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 6, 2000
Thank you for putting your ideas out for the whole world to see. I hope somebody is watching because this is all very instructive. Your unwavering confidence contrasts sharply with your blatant fallacies.
YOUR COMMENTS (INDENTED):
Ah! You asked about the background color of my pages! In my worldview, everything has an explanation...
MY COMMENTS (TO MARGIN): In mine everything has an explanation too, often (although not always) a result of conscious intelligent choices. In yours, it is determined by past events. The antecedent determinates may be remote and even obscure, perhaps, but ultimately you had no choice. So, I forgive you for earth tones that look like swamp monster habitat.
Faith that our food is not poisonous is quite different from faith in the "existence and nature of God."
No, it is not really different. You think so because you have misdefined faith.
Carl Sagan said, "Belief in the absence of compelling evidence is called faith."
How does Carl Sagan know what faith is? I would put it like this. "Faith is a commitment, based on the best evidence, which motivates me to act in a certain way."
You believe that your breakfast food is not deadly, so you eat it. Carl Sagan believed that there is intelligent life in space and asked for funds to find it and communicate with it. You believe there is no god and live accordingly. I believe the best evidence indicates that there IS a God and I act on that conclusion. So the question is not who is using faith but what is the best evidence.
Your belief, my unbelief, and all our decisions are strictly determined by natural laws. There is not, as you say, a random element in our decisions -- precisely the opposite.
You see your brain as a machine that acts according to past experience and present conditions. You also see evolution proceeding by mutations which are random changes in copying. Therefore if there are not random changes then there would be no evolution and if there ARE random changes, then they occur in the transmission of memories.
The motion of particles, while following laws, is also random -- meaning not according to a plan. For example, at the surface of a glass of water, the next molecule to break the surface tension and escape into the air could theoretically be predicted from analysis of all the vector forces acting on all the molecules. (I am not a mathematician but I would guess that the effort would strain the world's computing capacity.) But at the same time, the pattern would be random -- they don't line up and take turns -- and would occur in a random mixture of sites, with random directions and velocities.
And we would NOT expect them to form a cloud above the glass spelling "H2O." That is an occurrence that would make most people suspect that some sort of intelligent input had influenced the pattern.
Nor have I claimed that belief cannot be changed, only that the causes of any such change are also strictly determined by natural laws. What exactly do you mean by "free will"? Free of what? Free of your plans or goals? Free of what you believe to be just or compassionate? Free of everything you have experienced in life? Free of any causes?
I mean that a person could have done something differently. Do you think that you could really have written a different rebuttal? Or do you think that whatever you do is completely predetermined? As you can guess, that leads to problems that spill over into another of your categories, that of morality.
If a person could not help doing what they do, then the criminal is not responsible. And the ones that act altruistically deserve no credit. How do you change one into the other? You have to reprogram, but the reprogramers can only do what their antecedent experiences lead (force?) them to do. What if it is not in their software to do it? What if "evil" programmers prevail? You get into a problem of infinite regress and have to hope that the mutations of morality are favorable.
You paraphrased me as saying that "if God knows the future, then He controls it," and concluded that my understanding of knowledge and control is "foggy." I said the precisely the opposite, that, "if God knows the future, then he is powerless to change it." That means God is not in control of it. Therefore, omniscience contradicts omnipotence.
I understand it this way: God created us with the ability to make choices and allows us to often face the consequences of those choices, although He sometimes rescues us from our self made messes. He knows the choices we make although they are indeed our choices.
According to you, "The Bible states that suffering and death are a result of human sin, but also shows that it does not fall only on those who deserve it." Trying to explain to a sick or dying little child that she is suffering as a result of human sin seems despicable to me. "The Problem of Evil" is no problem for atheists.
