CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

God 1, Dawkins 0

Oct 3, 2009

There are 66 books in the Bible, but they all tell one simple story – and it happens to be a love story. It is your typical three-part love story: boy meets girl; girl rejects boy; boy wins back girl. That at least is the simple version of events.

A somewhat fuller account goes something like this: The triune God has always experienced love relationships among the Godhead. Father, Son and Spirit have forever loved, and received love, from each other. Scripture tells us that “God is love”.

It of course is the nature of love to spread it around. So God created the universe, including us, not out of compunction or necessity, but out of a deep desire to share this love with others. But tragically mankind rejected God and his love, preferring instead self and sin. Of course that was a risk God took: love by its very nature can only be freely given and freely received.

So mankind turned its back on God, and made a right royal mess of everything. But God was not finished. He enacted a rescue plan, hoping to woo and win back fallen man. This took the form of God’s own son coming to earth, living among us without sin, then taking our place for the punishment we all justly deserve from a holy and righteous God.

No greater love has ever been demonstrated than this. Now we all have the opportunity to once again enter that love relationship with God, by confessing and repenting of our sins, receiving what Christ has done on our behalf, and seeking new life by means of the indwelling Spirit of God.

It is a completely lopsided arrangement, but it speaks volumes of the rich love, mercy and grace of God. Yet sadly many people still refuse this offer of love and forgiveness, choosing instead to pretend that they are the centre of the universe, and that everything should revolve around them.

A classic case in point is militant misotheist Richard Dawkins. He has a new book out, The Greatest Show on Earth, and he did an interview with Newsweek about it just recently. In the interview it is clear that Dawkins is still up to his same old party tricks. He continues to pontificate on something he knows nothing about: God.

Strangely, he sees nothing amiss in claiming expertise in something he is clearly way out of his depth on. If I started pretending I was an authority on evolutionary biology (Dawkins’ field) and claimed to have a knock-out argument against it, I would rightly be howled down with derision. I would immediately be accused of being a pompous, arrogant fool.

Yet when Dawkins does exactly the same thing, all his groupies swoon in wonder and delight. So much for the hard-headed rationalism of the anti-God brigade. Indeed, plenty of intellects have also taken Dawkins to task for this appalling arrogance. As left-wing literary critic Terry Eagleton put it,

“Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology. Card-carrying rationalists like Dawkins, who is the nearest thing to a professional atheist we have had since Bertrand Russell, are in one sense the least well-equipped to understand what they castigate, since they don’t believe there is anything there to be understood, or at least anything worth understanding. This is why they invariably come up with vulgar caricatures of religious faith that would make a first-year theology student wince.”

He goes on to castigate all atheists who are so clearly out of their depth: “The more they detest religion, the more ill-informed their criticisms of it tend to be. If they were asked to pass judgment on phenomenology or the geopolitics of South Asia, they would no doubt bone up on the question as assiduously as they could. When it comes to theology, however, any shoddy old travesty will pass muster.”

Anyway, back to Dawkins. As I say, he is still into his attack mode, claiming authority on theological matters which he clearly does not possess. Here are a few of his remarks as made in the Newsweek interview:

“I suppose the most strident passage in The God Delusion is where I talk about how the God of the Old Testament is the most unpleasant character in all fiction. I had this long list of adjectives: homophobic, infanticidal. That’s kind of using long words, long Latinate words to describe what everybody actually knows: that the God of the Old Testament is a monster. I put it in this rather, I’d like to think, amusing way. . . .

“I also suspect that if [people] actually read the Old Testament, they could not fail to agree with what I said. The God of the Old Testament is a monster. It’s very, very hard for anybody to deny that. He’s like a hyped-up Ayatollah Khomeini.”

Well there you have it, on the good authority of God-hater Dawkins. God is a monster. This is of course a bizarre claim to make for several reasons. As mentioned, Dawkins is simply a non-authority here. Indeed, his hatred of God should disqualify him as any sort of impartial observer.

And it is clear that it is Dawkins who has not carefully read the Bible. No one can read the Bible and not see the grand theme of love and redemption as it is traced through both Testaments. No one who has read a passage such as Hosea 11 – which describes God’s intense love for his own people Israel, even in their deepest and darkest idolatry and immorality – can make such a reckless claim.

The Bible is of course full of such talk about God’s great love. And his holy anger at sin is in fact absolutely bound up with that love. He hates anything that will destroy his beloved creatures, or put a blockage between them and his love.

As A.W. Tozer once put it, “God’s wrath is His utter intolerance of whatever degrades and destroys. He hates iniquity as a mother hates the diphtheria or polio that would destroy the life of her child.”

But Dawkins’ criticisms are also simply irrational, by his own system. It is Dawkins who has told us quite clearly that there are no objective and universal standards of morality. How can there be in a purely materialistic, Darwinian world? As he has so clearly said:

“Theologians worry away at the `problem of evil’ and a related ‘problem of suffering.’ … On the contrary, if the universe were just electrons and selfish genes, meaningless tragedies… are exactly what we should expect, along with equally meaningless good fortune. Such a universe would be neither evil nor good in intention. It would manifest no intentions of any kind. In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference. As that unhappy poet A.E. Housman put it: ‘For Nature, heartless, witless Nature. Will neither care nor know.’ DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music.”

Thus it is incredible that Dawkins should make all these moral judgments about a being he claims does not even exist. If we are all just the stuff of our impersonal, amoral DNA, how can he make any credible moral pronouncements at all? They make no sense whatsoever in terms of his own naturalistic worldview.

As I said earlier, the God of the Bible is a loving God who desires a love relationship with every one of us. Dawkins knows nothing about this story, and seems intent on not knowing anything about. That of course will be to his own eternal detriment.

But he should be far less glib and cavalier in the accusations he is so happy to throw around. They tell us little about God, but much about one rather obsessed atheist.

www.newsweek.com/id/216206

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70 Responses to God 1, Dawkins 0

  • Dawkins is a a complete clown, although in a way I take his behavior and writings (and those others like him) as deeply encouraging and faith affirming. After all, is this the best they can do? With enemies of this intellectual caliber being the best that can take the field I don’t think Christianity is in much danger on the rationality front.

    And I am always surprised to hear people say the OT God is a monster. Have they never read the thing? the God of the OT is a being that is patient and incredibly restrained to a point that is something that can rightly be questioned. But to attack him the way Dawkins does just betrays his own ignorance. This “brutal monster” that Dawkins hates so much is the same “brutal monster” that patiently waited 400 years to give the Canaanites time to repent, and who tolerates all sorts of misdeeds from his people, only finally coming down hard when things are pushed completely beyond the pale.

    Jason Rennie

  • Your analysis of the Dawkins position is fair and reasonable in a way that Dawkins seems unable to be fair or reasonable. There is no point describing God as a monster, blaming Him for all sorts of terrible pronouncements and behaviours, if God does not exist. Moreover, a world in which the moral law has not been imprinted by the Creator because the Creator exists no more than objective good or evil, is a place in which few of us actually believe we inhabit. Thus after World War 2 the Nazi doctors were held accountable for violating the “laws of humanity”. No matter that these doctors argued they simply obeyed the lawful commands of the state, Nuremberg held that they were morally obliged not violate the “laws of humanity”, laws which are pretty much encapsulated in the Ten Commandments. Moreover, 98% of the world’s human population belongs to a nation which is a member of the United Nations and has bound itself to objective moral principles which flow from objective human rights which iun turn flow from the “inherent dignity” of the human person. Dawkins, apart from being a theological illiterate, is also ignorant of those moral values by which the world community clearly knows itself to be bound. Everone has the right to life means it is wrong to kill an innocent human being. Everyone has the right to freedom, therefore it is wrong to incarcerate the innocent. And the only relationship universally recognised as needing the special protection of the law is marriage and the family. Dawkins’ society, if it existed, would be a society in which the lot of man would be ‘nasty, poor, brutish, and short’.
    Fr John Fleming

  • I still pray for Richard Dawkins. While he is alive and breathing, there is still a possaibility for Jesus to save his soul, for the Holy Spirit to sanctify him. This would be a win win situation for him and us, because his soul will be saved and he would stop being a stumbling block to those who are seeking after God and find the going tough. The only difference between Richard Dawkins and me is the Grace of God. Christianity is a rational faith and I thank you Bill for this site, but in the end it is only the power of the Holy Spirit and the Grace of God the father who can lead us to Jesus the son of God and his forgiveness.
    Ursula Bennett

  • This is funny – I happened to watch Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed again the other night and was reminded again with that interview at the end with Dawkins as to how ignorant he is about the Old Testament.

    As I’ve mentioned on other threads here before, I’m studying the life of Moses this year and that concept of a difference between the God of the OT vs. the God of the NT is becoming clearer to me as grossly inaccurate. Jesus quoted Deuteronomy to the devil. He also quoted from the other books of the Pentateuch, Psalms, Isaiah, Proverbs and Job to name but a few. In Luke 24:44 Jesus is quoted as saying “Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” In all, Jesus quoted from 24 books of the Old Testament.

    When Jesus walked on this earth in human form, healed the sick, taught about God, hung on the cross and rose on the third day – confirming the promise of eternal life, there were no books of the New Testament in existence yet.

    He said He and the Father were one. What a “monster.”

    Mark Rabich

  • But Dawkins is no mere figure of fun; though we might laugh at his blatant selective morality as he momentarily switches off the moral button in order to perform some shabby deed, only then to switch it back on, in order to take the moral high ground, he has enormous influence.

    Take for instance the Joint Commissions Report on Human Rights and Equality of 2007 that underpins the present equality bill being pushed through the British parliament, even as I type, and which is destined – unless it can be stopped-to wreak the most terrible havoc on our families and children.

    Read especially clause 4: www.ccfon.org/view.php?id=38

    David Skinner, UK

  • I have empirical evidence that at least *some* atheists (friends of mine) find these guys to be an embarrassment. Here is what one athest friend said to me recently:

    Hitchens and Dawkins piss me off.
    As an atheist, I don’t think I should be aggressively proselytising.
    His book should be called “Why I am an intolerant a**ehole.”

    His language is a bit blue and I don’t want to cause Bill moderation problems, but it gave me a laugh!
    Stephen Frost, Melbourne

  • That’s a non-argument. Are you claiming that you have to study astrology in depth to make the informed decision that it’s bogus? Must one brush up on all the ancient Greek writers to look at the evidence for the existence or otherwise of Zeus?

    Dawkins, in common with most secular atheists, does not find *the premise* of religion remotely plausible. It’s like a pack of cards. If you don’t accept the premise, the whole lot falls down.

    What does Dawkins ask for? Evidence. There is no compelling evidence for the existence of a deity, which scuppers religion and religious faith in general. Whereas a proper understanding of evolution (and again, one doesn’t need to read the unscientific books on ID to be able to say with confidence that it’s nonsense) brings up real, tangible evidence that points away from a divine creator. Why would Dawkins be persuaded to change his mind by reading biblical texts?

