Archive for December 2008

Lately, I’ve Grown Apathetic Towards Atheism

December 29, 2008

I find it discourteous when someone I was arguing with would leave valid points on the table and never respond.  Yet, lately, I’ve found myself leaving many discussions with atheists just as they were getting started.  I figured it had something to do with the fact that these discussions were taking place over at Unreasonable Faith and when a Christian posts a comment on that site, boy do they get a shellacking!  The reason for this is that is a basic presupposition in the PZ Myers type atheist that Christians are nincompoops who deserve to be insulted, and so those that comment on Daniels site, take any opportunity to do so.  Just take a quick gander over at Ray Comfort’s Atheist Central and you’ll see what I mean.  Ray is a straightforward evangelist who has raised the ire of the most outspoken atheists and he definetly recieves the worst of it. 

Admittedly, sifting through the constant condescending sarcasm and insult to find arguments to respond to grows tiresome.  However, my recent apathy towards argument with atheists, and articles about the atheistic worldview, goes far deeper than just growing tired of the same old atheistic modus operandi.  It’s that every atheist I’ve talked to over the past several months, has the exact same presuppositions.  They assume the same things at the outset of any conversation with a Christian. 

The Atheist Has No Metaphysical and Epistemological Leg to Stand On

About three weeks ago, I was in a conversation with five atheists.  Each conversation was in different stages of development and activity, however, each argument was heading in the same direction.  Specifically, how do we know what we know?  Namely, how does the Christian know that God exists and how does the atheist know that God isn’t needed?  This is known as epistemology. 

That all five of these conversation where heading in the same direction led me to make a post on the subject, Three Ways of Knowing.  Which are; personal experience, revelation/authority, or scientific inquiry.  The most basic presuppositions of the Christian worldview, is that God exists, followed by that the Bible is the Word of God.  The question is, how does the Christian know this?  Though there are certain things the Christian can know through scientific inquiry and textual analysis, the Christian knows the Bible to be the Word of God through the Ultimate Divine Revelation, that is, through a personal experience with God. 

The most basic presuppositions of the atheistic worldview, is that scientific inquiry is the only way to knowledge (empiricism), that all phenomena are natural phenomena (naturalism), that only the material exists (materialism), and that the rates of growth and decay have been the same since the beginning of the universe (uniformitarianism).  How does the atheist know this?  Can scientific inquiry tell them such things?  Of course not.  So then it must be one of the other two.  Their “authoritative knowledge” can only come through man since God doesn’t exist.  So basically, the atheist has decided, personally, that these things are true with no scientific reason to do so. 

Through the consquent discussions from Three Ways of Knowing and the subsequent post on the subject Atheism Stands Alone?  Don’t Fool Yourself, every one of those five atheists went away.  Why?  Because they didn’t have an answer.  The only answer an atheist can have to such an argument is to pretend that epistemological and metaphysical questions don’t matter.  It comes down to this, they literally prefer to think of the world as without a God, they just prefer it.  And no amount of argument or evidence will convince them.  Partly because of this revelation about atheism, I have grown, temporarily at least, apathetic towards further exploration of the atheistic worldview.

Opportunity Knocks

There is another event that has begun to sift time away from the blogosphere.  I have been given the honor and priviledge of leading a  Bible study with some friends.  It has given me the opportunity to study the Word of God like I never have before.  I was ready for a big responsibility and going in detail through the Book of Acts in detail has proved to be just that.  This responsibility has leapt itself above maintaining this blog.  I’ll probably make a page where my study notes are available.

What the Future Brings . . .

I’m not sure in what direction Apologia will take now.  Perhaps I’ll focus more on discerning the history of Christianity and atheism, the presuppositions that guide each and how they affect how we think about current events.  Perhaps I’ll attempt to write through my newly embarked upon theological exploration.  I’m not sure.

New Testament Manuscript Evidence: How We Can Know the Bible is Accurate

December 21, 2008

The question any Christian, at some point in their life, should be asking is:  How do we know that the Bible is what it says it is?  Fully answering that question takes a measure of faith.  However, there are certain things we CAN know.  This article is about those things.

A.  We Are Currently Reading the 2nd Century New Testament

A manuscript is a document that is written by hand.  In this context, I mean it specifically as an ancient document from a unique source that was written by hand.  In the ancient world, there were obviously no printing presses.  Everything had to be copied down by the work of a scribe, or some other literate person.  This heightens the chance for differences in translation.  Taking into account the entirety of the ancient manuscripts, there are about 150,000 variations.

1. An Explanation of Variations

The common misconception, and a favored critique of the Bible, is that such variants render the New Testament void of truth besides any abstract spiritual or moral ideals.  Specifically, the Bible says writers of the Gospels claimed they saw Jesus rise from the dead.  With all the variations over the next two thousand years, how can you possibly know that the writers really ever claimed such a thing?

The truth is, of the 150,00 variations, 99.9% of them have no affect on the New Testament at all.  That is, the differences consist of something similar to one scribe writing “Christ Jesus” while another wrote “Jesus Christ”.  Many differences are simply missing a insignificant word.  When the evidence is all on the table, there are only 50 significant variations (the number 50 will become more significant a bit later on). 

