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A review of The God Delusion. By Richard Dawkins. Part 2.

Dec 29, 2006

Bantam Press, 2006.

As mentioned in part one, a book this size really deserves a book-length response. Thus I can here only highlight some of what I regard as the book’s many shortcomings. A few more specific issues will here be addressed.

A New Morality

In one section of the book he speaks about the changing moral times, and the need to develop a more appropriate set of ten commandments. He approvingly lists one such atheistic version in his book.

Consider one of these commandments: “Treat your fellow human beings, your fellow living things, and the world in general with love, honesty, faithfulness and respect”. This is a bit rich coming from a guy who has just spent 400 pages attacking the overwhelming majority of mankind (those who do not share his reductionist atheism). And he has treated them with anything but love, respect and honesty.

He has even said at the beginning of this book that religious people do not deserve respect. He claims that religions have a “privileged” place in society, which they do not deserve. And it certainly shows in this volume. For 400 pages he seems to go out of his way to offend believers. Consider even the title of the book. Anyone who does not share his narrow atheism is simply deluded. End of story. He has just written off at least 95 per cent of mankind. They are simply engaged in delusion.

And one can ask where exactly this love and respect is supposed to come from in a dog-eat-dog Darwinist world. If species survival is the main point about life, how does such a concept as love fit in? Sure, Dawkins offers the usual Darwinian case for altruism, but one is left far from convinced.

Moreover, the most loving and sacrificial act in human history, the sacrificial death of Christ on our behalf, is dismissed by Dawkins as “morally obnoxious.” So we are supposed to buy his understanding of love? As exemplified in this book? Sorry, but I will take the biblical understanding of love any day over his warped take on it.

Delusion

Dawkins’ use of the term delusion is worth looking at a bit further. Not only is this not much of an argument, but if every time I spoke about atheists, and simply dismissed their claims as mere delusion, they would not think I was advancing much of a case. And they would be right. So in a sense this book is one long exercise in the fallacy known as ad hominem. Simply attacking the person and thinking you have won the argument.

Of course by delusion he has certain ideas in mind. Dawkins holds to the standard worldview of the philosophical naturalist, which seeks to make a disjunction between faith and reason, religion and science. Science gives us truth, but faith is simply myth. But more sober minds on both sides of the debate recognise these to be false polarisations. Faith, at least in the Christian religion, is informed by reason. It may at times go beyond reason, but it does not run counter to it.

And the scientific enterprise is also characterised by faith commitment. There are all kinds of unproven assumptions and presuppositions which may or may not be testable. The myth of complete scientific neutrality and objectivity has been countered by many important thinkers.

But because of Dawkins’ pre-commitment to philosophical naturalism, he rules out a priori any possibility of the supernatural. And anyone who does seek to escape the narrow confines of such naturalism (the idea that only matter matters) is, according to Dawkins, simply deluded.

Thus by Dawkins’ chosen framework, anyone who disagrees with him must be living in delusion. But his worldview, which is born not of scientific evidence, but philosophical commitment, itself can be challenged. A good critique of Dawkins in this regard can be found in Alister McGrath’s recent book, Dawkins’ God. See my review: www.billmuehlenberg.com/2005/02/02/a-review-of-dawkins%e2%80%99-god-genes-memes-and-the-meaning-of-life-by-alister-mcgrath/

Child Abuse and Religion

Another strange way in which Dawkins seeks to make his case for atheism is in a section in which he recounts horror stories of kids abused in religious settings. Of course those cases, as tragic as they are, prove nothing. Plenty of abuse takes place in the homes of atheists, and in secular settings. Does that prove theism?

He then ties this in with another point he seeks to make, that children are simply being brainwashed by their religious parents. Of course he presumably has no problems with kids being raised in atheistic homes. But he would claim that what he really wants is for children to be taught to question everything, and not be weighed down with dogmatism.

Well, to equate all religious parents with some who may demand unquestioning acceptance of their religion is of course so characteristic of this book. He is forever throwing the baby out with the bathwater. He constantly seeks to turn exceptions into the rule. Sure, some religious education and training can border on indoctrination and zealotry. But so too can atheistic education. Dawkins simply refuses to make nuanced or careful distinctions. His hatred of religion is so strong that he is quite happy to generalise, stereotype and paint everyone with his broad brush.

I do agree however that we should be trained to “question everything”. And the first place we should begin is to question the many spurious and fanciful assumptions and claims made by Dawkins.

Conclusion

Many more areas of this book could be explored, but space does not permit it. Suffice it to say, it has left an unpleasant taste in this reader’s mouth. Its acerbic attack on the faith of billions of people comes across as just another fundamentalist crusade or jihad. It is just as intolerant and judgmental as any religious broadside can be.

The author’s over-reliance on ad hominem, name-calling, red herrings, straw men, and selective use of evidence makes this book unconvincing at best and repellent at worst. Indeed, if anything, this book has all the hallmarks of what it claims is wrong with religionists: it is just too doctrinaire, arrogant, intolerant, bigoted, narrow-minded, and full of pomposity and venom.

There certainly are more cogent and telling arguments that can be advanced against religious belief. But the reader will have to look elsewhere for them. This book succeeds in doing only one job well: showing us the arrogance and narrow-mindedness of militant atheism.

With the brisk sales of this book, its author should be making quite a few quid. However it is the reader who is being short-changed. For a book that is meant to be an intellectual “case” against God and belief, this book comes nowhere close to demonstrating the irrationality of religious belief. It seems instead to demonstrate the bitterness and paucity of thinking of at least one famous atheist.

(Note: There is much more in Dawkins’ book that deserves a response, so hopefully future posts will further examine other aspects of this controversial book.)

Part 1 of this article is found here: www.billmuehlenberg.com/2006/12/29/a-review-of-the-god-delusion-by-richard-dawkins-part-1/

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55 Responses to A review of The God Delusion. By Richard Dawkins. Part 2.

  • The link above doesn’t work.

  • Thanks Ewan
    I am not sure why the link does not work. If you copy and paste it in to the address bar, then it seems to work.
    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • The joke is on Dawkins. In any reasonable assessment, atheism is a belief system that justifies anti-human behavior. Ask any victim of Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Castro or Pol-pot. And why do more immigrants want to enter the USA than any other country?

    Mike Roviano

  • Hi Bill,
    I’m enjoying reading your rebuttals of The God Delusion, but i was wondering if you have a link to a proof of God that you are happy with?
    Because I have never seen one, and without any evidence of god (the beauty and complexity of the world is not proof), I can only agree with Dawkins, that god is delusion.

    Don Buchanan

  • Thanks Don

    It all depends on what you mean by proof. Very few things in life can be proven absolutely. We often have high levels of certainty for things that are really only just probable.

    The threshold for proof must be suited to the issue. Historical proof depends on artifacts, documents and the like from the past. The past cannot be repeated, so it is not the same as scientific proof, where you seek to repeat something.

    Even legal proof is not 100% certain, but relies on a high degree of probability. Thus legal people speak of “beyond reasonable doubt,” not “beyond any possible doubt”. That is certainly not the same as 100% proof.

    In most aspects of life, we rely on inductive proof, and we do not expect 100% proof. Can we prove that God exists? Again, it depends on what you mean by proof. We cannot prove that God exists with the same degree of certainty that we can prove some mathematical truths.

    But God still can be argued for. There are numerous bits of evidence that in a cumulative case can make a strong case for God. The reliability of the gospels, the consistency of the biblical accounts, the various archeologuical confirmations, and so on. Together they make not a fool-proof but a strong case that God exists, or that Jesus existed, and so on. High probability is the most we can ask for.

    Indeed, all philospical debates can only deal with probability, not absolute certainty. Thus a good argument for God’s existence need not make it certain that God exists, just highly probable or likely.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Bill, that is a great review. How do you write them so quickly?

    Dawkins is the world’s best-known scientist and promoter of Darwinian evolution.

    Darwin is supposedly the scientific explanation for the origin of the universe, and Darwinism has killed the need for God in Western thought. Stalin lost his faith in God by reading Darwin and Darwinism has devastated the church.

    According to that philosophy there is no supernatural. All gods are human inventions.

    And let’s face it, Darwinian evolution is the philosophy taught at fact at every leading university in the Western world, including the universities in Australia. (Even religion is taught from a Darwinian perspective—the head of the religion department of the University of Queensland is an atheist which is entirely consistent with Darwinian evolution.) Darwinian evolution, and its root—geological evolution over millions of years—is not contested by the church in the academic arena. You don’t find evangelical academics raising a peep about it. Even evangelical ministries at universities are silent.

    That is because Darwinian evolution (and geological evolution) is accepted by most Christian theologians as fact (e.g. see Evangelical wing of major Aussie church promotes “peace with evolution” ) . We do not see prominent evangelical leaders defending the biblical account of creation: i.e. creation in six days some 6,000 years ago, the fall, the Flood and the Tower of Babel, etc.

    I don’t think we will win this debate by calling Dawkins nasty and mean (even though he behaves that way). The tide will turn when evangelical leaders oppose the foundation for Dawkins’ philosophy—evolution over millions of years—and stand up for the truth of God’s Word.