    As for “Thus it is incredible that Dawkins should make all these moral judgments about a being he claims does not even exist”, you’re wrong on both points. Dawkins has never claimed that a deity does not exist, but that there’s no evidence for one, and on balance, such a being seems highly unlikely so he’ll live his life on the basis that there is no god; and he makes the points he does about the monstrousness of biblical texts because of the very urgent problem that so many people take them seriously, to the detriment of their minds and education.

    Richie Craze, UK

  • Thanks Richie

    You are simply mixing apples and oranges. Astrology is a far cry from what we are talking about here. And even if one wanted to make a rational critique of something like astrology, knowing a bit about the topic would be the first obvious requirement, instead of remaining in blissful ignorance.

    As to evidence, it all depends of course on what you mean by evidence, and what sort of “proof” you are looking for. The truth is, the great majority of what we do in life is not based on solid evidence or 100% proof. We don’t even have 100% proof that the chairs we are sitting on will continue to support our weight for the rest of the day. All we have in most of life are stronger or weaker probabilities.

    There are of course plenty of sorts of strong evidence for the existence of God for those who are open to following the evidence where it may lead. But for those who have already made up their minds, and insist on a naturalistic view of the world, no possible proof will convince such a person.

    There are many lines of evidence possible here for those who are genuinely seeking. Christians posit the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Here was a man who died, but came back to life again. How does one account for this, assuming the gospels are historically accurate and trustworthy accounts of what took place? God would be the most sensible hypothesis to account for the empty tomb. But again, those who rule out the supernatural ahead of time will not be swayed. Indeed, a person could die, be prayed for, come back to life right in front of them, and they still would not believe.

    So our starting presuppositions determine how we proceed here. But as you have admitted, you have already ruled out the premise of the supernatural, so of course you will go no further. In which case, there is really little left to discuss here.

    And of course plenty of brilliant minds have fully accepted the biblical text: scientists, philosophers, lawyers, theologians, PhDs, university lecturers, and so on.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • On the cross Jesus The Son asked God the Father to forgive us for “they know not what they do”. I include myself in that “they”. However, Richard Dawkins is a menace to the world, and he really doesn’t know what he’s doing, the terrible things he’s trying to bring about. The human condition is one of being blind to truth until the moment we realise it, until we know better. He is bitterly wrong but until his eyes are opened by the Holy Spirit he won’t see it, not by any reasoned argument, just as many of his followers are.

    As the “prayers of the righteous, availeth much” we need to earnestly pray for this man, not just for the good of his soul but also for all of those that he influences.

    Garth Penglase

  • In reply to Richie, one could just as easily say of evolution that it is not necessary to study it in depth to make the informed decision that it’s bogus. I do not “find *the premise* of [evolution] remotely plausible. It’s like a pack of cards. If you don’t accept the premise, the whole lot falls down.”

    But of course many Christians have indeed examined evolution in depth and not only know intuitively that it’s wrong but know objectively why it is wrong.

    Ewan McDonald.

  • Thanks Bill,

    I find you are perhaps being a little defensive to say there’s little left to discuss. I think you are right to say “assuming the gospels are historically accurate” as a Christian has to believe that that is the case. Most theologians seem to think that the claims of Christianity rest upon the resurrection of Jesus.

    I have studied early Christian history, and it requires a leap of faith to accept the historicity of the gospels, to say the least. This is the point I was making about astrology and ancient Greek mythology. There is as much proof that they are true or can be substantiated as the claims of Christianity. The burden of proof does not lie with the sceptic, which is why proof is very important. It is true to say that nothing we experience or know is based on 100% proof, but it’s all about weighing up probabilities and likely outcomes. Science can explain observable facts and make predictions about the real world, which does not seem to include a supernatural realm. When you find morality in all other species of mammals, and many others too, and an absence of a moral framework in severly autistic people (to use two brief examples), there ceases to be a mystery or a need to posit the supernatural as an explanation for human experience and the evolution of species.

    In the scenario you posit, I may well end up changing my mind about the supernatural based on evidence, however that would still not make any religious claims or texts any more convincing for me. I know someone who was dead for two minutes before being revived on the operating table. I put this down to modern medicine, not miracle. If someone had been praying (to my knowledge nobody was), I would put that down to coincidence.

    And of course plenty of brilliant minds believed religious claims – this is exactly what you would expect to see in a pre-On the Origin of Species world when a mechanism for biodiversity had not been accurately posited. That fewer scientists now (with some notable exceptions) hold religious beliefs is also what we would expect to see. There are other factors, often social, that persuade people to at least nominally follow a religion.

    Thanks,

    Richie Craze, UK

  • To Ewan, I’m sorry, but a tu quoque response simply doesn’t work for you because evolution happens to be true, and there is plenty of evidence in support of it.

    Please elaborate on why evolution is “objectively wrong”.

    Richie Craze, UK

  • Richie,

    You state: “What does Dawkins ask for? Evidence. There is no compelling evidence for the existence of a deity, which scuppers religion and religious faith in general.”

    Have you ever been to the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.? That library contains approximately 70 million items (books, journals, magazines, etc.) There are hundreds of thousands of items there that have been written by scholars who are specialists in many fields.

    What percentage of this collected knowledge in just one large library would you agree to be in your pool of knowledge and experience? 1% or .01%? Do you think that it is possible that in the 99% outside of your pool of knowledge that there could be compelling evidence for the existence of God?

    The evidence for the existence of God has caused ardent atheist, Antony Flew, to move from atheism to theism (not Christianity). In one interview he stated that his change of mind was related to the evidence: “Since the beginning of my philosophical life I have followed the policy of Plato’s Socrates: We must follow the argument wherever it leads. . . It was not hard. I’ve always engaged in inquiry. If I am shown to have been wrong, well, okay, so I was wrong.”
    (www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/004/29.80.html)

    Spencer Gear

  • Hello Bill,
    I was interested in Richie Craze’s statement that: “one doesn’t need to read the unscientific books on ID to be able to say with confidence that it’s nonsense.” That raises a number of questions. If he hasn’t read the books how does he know that they are ‘unscientific’? What does he mean by ‘unscientific’, given that the American Association for the Advancement of Science has been unable to come up with a definition of “science”? I think that what he is really saying is that he has decided that ID is nonsense and therefore it is unscientific; end of argument!
    Bill, I think that you hit the nail on the head when you said that there is no such thing as 100% proof, although mathematicians might disagree there, We say that many things are proven when there is sufficient evidence to put something beyond reasonable doubt. Most Christians believe that their position has sufficient evidence to put their case beyond reasonable doubt.

    Regards,
    Kerry Bos

  • My dear follow atheists. No, I didn’t spell wrongly, and I do mean “follow atheists”. This is because I was a die-hard atheist a long time ago, and at my present age, you guys would probably still be following. You see, my friends, like you, I used to think there’s no God, and heaven and hell are just myths. I believed that when I die, I’d just go into an everlasting sleep – death is just “nothingness”. How foolish those Christians are, to waste their lives believing in heaven! When they die, they’d simply be like me in what I believed – nothingness.

    Then I started to think. If I’m right and the Christians are wrong, I’m OK and so would they. They’d simply be in nothingness with me, whether they believe as I did or not. In other words – “I’m OK, you’re OK”. Now, what if the Christians are right and I’m wrong?? That literally scared the hell out of me. In other words, the situation would be “You’re OK, I’m not OK”. I started to realise that if I were to wait till I die to discover that those “dumb Christians” were right, I’m not gonna be able to say, “alright, God, I’m sorry I was wrong. I’ll go back and change my beliefs”.

    So, my dear follow atheists, I just want to say, you guys are really very brave, not like me, a coward. I scare easy. We buy insurance to protect our houses, cars, boats, and even our lives, but no insurance to protect our eternity. Sorry, my dear friends. I love you guys, and I still do. But these days I get my insurance from the KOG Insurance Company. What’s KOG? Kingdom Of God! I pray you’ll follow me where I know I’m going.

    Love all you atheists!!

    Eddie Sim

  • Dawkins and his ilk, the secular humanists, think nothing of weighing into religious arguments knowing precious little about their foundations. However, when it comes to matters political, religious views are dismissed as irrelevant, and those holding them are advised that such views have no place in the public square. Talk about heads I win, tails you lose!
    Dunstan Hartley

  • Thanks Richie

    No not defensive, just realistic. I have debated enough atheists over the years to know that there tend to be two sorts: those who are genuinely open and seeking, and willing to follow the evidence where it may lead, as arch atheist Antony Flew recently did; and those who have their minds made up, and refuse to even consider any contrary evidence, but simply like to argue. Which camp are you in?

    And I was most intrigued to hear about your studies. Please tell us all how many advanced degrees you have in the relevant disciplines: Hebrew and the cognate Semitic language groups; Koine Greek; exegesis; hermeneutics; ancient history; literary criticism, literary theory; source criticism; and form criticism, for starters. Just how many years of study and degrees do you have in these fields?

    Or should we go by your first comment, and assume that by ‘study’ you mean you read a few hatchet job articles on the atheist websites and consider that to be more than sufficient?

    And of course you are pushing the tired old horse of scientism here: what science cannot tell us, mankind cannot know, to cite Russell. Sorry, but most people don’t live in such narrow reductionist boxes. Science in fact cannot even pronounce upon theological issues – such issues are outside its frame of reference.

    And morality in other mammals? Please spare us. Gorillas apologising for grabbing that extra banana? Orangutans admitting they were wrong to invade another’s habitat? Baboons holding funeral services? Chimpanzees erecting totem poles? Herd instincts are not at all synonymous with deliberate and reflective actions made by morally accountable and responsible humans. Atheists certainly scrape the bottom of the barrow in desperation to cling to their faith commitments.

    And who says autistic people are devoid of morality? Having the capacity to do something is of course not the same as being able to carry out the task. Under normal conditions I have the capacity to type into my keyboard. Change the circumstances (remove the keyboard, bind me in rope, chop off my fingers, eg) and then I have simply lost the functionality.

    As I said, if you have already closed your mind to contrary possibilities, then all you are left with is a whole lot of cheap excuses, such as ‘coincidences’. Atheists accuse believers of resorting to a “God of the gaps”. But all you have shown us here is you are into coincidences of the gaps – whenever you can’t account for something, instead of admitting to a logically possible theistic explanation, you just throw the word ‘coincidence’ around a lot. The blind faith of atheists always amazes me.

    And sorry, seeking to explain away brilliant and educated believers does nothing. What about believing because they found it to be true, and the evidence pointed that way? The number of scientists, philosophers, intellectuals, the well-educated, academics, and deep thinkers who are believers would number in the millions across the globe.

    And spare us this foolishness that theism was only an option prior to Darwin. Once again your reductionism and scientism is showing up big time. Your objections simply become more bizarre and far-fetched the further out you go on your atheist limb. Sorry, but I just don’t have enough faith to be an atheist.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Richie,

    I’ve had further thoughts since my previous post. You stated: “What does Dawkins ask for? Evidence. There is no compelling evidence for the existence of a deity.”

    This is God’s perspective:

    “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions.” (Romans 1:16-26 ESV).