The problem for you is that you have to look at the same evil that I do, but you have no ultimate hope. You, like me, can work for justice, cures and compassion, but because it often fails, you have to just brush it off, or become overwhelmed with despair. I can say to the dying child, "Jesus loves you and will take care of you," and to the parents, "God will help you through this and even turn it into something beautiful for His Kingdom," even as I search for medical cure. Don't tell me that the Christian is fatalistic -- your view is fatalistic. If all things follow natural laws, then there really IS nothing that can be done. I guess you have to accept a sort of naturalistic "karma."
You claimed that I said, "to know something has been designed, we need to know the identity of the designer." Actually I said that we must first prove the existence of an intelligent designer to avoid assuming what it is we wish to prove.
You have set up a perfect "Catch 22." It is the design that proves the designer.
Of course I would not confuse the carvings of Mt. Rushmore on Mars with a natural formation. What I said was that "we would not look for animals or trees but for something not normally found in nature," and, as you pointed out, the carvings would certainly not normally be found in nature.
Don't you see that you have assumed your conclusion? You think that things occurring "in nature" are undesigned. You are a victim of word games again, using "nature" to describe the world that is not designed by humans (as opposed to "civilization") and then assuming that natural means "undesigned."
If you found life on Mars that was similar to life on earth, it would mean that it probably got there the same way that it did on earth. It is meaningless to say, "They are both 'natural.'" The question in dispute is whether "nature" is designed! And you have settled that question BY DEFINITION, not by reason or science.
What exactly are those mysterious "barriers" that prevent microevolution from becoming macroevolution? If mutations can only degrade information, then why don't they also prevent microevolution? You say, "To change beyond the barriers would require new information, such as the genes to make wings or fingers or a bigger brain."
Here, Tom, you have failed to understand genetics. The varieties of dogs, for example, are not all mutations. There are single genes for some characteristics, like perhaps for eye color (in humans, at least) and selective breeding can sort out the distinct colors. There may be modifying genes that turn brown eyes into green. A mutation, such as albinism, would turn the eyes pink. Thus you can get several colors. There are multiple genes for other characteristics, like size for example. If, for example, there were 40 genes that influence size and you get 20 "Big" genes and 20 "Small," you might have an average sized dog. If you have 40 "Big" and 0 "Small" you get a maximum sized dog. To get bigger needs new information.
This sort of multiple gene effect, with the genes having their effect through different mechanisms, add up to the organism's total characteristics. But there are clear experimental limits. For example, you cannot breed sugar beets to get more than 40% sugar content no matter how hard you try. And very tall people do not on the average have half their children turning out taller than they are. Rather, there is the well-known "regression toward the mean."
I claim that a new combination of genes does represent new information, just as a new combination of neural patterns in the brain represents a new concept. New combinations of genes do occur.
New combinations of genes do indeed occur, but they do not give new functions any more than using a video game as an anti virus would work or reading the lawnmower manual will help build an entertainment center. Hybrid corn does not do your taxes. There are indeed some organisms where the same region will be used for two genes, starting and stopping at different places. This represents another evidence of incredibly sophisticated design which saves storage space and requires the same sort of planning necessary in simultaneously sending two messages, with the second in code, or writing two letters, the second breaking the words at different places.
There are regions in most proteins where almost any amino acid can be substituted. Some functionally equivalent molecules can have between 30 - 50% different amino acids. This shuffling of genes puts a big clinker in your probability calculations.
There are indeed such locations on the genome, but there are also locations where a substitution is critical. My calculations were for a single simple small protein molecule that is so far from the complexity needed in life that you could have 99.9999999999% non critical locations on the DNA and still not even get a protein molecule. And one protein is not anywhere near life. Stop all this FUZZY MATH!!!
After reading the article you referenced on the layout of the human retina, I concur with you that, although counterintuitive, it appears to be an efficient arrangement.
I am glad to see that you are willing to change when convinced. I hope you will evolve into a creationist eventually.
However, I note that you have avoided defending any of my three examples of poor design, except to say, as you have in the past, that the "absent enzyme," is the result of "deterioration of the original creation by the effects of sin," a decidedly unscientific claim. On this matter, since other animals, especially our nearest relatives the apes, are missing the same enzyme, you have not explained why it makes any sense to say that they also sinned or that they are paying for our sins?