    The church defended the truth against The Da Vinci Code threat earlier this year. Pastors and leaders argued from the archaeology, the textural evidence, the historical evidence, the evidence for the resurrection, etc. They did not just call Dan Brown mean and nasty. We need to engage the evidence and do the same with Dawkins.

    What a difference it will make when evangelical leaders start to defend the reliability of the Scriptures from the very first verse (against the false claims of evolutionary philosophy masquerading as science) and cut the ground from under Dawkins’ feet.

    Tas Walker

  • Don,

    If I questioned your existence, you would show yourself to me. If I asked for evidence that your name really was Don, you would show me a birth certificate. I would insult you if I examined all this prove and then rejected it, and say that you are lying and I want more proof than the beauty and complexity of your physical make-up.

    If I still demand evidence, what other evidence could you give me, so that I may believe you?

    What are you looking for in life? ‘Let God be true and let every man be a liar.’ God says that if you search for Him with all of your heart than, you will find him. He loves you Don. Read the Bible.

    Michael Dawson, Melbourne

  • Bill,

    I would be interested in hearing your argument for the existence of the Judeo-Christian god. Of course, all religions cannot be true, and I assume you believe yours is.

    What compels you to believe that the stories we read in the Bible are true, and all other religious accounts from the vast amount of civilizations of man are not?

    Ryan Meehan

  • The problem you have, Don, is that if you reject the existence of God, the onus is on you to come up with an alternative explanation for the existence and complexity of the material universe. The case for a naturalistic origin of the universe is far weaker than the argument for it’s supernatural origin. So to borrow your words, until someone comes up with a proof of atheism then I will have to disagree with Dawkins and say that atheism, not God, is the delusion.

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria

  • Thanks Ryan

    You are quite right: all religions cannot be equally true. At its heart, Christianity is Christ. So it is the uniqueness of Christ that must be examined. All other religious leaders for example remain in the grave. Only Jesus has risen from the dead.

    So the case has to be cumulative: various strands of evidence need to be considered. For example, what do we know about the life and death of Jesus? What about his teachings? What about his miracles? What about the resurrection? How reliable are the gospel accounts? And so on. All these questions can be examined at length.

    If your question was more than rhetorical, and you do indeed wish to know more about my belief in God, I would suggest two inexpensive paperbacks by Lee Strobel. A former atheist, he set out to examine the same questions, and was surprised with what he discovered. They are: The Case for Christ (Zondervan, 1998) and The Case for Faith (Zondervan, 2000).

    These books by no means exhaust the case nor cover all the bases, but they provide a good start if you are genuinely interested. I challenge you to read these two books then get back to me for further dialogue.
    Thanks,

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Bill said: “We cannot prove that God exists with the same degree of certainty that we can prove some mathematical truths.”

    I disagree. The transcendental argument for the existence of God proves to an unassailable degree God’s existence by demonstrating the impossibility of the contrary. If it is impossible for God not to exist, then God exists.

    R L Dabney has said of this:

    “A truth is not necessary, because we negatively are not able to conceive the actual existence of the opposite thereof; but a truth is necessary when we positively are able to apprehend that the negation thereof includes an inevitable contradiction. It is not that we cannot see how the opposite comes to be true, but it is that we are able to see that that the opposite cannot possibly be true. (Systematic Theology, sect. 1, chap. 6, lect. 8 )”

    And Cornelius Van Til explains:

    “We must point out to [our opponents] that [non-theistic] reasoning itself leads to self-contradiction, not only from a theistic point of view, but from a non-theistic point of view as well. . . . It is this that we ought to mean when we say that we reason from the impossibility of the contrary. The contrary is impossible only if it is self-contradictory when operating on the basis of its own assumptions. (A Survey of Christian Epistemology [Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1969], p. 204).”

    Frank Gashumba, Melbourne

  • Following Ewan’s line, I would like to add that I cannot fathom the current atheistic, naturalistic explanation for the commencement and expansion of the material existence.

    How do atheists and evolutionists explain the contradiction of randomness begetting order, chance begetting logic and then stopping the random, chance process in order to leave the cosmos (I know that’s technically incorrect, but it’s concise) in it’s present stable state?

    John Angelico

  • Question for any theist – If creationism is to be true in some form then why is it we have not found any homo sapien fossils from say the Jurassic period? We have found plenty of fossilized flora and fauna from that period yet strangely there are no homo sapien fossils to be had. The oldest we can find is a mere couple of hundred thousand years old. Why?

    Ben Green

  • Dear Bill,

    I haven’t yet read ‘The God Delusion’ and so cannot comment on your critique of it. However I was wondering if you could expand a bit on your response to Ross Corrigan’s third point about the genetic fallacy:

    “And your third point is hardly a winner. Instead, it is a common logical fallacy known as the genetic fallacy: confusing the origins of an idea with reasons for believing in an idea. The origin of one’s beliefs hardly count as a verification – or repudiation – of them. Some people are also born in atheist homes. So what?”

    The reason I’m so interested is because this is probably the fundamental basis of my being an agnostic atheist (though there are many other reasons) and I have never really heard any good answers to this conundrum from a religious person before in all my 35 years.

    My first problem with faith is that I could never accept my faith if it meant having to dismiss all the other systems of faith in the world. Since they were so clearly distributed in geographic or cultural patterns it seemed to me that a god who dismissed large chunks of people and accepted others based on where they were born would have to be prejudiced and somehow immoral to me.

    My second problem came out of me being an exception to those patterns since I, along with a significant minority(?) of people, came to my beliefs not out of cultural upbringing but it would seem based on genetics.

    Can I give you a run down?… I was brought up in a devout Catholic family and attended Catholic schools but began having doubts about my faith as a very small child. My lack of faith was not something I was happy with so I continually fought it. I prayed, read the Bible, got involved in church life. I asked many questions within the context of my faith. I was so desperate to believe in God I tried joining an evangelistic Christian church in my teens but found that none of that made any sense to me either. It seemed obsessed with greed and obtaining one’s own salvation.

    I wanted to be accepted and to be a good person. I craved world peace, peace in general and hated having to displease my mother by failing to have a faith in her god, something that caused me and our relationship great turmoil during my youth. More than that, I genuinely wanted to believe that there was a God out there guiding us between good and evil, balancing out all the evil here on earth and easing some of our guilt about world poverty, giving us a higher purpose to life and knowing the ‘truth’ etc… I just couldn’t do it though, couldn’t feel it. It just wasn’t within me no matter how hard I tried.

    That’s where my second problem with God (the Christian one at least) came up. I figured that if God created me as a sceptic who was unable to conjure up enough faith to believe in him then he had to be unjust and discriminatory. It seemed that no matter how you looked at it, whether nature or nurture or a mixture of both, God had it all mapped out from day one. So why bother torturing us all with the games and trickery and silly tests? From my point of view God didn’t want me in his exclusive little club and that was that. Or at the very least he was giving me a very unfair handicap. If God was real and if I failed to make his grade, or died before I had the chance to, I could only deduce that it would have to be His fault and not mine.

    I hope you don’t mind me going a bit off topic here but I thought perhaps you might be someone to throw some new light on it for me if you have the time. Thanks in anticipation.

    Wendy Barilaro

  • Ben, you are making the mistake of asking such questions from your position of holding evolutionary and long-age presuppositions. If you care to examine your evolutionary presuppositions you will discover there is no direct evidence for them and that they are merely an hypothesis (framework) within which you are interpreting the physical evidence. If you want to see the evidence for creation, first change your presuppositions.

    For example, with regard to the fossil record, you are looking at it through the ‘lens’ of uniformitarian assumptions. That the fossil record was formed over many different periods covering millions of years is nothing but assumption. The evidence is more consistent with the creationist view that the bulk of the fossil record was formed during Noah’s Flood only thousands of years ago. Therefore the layers of the fossil record represent not so much the time of burial but rather the order of burial.

    From a creationist perspective then, your question is meaningless. The great time periods between the fossil categories you mention are imaginary.

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria

  • Thanks Wendy
    You raise some important points here. As to your concern about other faith systems, your main concern should be about truth. Seeking truth is not the same as a popularity contest. The issue is not to make everyone happy, but to arrive at what is true.

    If there are competing truth claims and faith systems, then they cannot all be right. If something is true, then its opposite is going to be false. For example, Christianity claims that Jesus died on a cross and then rose again. Islam denies this. Thus both religions cannot be true, at least on this issue.

    Taking a stand for any belief or viewpoint is going to be divisive. For example, if you are opposed to female genital mutilation, that means many millions of people around the world will be offended or hurt by your belief. Even your profession of agnosticism or skeptism is going to mean you dismiss my and many other people’s worldview.

    And God does not reject people based on where they are born. He accepts anyone who will come to him. That is why countless people born into atheist, Muslim, Hindu, secularist, New Age homes, etc., have come to embrace Christianity. I too made such a worldview change when I came to Christ.