    There is ample evidence from God’s perspective:

    God’s invisible attributes, eternal power and divine nature are “clearly perceived” and this has happened from the beginning of time. How? “In the things that have been made.” The structure and nature of the universe declare the glory and existence of God (see Psalm 19:1).

    What’s the problem with this evidence that makes you, Richard Dawkins and other atheists, agnostics and sceptics without excuse before God? You suppress the truth by your unrighteousness (Romans 1:18).

    There is ample evidence around you but you cover it up with your suppression of this truth. At least Antony Flew was prepared to re-examine the existing evidence.

    Spencer Gear

  • Thank you Eddie Sim for that excellent contribution.
    To me, life – with all its pain, injustice and burdens lightened by brief periods of happiness- makes no sense at all, UNLESS we regard it as a test, a trial for a higher and better life to come.

    If we don’t believe in that higher life with God, it’s just a hard slog, laced with suffering, injustice, anxiety and a little joy thrown in occasionally with oblivion at the end.
    I’m glad that I Believe!
    Alan A. Hoysted

  • NSW solicitor Michael Baker has just written this interesting article on Dawkins and his materialist preconceptions.

    www.superflumina.org/wall_street_journal_reader.html

    Michael Webb

  • I agree with others here. Richie is not being honest when he claims that Dawkins only asks for “evidence.” The truth is he rejects anything that doesn’t suit his worldview before he even begins. So whatever arguments that follow are likely a waste of time – he is only going to think about what he considers acceptable – his ‘right’ kind of evidence. It’s funny how some expect God to be verifiable via naturalistic means when that would automatically mean that God was subject to our limitations, and therefore, no-one worth venerating. God, by definition, will almost always escape the view of those who won’t let him be who He is – supernatural and beyond our understanding – except for that which He chooses to reveal. There are plenty of excellent clues for those who are more open-minded and willing to look, as Spencer has pointed out.

    BTW, Richie, it’s not true that a design approach has nothing to offer. One example: the Special Features section of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed offer two in as many minutes. The first refers to the ability of the brain to regulate the pounding of blood coming from the heart muscle, and the other was an engineering approach to a structure in the cell that, when it goes out of control, can cause cancer. I have a radio interview somewhere with one of the producers of the film saying that he, coming from an IT background, was flabbergasted that so much of science refuses to simply even allow questions that might lead in the ‘wrong’ direction. Technology innovations would be considerably chilled if that approach was applied to his industry. They interviewed many from the science industry who off-camera said that a great deal of research just will never happen (and already has been swept under the carpet) as a result of people who hold to the views of you and Dawkins. It is an anti-knowledge approach. There should be no such thing as a ‘wrong’ question.

    But like your switching off of any possibility of God existing and giving you a fuller more meaningful life – not to mention saving you from a never ending destiny of painful torment – you would happily have scientists philosophically wedded to naturalism hobble scientific research. One can only speculate at what cures and discoveries will possibly or probably never be allowed to take place if this worldview continues to be so prevalent. It’s difficult not to get more than just a little exasperated at this, especially when you come here as if you hold the moral and intellectual high ground. But my hope is, like others here, that you would simply consider that you have gotten a fundamental question wrong, and that this worldview of yours distorts a great deal of the rest of your thinking.

    Mark Rabich

  • Let us assume that the Bible is a work of fiction on a par with Lord of the Rings or Narnia, how then as a literary critic would he judge Aslan or the Trinity as exemplified in Frodo, Gandalf and Aragorn, or any number of Pagan myths where good overcomes evil? Behind all these works there is a recognition of an agent of truth and righteous working – however flawed they may be with humanism. The material existence of such gods may be beyond scientific proof, but, as Fr John Jennings points out, the phenomenon of a conscience that recognises truth and morality is experienced in all men and all times – even by Dawkins.

    If Dawkins claims that absolute morality does not exist what right has he to rail against a character that he might describe as an ostentatious, acrimonious, supercilious, pusillanimous, calumnious, censorious, vituperative, querulous, embittered, obsessive and bombastic bully?

    Dawkin’s universe is one where only the strongest deserve to live. Hence because a baby in the womb cannot exist without the support of its mother it is deemed unworthy to live. Likewise because many elderly are no longer self supporting and are increasingly being deemed as a drain on the health service; and because human life has lost its sanctity, they too will soon be exterminated.

    Richie Craze when you say you have studied early Christian history you must realise that the early Christians did not have the New Testament, as we have it today but only the Old Testament. Now if you are to claim that the historicity of this is myth then you obviously have not studied the extra biblical evidence, including that of archaeology, to demonstrate that present day Israel is not a modern manufacture. Perhaps you are one those who also doubt the historicity of Auschwitz or Belson? Unbelief is not even the preserve of atheists; for you would be in good company with Muslims, like Mahmūd Ahmadinezhād. You sound like an old lady waving her umbrella at a plane making vapour trails, crying “they’ll never fly.” If you don’t want to believe something, there is no force in the universe that can make believe otherwise – even concrete evidence. You choose not to believe and that is your right. Even this fact cannot be explained by science.

    www.cis.org.uk/assets/files/Resources/Articles/Article-Archive/naturalism.htm

    Davdi Skinner, UK

  • “Richard Dawkins is as responsive to criticism as a black hole” David Berlinski.

    David Berlinski barely bothers with Dawkins anymore – everytime there has been invitation to debate, Dawkins retreats.

    Dozens of atheist intellectuals have, in published review, written of their embarrassment at his incompetence – yet he sells books – how to explain that?

    “When small men cast long shadows you know the sun is going down”

    Poor individuals ‘on his jock’ so to speak make the listeners at the Sportspalast Berlin late Summer 1943 look critical and disinterested by comparison.

    Martin Snigg

  • Philosopher, statesman, and intellectual catalyst of the scientific revolution, Francis Bacon concluded, “A little philosophy inclines a man’s mind to atheism, but in depth philosophy brings men’s mind to religion.”

    As such, I am always amused by the likes of Dawkins and his fellow atheistic travelers who live in denial of the blatantly obvious, Craze included.

    I am amused when atheists start asking for some experimental evidence to prove that Intelligent Design is real science. Such people seem utterly oblivious to the foundation on with all of science operates, without which all scientific investigation would cease. All of science is founded on the reality that scientists can apply reason and intelligence to science ONLY BECAUSE we, of scientific necessity, live in a universe that clearly manifests intelligence, regularity and predictability. In short, the evidence for ID is the very foundation on which all of science functions. To argue otherwise is to have your scientific feet planted firmly in mid air.

    I am even more amused when atheists assert that evolution is true, and that there is plenty of evidence to support it. What utter hogwash!

    Having spent a lifetime involved in IT and industrial systems design and project management, I know design when I see it. In view of the vast complexities of systems, industrial and biological, evolution is neither probable, nor possible The human brain and body alone, with its vastly complex systems and subsystems, is well beyond random chance mutations and blind natural selection. And for mindless natural selection to pull this off would be equivalent to a bunch of chimps designing and constructing the CERN particle accelerator. I don’t buy it, and neither does millions of others. And that is why even after 150 years of collecting and presenting evidence for evolution the Darwinian crowd can’t “close”. People, many scientists included, remain skeptical. As pointed out by New Scientist, the human brain is “hard wired” to equate the design in nature with a cosmic designer. And that is precisely why the ID people will ultimately prevail, in spite of the inquisitional antics of the humanist and atheist spawned anti-creationist lobby.

    Argue as you will, every breeder in all of history knows there are natural boundaries beyond which lifeforms cannot reproduce, even hybrids. These natural limits can be called anything you wish, species, kind, whatever. And any suggestion that there is an evolutionary continuum from the simple to the complex, and from one kind to another, is pure unsubstantiated hype, lacking any solid verifiable empirical basis.

    Indeed, there exists not a single uncontested example of supposed evidence for the evolutionary continuum that conclusively proves the evolutionary continuum to be an empirically established fact, allowing NO ALTERNATIVE OPTION or interpretation. By this I mean conclusive (empirical based) evidence that is NOT based on subjective presuppositions, inferences, interpretations, conjecture, assumptions, explanations, or speculations.

    By evidence, I do NOT mean disputable examples of supposed evolution being observed today, where all we have is change and variation within a particular lifeform. For example, where scientists start with a virus, finish with a virus, and never have anything but a virus in between. Or where you have bacteria in, bacteria out; lizard in, lizard out; fruit fly in, fruit fly out; dog in, dog out etc. As this can well be interpreted as adaptation and variation within a particular lifeform, and does nothing to prove the evolutionary continuum from simple to complex lifeforms.

    Dawkin’s dependent Darwinian earthly deity suffers from a terminal perspective crisis. Natural selection is a blind and mindless deity. It is simply a biological process mechanism. It has absolutely no way of knowing where anything, or everything, is evolving to, or why. As such, this “blind watchmaker” would not have the necessary overall perspective or intelligence to evolve different life forms, at different rates, at different times, or not at all (stasis), in order to ultimately produce a finely tuned symbiotic living environment, containing finely balanced co-dependent ecosystems. That would require a truly divine perspective and effort.

    Moreover, natural selection cannot even get off the ground, because it necessitates preexisting fully functioning and reproducing lifeforms to get started. And there is absolutely no verifiable explanation as to how this could happen naturally. If Richard Dawkins, or Richard Craze can prove otherwise there is one million dollars waiting for them to collect. There is yet another terminal problem. It’s about “information” and how ever increasing “new information” can ever come about through shuffling around or mutating the given amount of DNA present; given that a mutation is a corruption or error in the available DNA, for there is no other DNA available.

    While methodological naturalism is founded on natural law, natural law itself has absolutely no naturalistic explanation. Nor is there any verifiable naturalistic explanition to the origin of the universe, the origin of the underlying mathematical regularity of the universe, the origin of cosmological constants; the origin of DNA, nor the life or consciousness, etc. etc. So, yet again, Dawkins atheistic materialism has its feet planted in mid air.

    The evolutionary wonderland is a truly amazing place. It’s a world where the impossible happens all the time, and always in reverse. It’s a place where an effect can be not only “opposite” to the cause, but “far greater” than the cause.

    It’s an imaginary world where order comes from chaos; laws from lawless matter; life from non-life; consciousness from non-consciousness; mind from mindless matter; morals for the amoral ; reason from non-reason; intelligence from non-intelligence; and religion from non-religion. It’s a world where a ruthless, indifferent, pitiless, mindless, uncaring, blind evolutionary process magically produces kind, loving, caring, humans who help and support the sick and the destitute. This amounts to believing the unbelievable, and thinking the unthinkable.

    As Soren Lovtrup, an evolutionist and professional biologist specializing in Systematics and Developmental Biology, rightly concludes in Darwinism: Refutation of a Myth, “I believe that one day the Darwinian myth will be ranked the greatest deceit in the history of science. When this happens many people will pose the question: How did this ever happen?”