The Bible says that all creation became subject to decay and death because of human sin. It does not suggest a mechanism but predicts that we would see such an effect as we do. Copying errors in genetic information, even though usually caught and corrected by "quality control systems" do slowly accumulate over time. Stars are using energy and running down. An ultimate universal "heat death" (burn out) can be predicted. All this is confirmation of the Biblical hypothesis.
Why are apes and humans similar? Well, I don't know, but we can say that common descent is not the only viable hypothesis. If God decided to do variations on themes, then the physical similarities could very well be mirrored by genetic similarities (and indeed they are) which might mean that certain locations on the DNA might be similarly vulnerable to mutations. In fact, this phenomenon is known.
Regarding my SID argument, you seem to be saying that, if the miracles are small enough and sprinkled widely enough, then they become like background noise and will not affect the results of an experiment. This is a bizarre theory. What possible relevance or value could such tiny, ubiquitous miracles have for humans?
The point I was making is that there MIGHT BE a certain number of miracles happening that would escape detection by many scientific studies. The purpose of such "mini-miracles" if they were occurring, was not part of my point, but if you must know, it could be God answering prayers. Of course, there are some situations where would be obvious, like calling down fire from heaven. (Except that you would continue to wait for a natural explanation.)
Also, there are some studies that show a measurable effect of prayer, for example, the heart disease study by Randolph Byrd ("Positive Therapeutic Effect of Intercessory Prayer in a coronary Care Unit Population," Southern Medical Journal, July 1988, Vol. 81, no. 7, pp. 826 - 829.) The patients did not know they were being prayed for and all got the treatments their doctors felt were most appropriate, but the "prayed-for" patients did better.
There are critical points in any scientific experiment where even one small miracle could skew the results. The fact that it has never been known to happen makes it possible, for example, to determine, with ever more closely controlled experiments, that prayer and paranormal powers fail to show any effect other than that expected by chance.
You have an unrealistic view of science. There are many results that are never published and many data points that are never accounted for.
The point of my long account of the behavior of the gorillas Koko and Michael was to impress on the reader that their psychology is strikingly similar to that of humans, and that, therefore, it should not be surprising, that their morality is also similar to that of humans. It is then more logical to assume that humans likely acquired morality in the same way animals did than that God gave both morality.
Why is it more logical?
When you suggest that maybe "God created animals with behaviors and characteristics to teach us lessons, both negative and positive," at least you seem prepared to concede that there is animal morality.
Sure. (I'm trying to save disk space with short answers)
You implied that altruistic behavior "might seem to be against our own self-interest." Is it not usually rewarded by others? Sure, there are some bad apples that probably grew up in an atmosphere devoid of altruism, but we needn't condemn the principle because a few don't follow it.
I don't condemn it but just point out that it will not be sustained. All it takes is a few bad apples to bring down a civilization.
You appeared to equate altruism with communism. We can't blame altruism for the tragedies of Marxist society. In a society where a few powerful tyrants cause millions to suffer and die, altruism is virtually dead.
In some totalitarian societies, there was indeed altruism. The Dutch defied Hitler. Nearly everyone, including the royal family, wore the Star of David to make identification of the Jews difficult. Some hid Jews and if caught were sent to the death camps. Thus their genes were eliminated. This would make it hard for that characteristic to survive over many generations.
You listed, as requisites for a healthy society, "honesty, trustworthiness, respect, caring, self-sacrifice, etc." All are altruistic traits. My main point is that reciprocal altruism obviates the need for a "Supernatural Lawgiver who is also a Righteous Judge." Provided that altruism is nurtured in our youngsters, it operates effectively without the promised reward of Heaven or the fear of punishment in Hell.
How can anything be nurtured in a deterministic universe? You can't do anything that is not predetermined and neither can they. Also, although reciprocal altruism helps the masses the most, it still leaves room for the few to go for more, and direct self interest is much more powerful than indirect self interest. Why do you think Communism has failed everywhere?