    And no, I do not believe that there is a god gene or meme, nor an atheist gene or meme. Nor did God create you to be a skeptic or reject him. Far from it. You have a major misunderstanding of what Christianity teaches here.

    You say you were unfairly handicapped and failed to make the grade. But that is true of every single one of us. The bad news is all of us have turned away from God and sought to take his place as Lord of the universe. The good news is God’s son Jesus came to restore the broken relationship if we are willing. But it is up to us.

    The famous passage from John 3:16 sums it up: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” The operative word here is “whoever”. That means you. That means me. We all can avail ourselves of God’s free gift of restored relationship with him if we so desire.

    And it is not a question of trying as hard as we can, as you put it. It is the question of letting go and letting God. He has made every provision necessary for our relationship to be restored. We simply have to receive it, on his terms. We acknowledge our need, lay aside our ego, and embrace his love gift to us.

    The hard part may be in renouncing our selfishness and pride. But in even that God provides real help if we really want it.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Thanks for the review Bill.

    I was dreading having to wade through Dawkins book myself at some stage but your review has enabled me to postpone it until it turns up in the local library or bookshop bargain-bin. Looks like there’s nothing new or interesting in it (as expected) but then since Gould and Sagen dropped off the perch the atheist minority needed a new high-priest/evangelist and as one of the squeakiest wheels I guess the consolation prize goes to Dawkins.
    Although one has to keep in mind that due to the nature and limitations of his worldview he seems to be doing more favours FOR religion and intelligent design theory than turning people away from them. Only those already sold out to the atheist position are able to digest his diatribe without critical analysis anyway, and those with truly open or curious minds will search out ALL sides to a particular point anyway. It saddens me that this kind of stuff passes for academic sophistication these days and I’d really love to see Dawkins come out from hiding behind his books and his acolytes and debate any of the numerous theistic scientists/philosophers who seem to be holding all the cards in this debate. Oh well, I live in hope.

    I guess then the question is the same as when any of this type of thing pops up. Do we ignore it and let it die the quiet death that it deserves or do we comment and give it undue publicity? I guess that’s for each to decide for themselves.

    Cheers, Paul Wilson 

  • Wendy, you are not unique, you are just one of those people who needs to have reasons for why people believe what they believe. There should be more of it! It seems to me that the problem you had was not that you were asking questions but that you didn’t get the right answers.

    In general terms the Christian church is in poor shape in Western nations including Australia. Orthodox Biblical Christianity is getting hard to find and the luke-warm versions are not equipped to answer serious objections to the Christian worldview. Perhaps, Wendy, it is this type of Christianity that has been your experience and you need to search a bit further.

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria

  • HI Wendy,

    I hope you dont mind me having an attempt at your questions. 😉

    I’ll just address your main 2 points, I’m not saying that I have ‘the’ answer but I hope to at least provide some food for thought.

    “My first problem with faith is that I could never accept my faith if it meant having to dismiss all the other systems of faith in the world. Since they were so clearly distributed in geographic or cultural patterns it seemed to me that a god who dismissed large chunks of people and accepted others based on where they were born would have to be prejudiced and somehow immoral to me.”

    and

    “That’s where my second problem with God (the Christian one at least) came up. I figured that if God created me as a sceptic who was unable to conjure up enough faith to believe in him then he had to be unjust and discriminatory. It seemed that no matter how you looked at it, whether nature or nurture or a mixture of both, God had it all mapped out from day one. So why bother torturing us all with the games and trickery and silly tests? From my point of view God didn’t want me in his exclusive little club and that was that. Or at the very least he was giving me a very unfair handicap. If God was real and if I failed to make his grade, or died before I had the chance to, I could only deduce that it would have to be His fault and not mine.”

    I’ll address both points at once as some of the stuff in interchangeable. In your first question you are concerned for those who have ‘not heard of Christ’ and therefore have had no chance at salvation and this to you seems ‘immoral’ on God’s part. Laying aside for the moment the problem of things being ‘moral’ and ‘immoral’ in a materialist universe, and weighing in your observation (which I agree with wholeheartedly) that ‘God had it all mapped out from day one’ then it ‘could’ be the case that out of all the possible universes that God might have created in which the MOST people would freely elect to choose to be with him, then THIS is the one that did the job the best. It ‘might’ be the case that all of those people who did not ‘hear’ of Christ would not have converted under ANY circumstances anyway. But then as we have NO way of knowing who is saved and who isn’t, and as the Bible forbids us to even speculate on such a thing (as we are to treat all people equally), to me, it’s not a point to get too hung up on.

    As to your second question, you are right when you say that if God exists then it was he who made you as you are, with all of your physical, mental and emotional characteristics. You say that he made you a ‘as a sceptic who was unable to conjure up enough faith to believe in him’, I too have been made as a sceptic with a large serve of cynicism and apathy thrown in as well. However, I might suggest that when I apply that scepticism and doubt to all worldviews equally then I have to say that in terms of evidence that Biblical Christianity is the most reasonable, the most consistent with the evidence and the most easily defensible one there is.

    I follow Christ because I dont have enough faith to believe in any of the other options.

    As for your experience with different Churches please be aware that there is a huge difference between a ‘Christian’ and a Follower of Christ, a huge difference between what is in the western Churches and what is in the Bible as you have already seen for yourself. I went through that dilemma many years ago and decided that when push came to shove I would side with the Bible over the Church. Gets me in a lot of trouble with the Churchies but hey, I gotta get my fun somewhere. Anyway if you wanted to continue this conversation in private please feel free to email me: [email protected]

    Cheers, Paul Wilson 

  • Dear Bill,

    Thank you for taking the time to respond to my comment. Sorry if I’m being annoying by coming back again. Please tell me to go away if I’m taking up too much of your time or to redirect me to another part of your website that is more appropriate.

    Talking about having free will to ‘make the grade’ or not… I would have to argue differently in the case of myself and my own free will to accept my faith. But we could be here all year and my own case is not really the point I am trying to make here, at least not today. My point is that there are many people in the world who will never fully understand the significance of making this grade, or who don’t even know that such an entry system exists, given that it is so mysterious and elusive because God has been willing to entrust such an important message about their eternal wellbeing into the hands of flawed and prejudiced humans. It seems to me that God is willing to sacrifice not just the lives but the eternal lives of countless innocent people. This is where the logic falls down for me and I am unable to accept the apparent immorality of this unfair discrimination.

    Let me explain what I mean by prejudiced… For arguments sake, say you have a child growing up in a fundamentalist Islamic country with virtually no knowledge of even the existence of Jesus let alone access to his message to the human race. Say this child feels a niggling desire to fulful his soul by pursuing a relationship with a god other than his own and so he allows this new mysterious god to guide him away from ‘Allah’ and lead him towards Christianity via the local Christian missionary, should one even exist, defying his family, school, society and risking humiliation, alienation and even death along the way.

    I am sure such cases must exist but they would have to be the very unusual exception to the rule. I know there are some people who seek out religion and go against the grain to open themselves up to God out of their own free will.

    But I am not talking about these exceptions to the rule, I’m talking about the overall pattern of gross inequity that can be illustrated by glancing at a world religion map.

    To use another example, say you have a child born into a happy Christian family in a Western country who is sent to a Christian school in a Christian neighbourhood. Their faith is bestowed on them at baptism and nourished every step of the way throughout their cocooned little life, giving them a much greater chance of believing in God and developing a relationship with him. They are coached every day in how to live life as Jesus lived and have little trouble accepting God’s rules. This child then doesn’t just enjoy a relatively easy life on earth but gets to go straight to heaven without ‘passing Go’ to enjoy eternity with God too. While not all children born into such scenarios will remain Christians, it would seem that large chunks of them who are concentrated into small areas do so. Surely you would have to agree that while there may have been some degree of ‘free will’ involved in both cases, the Christian-born Christian required a relatively tiny amount of effort to use his free will for God’s intended purposes compared with the Muslim-Christian convert who had to fight an almost impossible uphill battle to choose the right path.

    So I guess the question that has always lurked in my heart is that if there are some people who feel, rightly or wrongly, that they are content enough in life not to seek out Christianity or to invite Jesus into their hearts, perhaps because they have been misguided into thinking they are already fulfilled and have used their free will to make the right choices in matters of spirituality – be they a Buddhist monk in a secluded Tibetan monastery, an atheist in Sweden, or an apathetic lapsed Catholic in Australia – then surely at some point God should be taking responsibility for the fact that his all important message is only being communicated effectively to some of his people and is virtually inaudible to others? If some of his sheep are simply being misguided by one of the countless other shepherd impostors, then why should they be left to die of exposure by this omnibenevolent God? Or worse, be punished with eternal damnation???

    (I’ve just noticed there are a couple of other responses to my comment. Thanks also for taking the time. When I get a moment I would love to read them properly and respond to them. For now my kids are calling me and I really shouldn’t be on the Internet!)