    John Heininger

  • Of some interest might be this insight into the psychology of Dawkins and his followers from a radio interview of an atheist deeply involved in Dawkin’s website who converted last year to Christianity. For instance, while still an atheist, he delved into the backgrounds of the blog regulars and found damage, despair and quite often bad personal experiences of people who claimed religious commitment – for this reason it safe to say judgment ought no longer be suspended, Dawkins is mere demagogue.

    media.premier.org.uk/unbelievable/61989592-af11-4e4c-a8c8-f5b853707a6a.mp3

    Martin Snigg

  • Thanks Martin

    Yes it is a very impressive and revealing podcast, and confirms exactly many of my experieces with these angry atheists, especially the Dawkins’ groupies.

    I like the John Gray quote, “Much of Western atheism is Christian atheism.”

    Thanks for the tip.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Keep up the great works Bill !! Dawkins is just one of the fools in use as satan’s tools.
    John Flanagan

  • Thanks John

    Yes, Psalm 14:1 comes to mind here.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Great post, John Heininger, thank you!
    Mark Rabich

  • Australian sons and daughter have attended about thirteen wars during the past 200 years and many paid the ultimate price with their lives. These wars have usually been for the peace and security of countries other than their own. Only the Pacific conflict was a direct threat to Australis. I am young enough to remember the communal prayer in churches of this country during WWII. This was one of the few ways those at home could express their concern for the lives of their sons and daughters overseas. I see the same need for us to pray for those who need God’s redeeming grace. But our lives are short and perhaps we should not dwell too long on the Richard Dawkins of this world when there are many deserving others needing our prayers and concern.
    Peter Rice

  • Yes, fantastic post, John. It truly sums it up. So often I have asked for an evolutionist’s ‘undeniable’ proof of Darwin’s theory, and every time there is an argument posited that is backed by supposition or assumption in the underlying ‘truth’ of the theory. It is fanciful idea that on the surface seems theoretically plausible until, with only a little digging one must realise is impossible, even truly ludicrous to accept in this incredibly designed and ordered universe which hangs together in such fine balance.

    I think there is a scripture, which I can’t put my finger on at the moment, that talks of the core fabric of this material existence being constantly held together by our God – He is not a God that created a little play box and is just dispassionately watching his creation for His own amusement – He is a God that is, by His own desire and choice, intricately involved in our very existence and in all our little lives.

    Garth Penglase

  • Garth, maybe Acts 17:24-28? “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being’.”
    David Skinner, UK

  • Garth, you could be thinking of Colossians 1:17 “He [Jesus] is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
    John Angelico

  • John Heininger,

    Your classification that included “order comes from chaos; laws from lawless matter; life from non-life; etc ” reminded me of Francis Schaeffer’s talking about the impossibility of the personal arising from the impersonal.

    But whilst we dispassionately discuss your statement that “there exists not a single uncontested example of supposed evidence for the evolutionary continuum…that is NOT based on subjective presuppositions, inferences, interpretations, conjecture, assumption” ( I would have added “opinion“)…your statement has enormous practical implications on the way our laws are made.

    To be consistent to the theory of evolution, we would have to propose that the laws and legislation governing society would also evolve randomly without purpose or design and with no link between cause and effect. But this is not born out by the evidence. The effect of evolutionary thinking does indeed effect the way we live our day to lives. There is a direct link between evolution and the anarchy and nihilism in our laws, where reason, truth, and commonsense are being destroyed.

    So fundamental and radical are the changes to our society that the government has embarked on far reaching diversity training for all – from the child in the nursery to the elderly in the nursing home. But the government’s ultimate tool for change is fear. In this, the government has been spectacularly successful; by deliberately creating a climate of doubt and anxiety that puts the public at a severe disadvantage. Having been ordered to abandon our Judeo Christian conscience against which we were able to tell pretty well whether something was proved good or bad, right or wrong, we are totally dependent on the “subjective presuppositions, inferences, interpretations, conjecture, assumption” of a magistrate or Attorney General. Never knowing whether what we will say will land us in court, we, the public have become compliant and silent. For example, we are not prepared to gamble on being deemed homophobic when, with the threat of seven years in prison, the stakes are so high. This policy of creating doubt, uncertainty and unknowing is being deliberately and relentlessly pursued by this government.

    Ultimately none of us will be able operate without being wired up to a central computer that will tell us at any given moment what is legal and what is not. The name of this computer is tyrant. Tony Blair is that emerging tyrant as he jostles to become the president of the European Union.

    Thank you John.

    David Skinner, UK

  • I would probably be labelled an agnostic deist, if you will. I am open to the possibility that there may be something beyond the natural world, but I have yet to find any evidence in support of the proposition. Bill apparently encourages genuine seekers after truth to comment here, and those prepared to follow the evidence where it leads, and I certainly consider myself in that category.

    However, if there is a God I think it is more likely to be remote and disinterested God, and I’ll explain my logic. By way of background, I was raised as a Christian but have drifted away because organised religion has become too much like a marketing machine, and because we are required to simply accept too much on faith.

    I have formally studied biology and other sciences (and I have read reasonably widely on theology), and I find the material evidence for evolution and an old earth to be quite simply overwhelming. I hold in low regard those claim the Christianity is at odds with science, no matter how sincere their beliefs. I am seeking a theory about God that logically accommodates the observable scientific evidence. If a Christian says to me that Christianity is incompatible with the scientific view of the world, well I’m sorry you’ve immediately lost my attention and our conversation is over. That’s not following the evidence where it leads.

    I’m well aware that the major Christian denominations accept whatever science discovers and see no threat to their beliefs. But ask a theistic evolutionist how they rationalise the history and you come up some awkward conundrums. The major one is how does the violent history of evolutionary life on earth accommodate the Biblical view of the Fall and Redemption, i.e. the very reason claimed for Christ’s existence? A greater problem is that if God simply set off the Big Bang and stood back and watched, what role is there for a personal God?

    And please don’t offer intelligent design as an explanation. I’ve read the books and I’m not convinced that the “evidence” is plausible. Nor does it answer the big questions any better than traditional theistic evolution does.

    Someone here mentioned belief as a form of eternal insurance, i.e. Pascal’s wager, but I’m not happy with that approach because there are too many different “insurance companies” (belief systems) and we might well choose the wrong one. So belief itself is no insurance at all.

    The central focus of Christianity is no doubt the Resurrection, without which, as Paul says, Christian faith is in vain. Yet hard evidence for the Resurrection is non-existent, and we are required to simply accept the writings of some claimed witnesses who wrote many years after the event using pseudonyms. The claims are quite extraordinary, yet the evidence is so flimsy. I have been told that the stories must be true because millions of people believe them, but the same can be said of Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Mormonism and any number of minor belief systems. Mormonism in particular intrigues me because the events that led to the creation of the Book of Mormon were quite recent and seemingly far more open to objective investigation. We rightly reject those claims out of hand, yet millions of Mormons believe. It is hard to escape the conclusion that humans are gullible and will accept whatever beliefs they are culturally born into.

    Another problem for me is pain and suffering, especially the random nature of natural disasters, as we have seen recently. I am no great fan of Dawkins, but I find the description of nature as exhibiting “blind, pitiless indifference” towards humanity as being exactly what we observe. I have read a few books on the “problem” of God and suffering, and I must say I find the explanations unconvincing.

    I am unaware of any evidence for the proposition that our consciousness or soul survives death. It makes no sense to me that something that only came into being with the existence of our material body should continue to exist when that material body is dead. If the soul is eternal how can it have an origin dependent on a material conception of life, and how can it have a beginning rooted at a fixed point in earthly time?

    This is necessarily just a brief summary of the sorts of questions I have never found convincing answers to. Even if you violently disagree with my opinions, at least accept that have I reached my conclusions after much deep and honest thought and a long and earnest journey seeking knowledge and understanding. Hopefully my thoughts might explain why many people don’t believe, whether they get labelled as deists, agnostics or atheists.

    Before anybody replies, let me caution that I am not interested in responses from anyone who (a) claims that the science is all wrong, and that is the cause of my problem, or (b) criticises me as being a hopeless apostate. Such attitudes are utterly unhelpful and will simply reinforce my current views. I’m looking for answers that accommodate my views on observable reality, which I consider facts beyond dispute and simply not up for discussion. If the best that anyone here can do is tell me I’m wrong about reality, then I will simply say thanks for reading and will go away with my questions unanswered.

    I reiterate that I am open to being convinced that a personal God exists, but I can’t accept such a conclusion purely as a matter of blind faith, and any arguments must be able to overcome all of the various problems that I have mentioned. I am well aware that wiser heads than mine have asked these questions throughout time, without satisfactory answers.

    Peter Richards, Gold Coast Qld

  • Spencer Gear: Of course everyone is ignorant about most things. This is the essence of Socratic wisdom. However, as I have now stated twice, you don’t need to be “an expert” in theology to be wholly unconvinced by religious claims (the reverse is also true). Anthony Flew changed his mind because he couldn’t understand how DNA could have come about without divine intervention. He is not a Christian, incidentally. Nor does his assertion solve any problem about the origins of life. Plenty of scientists and others disagree with him.

    Kerry Bos: Science makes predictions through observable evidence. It manifestly does not start with a conclusion that it then tries (and in the case of ID, fails) to make evidence fit the presupposition. ID also makes the mistake of thinking that if Darwinian evolution can be disproved (they haven’t and never will) then that will vindicate their “hypothesis” (it won’t – what a logical fallacy!) It is the *opposite* of science.

    Eddie Sim: Google “Pascal’s Wager”.

    David Skinner: “Perhaps you are one those who also doubt the historicity of Auschwitz or Belson?” That is an outrageous slur and an unwarranted and groundless assertion. Shame on you.

    Mark Rabich: Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed is a much derided film. There is a website dedicated to exposing its many howlers.

    John Heininger: I’m sorry, no insult intended, but you just don’t have a very good grasp of evolutionary theory.

    Bill: I don’t understand why you wish to put atheists into two specific camps. Or does the same apply to theists? I doubt you would be impressed by any of my qualifications, but for what it is worth I have an MA in Classical Civilization, where one of the subjects I specialized in was Early Christian History. It is a subject that fascinated me and I was lucky to have a wonderful tutor, which is why I have read around the subject ever since. I do not consider that having this MA proves my point, or entitles me to hold any faster or firmer position on religion than anybody else. I spent the first fourteen years of my life as a Catholic and attended a Catholic school. I am often surprised to learn that I know far more about Catholicism in particular and Christianity in general than many people who profess an “unshakable faith”. Does their absence of knowledge on what they claim to believe in any way cheapen their right to hold such convictions in your view?

    In the animal kingdom you will see parents protecting their young, giving their lives in some cases. Birds warn others of their flock if danger is near. Wolves have codes of conduct for cub play and rearing, and yes, other primates (as we would expect) show awareness of and consideration for others. Elephants and dolphins cry, and many mammals grieve. Of course their system of morality is not as finely developed as we find in humans, but any parents in a species who (as a general rule) were not self-sacrificing to breed and rear their young, would very quickly become extinct. Hardly any surprise that we see such protective and nurturing instincts throughout the animal kindgom (from reptiles to fish to birds to mammals). Homo neanderthalis undertook burial of their dead.

