America’s Largest Cult: 64% of Evangelicals Hold to the Young Earth Creationist Belief That “God created humans pretty much in their present form at one time in the last 10,000 years or so.”

Physicist Karl Giberson, a former evangelical who now identifies as a mainline Protestant, has written an admirably clear-headed essay for The Daily Beast on contemporary evangelicalism’s fraught relationship with the theory of evolution. Here he is summarizing scientific illiteracy in the United States in general, how it’s driven by the crassest sort of young earth biblical literalism, and how absurdly disconnected this ridiculous worldview–Adam and Eve literally existed in a garden in Mesopotamia some 6,000 years ago, etc.–is from reality:

Americans entered 2013 more opposed to evolution than they have been for years, with an amazing 46 percent embracing the notion that “God created humans pretty much in their present form at one time in the last 10,000 years or so.” This number was up a full 6 percent from the prior poll taken in 2010. According to a December 2013 Pew poll, among white evangelical Protestants, a demographic that includes many Republican members of Congress and governors, almost 64 percent reject the idea that humans have evolved.

The connection between acceptance of evolution and political affiliation has grown stronger over the past three years, exacerbating the polarization now plaguing Congress. Among Democrats, acceptance of evolution increased by 3 percent, to 67 percent, while among Republicans it decreased from 54 percent to 43 percent.

The trajectory is not encouraging, especially as it runs in parallel with a steady increase in the evidence for evolution—evidence now piled so high that not even one evolutionary biologist at any of America’s research universities rejects the theory. Evolution is as widely accepted in biology departments as gravity is in physics departments. [...]

Those of us teaching evolution at evangelical colleges are made to feel as if we have this subversive secret we must whisper quietly in our students’ ears: “Hey, did you know that Adam and Eve were not the first humans and never even existed? And that you can still be a Christian and believe that?” Such an approach works surprisingly well, at least in persuading young people that evolution is true and compatible with their faith, as long as it occurs in the quiet intellectual confines of the classroom, where the subversive message is delivered by caring and thoughtful Christian professors.

But some professors, alarmed by the persistent gap between the evangelical community and the findings of science—the gap that drives their students out of their churches—have naively presumed to educate their larger faith communities by writing books and articles in support of scientific theories of origins such as evolution and the Big Bang. Their quiet whispers thus become loud proclamations. Influential leaders read their books and are horrified to discover that a faculty member at “their” college is spreading “lies from the pit of hell” and destroying the faith of the students. Campaigns of various sorts are mounted and pressure exerted on the college leadership to remove that dangerous professor.

That was my life for my last 15 years as a faculty member at Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy, Massachusetts, after my books, articles, and lectures made me the focus of fundamentalist rage.

In other words, science over the past 150 years has discovered that the Earth is vastly old, plants and animals change over time, and humans got their start in Africa, not Mesopotamia. These things are true. And there are colleges–colleges!–across America where these basic scientific discoveries cannot be spoken by professors too loudly or insistently, lest they lose their jobs.

That’s how bad it is; how unhinged it is.

Here’s Giberson naming names:

I spent countless hours in the office of a succession of college presidents, explaining why Christians needed to make peace with evolution, no matter how painful. I was forced to communicate and even meet with hostile external constituents to defend well-established science against people who knew nothing about it beyond the challenges it posed to their interpretation of the Bible. One such watchdog group, the Reformed Nazarenes, rejoiced when I finally left the college.

My story is far from unique. Indeed, it’s almost typical. Understandably, only a handful of evangelical scholars have published books and articles in defense of evolution, but many of them have been forced to resign as a result. Howard Van Till and John Schneider were both forced out of Calvin College. Richard Colling was forced out of Olivet Nazarene University. All three had decades of exemplary service. Many others were silenced or censured.

Look, I’m not trying to be mean, but any religious group, however large, that is incapable of incorporating the elementary findings of history and science into its worldview, and uses its institutional power to enforce an over-rigid conformity on its members, is a cult. The majority of Mormons are cultish about the history of North America and the majority of Evangelicals are cultish about the history of life on Earth. They close themselves off from the readily verifiable truth. Both groups are thus cranky–attracting cranks, charlatans, and crackpots. They provide their communities with alternative (and quite ridiculous) counter-narratives to mainstream history and science, becoming ever more insular in the process, and facts become “stupid things.”

But the truth matters. And when there is no real contact between what is believed and what is, someone has to step forward and say, in more than a whisper, “The emperor has no clothes!”

Karl Giberson has done that, bravely and repeatedly, at real professional risk to himself. He has made truth paramount, and has played the role of an unwelcome Jeremiah to the community to which he belonged–and he has paid a price for it. Here he is declaring his own status after coming out of the closet on evolution:

I am a white evangelical Protestant, or at least I was until persuaded to leave a couple of years ago.

And here he is on the demographic exodus of the young–most especially, the better educated young–from evangelicalism:

For a quarter century I taught scientific theories of origins—evolution and the Big Bang Theory—under a cloud of suspicion that waxed and waned but never totally disappeared. With few exceptions, my mostly evangelical students accepted these ideas. I took informal polls indicating that most of the 50 percent of my students who rejected evolution at the beginning of my course accepted it by the end. My colleagues at other evangelical colleges report similar experiences. We were hopeful that these evangelical students would become leaders of their faith communities and gradually persuade their fellow evangelicals that evolution was not a lie from hell—which was what many of them had been taught in Sunday school. But instead scientifically informed young evangelicals became so alienated from their home churches that they walked away, taking their enlightenment with them.

An alarming study by the Barna group looked at the mass exodus of 20-somethings from evangelicalism and discovered that one of the major sources of discontent was the perception that “Christianity was antagonistic to science.” Anti-evolution, and general suspicion of science, has become such a significant part of the evangelical identity that many people feel compelled to choose one or the other. Many of my most talented former students no longer attend any church, and some have completely abandoned their faith traditions.

In other words, contemporary evangelicalism is England in the 1970s–a place where the taxes are simply too high, and the best and the brightest head for the exits. In the case of evangelicalism, it’s not income taxation, but intellectual taxation, that has become too burdensome. Giberson is saying that, if you have eaten of the tree of the knowledge of science, it is taxing to be an evangelical.

Psychologist Steven Pinker of Harvard, in his book The Blank Slate (Penguin 2002), describes “the mentality of a cult” as “fantastical beliefs” that “are flaunted as proof of one’s piety.” He goes on to state, “That mentality cannot coexist with an esteem for truth, [...]” (Preface). That’s the tax on those exposed to science; the price of admission for the educated into the cult of contemporary evangelicalism. The rejection of evolution becomes a test of commitment. Can you believe in biblical literalism regardless of what you’ve learned about the historical and scientific evidence contradicting it?

If so, blessed are you! You don’t care what the secular historians and scientists have “discovered.” Yours is the kingdom of heaven. Join the marriage supper of the Lamb and dance among your brethren, for they too have surrendered their reason to the Lord, which is the last bastion of pride.

But don’t expect many others of a similar education to your own to come along. Narrow is your way.

__________

__________

Karl Giberson, by the way, has written, with Randall Stephens, an excellent study of contemporary evangelicalism: The Anointed: Evangelical Truth in a Secular Age (Harvard 2011).

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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36 Responses to America’s Largest Cult: 64% of Evangelicals Hold to the Young Earth Creationist Belief That “God created humans pretty much in their present form at one time in the last 10,000 years or so.”

  1. conservative says:

    It’s funny to see how once again, atheists pay lip service to logic, tolerance and intelligence. So, Evangelical Christians are a cult just because they don’t blindly accept Darwinian evolutionism. Tell me, are secular scientists who reject Darwin’s theory also some kind of cult?

    David Berlinsky is one such secular scientist. He taught biology and physics. If I have this right, he has a PhD in biology.

    In another comment, I said that secular societies in the last century were not famous for freedom, but instead for dictatorship. I can’t find that thread, it was something about an atheist march in DC. Sorry about not putting my name there. I was in a hurry and I forgot.

    Anyway, it’s interesting how you avoid the real issues here. You point the finger at Christians who don’t accept the theory of evolution and claim that they censor professors who believe differently in Bible colleges, but you don’t say anything about how professors are censored in secular colleges when they question the theory of evolution. There’s a lot of hostility toward people who challenge evolutionism, one of the fundamental dogmas of your ideology, atheism, liberalism, progressivism, whatever you call it.

    I said secular or atheist societies failed miserably. I should have said governments, instead of societies. The governments or regimes mentioned, were ultra-secular or atheist. It’s true that many people in Russia and Germany remained theistic in their worldview, but religion was mostly formal and discouraged. The secular regimes of Communist Russia and Nazi Germany demanded absolute loyalty to the Party and the supreme leader, Lenin, Hitler and Stalin. Neither Russia nor Germany encouraged church attendance and their political and educational systems were very anti-Christian.

    As I said, atheists pay lip service to tolerance. Dawkins said that people who reject evolution, are just as bad as Holocaust deniers. I would say that’s a good example of intolerance. To compare people who don’t believe in a pseudo-scientific theory, to radicals who deny the Holocaust, is the most stupid comparison.

    Stalin believed in evolution. In a biography authorized by the Soviet government and published in the 1940s, this statement is found: “While a student at the theological seminary, Comrade Stalin developed a critical mind and became an atheist”.

    This kind of “reasoning” is common among atheists. It’s the silly association that atheists make to this day. They associate belief in evolution and rejection of God with critical thinking.

    Where do you get the idea that if you don’t believe in God and in a spiritual dimension, that make you smarter? Michael Faraday was a devout Christian and he made an important discovery in one of the fields of science.

    Hitler was not a Christian anymore than Obama is. Of course, he didn’t attack Christianity publicly because he knew his audience. Most Germans were not atheists and they were not planning to return to the Nordic myths of Thor and other gods worshipped by their ancestors.
    Hitler had a fascination with Nordic mythology. Hitler was not inspired by Luther. He was inspired by Darwin and Nietzche. Also, the following quote by Goebbels (the propaganda chief) in his diary, is very revealing as far as Hitler’s personal beliefs.

    “The Fuhrer describes life in ancient Rome. Beauty, clarity, monumentality. The greatest republic in history. The Fuhrer is a man totally attuned to antiquity. Athens and Rome are his Meccas. He hates Christianity because it has destroyed everything noble in mankind.”

    Well, tell me if that doesn’t sound like something Richard Dawkins or Karl Marx would say. :-)

    Hitler’s admiration of the Roman Empire is very similar to the postmodern liberals’ admiration of some of the inhumane practices of ancient Roman culture. Like women killing their newborn children, the ancient equivalent of abortion.

    Before you tell me that this not true, that liberals or progressives, don’t believe in infanticide, consider the following story. Two “ethicists” at an Australian university argue that newborn infants are not human, and they can be “aborted”. http://www.theblaze.com/stories/ethicists-argue-in-favor-of-after-birth-abortions-as-newborns-are-not-persons/

    The Dean of Ethics at Princeton is very pro-abortion and he wrote a book in which he said that perhaps it’s time to abandon the idea that human life is sacred, to abandon the sanctity of human life.

    Usually, Australians pride themselves of being more secular than us. They are more pro-abortion than Americans, and most of them don’t attend church, like most of us, traditional, conservative, narrow-minded Americans. Well, this is the result of their secularism and pro-abortion liberalism, rationalizing infanticide or child sacrifice. Secular humanist liberals can rationalize almost anything. Abortion, infanticide, socialist healthcare and euthanasia of elderly or terminally ill people, homosexual “marriage”, destruction of free speech in the name of political correctness, among other things.

