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I Survived the Creation Conference (1 of 2)

Noah's ArkI attended the 2011 Seattle Creation Conference and made it out to tell the tale.

The slogan of the conference was, “Dedicated to glorifying God through the scientific study of His Creation and refuting the false claims of Evolutionism.”  (Is it just me or does that last phrase betray a presupposition?)  There were prayers galore, sometimes both opening and closing a single lecture.

If the speakers were confident that science will eventually support the biblical view, they could let the science speak for itself.  They could show confidence that science will lead us to the biblical answer.  The question, “If Science and Scripture diverged, which one would you follow?” came to mind, but the answer was obvious.

This was a young-earth Creationism conference.  “Young earth” means: the earth is less than 10,000 years old.  “Creationism” means: evolution is nonsense.  There were probably some old-earthers there too, but I’m pretty sure that I was the only one stupid enough to accept the scientific consensus on evolution.

The remainder of this post is about lectures by Mike Oard from Creation Ministries International, who spoke for two hours on Noah’s flood.  (Let me add that everyone was polite, including me, so I’m attacking the “science,” not the speakers.)

Oard began with a couple of Bible quotes to justify using reason.  It’s odd to need such a justification in a conference “dedicated to … scientific study,” but OK.  One quote was, “Examine carefully; hold fast to that which is good” (1 Thes. 5:21).  I suspect that the last phrase was seen as license to pick and choose.

He stressed that, while some Christians imagine this to be a local flood, it was global.  I enjoy seeing Creationists attack each other, but he had some good points that can be useful when responding to an apologist who wants to salvage Genesis by arguing for a local flood.

  • A local flood would’ve swept the ark downstream to a lake or ocean, but the Genesis story has the ark ending its journey on the top of a mountain.  Only the traditional global flood could raise the ark higher than it started.
  • With the rainbow, God promised to never repeat the flood (Gen. 9).  But there have been lots of local floods.  Did God break his promise, or was the flood actually global?
  • Animals came from all over the earth.  Why bother collecting New World animals (say) for a flood limited to Mesopotamia?  Indeed, why collect any animals except those few whose habitat would be entirely destroyed?

Oard claimed that there are 500 flood traditions from around the world.  Some have dramatic commonalities with the Bible account: birds were sent out to search for dry land, the boat landed on a mountain, the god(s) favored one family, Man’s transgression created the need for the flood, animals were saved, and so on.  He argues that this is evidence of a global flood, but it sounds to me like better evidence that a flood story is a popular archetype and that stories were shared.  Indeed, the Noah story is not only quite similar to the Gilgamesh story but came afterwards.

And while we’re talking about copying, Genesis explains where the flood water came from this way: “All the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened” (Gen. 7:11).  Water from above and below?  This is the cosmology of the Sumerians, who preceded the Jews.

Now, on to Flood evidence from strata.

Grand Canyon

Click for bigger view

Even if you didn’t know that this is a terrain image of a small part of the Grand Canyon, you knew that it was a canyon eroded by water.  The water obviously flows from the small, shallow filaments down into the deeper parts of the canyon.  Oard used this as evidence of the Flood and claimed that the Grand Canyon was carved by the receding floodwaters over months, not erosion over millions of years as conventional geologists argue.

But we can resolve this disagreement.  Oard mentioned another canyon that he and geologists agree was carved quickly by a catastrophic flood.  Dry Falls in eastern Washington State has no water flowing over it now, but it once did.  When the ice dam containing prehistoric Lake Missoula collapsed, it released 500 cubic miles of water in a few weeks.  The flood scoured much of eastern Washington, and the water rushing over Dry Falls was 300 feet deep.

Dry Falls is more than twice as high and twice as wide as Horseshoe Falls in New York.  This is what a flood-carved canyon looks like.  The water flowed in the direction of the blue arrow, and the repeated floods eroded the canyon in the opposite direction.

Dry Falls map

Click for a bigger view

This has features quite the opposite of the Grand Canyon.  The Dry Falls canyon is deeper as you go upstream, not shallower.  The Dry Falls canyon has a fairly simple cliff, not delicate filaments.  No comparison.

Another “evidence” was polystrate fossils.  Imagine a place where silt deposits at a rate of one millimeter per year.  Tall things like tree stumps couldn’t have stood untouched above ground for centuries while sediment slowly built up to bury them.  And yet these “polystrate” fossils have been found and are a big puzzle for conventional science.

Wikipedia disagrees, and Talkorigins argues that not only is this not a problem for conventional science now, it wasn’t a problem in the 19th century when they were first discovered.  These articles describe many ways that silt, ash, or sand can be deposited rapidly to quickly cover a large item.

Another bit of evidence comes from Mount St. Helens.  Shortly after it exploded in 1980, Creationists found small canyons that looked like miniature Grand Canyons.  Well, yeah—water carves ash pretty quickly.  How this shows that floodwater carved the Grand Canyon out of solid rock in months, I don’t see.

He imagines that today’s mountains rose up during the year-long flood.  Wow—that’s a lot of mountain building.  I didn’t hear anything about what mechanism would plausibly have done this.

Why can’t geologists see the evidence?  Because scientists hate the Bible, Oard says.  And don’t get him started on the geologic misinformation distributed by the National Parks.

Of course, someone like me whose mind is clouded with the scientific consensus will have lots of questions.

  • During the period when floodwater was rising, he imagines dramatic erosion and sedimentation that would leave sediment layers miles thick under the flood.  But what would cause this erosion if the floodwater simply rose gradually?
  • What happened to the freshwater fish after their lakes and ponds became part of the salty ocean?  How did the plants survive?
  • He showed a map of some complicated Western geology.  Billions of years of erosion plus plate tectonics could certainly create this.  But a flood over a flat, homogeneous earth?  I saw no explanation for this in his model.
  • God’s conclusion of the Flood is: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood” (Gen. 8:21).  Gee, what a nice guy.  Going down this path, we’re evil because God made us that way.  And what’s the moral justification for drowning so many people?  Couldn’t God think of more humane ways of restarting his experiment?