    Wendy Barilaro

  • Thanks again Wendy
    As usual I appreciate your honesty and openness. And you again raise some very important issues. If it is OK with you, I will pen an article to deal with your questions. I will not name you in it, but will use your concerns as a basis for a proper article. There is not enough room in the comments section for the lengthy reply your important comments deserve. If that is a problem, let me know thanks.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Dear Bill
    Just a quickie if no one else has replied to Ben. Intelligent design would seem to me to mean that the designer made man when He chose so men would not “pop up” till He chose.
    Katherine Fishley, Melbourne 

  • Ewan, Noah’s flood did not occur therefore your theory is wrong. If it had, there would be evidence of it all around the world. For example, I should be able to take an ice core sample and if the story is true, find a layer of salt within the column of fresh water. To the best of my knowledge nobody has found any salt. Another, I am quite sure the Egyptians would not agree with your comments. They have hieroglyphics dating back before, during and after the supposed event. Many old civilizations have had a catastrophic flood story of some type. Noah’s is just the Christians version. Have a read in wikipedia. It is more efficient then me typing it all in.

    Your idea of fossil deposits is just bizarre. Please read how fossils are formed and the conditions and time that is required to achieve it.

    The only way the time line for the fossil deposit and creationism could ever be complementary is if you deny many scientific principles and all the physical/visual evidence. Oh, I forgot to mention all the geologists, paleontologist, Egyptologist’s, archeologist’s etc etc. I guess they would all have to be wrong as well.

    The oddest response I have had to this question is that God put the fossils in the ground as a challenge for us to find them. Sometimes you really have to wonder what goes on in some peoples heads.

    I am still interested in any other explanations theists might want to put forward. It is an important questions. If creationism is not true then there is a large ? over God!

    Ben Green

  • Dawkins did not so much describe the atonement as “barking mad”, but an atonement without the foundations in Genesis:

    ‘Oh but of course the story of Adam and Eve was only ever symbolic, wasn’t it? Symbolic?! Jesus had himself tortured and executed for a symbolic sin by a non-existent individual. Nobody not brought up in the faith could reach any verdict other than barking mad!’

    Too much of the church has rejected the foundations of Genesis in an effort to pander to the world, yet Dawkins treats such compromise with utter contempt.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Ph.D., Brisbane

    PS: see also Dawkins and Eugenics: A leading high priest of evolution reveals its ugly side

  • Hey ben,
    Buddy, where have you been hiding? Actually there is much evidence of a catastrophic event such as a worldwide flood which occurred on this earth. read Emanual Velokosky.
    evolution-facts.org/a19b.htm
    www.christianity.com/partner/Article_Display_Page/0%2C%2CPTID4859|CHID5|CIID147858%2C00.html
    www.nwcreation.net/noahlegends.html#anchor43009
    www.nwcreation.net/noahlegends.html#anchor489364
    pw2.netcom.com/~horse/flood.html

    Also… in regards to your statement
    “The only way the time line for the fossil deposit and creationism could ever be complementary is if you deny many scientific principles and all the physical/visual evidence.”
    I assume you mean things like carbon dating and such *scientific* principles?

    First, for carbon-14 dating to be accurate, one must assume the rate of decay of carbon-14 has remained constant over the years. However, evidence indicates that the opposite is true.

    I think that maybe you should read why there is such a great presumption in the findings of radiocarbon dating being sound but are in fact inviolate.
    www.drdino.com/articles.php?spec=79
    contenderministries.org/evolution/carbon14.php
    and other articles that explain why different dating methods have been adopted and why:
    www.pathlights.com/ce_encyclopedia/23arch03.htm

    See, Ben, humans have always wanted to deny the existence of God because otherwise it means that we are supposed to accept His way. Now, I’m NOT asking you to change your beliefs, but I am questioning the system and concepts upon which your belief system is based. And if you really want to know what you believe you’d better actually investigate the foundations of it, buddy. You may find that they’re not so solid as you imagine.

    I know why I believe what I because I have distilled my beliefs down to a few simple truths from which I cannot escape, and my experiences have borne out those truths even when all around me would say otherwise. Believe me, you find the answers in the most unlikely places.

    This is important stuff Ben – like football (you might call it soccer), it’s not life or death, it’s more important than that!

    Garth Penglase

  • Hi Wendy,
    You stated…
    Say this child feels a niggling desire to fulful his soul by pursuing a relationship with a god other than his own and so he allows this new mysterious god to guide him away from ‘Allah’ and lead him towards Christianity via the local Christian missionary, should one even exist, defying his family, school, society and risking humiliation, alienation and even death along the way.

    I am sure such cases must exist but they would have to be the very unusual exception to the rule. I know there are some people who seek out religion and go against the grain to open themselves up to God out of their own free will.”

    Well I’m here to tell you that there are millions (that’s right, millions) of cases such as this all around the world and the subsequent persecution (excommunication/exile/torture/death) that follows, just as there are just as many examples of people turning away from their Christian background to other faiths (islam,atheism,etc.).

    Even people such as yourself and myself who have grown up in a Christian household have to come to a point (or multiple points) where they make a choice to do it His way or not. And you can believe in God and still not follow Him. My brother has turned from God it would seem, whereas my two sisters haven’t – same family, same upbringing. My children will have to make a personal decision as well, and I cannot say for certain that they will make the same as mine for everyone is personally responsible for their own salvation.

    The world map may *show* different regions as blocks of beliefs and that in the main isn’t entirely incorrect, but to say that God doesn’t reach people where they are irrespective of their culture and upbringing is entirely incorrect. The majority of humankind ignores or rejects God and always has and still labels themselves as christian/islamic/jewish whatever largely from cultural upbringing.

    It would seem that you are one of the minority that actually is searching for truth. Similar to Paul Wilson (another poster in this article), plenty of people including myself, are underwhelmed by ‘christian’ churches in their respresntation of Christ – if you want to find God, go to the Bible, ask Him to reveal himself to you and He will. But you’re contention that God of the New Testament is restricted by His creation in getting his message out is probably misleading, just as your assumption or your understanding about who has found salvation at His hand and who hasn’t is erroneous – who can judge who comes to Him and who hasn’t?

    I follow Christ because God is love and I have seen salvation through Christ, freedom and liberty at His saving hand (all of which means diddly squat until you experience it) and most importantly I have seen what the power of His love has done in the lives of so many people.

    Garth Penglase

  • Oh, and about Dawkins. Truthfully, I cannot bother with people who rant such and rave with such vitriol such as this, particularly those who purport to be scientists and approach these matters from such a poorly thought-out and presented basis, in fact more like a proselyte, which he seems to detest. It just shows a person with a massive bone to pick, and someone that just needs a big hug.

    You may pass think that is being facetious but really, anyone who has this much angst and cannot maintain a reasoned approach shows serious insecurities. Maybe he will one day experience an inescapable display of the love of God in his life. I pray that this is the case. It’s all about love, people. It’s all about love. laying down our lives for others… nothing else matters much.

    Garth Penglase

  • Ben, you are doing it again – you are making the mistake of looking for evidence that supports the biblical account of creation, whilst holding to your evolutionary and long-age presuppositions. If you are serious about the questions you are asking you will first have to change your presuppositions. As I said before, if you care to examine your evolutionary presuppositions you will discover there is no direct evidence for them and that they are merely an hypothesis (framework) within which you are interpreting the physical evidence.

    For example you assume that ice cores represent tens or hundreds of thousands of years worth of earth history and then ask why there is no evidence for Noah’s Flood in the ice cores. Like evolutionary interpretations of the fossil record, these ‘dates’ are based upon uniformitarian assumptions – nothing more. Let me enlighten you here – the ice cores are not as old as you think they are. They are probably no more than about 4000 years old max.

    It is your idea of fossil formation that is “bizarre”. Real science demonstrates that long periods of time are not necessary to form fossils – just the right conditions.

    As for Egyptian chronology and your claim that early hieroglyphics date from before Noah’s Flood – again if you check the facts you will see the assumptions in those dates. See here:
    www.creationontheweb.com/content/view/2160/47/

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria

  • Garth,

    Thanks for the links. A couple are broken but I had a read through the others. In regards to the flood, I still fail to see where the evidence is. Claiming similar unsubstantiated stories is not proof. There is also a list of 30 sum points which I assume is an attempt at arguing there was a flood. Again they are just claims. The author should have given specific examples for each point. They are just generalized statements. Like I said previously, a salt layer in ice cores would go along way to substantiating the claim. I have found an interesting link which explains many of the myths associated with Noah and the flood.

    www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/list.html#CH400-CH599

    Re Carbon dating. You are correct in saying that c12 to c14 ratios vary over time. Scientists have known this for many years. This is why they have spent considerable time developing a calibration curve. Have a read here

    home.tiac.net/~cri/1999/c14hist.html

    I often think that many creationists believe that scientists are absolute fools with no idea of what they are doing.

    Still the question remains unanswered. Why are there no homo sapien fossils with dinosaur fossils?

    Ben Green

  • Garth said: “Truthfully, I cannot bother with people who rant such and rave with such vitriol such as this”.

    I was reading an article recently (as usual, I hope to ‘verify my reference’ at some later date) by a secular humanist who said pointed out that much of the anti-Christian speak these days is bordering on hysteria.

