Monday, March 22, 2010

Some cosntructive criticism

I haven't spent a lot of time on this website in the last two years. I have received some very interesting emails that I should have responded to. I hope to address some of those emails. Today, let's look at some construtive criticism:

I am not a religious person. I agree with pretty much everything on your website. However, let people believe what they want to believe in. If people find comfort in religion, why should this be a problem for any of us that don't agree with them? Sometimes, religion is the reason people rise from poverty and make their lives successful, and sometimes religion is the reason people are able to overcome hard times in their lives. Let people believe in what they want to believe in.

First, let me say that I am in no way forcing my beliefs on others. I started my site to share my experience, and the reasons that I had for changing my mind. If folks are interested, they may stay and learn from me. If not, they are welcome to surf on.

Are there times when one should try fervantly to change another's beliefs? What if somebody believes it is good to fly airplanes into buildings? What if somebody believes the earth is flat or that gays should be killed? Can you see that such beliefs could be harmful to a person, and to the people around him? So I think we can agree that, if a belief is harmful, it is fine to point out the problems with the belief.

Ok, now suppose someone believes that all those with the wrong belief about God suffer in hell for eternity. Can you see that such a belief can be harmful? Do those who burn in hell forever deserve it? If these people do not deserve hell, how can anybody find it comforting to worship a being who reportedly allows this unjust torture to continue forever? But if those people in hell do indeed deserve this eternal suffering, how can a person with such beliefs respect those whom he believes deserve such torture? Now if it is true that others deserve such torture, perhaps it is okay to believe it, but if it is not true, and those around us are not as worthless as this doctrine would indicate, perhaps people should be taught why they should believe otherwise.

Another person writes to me:

A number of years ago i began to question. I found your site and have come back many times.
Great writing.

I do wish you would remove your spelling errors. For instance your your using "than" for "then" and a few others.

Doing this will make your site a lot easier to recomend to more educated people. You may or may not care about this. It's just FYI.

I always struggled in my English and writing classes. Instead, math was always my subject. Much of my skill in writing comes from debating on the Internet and from writing this site. I have been learning on the fly.

My writing certainly doesn't reach the elegance of elite writers, but my writings have been special to some readers, who can identify with the folksy style. I am glad that I was able to reach people who might struggle with the vocabulary of the educated elite. So I do my part, reaching out to those who can identify with what I write.

Yes, when looking back over my writings I often find silly mistakes like "than" where I mean "then", "their" when I mean "there", "effect" when I mean "affect", etc. I have spent much time reviewing my site, and of course, have relied heavily on my spell checker. I'm sure there are many errors still there.

I appreciate any specific errors you point out to me, and certainly want to fix them if I can.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Where are the fossil pictures?

Here is another email I received with a challenge to evolution:

I looked at some of your site and found it interesting. Actually your section on evolution made me ask afew questions...I am curious why their is no pictures on your website talking showing those evolution pictures?

There are plenty of pictures of intermediate fossils on the web, and I didn't bother copying them to my site. See for instance:

The ad hominem approach

There is a simple form of argumentation known as ad hominem ("argument to the person"). Instead of responding to the issues, the ad hominem approach simply attacks the integrity of the other person. Is this valid argumentation? After all, even stupid people are sometimes right about some things, aren't they? So simply calling your opponent stupid, or hurling other insults at him, does nothing to prove that you are right, does it?

For some reason, LC, who earlier wrote a most unusal explanation of Genesis 1, has decided to turn to the ad hominem form of argument rather than address the obvious questions about his claims. Interestingly, LC's reply doesn't mention a single specific from my public writings, but rather, shares a canned list that he prepared four years ago!

Merle, thanks but I'm not interested so I won't go there. However, in anticipation of your response, I prepared the following and kept it waiting:

I skimmed your site a few days ago and, as I recall, it's the usual rehash of canards. About four years ago, I found I was running across so many guys with profiles like yours, I made a list and I haven't changed a word since. How many items, in general, apply to you?

-Raised in a loving Southern Baptist home.
-Indoctrinated by the fear of hell.
-Doubts the existence of God.
-Becomes rational materialist.
-Determines to enlighten the world about the evil, bloodthirsty, make-believe God.
-Believes humans can save themselves from self-destruction.
-Well-read and uses standard atheist canards.
-Uses derash Bible exegesis.
-Waffles on Jesus' existence.
-Truth outside a science lab is subjective, a matter of opinion.
-Confesses ignorance of true economics.
-Recoils at "tinfoil hat" New World Order.
-Denigrates "ancient" Jews' God but quick to label someone else as anti-semite.
-Uses Nazi Germany analogies.
-Likes to bluster and bully.
-Unless personally convinced, any argument is false.
-Requires constant support, approval of other atheists


Well folks, has LC done anything to prove that he is right and that I am wrong? Does copying a standard file designed to insult "guys with profiles like you" prove anything? Can LC do no better than argumentation by profiling?