    And with due respect to Hitler’s opinion about history, Rome was not the greatest republic in history. The greatest republic in history is America. But the leftist liberals hate America and want to “transform” it, as much as the Communists and the Nazis did. The “transformation” of America and the entire West, started 160 years ago, with Darwin and Marx. Since then, atheists and secularists imposed their views through the power of the state, and did everything to demonize faith in God and Christ.

    You people claim that atheism would make things better. You had the opportunity to make things better for the last 160 years, especially in societies where traditional religion was almost illegal. Why didn’t the Russians make it work? They had a society where atheism was aggressively promoted. Why all the mass killings, if atheism is so tolerant and peaceful? Atheists at the end of the 19th century were shouting that their worldview would make the world better. But instead, they did worse than the religionists before them. Tens of millions exterminated, entire nations ruined and their economies bankrupted. That’s the atheist legacy of the 20th century.

    John Adams said: “It would be better to return to the religion of the ancient Greeks than to live under a government of atheists”. That’s a very realistic and prophetic statement, given the fact that he said that before there was any atheist government or regime in the world.

    I’m not saying traditional religions are spotless. Traditional religions have their share of corruption and killings. Islam is the bloodiest religion in the world. Christianity in its version from the Middle Ages was not too far off either. Judaism has its Talmudic fanatics, the Talmud has some intolerant passages. Hinduism has its extremists and absurd pagan practices like “sati”, the burning alive of widows. Buddhism has its intolerant individuals in Burma and Thailand. Buddhism is actually atheism in a religious form. It has no deity and no belief in an afterlife. You might as well be an atheist than convert to Buddhism.

    When you say you don’t like the influence of religion in some ways, do you also mean the religion of secularism? Secularism is a religion and you have your own saints. You know, Darwin, Marx, Keynes, Nietzche, Dewey, Freud, those are your “saints”.

    You also have your doctrines. “There is no free will”, “There is no God”, humans are evolved animals, nature is our mother goddess, life has no ultimate meaning, there are no moral absolutes, statism is good, immorality means freedom, abortion is a woman’s right, all those things. That’s the ideology of globalization and presently of the Democratic Party, in a nutshell.

    So, don’t fool yourself, you’re religious too, in your own secular way.

    You owe Jesus Christ and Christian teachings a lot more than you think. Your worth as a human being wouldn’t be recognized by society, if it wasn’t for Christianity. The concept of the sanctity of life comes from the Bible. It doesn’t come from Marx or other atheist “saints”. And it doesn’t come from pagan religions and cultures.

    The lyrics in “O, holy night”, a Christmas carol, say something about this.

    “It was the night of our dear Savior’s birth.
    For long the world lay in sin and error pinning
    But He appeared, and the soul felt its worth”.

    That’s the foundation of individual freedom, the worth of the human soul, created by God in His image.

    Since your ideology or religion indoctrinates people that they are nothing but animals, that there are no moral absolutes or absolute truths, and that life ultimately has no meaning, then don’t be shocked and surprised when you see children shooting each other in public schools and other meaningless violence and breakdown of society. If the dogmas of atheism or secularism are so enlightened, as you claim, why don’t they work, if they are applied? So far, they haven’t produced any free or prosperous societies, where humans are respected simply for being human, where human life has worth. Human life didn’t have any worth in Soviet Russia, and it still doesn’t have much worth in Communist China or North Korea.

    Tell me, “enlightened” atheist, how do you explain that?

    If you are so open minded as you claim all the time, why don’t you consider the arguments of Ravi Zacharias, a world class thinker and Christian apologist? He has debated many atheists, Muslims and Hindus. He himself is from India.

    You can listen to his conferences http://www.rzim.org/.

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      First, pointing out idiocy in a group and calling it cultic in the way it enforces conformity among its members is a form censure not censor. I have free speech too. I’m simply expressing my opinion–not shutting down cultic speech. It’s not a zero-sum game.

      Second, I agree with Dawkins that Holocaust denial and young earth creationism are on the same level epistemically. In other words, both are excellent examples of the ways that cranks deny overwhelming and converging lines of evidence to reach a contrary and desired conclusion. That doesn’t make young earth creationists morally akin to neo-Nazis, just epistemically. So you misrepresent the nature of Dawkins’ analogy.

      As for Berlinski, I like him a great deal. I have his books and have read them. He is not a young earth creationist. He accepts that the cosmos is vastly old, that plants and animals have changed over time, and that humans evolved out of Africa. What he questions is the mechanism of evolution (whether random mutation acted upon by natural selection can account for the full effects of evolution that we see around us). In other words, Berlinski’s questioning is completely within the realm of reason. He is not denying any of the converging lines of evidence that make for the conclusion that the cosmos is old and plants and animals change over time.

      This is very different from young earth creationism, which is the position of about two-thirds of evangelicals. (Perhaps this should be what distinguishes an evangelical from a fundamentalist.) Young earth creationism is cultic because it is in no more contact with reality than the Book of Mormon’s history of North America or Scientology’s claim that the known universe is trillions of years old.

      I’m sorry, but Adam and Eve never existed in a garden in Mesopotamia. And God did not make the sun and the moon on the fourth day of creation–three days after the appearance of the heaven and the Earth and the sea (as it says in the first chapter of Genesis). Science has discovered that the cosmos is vastly old and has dramatically evolved through time. Our sun and moon and Earth were not even around in the first eight billion years of the known cosmos’s existence. They are late-comers to the scene. And dinosaurs once roamed the Earth absent the presence of humans, and humans are recent arrivals on the cosmic scene (they ultimately dispersed into the rest of the world from Africa, not Mesopotamia). It is as certain that these things are true as that the Earth is round and not shaped like a burrito. Any religion that cannot accommodate the converging lines of evidence that point to these facts is a cult.

      As for Ravi Zacharias. I’ve heard him before. He tends, in my view, toward the simplistic and inane. William Lane Craig, among evangelicals, strikes me as the most intellectually rigorous. It’s hard to take him seriously, though, when he talks about the ancient Canaanites as an unusually wicked people, defending their slaughter at the hands of the Israelites. If you want to talk about what leads to genocidal behavior and the intellectual justification of it, you needn’t assume that it takes atheism to get there.

      http://santitafarella.wordpress.com/2011/06/02/genocide-or-justice-william-lane-craig-the-canaanites-the-holocaust-and-jihad/

      Lastly, in asking me to name where secularism has worked, you’re missing something huge. By focusing on where it hasn’t worked (totalitarian states like Stalinist Russia and Maoist China), you’re missing where it does work (all of Europe in the 21st century; all of North America; all of Japan; Australia, etc.). The Anglo-French Enlightenment was something that much of Christendom actively opposed, yet it is responsible for such things as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, church-state separation, and the scientific revolution. These aren’t bad secular accomplishments. And as an agnostic, I admire people like Mary Wollstonecraft, Camille Paglia, Voltaire, Hume, Franklin, Jefferson, Payne, Lincoln, Camus, Orwell, Einstein, and Hitchens–not Lenin, Stalin, and Mao. The former group of French, Americans, Germans, and British belong to the doubting community, not the faith community. Lenin, Stalin, and Mao were not doubters; they were fanatics–just not religious fanatics. They had a great deal more in common with Martin Luther (a rabid antisemite) and John Calvin than Thomas Jefferson. Lenin, Stalin, and Mao lacked proportion, were indifferent to art and compassion, and were probably clinically sociopathic. It’s possible to be an agnostic or atheist and not be a sociopath (as my list of personal heroes attests).

      Christianity had a grip on Europe for well over a millennia, and it followed the blueprint of the apostle Paul: focus on the Bible, not other forms of literature; permit slavery; oppose women’s equality; oppose the pagan philosophy and science of the Greeks; blame Jews collectively for the killing of Christ; oppose sexual behavior out of wedlock (including masturbation and homosexuality); destroy the icons and books of opposing religions and ideologies; focus on religious practice, not living well in this world; and set up kingdoms (not democracies) after the model of Solomon and David in the Bible.

      We all know how those years turned out. They’re called the Dark Ages. And millenia-long Christian antisemitism in Europe morphed into Hitlerian antisemitism (which culminated in the Holocaust). Do you really want to go back to that time? Is that really a better world than living in a diverse, morally permissive, and secular democracy?

      I think the world is increasingly closing in on a way of being in the world that is the best among options: separation of powers (legislative, executive, judicial); esteeming education; democracy tapping the breaks on capitalism even as it recognizes its value; reasoning in the light of science and evidence; respect for individual rights; and the separation of church (or mosque) and state.

      Free minds, free markets, caring politics.

      • R7 Rocket says:

        Santita says:
        “Any religion that cannot accommodate the converging lines of evidence that point to these facts is a cult.”

        Totally agree. A good example of reality denying cults is Neo-Puritanis… err.. Progressivism.

    • R7 Rocket says:

      I’m not sure if “conservative” is a caricature but I’ll bite.

      Conservative says:
      “Secular humanist liberals can rationalize almost anything. Abortion, infanticide, socialist healthcare and euthanasia of elderly or terminally ill people, homosexual “marriage”, destruction of free speech in the name of political correctness, among other things.”
      No mention of the corrupt family courts or the divorce industry, an interesting omission, conservative. Just a bunch of gripes about gays, I wonder why…

  2. Longtooth says:

    Santi,

    Wow. The post by Conservative was really quite breathtaking. One might say it helped confirm Giberson’s insights. Giberson’s piece was encouraging, like a strong flicker of light in a predominantly dark and musty cellar. I say this because it seems that the mainliners’ voice in the biblicalism-evolution controversy has largely been muted. Absent from the public square is a strong showing from mainline or modernist Protestants who are not science professionals, but who nevertheless embrace evolutionary creationism and thus evolution science. This seems worthy of mention because it’s the rank and file among the fundamentalists who are the foot soldiers in the battle royal against evolution science.

    Both mainline clergy and laity have shown a curious lack of interest to engage the fundamentalists over theology or evolution science. I’ve heard it suggested that the modernist community may not want to openly challenge the fundamentalists because of the superficial similarity of their faiths. If that were the reason though, it seems self depreciating in the face of the fundamentalist’s willingness to openly criticize modernist theology. The fundamentalist movement has grown in numbers, financial support, and political clout. Claiming an influential segment of the Republican Party base, they grow ever bolder in their demands on both Christendom and the larger national culture. In a speech before the students of Ave Maria University in 2008, ultra conservative presidential hopeful Rick Santorum derided American academia for being under the spell of Satan and the mainline churches for no longer being Christian. If a prominent Republican is comfortable being so inflammatory, it seems reason enough for the mainline Protestants to reach for their broadswords. It’s notable that Santorum is a Catholic who just happens to fit more closely the profile of a Protestant fundamentalist.
    On the other hand, the muted voice in the mainline community might stem from a growing sense of defeat in the face the fundamentalist on slot. It might even reflect a growing inclination to throw in with the fundamentalist community even though the cost would be devaluation of liberal/modernist theology. If atheists and other minority types are the only visible rank and file opposition to the fundamentalist movement, then what does that say to the religiously involved youth struggling to sort things out? Well, maybe that’s exactly the point. As obnoxious as fundamentalist doctrine might be to modernist sensitivities, the mainliners might still be averse to openly siding with the “godless” atheists and secular humanists.