    I think you’re right in your approach to Dawkins. I think the world, and here I mean world in both the Christian sense and non-Christian sense, should grow up and realise that they have bigger fish to fry than “The Church”.

    I just want to attend worship on a Sunday and live a normal Christian life during the week and be left in peace. If Dawkins wants to call people like me “deluded” then I think he should revisit some of the lessons his kindergarden teacher taught him all those years ago when he threw sand in someone’s eyes in the playground.

    James Forsyth, Melbourne

  • Ewen, ok lets make this simple then. I am not trying to determine when the flood supposedly occurred, I am just trying to prove that it did or did not. The largest ice core that has been removed from the antarctic is around 3km long. These cores are drilled from stable lakes. ie they are not glaciers. From a creationists point of view, when the world was created did Antarctica have snow? If not let us start from zero. We are led to believe that the great flood happened after this event. Gerhard F. Hasel gives us a date in the region of 3402 to 2462 BC. We are also told that the flood covered the highest mountains by more than 20 feet so it is safe to assume Antarctica was well under salt water. You have stated to me that you think ice cores at their depths are only 4000 years old so the time lines cross. (As an aside, I would be very interested in how you arrive at that number.) Even if all the flood water melted all the snow and ice the water would still pool in the lakes at run off. If not, salt easily dissolves in water. Now if I was to take a core sample down to bed rock, would I or would I not expect to find a layer with a high concentration of salt? The 3 km sample is almost at bedrock. Well you may argue that how do you know there was not a really warm period that melted all the ice every where, including Mt Everest? Well I do not, and it appears neither did the people who wrote the bible. There is no mention of it and I am quite sure there was no sudden gigantic heat wave. I am sure someone would have written about that one!

    There are a host of other problems with the great flood and Noah’s ark in general. Many have been addressed in the link I have posted for Garth.

    If you are going to refute something at least do it with verifiable evidence. You have the right to claim ice cores are only 4000 years old max but please explain by what scientific principles cause you to arrive at that number. There are thousands of scientists who have spent many many hours researching this exact thing that would strongly disagree with you about your claim. Prove them wrong and I will be the first to eat my own words.

    Ben Green

  • Thanks Bill for your review.

    While there are definitely some atheists who are respectable and honourable people, the Bible makes it a serious matter. Psalm 53:1 states that the fools says in his heart there is no God. What hope or light does atheism shed on any person’s life? There is the depressing reality of certain death with an end at that point, and a progressively falling world. Really the only consolation atheism offers to anyone is that we are not accountable for any action that we take, and that we can make an attempt to be masters of our own destiny. Naturalism’s only moral standard is survival of the fittest. All this is based on the premise that God does not exist, if indeed this is true.

    If someone was to tell me that vegemite was sticky and brown, it would not have much bearing on me whether that was true or not. However, if I was situated in an emergency department and received a 911 call from a child who said there was a fire, I would be foolish to dismiss it just because I am aware that many emergency calls from children are pranks. The stakes are high even if the chances are that this alert could be remotely true. I could be held liable for much. Likewise, it is foolish to dismiss the fact that there could be a God. The stakes are high. In fact, the Bible warns us of eternal judgment if we fail to heed Him. Any atheist reading this, please consider: even if it is remotely true that God exists, if it is true, He is your Lawgiver you will be held accountable before Him, whether you like it or not. Can you really say with absolute certainty that He is not there?

    There are so many people who think that they can be God’s judge. They blame Him for all the evil in this world, allowing millions of innocents to suffer etc. Do you not realize that all this evil is the result of humanities doing? In fact, in God’s sight, all people have sinned and fall short of His glory (Romans 3:23), and are deserving of death (Romans 6:23). So, why blame God when it is we ourselves who have turned away from Him?

    Dawkins mocks the cross of Christ. Yes, it is true that it is a horrid idea that someone might have his son put to death in a cruel manner in order to save others. This is the full offensiveness of the Gospel. It is as the Bible states, that the cross is foolishness to those who do not believe. However, Dawkins mocks that which is his only hope of eternal salvation. For us humans who are naturally destined for eternal judgment because of our rebellion against God, the cross is our only hope of eternal salvation, if only we believe in Him.

    For me, the evidence that there is a God is overwhelming. I cannot even begin to imagine the idea that the world we live in is the product of itself. I am involved both in the aviation and IT industry. The machinery I work with has been incredibly designed by intelligent people. They are so complex you are just about blown over when you see the design put into these systems. Yet neither aircraft nor computers come anywhere near the sheer complexity shown in human and animal life. I am so amazed and driven to awe when I contemplate these things. How in all the earth can naturalism explain this? Design is definitely enough evidence for a Designer.

    Yet I know that even though God created us, we humans are born in sin because our original father Adam rebelled against God. As a result of this, judgment is certain. However, this I also know: that God made a way to reconcile humanity to Himself through the cross of Christ. God raised Christ from the dead, and I know that He will raise me when this world comes to an end. I know the joy of salvation, and I hope anyone who reads this will too.

    David Clay, Melbourne

  • Ben,

    Even your brief reasoning above about ice sheet formation contains multiple assumptions. How do you know that any of them are true?

    As I said your 100+ thousand year age for the ice sheets is based upon uniformitarian presuppositions. Start with different presuppositions about the history of the planet and you will come up with a different ‘date’ estimation.

    For a comparison between both the uniformitarian and creationist explanations of the formation and age of the ice sheets see this article:
    www.creationontheweb.com/content/view/1816

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria

  • C-14 has been found in diamonds and coal, touted as millions of years old. Yet by this time, C-14 would have decayed since its half-life is so short. This is strong evidence against millions of years. See documentation in Diamonds: a creationist’s best friend: Radiocarbon in diamonds: enemy of billions of years.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Ewan,

    Thanks for the link. Now can I make it clear I am not trying to date the ice core. I am just looking at the time line that is expressed by the authors of the article.

    It is interesting they say there was ice at Antarctica before the great flood, and plenty of it. This is one of the questions I had asked. They also say that the ice reduced in size but did not disappear. Now if all this ice was covered with salt water then you would expect pools to form after it recedes. There would also be melting and diffusion with the ice that was there. So, it should be quite easy to find a largish layer with abnormally high levels of sea salt. The good thing is that according to the author, it wont be at the bottom and should be quite thick given their interpretation of the layers. Has anyone found one yet?

    Another thought came to mind. As we know ice is lighter than water. The highest peak in Antarctica is Vinson Massif at 4897m. Mount Everest stand at 8850m. Lets assume they are roughly the same height now as they were when the flood occurred. The bible tells us that water covered the highest peak by 20 feet. If my maths is correct that gives a pressure of around 400 atmospheres at the peak of Vinson Massif. That is some buoyancy force! That is probably enough force to float Antarctica off like a giant ice cube. At a min, it would compress it something shocking and most likely break it up. Would you agree?

    As an aside please read the following on the current science used to measure the age of ice cores. There is more than one method.

    www.talkorigins.org/faqs/icecores.html

    If you disagree with the science used in the measurement, please give reasons why. Not difference of opinion.

    Ben Green

  • Ewan 3.1.07 / 5pm wrote to Ben: “Ben, you are doing it again – you are making the mistake of looking for evidence that supports the biblical account of creation, whilst holding to your evolutionary and long-age presuppositions….It is your idea of fossil formation that is “bizarre”. Real science demonstrates that long periods of time are not necessary to form fossils – just the right conditions.”

    Ben in support of Ewan’s point, I suggest that you check the records of the Mt St Helens catastrophe (1980). I just Googled and the first link was: www.fs.fed.us/gpnf/mshnvm/
    I also went deliberately to Creation Ministries International (I know – to you that would be a ‘hostile witness’ but bear with me, please) and used it’s Google Search to yield 42 articles on the topic:
    www.googlesyndicatedsearch.com/u/creationontheweb?q=mount+saint+helens&hl=en&lr=
    Sorry that will be a very long URL, so I hope it remains useful. If not try the search yourself from the home page
    www.creationontheweb.com/

    There is evidence of rapid formation of layers, and considerable correlation with the verifiable evidence found elsewhere in the earth’s crust. This constitutes a scientifically verifiable set of data, available within our lifetime.

    No-one has measured any millions of years, and radioactive dating rests on untested assumptions. It is only that radio-carbon dating uses a timespan of about 5700 years, which is within the range of historical records, so the results can be cross-checked from other sources. Hence your statement that variations in the c12/c14 ratio have been plotted and used is within the realms of the scientific method.

    But all the other radioactive dating methods which yield date ranges beyond recorded history continue to suffer from the problem of unverified assumptions, and any conclusions drawn can only be tentative at best.

    Are you aware that the actual measurement process also suffers from a problem of “throw-away” bias? That is after a series of measurements of the elements being tested in a sample, the results for the two extremities (high and low) are discarded. The remaining results are then averaged to yield dates which fall within the expected range based on long age assumptions. Results falling in the range of recorded history are considered suspect, and reported as such.