I’d like to end with a note from our sponsor, the scientific consensus.  This is what gives us the technology-intensive world that we live in.  My bias is that I accept the scientific consensus as the best explanation that we have at the moment.  What else can I do given that I’m not a scientist?  Indeed, what else could any conference attendee do?

Photo credit: Wikimedia

About Bob Seidensticker
  • avalon

    The theory of evolution is over 150 yrs old and all the evidence points in one direction. And yet, there are still those who don’t believe. Why?
    “If it be a delusion that there is something in the constitution of man that is venerable and worthy of it’s author, let me live and die in that delusion, rather than have my eyes opened…”
    Thomas Reid (1775)

    • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

      Nice quote, thanks! For some, I guess delusion is preferable to reality.

  • Bob Calvan

    So if Atheist Bob lived many years ago, when the scientific consensus said the earth was flat. Bob would believed that also..What we have is Bob’s standard of truth is science. And the Christians is the Bible. ( which does not disagree with the scientific method). So Bod has no justification for his argument. Because Bob holds to a worldview of arbitriarness, and relativity. So all we heard ( as usuall) is Bob’s subjective opinion derived from his presuppositions, and denial of the supernatural..Typical atheist argument Bod copys from Dan Barker, and Christopher Hitchens, and the like. Blah, blah, blah, nothing new under the sun Bob. Booring!

    • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

      If Science and Scripture are bound to line up, then it doesn’t matter which one you follow. Those who follow science where it leads are being just as dutiful to God’s word as the closed-minded Christian who figures it out only from the Bible.

      When the scientific consensus said that the world was flat, there really was no scientific consensus. Because there was no modern science.

      Accepting the scientific consensus and “arbitrariness” are quite different things.

      As for “denial of the supernatural,” if there is a supernatural, show me! (I’ve encouraged you to provide this evidence before, with no results, so I should probably just give up, right?)

      La, la, la, I can’t hear you!

      Oops! Sorry–you actually said:

      Blah, blah, blah, nothing new under the sun.

      My mistake. They sounded so similar …

    • http://www.facebook.com/karludy Karl Udy

      There has never been scientific consensus for a flat earth. The ancient Greeks knew the earth was round, this knowledge was not lost to either those in the Dark Ages or Middle Ages. The idea that people used to believe in a flat earth first began in Victorian times

  • Bob Calvan

    So are you sayiing all knowledge must be emperical?

    • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

      What other avenues do you have in mind? I’ll agree that Science isn’t the only way we find knowledge.

  • Pingback: Escape from the Creation Conference (2 of 2) | Cross Examined

  • John Dahlinger

    How does the THEORY of evolution align with the FACT of the 2nd LAW of thermodynamics? I have a hard time buying the THEORY of macroevolution because it violates a verifiable LAW. Macroevolution (one species into another) has never been duplicated in a lab, so is a historical speculation. Let’s face it, our presuppositions, as you observed at the start of the conference (starting with the Bible), are key. Christians presuppose God; athiests presuppose no God (therefore no miracles, no supernatural intervention). The important philosophical question is: Does your presupposition allow you to make the conclusions you make and live the life you live? In other words are you professing a belief, yet acting as if you really believe another belief. An athiest presupposes chance and randomness have gotten us to where we are. But chance and randomness do not give a basis for logic, the basic uniformity of nature and the basic reliability of our senses (and therefore science), not to mention morality. Chance and evolution select for survival, not truth. Some untruths may allow for better survival. Your beliefs may just be a false construction of your mind. The Christian God provides the basis for a philosophy of truth, morality, and science. When you commit to your wife “for better or for worse”, avoid strangling the guy that cuts you off in traffic and believe the results of your science experiment, you are using Christian suppositions. The Christian’s life is primarily about serving our creator and furthering the kingdom of God by loving our neighbor; not arguing with non-believers. It seems the athiest’s life is about primarily about arguing against Christianity. If there truly is no God, what does it matter to you? Chance and randomness make a Christians truth as valid as anyone elses, right? And don’t try to argue that religion (and specifically Christianity) are “bad,” because there is no “bad” for an athiest; and just for the record, the athiestic regimes of the past 100 years have resulted in more innocent deaths than all the historical misguided Christians combined. Not to mention that all the early universities in the US (and probably worldwide) started because of Christians following the Christian philosophy that truth is knowable.

    • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

      First, let’s get you straight on law vs. theory. One doesn’t graduate to another. I wrote about that here.

      Once you’ve got that figured out, let’s work on the rest.

      • John Dahlinger

        Commonsense, and even scientific, use of the terms imply progression. I have a “hypothesis” or “theory” that I try to “prove” with known scientific laws and observations (testing). I have published my share of scientific (biology, no less), peer-reviewed papers (ok, only 2) but I know the drill.

        My point is that the two conflict and thermodynamics is testable and evolution is not. . Now, your response to the “rest” ?

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        Are we on the same page yet? A theory doesn’t advance to become and law and vice versa. You don’t prove a theory so that it advances to be something else. A theory is as good as it gets.

        Assuming we’re saying the same thing, we can move on. What’s your point about the second law of thermodynamics conflicting with evolution?

  • John Dahlinger

    The second law of thermodynamics predicts order to disorder (entropy), organization to disorganization, complex to simple. Evolution theorizes simple to complex, disorganization to organization based on randomness and chance in the genetic code.

    • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

      The second law applies to a closed system. The earth is not a closed system.

      Anyway, do you suppose that the growth of an acorn into a huge oak (a movement from disorder to order) is a violation??

      • John Dahlinger

        An acorn to an oak tree, an embryo to a person, a soup of chemicals to a bird, a canvas and a palette of paints to a masterpiece all require two things: energy and organization/information/direction.

        I will grant you that the earth is not a closed system because of the sun, but the sun has been fairly constant in terms of its energy output. My understanding is that the sun does not provide enough energy (to earth) to move non-life to life, let alone move simple life to complex life. That is why the attempts to create life add extra (therefore artificial) energy. Even adding energy has failed. Computer models that estimate the number of mutations necessary to generate new machines or enzymes in the cell would make the earth older than the age of the universe.