    I did not say that autistic people are devoid of morality, but severity of this condition entails a wholesome lack of empathy for other people, because they do not know that other people have needs/wants/desires etc. Have you ever looked after severely autistic people? It is no easy task…

    I don’t see why citing “coincidence” above is a “cheap shot”. Perhaps you could elaborate?

    Richie Craze

  • Thanks Peter

    You of course offer far too many deep and important concerns to be all properly answered here – especially when I ask for short comments! Each would require a small book to do justice to. So let me offer a few general thoughts to begin with.

    I certainly will spend all day answering honest questions. But there are only two people in the world who know whether you are in fact genuinely open and honest – yourself and God.

    And as to evidence, I again ask what I asked of Richie: Just what sort of evidence do you have in mind? What exactly constitutes proof to your way of thinking? We of course cannot prove that God exists with the same degree of certainty that we can, say, some mathematical proofs.

    And science cannot prove God. But it cannot disprove God either. Science is about nature, while God is beyond nature. So God is not a proper field of study for science. But God can nonetheless be argued for. There are numerous bits of evidence that can make for a strong cumulative case. These would include, for starters, the reliability of the gospels, the consistency of the biblical accounts, the various archeological confirmations, and so on. Together they do not make a fool-proof case but a strong case. High probability is the most we can ask for here. Indeed, all philosophical debates can only deal with probability, not absolute certainty. Thus good arguments for God’s existence will not make it certain that God exists, just highly probable or likely.

    But I would ask a more personal question: why are you asking? What is your motivation here? And most important of all, if reasonable evidence could in fact be made for the Christian truth claims, what would you do with it? How would you respond? As you should know, biblical truth is not given to simply tickle our intellectual palettes, but to transform lives. If you could be fairly convinced of the reasonableness of the central truth claims of Christianity, would you then in fact bow the knee?

    So please consider carefully that last paragraph. I offer it with all seriousness and earnestness. Indeed, if the Christian version of events is true, you can deal with no more vital questions, ones which have eternal ramifications.

    As to your various charges, it seems to me that each one has been sufficiently, cogently and rationally addressed, by many fine minds indeed. I would be more than happy to suggest a few authors and titles for each issue, if you were interested.

    In fact, the history of Western thought is the history of great minds who have been persuaded by the truths of Christianity. Think of the great philosophers who more or less held to the biblical worldview: Descartes, Leibiz, Spinoza, Kant, Hegel, Locke, Berkeley, and so on. Think of the great scientists who also claimed Christian convictions: Galileo, Kepler, Pascal, Boyle, Newton, Faraday, Babbage, Mendal, Pasteur, Kelvin, and Clerk-Maxwell, to name but a few.

    So when you talk of “wiser minds” than your own that have gone “without satisfactory answers,” you of course are being all rather selective here. It seems clear to me that there have been far more ‘wiser minds’ who have found the Christian truth claims to be reasonable and able to deal with the difficult questions of life.

    And with all due respect, you are in fact being somewhat silly here to demand that “any arguments must be able to overcome all of the various problems that I have mentioned”. Again, it all depends on what you are looking for, and how you define “overcome”. I think I can offer quite rationale responses to every issue you raise. But must every single one be first dealt with before you will be convinced? And how will you determine if they are dealt with satisfactorily? All doubts removed? Most doubts? Some doubts? Remember, if you demand total proof, you will be left out in the cold – we only get that in a few select areas, such as mathematical proofs.

    Sorry, but in the real world life really doesn’t work that way. We don’t wake up in the morning with a shopping list of objections to be overcome before we head out the door. Indeed, we settle for plenty of mystery, uncertainly, and lack of clarity in all areas of life. Thus such an ultimatum is not very helpful here.

    If we want to move forward, I would suggest picking a few of your major concerns, and let’s have a go at them. That might be the best way to proceed. For example, one can go down the road concerning your remarks about the resurrection: “the evidence is so flimsy”. Is it? The truth is, the historically reliable data we have for the life, death and resurrection of Jesus is greater than what we have for any other figure in antiquity. Indeed, hardened atheists who have set out to debunk the resurrection have, after closely examining the evidence, abandoned their atheism and embraced Christianity.

    Or take the issue of suffering and evil. Since my PhD happens to be on this topic, I know a few things about it, having penned nearly 200,000 words on it so far. So we might be able to toss that one around as well if you like.

    But for starters, can I suggest that an honest inquirer will happily accept a few initial suggestions for helpful reading. Let me begin with perhaps the most famous twentieth century atheist (along with Russell), Antony Flew. If you are serious about your quest (and we all had better be – life is too short and these issues are far too important to be treated in a cavalier manner) then why not grab Flew’s There is a God (HarperOne, 2007)?

    Another helpful volume which covers most of the areas you mention would be Dinesh D’Souza, What’s So Great About Christianity? (Regnery, 2007). Borders Books up your way should easily have them.

    I will happily keep going with all this as long as I know you mean business. So please try those books for starters.

    But you ask very good and very important questions. So if you are in fact keen to follow truth where it may lead, welcome aboard and keep in touch. I look forward to hearing about how your next batch of reading is coming along

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Peter Richards,

    You wrote: “The central focus of Christianity is no doubt the Resurrection, without which, as Paul says, Christian faith is in vain. Yet hard evidence for the Resurrection is non-existent, and we are required to simply accept the writings of some claimed witnesses who wrote many years after the event using pseudonyms. The claims are quite extraordinary, yet the evidence is so flimsy.”

    What solid investigation have you made into the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ? Have you given as thorough attention to the resurrection of Jesus as you have to your scientific research?

    I suggest that you read the scholarly defence of “The Resurrection of the Son of God” (Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 2003) by Dr. N. T. Wright who is no “flimsy” scholar in his research on the resurrection. His 779 pages of scholarship should cause any scholar to pause in acknowledgment of one who has done his researched homework.

    Among his conclusions are: “It is the real world that, in the earliest stories of Jesus’ resurrection, was decisively and for ever reclaimed by that event, an event which demanded to be understood, not as a bizarre miracle, but as the beginning of the new creation. It is the real world that, however complex this may become, historians are committed to studying. And, however dangerous this may turn out to be, it is the real world in and for which Christians are committed to living, and, where necessary, dying. Nothing less is demanded by the God of creation, the God of justice, the God revealed in and as the crucified and risen Jesus of Nazareth” (p. 737).

    You have the audacity to state: “Yet hard evidence for the Resurrection is non-existent.” N. T. Wright DPhil (Oxford University) is no research fool. He would not be making statements like the above about the resurrection of Christ without doing his research — massive research.

    Spencer Gear

  • Thanks Richie

    It is good to hear that you have done some studies in this area – so have I. The next obvious question to ask is just what was the slant of these courses? All schools of course are pushing agendas – mine admittedly did. None are free of all bias. However, my professors were always quite careful to allow the opposite side a fair hearing, even if we very much disagreed with it. So I was able to get various points of view, and make up my own mind. But not every school is quite so inclined. Indeed, many secular institutions – and liberal “Christian” ones – have made it quite clear what they think about the biblical worldview. Many have made a concentrated effort to seek to undermine and minimise it. So it is no guarantee that to simply take studies in a given area – especially controversial areas like this – that a fair and impartial hearing of the evidence will be put forward. So I still wonder whether you in fact have heard the case for the biblical worldview put forward in a rational and systematic fashion.

    As to your other concerns, I have already answered them.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • “John Heininger: I’m sorry, no insult intended, but you just don’t have a very good grasp of evolutionary theory.”

    Really, such unsupported generalizations won’t help you Richie. I want chapter and verse. Which specific part of my posting are you referring to, and what specific testable, verifiable empirical evidence do you have to prove evolution is an indisputable fact, leaving no other alternative, and that proves me wrong. Off you go!

    I eagerly await your infallible proof. And remember, science by “explanations” is not real science, and won’t do. So spare me the ‘no insult intended’ platitudes, they are no substitute for verifiable facts.

    John Heininger

  • Richie Craze: Thank you very much for your learned great wisdom and your pointing me to “Pascal’s Wager”, which I’m well aware of 30 years ago. However, By choice I’d rather be totally stupid so that His wisdom is made perfect in me.By choice I’d rather be powerless so that His power is complete in me. And by choice I know nothing so that He can lead me into knowing the things that really matter.

    Likewise, by choice, you have displayed great head knowledge and personal wisdom in deciding that there’s no God. Whether Pascal has any influence on me or not is beside the point. But I certainly experience overwhelming JOY now that 40 years ago, when I have lots of money and spend lots of time trying to search for the so elusive happiness. Perhaps you are a very happy and contented man, but I would not exchange the joy of knowing the love of my Lord for all the worldly knowledge, great wealth, and human wisdom, thank you very much.

    I love you, my unknown friend, as Jesus loved me when I, like you, rejected Him.

    Eddie Sim

  • Richie:

    I know about the website you mention. Are you aware there was another website that “much derided” that website for much deriding the film? (Actually, that’s just the original film’s website – but since the movie was released some time ago, a lot of the stuff has gone) Their favourite quote was:

    “It’s (EXPELLED) going to appeal strongly to the religious, the paranoid, the conspiracy theorists, and the ignorant –– which means they’re going to draw in about 90% of the American market.”
    -Atheist blogger and fabulist PZ Myers, on a film he has not yet seen.

    Of course such a statement deserves to be lampooned. It was typical of the irrational silliness from the true believers when they found themselves publicly challenged. The film was still extremely successful, from what I read.

    I can only wonder if you even really understand what the Intelligent Design paradigm proposes. It simply means that scientists are allowed to ask questions which may possibly infer a designer. Only in a very narrow mind could one ever consider that at odds with science. Yes, it sometimes opens the door for creation, but it does not necessarily close the door on evolution per se (depends on the specific question sometimes). But those who are committed to naturalism are so afraid and insecure that they have to stomp on any hint of it. (You only have to listen to the venom bordering on hatred from some of the interviewees at the beginning of the film especially. That’s not intellect, that’s emotion) It’s ridiculous (even, how about, unethical and stupid) because this attitude actively hinders research.

    Again, who knows what developments in science attitudes like this are stopping? So what if a solution to a biological problem might be in an engineering manual rather than speculating on some unobserved ‘higher, better’ scenario? Yet you continue to make these sort of claims – “Science makes predictions through observable evidence”!! Not the hobbled excuse for science you seem to want.

    For those who have not seen the film, btw, I highly recommend it, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. It’s out on DVD and it really is very very good.

    The radio interview I mentioned earlier with producer Walt Ruloff is here (via the Download link under the blurb)
    intelligentdesign.podomatic.com/entry/2007-08-27T14_35_24-07_00
    Note how he specifically addresses the question of the usefulness of an ID approach to research.

    Part 2:
    intelligentdesign.podomatic.com/entry/2007-08-29T10_52_26-07_00

    The two of them are only about 30 minutes in total.

    Mark Rabich

  • Peter Richards, the evidence that you search for is the existence of yourself and the “unnatural” demand for justice in a world that is seemingly indifferent to suffering. Where does this desire from? Where indeed does the idea of progress come from, not simply in technologically, but in the development of more just societies that recognise the dignity of human life over and above that of beasts? How do explain the difference between the “ought” of the way we behave with the actual way we behave?

