of population growth. So whose math is fuzzy?

    Why is John described as the disciple Jesus loved? For the last time, because Jesus loved him, not because they had sex! It is really sad how jaded your view of the world has become. The Greek language has several words for love including eros for erotic love, phileo for a fond personal attachment and agape for a selfless sacrificial love. Language has devolved since the time of the Greeks with loss of distinctions and blurring of meanings. The word used in John 13:38 is agape.

    As far as what generation will not pass away until all things are completed in Matthew 24, it seems clear that Jesus is talking about the generation that sees the signs He is describing. Of course He is talking to the disciples because they are the ones who will convey to all future believers -- by voice and pen -- the things that He has said.

    In your closing comments, of course I could chide you for a scientific error ( "…that the sun will rise…"), but again I weep at your blindness. You are firm in excluding the evidence that would rescue you from the hell you have prepared for yourself. I am firm in following the Lord who loves me and gave Himself for me and has proved faithful all these years. Perhaps you will be gone when I begin to truly suffer for that firmness, but the stage is being set for systematic persecution of Christians, by the open-minded humanists in whom you place your trust for creating a better world.

    Increasingly, those who reveal the devastation of abortion and those who speak the truth about homosexuality are targeted for punishment as hateful and bigoted. Those who know the King of Kings and Lord of Lords will not be afraid, and their reaction will confirm to the tender hearted among those who see it that these faithful have touched what is real and lasting. So by their suffering even more will turn to the One Whose victory is already assured.

    And before Him every knee shall bow and every tongue confess the Jesus is Lord. For some it will be in grateful love and praise. For some it will be through gritted teeth and with anger mixed with regret. The annihilation you expected will not come and the magnitude of your error will hit you - too late.

    Love and sadness,



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