    I hope this becomes a source of useful study for you. In response to your point “can so many scientists all be wrong?” Yes, they can, if they begin with an incorrect set of starting assumptions.

    Medical science is replete with examples of bad science based on erroneous assumptions. For example, it took determined work by people like Lister, Florence Nightingale and Louis Pasteur to begin the paradigm shift towards the germ theory in the treatment of disease, and aseptic methods of after-care. Today we hardly think consciously of those principles while we apply medicines and creams to our scratches, stick a bandage or band-aid(r) on the spot and so on. But Mediaeval “doctors” with their vastly different assumptions about health would think us crazy, would they not?

    Another related question is “are there any scientists who disagree with long ages?” Well, yes there are, but the definition of ie. having a well-regarded reputation within the scientific community is sometimes strained to exclude people of known creationist views.

    Political and ideological agendas distort the ‘purity of scientific endeavour’ because government research funding is such a big factor in career success these days. It’s very hard to find a Thomas Edison, James Watt, or Robert Boyle etc who made their own equipment and worked on a shoestring or the ‘smell of an oily rag’. These days they would be excluded from the grants process as eccentrics and mavericks who should not be trusted with public money!

    How impoverished we are as a result.

    John Angelico

  • Ben,

    You must have misread the article I directed you to. The author Mike Oard made no such claim that any part of the ice sheet dated from before the Flood. To quote Oard: “creationists view both the Greenland and Antarctica Ice Sheets as products of a post-Flood rapid Ice Age”. In fact there is good reason to assume there were no ice sheets in the antedeluvian (pre-Flood) world. In-any-event, because of their mindset most uniformitarians underestimate the effects of a year-long globe-covering flood. Such a flood would have been catastrophic in effect, obliterating most pre-existing geological features including ice layers had any existed.

    It is not a matter of “disagree[ing] with the science used in the [long-age] measurement”, rather it is the assumptions behind those measurements that is at fault. Oard’s article gave quite a detailed explanation of how the long-age interpretations work and the assumptions behind them. It seems to me that Oard’s article adequately covered the dating techniques mentioned in the TalkOrigins article.

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria

  • Ewan,

    Sorry, I stand corrected. For some reason I was thinking 4000 BC. That said though, my question still stands. Was there ice at Antarctica before the supposed great flood. In order for there to be no ice there, the earths average temp would have to be quite high. There is no evidence that I am aware of to indicate such a hot time so given that, there is a high probability that there was ice before the flood. I agree with you that if there was a great flood, it would have had catastrophic consequence for the land and anything on it including the Antarctic. This brings me back to my original point. There are quite deep ice lakes in Antarctica. Common sense tells you that when all the water runs off the land these lakes would remain full of salt water. As I keep saying, a core would show such a thing if it had occurred. In fact you should also be able to find evidence in soil samples. I also read that some creationists think that the grand cannon was created by the flood. At that point I stopped reading.

    I do not think that Oard has really explained anything. He demises ring counting by saying that there were many storms that created each layer as they occurred. What evidence does he have for this? Why did the storms start and stop? Why don’t we have them now? Also, he gives no explanation as to why there was a rapid ice age. He is only doing this to try and make the data fit a model. If I take 5 ice cores from different places around the world they will have quite similar time lines. This does not fit within his explanation unless all places were having the same storms depositing similar chemicals at the same time. He even says that some of the storms only last a day or two. I could go on but I think I have made my point.

    Also, out of curiosity, where did all the water come from and where did it all go afterwards?

    And out of interest, are the Australian aborigines decedents of Noah and his family?

    Ben Green

  • Ben,

    I can’t answer your question concerning Antarctic ice lakes and the issue of salt water. It seems to me that to answer this question we would need some more information such as – what is the percentage of salt in the lower portion of the ice cores?(measurable); what was the percentage of salt in the waters of the Flood? (would have to be an estimate based upon certain assumptions); and is your scenario about such lakes forming post-Flood correct?

    Concerning creationist theories on a post-Flood ice-age:
    www.creationontheweb.com/content/view/643

    Concerning Noah’s Flood and where the water came from and where it went:
    www.creationontheweb.com/content/view/3671

    Concerning the different ‘races’ of people:
    www.creationontheweb.com/content/view/3264/106/

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria

  • Ben Green:

    Also, out of curiosity, where did all the water come from and where did it all go afterwards?

    Please do your homework — Noah’s Flood—what about all that water?.

    And out of interest, are the Australian aborigines decedents of Noah and his family?

    Of course. We left it to the evolutionists to treat them as missing links and shoot them for display specimens — see Darwin’s body snatchers.

    It’s notable that long-age compromises with biblical history (such as by “Progressive Creationist” Hugh Ross and theistic evolutionists) have the unfortunate corollary that the Aborigines can’t be descendants from Adam and Eve, therefore can’t be human, therefore can’t be saved since they would not be related to our Kinsman-Redeemer Jesus Christ. See Did the Australian Aborigines come from Adam and Eve?

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Jonathan

    Whilst I enjoyed the link you provided that showed that Darwinists were inspired to shoot Aboriginals for the purpose of display specimens, I have to take issue with the other points you made.

    You stated…

    “It’s notable that long-age compromises with biblical history (such as by “Progressive Creationist” Hugh Ross and theistic evolutionists) have the unfortunate corollary that the Aborigines can’t be descendants from Adam and Eve, therefore can’t be human, therefore can’t be saved since they would not be related to our Kinsman-Redeemer Jesus Christ.”

    This corollary only applies if it is impossible to link the Australian Aborigines back to Adam and Eve. If there are gaps in the geneologies of Genesis then this is definately plausable. There is definate genetic evidence that dates the origins of the native Aborigines to around 51,000 to 85,000 yrs ago. The genetic evidence even suggests the route these Aborigines would have taken along the south coast of Asia. This means that if we suggest a date for the origin of Adam and Eve to between 70,000 and 100,000 yrs ago (not inconsistent with the geneologies) then it would be entirely consistent. This would link the Aborigines back to Adam and Eve.

    There is also DNA research that confirms the migration pathway and links the Aboriginals back to the original parents of mankind.

    This is all consistent with the date of the last ice age faciliting the migration of these groups.

    But of course all this rests on the assumption that the geneologies could have gaps. I really don’t see why not. And thus your argument to prove that Ross’ progressive creation leads to the non-humanness of Aboriginals becomes a false inference.

    If you want to check my source, then go to Who was Adam? recently written by Fuz Rana and Hugh Ross.

    Damien Spillane

  • Damien Spillane

    Glad you found the body-snatcher info useful. It illustrates the baneful effects of evolution from goo to you via the zoo as Dawkins advocates.

    I know very well what Ross teaches, since the article linked to is responding to him! But his constant stretching of genealogies, entailing thousands of missing names to fit with secular ‘science’, simply won’t cut it. Neither will the Hebrew grammar allow it, since Genesis 5 and 11 are Chronogenealogies (see also The Genesis 5 and 11 fluidity question). Note also, the aborigines must be younger than Noah in the biblical model.

    The neurologist Dr Peter line thoroughly demolished Who was Adam? in Journal of Creation 20(3):31-36, 2006.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Hi Bill,

    When men and women say that there is no GOD, then they are only to happy to step forward and take the place of GOD. They are positioning themselves to be the gods of this world, gods who design and breed the next generation, who decide who is usefull enough to remain alive, gods that advocate the killing of helpless babies in the womb, gods who teach man is an animal, etc. There is One True GOD, He sent His Son approximately 2000 years ago. JESUS was made known in the flesh. If people would look to Him and not to the evil done in His Name, they would see where the delusion really is!

    I haven’t read “The GOD Delusion” but have looked at comments on your site. Would like to post an excerpt from an article I just read about Dawkins.

    “Dawkins himself now says that the eugenic ideas that fuelled the Nazi’s thinking, including their notorious ‘racial hygiene’ and ‘breeding superhumans’ programs, may not be all that bad, after all. In a letter to the editor of the Sunday Herald (Scotland), Dawkins says that while one would not want to be seen agreeing with Hitler, eugenics is practical and desirable. He says that ‘if you can breed cattle for milk yield, horses for running speed, and dogs for herding skill, why on Earth should it be impossible to breed humans for mathematical, musical or athletic ability?”

    For the full article: www.creationontheweb.com/content/view/4783/

    Frank Jetmar, Melbourne

  • Frank Jetmar said:

    ““Dawkins himself now says that the eugenic ideas that fuelled the Nazi’s thinking, including their notorious ‘racial hygiene’ and ‘breeding superhumans’ programs, may not be all that bad, after all. In a letter to the editor of the Sunday Herald (Scotland), Dawkins says that while one would not want to be seen agreeing with Hitler, eugenics is practical and desirable. He says that ‘if you can breed cattle for milk yield, horses for running speed, and dogs for herding skill, why on Earth should it be impossible to breed humans for mathematical, musical or athletic ability?”’