    As for criticising Pascal’s wager, I am sure that Pascal was not asking us to pin the tail on the donkey blindfolded. Surely he would expect us to look around at the “different insurance companies” and see which ones already paid out the best benefits linked to the lump sum bonus at the end. Would you really like to live in a Muslim or Buddhist country like Burma?

    As for the longevity of the universe, 2 Peter 3-13 says: “First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.’ But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the Day of Judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare…… But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.”

    The motivation for the theory of the longevity of earth is surely to make it beyond the scrutiny of scientific investigation. It is a world where particulars and numbers become meaningless because they are beyond our apprehension. It all becomes lost in the mists of time and therefore beyond rational scrutiny – how convenient.

    As for the historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, I propose, according to the theory of probability that you have picked up second hand and half baked ideas about the resurrection, without really considering the evidence. The evidence for the resurrection can be provided immediately but it is incumbent upon you to show us that there is be found somewhere even in the furthest reaches of the universe, evidence for the non – resurrection of Christ that can be refuted.

    As for our existing outside our earthly bodies, Jesus Christ existed before his earthly body was formed.

    Psalm 139 says of your and me “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

    Ephesians 1:3-5 says “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.”

    If Peter, you only believe in what you can see, touch and weigh, where have you observed evolution taking place? Surely with the advances in science and technology it is now possible to simulate evolution in the laboratory?

    Finally who is asking you to take a step of blind faith? The Bible frequently exhorts us to test out what we believe. We are urged to examine everything.

    Before a test pilot takes up a new aircraft, he will have studied everything there is possibly to know about it, except for one thing; and that is: does it actually fly? That requires a step of faith on his part and this to me seems to be a step that you are reluctant to take. We walk with eyes of faith and not with our eyes shut.

    David Skinner, UK

  • Richie, before you take the moral high ground, you do not hesitate to deny the death of Christ or perhaps even the wholesale persecution of the Early Christians. But where do you get the idea of “shame”? Whom have I offended? Against what yard stick of morality are you judging me? If morality is constantly evolving, subjective and incommunicable what right have to you to appeal to a non-existent referee in the sky?

    One thing I have come to learn about people who are insecure about their own beliefs is that they try to invest themselves with the weight of authority by pompously reeling off their academic qualifications – qualifications that universities and colleges are only too willing, these days, to peddle at bargain basement prices.

    Finally when you see morality simply as a mechanism for survival – found throughout the animal kingdom, it seems to me that you are ignoring the fact that many people sacrifice their lives when there appears to be no material gain from so doing. Indeed, in many ways becoming a Christian in parts of the world such as a North Korea is guaranteed to bring about death. Surely, according to you, in that situation a “loving and caring “ parent is going to do all their power to stop their child from becoming a Christian but Christ said that the only one we should fear was He who had the power to throw us into hell.

    David Skinner, UK

  • I would also say, if I may, how disappointing it is to come on here and do no more than to posit that what Bill says about Dawkins and his position is not entirely true or fair, and I have in turn, been called a holocaust denier, ignorant, reductionist, foolish, closed-minded, blind and dishonest to name but a few!

    You have previously stated, Bill, that you don’t like name calling. I have not name-called at all, and it would be nice if the Christians posting here could show some of their famous tolerance, openness to people who disagree with their views, and fair-mindedness in return, instead of outright hostility. Am I being so unreasonable?

    Richie Craze, UK

  • To Peter Richards
    I too have struggled with the very issues you raise, but as a Christian and a scientist I have come to an intellectual position that I feel compromises neither what I observe professionally, nor what I experience spiritually. I wont address all of your issues here but I do want to give you one scientist’s intellectual accommodation of the reality of evolution through natural selection that i observe professionally, with the authority of Scripture, which I accept for reasons that are touched on in Bill Muehlenberg’s reply, and I therefore wont address. I am not a PhD, and have chosen instead to work part-time in order to raise a family. But I do have a BScHons in Zoology and Biochemistry and have worked and published in molecular biology and neuroscience for 24 years. I see irrefutable evidence for evolution on a daily basis professionally. Yet I am not only convinced of the overwhelming evidence for the truth of scripture but experience a spiritual relationship with God which is tangible to me and has been confirmed to me through answered prayer and spiritual insight. So what do i do? Ignore the evidence before my eyes? I dont feel that I have to. I see no inconsistency between the creation story and evolution as long as one doesn’t constrict God’s time to our human measurement of time. I see God as the source of the physical processes by which He created heaven and earth. The process of ‘natural selection’ is just one of these, and happens to be the process by which He formed life as we see it today, just as the ‘laws of physics’ are the means by which He achieves many other things, although as He transcends the physical world He is not restricted to it either. I sound like I subscribe to the Intelligent Design movement, and I certainly believe that evolution has been guided to its current position by God. It could have gone many other ways, but it did not. However as a practicing scientist and Christian, I find the pseudo-science pushed by the American ID movement both unnecessary and extremely misguided and certainly counterproductive. I don’t want to enter into an argument with Christians whose faith relies on a literal interpretation of Genesis. Romans:14 is relevant here. But I will say that literal creationists are happy to believe, for example, that God uses metaphysical means to guide the addition of family members by the physical processes of sexual reproduction, and the subsequent development of that individual through the physical processes of embryogenesis. That is a similar mix of the physical process being guided by the metaphysical. Additionally it is helpful to realise that the scriptures tell us what we need to know, not what we WANT to know. God did not want us to know the physical basis of his creation through scripture. Rather, He wanted us to understand that He was the source of that creation, and that we are the source of its corruption, and that we are wholly reliant on God’s grace for restoration. I find the story of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11) particularly relevant for those of us who wish to study God’s creation through science. God confused their language and frustrated their effort when the people tried to build a way to be on equal footing with God. Firstly, God is hardly likely to allow himself to be defined by us through our own scientific effort, and secondly, despite all our best scientific effort, we are no closer to curing our own physical frailty and currently seem hell bent on destroying our environment and possibly the planet through our technological advances to boot! I see this as evidence of our efforts to equal God being frustrated to this day. You may wonder why I continue to practice science at all, in that case. But for me, medical research, at least, is striving to show love for others by alleviating sickness and suffering. However I also know that God can frustrate even that if we are using Science to displace Him as the source of life and wellbeing. But ultimately we really do believe what we want to believe and that goes for scientists and non-scientists alike, and even scientific rationalists take more on faith than they admit or recognise.

    Kerrie Pierce

  • To Peter Richards

    Peter, I liked your comments and appreciated your honest and cautious approach to the big questions of life, and science. I also live on the Gold Coast and would be happy to touch base sometime. You can obtain my email by double clicking on my name, which links you to my web site etc.

    John Heininger

  • Richie said: Science makes predictions through observable evidence. It manifestly does not start with a conclusion that it then tries (and in the case of ID, fails) to make evidence fit the presupposition.

    Richie, the problem you have with this statement is that it’s no true. No one in all of time has ever “observed” one lifeform evolve into a lifeform of a different kind. All that has ever been observed are micro variations “within” a particular lifeform. And these variations act to preserve the particular lifeform as such, and not change it into something different. In short, virus in, virus out, as I previously stated.

    So there is no observable evidence to base your predictions on. And because evolution supposedly happened over deep time in the past, there were no observers around to see what actually happened, and whether it happened that way, and no other way.

    This means that all evolutionary claims are themselves presuppositional based, being based on inferences, assumptions, conjecture, explanations, and endless speculations as to what supposedly happened in the unobserved past. And that’s why there is a whole forest of evolutionary trees, saying different things.

    Here’s the difference, Richie. All empirial based science is testable,repeatable, verifiable and publicly observable, to the point where people are forced to accept is conclusions, in spite of their religious beliefs or worldview.
    If you ignore the laws of motion or gravity, you may well die. So no one ever jumps off a cliff to test the theory and law of gravity. However, you can totally ignore evolutionary theory, and absolutely nothing we ever happen to you – I promise.

    I trust you will see there is a distinct difference between observable empirical science, and “unobserved” historical based theory such as the presuppositional based evolutionary hypothesis. I wouldn’t try suggesting that modern medical research biology is evolutionary dependent, you will discover that your feet are planted firmly in mid air.

    And, by the way, Intelligent design is not based on presuppositions, its foundational to all of science. The only reason scientists to apply reason and intelligence to scientific investigation is because we, of scientific necessity, live in a universe that clearly manifests intelligence, regularity and predictability. You cannot apply intelligence to a non-intelligent universe. So I can only assume that your science in non-intelligent based.

    Scientists cannot even do science unless they assume we live in an intelligent universe, where order, regularity, and mathematical relationships exist, and were predictions are made on that assumption. And such a universe is clearly designed, for how else can a universe start out in a state of minimum entropy (namely a state of maximum usable energy, order and information). As is further affirmed by the anthropic principle. In short, we live in a tailor man universe, solar system, and earth environment, that is tailor made for the life, and human beings.

    Evidence for this intelligence and design surrounds you on every side, and at every level,as the vast majority of people well realise. If you have trouble seeing any of this I will have to leave you in your evolutionary wonderland, where the impossible happens all the time, and always in reverse.

    John Heininger

  • To Richie, I’m sorry, but a tu quoque response does work for me because evolution happens to be false, and there is plenty of evidence against it.

    Please elaborate on why you think evolution is objectively true.

    Ewan McDonald.

  • Richie

    I am absolutely flabbergasted that you actually dared to send in a comment such this (11pm). Given the numerous comments which you have sent to me, full of putrid language, vile personal attacks, smears and profanities – comments which I could only send straight into the bin – for you to even now raise such an issue highlights the utter duplicity and deception of the atheist mind.

    The truth is, you have been fortunate to get any sort of a run here at all. I certainly will not be giving you a free ride on this site any further. Your rank hypocrisy here has sealed your fate. Perhaps I should just post some of your earlier comments, and let the whole world see the real you.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Hi Peter,

    I’m surprised you can’t see the irony in what you have written:

    “If a Christian says to me that Christianity is incompatible with the scientific view of the world, well I’m sorry you’ve immediately lost my attention and our conversation is over. That’s not following the evidence where it leads.”

    So, losing interest and saying the conversation is over is how you follow the evidence where it leads?

    If you are really serious about being open to being convinced that a personal God exists, I suggest you need to be prepared to consider all lines of evidence.

    You say you are not interested in this topic because the evidence for evolution and a billions of years old Earth is overwhelming, but unhelpfully you don’t give any indication of what evidence you are citing nor what authors you have actually read in this field.

    I therefore suggest you take a look at the FAQs on www.creation.com.

    This site covers very well most objections against taking the Bible seriously on matters of science, and this topic is an important part of the evidence showing that the Bible is accurate in all matters that it speaks of.

    Mansel Rogerson

  • Richie,

    One view of science states that we should have some understanding of what would support an opposing explanation for a phenomenon, just in case we only see what confirms our own and miss the evidence that falsifies it. It’s clearly a rational safeguard to counter the disease cerebral myopia and help remove the possibility that we continue to deceive ourselves in the face of evidence to the contrary.