    Atheists, agnostics, humanists, non-theists, free thinkers, Deists, and similar others, including people of faith who object to the public trust being used to peddle religion, are typically the most visible in their support of evolution science and in criticism of fundamentalist religion. Many Americans are likely to blanket categorize them all as atheistic. Of all groups in America, atheists are the most distrusted and least respected. A 2006 national survey found that public acceptance of diversity only seems to extend to those who claim belief in God or some supernatural equivalent. Atheists, because of their non-belief in supernatural causes are rated even lower than Muslims, immigrants, and homosexuals in terms of being perceived as sharing in a common vision of America. McCarthyism lingers on.

    Longtooth

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      The “atheists are invisible” vibe is what I got from my reading of the exchanges between the Supremes concerning prayer at city council meetings.

      As to mainliners v. fundamentalists, I think Giberson inadvertantly landed upon an uncomfortable truth in his own method of teaching evolution: if you tell people too directly, persistently, and compellingly that the Bible’s literal story isn’t true, half will hunker down in fundamentalism and the other half will say, “Thanks for disabusing me of my illusions,” and leave the church. Most won’t try to square the circle and seek a nuanced or middle position.

      So one reason mainline leaders don’t pursue the subject is that the nuanced position requires effort to sustain. People don’t like effort. It’s easier to not think about it, or to have a pat fundamentalist answer. People go to church to outsource their thinking, not have the responsibility for it cast back upon themselves.

  3. conservative says:

    It’s interesting that you haven’t addressed almost anything I said, loongtooth. You just went on about how superior atheists are in their intelligence, how good the public education system is because it’s controlled by them, and how stupid and even dangerous, “fundamentalists” and conservatives in general, are. It’s a typical politically correct, out-of-touch with reality speech. The stuff one hears on CNBC or reads in Time.

    Your description of how supposedly badly treated atheists are in America is not only false, it’s also hillarious, longtooth.

    When were atheists in America burned at the stake or arrested for their views? Let’s say starting in the 1700s, even before the United States of America became an independent and free nation. There probably weren’t many atheists around back then, alright then let’s look at the 1800s. Can you find cases of mass arrests, severe persecution of atheists or agnostics? I don’t think so. Then you might as well stop whining about how powerful the “fundamentalists” are, and how weak and persecuted atheists are. Because it’s not true. If they were so weak and persecuted, they wouldn’t control the education system.

    In regard to your comment about conservatives deriding the educational establishment, you fail to observe the bankruptcy of the system. Many high school graduates don’t even have an elementary knowledge of history (both world history and American history), geography, English, Math and so on. The test scores in many school districts from across the country prove this. The violence and lack of discipline in schools, the lack of respect for teachers, is also something you can’t avoid. Let’s not forget also the anti-American hatred that many university professors with Marxist views indoctrinate their students with. Bill Ayers, of the infamous “Weather underground” Neo-Communist group and personal friend of President Obama, teaches at a university in Chicago. The “Weather underground” planted a bomb in the Congress building in 1971 and were proud of it.

    I’m sure you’ll just ignore these facts and yell “McCarthysm!”

    McCarthysm?! Is that your best shot? :-)

    So, if evolutionist atheists are so good at managing the system and if the stuff they teach is great, how come the system is the way it is?

    I know you’re probably going to ignore the question and the whole issue, just like you ignored other things in my first post. You didn’t say anything about the “ethicists” who encourage and promote child sacrifice, by saying it’s just an “after birth” abortion. There’s a link in the post. And by the way, they are also part of the academic establishment, even if it’s in another country.

    I can give you examples of the most outrageous revisionism and lack of intellectual integrity on the part of secularist academics. But I won’t waste my time, because you’ll probably ignore them and pretend there’s nothing wrong with the “progressive” academic establishment. Of course conservatives deride it, it’s a failure to a great extent. If believing in God and living according to traditional principles is the source of all problems, then societies that totally reject God should do better than us. I don’t see that so far.

    • Longtooth says:

      Conservative,

      Well excuse me for not hanging on your every rambling word like they were nuggets of pure platinum. Excuse me for segwaying off to some musings about the mainliner folk instead of getting tangled up in your rhetorical knots. I must say though that you like many of your brothers-in-arms have an amazing propensity for misquoting/misrepresenting others.

      For example you wrote of me,

      “You just went on about how superior atheists are in their intelligence, how good the public education system is because it’s controlled by them, and how stupid and even dangerous, “fundamentalists” and conservatives in general, are. It’s a typical politically correct, out-of-touch with reality speech. The stuff one hears on CNBC or reads in Time.”

      Exactly where in my post did I say anything about the intelligence of atheists? Paragraph and line please. Exactly where in my post did I use either “stupid” or “dangerous”?
      Paragraph and line please. Where in my post did I say anything about public education good or bad or who controlled it? Paragraph and line please. You like many of your fundamentalist brothers see only what suits your agenda and so much for the reality.

      As to the matter of discrimination against atheists, my statements echoed the results of a 2006 National Survey.

      www1.umn.edu/news/news-releases/2006/UR_RELEASE_MIG_2816.html

      Of course you probably wouldn’t give much credence to it, as it didn’t originate from the Christian Science Monitor or some other trustworthy source.

      I can agree with you about our failing educational system at the primary and secondary school levels. We still have the best universities in the world, but our kids are not measuring up to international standards, showing dismal rankings for language, science, and math. But I really doubt having a bunch of wedgies compromising the science curricula could improve the situation. I currently don’t have a substantiated answer, but how much religious influence is there in the schools of nations who are performing well?

      Actually I seldom watch CNBC and never read Time. I’m down there with the other bottom feeders watching CNN and reviewing BBC online. And you know what? I think Bill Maher is really cool.

      Again forgive me for not responding to your every detailed issue. You are right about one thing though. However you slice the definitions, I think that anyone who believes in a literal, inerrant view of the Bible is plain stupid. Belief in God notwithstanding, anyone who denies the reality of evolution is plain stupid.

      Longtooth

  4. conservative says:

    Before we continue this, let’s define some of the terms we’re using.

    You both use the term “fundamentalist” very easily. I bet you don’t even think about what it means, its definition. Fundamentalism in any field or area, has to do with the fundamentals of that field or area. If you follow the rules of English grammar and spelling when you write something or when you talk, you are following the fundamentals of English. There are also the fundamentals of Math. There are the fundamentals of ethics and morality. You base your opinions in part, on some of the fundamentals of traditional Christian ethics. That’s why things like child sacrifice, human trafficking, and not paying people their wages for the work they have done, shock and anger you. In ancient pagan societies, some of those things were considered normal and part of their culture.

    Many people, including longtooth and you santi, use the term “fundamentalist” only when it comes to religion. And you use it because it has become a buzz word, almost everybody uses it on television, in newspapers and so on.

    In Christianity, fundamentalists are people who believe and practice the fundamentals of Christianity. Love for God and for other people, loving and respecting one’s parents, being faithful to your wife and keeping the commitment in marriage, compensating your employees for the work they do if you own a business, things like that. So, what’s wrong with that?

    How can you see something irrational or dangerous with these things?!

    You’re probably going to tell me, “Secularists can believe and practice some of those things!” Yes, but where did they get it from? They got it from Christianity and the influence of biblical principles in society. Again, they didn’t get it from Darwin, Voltaire or from “the humanist manifesto”. And even humanist writings borrowed from traditional Christianity in some areas.

    In fact, you are borrowing from Christian biblical ethics when you say commitment in marriage is important, and I suppose you believe in that. Much of the secular pop culture crowd, doesn’t believe in that. They believe in affairs, “open marriage” and changing marriage partners as often as possible. I’ve heard it from social liberals, from feminists, from male chauvinists, you name it. Many of them think monogamous marriage, especially to a person of the opposite sex, is a crazy and old-fashioned idea.

    So, if you didn’t have the Christian or New Testament teaching on marriage, you’re left with nothing when it comes to marriage, really.

    That’s the ironic thing about agnostics and atheists. You don’t want to hear about God and his ways, but you expect the law to protect your property, to treat you like you like a human being, and not like an animal, and to even recognize the individual rights you inherently have from the Lord.

    You’re avoiding the real issue, that is, where these principles come from.

    • Longtooth says:

      Conservative,

      Consider the following quotations from Wikipedia:

      “Fundamentalism is the demand for a strict adherence to orthodox theological doctrines usually understood as a reaction against Modernist theology…. and that developed into a movement within the Protestant community of the United States in the early part of the 20th century……had its roots in the Fundamentalist–Modernist Controversy of that time.”

      And,

      “Fundamentalism as a movement arose in the United States, starting among conservative Presbyterian theologians at Princeton Theological Seminary in the late 19th century. It soon spread to conservatives among the Baptists and other denominations around 1910 to 1920. The movement’s purpose was to reaffirm key theological tenets and defend them against the challenges of liberal theology and higher criticism.

      And,

      “The term ’fundamentalism’ has its roots in the Niagara Bible Conference (1878–1897), which defined those tenets it considered fundamental to Christian belief. The term was popularized by the The Fundamentals, a collection of twelve books on five subjects published in 1910 and funded by the brothers Milton and Lyman Stewart. This series of essays came to be representative of the “Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy”, which appeared late in the 19th century within some Protestant denominations in the United States, and continued in earnest through the 1920s. The first formulation of American fundamentalist beliefs can be traced to the Niagara Bible Conference and, in 1910, to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, which distilled these into what became known as the ‘five fundamentals’]

      • Biblical inspiration and the inerrancy of scripture as a result of this
      • Virgin birth of Jesus
      • Belief that Christ’s death was the atonement for sin
      • Bodily resurrection of Jesus
      • Historical reality of the miracles of Jesus”

      And,

      “By the late 1910s, theological conservatives rallying around the Five Fundamentals came to be known as “fundamentalists”. In practice, the first point regarding the Bible was the focus of most of the controversy.”

      It sounds to me like “fundamentalism”, as the term is conventionally used, identifies a faction within American Christendom characterized by a dogmatic allegiance to the supernatural and a literalist view of the Bible. Historically speaking, it’s interesting that the fundamentalist movement achieved national prominence at about the same time as the 1925 Scopes Monkey trial. Neither was far removed from the time when primary schooling was finally mandated throughout the states.

      In any case, the doctrine of inerrancy was the invention of a minority faction, a conservative reaction against a naturalistic trend in Christian theological circles. It amounted to a situation where a reasonable notion of the Bible as scriptural authority for defining the religion was taken to a cultist extreme. In spite of a myriad of glaring falsities, inconsistencies, and historicity problems many sects today, like the Southern Baptist Convention, tout formal articles of faith where allegiance to biblical inerrancy is put first even before mention of God. No doubt, I’m an irreligious secular. But rhetorically speaking, what If God doesn’t agree with the inerrancy thing? Is it then so much for God? The notion is so perversely binding. If God can’t back them down from their literalist madness then neither will the incontrovertible knowledge of science. When they say “no evolution” they fervently mean no evolution period; and the reasonable credibility of Jesus and God as religious icons get held hostage to the retarded whims of a hoard faith crazed idiots.

      In what you’ve written, I’m confident that you yourself are not so irretrievably impaled as they. But don’t you think that in service of a reasonable posterity for the faith and the intellectual and educational integrity of the nation that American Christendom at large shouldn’t move en mass to neutralize the influence of these “Christian” fundamentalists?