You said, ". . . the desire for something beyond the physical is hard to explain if there is really nothing there." This desire is simply wishful thinking, motivated by the powerful attraction of immortality.
But, where in the world did a idea of immortality even come from? At the very least, you have to deal with a nearly universal concept rather than dismiss it out of hand.
You pointed out that, "In Romans chapter 1 it is clearly stated that [God's] most extreme anger is reserved for those who suppress the truth," meaning that he would not forgive me for not believing in him. I have no use for gods, especially angry gods. I control my own anger and would expect the same of any god.
This was in response to your idea that even if God did exist, He would forgive you for your unbelief. God is fair, but if you truly know the truth in your heart but refuse to admit it and acknowledge Him as your rightful owner and ruler, then you have made your own choice to be separated from Him. (And by the way, He is a very loving "Daddy" to those who know Him, the depth of Whose love is seen in what He did on the cross.)
I believe I have fully understood all along what C. S. Lewis meant when he said, "Unless I believe in God, I can't believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God." Lewis assumes that thought is immaterial, a gift from God, and that, having accepted the existence of God, one cannot then logically use his gift not to believe in him. Lewis was mistaken; he apparently never studied artificial intelligence and neurology. Those that believe thought is a material, natural phenomenon have no problem using thought to disbelieve in God.
You fail to appreciate the materialist's dilemma. Remember, you said that all your own thoughts and actions as well as mine are predetermined? So, let's try to put that together. One of us is wrong, yet we both think we are right. How can we compare and contrast? Each of us can only put out words in the way that we tend to do it. Where is the higher standard to measure them against and who is capable of doing it? We would be like pre-recorded messages broadcasting past each other (or, I suppose, sort of like the Presidential Debates.)
You said, ". . . the human mind is not a reliable instrument for arriving at truth. It is merely a machine built by chance, programmed by chance, with the only purpose of increasing the survival of its genes." Chance plays no role in the operation or output of the brain/mind, which, as I said earlier, is strictly determined by physical laws.
I rest my case (or broadcast my pre-recoded message, take your pick).
You stated, "Yet the soul can ultimately be freed from the body. Just saying that Alzheimer's Disease damages the personality does not contradict that." Where is the soul in the final stage of Alzheimer's disease when the personality has not just been damaged but has vanished?
I believe that a person can be trapped inside a body that does not function well, just as a person can be relatively immobile when a leg is broken. As a child, I knew a man with Cerebral Palsy who was clearly a fully human intelligent person but had great difficulty communicating and this was very important in my path towards becoming a doctor. Your view leads to easy rationalization of euthanasia by redefining the disabled as sub human. The Christian view does not claim that this is an easy area but avoids the slippery slope that the humanist/atheist likes to play on.
The so-called "near-death experiences" are just that -- psychological experiences that occur near death. In each case, the hallucinations that one experiences reflect the images of one's particular religion, or, in the case of atheists, no religion, which fact gives us every reason to dismiss the experiences as having nothing to do with an afterlife.
This is not a big part of my case, but looked at in detail, it is not as easy to dismiss as you do.
You said that it is an "absurd notion" for me to associate the calculation of the total number of possible potential persons with human zygotes. I made it perfectly clear that the calculation did indeed refer to zygotes -- the number of possible fertilized eggs, all 24 billion of them -- any one or more of which could become a unique human being. The "absurd notion" is that any one of the 24 billion potential persons be valued differently from the others.
It IS absurd, Tom, to equate a "possible fertilized egg" with a fertilized egg! The former is a possibility, the latter is a reality. I have to stop here and warn you, Tom, to not run out and spend all your "possible lottery winnings."
Your question, "Do you know any identical twins? There is no doubt that they are separate people," is irrelevant. I know identical twins are separate personalities, but my question was, if the soul enters at conception as so many Christians believe, then, if the zygote multiples, does one soul become two souls in twins, three souls in triplets, four souls in quadruplets, etc.? If so, how?