        Even with the energy, organization is imperative; your acorn to oak is a good example. A tornado (energy) through a junkyard will not create a functioning machine, even something as simple as a mousetrap, without some direction. In the same way, the organization we see on earth needs external energy and external direction.

        In any case, the theory is controversial (there are certainly biologists that don’t buy it), unproved, and likely unproveable.

        I still wonder what your thoughts are on the presuppositions I mentioned in my first comment. I think we both start with opposing presuppositions which cloud our assessment of the data. But I contend that presupposing athiesm and evolution does not grant you the luxury of using logic, count on the reliability of your senses or the basic uniformity of nature. See initial comment.

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        John:

        I will grant you that the earth is not a closed system because of the sun…

        OK, let’s pause for a moment to keep track. The “evolution is only a theory, not a law” argument is gone because theory and law describe two different things. And the “the second law of thermodynamics precludes evolution” is also gone because the it doesn’t apply to an open system like the earth.

        the sun does not provide enough energy (to earth) to move non-life to life

        So you reject abiogenesis. I hadn’t heard this argument, that beyond a certain amount of energy input, abiogenesis could work but not below this level. Is this the scientific consensus?

        Even adding energy has failed.

        If by this you mean that science doesn’t know something, you’re right of course. Science doesn’t know a lot of stuff (though new things are uncovered all the time). I’m not sure what we conclude from that.

        Computer models that estimate the number of mutations necessary to generate new machines or enzymes in the cell would make the earth older than the age of the universe.

        Again: this is the scientific consensus? Or just the supposition of the Discovery Institute or Answers in Genesis or the Creation Research Institute?

        A tornado (energy) through a junkyard will not create a functioning machine…

        Sure. Who would imagine that it would? It’s not even a poor analogy for evolution.

        In any case, the theory is controversial (there are certainly biologists that don’t buy it), …

        Huh? Evolution is the overwhelming scientific consensus!

        …unproved, and likely unproveable.

        You’re the science guy. You know that you don’t prove anything within science. Everything is provisional—evolution, the germ theory of disease, and quantum mechanics.

        But I contend that presupposing athiesm and evolution does not grant you the luxury of using logic, count on the reliability of your senses or the basic uniformity of nature.

        Atheism for me is a conclusion, not a presupposition.

        I assume you’re referring to the Transcendental Argument. I don’t find that compelling, especially since the Christian simply states that he has a grounding for logic without any proof or even evidence. (I can make the same groundless statement.)

        • John Dahlinger

          Consensus does not determine truth. Science has notoriously shifted consensus, so is not the most reliable base for a worldview. The worldwide consensus, statistically, is that there is a God, so you should believe, right?

          I do reject abiogenesis. Life from no life; something from nothing: not logical or scientifically validated.

          The Christian use of logic is based on God’s nature; He cannot deny himself and we are made in His image and God is truth. Gen 1:26, Eph 5:1, 2 Tim 2:13, Col 2:3.

          The uniformity of nature is promised in Heb 1:3, Gen 8:22.

          Morality is defined by God’s nature and God’s laws (10 commandments).

          The Christian has a basis for these basic presuppositions based on the Bible; what is your basis for those presuppositions?

          I guess the point I am trying to make is that Athiesm (and Theism) is not a conclusion, but a presupposition. You start with assuming the preconditions of knowledge (without any basis). Then, you start by assuming all is natural, discount unnatural phenomenom (because of your initial assumption), then say “see, all is explained naturally.”

          I admittedly do the same thing: There is a God, so I allow unnatural phenomenom. I observe unnatural phenomenom in our nature (courage, committment, moral outrage, sacrificial love) and in the world (life from no life, something from nothing) that don’t fit with the athiestic or evolutionary (natural) explanation. Those observations fuel my initial assumption and validate my initial assumption as well as my conclusion.

          Many, many smarter people than both you and I are in both camps; they look at the same data and reach different conclusions. It is because of their starting presupposition. We all start with basic presuppositions of intelligibility, but the Christian has Bibilical grounds to acknowledge them. The athiest does not have grounds to accept them and is challenged to explain the “unnatural” things I mentioned earlier. How is it that the athiestic view (“I conclude that there is no God”) can be confidently based on “scientific” observation, yet also conclude that “you can’t prove anything with science” (your quote). Shouldn’t you really be an agnostic; new observations may prove your initial conclusion wrong?

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        John:

        Consensus does not determine truth.

        True. But what better do we laymen have? Picking and choosing your science based on what is most pleasing is clearly the wrong way to go about it.

        Science has notoriously shifted consensus, so is not the most reliable base for a worldview.

        Show me something better.

        The worldwide consensus, statistically, is that there is a God, so you should believe, right?

        What?? The worldwide consensus is that Yahweh exists? I certainly did not know that!

        Or if you’re saying that most of the world is religious, I agree. And most of those religious people think that you’re nuts for not believing the way they do.

        I do reject abiogenesis.

        Because that’s the scientific consensus or just because you don’t like it?

        The Christian use of logic is based on God’s nature; He cannot deny himself and we are made in His image and God is truth.

        We know that God tells the truth because the Bible says so. And we know the Bible is accurate because God says so.

        I’m sure you see the problem with that.

        Morality is defined by God’s nature and God’s laws (10 commandments).

        Seriously? The 10 Commandments? It has room for “don’t covet” but not for “don’t enslave” and “don’t commit genocide” (probably because those were simply tools that the Israelites used).

        Doesn’t translate well into modern society, I’m afraid.

        The Christian has a basis for these basic presuppositions based on the Bible; what is your basis for those presuppositions?

        What basis? Because an ancient book says so? Do you believe what every ancient book tells you?

        Then, you start by assuming all is natural, discount unnatural phenomenom (because of your initial assumption), then say “see, all is explained naturally.”

        The supernatural is possible, but it isn’t likely. You have evidence for it? Show me.

        I observe unnatural phenomenom in our nature (courage, committment, moral outrage, sacrificial love) …

        That’s your evidence for the supernatural?? We see morality in other primates! Is that supernatural also, or can we conclude that the same natural processes that gave compassion, a sense of fairness, nurturing, etc. to other primates also gave it to us?