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      Conservative,

      Would you answer (briefly or as long as you please) four simple questions that you passed over in my earlier response to you: Do you believe that (1) the cosmos is 13.7 billion years old; (2) plants and animals change over time and share common ancestors (whales, for example, evolved from land animals; humans from primates; birds from land and tree-dwelling dinosaurs, ambhibians from fish, etc.); (3) the cosmos continues, as we speak, to make new stars and planets (that is, it’s a “creation” still in progress 13.7 billion years after it started); and (4) the first humans dispersed from Africa into the rest of the world, not Mesopotamia?

      –Santi

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      As for Longtooth’s quotes on fundamentalism, I agree that fundamentalism cannot just be defined as “focusing on the fundamentals.” It has a history connected with Southern Protestantism. Jerry Falwell, in fact, wrote a history of fundamentalism (from a Southern Baptist point of view, of course): The Fundamentalist Phenomenon. I’m sure you can find it at Amazon.

      My own contemporary usage of fundamentalism–the way I use the term–is descriptive of any religious group that (1) reifies a sacred text, making it the last word of appeal in any dispute–as if it was a kind of textual Supreme Court; (2) reads that text literally and as if it cannot be mistaken on anything, ever, even in its smallest detail; and (3) actively and relentlessly opposes mainstream academic interpretations of science and history wherever they contradict the literal reading of the sacred text.

      Fundamentalism, in other words, is about epistemically hunkering down; about narrowing one’s range of considerations in such a way that all roads invariably point back to The Book. Fundamentalists treat their sacred text as compass to the North Star which they must, like Odysseus, exercise great efforts of focus upon–and away from the distracting shorelines where the secular sirens sing.

      Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress is an example of the fundamentalist mentality (as when Christian stops up his ears at one point and flees temptation, crying, “Life, life, eternal life!”)

      Thus are Mormons fundamentalist about the Book of Mormon’s narrative of North American history, however strained, ridiculous, and out of touch with reality outsiders might perceive it. Thus are Muslims fundamentalist about the Quran’s claims surrounding the miracles of Muhammad and the founding of Islam; and thus are two-thirds of evangelicals surrounding the first chapter of Genesis. No amount of science, history, evidence, or reasoning can pierce the psychological armor of the fundamentalist. The fundamentalist is, like the fencer, on guard.

      That’s why I’m asking Conservative the four simple questions above, because scientists and historians have zero difficulty answering them. Empirically, they’re no brainers, as easy to answer as whether the Holocaust resulted in the death of approximately 6,000,000 Jews between 1940 and 1945 and the Earth is a sphere and goes around the Sun.

      A fundamentalist cultist ignores or reinterprets converging lines of evidence wherever it doesn’t fit his or her literal reading of The Book.

      The reason global warming denial works so well within conservative circles is because it makes use of fundamentalist styles of reasoning. (Reach your desired conclusion, then behave shamelessly and without apology in making the evidence fit it.)

      Part of the fundamentalist mindset is about not backing down–resisting concession and compromise, even in the face of reason and evidence: “The South shall rise again.”

    • R7 Rocket says:

      Conservative said:
      “So, if you didn’t have the Christian or New Testament teaching on marriage, you’re left with nothing when it comes to marriage, really.”

      Still no mention of men being turned into indentured servants by the family courts and the divorce industry. I doubt you actually believe in the “New Testament teaching on marriage”. If you do, will you condemn Focus on the Family?

  5. Conservative says:

    I said that in your first reply to my post, you didn’t address almost anything I said, longtooth. Actually, it’ not “almost” anything. You haven’t addressed anything I said, at all.

    In the second reply, you talk about fundamentalism, which is an improvement, at least we’re trying to understand what we’re talking about, but you still avoid the other important issues.

    You don’t have anything to say about infanticide being rationalized by pro-abortion secular professors, like those at an Australian university?

    The killing of infants born alive as a result of botched abortions was taking place in America, before the Born Alive Infant Protection Act was passed in 2005. And even after that, some abortion doctors still did that, it was in the news.

    To me, it’s incredible that you and other atheists are not shocked and concerned about this. This is a cultural trend, and not one to be taken lightly, a direct result of atheist and evolutionist indoctrination, which in turn makes some so desentized to these things.

    However, the promotion of infanticide by two pro-abortion “ethicists” working at an Australian university, is consistent with their evolutionist and pro-abortion mentality. If humans are animals, then they are not so special and discarding of them like that, is not a terrible thing to do. And if an unborn baby is not a person during the nine months of pregnancy, does he or she suddenly become a person one minute after he or she is born?

    To address your statements about fundamentalism, I think it’s ridiculous to expect Christians to abandon important things like the deity of Jesus Christ, his atoning sacrifice, and his physical resurrection. Since you seem to imply that they should, are you saying that these beliefs are bad and slowing down the “progress” of society?

    You know, it’s ironic that you’ll never hear an atheist or social liberal demand that Islam change some of its theology. Secularists never say that Muslims should abandon some of their doctrines. No, instead, atheists or secularists even defend Muslims and invoke multiculturalism as an excuse to let them keep their dogmas and practices!

    Is that consistent and fair?

    I would say it’s hypocritical.

    As far as “If God can’t back them down from their literalist madness then neither will the incontrovertible knowledge of science. When they say “no evolution” they fervently mean no evolution period”, secularists do the exact same thing.

    Atheists cling to Darwinism like it’s a dogma. It makes sense, because if that fails, they are left with nothing. They say “no design” or no creation, whenever they refuse to take into consideration scientific observations and arguments that confirm a complex and well-ordered design, rather than chaos and chance.

    Bottom line, secularists can be “fundamentalists”, too.

    If you think mainline leaders are all better just because they accept evolution and are on the same page with the mainstream pop culture on some social issues, think again.

    Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s former pastor, is a Marxist radical. In one of his rants he said, “God damn America!” Jim Wallis is another Marxist and liberal theologian, he has ghostwritten one of Obama’s books. Wallis was a radical in the 1970s, and he always condemned the US for alleged “crimes” in Vietnam, but he never condemned the Cambodian or Vietnamese communist regimes, for their crimes against the people of those countries.

    And these are the “moderate” mainline leaders?!

    It’s surprising that you are not worried by these lunatics. You’re only worried about the fact that “fundamentalist” Christians don’t accept evolution and believe the Bible to be the inspired, inerrant Word of God. To you, that’s more dangerous than extremists who distort Christian theology and turn into some kind of “revolutionary” ideology, and use it to stir hatred.

    In spite of this, you and other atheists and liberals, don’t seem to be alarmed by the real extremists.

    I wonder what you think about that.

    I don’t want to offend you, but the main theme of your discourse is the intellectual superiority of atheists and the stupidity of conservative “fundamentalists”.

    I do believe traditional Christian ethics are important because I don’t think you can have freedom and enjoy the benefits of civilization, without virtue in a society, and if that virtue has no ethical foundations.

    Oz Guiness makes some very intelligent observations about this, here is the article.
    http://www.rzim.org/just-thinking/the-golden-triangle-of-freedom/

    I haven’t touched on every aspect of what you said, and that’s because I don’t have time right now. I think we can talk about biblical inerrancy another time, let’s continue the discussion. I appreciate your interest in the topic. It’s interesting and ironic, because secularists and modernist liberal theologians also use passages from the Bible to promote their version of what Jesus said and meant, and what God expects from us.

    There are many good reasons why I and other Christians believe the basic teachings about Jesus and God, and we can talk about that another time.

    • Longtooth says:

      Conservative,

      What was the topic area of Santi’s original post? In a rough nutshell it was about science professors being discriminated against for teaching evolution in Christian colleges; discrimination motivated by a dogmatic allegiance to a young earth biblical ideology. My posts were intended to be reasonably in accordance with that topic area. Issues of Christian fundamentalism and biblical inerrancy seem to reasonably apply. I guess my ethic is that if I wanted to grind on about other largely unrelated matters; maybe I ought to do it on my own blog, Facebook, or Twitter page. On the other hand you evidently want to exploit the situation to stump your pet social conservative issues and of course proselytize, thus diverting the discussion away from the original subject matter. I can only speak for myself, but I don’t mind telling you that I find that a little rude.

      You said:

      “I haven’t touched on every aspect of what you said, and that’s because I don’t have time right now. I think we can talk about biblical inerrancy another time”

      What gives? Evidently its okay for you to brush off my issues, but it’s not okay for me to brush off yours.

      Judging by you’re narrative, you seem to believe that anyone that doesn’t subscribe to your religious, moral, and political views is an atheist. Is that accurate? With the staunch anti-abortion stand you take, how do you feel about things like capital punishment and George Bush getting us entangled in Iraq, costing tens of thousands of Iraqi and American lives and better than a trillion dollars in taxpayer money? How do you feel about the huge health and child mortality problems endured in Africa due to unprotected sex and a lack of vision for family planning? In your hardcore patriarchal scheme of things do pregnant women have any rights, any decision making privileges at all? And just out of curiosity how much time do you spend watching Fox News and the 700 Club versus the Science, Discovery, and National Geographic channels?

      Anyway, getting back somewhere near to topic, you said

      “Atheists cling to Darwinism like it’s a dogma. It makes sense, because if that fails, they are left with nothing. They say “no design” or no creation, whenever they refuse to take into consideration scientific observations and arguments that confirm a complex and well-ordered design, rather than chaos and chance.”

      First, I don’t exactly know what you mean by “Darwinism”. I subscribe to the modern evolutionary synthesis which encompasses the contributions of many scientists since Darwin’s time. Darwin didn’t even use the term “evolution” in his landmark book. The principles of natural selection and common descent have nevertheless withstood the test of time, repeatedly confirmed by a massive accumulation of evidence since 1859. And notably, the more recent discovery of the function of DNA and the subsequent mapping of the genetic code substantiates just how much we truly do have in common biologically with both plants and other animal species. This is humbling and scary stuff perhaps, but its reality nevertheless.

      It’s the well reasoned vision that the evidence for evolution allows, not atheist dogma. It’s like a grand picture puzzle and the pieces which have thus far been unearthed fit together pretty damn well. That’s what compels or ought to. In that regard, it’s unlikely that we “atheists” will ever be left with nothing. Ancient religious scripture is not the only “inspired” knowledge source.

      From my predominantly agnostic perspective I can’t confirm beyond a reasonable shadow of doubt that “God” or gods really exist or really don’t exist. The matter might be forever unknowable. As a matter of critical reflection though, one might speculate in metaphor that if God exists, then she, he, it, or they might have left evidence of evolution laying around for humanity to eventually discover and learn by. A kind of learning that should reasonably serve to liberate us from indiscriminate cherishment and veneration of antiquities scriptural relics.

      You seem to imply that complexity and order somehow invalidate evolution. Is that right? How can there be any notion of order and complexity in anything without contrasting conditions of chaos and cosmos, order and disorder, entropy and negative entropy to reckon by? What you likely refer to as complexity and order in biological systems is the relative purposefulness and efficiencies in their physical form and function. Bit wouldn’t you imagine that such composition is in some degree requisite for living things to exist at all? From this it might be said that many “intelligent designs” are by necessity found in nature, and there is a designing influence of a sort. It’s the interaction between environmental change and the inherited abilities of a species of organism to conform to an environment and to adapt to environmental change when it occurs.