Even with these fifty variations, no Christian doctrine is changed.  The differences aren’t that one manuscript says that Jesus said, “Turn the other cheek” and another says, “Slap your enemy on the other cheek”.  The differences aren’t  that significant.

The principle used in textual analysis is this:  Just as the number of scribes increases the possibility of error, so does the ability to find the true meaning of the text.  Even with the variations are significant, none of them affect any Christian doctrine.

2.  The New Testament Manuscripts are Supremely Reliable

“Reliability” as far as any ancient manuscript scholar is concerned is decided by number of manuscripts and how close in time they are to the original writing.  For instance, the earliest manuscripts of the writings of Plato, which the vast majority of scholars consider reliable, are 1200 years after Plato put quill to papyrus, and we only have seven copies of them.  Let’s compare other works of antiquity (carm.org’s chart is great in this regard). 

  • Lucretius              1200 years       2 copies
  • Pliny                    750 years      7 copies
  • Plato                   1200 years    7 copies
  • Demosthenes   800 years      8 copies
  • Herodotus         1300 years    8 copies
  • Ceasar               1000 years    10 copies
  • Tacitus               1000 years    20 copies
  • Aristotle             1400 years    49 copies

These writings are considered “reliable” in that they accurately reflect the original writings.  Now, let’s look at the New Testament.

  •  New Testament       Less than 100 years         5600 copies

Dr. Benjamin Warfield concludes, “If we compare the present state of the text of the New Testament with that of no matter what other ancient work, we must…declare it marvelously exact.”

Dr. Norman Geisler has some other points for our consideration.  The average secular work of antiquity hangs on by only a handful of manuscripts, while the New Testament boasts thousands.  The average length of time between ancient manuscripts is 1000 years.  However, the New Testament has fragments within a generation of the writers, whole books within one hundred years, the majority of the New Testament within 200 years, and the entire New Testament within 250 years. 

This is unprecedented as far as ancient scholarship goes and the only conclusion can be that the New Testament is supremely reliable.

B.  Our Current New Testament is what the Original Authors Intended to Say

Part of the reason we know this goes hand in hand with the process of textual analysis as well.  For instance, if there are several manuscripts of an original work that I don’t have, and one of the sentences in each manuscript reads like this:

Manuscript #1:  Jesus Chris died for our sins

Manuscript #2:  Jsus Christ died for or sins

Manuscript #3:  Jesus Christ died our sins

Manuscript #4:  Jesus Christ died for sins

Manuscript #5:  Jesus Christ dide for our sin. 

Comparing these different manuscripts, can I come to an accurate conclusion of what the original author intended to say?  Of course I can.  Now, this is a simplistic example but the over 99% of the textual variations are solved in this way.  Not only can the differences be reconciled, but the original intent of the author can be discovered as well. 

1.  Overwhelming Evidence

In addition to the already mentioned 5600 Greek manuscripts and fragments of the New Testament, we have 10,000 thousand Latin Vulgates and 9,300 other early versions which gives us more than 24,000 early New Testament manuscripts  (McDowell’s Evidence That demands a Verdict, vol.1, 1972 pgs.40-48; and Time, January 23, 1995, pg.57).  Remember, of these thousands of manuscripts, there are only fifty major variations.  That astoundingly accurate!

But how credible are these manuscripts?  As has been previously mentioned, we have many early Greek manuscripts.  What dates have been attributed to the earliest ones and what do they contain? 

Important
Manuscript
Papyri
Contents

Date
Original Written

MSS
Date

(John Rylands
Fragment)3
John 18:31-33,37-38 circa
96 A.D.
circa
125
A.D.
   

(Chester Beatty Papyrus)
Rom. 5:176:3,5-14; 8:15-25, 27-35, 379:32; 10:1-11, 22, 24-33, 3514:8,915:9, 11-33; 16:1-23, 25-27; Heb.; 1 & 2 Cor., Eph., Gal., Phil., Col.; 1 Thess. 1:1,9-10; 2:1-3; 5:5-9, 23-28 50’s-70’s circa
200
A.D.
   

(Bodmer Papyrus)
John 1:16:11,3514:26; fragment of 14:29-21:9

70’s

circa
200
A.D.
   
P67  Matt. 3:9,15; 5:20-22, 25-28   circa
200
A.D.
   

In addition to these, we have since found a fragment of Matthew 26 called the Magdelene manuscript that has been dated 65/66 AD. 

Considering the comparison between the New Testament and secular works, we must conclude that the New Testament is amazingly preserved.  No other ancient writing can make the claim to be even close in time span as the New Testament.  The New Testament manuscripts are mostly from 150-200 years after the original writings with one less than 100 years and one coexistent fragment. 

Although we don’t have the originals, the sheer volume and dates of the New Testament manuscripts makes the evidence overwhelming.

2.  Logical Deduction

Secularists are fond of accusing Christians of being forced to abandon all reason in order to believe in the Deity of Jesus Christ (as evidenced by his Resurrection).  Let’s see if this is true.