Beginning and end of life issues are difficult to understand but do not disprove the principle. Is a brain dead person still inhabiting the body and when does a person "become a living soul?" For either case I cannot say, but in the case of identical twins (when at the two cell stage a separation occurs) then each part has become a separate being. I don't think you have any easier time with your view of what makes a person because it seems to revolve around self consciousness by which criteria infants are non-persons as are temporarily comatose persons.
The procedure called "partial-birth abortion" is gruesome, as are many other surgical procedures, and it would be just as gruesome if used on a canine fetus.
There is a difference between 1) carefully opening the skull to expose a brain tumor in order to skillfully remove it, and 2) stabbing the opening at the base of the skull, simultaneously destroying vital nerve centers and then sucking out the entire brain of a living being that in a few moments could be breathing and crying in his mothers arms. That is not a surgical procedure but a crime.
However, we are comparing the medical and privacy rights of an actual person to those of a potential person.
When did YOU become an actual person? Are you glad your mother "wanted you?"
I'm willing to trust that the doctor has a prudent medical reason for performing the procedure. Because it occurs so late in woman's pregnancy, she probably expected to give birth, but then something went terribly wrong.
Most partial birth abortions are done on normal fetuses, and they are killed to avoid the dilemma of dealing with a crying infant which tends to be disturbing to the mother and certain of the clinic personnel.
I had suggested that you read the journal article on the 1993 Buffalo NY study of 1,177 randomly chosen women at three abortion providers. Did you fail to mention it because its results were in stark contrast to those of the Finnish study?
There are many null studies about psychological after effects of abortion. The way questions are asked and the way the data are interpreted may miss significant pathology. I do not have to explain every negative study to prove my point but you DO have to explain every positive study. The Finnish data is particularly powerful because it is objective and complete, bypassing reporting problems and bias.
An atheist friend of mine who studies abortion statistics tells me that women who are atheists do not get depressed after abortion. That's a pretty good sign that a woman's views on abortion may have much to do with her religious beliefs.
My paper on abortion deals with those who "stuff" their feelings. All sorts of life problems are not properly attributed to the abortion until much later in life, and for some, probably never. Emotional turmoil that is not dealt with can lead to intense activism in an attempt to justify the abortion decision and attack those who are perceived as the source of the torment. Atheism can be another attempt to escape the conscience by denying its Author, but sadly, in the process, avoiding the only possible hope for real healing.
The drawings of four mammalian embryos depicted in my article come from the fairly recent 1991 book by Scott F. Gilbert called "Developmental Biology." If you know that these drawings are inaccurate, then please refer me to a neutral source that correctly shows the embryos.
To start with, see articles on Answers in Genesis Website (http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs/2038.asp) This one is not your fault, but that of the textbook writers and editors. There has been a disturbing tendency to re-use faulty data just because "it is such a good illustration" of a principle they firmly believe to be true - sort of like docudrama. People like you are taken in by assuming your sources to be honorable. Thus you still see Peppered Moths in the texts despite the revelation of fraud in the data (moths do not rest on tree trunks and dead specimens were glued in place for the photos. See Article (/articles/moths.html)
You stated, "Then you claim that the increasing nerve connections equal increased humanity." My point was that virtually no connections cannot establish personhood. Then you added, "I hope you realize that after age 1 - 2 we lose connections. Unused synapses atrophy. Does that mean you are less human than a two year old?" I think you mean, "less a person." According to my records, by age 2, a child has as many synapses (connections) as an adult. By age 3, it has 1,000 trillion synapses, twice as many as its parents. After about age 10, a pruning process begins. Synapses that have been activated by repeated experiences are preserved while others are eliminated. Five hundred trillion synapses are more than enough to qualify for personhood, but near zero definitely does not. I never said that the face of the six-week-old embryo is not human. All embryos are human, but then so is a liver cell. The photo is there because many people have the mistaken impression that the embryo looks like a miniature baby from the start, and this face doesn't look anything like the face of a miniature baby.