        …and in the world (life from no life, something from nothing)

        You want some farfetched theories? Go hammer on those quantum physics guys—makes evolution and abiogenesis look trivial. That stuff is completely nutty!

        It’s also very well evidenced, but apparently you don’t care much for that.

        It is because of their starting presupposition.

        “Yeah, my approach is motivated by emotion, but that’s OK because others are doing it too”?

        Shouldn’t you really be an agnostic; new observations may prove your initial conclusion wrong?

        I am an agnostic. And yes, new observations may indeed prove my current hypothesis wrong. But what can I do but follow the evidence?

        • John Dahlinger

          I am sorry. I thought your were an athiest; my apologies.

          I am with you on the far-fetched physics theories. Are you saying they have explained abiogenesis and something from nothing; hardly from what I have heard (certainly most of it is over my head, admittedly). If you can entertain those theories, why not entertain the idea of a God that created the world, loves you and wants the best for you?

          The “morality” observed in primates is not anything like our morality, qualitatively and quantitatively. Language is the same way. Sure, dolphins and primates and other species communicate in something like language, but they are not writing songs praising the Lord. If you hold to the evolution idea from that perspective, then the belief in God confers evolutionary advantage. Evolution selects for survival not sacrifice; polygamy not monogamy; cowardice not courage; slavery over equalilty. Those are the aspects of our life we value; they are “unnatural” by evolution’s standards.

          I think you are very confused about the 10 commandments and slavery in the Bible. We think slavery means 17-18th century, “cotton-picking,” kidnap-and-forcethem-into-servitude stuff. I don’t have the verses at my fingertips, but the Old Testament and New Testament are clearly against kidnapping (death-penalty); slavery at that time was much more like indentured servitude. Most slaves had a limited time period of servitude, many were wealthy, and many stayed on as slaves after their alloted time. Most Greek (or Roman, not sure right now) doctors were slaves.

          I don’t think of the Bible as just another book. It has prophecy that is unexplainable. It provides the presuppositions that we don’t have without it.

          I think an interesting exercise is to start your day with a different set of presuppositions. Just try a day where you say; God is real, miracles can happen, my life has a purpose other than to satisfy my “natural” cravings, the Bible is God’s Word. I think things fit together better compared to a day where you say; I am here by chance, life has no meaning, there is no morality other than what I say.

          Bob, I have been challenged and have enjoyed out interaction. I say that not because I am done, but because I may have to get back to my life, work and family. So if for some reason I do not respond, don’t think I have given up or am trying to be rude.
          All the best,
          John

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        John:

        I thought your were an athiest; my apologies.

        You were right. I’m an atheist, too.

        Are you saying they have explained abiogenesis

        There is no scientific consensus as far as I’ve heard.

        why not entertain the idea of a God that created the world, loves you and wants the best for you?

        Because there’s no evidence? Or is this a trick question?

        The “morality” observed in primates is not anything like our morality, qualitatively and quantitatively.

        Yeah, we have bigger brains. We have more in the morality department. (We also have more in the immorality department—revenge, hatred, etc.—but that’s a tangent.) Nevertheless, if we assume that chimpanzees do things that, in a human, would be called “moral actions,” and if those are brought about by nature, there’s your natural explanation for human morality.

        Sure, dolphins and primates and other species communicate in something like language, but they are not writing songs praising the Lord.

        Are you saying that language has no natural explanation either??

        If you hold to the evolution idea from that perspective, then the belief in God confers evolutionary advantage. Evolution selects for survival not sacrifice; polygamy not monogamy; cowardice not courage; slavery over equalilty. Those are the aspects of our life we value; they are “unnatural” by evolution’s standards.

        You’re saying that we’ve turned our backs on slavery, genocide, and polygamy? Yes we have, but that’s not thanks to the Bible, which celebrates these things!

        We think slavery means 17-18th century, “cotton-picking,” kidnap-and-forcethem-into-servitude stuff. I don’t have the verses at my fingertips, but the Old Testament and New Testament are clearly against kidnapping (death-penalty); slavery at that time was much more like indentured servitude.

        Oh—so then you think that biblical slavery is quite moral and would be a fine institution to introduce today. Is that it? Check out Ex. 21:20–21 for tips on knowing how much beating is too much. Is that a good principle in 2011?

        Most slaves had a limited time period of servitude

        That’s the ones who were fellow Israelites! The ones who weren’t were enslaved for life.

        It has prophecy that is unexplainable.

        Give me your best one. I’m pretty certain I’ve heard and debunked it before.

        Just try a day where you say; God is real, miracles can happen, my life has a purpose other than to satisfy my “natural” cravings, the Bible is God’s Word.

        And do you mix it up a bit by starting some days with “Zeus is real” and others with “Quetzalcoatl is real”?

        So if for some reason I do not respond, don’t think I have given up or am trying to be rude.

        Not a problem! Thanks for the invigorating conversation.

        • John Dahlinger

          Your are an agnostic AND an athiest? What does that mean?

          I think you might be surprised how much of the “good” things we take for granted ARE “thanks to the Bible.” You may have heard of the Salvation Army, Red Cross, and Harvard University (actually all of the Ivy League schools, I think)? All started by Christians following Christian principles that value human life and truth. Slavery was abolished because of persistent Christians (see Amazing Grace movie for a popular rendition). You might find a book called The Book That Made Your World interesting; it looks at the west’s foundations from a Hindu’s perspective; he concludes that the Biblical worldview made us who we are and explains why technology and knowledge alone didn’t do it for the Chinese (despite printing press, gun powder, etc) and the Arabs (despite advanced mathematics and science).

          I am not sure what the Athiests are doing for us. More people have been killed under athiests regimes in the past century than that by Christians in the past 2000 years. Pretty much all the early scientists were Christians and accepted that the world is knowable because God made it that way.

          You need some heavy duty Bible teaching. Here is an interesting observation: The OT describes the two guiding values in ancient times: polygamy and first-son’ism (can’t remember the name of the word). The OT records polygamy never working out in a positive way. God always favors the second son (Able over Cain, etc).

          Prophecy: the Book of Daniel. Isaiah 53.