Through the Magdelene fragment we know that Matthew was written in the life time of the eyewitnesses.  In fact, we know that Matthew himself was an eyewitness.  How?  If someone wrote a book about an event that happened thirty years ago, claiming to be an eyewitness, but was not, wouldn’t there be an uproar among the actual eyewitnesses?  He’d be labeled a liar and his book would be soundly discredited, no one would bother to have it copied.  Remember that copying a book in the first century, especially one as long as Matthew, was an arduous, time consuming and expensive task.  Churches, or home congregations, would have had to literally save up for the manuscript of a book they wanted to have, so they would have chosen wisely.  Would they really have chosen to spend the money on a book who’s facts, and the integrity of the author, was unreliable?

So, we have a book written during the lifetime of the eyewitnesses, written by an eyewitness.  Matthew not only claimed to have witnessed the life and works of Jesus, but claimed that many others were there as well and named those individuals.  If someone wrote a book naming you as an individual who had witnessed certain event, or participated in said events, and you in fact did NOT, wouldn’t you speak up?  Wouldn’t this also discredit Matthew’s Gospel? 

Specifically, Matthew wrote that He witnessed a man who everyone saw crucified rise from the dead.  And then, another eyewitness, John, wrote the same thing.  Another man, Mark, who was the historian of another eyewitness, Peter, wrote the same thing.  Finally, a man who claimed to have fully investigated the matter, including interviewing eyewitnesses, Luke, wrote a book claiming to have seen Jesus rise from the dead. 

In a modern court room, wouldn’t the judge accept the eyewitness testimony of four people?  If four men pointed to another man who was under arrest for bank robbery and said, “This is the man whom we saw rob the bank!”, wouldn’t that man be convicted?  The Gospels tell us that, at one point, Jesus was in a crowd of five hundred people after his Resurrection.  What about the testimony of five hundred people?  Would a judge accept that? 

Why Didn’t the Jews Prove the Apostles Wrong?

That a Galilean carpenter named Jesus had been crucified for blasphemy was common knowledge in Jerusalem.  The Jewish ruling class, the Sadducees, who had paid Judas to betray Jesus, would have watched the fulfillment of their investment. 

Once the apostles had started to go around proclaiming that Jesus had risen from the dead, why didn’t the Sadducees prove them wrong?  They knew where Jesus had been buried.  Why didn’t they grab His body, parade it through the streets, and kill Christianity right then?  It would have been that easy.

Would the Apostles Die for What They Knew Was a Lie?

The eyewitness accounts of men aren’t much good if they recant under cross-examination.  Yet, the Apostles held onto their accounts of Jesus’ Resurrection under the most harsh of cross examinations; gruesome death (all accept one was executed for not recanting the Way). 

Let’s say that a doctor, a tax collector and some fishermen, were to some how over power an entire Roman guard unit, twenty to fifty of the most well trained soldiers in the world (think ancient day Army Rangers); Roman soldiers were often executed for failing their posts so they would have fought to the death.  After over powering these soldiers, the apostles then rolled back a boulder that would have at least weighed a ton, and stole Jesus’ body.  They then perpetrated a hoax in order to . . . die? 

What money or power did they gain by lying about Jesus’ Resurrection?  It seemed they only gained death.  Wouldn’t at least ONE of them have recanted, being unwilling to die for what they knew was a lie?  Once that individual recanted, wouldn’t the Sadducees have then spread this recantation far and wide and have killed Christianity?  It would have been that easy.

Conclusion

Many Western minds assume that because there were no newspapers, CNN, or internet two thousand years ago, anything could have been fabricated and such simple minds would have accepted it.  These were not the Dark Ages, this was the era of the Greek philosopher, the skeptic and the stoics.  The Pharisees would memorize the entire Old Testament. These were not simpletons.  

Through manuscript evidence, and textual analysis, we know that at least one eyewitness testimony (Matthew) was written in the lifetime of the eyewitnesses, within about thirty-five years of Christ’s death.  We also know that three other men, either eyewitnesses themselves, or forming accounts based on eyewitness testimony, corroborated Matthew’s account.  Through the sheer volume of manuscripts we know that Matthew, and the rest of the New Testament, has been unchanged since then.  Through logical deduction we know that it would have been easy to prove the apostles wrong if the Sadducees had just been able to find Jesus’ body from the tomb they put it in or had been able to get one of the apostles to recant (and boy did they try).  Would any man really die for what he knew to be a lie?

The only logical conclusion, then, is that these men actually did see Jesus rise from the dead.

 

Note:  This is by no means exhaustive.  I know that I have left out many manuscripts and sources of New Testament reliability, including the letters of the early church fathers.  Also, there are probably many arguments and explanations left unsaid.  I want to use this post as a jumping off point that I can later use to further explore the evidence for the New Testament.  Another one of the good resources I used is here.