Thank you for the additional data. I was writing from memory (and seem to have lost some of those connections.) So you accept that a fetus is human in the same way as a liver cell. But of course, a liver cell, left to its own devices, will not continue to progress to become a member in good standing of Minnesota Atheists while a fetus (sadly) might. How developed does the brain have to be before personhood has been achieved? Would you accept the presence of brain waves on a fetal EEG? If so, most abortions are done at about 10 - 12 weeks when that is well established. Or do you agree with so called ethicist Peter Singer of Princeton who supports post-natal abortion for parents who have second thoughts. (And what parent of a two year old has not occasionally had second thoughts.)
However, to compare a horribly burned person with a non-person is a poor analogy, especially coming from a Christian, who, if he accepts the Bible's teachings, must agree that the blemished, the blind, the lame, the diseased, the deformed, and the ugly may not profane God's sanctuaries (Lev 21:17-21)
It was YOUR argument, not mine that appearance was linked to personhood. Jesus showed great compassion for the disabled (and the Christian community has led the way in helping the rejected.) The Old Testament rules you cite had to do with service in the Temple. The disabled were still part of the community of Israel.
I'd not be surprised if child abuse increased if a woman is cruelly denied an abortion of an unexpected, unwanted baby. If child abuse increases after a woman has a "replacement baby," in order to undo an abortion, then it may be an indication that the woman was not psychologically fit to have either pregnancy.
Then the data indicate that a lot of women are not psychologically fit to have an abortion. )And, by the way, abortionists don't look for this.) But the increase in abuse has been global, not just limited to the women who had abortions. This could very well be because of the devaluing of children. Even as nice a person as you implies that babies are not fully persons (and if you had ever been a parent, you might have at least transiently felt that adolescents are some sort of alien species.)
Blurring the distinctions between species is a neat trick to squeeze more animals on the ark, while at same time ignoring how the animals got to ark in the first place from all over the world.
It is not a trick. The classification of "species" is very artificial. Breeding experiments indicate that lions and tigers, wolves and dogs, many wild sheep and other groups can interbreed. And don't go running down the path of "no boundaries" because there are limits. Also, the distribution of species was probably very different from the post-flood world we see today.
Since 99% of all the animals which have ever lived are extinct, one wonders how many of those extinct species Woodmorappe included in his total. Or did those mysteriously die before the Flood?
I can loan you a copy of his book or you can get it from the organizations listed on the TCCSA web site.
In any case, the historical record cannot be ignored. As you glossed over the time it would take three couples to build up to a thriving population, you appeared to be content to envision cities without people and kings without subjects.
Today a population growth rate of 2% per year is considered low and 4% is considered high. Would it be unreasonable that in an empty earth Noah's sons might have had larger families? If the three young couples had 8 children among them over 17 years, the population would have doubled over the 8 persons that stepped off the ark. That would be a population grown rate of about 4% per year. If the 8 children were spread over 34 years, that is about a 2% rate of growth. Actually, Genesis lists 7 sons of Japheth, 4 sons of Ham and 5 sons of Shem and does not tell how many daughters they each had (although it is not clear what the time period was).
The population growth at 4% per year, starting with 8, would double every 17 years and in 19 doublings would have reached 8 million. How long is that? A mere 323 years. And the size of the families might have made it even greater. So, NO MORE FUZZY MATH!! Population growth is more of a problem for your side because you have to kill off vast numbers to avoid having the earth packed to the gills by now.
This Egyptian-temple myth is a typical example of creation science and been making the rounds in creationist circles for many years. Unfortunately, it will probably never die. Whenever I have taken the time to do a detailed research of a creationist claim, it has invariably turned out not to be supported by the facts
The Temple data needs correct dating and correct estimates of the change in earth's axis. In many cases dates are tied to expected changes so it is no surprise when they correlate.