          There are plenty of cogent, well presented “evidences” for God, Jesus and the Resurrection; William Lane Craig is probably the best resource, in my mind. You offer the standard responses that he addresses.

          What is it that you DO stand for? You have a blog that attacks Christianity. Are you in favor of slavery, genocide and polygamy? If not, why not? What are your values and where do they come from?

    • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

      John:

      Your are an agnostic AND an athiest? What does that mean?

      An atheist has no god belief. An agnostic doesn’t know. I’m an agnostic atheist.

      Slavery was abolished because of persistent Christians (see Amazing Grace movie for a popular rendition).

      You’ve read all the slavery in the Good Book?? Christians abolished slavery despite their religion, not because of it.

      I am not sure what the Athiests are doing for us.

      How many scientific or medical advances were made by atheists?

      On behalf of all atheists, you’re welcome. ;-)

      More people have been killed under athiests regimes in the past century than that by Christians in the past 2000 years.

      Show me someone who killed because of atheist dictates.

      Stalin was a dictator. That’s why he was a bad guy. Religion was competition, so he banned it.

      The OT records polygamy never working out in a positive way.

      Oh, please. Show me where God says that polygamy was bad. It was as commonplace and unremarkable as sheep herding.

      Prophecy: the Book of Daniel. Isaiah 53.

      Daniel was written in the 160s BCE. Where’s the prophecy?

      Is. 53:12 says, “Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong.” Huh? Jesus is given a share with the great? Who are these great ones who are on par with Jesus? Actually, this chapter is about Israel, not Jesus. And if this was some sort of premonition about the crucifixion, don’t you think it would include the punch line, the resurrection?

      There are plenty of cogent, well presented “evidences” for God, Jesus and the Resurrection; William Lane Craig is probably the best resource, in my mind.

      WLC is pretty weak IMO. Give one of his arguments if you want, but I’m pretty sure I’ve heard them all.

      What is it that you DO stand for?

      Oh, y’know, same old, same old. Reality, clear thinking, improving society by avoiding ancient superstitions—that sort of thing.

      You have a blog that attacks Christianity. Are you in favor of slavery, genocide and polygamy?

      Uh, no. I’m not bound by a book that celebrates those, so I’m not encumbered that way. There’s zero chance that I would feel obliged to justify the slavery in an ancient book (unlike some that I could mention!). :-)

      If not, why not? What are your values and where do they come from?

      Moral instincts and society.

      • John Dahlinger

        God’s plan is for one man and one woman, outlined in Genesis and confirmed by Jesus. You think Biblical “consensus” is wrong on that? That the Bible encourages or condones polygamy? I think your understanding of Bible “consensus” is a bit off. Of course polygamy is described in the OT, BECAUSE it was commonplace. And your understanding of the Bible “celebrating” polygamy, genocide, and slavery is way out of Biblical scholarship/interpretation consensus. It is a bit hypocritical to accept science consensus and deny Biblical scholarship consensus.
        Comparing Jesus and the Bible to Zeus and other ancient myths is also way out of historical, literary and historical scholarship. The New Testament would have to be historical fiction narrative, invented by (at least) 4 Jews, 1500 or so hundred years before it became established.
        Whose “moral instincts” do you follow? Your own? Are they more like Hitler’s? or Mother Theresa’s?
        Which “society” do you “pick” your morals from? China? United States? Utah? Wherever you happen to be at the time? So is abortion right or wrong? Is polygamy right or wrong? Is divorce good or bad?
        It is the persistent work of Christians that produced most of the institutions of higher learning throughout the world. Again, check the foundational history of all the Ivy League schools, not to mention Oxford, Cambridge, et. al.. The Christian worldview allowed the great discoveries of science, medicine; most, if not all, were Christians. The athiest contributers were trained at these institutions and molded by the Christian worldview they provided.
        You are pretty flippant about your values; but, as an athiest, shouldn’t they focus on self-preservation and self advancement at their core, because society, family insititutions, and society laws are “made up” (dictated by different societies) anyway, right? Your value of “reality” is a Christian value (Hindu’s don’t believe in reality), given to you by your Christian-based schooling.
        As a Christian, my values revolve around serving the Lord, and loving my neighbor, because individuals have value and God’s kingdom (not man’s) is the goal. I also value family and others over self; and eternal over temporal. The “consensus” has supported those values for hundreds of years, because of the Bible. Again, a reminder of the Red Cross and Salvation Army. Are there similar Athiest contributions?
        You are telling me that you have read WLC and you think ALL of his arguments are weak? Wow, you are a bit full of yourself. I certainly have no chance at having any sort of even-handed discussion. With your level of scholarship and writing skills, I am sure your goal of “improving society” will result in something beyond a blog in this arena.

      • John Dahlinger

        The Book of Daniel’s date of authorship is certainly controversial, BECAUSE of presuppositions. Naturalists are LOOKING (and sometimes stretching) for natural eplanations. There is enough evidence on both sides to make it controversial, but your bias and presupposition cloud what evidence you will allow.

        You read the entire chapter of Isaiah 53 and are critical of THAT verse. You are arrogent enough to claim it is not valid because it is not clear enough for YOU? Prophecy will never be as clear as we would like it.

        “Surely he took up our pain
        and bore our suffering,
        yet we considered him punished by God,
        stricken by him, and afflicted.
        5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
        he was crushed for our iniquities;
        the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
        and by his wounds we are healed.
        6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
        each of us has turned to our own way;
        and the LORD has laid on him
        the iniquity of us all.”

        That doesn’t sound like Jesus?

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        God’s plan is for one man and one woman, outlined in Genesis and confirmed by Jesus.

        The Bible makes clear that polygamy is the way the righteous man sees marriage. And yes, Jesus confirms this—“not one jot or tittle” and all that.

        And your understanding of the Bible “celebrating” polygamy, genocide, and slavery is way out of Biblical scholarship/interpretation consensus.

        If you’re saying that conservative Christian scholars try to weasel their way out of the literal interpretation of the Bible on this hideous things, I agree.

        It is a bit hypocritical to accept science consensus and deny Biblical scholarship consensus.