Atheism Stands Alone? Don’t Fool Yourself

December 12, 2008

One of the most basic tenets in all of atheism is that atheism is not a belief, it is only a lack of a belief.  If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard it  . . . I’d have at least ten dollars.  The statement that either precedes or follows this is more than likely, “Atheism doesn’t take any faith”.  I’ll be honest, it took me a few months of hearing this statement to form a coherent response to it.  Only recently have I been able to do more than shout, “No, it takes TONS of faith!  You don’t know that God DOESN’T exist!”  As you can probably see, while true, that argument didn’t get me anywhere. 

A quick thesis:  The atheist is deluding themselves into thinking that atheism, or any belief can stand independent of a system of beliefs.

I am in three current conversations at different stages of development, so some of this might be repetative to those of you who am in the middle of this with, but the redundancy is necessary for me to clearly articulate my argument. 

To make sure we’re all on the same page, the most basic question becomes . . .

How Do We Know Things?

The study of that question is called Epistemology.  Atheists and Christians have completely different methods of epistemology.  However, we can all agree that there are three basic ways to know something (I’m stealing this from Eugenie Scott because I like it so much): 

  1. Personal state or insight — a.k.a. intuition or internal knowledge;
  2. Authority or revelation — including religious/spiritual revelation 
  3. Scientific inquiry — Which can only be related to the natural world around us

What this means to us:  Every piece or statement of knowledge such as “atheism is not a belief, and therefore takes no faith” must be scrutinized under, “how do we know this?”. 

This will become important later on. 

Firstly, NO Belief Stands Alone

That is, everyone has a system of beliefs, also known as a worldview.  Truly, an individual could not survive without an entire system.  When I get up in the morning to go to work, I must first believe that I’m truly awake, that I’m not mistaken about which car is mine, and that the interactions I have at work are with real people. 

Can you see what I did there?  I asked myself the all important “how do I know _____?”  in regards to my waking state, the accuracy of my memory, and the existence of reality.  When I ask this question, I must be honest and realize that scientific inquiry can answer none of those questions for me.  The knowledge must have come from one of the other sources of knowledge, either personal insight or authority/revelation.

Can the belief that my car exists be taken separately from my belief that reality exists?  Of course not.

As you can see, in order to function in the real world, I must have a very basic set of beliefs.  However, we must have these beliefs in order to function, so we merely acknowledge them and move on. 

In The Same Way

In order to be a Christian, you must have some very basic beliefs that science can’t inform you about.  That there is existence of things outside of matter (spiritual things), that God is able to speak with humanity, and that the Bible is that communication.  Those pieces of knowledge must come from either personal insight or authoritative revelation.  Of course, Christians believe that our knowledge of God’s existence and His Word comes from the ultimate authority!

Atheism is no different.

In order to believe that God doesn’t exist, you must first or concurrently believe that the natural world is the cause of all things and that only the material exists.  These beliefs are called naturalism and materialism.  Once you believe those two, then you’re free to believe that no god exists.  The modern atheist adds the beliefs of uniformitarianism and empiricism as well. 

Note: It was pointed out to me that perhaps Buddhists would call themselves atheists but still believe in a spiritual realm.  Even if this is true, the Buddhist would then have other beliefs that are inseparable from their atheism, the Buddhist is not an exception.

The Atheistic Delusion

One of my conversations is with morsecOde.  In his most recent comment he made a very interesting and telling statement.  This statement is the crux of the issue, and is one of the main reasons I was moved to write this article.  He said:

 Evidence backs up naturalism and materialism.

When morseOde talks of “evidence” he means evidence as a result of scientific inquiry.  This is the most basic of atheistic assumptions, that all the scientific evidence we have backs up their position and that God is an added, unnecessary and illogical conclusion.  You’ll hear it all the time, “If I saw evidence to believe in a god, I would”.  If it can be shown that scientific inquiry can not back up the big four atheistic beliefs, then their atheism becomes nothing more than personal preference.  So here it goes.

Note:  If, as an atheist, you want to object to my assertion that you must believe in these things.  Then please do so by more than just claiming that you don’t have to.  Please show me.

1. Naturalism

Let’s ask the all important question, “How do we know that nature is responsible for all phenomena?”.  Can scientific inquiry answer any question in the form of an absolute positive?  Of course it can’t.  Any attempt to use science, which only deals with the natural, to prove that the natural is responsible for everything only begs the question.  Does scientific inquiry test the natural world?  Of course, but it can’t test naturalism.  That’s the difference.

The atheist will attempt to get out of this trouble by saying, “The only thing we have is natural evidence so why add the assumption of a god?”  This is a cop out and part of the delusion.  If God doesn’t exist then nature MUST account for all phenomena.  There is no middle ground. 

2.  Materialism

How do we know that only the material exists?  In the same way, using the material process of scientific inquiry to test if only the material exists is circular reasoning.  Also, just like naturalism, there is no middle ground cop out.  Either a god exists or only the material does.

3.  Empiricism

How do we know that scientific inquiry (sense experience) is the only way to true knowledge?  Using scientific inquiry to show evidence that only scientific inquiry is true knowledge is circular. 

4.  Uniformitarianism

How can we know that the present rates of growth and decay stayed exactly the same in the past?  Using present growth and decay rates, can scientific inquiry tell us of past growth and decay rates?  Of course not. 