The reason I have not entered into a discussion of your references on rock layers, Pre-Cambrian pollen, etc. is first, that these references are abstracts, brief summaries of articles that I don't have easy access to, and second, that neither one of us is a geologist, physicist, paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, etc. I'll try, when possible, to rebut technical arguments, but I prefer that we stick to psychological, philosophical, and historical arguments.
But are you a psychologist, philosopher or historian? I have previously sent you the Grand Canyon articles and will do so again. I will likewise send them to anyone who asks.
Whenever a creationist and I get embroiled in a highly technical scientific matter, it seems that nothing gets settled. The debate always boils down to his experts against my experts. For example, one creationist friend of mine does not believe that the Sun's energy comes from nuclear fusion, citing Donald B. DeYoung's gravitational-contraction theory and the missing neutrinos. The gravitational-contraction theory, respectable in 19th century mainstream science, was refuted by Eddington in 1920-24. Only creationists try to keep this abandoned theory alive.
The principle argument not needing "experts" is the probability data on the structure of life and you refuse to acknowledge that it is a check mate. The missing neutrinos are not explained by the mainstream except to say that the nuclear furnace is intermittent (how convenient). Nor is the fact that gravitational energy probably accounts for more than enough heat and light really dealt with. And how about the salt in the ocean and the pressure in oil deposits as indicators of young age?
I never see rebuttals by mainstream scientists on creationist sites. It appears that most creationists read only creationist articles. It's no wonder that they think science is a bunch of bunk.
Aren't you glad we are allowing you, as a "popularizer" of evolutionary thought a place on our site? Also, there are often debates between the two sides although the big guns in evolution seldom commit to participating.
And, when young-earth creationists are battling old-earth creationists, and both of those are fighting the theistic evolutionists, to which creationist views do I direct a rebuttal?
How about your gradualists vs punctuationalists?
You said that the biblical words for "bat" and "bird" probably distinguished between these animals on the basis that they "were flying creatures." I made it quite clear that even an amateur naturalist would not make that distinction because some birds cannot fly. As for the "cud-chewing rabbit," the Bible's authors apparently had no problem with real cud chewers. Mistaking the rabbit's eating its fecal pellets as cud-chewing is in the same category as Aristotle's goofs on fewer teeth and black blood for women.
You assume that our method of classification based on characteristics is superior. Genesis classifies created beings by where they live, whether in the sea, air or on the land. The Ostrich is NOT grouped with "birds of the air." Also, could not what we translate as "cud chewing" have originally referred to "re-eating partially digested food" whether it came out the top or the bottom? Perhaps you have not had the opportunity to really learn a foreign language to the point where you realize that the words are not always cutting reality at the same points.
My statement was not that the Greek scientists "were the first to explore the mysteries of the Universe," but that they were "the first to use reason to explain the universe without resorting to deities and the first to demonstrate that the universe behaves in accordance with certain laws that cannot be changed." In the rebirth of science, there was a reversion to a supernatural deity. In matters of science, the religions of the world move glacially forward, if at all. It took the Catholic Church more than 350 years to admit its error in condemning Galileo
The Church of Galileo's day erred in accepting Aristotle's cosmology in which the heavens were perfect and the earth, being at the center of the universe, was the lowest point and therefore imperfect. They could not accept craters on the moon and elliptical orbits, much less heliocentricity because of the philosophy they imposed on their interpretation of the Bible. I agree that the Bible needs to be properly interpreted but this episode is a warning mostly to those who hitch their wagon to a popular cosmology, such as the Big Bang (which has many problems and many detractors - mostly non-creationists.)
You mentioned parenthetically that I deny the "ability to choose." In my article, "Do we have free will?" I did not say that one can not make a choice. What I said was that choice must be strictly determined by all the variables of the internal and external environment. There is a big difference between the determination of choice by certain variables and the denial that choice can occur.
If is determined, it is not free.
As for the supernatural, I'm still waiting for a satisfactory answer from you on the question, "How does one know when to give up searching for a natural explanation?" Creationists get exceedingly impatient when seeking answers to the origin of consciousness and life!