My writings are a matter of public record. Everybody is welcome to read them, and see if I fit the profile that LC copied.

Also, the site is a matter of public record. Curious readers might want to check it out, to see if LC's profiling matches the writings there.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

More on the old earth:

I received two replies to last week's post. Dwight writes again:

I am serious and happy and see a lot of humor in this ridiculous thing called life and do laugh out loud a lot. Most people do not have this benefit.

The 6,000 year old scam is just that no matter who tries to claim it or believes it. There is no claim of this in the Bible nor is that what it implies, if read closely with good reading comprehensions skills. You are not dealing in facts but straw dog arguments--Dwight

Interesting. So you, Dwight, see no claim in the Bible of a 6000 year old earth. As you wrote before, you think "it is made clear there is time distortion" in Genesis and that "one of God's days is like...a thousand years". You are expressing the day-age hypothesis, that is, that each "day"in Genesis could have been thousands of years long. As I mentioned previously, this claim only scratches the surface in reconciling Genesis with science. Why does Genesis list a different order of species origination from the order that science has found? Why does Genesis put birds before land animals? Why fruit trees before fish? And why do the genealogies of Genesis indicate that the first man lived 6000 years ago, when we have found human relics long before then? Do you have answers to such questions? If not, the day-age hypothesis doesn't come close to resolving the conflict.

It would be easier to accept that Genesis teaches that each "day" of creation was a long period of time, were it not that other Christians are equally insistent that the Bible is clear on something else. In the previous post, for instance, we saw an email from LC claiming that the six days of Genesis were not 6 periods of creation, but represented instead 6 days of revelation to a scribe.

So if the Bible is so clear about the meaning of Genesis 1, which way is it clear about? Are you right that Genesis 1 refers to 6 long periods of creation (apparently totalling 4.5 billion years), or is LC write that Genesis 1 clearly refers to 6 literal days of revelation?

If the Bible is so clear, why cannot the two of you decide if this refers to 6 literal days or 4.5 billion years? If the Bible is so clear, why cannot the two of you decide if Genesis 1 describes the actual periods of creation, or a time of revelation to a scribe?

And if the Bible cannot make such a simple matter clear, how can you trust anything you think you understand in the Bible? In the second letter I received this week, LC addresses this:

Merle, it's a pain-in-the-butt to leave a comment on your blog so I'll just pass one along here.

You state: "If the writer of Genesis 1 is universally misunderstood, is it also possible the writer of John 3:16 is universally misunderstood?"

Absolutely, and you are living proof. Millions also misunderstand John 3:17. They think Jesus is returning to earth to make things all better, He ain't.


OK, so I am living proof that people misunderstand John 3:16??? How is that? For I think the writer of John 3:16 is trying to tell us that God sent his son so that we could have everlasting life by believing in him. Is that not what it means? If I misunderstand John 3:16, please enlighten us as to what John 3:16 is really saying.

So do I, and the millions of Christians that agree with me on what John is trying to teach, completely misunderstand John 3:16? If so, how are you so certain that you do not also misunderstand John 3:16?

But if I, and the millions of Christians that agree with me, are correct in what we think John 3:16 is saying, why do you insist that I am living proof that John 3:16 is misunderstood?

Many resolve the problems in the Bible by finding symbolic meanings in the text. But as our correspondents have shown here, a Bible filled with cryptic, symbolic messages does little to clear up the confusion about the state of reality.

If someone wants to learn how the current world came to be I recommend science. Searching for cryptic meanings in ancient texts seems to work only if you first find the answers in science, and then reverse engineer your findings to determine a cryptic meaning in the text to match science. As we have seen here, the process of working back from science to symbolic meanings in scripture leads to conflicting symbolic interpretations.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Does the Bible teach an old earth?