    As per usual a total an utter misrepresentation of what Dawkins said. The actual letter is here:

    www.sundayherald.com/life/people/display.var.1031440.0.eugenics_may_not_be_bad.php

    Chris Mayer

  • Jonathon

    I will take a look at the websites you have provided and if I can figure things out then I will respond.

    Just out of curiosity, has AiG (sorry forgot the new name) released a formal response to John Collins’ analogical day view of Gen 1? He seems to make some cogent points in his book Science and Faith: Friends or Foe? I would be interested in hearing AiG’s response to the points he makes.

    Damien Spillane

  • Damien

    I work for CMI not AiG so I can’t answer about their response to analogical days. It does seem strange that you are the leader of the Sydney RTB chapter yet disagree with one of Ross’s most prominent positions, the day-age theory.

    But my book Refuting Compromise covers all compromises, and the analogical day is just more of the same. The main problems, as always:

    The Hebrew of Genesis 1 teaches 6 ordinary length days — Ex. 20:11 shows that by a direct comparison of Scripture with Scripture; and Numbers 7, which no one doubts refers to 12 consecutive normal-length days, is a structural parallel of Genesis 1.

    The standard Köhler–Baumgartner lexicon explicitly states that yôm in Gen. 1:5 means an ordinary-length day.

    If analogical days was really what the Hebrew says, how come none of the Church Fathers and Reformers taught it?

    How come is that they were not subjecting Scripture to uniformitarian “science” proposed by the deists Hutton and Lyell. All the novel schemes, such as gap theory, day-age, analogical day, framework hypothesis, come from trying to fit the bible into long ages, not from the text itself.

    This is shown by Hugh Ross’s constant revision up of the date of Adam, to fit in with the increasing ages for the Aborigines proposed by secular dating methods.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • A real philosopher, Alvin Plantinga, dissected Dawkins’ sub-sophomoric rants:

    Dawkins has written his book, he says, partly to encourage timorous atheists to come out of the closet. He and Dennett both appear to think it requires considerable courage to attack religion these days; says Dennett, “I risk a fist to the face or worse. Yet I persist.” Apparently atheism has its own heroes of the faith—at any rate its own self-styled heroes. Here it’s not easy to take them seriously; the fact is religion bashing in the current Western academy is about as dangerous as endorsing the party’s candidate at a Republican rally. …

    The God Delusion, however, contains little science; it is mainly philosophy and theology (perhaps ‘atheology’ would be a better term), and evolutionary psychology, along with a substantial dash of social commentary decrying religion and its allegedly baneful effects. As the above quotation suggests, one needn’t look to this book for evenhanded and thoughtful commentary. In fact the proportion of insult, ridicule, mockery, spleen and vitriol is astounding (could it be that his mother, while carrying him, was frightened by an Anglican clergyman on the rampage?) If Dawkins ever gets tired of his day job, a promising future awaits him as a writer of political attack ads.

    Now despite the fact that this book is mainly philosophy, Dawkins is not a philosopher (he’s a biologist). Even taking this into account, however, much of the philosophy he purveys is at best jejune. You might say that some of his forays into philosophy are at best sophomoric, but that would be unfair to sophomores; the fact is (grade inflation aside) many of his arguments would receive a failing grade in a sophomore philosophy class. This, combined with the arrogant, smarter-than-thou (‘thou’ being believers in God) tone of the book can be annoying. I shall put irritation aside, however and do my best to take Dawkins’ main argument seriously.

    Plantinga is a bit soft on evolution, but he shows up the elementary logical fallacies of Dawkins’ atheistic arguments in this area is well.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • If Bronwyn is allowed to use specious student arguments like flying spaghetti monsters (as Dawkins does, showing his lack of philosophical nous), I can present Does Richard Dawkins Exist? A parable .
    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Jonathon

    I don’t think it is quite as strange as you say. There is a degree of differences in Biblical interpretation amongst those at RTB. It is tolerated on matters that do not effect core doctrinal issues. It is very healthy that RTB tolerates divergent perspectives on Gen 1 such as Day-age, Analogical-Day, Framework etc since you have excellent theologians, Bible scholars and champion defenders of the faith that all fall on different sides of the debate. You can’t just simplistically lable these people “compromisers” since they are the top expounders and defenders of the faith today.

    ‘The Hebrew of Genesis 1 teaches 6 ordinary length days — Ex. 20:11 shows that by a direct comparison of Scripture with Scripture; and Numbers 7, which no one doubts refers to 12 consecutive normal-length days, is a structural parallel of Genesis 1.’

    Jonathon this may well be true but it doesn’t effect the analogical day view since the wording may indicate ordinary days that are to be seen as analogical. Just as other language in scripture refers to God through the ordinary usage of human terms, we recognise the analogy being painted and the pedagogical goals of the author (the need to bring God down to human level so we can understand Him).

    The problem is that AIG/CMI and other young earth creation ministries do not want to see their perspective on Gen 1 as an interpretation, but it is just as much “man’s” interpretation as any other, in the same way that science is “man’s” interpretation. They are both fallible.

    YEC also err in presuming that the most literal approach to Gen 1 is the more Biblically sound. This error can be exposed through an illustration: A Mormon, lets call him Richard, thinks that God has a body like everyone else, he is quite fond of quoting Biblical texts to support his case. Ps 34:15 is one of his favourites. It says “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry.” To prove his point Richard points to the Hebrew words and notes that they are the same words for “eyes” and “ears” as are used of the human equivalent in other texts. Richard is adamant that scripture should be interpreted literally and in the plane sense. The only way to do this is to conclude that God really does have “eyes” and “ears”. If you deny the plain sense of scripture then you have compomised the Bible.

    But we really need to appreciate the fact that scripture uses analogies and metaphors to teach people about God. If you do not then (in Gen 1) you are stuck with a God that goes out and works during the night and needs to sleep to recouperate at night! Thus would be absurd for God. Thus you end up compromising God’s essential nature which is far worse. Such are the dangers of an overly literalistic (not to mention wooden) interpretation of Gen 1.

    The Reformers and church fathers also reworked their interpretations of scripture when they contradicted established theories of science. They actually allowed science to help them interpret the Bible instead using an overly literalistic interpretation of the Bible dictate science. The thing to remember is that “man’s fallible theories” as I hear AIG and CMI preach again and again are fallible for both scripture interpretation and scientific interpretation.

    John Collins makes a lot of excellent scriptural points establishing the analogical day view and you would do well to respect them and respond to them rather than taking the easy way out and stamping “compromise” on it.

    I realise that this thread could get off the topic so when Bill says I would be happy to save the debate for when the topic is relevant.

    Damien Spillane

  • Damien

    Hugh Ross has killed many trees defending the day-age view as THE correct view. So it is disingenous to now claim that other views are acceptable — except the straightforward one! Once more, if the analogical day one is right, how come no Hebrew scholar thought of it till trying to compromise with long age uniformitarian “science”.

    It is not enough to point out that Scripture has analogies and figurative languages in other places (as if this were news to biblical creationists), because it doesn’t prove a thing about the specific case of Genesis 1.

    My book Refuting Compromise has a detailed section on the ministerial v magisterial uses of science:

    The ministerial use elaborates on the clear teachings of the Bible, and may help us decide on equally plausible alternatives consistent with the language. Note that this approach to Scripture does not deny the authority of Scripture, but recognizes that while Scripture is ‘true truth’ it is not exhaustive truth. In contrast, the magisterial use overrules the clear teaching of the Bible to come up with a meaning inconsistent with sound hermeneutics. Instead of the Reformation principle of Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone), this is Scriptura sub scientia (Scripture below science).

    People like Ross are inconsistent: they tell Christians to accept the “scientific consensus” in geology and astronomy, but reject the scientific consensus in biology (evolutionary uniformitarianism in both).
    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • “Hugh Ross has killed many trees defending the day-age view as THE correct view. So it is disingenous to now claim that other views are acceptable — except the straightforward one!”

    Remember, he is not advocating the analogical day view, I am. My comments do not represent those of RTB in any official capacity. Even if Hugh was to change his views, that is not disingenuous at all. As long as you are straight forward about it. Your argument here makes no sense. There is nothing disingenous about changing doctrinal position. This argument just reeks of a desperate attempt to smear Hugh Ross’ reputation in any way possible.

    ‘Once more, if the analogical day one is right, how come no Hebrew scholar thought of it till trying to compromise with long age uniformitarian “science”’

    There is nothing wrong with using the overwhelming evidence from science that the earth is old in order to help you interpret the Bible. When it became obvious that the heliocentric view of the solar system was panning out during the 16th and 17th century, Christians like Galileo changed their interpretation of texts that seemed to advocate geocentricism. From what I am aware, this was the birth of the ‘phenomenological’ interpretation of scripture. Where now we could view certain statements as not intended to teach a literal scientific position on, say, geocentricism, but instead had the main purpose of conveying a message to the people at the time. For scripture to say that the Earth revolved around the sun would have made no sense to ancient people and been of less pedagogical value.

    Of course geocentricists could have labelled these people ‘compromisers’, but this would be ridiculous and now everyone recognises that we need to give up our interpretation of scripture and not the science. An overly literalistic interpretation of scripture can land you in difficulty from very well established scientific theories.