        Science and religion are very, very different, so I’d be entitled to handle them differently. Anyway, I accept biblical scholarship on what happened, not on their interpretation.

        Would you accept Muslim scholars’ consensus on biblical interpretation? Or do you only pick the subset of scholars that you like?

        The New Testament would have to be historical fiction narrative, invented by (at least) 4 Jews, 1500 or so hundred years before it became established.

        The gospel narrative would have to be legend. Quite plausible.

        Whose “moral instincts” do you follow? Your own?

        Obviously.

        Which “society” do you “pick” your morals from? China? United States? Utah?

        Why would I pick Chinese social morals if I was raised in the US?

        So is abortion right or wrong?

        I’m pro-choice. The platform on which I say that that position is correct is my own. Not a big platform, but it’s all I’ve got.

        It is the persistent work of Christians that produced most of the institutions of higher learning throughout the world.

        Yup, Christians can do good things. That’s great.

        Your value of “reality” is a Christian value (Hindu’s don’t believe in reality), given to you by your Christian-based schooling.

        ?? Your value of “morals” comes from your instinct (provided by evolution). Christianity codified morals, and not in a very good way—consider the 10 Commandments. Other societies codified morals in their own way. I’m not sure how Christianity becomes the sole pathway to correct morals.

        You are telling me that you have read WLC and you think ALL of his arguments are weak?

        I’ve not read all of WLC. I’ve listened to at least half a dozen debates and I listen to his Reasonable Faith podcast pretty regularly. I have a good handle on his arguments and am not impressed.

        Wow, you are a bit full of yourself.

        That’s nice. If I’ve unfairly denigrated any of WLC’s arguments, let me know.

        I certainly have no chance at having any sort of even-handed discussion. With your level of scholarship and writing skills, I am sure your goal of “improving society” will result in something beyond a blog in this arena.

        I’m not sure I’m understanding.

        I don’t have a doctorate in theology (unlike Robert Price, Bart Ehrman, and so on), so I’m unable to get into many, many subjects deeply. My goal is to get my novel published which I hope will push this conversation more into the public square. It’s an important one that I think is just a backwater now.

        • John Dahlinger

          Athiest claim there is no God or Gods. Agnostics don’t know. You can’t be both. Either you claim there is no God or you don’t know.

          Theists claim there is a God and give evidences. You either agree to the truth claim, reject it (based on evidences, which I don’t deny you have), or don’t know. How can you be both?

          I could say aliens exist or unicorns exist. Even though it is fanciful (in the same way God is fanciful to you), if I have evidences to the positive, I may be justified in my belief. You can’t just say I have a non-belief in aliens or unicorns. You have to say “I do not believe aliens or unicorns exist,” and provide evidences. The dialogue then becomes about the validity and strength of the evidences, which is, I think what we are dialoguing about.

          So, in China it is ok to murder infant daughters because society wants males? The caste system in India is ok because it is their system and it works for them? Polygamy is ok because it is ok with the Mormons (or some Mormons). And to take it to an extreme, the Holocaust was OK because the society was ok with it? The whole war-crime thing doesn’t make sense because one society can’t be critical of another, from a moral stand point? How can evolution create morals if evolution is about survival? So morals are just fancy behaviors? Shouldn’t evolution favor slavery; so is slavery right? It seemed to be working well in several societies. Instinct is morals? So the recent women that murdered their newborn babies were right because it was their “instinct”? Or, if they were in China it would have been right?

          The Gospels could be legend? I see Bart Ehrman’s influence. I think you do need to read WLC. There is very bad evidence for the legend claim (principally the date of the writing of the NT is too early for legend). He will be must reading (IMO) for your book.

          Which of the 10 commandments do you have a problem with?

          I guess I would think you might at least put some weight into the arguments of WLC because he has doctorates in philosophy, theology, and a masters in ecclesiastic history. In the basic laymen’s books I have read of his, he addresses all the issues you have brought up and articulates responses much better than I am able.

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        John:

        The Book of Daniel’s date of authorship is certainly controversial, BECAUSE of presuppositions. Naturalists are LOOKING (and sometimes stretching) for natural eplanations. There is enough evidence on both sides to make it controversial, but your bias and presupposition cloud what evidence you will allow.

        Given the controversy, do you think it’s still reasonable to balance the enormous boulder of the Christian claim onto the crumbling stone of Daniel’s prophecy?

        You read the entire chapter of Isaiah 53 and are critical of THAT verse. You are arrogent enough to claim it is not valid because it is not clear enough for YOU? Prophecy will never be as clear as we would like it.

        And I repeat the argument! You’ve got an admittedly vague prophecy. On top of that you’re going to rest the colossal conclusion that God exists?? Shouldn’t you be a little more cautious to make sure you don’t back the wrong horse?

        You quote Is. 53 which sounds like Jesus … and perhaps also like Israel. Don’t reject the bits of the same chapter that don’t fit your preconception!

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        John:

        Athiest claim there is no God or Gods. Agnostics don’t know. You can’t be both. Either you claim there is no God or you don’t know.

        I don’t claim there is no god. Rather, I have no god belief. Such a person is popularly called an “atheist.”

        You can’t just say I have a non-belief in aliens or unicorns.

        Do you have a unicorn belief? I don’t.

        So, in China it is ok to murder infant daughters because society wants males?

        Is this infanticide or abortion? If infanticide, the point I make is that I say that it’s immoral. That’s it. There may be many Chinese people who say that from their standpoint, it’s not immoral.

        The whole war-crime thing doesn’t make sense because one society can’t be critical of another, from a moral stand point?

        Of course one society can be critical of another.

        How can evolution create morals if evolution is about survival?

        That behavior that we call “moral behavior” was selected by evolution because it conveyed survival benefit.

        Why—do you have a better explanation?

        Shouldn’t evolution favor slavery; so is slavery right?

        ??

        Instinct is morals?

        No, morals is instinct (at least the base part).

        I think you do need to read WLC.

        Been there, done that, not impressed.

        There is very bad evidence for the legend claim (principally the date of the writing of the NT is too early for legend).

        You have proof that legends can’t spring up out of 40+ years of oral history? Show me.

        Which of the 10 commandments do you have a problem with?