      Should God or gods exist and thus be responsible for the fine tuning of the universe and making of the world, then wouldn’t you imagine adaptation through natural selection (and associated mechanisms) was something that it or they might have designed into the order of things to aid the autonomous survival of living organisms?

      It’s the biblical literalist young earth stuff that ruins my disposition the worst. The rest of the “fundamentals” less so, that is just as long as they’re kept out of the public school curriculum and other government venues. I find enough informational worth in the historical Jesus decoupled from all the supernatural stuff that the story tellers attached to his legend and lore in the centuries after his passing.

      Finally, I find Islamic fundamentalism to be as obnoxious a form of religion/culture as currently exists on the planet. However, without the rise of secularism in the West and our [godless] constitution and common law, we Americans might very well be living under the boot of a Christian theocracy equally as bad.

      Anyway, you skepticism about the veracity of the scientific data makes for some hard slogging in these posts. I tell you what. Visit the online article below and tell me what you think of it. Then perhaps we can exchange a few more posts. It’s an evangelical website. Not my cup of tea by any means. But it’s more palatable than the majority I’ve reviewed.

      http://biologos.org/questions/cambrian-explosion

      • Longtooth says:

        Needed sentence cleanup.

        It’s the interaction between the inherited abilities of a species of organism to conform to a given environment and to adapt to environmental change when it occurs.

    • R7 Rocket says:

      Conservative, since I doubt you actually believe in “Family Values”, here’s a video for you.

      Do you disagree with anything on it?

  6. conservative says:

    You said you have free speech on your blog, santi. Yes, you allow different beliefs and ideas on your site, even if it makes you uncomfortable. I appreciate that.

    I’ll answer your questions about the origin of life and the age of the universe, in the next post, santi. But first let me comment on some things you said in your previous post.

    You make some of the most ignorant and absurd statements possible. You said Lenin and Stalin had more in common with Calvin and Luther. What?! Where did you get that from?!

    Lenin read the “The Communist Manifesto”, not the Bible. All those dictators were influenced by Marx, the nihilism of Nietzche, “God is dead”, and Darwinian evolution. They did not base their political philosophy on the writings of Luther and Calvin.

    I gave you a quote from a Soviet biography of Stalin where it reads: “While a student at the theological seminary, Comrade Stalin developed a critical mind and became an atheist”.

    Actually, I didn’t quote that word for word. It also said that he read Darwin’s “Origin of Species”, while at the theological seminary, and developed a critical mind and became an atheist.

    Lenin and Stalin didn’t read or believe the Bible. They didn’t base their ideology on the Bible, and they didn’t base it on the writings of Calvin and Luther either.

    It’s incredible that you don’t even know that much!

    So, your assertion that they had anything in common with the reformers, is false.

    They didn’t have anything in common with Calvin and Luther, since they hated any Christian writings, including the writings of the Christian reformers.

    So, to associate Lenin and Hitler with Christianity, is just rewriting history and saying something stupid.

    I’m not saying that about you, because you didn’t come up with that revisionist stuff, you
    picked it up from the mainstream.

    The other assertion, that Paul and other ancient church leaders didn’t encourage Christians to read anything else besides the Bible, is also not true.

    Paul didn’t say people should not study math or architecture or read poetry. You should analyze what he said in the context of that time. At that time, pagan influence was everywhere. In literature, in religion, in philosophy and in the arts. So, Paul simply told them not to be “taken captive by vain philosophies”. That doesn’t mean Christians were not supposed to read anything else. Just to have discernment when they did read something and don’t replace basic biblical truths with some philosophical abstract nonsense.

    You said Ravi Zacharias is simple in his arguments. Why do you say that? He doesn’t talk about evolution or creation a lot, but his lectures are usually complex. I have a hard time following him sometimes. :-) I think there is a tendency for many to assume that the more complicated and hard to understand something is, the closer it is to truth. I find that amusing. Sometimes, truth is simple, it’s not so complex.

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      What I mean when I say that Stalin, Hitler, and Lenin are cut from the same cloth as Luther and Calvin is this: they are all, temperamentally, absolutists, authoritarians/totalitarians. They are, ultimately, anti-Enlightenment figures. Jefferson and Washington were, temperamentally, Enlightenment democrats.

      As for Calvin, he made no bones about cleansing Geneva of sin. And Luther was a rabid antisemite who advocated the burning down of synagogues throughout Germany. See Luther’s tract, “On the Jews and Their Lies.” Calvin and Luther were as fanatical as those in the 20th century that you mention–they just didn’t have access to the same tools of control that Stalin and Hitler did. You generally need bureaucracies and key technologies to achieve genocide and mass internment of the sort practiced by Stalin and Hitler. If Luther had the means to destroy the Jews in Germany, he would have. Neither Jefferson nor Washington were of a similar attitude regarding dissenting religious opinion.

      As for Ravi Z, he’s a populizer–an evangelist to the low-information “voter.” I prefer reading intellectual Christian apologists who are talking among themselves or to their intellectual opponents (as when, for example, Alvin Plantinga debates Daniel Dennett).

      I find people like Ravi Z and Josh McDowell loathsome because they are sharing with ill-informed people only one side of matters. They know that their audience is unlikely to read much–if at all–beyond them. Indeed, that their audience is outsourcing their thinking to them, using them as a buffer from direct engagement with reading, say, the evolutionists or academic biblical archaeologists themselves.

      Apologetics of the sort produced by Ravi Z functions as a way to isolate one from having to engage with the world directly. “I know all about evolution, not from reading Gould or Darwin or a standard textbook on the subject, but from reading Ravi’s filtered presentation of it.”

      Apologetic literature is an epidural for the frightened.

      –Santi

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      As for Paul, you very much distort how early and medieval Christians read him: he clearly set a tone of opposition, from the start, against homosexuality, against women’s equality, and against slavery abolition. He also opposed Greek philosophy and science. He blamed the Jews for early resistance to the gospel, and displayed rhetoric against them that morphed into Christian antisemitism through the subsequent centuries (if Paul could talk bad of the Jews, Christians reasoned, they could as well). Paul also supported iconoclasm and book burning (see the Book of Acts for examples). He was also deeply puritan regarding sexual matters. He confused mental illness with demon posession (which, thankfully, modern psychology has dispelled). He also thought Jesus was coming at any moment. And that Adam and Eve were real (and that Eve caused Adam’s fall from grace).

      All of these have enormous psychological and cultural implications when taken seriously.

      And all of these attitudes set a tone that stifled a great deal of human progress for well over a thousand years in Europe. And anti-Jewish sentiment ultimately led to the Holocaust–the Final Solution to the “Jewish problem”–in the 1940s. The evil in Paul’s writing, because turned into sacred scripture, proved a calamity. And his attitudes have had consequences that continue to this day. (Only recently are gay people achieving their basic dignity and rights in society; and women continue to struggle against Paul’s admonitions against them).

      –Santi

  7. conservative says:

    I didn’t comment on your questions about the origin of life in your previous post, because there are too many things to say, and I can’t say them all at once.

    Is that a litmus test, those four questions? :-)

    1. I don’t know how old the Cosmos is. I don’t think anyone does for sure. Young earth creationists and old earth creationists, either could be right. There is scientific evidence that seems to support both. We can talk more about that later.

    2. They do change over time, but stay within their “kind”. The kind, refers to the family, in the animal taxonomy. Felines vary from each other, and they most likely developed over time, but they will stay within their family. They won’t turn into the horse family. That stuff about whales evolving from land animals and humans from other primates, has NOT been observed by science. You can’t use that as evidence, it’s just wishful thinking. This is an opportunity to define the term “evolution”, too.

    There is “evolution” in the sense of development and variation, but only to a point. It’s micro evolution, all creationist scientists and theologians believe in micro evolution. It’s the only kind of “evolution” that can be observed.

    3. That doesn’t prove the cosmos or universe was not made by a Creator. It doesn’t prove that it just appeared on its own, not at all.

    4. I don’t know about that either. It could be that the dispersion which we interpret as the beginning, could have taken place after the Flood. That means, the beginning was still in Mesopotamia. You wrote in your first post, that Adam and Eve did not exist. You said that with such absolute certainty, it’s amusing. How do you know they didn’t exist? Alright, maybe their names weren’t Adam and Eve, since those are Hebrew names that have some significance about the beginning of humans and life. But it’s logical to believe that the first humans were a male and a female or we wouldn’t be here today. It had to be an opposite sex couple in the beginning. I’d say that’s logical, in my humble, simple-minded opinion, :) even if it sounds politically incorrect and old fashioned. Don’t you agree?

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      A litmus test? Well, how about as a short-cut for determining basic science literacy (or the presence of tendencies toward YEC fundamentalism in those who cannot agree with the four statements)?

      Here they are again:

      (1) the cosmos is 13.7 billion years old;
      (2) plants and animals change over time and share common ancestors (whales, for example, evolved from land animals; humans from primates; birds from land and tree-dwelling dinosaurs, amphibians from fish, etc.);
      (3) the cosmos continues, as we speak, to make new stars and planets (that is, it’s a “creation” still in progress 13.7 billion years after it started); and
      (4) the first humans dispersed from Africa into the rest of the world, not Mesopotamia.

      To say “agree” to all four of these statements are no-brainers for any scientist at any major research university in the world. And I appreciate that you answered the four directly, and didn’t fudge your answers. I know you’re not an illiterate, and that the only reason you answered the questions as you did is because you’re trying to leave some room for biblical inerrancy and literalism.

      But my argument with you is this: why aren’t you, as a thinking person, conceding the obvious–that these four basic things are true? And then why aren’t you then building from the ruins–working out your conservative system of beliefs from the fresh ground of what science has actually discovered to be true?

      In other words, if you cannot get your beliefs to line up with the overwhelming and converging lines of empirical evidence in science, why do you persist in keeping them?

      Is it fear?

      It seems to me that the great problem that religious conservatism has in general is that it puts off an honest confrontation with reality as it is–as it has been discovered, and so drives itself into cultic and closed-off behavior.

      The hard work is in facing the science and then working out its implications for religion. Fundamentalism is a form of laziness; of cheating; of infantilism. It’s a determination not to look too closely or deal directly with reality (and make lots of excuses for behaving in this way).

      –Santi

    • R7 Rocket says:

      conservative said:
      “1. I don’t know how old the Cosmos is. I don’t think anyone does for sure. Young earth creationists and old earth creationists, either could be right. There is scientific evidence that seems to support both. We can talk more about that later.”
      Support both? How come I can see stars more than 6,000 light-years away?

  8. Quiche Chrustie says:

    Chris Chirstie’s fellow thugs brutalized Dwight L Moody in Chicago as these feudal casuists hold lore enforcement to be a sort of clergy. “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” Thomas Jefferson. “If you live each day as it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right” Steve Jobs. What all these newcomers ain’t be understanding is that violence combats control freakery. It discourages officials from grandiose schemes. It makes public servants behave humbly, unline these transit workers who think it assaulting them is a felony it is ok for them to drop you off on top of a pile of garbage or even to ignore you waiting while they lobby to congetion price you out of your car and further into their web of control. Entrepreneurs would think too much about tomorrow will never take risks today. It is the constant death and creative destruction which makes America great, which ends the ties to the old world which divide us and which makes us worry about what really matters.