So Then What Do We Say?

Since scientific inquiry cannot give us evidence about the atheistic beliefs of naturalism, materialism, empiricism, and uniformitarianism, those pieces of knowledge must be decided by one of the other ways of knowing, either personal insight or authority.  The question then becomes, since science didn’t tell you about it, how do you know it’s right?  How does the atheist know his big four personal beliefs are more accurate than the Christian belief of a benevolent God? 

They don’t.

They ignore the inability of science to give evidence for their big four, or ignore the big four altogether, and delude themselves into thinking their atheism can be absent of any type of “belief” or “faith”.  When put under the microscope of epistemology, the big four degrade into nothing but pure personal preference.

Is God Evil? A Response; Part Two

December 10, 2008

Daniel Florien, as I hoped he would, is continuing his series on exploring whether or not the God of the Bible is actually evil, contrary to what us Christians would want you to believe.  Well, more accurately, Daniel isn’t really technically exploring the issue, he’s already decided that God IS evil and is going through the Bible looking for support for this position.  I’m also not sure that continuing is an accurate description of his latest post.  As you read his post, you might think of it as a re-hash of the earlier Adam and Eve post and I’d have to agree.  His latest post seems more like a “big picture” treatment of the Adam and Eve article. 

As in the previous post in the series, Daniel uses conveniently misunderstood facts and strawmen, and erroneous logic, to put the blame on God.  In fact . . .

Accurately Describing Genesis, the Blame is Not on God

To begin his article, Daniel uses an analogy to describe the situation in the Garden of Eden.

Professor Sidney was proud — he was the creator of the first sentient, emotional beings made by man.

Right there, we’re starting off on a bad foot because man wasn’t created by another created, fallible creature.  Man was created by an all-powerful, all-knowing God.

The Humloids (as he called them) were programmed with instructions to pick any of the flowers in the biodome except one.

That’s just plain inaccurate.  Humans were not “programmed” in the same sense that a man made computer program is.  We were given our DNA and our morphological traits, but also given free will.  A more accurate analogy would be the father of grown children:  Is he really to blame for what his twenty-five year old son and daughter do?  Why not?  His children have free will do they not? 

The subject of Adam and Eve’s free will was also conveniently missing from Daniel’s previous post on the subject, and the error was pointed out to him.  Why, then, is Daniel still subscribing to the error?  Because he must in order to put the blame on God.

They thought they would die if they picked the forbidden flower — a harmless little joke that still made him chuckle.

They DID die for picking the fruit.  God never said they would die immediately, but the moment they ate of the fruit, they began to die. 

Here were his beloved Humloids — with the forbidden flower in their hair! They had done what he had forbidden! He was furious! He would kill them all! No — a slow death would be better. He would make them suffer.

This is where Daniel’s initial decision to make the designer in his analogy a human is key.  If the designer is a fallible human being then his analogy makes us angry.  How dare a human decide that another being should suffer!  However, if Daniel was accurate to the Biblical story, the designer would have to be an infallible, all-powerful, all-knowing God. 

Erroneous Logic

Only an all-powerful, all-knowing, Just and Righteous God has the right, nay the obligation, to punish His creation when they disobey Him.  This is absolutely a part of the Biblical doctrine of the nature of God.  However, the attributes of Love and Grace are also very explicit in the Biblical text. 

God gave Adam and Eve life, and everything they ever wanted.  With His love, God gave them literally a paradise in which to live.  No death, no suffering, not even vanity.  He only asked ONE thing of them.  And they couldn’t do it.  To affirm the story of the Garden and Eve, and yet dis affirm the REASON for God’s actions, and why He is able to punish His creation, is to be logically inconsistent. 

Even if Daniel wants to talk about Genesis in the form of a myth-story, that works too.  Part of the myth-story is that God is Just, Righteous and Holy.  If the prospect of such a God offends Daniel, as it obviously does, then fine, be an atheist.  But to treat the actions of God in that myth-story with a critical eye while ignoring the reasons the myth-story gives for God’s actions, his Justice and Righteousness, is to twist the story for your own benefit.  Daniel is literally creating His own version of a god who isn’t Just and Righteous, applying that to the God described in the Bible, and then attempting to call that God evil. 

Daniel:  “Only an evil God commits those acts.”

The Bible:  “Only a Righteous God is justified in those acts”

What’s the difference?  Daniel starts with the presupposition that God is subject to Daniel’s morality while the Bible presupposes that humanity is subject to God’s morality. 

Further, are we really accurately describing the human experience as nothing but “suffering”, as Daniel puts it?  

Strawmen!

Daniel then decides to strawman Christian beliefs in an attempt to show how absurd they are.  It’s easy to do.  In a section entitled, “Is that Why Bad Things Happen?”, Daniel lists a few things that are bad and why the strawmanned Christian explanations are wrong.

When an innocent baby dies of a birth defect, is it because our ancestors ate some fruit? . . . I don’t think so. Birth defects happen because of medical problems, which we have gotten better at screening and fixing.