    For example, one piece of evidence which would support evolution (? even prove!!) and eliminate design would be the observed coming into existence of large amounts of novel biological inforrmation (i.e. not just fine tuning of already existing information).

    So, Richie, what would be evidence for design and at the same time be a disconfirmation of evolution?

    BTW, Richie, since you are a man of open mind, get a copy of J.C. Sanford’s ‘Genetic Entropy’. It’s arguably the best book against evolution in the last 10 years. The author’s a Cornell geneticist and demonstrates from even the population geneticists’ own studies that evolution can be seen to be NOT working.

    Marc Kay

  • Thanks guys

    As you have read, I will no longer allow Richie on this site. It is one thing to receive personal abuse and insults, but quite another to be the subject of such gross hypocrisy and duplicity. And over the years it has appeared fairly clear to me that this fellow is not at all interested in honest debate, but just wants to push his agenda, arguing for the sake of arguing. Such people are free to do such things elsewhere, but not here, as my rules stipulate.

    But you guys can continue to address issues raised in this article and the various comments.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Bill,

    First of all apologies for the length of my previous comment. I was shocked when I saw how it appeared on this page. When writing it seemed like just a brief list of some of my thoughts.

    You asked “If you could be fairly convinced of the reasonableness of the central truth claims of Christianity, would you then in fact bow the knee?

    Not really. If God exists, why would such a supreme being be so in awe of himself that he would expect me to bow the knee? A God that required adoration and worship would seem to be an imperfect God with very fallible human weaknesses. But if convinced, I’d obviously accept his existence and be keen to engage with him, which I think is the essence of your question.

    You asked “If we want to move forward, I would suggest picking a few of your major concerns, and let’s have a go at them.

    OK then, I’ll discuss one major stumbling block. I stated at the outset that I accept the scientific consensus on evolution of the universe and life of earth as fact. Notwithstanding the predictable calls from some here to “prove it”, I ask you to accept this as my starting point. I have come to this conclusion after many years of deep study of the empirical evidence in several sciences and practical work in biology and biochemistry, and it is utterly unrealistic and simplistic to expect me to summarise all of that knowledge here. Please just accept that as my unshakeable starting premise.

    I have of course read creationist publications, and I am familiar with the major creationists websites. While I reject their claims, they do raise an important point. If the Adam and Eve story is myth, how can the story of Jesus and Redemption be rationalised? What is the nature of the Fall and “original sin” in the context of our modern understanding of human evolution? And more to the point, if God were directing evolution, or even the creation story were true, why would God endow humans with a sinful nature in the first place, knowing that we would therefore sin, and then require us to be redeemed for that sin?

    I can accept that the story is a little more coherent if one takes the Bible literally, i.e. recent creation and direct creation of man. However, how can The Fall and Redemption be accommodated in a modern scientific view of earth history, with death and violence preceding human existence?

    I know the creationists will say the answer is to reject evolution. But how is it possible to be a Christian while accepting evolution? And where is the role for a personal God as opposed to a remote deistic entity?

    Kerrie,

    Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I may respond further.

    Peter Richards, Gold Coast

  • Peter,

    From a young earth creationist, a brilliant post.

    Marc Kay

  • Thanks Peter

    But for now, if you don’t mind, it is your opening remarks that I think most deserve attention here. Just how is it that the creator and preserver of all things has no prior claims on his creation? How does this indicate “imperfection” and “very fallible human weaknesses”? I fail to see the logic of such assertions.

    I assume you had no problems as a child showing respect and reverence for – and even obedience to – your parents. After all, if it weren’t for them, you wouldn’t even be here. To show such obedience and subservience therefore has nothing to do with your parents being in awe of themselves or on some ego trip. It would have everything to do with a child showing a bit of proper humility and appreciation, acknowledging his or her place in the greater scheme of things.

    So why is it so hard to apply this to a much more worthy and deserving being, God himself? For God to be God, he must be infinitely grater and superior to his creation in every way. How could it be otherwise? So how could there not be a dependency relationship on the part of his creatures?

    And with all due respect, this is the number one issue in life. All other matters pale in insignificance, including interesting discussions about science, evolution, and so on. If there is a God, he deserves to be treated as such. It is we who need to adjust to him, not the other way around.

    As former atheist C.S. Lewis – who became a brilliant apologist for Christianity – rightly noted, we are rebels who need to lay down our arms. We have declared a war of independence on our creator, and we are hardly in a position to simply chat about things as equals. We are not on an equal footing here. As Lewis said of his own conversion experience, it was as if God said to him, “Put down your gun and we’ll talk”. That must be the prerequisite, the starting point.

    So to be honest, unless you are really willing to come to terms with this issue, anything else I might have to share with you will really just be a waste of time. If you have already made up your mind that even if a God exists, you won’t give him the proper acknowledgment and due response, then you have effectively closed the door even before you get there.

    So no, the essence of my question is not, are you “keen to engage with him”? My question is this – one which everyone of us must ask ourselves – if and when we come to see that such a God exists, will we then give him the rightful place in our lives, and acknowledge that we are not the boss and we do not call the shots, or will we continue to usurp his position and foolishly make ourselves to be the centre of the universe?

    That is really the only important issue going here. Everything else will merely be window dressing if that issue is not first dealt with. So as I have said to many others here, if this is merely an intellectual game for you, or some trivial pastime that you find of interest, then my responses will not be of much use to you. These issues of ultimate reality and destiny are far too important.

    So I again take you back to why you even came here. What is your motivation, and what is the purpose of your questioning? To satisfy mere curiosity, or to in fact pursue truth and reality wherever it may take you?

    I have now of course used up my response time! As to your specific queries, I would again suggest as a starting point Flew’s book, which deals with such issues quite a bit, both on a philosophical as well as a scientific level. And also worth pursuing is David Berlinski’s The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions (Crown Forum, 2008).

    I can’t here of course rehash all the arguments, but checking out these books might take us in useful directions for further discussion. Questions about deism and the like can be pursued as we proceed. OK?

    But my opening remarks remain my most pressing concern. If we don’t get that issue right, then we will mess up on everything else.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Kerrie Pierce you said that you “see irrefutable evidence for evolution on a daily basis professionally.” Could you please point us to this?

    You also say that “it is helpful to realise that the scriptures tell us what we need to know, not what we WANT to know. God did not want us to know the physical basis of his creation through scripture. Rather, He wanted us to understand that He was the source of that creation.” Are you suggesting that he simply kicked the whole show off and left it to evolve of its own accord? But I would argue that God did want us to know the physical basis of his creation through scripture. Straight off in Genesis he speaks about all of created beings being made “according to their kinds “

    At the end of Job, chapter 38, “the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said: Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?” The remaining chapters are bestrewn with words of action and creation. Elsewhere he likens himself to a potter; in Isaiah 64:8 it says “Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Admittedly these are poetic figures of speech; but they describe a God who is intimately involved the process His creation.

    I am no scientist but I always thought that one way a scientist verified his hypothesis was to come up with mathematical laws – not just theories. Where are the Laws of Evolution and where is the maths?

    John Heininger, Thank you for your statement: “Intelligent design is not based on presuppositions; it’s foundational to all of science. The only reason scientists apply reason and intelligence to scientific investigation is because we, of scientific necessity, live in a universe that clearly manifests intelligence, regularity and predictability. You cannot apply intelligence to a non-intelligent universe.” You have explained in a nutshell why communicating with intellectual elites, the chattering classes, is impossible is because the presuppositions upon which they view universe clearly do not manifest “intelligence, regularity and predictability.” The practical application of their world view creates disorder and a hell on earth.

    Peter, I don’t believe it is possible to hold an evolutionist view without jettisoning the Bible. In contradiction to evolution it gives a picture of Satan being created as one of the heavenly host, rebelling and being thrown to earth where he introduced death and violence into the natural world. Adam was contained in the Garden of Eden, until the moment he and Eve were tempted by Satan to disbelieve and disobey God and were expelled from it into a fallen world of death and decay. We have here then not the ascent of man but his descent from being what he was. Sure, technologically, mankind has advanced but where does one find evidence that his nature is becoming more mature? Far from it; he is the most dangerous creature on the planet, with the capability and desire to destroy himself many times over. The point I am making is that the Bible really is history. Unlike evolution, there really is a narrative with shape and form, with a beginning and an ending. God started it and God will finish it – not man.

    Bill, with regard to Richie Craze, I contributed to the Pink News site where I promised to stop telling the truth about homosexuals if they stopped telling lies about me. Predictably this only got them madder until they clubbed together and got me thrown out.

    David Skinner, UK

  • I have been fascinated by the many blogs relating to the Dawkins topic. While some are a bit long-winded and some smack of intellectual snobbery, all in all they indicate good scholarly debate. Until now I have refrained from entering the debate as I am no theologian but remembering the reply by Pope John Paul when asked who he considered the greatest of all theologians he said “my mother”. I as a mum am encouraged just to say that even though Dawkins doesn’t believe in God, God still believes in him.
    Patti Smith

  • Bill,

    You have misunderstood me. Unfortunately it’s always a risk in the brevity of an online conversation. If I were a believer of course I would be in awe of and obedient to an all-powerful supernatural being. Only a fool would be otherwise. I can explain my comment much better if you really want me to expand on it, but we are not in conflict on this point.

    You ask why I am here. I thought that was obvious from my original post. I would like to understand why Christians believe what they do when I can see so many difficulties. I am interested to know whether you, or anyone else here, have any answers that might resolve these difficulties. I am quite open to the possibility of God’s existence.

    You invited me to “pick a few of your major concerns, and let’s have a go at them”, which I did. To restate the problem, is there a Christian theology which can rationalise the Biblical story of Creation, Redemption and The Fall with our modern scientific understanding of earth history and an evolutionary origin of human life?

    If the answer is yes, I would very much like to hear a brief explanation, or even a link to some websites. I’m not too keen to buy more books unless I’m sure they will address the question properly. I’ve found plenty of material which claims the answer is no.

    You have referred me to Flew’s book, but I understand he is a deist rather than a Christian, so I don’t think that would be very helpful. He has restated this position many times over recent years, and his views pose no difficulties for me.

    Peter Richards, Qld

  • Thanks Peter

    I certainly share your frustration at what can be done in what is meant to be a brief comment. And your topic of preference is one of the least amenable to short comments! But it does not pay to restate what has already been said. Indeed, elsewhere I have been over this same territory time and time again, which is partly why I often refer people to books or other articles.

    So let me briefly offer a few introductory comments. The topic is hugely complex and multilayered, even on the scientific level. Think of the major contentions between Dawkins and Gould for example. So there is far from a united front here, even in the Darwinist camp.

    And there are many problems with the theory itself which have yet to be adequately dealt with, which is why I suggested the Berlinski book. (BTW, I hope every time I suggest a title, you don’t offer some excuse as to why you won’t take up the offer!) I am not a scientist, and so like most folk I rely on the expertise of others. So someone like Berlinski or Michael Denton can make my case far better than I.