When did you give up looking for a natural explanation for Mt. Rushmore?
Why is it that creationists, who take the Bible so literally when it comes to scientific matters, come up with the most outlandish, non-literal interpretations when they encounter scripture whose literal meaning they cannot accept? "Reclining in front of the breast of" does not convey the same sense as "lying on the breast of." You have reached into left field for this translation. You did not explain why John reminded the reader five times that he was the disciple whom Jesus loved. Customs change over time, but not human nature. The diversity of sexual behavior is widespread throughout all eras and in most species. In humans, diversity of sexual preference and attraction occurs whether or not it is accompanied by physical expression.
You still cannot conceive of affection and love without sex, can you?
If you or I could travel back to the time of Jesus, it is likely that we would not find him. Historian and classical scholar Earl Doherty has written a book titled "The Jesus Puzzle," (1999) which presents compelling evidence that Jesus never existed. The scholars of the Jesus Seminar agreed on only 16% of the acts and 18% of the sayings ascribed to Jesus.
The "Jesus Seminar" is made up of "your kind" of people.
You made light of the glaring discrepancies in the Gospels, but there is a world of difference between, say, the claim of 500 witnesses and that of 12 or 1. Also, it appears that you are implying that Matthew 24:27 - 34 means that any generation that sees the signs will not pass away before seeing the return of Jesus. I don't know what translation you are using, but the KJV says that after Jesus described the signs of "the coming of the Son of man," he said, "when ye [the disciples] shall see all these things, know that it is near, [even] at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This [your] generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled." Jesus is obviously referring to the generation of the disciples to whom he is talking at that moment.
"Ye," is clearly referring to those who see all the signs of the end that He has been talking about (Matthew 24:15 - 31)
In 1997, researchers suggested that the brain's temporal lobe may be hard-wired for intense mystical and religious experience. Because you and I seem to be always talking past one another, I have wondered whether the genetic implications of that research apply to our miscommunication. However, I am reassured by the fact that three former, Bible-thumping, fundamentalist ministers, whom I have met, have converted to atheism. Therefore, the hard wiring, if any, appears to be malleable. On the other hand, some theists I've read about, who claim to have once been atheists, describe their atheist beginnings in terms that do not match the firmness with which I held my atheist beliefs ever since I left high school.
So I guess you are trying for some sort of "firmness" award. I don't think Guiness keeps records for that sort of thing. It makes me think that you see these discussions not as a search for truth but as an opportunity to demonstrate your superior resistance. Sadly, you have chosen the wrong role models and goals.
Sure, I'd like to live on for many centuries, if not forever, and I don't understand those that don't. However, I am a realist and 99.9% certain that I will go nowhere after death, as will everyone else.
So you admit to a 0.1% chance that you are wrong? That is progress. Now, please also consider the consequences of being wrong, for you and for me. You have previously said that you don't want to risk the loss of "truth" if I am wrong. Is that really more important than the loss of eternity if YOU are wrong. I am afraid that pride and fear of man are at the root of your resistance. What would you say to those for whom you have presented yourself as a tower of skeptical strength? And how could you face yourself admitting to all the wasted effort, time and life. See Poem (http://rossolson.org/poetry/discipleship/inertia.html)
The best course is to enjoy life and try to stay healthy as long as possible. Whatever happens, you and I move on, each believing that the truth is on his side.
And you wander through a world so designed that you think design is natural, using the gifts of God for your own purposes without recognizing that the Giver is showing great mercy and patience, considering resistance a sign of strength and never looking behind the door that says, "All Have Sinned" to see that your Creator loves you so much that He paid a terrible price to forgive you. And because you hang on tenaciously to the faint echoes and shadows of the riches He wants to give, you will never see the very best that God has prepared for you. And, He still stands at the door of your heart and knocks. He loves you so much that like the father of the prodigal son, He will take you in His arms for all eternity if you only turn around and come back to Him.