Daniel can’t really be suggesting that a Christian denies the natural explanations for medical problems and immediately goes back to the Garden can he?  Sadly, yes.  I’ll let the absurdity of that strawman stand for itself.

When a daughter is raped and killed by her step-father, is it because the step-father inherited “original sin”? . . . People are raped and killed by others not because we all have original sin, but because some people are mentally unstable, which through medication and therapy can sometimes be remedied.

Notice how Daniel didn’t call a rapist and a murderer “evil”, only “mentally unstable”.  He isn’t willing to hold fellow human beings to the “evil” standard, but he’ll happily apply it to God.  I smell a bias!  I’ll come back to how this isn’t an answer either.

When a tsunami destroys a city and millions are killed, is it because of an ancient myth passed on for thousands of years before it was written down? . . . Natural disasters occur not because some invisible man in the sky controls them, but because of natural forces on this earth.

This isn’t a why answer because . . . 

There is no “Why” in Atheism

At the beginning of the section, Daniel asks the question, “why do bad things happen?”.  In none of his examples and answers, does Daniel answer the question.  Go back to the quotes and see for yourself, does Daniel answer “why”?  No really, I want you to go back and re-read them, it’ll only take a second, just read the parts in quotations.  

He only answers how.  

It’s not his fault.  Atheism can’t answer why.  Think about it, why do natural disasters happen?  Because of natural forces.  That’s begging the question isn’t it?!  It’s just like saying, “Natural disasters happen because natural forces cause them.”  Circular!  Why do the natural forces cause them?!

Why is a metaphysical question.  Atheism cannot answer metaphysical questions without being inconsistent.  So when Daniel mocks the Christian answers of why, he is only trying to cover up that he has no answer!  Every time an atheist attempts to answer why he’s truly only answering how.  It’s the best that he can do.

The Intolerance of Evolution

December 9, 2008

Evolutionary scientists, and atheists alike, have long fooled themselves into believing that they are neutral.  This belief in their own neutrality has led to an overall disgust for worldviews that are considered non-neutral.  In fact, evolutionists, and atheists in particular, have long derided Christians for their “intolerance”.  Not only is this an erroneous accusation since there is no partiality with God, it’s a hypocritical one.  The myth of evolutionary neutrality is so staunchly defended, that it brings me no small amount of joy when a leading evolutionary proponent exposes their true agenda.  The following is an example evolutionary proponents being intolerant of any other religion except their own.

 The Creation Museum

The Creationist organisation, Answers in Genesis, has their very own Creation Museum.  This museum is a privately funded Christian entity.  They entered into a business arraignment with another entity, the Cincinnati Zoo, to provide tickets to both the zoo and the museum at a reduced price if purchased in a “bundle”.  The idea was to bring more tourism to the city and to both the museum and the zoo.

However, on Monday Dec 1st, about 48 hours after the deal was finalized, the Cincinnati zoo pulled out.  The zoo was inundated with emails and phone calls regarding their affiliation with the Creation Museum.  The cries all had the same message, the zoo should not be affiliated with Christianity. 

 Don’t Be Fooled; Atheists Have a Leader, and They are Organized

But how did they anti-Christian forces mobilize so quickly?  Once P.Z. Meyers over at Pharyngula makes a point of something, it becomes common knowledge in the atheistic community within 24 hours.   Fortunately for us, Meyers displays his intolerance for Christianity proudly.  His rant began:

The Cincinnati Zoo is promoting an anti-science, anti-education con job run by ignorant creationists. . . . I believe the Cincinnati Zoo has betrayed its mission and its trust in a disgraceful way, by aligning themselves with a creationist institution that is a laughing stock to the rest of the world, and a mark of shame to the United States. I urge everyone to contact the zoo; write to their education and marketing and public relations departments in particular and point out the conflict between what they are doing and what their goal as an educational and research institution ought to be.

Wait, “anti-science”?  “Anti-education”?  Talk about strawmen of epic proportions.  Answers in Genesis has, on staff, dozens of Ph.D’s in biology, microbiology, genetics, nuerology, physics, geology, archaeology and many other fields.  These guys aren’t “scientists” just because they disagree with Dr. Meyers?  Apparently, P.Z. defines what a “scientist” is.   Also, at no time has AiG supported Creationism being taught in public schools.

To accomplish this intolerance P.Z. continues:

While you’re at it, it might be even more effective to contact the newsroom at the Cincinnati Enquirer and the Cincinnati weekly, City Beat. Let’s raise a stink and give these guys the bad PR they deserve.

This is religious zealotry at it’s best.  A call to arms to stand up for their common religous cause! 

Atheism is a Religion That Doesn’t Tolerate Any Other Viewpoint

To give more examples of this intolerance, not to mention ignorance, one only has to quickly scan some of the comments on Pharyngula.

 Also smells very strongly of the typical creationist “what can we do to make people think we’re mainstream science educators?” principle

Ah, yes, Christians aren’t mainstream educators so we have to try and fool people.  I love it. 

Yes, the Cininnati [sic] Zoo has betrayed science, and common sense. There are people who take a literal interpretation of a something that is over 2000 years old without questioning it. If these people want to keep their believes [sic] private that is their right. However, to pollute the public sphere is just wrong.