  9. R7 Rocket says:

    The evangelicals are yesterday’s progressives. Except for abortion, the evangelitards believe in the basic principles of feminism. Don’t believe me? Look up “man up and marry those sluts” and “Focus on the Family”.

  10. conservative and free says:

    Thanks for your reply, Santi.

    I have to catch up with some of the other things you said in your first reply to me. I’ll come back to creation and evolution on another occassion.

    The wording in your thread, sounds like a shrill alarm. “America’s biggest cult: Evangelicals believe that God created humans 10,000 years ago pretty much like they are today”. So, in your view that makes Evangelicals like cult members. Along with Tea Party conservatives, conservative libertarians and other people who don’t go along with the established doctrines of secularism.

    Santi, take a look at the cult-like mentality and behavior of humanist liberals and atheists, including your own. Honestly, I don’t want to offend you by saying this, but it’s very obvious.

    You and most atheists cling to Darwinism like it’s a dogma. It makes sense, because if that fails, you are left with nothing. You would have to accept creation.

    You readily discard other people’s arguments and don’t even consider the scientific evidence against evolutionism and for creation. As far as you’re concerned, any arguments that challenge or contradict evolution, are “fundamentalist” and wrong.

    Then, you never question the doctrines of mainstream secular culture and they have become your own views. You don’t question abortion, “gay marriage”, socialism, evolution, environmentalism, political correctness, none of these.

    Tell me if I’m wrong, but on your site, you agree with Obama on almost everything. I haven’t seen any thread or post by you, in which you said that he was wrong about the healthcare thing or any other policy. Using the IRS and the NSA like a secret police, Benghazi, spying on journalists, lying about the consequences of the healthcare law, no matter how unconstitutional, illegal, unethical his actions may be, most progressives or liberals still agree with him and even admire him.

    Talk about conformity, like in a cult.

    That’s how cult members admire their leader.

    These are the traits of a cultist. The majority of liberals never question anything that’s part of progressive ideology, their religion. And they call themselves free thinkers?!…

    So, I suggest you look at how the majority of postmodern, big government liberals or progressives, blindly and readily conform to certain things, before you say that about other people.

  11. conservative and free says:

    I’ll address here something from your previous post, Longtooth. Thanks for your reply.

    I think your post in which you defined fundamentalism, can be summed up in one question: How and when do we know to take the Bible literally? It’s a legitimate question.

    I’ll try to answer it here.

    The inerrancy of Scripture is an interesting and important topic.

    There are some basic rules to follow when you read the Bible and try to understand it.

    The first rule is – “It means what it says, unless otherwise indicated”.

    “In the beginning, God made the heavens and the earth”. Genesis 1:1

    It says God created the Universe, plain and simple. Whether He did 10,000 or 10 million years ago, it’s not the point. The point is, He created it. It’s very straightforward, it doesn’t need any complicated philosophical analysis and interpretation. This is a basic, straightforward teaching and there is no other text anywhere in the Scripture, to indicate otherwise.

    “But when man dies, he lies prostrate. Man expires, and where is he? As the waters evaporate from the sea, and a river becomes parched and dried up, so man lies down and does not rise. Until the heavens are no longer, he will not awake nor be aroused out of his sleep.” Job 14:10-12
    If one takes this verse literally, one can argue that the Bible teaches there is no resurrection and no afterlife or that Job had the mindset of an atheist. :)

    However, Job said that at a time when God’s revelation was at an early stage. It was pre-Moses and pre-Christ. They knew less about God and spiritual truths during that time.

    Job knew deep down inside, that God did not make us only for a season, that this not all there is to it. That’s found in chapter 19, verses 25 through 27.

    So, if you isolate the words of Job found in that verse, it may seem that belief in a literal resurrection and an afterlife is not the clear teaching of the Bible.

    But there are many texts in the Bible, both in the Old and New Testament, that indicate otherwise. The people raised back to life by Jesus, people like the widow’s son, Lazarus, the daughter of Jairus, and Jesus himself raised back to life by God, show that there is a literal resurrection and an afterlife.

    Jesus is referred to as the Lamb of God, in the Bible. “I turned and saw a Lamb…” Revelation 5:6

    We know why we don’t take that literally, because in every other place of Scripture, Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, is mentioned as a man, a human being. Not as a lamb, the offspring of a female sheep.

    The second rule is – “Let the Bible interpret itself”.

    Don’t read in your own views and interpretations. I know we all have a tendency to do that, but the less we do it, the better.

    If you have a verse that says something which is not confirmed by another verse anywhere else in the Bible, then don’t take it as a teaching coming from God. If you are not sure about the meaning of a verse, look for the same idea expressed in that verse, in other parts of Scripture. This is what we can call, the rule of “second opinion”. Everyone does that, in other areas of their life. You get a second opinion from another doctor or a second opinion from another mechanic, when you fix your car. This applies to the Bible as well. In order for something in the Scriptures to be considered a basic truth coming from God, it has to be in the Bible at least two or three times. The interpretation to a text is often found in the other two or three verses related to it.

    “You shall not commit adultery”. I take that literally. There’s no room for interpretation here. And there are no other verses that would contradict that, only verses that confirm it.

    “You shall have no other gods before Me”. That’s also literal. When God says He’s the only God there is, there is no symbolism in that. Again, it’s found in more than one place in biblical texts.

    “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father, but through Me”. I take that literally, too. It’s found in more than one place in the Bible, the teaching that Jesus is the only Savior designated by God to redeem us, humans. Christ said that about himself with absolute certainty. He knew who he was, where he came from, and what his mission was. He said that because he knew that if humans don’t receive him and cling to him in order to be rescued or saved, they’ll perish. It’s just that simple.

    There may be other rules that theologians use, I don’t know them. I’m not a theologian.

    It’s important to remember these rules. There are theologians who ignore these rules, and invent their own weird doctrines. Liberal modernist or postmodern theologians have built an entire theology on Bible verses that deal with helping the poor. They think that’s all there is to it. If you help poor people, preferably through government programs, then you’re ok with God. It’s the ultimate redemption. That’s a false theology. And they came up with that, because they didn’t respect the basic rules of reading and understanding the Bible. They ignored all the other verses that deal with other matters, besides helping poor people. They ignore verses that deal with personal morality before God. That’s why in liberal churches, adultery, idolatry and abortion among other things, are not viewed as serious sins. Opposition to social programs is a serious sin for them. :)

    I hope this helps. If you have questions, let me know.

    • Longtooth says:

      Obviously there are multiple ways that the term “biblical inerrancy” can be employed. Judging from what you wrote in your latest post, you evidently don’t hold that all biblical passages are necessarily the word of God. But those that are of that quality are true, correct, and thus inerrant by definition. Is this fair to your usage of the term?

      You state, “In order for something In the Scriptures to be considered a basic truth coming from God, it has to be in the Bible at least two or three times.”

      I’d call that a cleaver strategy. It gives the devotional reader at least some modicum of a chance of insolating their sense of faith from the worst bugs in the pile. The trouble though is that the truth or wisdom value of a passage is not contingent on how many times it’s repeated,

      I’m neither a devotional nor a chapter and verse kind of person. I’ll take your word that the assertion, “God created the heavens and earth” is found more than once in biblical scripture.

      In any case you say, “It says God created the Universe, plain and simple. Whether He did 10,000 or 10 million years ago, it’s not the point. The point is, He created it. It’s very straight forward, it doesn’t need any complicated philosophical analysis and interpretation.”

      You’re words imply that belief in an Devine creator of universe, world, and life, is an essential article of faith for the religion, but the actual time in the past when the creator’s great act occurred is not. Of course no chronological date for the event actually appears anywhere in scripture. Thus, the 6000 to 8000 year estimate that was conjured up several centuries ago and popularized among the faithful is arbitrary. If that’s the case, then you’re in at least guarded agreement with Biologos on these points. Don’t hesitate to say so if I’m misperceiving your position.

      In the light of the above, consider the following quotes from the last chapter of Darwin’s book on the “Origin of Species”.

      “It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. . . There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone circling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.”

      As a footnote, this is the only instance in the book where the term “evolve” appears.

      There’s sufficient room to be critical of Darwin’s views on a number of philosophical and societal issues. But it’s indisputable that he saw the handiwork of a creator in nature’s living things. So even though you may take issue with his theory of origins, you can’t fault him on the fundamental matter of Divine influence. Given this alone, it’s difficult to identify what exactly you are denouncing so bitterly when you refer to “Darwinism”. Perhaps you can shed some clearer definitional light on the matter.

      Concerns about the reliability of the literal biblical account did not begin with Darwin’s publications. Deism for notable example was a form of creationism popular in the 1700’s among Christian intellectuals. They rejected supernaturalism, superstition, and biblical inerrancy. The premise of Deism was that reason and observation of nature alone (unmediated by organized religion) was sufficient to perceive the universe as the handiwork of a creator god. Although Deism retained the one-god concept of the Abrahamic religions, the retention was effectively decoupled from bondage to scripture. In the Deist scheme of things, the creator god rarely if ever intervened in the affairs of nature or humankind. God was believed to have created the universe, but stepped aside thereafter to let things run on they’re own.

      The Deist perspective is most famously represented by William Paley’s watchmaker analogy, which first appeared in his 1802 book “Natural Theology”. The proposition was that if someone who’d never seen a watch was to encounter one somewhere, they would immediately recognize that an intelligent agent had designed it. The creatures found in nature are eminently more complex than a watch and therefore they too required an intelligent designer to come to be. The watchmaker analogy has been resurrected several times in the course of the evolution-creation debate and lurks at the foundation of the current intelligent design (ID) movement. The new resurrection argues in opposition to evolution that some biological designs are too irreducibly complex to have come about through natural processes alone. Therefore they required the intervention of an intelligent agent (God for example). But crucially also, the ID people contend that “irreducibly complex” biological structures can be scientifically confirmed to exist. In other words, a grand goal the ID movement is to use science to prove the existence and miraculous creativity of God. That amounts to a tall order indeed.

      The issue of great dispute is whether ID measures up to scientific standards or whether it’s merely a cleverly crafted religious belief masquerading as science. Many hardcore conservatives, including yourself I assume, vigorously contend that ID is the real deal. In a previous post you went so far as to declare evolution theory to be “pseudo science”. It would be interesting if you could flesh out in detail what you think the characteristics of a pseudo science are and share it in some future post.

      Evolution theory has been formulated under the constraints imposed by the methodological naturalism that the sciences are grounded in. Scientific theory is built on observable and thus confirmable and measurable phenomena. But also, the inferences drawn from the data and analyses must be logical in the connections made between premises and conclusions. Moreover science requires confirmation and sometimes much confirmation before any hypothesis gets elevated to the status of scientific theory. Take electronic theory for example. With the proliferation of TVs, computers, cell phones, and many other amazing products, the theory at its well-honed core, is barely distinguishable from the natural laws it describes. Even so, no theory is so immutable that it shouldn’t be reevaluated in the light of new and contradictory evidence. That is, if the “evidence” amounts to something more substantial than just conjecture.

      As I suggested before, the principles of natural selection of traits and common descent have stood the test of time ever since Darwin first formulated them. And that’s because the preponderance of evidence continues to overwhelmingly affirm their theoretical soundness. I bet you just love to see the term “overwhelming” used in the context of a debate like this. Shear repetition can make it tiresome even as true as it may be.