    Besides this, Christian thinkers down through the ages have not taken such a dogmatic interpretation of scripture as current Young Earth Creationists. They opened their interpretation to agree with the revealed facts from science at the time. Augustine was certain of this, I believe Calvin also stood in this line. They wouldn’t have isolated their interpretation of the Bible from the real world to the degree that YEC have today. It is also obvious that the likes of Augustine held a very different view of Gen 1 to the modern YEC.

    ‘It is not enough to point out that Scripture has analogies and figurative languages in other places (as if this were news to biblical creationists), because it doesn’t prove a thing about the specific case of Genesis 1.’

    The Gen 1 text features God performing a human work week, God attends work according to the time periods that man does. The text implies that God stops work and rests between days. Moses in Ex 31:17 says that God was ‘refreshed’ on the seventh day. Is this behaviour that God would be exhibiting? It couldn’t possibly be. God is not subject to these limitations. This is language that casts God in human terms that the Hebrews would be familiar with. It shouldn’t be literally applied to God with too much strictness. Otherwise you end up with a God that needs rest! Thus the overly literal and wooden interpretation of Gen 1 that YEC engage in ends up compromising God’s nature. This is a far more important compromise than the age of the earth.

    Moses himself establishes in Ps 90 that God’s time frame is not the same as man’s. Hence Gen 1 ought to be seen as an analogous case (anthropomorphic). In addition I mentioned the powerful scriptural arguments that establish that the 6th and 7th days could not have possibly been 24 hr periods www.billmuehlenberg.com/2006/12/03/atheist-rage-and-venom/.

    I repeat what I have said before. YEC can only be maintained if you isolate Gen 1 from the other passages of scripture.

    ‘My book Refuting Compromise has a detailed section on the ministerial v magisterial uses of science:

    The ministerial use elaborates on the clear teachings of the Bible, and may help us decide on equally plausible alternatives consistent with the language. Note that this approach to Scripture does not deny the authority of Scripture, but recognizes that while Scripture is ‘true truth’ it is not exhaustive truth. In contrast, the magisterial use overrules the clear teaching of the Bible to come up with a meaning inconsistent with sound hermeneutics. Instead of the Reformation principle of Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone), this is Scriptura sub scientia (Scripture below science).’

    I kinda agree. But as I have already mentioned, there are powerful Biblical arguments to establish that Gen 1 ought to be taken as an analogy with human activity and not strictly literal.

    ‘People like Ross are inconsistent: they tell Christians to accept the “scientific consensus” in geology and astronomy, but reject the scientific consensus in biology (evolutionary uniformitarianism in both).’

    Of course this is another attempt to smear Ross through faulty arguments. Ross tells people to accept the ‘scientific consensus’ in geology and astronomy because the consensus is correct, he tells people not to accept the consensus in biology because evolution doesn’t stand up to the evidence. There is a difference. He never cites consensus as the only reason to accept a scientific theory. He may use it as one piece of evidence (one link in the chain) among many, but not the only evidence.

    So there is nothing inconsistent about Ross or his followers. At least no more consistent than when YEC cite church fathers to marshal their case for their interpretation of scripture, but when OEC point out that most Christian intellectuals today do not accept YEC, they shout ‘compromise’ with uniformitarian ‘science’.

    Damien Spillane

  • Damien said “now everyone recognises that we need to give up our interpretation of scripture and not the science. An overly literalistic interpretation of scripture can land you in difficulty from very well established scientific theories.” Certainly sounds to me like Scriptura sub scientia. Perhaps we should also be giving up our interpretation of the virgin birth and the resurrection given that “established scientific theories” would say these are impossible.

    Anyway, no YEC ever rejected one scientific fact – just the naturalistic assumptions behind certain theories. What Ross and his supporters fail to realise is that the same faulty assumptions that underpin biological evolution, also underpin the “scientific consensus” in both geology and astronomy. It is indeed inconsistent for Ross to say that the philosophical naturalists got it wrong in biology but got it right in geology and astronomy. Hey, they used the same assumptions for all three – biological evolution, geological evolution, and cosmological evolution – how is it that they only got 2 out of 3?

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria

  • Damien Spillane has raised issues thoroughly addressed in RC. For the gist, see how I refute Dembski’s Galileo excuse, and show that Ps. 90 is not talking about creation days but showing that God is outside time — and this comparison of short and long time periods actually supports literal days to make the point!

    Of course, wooden literalism is a straw man knocked down by those who deny the primacy of Scripture. Real creationists (who have the same allegedly wooden interpretation as most Church Fathers and Reformers) are originalists who recognise figurative language in the Bible (including anthropopathism that DS makes so much of), but without rejecting the historical parts as historical. Quite simply, Genesis 1-11 is in the same genre as Gen. 12-50 that no one denies is history, and more specifically, Gen. 1 is most similar to the undoubtedly historical sequence of numbered days in Numbers 7.

    DS: “At least no more consistent than when YEC cite church fathers to marshal their case for their interpretation of scripture, but when OEC point out that most Christian intellectuals today do not accept YEC, they shout ‘compromise’ with uniformitarian ’science’.”

    Of course, the point here is that the Church Fathers based their views on the text, while modern Christian intellectuals place fallible science above the God’s infallible word. Note also, Ross for many years claimed that the Church Fathers supported long creation days, which is utterly false.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • ‘Damien said “now everyone recognises that we need to give up our interpretation of scripture and not the science. An overly literalistic interpretation of scripture can land you in difficulty from very well established scientific theories.” Certainly sounds to me like Scriptura sub scientia. Perhaps we should also be giving up our interpretation of the virgin birth and the resurrection given that “established scientific theories” would say these are impossible.’

    No, “established scientific theories” say nothing of the sought. It is philosophical naturalism, the philosophy that sees the universe as a closed system of cause and effect. Where the space/time receptacle of the universe is all that exists. No scientific theory can establish a philosophical position, whether it is evolution, big bang cosmology or uniformitarian geology. It is a non-sequitur to extrapolate from any of these scientific theories to a philosophical position.

    Surely you would not object to the fact that heliocentricism was an aid to the development of the phenomenological interpretation of certain passages. Like the ones that depict the sun rotating around the Earth. This is just common sense. Which proves that science can help you interpret scripture. Just as a new appreciation of the culture that Jesus lived in can help you understand some of his sayings. You are not elevating historical/cultural studies above scripture, it is just challenging your interpretation. I don’t think God intended scripture to be interpreted in a vacuum, isolated from the real world.

    ‘Anyway, no YEC ever rejected one scientific fact – just the naturalistic assumptions behind certain theories. What Ross and his supporters fail to realise is that the same faulty assumptions that underpin biological evolution, also underpin the “scientific consensus” in both geology and astronomy.’

    The assumptions that underpinned biological evolution was a faith in a reductionistic materialism that extended from Newton’s mechanical universe. Philosophical naturalism, at least for the scientist, was already an established position before the 20th century. BB cosmology cut against the naturalists presuppositions in a serious way. There had been tremendous faith in an eternal universe and the omnipotence of Newtonian mechanics.

    Now BB cosmology pointed to the opposite of this. It posited a finite universe and the beginning of space and time. So BB equates to the opposite of everything naturalism stands for. Funny that naturalism would give rise to exactly the kind of science that would refute it!

    You only need to see the atheists scramble to oppose the hot BB to see how it defied their worldview. British astronomer (and atheist) Authur Eddington called the BB “repugnant”, Robert Jastrow (agnositic) said it was “distasteful to the scientific mind” – he acknowledged its theological implications. Even Einstein gave grudging acceptance to “the necessity of a beginning”. Eternal universe alternatives have been proposed for the hot BB but they have fallen out of favour because they contradict the evidence. I don’t think you will find any reluctance like this amongst those (non-theistic) scientists that accept neo-Darwinian evolution because its implications support naturalism unlike the BB.

    I have also pointed out that the expansion of the universe from the very beginning has been broadly recognised as being highly fine-tuned by BB proponents (like Hawking). It doesn’t make sense that naturalists would invent a theory that is supposed to suppord their philosophy and then throw in some incredible fine-tuning for good measure! Fine-tuning = design, something antithetical to naturalism.

    ‘It is indeed inconsistent for Ross to say that the philosophical naturalists got it wrong in biology but got it right in geology and astronomy. Hey, they used the same assumptions for all three – biological evolution, geological evolution, and cosmological evolution – how is it that they only got 2 out of 3?’

    Well it is when the evidence for an old earth and BB is compelling but not for biology. And it is not the same assumptions because as I have established, BB rudely defied their assumptions.

    It is possible to get 2 out of 3 because they are different theories with different implications.

    Damien Spillane

  • Thanks Damien, Jonathan and Ewan

    The young earth vs old earth discussion is an important debate and worth taking part in. But as the comments are beginning to stray a bit from the original post, we may wind this particular debate down here. It will more than likely appear elsewhere in the future on this site. Thanks for your helpful contributions.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

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