The atheists believe they have the monopoly on science and what is considered “common sense”.  This campaign against the Creation Museum was exactly designed to berate any other viewpoint that isn’t their own into submission.  This is tolerance?

THIS MAY BE CREATION MUSEUM FRAUD Before everyone begins slamming the Cincinnati Zoo, let’s verify this.

Atheists are taught that Christian’s modus operandi is to lie in order to further our cause. 

Well I smell a lawsuit coming up. If the zoo really is part of the public school system and it really is promoting creationism, then they are in blatant violation of the constitution. This will be a good case to establish precedent and if persued [sic], should cause everyone to realize what a deceitful bunch of hypocrites the creationists really are.

This individual is mistaken.  A private zoo is NOT part of the public school system.  This individual also buys in to the P.Z. Meyers canard that if an individual doesn’t believe in molecules-to-man evolution they are either ignorant or lying.  However, the implication contained within this comment is much more troubling.  This individual wants any entity in the scientific, governmental, or educational realms to be legally barred from dealing with Christian organizations.  The only religion the government would be then able to deal with would be evolution.  This is not an isolated sentiment.

The best example of the power of the intolerant atheistic leadership, is a quote by a Dr. Leach who wrote an email to the Cincinnati Zoo.  The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that:

“They seem like diametrically opposed institutions,” said Dr. James Leach, a Cincinnati radiologist who e-mailed zoo officials about his concerns. “The Cincinnati Zoo is one of this city’s treasures. The Creation Museum is an international laughingstock.”

Where do you think Dr. Leach got that terminology, “international laughingstock”?  Pharyngula anyone?  If the atheists don’t think they follow leadership, they’re fooling themselves. 

The Creation Museum is an international laughingstock according to whom?  The secular academic community?  Is this the same academic community that calls for any mention of Intelligent Design to be soundly and immediately squelched, dare I say, expelled?  That have decided, a priori and prima facie, that Intelligent Design is impossible?  Forgive me if I don’t consider them the nuetral party the atheists portray them to be. 

This post wouldn’t be complete without my favorite comment found on the Cincinnati Enquirer website:

What idiot would believe the earth was 6000 years old? The zoo has shamed itself. It will next be promoting with witches, neo nazis, KKK members and other neanderthals like those running the creation museum…I guess the folks that go to the creationist museum had trouble giving up their beliefs in santa claus, the easter bunny, and the fairy tale too. let these morons believe what they want, but put them in their own state (seems like they are already living in a state of denial) or send them to guantanamo.

The atheists and evolutionists who moved to block the business relationship between a Christian entity and a privately owned zoo, are organized and motivated to shut down any other viewpoint besides their own.  Christians should be confined so that we cannot explore our beliefs in any other venue except inside our homes and churchs.  Doesn’t this sound eerily like certain “ghetto’s” that were set up some seventy years ago in some distant European country?  Send them where they can’t be seen, heard or bother anyone else.  Now, how’s THAT for tolerance?

Three Ways of Knowing

December 3, 2008

I must admit an amount of frustration lately.  This frustration has stemmed from, not only the differences in worldviews from non-believers, but in the complete inability to communicate on the same level with them.  Even though we are talking about the same topic, it sometimes seems that we aren’t even in the same universe.  Although I’m sure some of this can be chalked up to a certain inability of mine to accurately and legibly enumerate myself, that can’t be the whole explanation.

But that’s it, isn’t it?  We AREN’T in the same universe!  My worldview is guided by an all-knowing, all-powerful Creator God who, for a reason I’ll never comprehend, loves me and communicates with me.  To an un-believer, especially an athiest, such a sentence as I just uttered is pure self-deluding hogwash.  Only cold hard facts can be truly known and any spiritual revelation is just that (or a bad piece of meat from the night before), and should not be applied to anything outside of ourselves. 

If we want to really think about where this difference comes from, the question becomes a question of epistemology (how we know things).

A Lecture on Epistemology

I try to keep up with the articles on Answers in Genesis that they post.  I skim through the topics and if it’s of interest to me I’ll read it or mark it to be read later (and man am I behind!). The posting of this article, entitled, “Great Scott Eugenie!”, was exactly what I had been pondering in regards to the reason it was so hard to communicate with unbelievers.

The writer of the article, Peter Galling, had attended a lecture by Eugenie Scott at Miami University.  Some of you may recognize Scott from “Expelled:  No Intelligence Allowed”.  Her lecture was called, “Science and Religion as Ways of Knowing.”  Galling was quite extensive in his critique of Scott’s lecture.  I, however, will focus in a bit more.

Scott’s “Three Ways of Knowing”

At the beginning of her lecture, Scott categorized three ways to knowledge.  They are:

  1. Personal state or insight—a.k.a. intuition or internal knowledge;
  2. Authority—which, according to Scott, we have evolutionarily adapted into following. Scott also identified revelation as a subset of authority.
  3. Science—a “limited way of knowing” that, she said, can only explain the natural world using natural processes.