      Anyway, in a previous post you stated in so many words that evolution has never been directly seen to occur. Are you sure of that? A no brainer example is the influenza virus. Every year the biochemists must alter the composition of the flu vaccine because the virus quickly evolves a new strain, making last year’s vaccine ineffective. Correspondingly, evolution can be observed in a number of microbial populations where the production of successive generations is highly accelerated. To the contrary, there’s ample evidence of evolution in action. For example take a look at,
      http://dsc.discovery.com/tv-shows/curiosity/topics/10-examples-natural-selection.htm

      That takes me around to critiquing the substance of ID and the motives behind the movement. There’s no more decisive proof of the agenda ID’s proponents then the notorious Wedge Document. The following was extracted from Wikipedia

      “The wedge strategy is a political and social action plan authored by the Discovery Institute, the hub of the intelligent design movement. The strategy was put forth in a Discovery Institute manifesto known as the Wedge Document, which describes a broad social, political, and academic agenda whose ultimate goal is to defeat materialism, naturalism, evolution, and “reverse the stifling materialist world view and replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.” The strategy also aims to affirm God’s reality. Its goal is to change American culture by shaping public policy to reflect conservative Christian, namely evangelical Protestant, values. ….The Wedge strategy forms the governing basis of a wide range of Discovery Institute intelligent design campaigns.

      For obvious reasons the proponents and foot soldiers of ID creationism have sometimes been referred to as “wedgies”. Their favored tactic is to infiltrate local school boards and alter the science curriculum to accommodate the ID agenda. The tactic amounts to a blatant circumvention of the scientific community’s judgment. This was the case in Dover Pennsylvania in 2005 where some meddling by wedgies landed the local school district in court. The transcripts and written ruling from the case make for fascinating reading. The trial’s proceedings exposed a clear connection between biblical creationism, creation science, and ID even though the proponents of ID disavow any connection with the former two.

      In the final analysis the Pennsylvania court (with a conservative judge on the bench) ruled that ID is a religious belief couched in pseudo scientific terms. Thus it’s an inadmissible intrusion on the public school science curriculum. Undeterred by the ruling, the wedgies continue to press their cause, deluging the internet with websites denouncing evolution theory and extolling the alleged superiority of ID creationism. Acting outside the jurisdiction of the Pennsylvania ruling they send their errand boys and girls to infiltrate every legislature and school district they can, stubbornly aiming to win the issue politically by exploiting grass roots ignorance and religious sentimentalism.

      In a weak attempt to disguise ID’s religious underpinning, it’s never formally specified who or what the alleged intelligent designer is. But it’s no secret that ID’s supporters rather unanimously believe that it’s the God of biblical lore. In a very substantial sense, ID amounts to a desperate and logically feeble attempt to get biological science to accept a supernatural explanation for life without the empirical evidence and sound reasoning needed to justify it.

      ID has two overarching problems in this regard. First, the identification of irreducible complex biological structures and then second, establishing an incontrovertible connection between such structures and an intelligent designer. This would include positive identification of whom or what the designer was and how the designer accomplished its creative feat.

      The subject of irreducible complexity has been debated and written about in bleeding detail. The short story is that when ID’s pet examples of irreducible complexity are critically analyzed by qualified scientists, they unravel like old sweaters. Such was the case in the 2005 Dover Pennsylvania trial. No irreducibly complex biological structures have ever been decisively shown to exist. Still, even if there were biological structures that couldn’t be accounted for by any known natural processes, it still wouldn’t make the case for an intelligent designer. All that could be concluded is that the available evidence was insufficient to conclude for anything other than an unsolved mystery. To conclude for an intelligent designer only because science currently falls short of showing how a structure naturally came about, is to employ an argument from ignorance. More transparently it’s “the god of the gaps” in scientific knowledge argument. On general principle, the cumulative evidence supporting evolution theory would make rare, undiscovered, or poorly understood, but still all purely natural causes more plausible, although admittedly not certain. In any case, the notion that the existence of God can be proven by scientific or pseudo scientific methods, is fundamentally unsound.

      David H. Bailey has written on these issues with a clarity I couldn’t possibly match.
      “Ironically, the notion that the existence of God can and should be decided on the basis of scientific experimentation is also a staple of the writings of the “new atheists,” a name given to the authors of four recent books by prominent scholars and scientists who argue that any belief in God or other supernatural entity is vain at best and even pernicious in this modern age of science.”

      For me the remarkable aspect of the theist-atheist standoff is the inherent inability of either side to decisively prove its case. On the theistic side of the issue, Bailey writes;

      “…… the overwhelming majority of science-religion philosophers disagree with the premise that God is subject to scientific experimentation, or that a scientific examination of God is a worthwhile approach. As Catholic philosopher John Haught observes, “Thinking of God as a hypothesis reduces the infinite divine mystery to a finite scientific cause, and to worship anything finite is idolatrous”

      And,

      “……. regarding God as a hypothesis, a scientific theory to be studied by the methods of empirical science (and rejected if no clear evidence is found) is neither a sensible nor a productive way to approach the Divine. Indeed, as several authors have observed, it is tantamount to blasphemy. It is truly ironic that this notion is embraced by the two opposite poles in the spectrum of science and religion.

      The “new atheists” undoubtedly do take refuge in the inherently materialistic nature of science and do unfailingly assert that God doesn’t exist. And they have on occasion tendered ideas about using the methods of science to disprove God. Still, it’s sheer exaggeration to claim that the “new atheists” represent the beliefs of the larger scientific community or of the public education system. Still, I can’t help but sense that the strong rhetoric of atheism’s current pundits is symptomatic of a cultural backlash against conservative Christendom’s ongoing drive to redefine science and science education. My own situational inclination is to side with the atheistic community rather than see the integrity of science and American public education subtended by the culturally irresponsible agenda of the ID movement.

      My reasonably studied view is that the theists and atheists are both in error in conspiring to use science to either prove or disprove the existence God. As hard as they may try or as cleaver as they might be, there is no investigation that could be devised that could validly lay the issue to rest. Both sides are condemned to take their respective claims on faith. To use science and evolution science in particular as either a whipping boy or a bludgeon in the God versus no God controversy is in my view a blunder of the profoundest intellectual and cultural order.

      It’s evidently true that if the fundamental forces of the universe were not “tuned” exactly as they are, we would not be here to witness anything. But to take that as strong evidence for a designed universe seems the likely product of what I will call existential centrism. That is, we are understandably inclined to view anything about the composition of the universe that’s undergirds our own existence as being elegant, purposeful, and intelligent. All things considered, sentient existence is wonderful. And of course because we are indeed here, and the most intelligent critters we know of, then optimistically the universe and world must have been brought about for the specific purpose of spawning beings like ourselves. Therefore, it had to be consciously designed by an intelligent omnipotent creator being. I mean what other purpose could the universe possibly have, right? Well hmmm.

      The universe’s “fine tuning” does afford life to beings such as ourselves. But that observation doesn’t get us any closer to knowing whether the universe has any consciously designed purpose, or whether its accommodation of biological life is simply the product of happenstance. Thus even with the “fine tuning” argument which is just another version of Paley’s watchmaker analogy, the truth lurking behind the ontological mystery seems as mysterious as ever.

      I’d like to grind on the content of your current post and stump for evolution science some more. Hopefully I’ll get around to it in the coming days.

  12. conservative and free Christian says:

    Here are some things about the creation and evolution debate, Santi.

    In one of your posts, you were surprised because I said that scientific evidence seems to support both an old and a young earth.

    The speed of light at 186,000 miles per second, suggests an older Universe. However, the results of dating methods sometimes don’t add up to millions of years and they suggest a younger earth.

    It’s important to point out that a young earth does not automatically mean a young Universe. Both evolutionists and young earth creationists insist that the entire Universe has to be either billions of years old or only thousands of years old. To me, an old Universe does not invalidate God as the Creator, humanity’s fall into sin and entropy, and the need for redemption through Jesus, as the Redeemer. Therefore, for the creationists, the age of the Universe or of the earth is not the ultimate issue. For the evolutionists however, millions of years are necessary, because that’s how the impossibility of evolution, becomes possible.

    George Wald, an evolutionist quoted by “Scientific American”said: “Time is in fact the hero of the plot…given so much time, the impossible becomes possible. One only has to wait; time itself performs miracles”.

    Time is the most important variable in the evolutionist equation. When you point out to evolutionists that felines don’t evolve into canines or horses, just as reptiles didn’t evolve into birds as evolutionists claim, they will respond by saying that given more time, that can happen. They have to add time, because scientists in the last two or three hundred years have not observed that. So, they have to come up with the childish notion that time can accomplish magic or scientifically impossible things. That’s because no generation of scientists can observe those leap jumps from reptiles to birds, and so they have no choice but to say it happened over millions of years, when no one was around or at least no qualified scientific observations were made.

    Time plus random chance equals complex life. The evolutionist equation appeals to time and chance. That appeal to time and chance is unscientific and irrational. No amount of time or chance will ever generate something as complex as the human DNA, not to mention other spectacular things that can be seen in all of creation. How do I know that? Let’s think about this for a minute.

    According to the theory of evolution, life started as a macromolecule on the bottom of a pond or ocean that covered the entire earth. That idea of water covering the earth is in agreement with Genesis 1:2. Now, when asked how did that macromolecule appear, let alone develop further into something more complex, evolutionists will tell you that the forces of nature and gases in the atmosphere made it possible. The forces of nature are rain, thunder, lightining, and wind. Gases like oxygen and hydrogen, can be assumed to have existed at that time. They also say that nature can arrange or rearrange molecules and structures, over billions of years. However, that presupposes that nature has a level of intelligence. If that was true, then we should expect nature to be more intelligent or careful, when it comes to natural disasters. During an earthquake or tornado, nature should be able to avoid harming any living things, humans, plants or animals. I can understand a hurricane destroying homes or other structures, but lives should be spared, if nature is the original source of life. But nature is not selective when it comes to natural disasters. So then, why assume that nature could be selective and intelligent enough to basically create life?

    If a hurricane or tornado can’t assemble a car with the parts from a junkyard, when it sweeps through that junkyard, then how could it possibly assemple a DNA structure, which is infinitely more complex than any car?

    It won’t assemble a car and make it fully functional and it won’t make a DNA structure either, even if it tries over billions of years.

    The funny thing about evolution is that it tries to present itself as non-religious, when in fact, it’s very religious. Religious pagan, that is. “Mother nature” is the godess that replaces the Lord God as the creator or source of life. Since evolutionist philosophy claims that life started in nature, then it can be concluded that nature made life possible without any outside intervention but its own. Therefore, nature is the creator of everything, including humans. That’s why evolutionist environmentalists will tell you nonsense like nature or the earth is sacred. The basic difference between creationists and evolutionists, is the creator to whom they attribute the origin of life.

    “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” John 1:1.

    That’s the biblical account.

    “In the beginning was chaos”.

    That’s the evolutionist account. Chaos is the power through which nature created the Universe or at least life on earth.

    The Bible says that God created the Universe, including life on earth, through His Word, Jesus Christ. The Greek term for “Word” is “Logos”. I think the word “logos” is where we get the word “logic”. Jesus, the personified Word of God is the ultimate logic, the true logic that sustains life and the Universe.

    “And the Word became flesh and dwelled among us, full of grace and truth”. John 1:14

  13. conservative and free Christian says:

    I apologize for the delay in answering your posts, santi. I was very busy in the past few weeks.