This week I received three emails regarding the age of the earth. In the first email MM advises to "familiarize yourself with the content better before making yourself look very foolish," but ones wonders if he took his own advice before writing to me. MM writes:

Your story about the bible stating that the earth is only 6,000 years old is pointless. The bible says mankind is roughly 6,000 years into his existence, it does not say anything about how old the earth is. The universe is obviously thousands or millions of years old, and that does not contradict the bible. When the bible says that the earth was created in 6 days, it is not saying 6- 24 hour periods. Besides the fact that the bible says that a day to God is equal to 1,000 of our years, the bible was obviously illustrating 6 creative periods, represented by "days." Also, it does not specify how long the earth sat in space without human existence. So, I propose that next time you write a story please familiarize yourself with the content better before making yourself look very foolish.

MM, have you followed your own advice, and familiarized yourself with my site before writing about what it says? If so, you would be aware that I wrote:

Many Christians have solved the problem by finding ways to interpret the Bible consistent with the geologic record. Some think the six days of Genesis are figurative representations of long eras, and not six literal days. Some think Genesis 1 is just a parable, an interesting poetic way of saying that God started it all. Some see the six days as representing the thought process of God deciding to create, not the actual acts of creation. There are many ways to interpret the Bible to fit the geologic evidence. So one way out of the difficulty is to find interpretations of the Bible to match science. (

Finding a way to make the Bible agree with an old earth only begins to solve the conflict between the Bible and science. Science has found that the order in which new species have arrived on earth does not match the order given in Genesis, that there were humans on earth long before the genealogies of Genesis would indicate, and that there was a long series of intermediate fossils leading to the first humans. Can MM reconcile these findings with the Bible? If so, I would like to know how he does that.

The next writer observes:

The 6,000 year old scam I think I first heard in the movie inherit the wind. I would hope no one claims that one LOL

Understanding Genesis is understanding a lot and few bible thumpers seem to even grasp key parts of it. For one thing it comes very close to describing a simple evolutionary process. Secondly it is made clear there is time distortion (one of Gods days is like being a thousand years to man), but did they have million or billion when it was written LOL The third thing is why they were barred from the Garden with deadly force (I am assuming a flaming sword is deadly LOL). No not for "sinning" LOL
Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:

Hmm as one of us, and the only way to control it was to deprive him of the fruit from the tree of life which gave immortality if eaten of on some regular basis. If you think about it, you are seeing some extremely advance thinking or technology being dumbed down to be told to extremely primitive men who wrote t down or possibly retold over generations until it was written down. I won't even mention the concept of taking a rib from Adam (bone marrow) to create a new engineered "creature" LOL

A few things to think about--Dwight

Dwight seems to LOL so often, it is difficult to know what we should take seriously, and where he is joking. The source of his merriment seems to be that some people think that young earth creationists actually exist. He calls this a "6000 year old scam." I hate to burst your bubble, Dwight, but yes, there are millions of people that teach that the earth is closer to 6000 years old than 4.5 billion years. See for instance, Evidence for a Young World.

Okay, Dwight, now that you see that there are actually people that teach the earth is less than 20,000 years old, can you perhaps stop laughing at those who know that young earth creationists exist, and help us to educate people in the findings of science?

Finally, LC writes:

Actually, there is another understanding of the Creation Story that works exceptionally well.

P. J. Wiseman, in his book Creation Revealed in Six Days, contends that about six thousand years ago, a scribe was inspired to write the story on a cuneiform tablet a day for six days. In other words, God didn't create the world in six days, instead, He simply took six days to reveal how He did it to a scribe who wrote the story.

We have simply lost the true meaning over the centuries. I have the book in case you'd like more info.

As I explained in the quote above, there are multiple ways to explain the conflict of the 6 days of Genesis with the findings of science. LC writes that the six days represent the six days it took to reveal it to the scribe who wrote it down. Okay, but if the scribe is trying to tell us what he learned during each of six days of revelation, couldn't he have expresssed himself more clearly? Can you understand how people--such as MM--could read Genesis 1, and not understand it to be saying that the scribe who wrote this took six days to learn about the billions of years of earth history? If God revealed Gensis 1 to this scribe, why is it that a very small percentage of people believe this view is the correct view? If most people have completely lost the meaning of this passage, what other passages have we completely lost the meaning to? If the writer of Genesis 1 is universally misunderstood, is it also possible the writer of John 3:16 is universally misunderstood? If we need to read Creation Revealed in Six Days to understand Genesis, why isn't Creation Revealed included in the canon of scripture?

So go ahead and propose your ideas of how Genesis may be teaching billions of years, but also take the time to think critically as to whether your explanation truly resolves the conflict.