        I wonder why there’s “don’t covet” but they forgot “don’t enslave” and “no genocide.”

        In the basic laymen’s books I have read of his, he addresses all the issues you have brought up and articulates responses much better than I am able.

        Then give me his responses. Seriously—he’s not that impressive.

        • John Dahlinger

          “Popular” definitions of Athiests are: those that reject the truth claim “God exists.” In any truth claim you either accept the positive, accept the negative (“God does not exist”) or abstain. Those are the options. If I did believe in Unicorns, you have to take a stand relative to my claim, if I have evidences to justify my claim.

          “Do you have a unicorn belief? I don’t” That statement means you don’t believe in unicorns, or you believe unicorns don’t exist, doesn’t it? If I justify my belief with evidence, you have to justify your denial with evidence. Claiming “disbelief” is a bit of an intellectual copout.

          You are saying infanticide is immoral to you, but can be morally acceptable to others (some in China)? Isn’t that moral relativism? And if so how is it we can be critical of other societies, if we can’t on this point?

          Historically, legends that have formed have been generations past their origins because otherwise, eyewitnesses to the account are still around and will deny. It would be like someone trying to turn MLK or JFK into a legend (making up false claims about their lives); hard to do when eyewitnesses still live. Again, WLC, references that historical evidence in his books.

          I didn’t ask which commandments you thought were missing; I asked which of the 10 commandments you had a problem with. And I think “don’t covet” covers “don’t enslave”. And “don’t murder” covers “no genocide.” Not to mention “love your neighbor as yourself,” as summarized by Jesus.

          You believe the Bible supports polygamy, slavery, and genocide; yet mainstream Christian doctrine rejects those tenets. Doesn’t that mean mainstream Christianity is NOT using the “ancient, outdated book” anyway? Even Christians have “evolved” away from it and they are using their “instinct” and societal input to determine their morals, just like you? If that is the case, then what is your purpose of attacking Christianity? It can’t be to help them think clearly, because apparently they are, by rejecting the source, even unwittingly.

          Then it comes down to two evolved, instinct driven primates discussing whether polygamy, slavery, homosexuality, same-sex marriage and genocide are right or wrong; Christians just “claim” to be using the an “old, outdated” Book, but they really aren’t (unless they can find a verse that supports their view).

          Or perhaps modern Christian thought has developed a more nuanced and clearer interpretation of the Bible than you have?

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        John:

        This isn’t hard. I don’t have a god belief, and I call myself an atheist—that’s how I define the term, so you know now what I mean. Further, this isn’t just my own peculiar definition; most atheists that I know of use this definition. I don’t have much interest in a long discussion of how the dictionary should define its words.

        Someone who said, “I’m certain there is no god” would also be an atheist, but that’s not me.

        Isn’t that moral relativism?

        The definition that I usually see is that moral relativism means that (1) you accept that others can have differing definitions of morality and (2) you have no right to object. I reject point #2, as I think I’ve made clear.

        Historically, legends that have formed have been generations past their origins because otherwise, eyewitnesses to the account are still around and will deny.

        You’re saying that there can be no legend within 40 years because eyewitnesses would squash it? I doubt you’ve thought this through.

        Christianity spread quickly throughout the ancient near east. So you imagine that the handful of eyewitnesses in Jerusalem and Galilee were able to stamp out the brushfires of false Christianity that sprang up in Alexandria and Damascus and Asia Minor and Greece and Rome? In the first place, they wouldn’t have known about them all, and in the second place, what’s their motivation?

        It would be like someone trying to turn MLK or JFK into a legend (making up false claims about their lives); hard to do when eyewitnesses still live.

        So nothing incorrect is ever written about a famous person? You never see a famous person trying to tamp down some false story? You’ve never objected to the “facts” in a newspaper article about something that happened the previous day?

        I think you live too sheltered a life!

        I didn’t ask which commandments you thought were missing; I asked which of the 10 commandments you had a problem with.

        I have no use for the first four.

        And I think “don’t covet” covers “don’t enslave”.

        Look it up in the dictionary. It doesn’t.

        And “don’t murder” covers “no genocide.”

        Weird. God told us not to murder but then he ordered genocide. Maybe God needs to read his own book.

        You believe the Bible supports polygamy, slavery, and genocide; yet mainstream Christian doctrine rejects those tenets.

        And isn’t that ironic, given what the Bible says about them?

        Doesn’t that mean mainstream Christianity is NOT using the “ancient, outdated book” anyway?

        Correct! Christians get their morals from themselves, not from the Bible. (And good thing, too.)

        If that is the case, then what is your purpose of attacking Christianity? It can’t be to help them think clearly, because apparently they are, by rejecting the source, even unwittingly.

        Have you heard Fred Phelps? Have you watched a televangelist? Have you listened to a Christian podcast attack homosexuality or same-sex marriage (just like Christians attacked mixed-race marriage before the Supreme Court made laws against it illegal in 1967)?

        Christianity has some very unsavory elements. When it doesn’t negatively impact my society, I won’t have much complaint. But we have a long way to go.

        • John Dahlinger

          “Love your neighbor as yourself” doesn’t cover murder? As Christians, we filter all of the OT through Jesus, as he taught us to.

          Your example of current news reporting just emphasizes how we want it reported correctly. The NT was written by several eyewitnesses who claim a crazy idea; no counter writings? Even from detractors? Why would numerous eyewitnesses die for something they knew was a lie? Cultist will die for something they THINK is true, but not for something they KNOW is a lie; maybe one crazy person, but 12?

          HUMANITY has “some unsavory elements.” You don’t think some other misguided belief would fuel the fires of hatred and intolerance? We are built (unfortunately) to be “cliquey” (if that is a word). If that is not your observation, we have both led sheltered lives (different shelters, apparently). I have heard it said that humans’ greatest desire is not to love or to be loved, but to be right, which is a shame, at times. My observation and belief is that we are also built to worship, whether it be God, ourselves, science, family and traditions, whatever. Put those two things together (worship and a desire to be right) and disaster is inevitable.
          I have looked briefly at the arguments (that I can find online fairly easily) and have heard many of them before regarding polygamy, slavery and genocide in the Bible. IMO, the polygamy one is really flimsy. I won’t deny that genocide and slavery in the OT have always been a challenge to me, but I don’t read anywhere in the Bible that it supports ongoing slavery, but I am sure you have some versus for me. I find it hard to believe that 2000 years of intense scrutiny and interpretation have not revealed the gross misinterpretation of these things that are so clear to you.