    And you would be aware that there is not only a large diversity of opinion in the evolutionary camp, but so too in the Christian camp. There are really plenty of options – some, it seems to me, better (more biblical and defensible) than others. Thus you have the full range here. There are theistic evolutionists, early-earth creationists, old-earth creationists, the ID camp, and plenty of other camps and variations in between.

    And there are massive issues that have to be dealt with – historical, hermeneutical, exegetical, linguistic, theological, philosophical, as well as the scientific. So this is no slight topic that can easily be dealt with. Especially for the believer, there are many disciplines that must be seriously engaged with. And Christians can and do come up with differing conclusions to the matter.

    So in one sense our debate is over – you could just pick the camp that seems closest to your position and leave it at that. The actual pros and cons of each position have been argued to death in innumerable places, so I am not sure what value we would have in rehashing it all here.

    Then there are the claims being made by so many Neo-Darwinists that evolution is a totally unguided, non-designed, natural process, which has no place for the divine whatsoever. If that is so, then there is no compatibility at all. Others of course can speak of things such as NOMA (eg., Gould). Some believers see evolution and creation as in real conflict, while others are happy to let both somehow peacefully coexist. The permutations and combinations are endless, and each side argues its own case at length.

    The point about Flew is he is a first-rate mind, and he does deal a lot with the problems of evolution in his book. One real issue of interest is what a major break he made from his atheist past. Yes, a deist now, but please read the last chapter of his book. There he offers N.T. Wright the chance to have the last word on the case for the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

    BTW, Spencer Gear already suggested you get Wright’s 2003 book (Fortress Press), since the issue is another one of your stumbling blocks. I heartily agree with Spencer – it is about the best thing going on the subject, so if you are really seeking after truth, you would jump to get a copy of this majestic work. And Flew was greatly impressed by Wright’s arguments, so if you get Flew’s book, you have at least two items from your shopping list somewhat covered.

    Concerning deism, C.S. Lewis rightly spoke about how it is the preferred option which we would expect from those who really don’t want to commit their lives fully to God. Deism simply posits an absentee landlord. He set up the whole show, but now it all runs on its own. Such a God does not intervene in our world, and makes no demands on us. Perfect for the mildly religious who still want to live their own selfish lives, but make some pretence of religion.

    But the call of Jesus is radical discipleship, in which we are to die to self, take up our cross, and follow him. No wonder so many folks prefer deism. And it amounts to practical atheism – no miracles, no divine intervention, no answered prayer. Sorry, but such a deity is hardly worth following, let alone worshipping. So deism really does not seem to be an option for the serious inquirer. It may be a stepping stone along the way (as it hopefully is for Flew), but something fuller and richer is needed.

    Finally, a quick word about ID. I find that most people who criticise it have never in fact read the books put out by ID authors. They might have checked out an article or two, or rely on fellow atheists and evolutionists to get their understanding. I still find that the movement has much to offer, and you should read carefully the works of Dembski and others.

    But as I say, this is a mega-topic, and I have already exceeded my limits again. So more next time.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • BTW Peter, elsewhere I have compiled a brief reading list (with about 200 titles), somewhat broken down by emphasis (eg., ID, early earth, etc). That might also lead you to some books of interest: www.billmuehlenberg.com/2008/03/09/readings-in-science-and-creation/

    And of course a very lively debate follows in the comments section there. In fact, you will probably find in that debate most of the issues that you want to see covered here. So as I say, no need to reinvent the wheel, or keep restating what has been discussed elsewhere.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Garth, check Hebrews 1:1-3a. (Amplified)This is the Scripture that speaks of God not only making the Heavens and the Earth, but keeping it all running by the “word of His power”. Note that this is a rhema word, the spoken variety.
    Food for thought.
    Ian Brearley

  • Atheists and their fellow travelers repeatedly complain about the pain, sickness, suffering, hardship and natural disasters that God allows, and so God is deemed to be neither good nor loving, and even a monster. I can only conclude that such people have a surreal view of reality so narrow that they could see through a keyhole with both eyes.

    From Adam to the present, humanity as a whole has told God to butt out and get lost. A tradition that is now being actively and vigorously pursued by the vast majority of humanity, including Dawkins and others with this mob mindset. So what are they all complaining about. They got what they asked for, crime, murder, rape, AIDS, disease, cancer, cheating, lies, wars, earthquakes and other natural disasters included. All part and parcel of a fallen creation, now severed and separated from God.

    Moreover, it’s not God who is actively involved in facilitating all this misery, but Satan, who is repeatedly referred to as the father of lies and mass deception, and that would include evolution. As Christ affirms in John 10:10: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

    So why doesn’t God do something about it anyway. He is, and has been from the very beginning. And at great personal cost, leading to the crucifixion; the most horrendous and humiliating form of punishment the Roman’s could devise. It was a punishment of terrifying and lengthy agony, especially reserved for traitors, the most violent of criminals, and slaves. Yet God, in Christ, went to the cross for us, and voluntarily bore the penalty, stigma and suffering involved.

    The most compelling aspect of Christ’s substitutionary death, was the profound ramifications of what actually took place. As humanity hurled, injustice, whipping, spitting, cursing, slander, spearing, and abuse at Christ, he was doing just the opposite. He was using the worst we could do to Him, as the very means by which He would do the very best for us. It would be the very means by which He would redeem us. As stated by John, “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. Little wonder that the Apostle Paul states, “How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation.” How indeed!.

    In the end God will be God. And nothing sinful can exist in his perfectly just and holy presence, other than those in Christ. And all mobilized opposition to this reality will be swept aside like straw in the wind. Thus, every atheistic and humanist effort to exclude the creator from His creation, and attribute the wonders of the universe to chance, luck, and blind mindless natural selection, will be seen as utterly absurd. And one of the greatest deceptions and mass delusions in human history will be exposed for what it is. Just thought I would mention it!

    John Heininger

  • And very significantly, Bill, a point I don’t think you brought out from your large Dawkins quote (near the end of your article), is that he has conceded the utter amorality of materialism, or any materialist-explained world – so he knows there is no possibility of any “secular ethics”, and the floor of his “Humanism” (is he not a president of the Humanist society, or something?) has fallen away beneath him – due to his own hacking away at it. Yes, if this is the best atheists can do, there’s no threat.
    John Thomas, UK

  • Peter,

    Easily, the best book I’ve read in 10 years which demolishes evolution’s myth is by the Cornell geneticist Dr J. C. Sanford. His brilliant book’s title is ‘Genetic Entropy & the Mystery of the Genome’. Sanford has published 80 papers, has over 30 patents and 3 inventions, one of which is the “gene gun”. As his bio says, “A large fraction of the transgenetic crops grown in the world were genetically engineered using the gene gun technology developed by John and his collaborators.”

    Could Dawkins match that?!

    Marc Kay

  • Hi Marc,

    Could Dawkins match that?!

    Easily – he has evidence supporting his position on evolution. Sanford doesn’t. That’s what’s important.

    80 papers might sound impressive to you, but how many of them offer better explanations for biological diversity than evolution? Which of the articles make a positive for creationism (or its watered down version, intelligent design)? Let us, purely for the sake of argument, imagine that all of them do – have you compared this figure to the number of scientific papers which support evolution?

    Thanks

    Heather Bates

  • Thanks Heather

    So truth is now determined purely my mere weight of numbers? That sounds awfully scientific. BTW, just how many scientific papers are you the author of? It always amazes me when those who are clearly less qualified in a certain field feel free to denounce and condemn those who are obviously more qualified in that field.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Heather – and what “evidence” would you be referring to? I’d love to see this “evidence”, just as all of the world is waiting for this irrefutable evidence, of a form of life transmuting from a lower state to a higher state and then actually passing that onto the next generation – oh, and that being done just right billions of times in millions of species. It’s a logical absurdity in the realms of fantasy to believe that everything necessary for a life-form to grow something extra on, or in, it’s body in one generation (usually pretty short life-span for most animals), for it to be correctly formed so that it enhances the animal (not as mutations are proven to do and that is detract from the effectiveness of the life-form), and then (here’s the really hard part for evolutionists to prove) for it to be able to pass that onto future generation through pro-creation (which doesn’t happen – period). All we’ve seen is animals adapting to their current environment, with the abilities that they already have.

    Heather you can talk about this cell to that cell, and this theory “if given enough time” bla bla bla, but there is no proof of any life-form changing from one life-form to another, or being able to successfully procreate outside of it’s species – in fact there have been notable evolutionist scientists who have made the statement that the more you follow the evidence the harder it is to ignore ‘intelligent design’.

    But unfortunately, for that to be the case one must actually give up a pre-disposition to proving your own pet theory, and to be open to the ‘awful’ possibility that there is someone whom we must acknowledge as the Creator.

    Garth Penglase

  • Though professed atheists such as Richard Dawkins would like us to believe that there are 5 different forms of atheism and they differ in opinion, its all a spin to reason the mind out of normal common sense adding big words and serpent reasonings to the argument. There is however one type of atheist and they live by one statement ‘there is no god’ that is their absolute. Richard Dawkins is not and atheist, let me explain, Richard Dawkins has remarked that there is the possibility of aliens or ‘intelligent design’ but finishes his statement with ‘but its not god’. Richard Dawkins is not an agnostic and not an atheist. His ascertains are preposterous and he is able to defeat those who are uneducated with basic arguments that i have and continue to answer constantly in the lives of the unsaved through evangelism. If Dawkins is the atheist champion they are in grave trouble.
    Dorian Ballard

  • Richie, You state: “I have studied early Christian history, and it requires a leap of faith to accept the historicity of the gospels, to say the least”.

    This kind of assertion prevents rational discussion when you do not provide the evidence you have investigated. I’m writing my PhD dissertation on the historical Jesus and have read much support from historians for the historicity of the Gospels. Let’s look at a couple of samples:

    The late Martin Hengel, emeritus professor of NT & early Judaism, at the University of Tubingen begins chapter 2 of his book, The Four Gospels and the One Gospel of Jesus Christ (2000. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Trinity Press International), with the heading, “Historical narrative in the New Testament” (p. 8). He states that “primitive Christianity has no knowledge of the abrupt distinction between ‘dogmatics’ and ‘church history’ which is so popular, or even between ‘faith’ and ‘facts of history’ in that form. New Testament studies in particular has done badly by this distinction” (p. 9).

    Former historian at Macquarie University, Sydney, Dr. Paul Barnett, in, Jesus and the Logic of History (1997, Leicester, England: Apollos, p.11) regards Christianity as an historical religion in two senses: (a) It has been a continuous part of world history for a long period of time, and (b) ‘Jesus was a real man who was born, lived and died at a particular time and place’. Barnett states that demonstration of this can be shown by applying the same methodology to the data on Jesus as for his contemporary, the emperor Tiberius.

    Dr. N. T. Wright provides significant historical evidence for the historicity of the Gospels in his major publications.

    Denying the historicity of the Gospels flies in the face of the criteria for historicity that are applied to the Gospels and all other historical documents.

    Regards, Spencer Gear

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