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      No worries. I may need a few days to reply to what you wrote as I am in the storm of meetings at work and general “busy-ness” this week as well.

  14. conservative and free Christian says:

    I made some funny spelling errors in my previous post. I guess that’s what happens when you type fast and don’t check your spelling when you’re done. :-)

  15. conservative and free Christian says:

    I apologize for the delay in answering, Longtooth. As I told Santi, I didn’t get a chance to read his reply either, and to answer. I’ve been very busy over the past few weeks.

    I enjoy the conversation, gentlemen.

    Let me address your points here. I read your post, it’s very long.

    I’ll break it down, into separate topics. I’ll answer in separate posts, so don’t expect an immediate answer or reply to everything. If we talk about science and how to interpret the Scriptures, I would separate that from deism and other things.

    I said if something appears in Scripture only once, don’t take it as coming from God. I made a mistake in the way I phrased that. Let me rephrase that. Don’t base your conclusions on something you read in Scripture only once. That’s what I’m trying to say. In other words, don’t build an entire theology on one verse. However, if something in the Bible is written as “The Lord spoke and said”, and then “You shall not steal”, that’s from God, even if it appears only once. I meant to say that something like Job’s hopeless words about dying, in the text that I quoted, should not be taken as inspired by God. And incidentally, that statement or idea, appears only once.

    “I’ll take your word that the assertion, “God created the heavens and earth” is found more than once in biblical scripture.”

    Don’t take my word for it. Check it out in the Scriptures.

    “the truth or wisdom value of a passage is not contingent on how many times it’s repeated”.

    I agree with that, yes. But then again, we should apply that to other aspects of everyday life and society. Just because something is popular and the majority supports it, like some issues that extreme social liberals are in favor of, it doesn’t mean it’s logical, it has intrinsic value or is good for society.

    I think God knows that we need more than one reminder, that’s why He repeated some things throughout Scripture. And I think the second opinion rule is realistic.

    In regard to the age of the earth and the Universe, it’s still open to debate. I gave Santi some examples in the other post, the latest one on creation/evolution. If you read that, you’ll see that it’s relevant to our discussion. Although the speed of light at 186,000 miles per second, suggests an older Universe, the results of dating methods sometimes don’t add up to millions of years and they suggest a younger earth.

    See this article http://creation.com/flaws-in-dating-the-earth-as-ancient

    It’s important to point out that a young earth does not automatically mean a young Universe. The Universe may be much older than the earth.

    Speaking also of the speed of light, it’s interesting to note the possibility that light speed is slowing down.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/has-speed-of-light-slowed-down/

    http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2012/08/light-traveled-faster-in-the-early-universe-todays-most-popular.html

    If light is slowing down as some scientists are saying, and many of them are not necessarily creationists, then it means that light traveled faster in the beginning of the Universe. That leads to the conclusion that the stars may not be so old and so far away after all. I’m not saying that is a scientific fact, I’m just telling you it’s a possibility worth considering. I’m open to both possibilities, when it comes to the age of the Universe. I can see evidence for both and I can’t conclude with absolute certainty that it has to be either young or old, or else it’s unscientific and unbiblical.

    The passage from Darwin’s book is very nice. The only problem with it, is that he attributes the complexity and beauty of life and living creatures to “laws acting around us”. If they were “produced by laws acting around us”, then it implies that nature has it in itself the ability to create life and there’s no need for God as the Creator. Darwin mentions the Creator in that passage, but that’s where he contradicts himself. If a Creator God breathed life into all creatures, as Genesis does say, then what’s the need for nature and time to accomplish what God has already done?

    You might say that Charles Darwin didn’t write anything about time as being important to the process of evolution.

    He did. This is what he wrote about the human eye.

    “To suppose that an organ as complex as the eye, could have evolved by chance, is, I freely confess, absurd in the highest sense.” And in the next sentence, he says that this supposed evolution of the eye could happen if it takes place over a very long period of time!

    There’s the fundamental dogma of evolution or Darwinism. Time is the magic wand that “mother nature” uses to create life and all living creatures.

    This is foolishness, it’s not science. See Romans 1:22.

    Science is basically knowledge that humanity has collected, through observation. Then the observations are tested and evaluated. No observation has ever been made of reptiles turning into birds, apes into humans and so on. Those absurd theories are based mostly on how they interpret certain fossils and their interpretation is highly subjective.

    That’s not surprising and it’s not something new either. There are instances in the history of naturalism or evolutionism, when evolutionist scientists have used false data to push their theory.

    I’ll just remind you of Piltdown man and the infamous drawings used by Ernst Haeckel. :-)

    See what the Bible has to say about those who suppress truth, Romans 1:18.

    “Scientific theory is built on observable and thus confirmable and measurable phenomena.”

    When and where has macro evolution ever been observed and confirmed? What I mean by macro evolution is animals of one kind turning into another kind and apes into humans.

    The examples with microbes evolving, is not relevant when it comes to the macro evolutionist theory. Microorganisms, viruses and bacteria simply change their resistance to antibiotics, they don’t “evolve” into something else. They are still microbes, that’s the point.

    That’s not surprising and it’s not something new either. There are instances in the history of naturalism or evolutionism, when evolutionist scientists have used false data to push their theory.

    I’ll just remind you of Piltdown man and the infamous drawings used by Ernst Haeckel. :-)

    See what the Bible has to say about those who suppress truth, Romans 1:18.

    “Scientific theory is built on observable and thus confirmable and measurable phenomena.”

    When and where has macro evolution ever been observed and confirmed? What I mean by macro evolution is animals of one kind turning into another kind and apes into humans.

    The examples with microbes evolving, is not relevant when it comes to the macro evolutionist theory. Microorganisms, viruses and bacteria simply change their resistance to antibiotics, they don’t “evolve” into something else. They are still microbes, that’s the point.

    You said that people and scientists who support Intelligent Design, are not bringing scientific arguments into the discussion because Intelligent Design “it’s merely a cleverly crafted religious belief masquerading as science”.

    It’s ironic you say this, because evolutionists are doing exactly that. I said that in my answer to Santi, too. It’s ironic that evolution presents itself as non-religious, when in fact, it’s very religious and it disguises itself as scientific. Religious pagan, that is. “Mother nature” is the goddess that replaces the Lord God as the creator of life. That’s why you hear evolutionist environmentalists tell you that nature or the earth is sacred, nonsense like that.

    This is not my interpretation of the evolutionist mindset. Ask an evolutionist how is it that our bodies are so complex, starting with the molecular structure, how come we have an immune system, how was that built-in, and so on. He will tell you: “Nature did it”. If nature did it, then nature is the creator goddess of evolutionists and worshiped by environmentalists. That brings us to the surprising, yet simple and inevitable truth. And that is, naturalist evolutionists are “creationists” too. It’s just that their “creator” is a different entity from the God of the Bible. That’s all.

    The basic difference between creationists and evolutionists, is the creator to whom they attribute the origin of life.

    I’ll just say a little bit about deism right now.

    Deists have some positive points, they acknowledge the existence of God or Supreme Being. They are also aware that God’s handiwork and wisdom, can be seen in nature. This is consistent with what it’s written in Romans chapter 1, verses 18 through 20. It says there “For since the beginning of creation, His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things which are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse”. All people who reject God, will be without excuse. They won’t be able to say to God that there was not enough evidence as to the existence of God or anything like that.

    The problem with deism, is that deists contradict themselves. They say God exists and is the Creator of the Universe, but they reject His supernatural intervention in the natural world. The very act of creation from nothing, ex nihilio, is a supernatural act.

    Both Darwin’s statement about the Creator in the passage that you quoted, and the statements made by deists that God is the originator of life and the Universe, are not consistent with their naturalist mindset and rejection of the supernatural.

    If God breathed life into all living things and if He did start it all, which they acknowledge, that by definition implies a supernatural cause to the origin of life. Simply because God is beyond natural processes and He is not limited by them. He created the natural processes. Therefore, Darwin and the deists are contradicting themselves. They can’t have it both ways. In other words, God started it all, but there’s no room for the supernatural. It’s a self-defeating statement.

    If you would read my answer to santi, you can see what I said there about the origin of logic, and where we derive our understanding of logic, even though many won’t admit that. In that post, you’ll find some interesting things to consider.

  16. conservative and free says:

    This is for both santi and longooth. It includes a recommendation for something you can watch, on DVD.

    You mentioned David Berlinsky in another post, Santi.

    You said that Berlinsky is not a young earth creationist. I already knew that about him. Berlinsky is not Christian. He is not a young earth traditional creationist. But he’s a believer in intelligent design, and that’s a form of creationism, it’s the opposite of evolutionism.

    David Berlinsky, has a Ph D in Biology and I think he taught at Columbia University. He replied to an atheist who said “We must not allow the Divinity to get its foot in the door. It’s true that science does not have all the answers and that sometimes it fails to offer explanations as to the origin of life and its purpose. But to renounce its supremacy, is to allow the Divinity to get its foot in the door, and that must not happen”.

    David Berlinsky replied: “You mean to tell me, you are willing to believe something absurd just to make sure “the Divinity” is pushed out of the picture? What will you do when the Divinity will get its foot in the door and its torso will also follow, demanding its way in?”

    Then he goes on to say:

    “Does evolutionist science offer satisfactory answers to all the questions and struggles people are facing? Not even close.”

    “Does faith offer some answers? Close enough.”

    “Was the existence of God ever been disproved? Not even close”.

    I think Berlinsky is aware of the existence of God as part of reality, and that it can be accepted without compromising scientific thought.

    In a clip from an interview taken for a 12-part DVD series called “The Truth Project”, Berlinsky had this to say.

    “The notion that the theory of evolution is rejected only by Christian fundamentalists is obviously refuted by me. I’m neither Christian nor fundamentalist. There are lots of scientists who don’t accept evolution as a valid scientific theory. Von Neumann the famous mathematician of the 20th century, hooted at evolution, he laughed at it. And the reason for that, is the lack of scientific evidence”.

    I told you on another thread about The Truth Project, Santi. It’s a very challenging and thoughtful seminar, it’s filmed in a classroom. The guy who leads the discussion doesn’t just talk, he also challenges the students to talk. It’s interactive and very interesting. The seminar covers many topics and looks at them from different angles. Among the topics – Who is man? Who is God? What is science? What is truth? What is the foundation of law? Where does the concept of family come from? Theology, history, science, philosophy, economics, sociology, are all covered.

    Two parts of the series are on science.

    The man who leads the seminar, he confesses at one point during the lecture, about how he and other kids when he was in school, mistreated a girl by calling her names. They didn’t attack her physically, but because she didn’t look that attractive, they called her names and when she showed up, they would all run as if they were scared of her. With tears in his eyes, he says: “My prayer is, that if that girl did not commit suicide, she would forgive me for the way I treated her”.

    During the seminar, he plays clips with interviews. The questions I just mentioned, are asked in those interviews. The people who are interviewed, are from different cultures, religions, and all walks of life. There is a young girl from the UK who works in a shoe store, a Christian, a tattoo artist who doesn’t care about religion, an atheist, a Muslim girl, a Buddhist, a stand-up comedian, and a few others. And the neat thing about it, is that after he plays the clips with the interviews, he doesn’t attack or ridicule what they said.

    It’s very interesting.
    http://www.thetruthproject.org

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