Scott treats the authority quite fairly by saying that even though we may take a physicists word for it (since we may not be physicists ourselves) we could, if we felt so inclined, learn and discover the evidence for the physicists position.  We could verify the physicists conclusions.  This is in contrast to “revealed” authority, or revelation, because one cannot put themselves in God’s shoes and independly verify His veracity in the Scriptures.

Inferential Explanation vs. Direct Observation

At one point, Eugenie made a comparison between direct observation and inferential explanation.  In short, she said that Creationists prefer direct observation so much that we reject inferential explanation. 

In truth, Creationists find that inferential explanation is valid most of the time.  However, just as it seems foolish to reject all inferential explanation, it’s foolish to say that inferential explanation is just as valid as direct observation.  It is also disengeous to compare the inferential explanation of a crime scene, where we have observable knowledge of the physics involved and of crime scenes in general, to the inferential explanation of molecules-to-man evolution.  But that is a topic for another time.

Scott admits there is an alternative explanation to any inferrence into the past.  Aliens, or some outside designer with unclear purposes, could have done it.  To answer this, Scott says, “But that’s not a very probable explanation because some things are more probable than others.” 

The Question of Authority

Wait, why?  Apparently, according to Scott, a possible designer is less probable because it just is prima facie (without scientific evidence).  What if we had evidence for extraterrestrials?  What if we had past experience of a mischevious alien race that liked to go around doing intergalactic pranks?

Even Scott admits that the question of God is not a scientific one.  So how can science show a designer to be “less probable”?  And that’s the point, Scott’s position on the science of evolution is necessarily affected by her already decided upon position on God.  If God didn’t create the world, as she assumes He didn’t, then what else is there to except but evolution?

Creationists believe that the evidence, personal revelation, and logical inference proves that God exists.  Not only does God exists, but He wants to, and did, communicate with us.  Why are atheists like Scott so incredulous that we find the question of a designer more than just “probable”?  Wouldn’t it be more logical to trust the direct observation of the Designer who was THERE at the beginning?

What Science Takes on Faith

The point is, one’s belief about God, which is outside the bounds of science, informs that person on what they believe about science and especially the origin of life.  “Specifically, while creationists do value inferential explanation, we value the authority of an infallible, direct observer over inferential explanations that start out by arbitrarily decreeing that a designer is “less probable” (ruling out supernatural explanations” (Galling). 

An atheist would respond, “I see how your religious beliefs (which fall into Scott’s categories of authority and personal states of being) override actual science. But those religious beliefs are taken on faith, whereas science is verifiable. That’s why I only accept scientific facts.”  This is the main reason why we are on completely different levels when we discuss with one another.  To show how erronoeus the atheistic thinking is when it comes to scientific “facts”, I will respond to this argument in relation to Scott’s lecture.

On one of her slides, Scott showed the assumptions of science:

  1. There is an objective reality outside of the individual.
  2. The universe operates according to regularities.
  3. Human beings can understand these regularities.

As Scott admits, these assumptions are outside the perview of science.  That is, there can be no scientific evidence to verify the validity of a belief in these assumptions.  Remember Scott’s “Three Ways of Knowing”? 

So, my question to Scott is, “What area of knowledge gives you grounds for choosing your ‘scientific’ assumptions over any other assumptions (such as assuming the Bible is true)?”  Science can’t verify those assumptions, so your belief in them must come from one of the other two “ways of knowing”, personal insight or authority.  What authority or personal insight gives you the knowledge to assume these scientific assumptions instead assuming the Word of God to be true?  At the heart of science are philosophical axioms that can’t be proven scientifically. So on what grounds should someone accept those axioms instead of biblical truth?

I can’t put it any better than Peter Galling did, so I won’t attemp to:

So, either Scott accepts science on authority (she has faith in someone or something that tells her the scientific assumptions are better than other assumptions) or she accepts science based on a personal state (such as her own personal emotions/experience that aren’t transferable to someone else). She has attacked both authority and personal states of being as the domain of religions, pointing out that they lack the verifiability of science, yet this is where she must lay the foundation of science!

 Why the Atheist Is Deluding Themselves

What do we say, then, of science as a way of knowing?  Scott reveals that

  • Science can’t produce factual certainty (it can only disprove hypthotheses).
  • Science is based on untestable philosophical assumptions.
  • That’s the point.  Science, empiricism, and factual certainty are impossible with unscientific, philosophical assumptions, which many times includes excluding the supernatural at the outset.  This is why those atheists that claim to “believe only in scientific facts” are deluding themselves.  Not only this, but they attempt to hold Christians to this empirical self-delusion, demanding that only scientific evidence matters while being willfully ignorant of the assumptions inherent in science.

    Is science, therefore, rejected as a way of knowing?  Of course not.  Can science be taken absent of it’s naturalistic assumptions?  Not rationally. 

    I’d like to ask an open question to anyone who reads this.  Since the assumptions needed for science are known by either personal or authoritative revelation, what makes them the correct assumptions?  That is, why are the unscientific philosophical beliefs of atheists considered more correct than the philosophical beliefs of Christians?  And this question is more important than the first:  How do you know this?