          You point to Christian intolerance, and observe Christian murder, inconsistency, and silliness. I believe all the same behaviors can be observed in atheists, agnostics and any other name you want to call a particular group. Atheist regimes have been just as murderous (more in my opinion) as any Christian without any need for a mythical book. To me, the question is if neither side can really be “proved,” why not accept the (Christian perspective) that human life has value, purpose and meaning versus the (evolutionary) belief that humans are just a concoction of chemicals and we can really do whatever we want because it doesn’t really matter anyway.
          I was persuaded by the book I mentioned earlier (The Book that Made Your World) that the Biblical worldview has given “us” the western civilization and moral order that have made us a strong nation. I would be interested your critique of that.

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        John:

        “Love your neighbor as yourself” doesn’t cover murder? As Christians, we filter all of the OT through Jesus, as he taught us to.

        I’m not sure how Christianity salvages the Old Testament.

        The NT was written by several eyewitnesses who claim a crazy idea; no counter writings?

        Prove that the NT was written by eyewitnesses. As for detractors, I have a long post in the queue rejecting that hypothesis, so let’s wait for that.

        Why would numerous eyewitnesses die for something they knew was a lie?

        I’ve already shredded that idea (about 1/3 down).

        HUMANITY has “some unsavory elements.” You don’t think some other misguided belief would fuel the fires of hatred and intolerance?

        I agree that if religion were to vanish tomorrow, humans would backfill with some other bad things. But maybe not as much.

        I have heard it said that humans’ greatest desire is not to love or to be loved, but to be right, which is a shame, at times.

        I’ve not heard that. My frustration is that humans have too little desire to be right and instead just want to be happy or placated. Give them a happy fantasy about God and a lollipop and they’re good to go until next Sunday.

        I have looked briefly at the arguments (that I can find online fairly easily) and have heard many of them before regarding polygamy, slavery and genocide in the Bible.

        IMO, the polygamy one is really flimsy.

        Huh? Everyone’s polygamous and God says nothing about it. Sounds like approval to me.

        I won’t deny that genocide and slavery in the OT have always been a challenge to me…

        OK, good to hear that you’re thinking.

        … but I don’t read anywhere in the Bible that it supports ongoing slavery, but I am sure you have some versus for me.

        Here’s a brief list from the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible.

        I find it hard to believe that 2000 years of intense scrutiny and interpretation have not revealed the gross misinterpretation of these things that are so clear to you.

        You put on the glasses of belief, and the insanity is invisible. Why is this a surprise? You recognize this blindness in people of other faiths, right?

        Atheist regimes have been just as murderous

        Show me someone who murdered in the name of atheism. Stalin was an atheist because he was a savage dictator; he wasn’t a savage dictator because he was an atheist.

        why not accept the (Christian perspective) that human life has value, purpose and meaning

        I accept the humanist view that life has value, purpose, and meaning.

        versus the (evolutionary) belief that humans are just a concoction of chemicals and we can really do whatever we want because it doesn’t really matter anyway.

        Yes, we are a pile of chemicals. But from that, how do you figure we can do whatever we want?

        Think about this before you type, please.

        the Biblical worldview has given “us” the western civilization and moral order that have made us a strong nation.

        Haven’t read it, but I’m familiar with David Barton. He spouts nonsense, IMO.

        Read the Constitution. It gives us a 100% secular country. You’re stuck with it, I’m afraid. But it does give some pretty phenomenal protection for religion. Sounds like a win-win to me.

        • John Dahlinger

          Thanks for the links, but the “already shredded” link didn’t work. Well, neither worked, but I was able to find my way to the Skeptics Bible information.

          The Book That Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization by Vishal Mangalwadi. Not familiar with David Barton.

          The pile of chemicals that I am typing on does not have any value to me compared to my sons. Some live their lives as if the pile of chemicals in their bank or the pile of chemicals that goes into their veins is more valuable than their sons. Are we both being reasonable? How does a humanist encourage a dad to take care of his child versus move to another country because the job is better? Or is that reasonable?

          Where does the humanist get value, purpose and meaning? Individually or by collectively deciding? If we are just a bag of chemicals, how can an individual human have value more than any other chemical? And if so, who decides? Do all people have value? Do handicapped people or old people or ill people have value; is it less than “contributers”? My understanding is the humanist morality has justified euthanasia of “non-contributers” to society. What are your thoughts?

  • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

    John:

    Thanks for the links, but the “already shredded” link didn’t work.

    Dang. Thanks for letting me know (I’ve fixed them above). Let’s try again for that one: it’s Lee Strobel’s Fragile Argument. Go about 1/3 down for the rebuttal to the “they wouldn’t die for a lie” argument.

    Are we both being reasonable?

    Not in my mind, and that gets us to the point: morality is relative. Something is right/wrong relative to the person making the assertion.

    How does a humanist encourage a dad to take care of his child versus move to another country because the job is better? Or is that reasonable?

    What kind of question is this? You know how people attempt to convince each other that their position is correct. You see it every day, I’m sure. You read about it in the papers. That’s how our laws are created. Etc.

    Where does the humanist get value, purpose and meaning?

    Instinct + social conditioning.

    My understanding is the humanist morality has justified euthanasia of “non-contributers” to society. What are your thoughts?

    I reject it. Doesn’t sit well with the Golden Rule in my programming.

    • John Dahlinger

      I still don’t see a coherent argument for how moral relativity allows for any meaningful discussion. How can I be critical of Chinese murdering female infants if it is morally acceptable to them? How can I be critical of a dad cutting out on his family if he values his independence over his famiIy?

      How do instinct + social conditioning give purpose? Flesh that out for me.

      In your “shredding” you said: “What crimes are we talking about? Sedition? Disturbing the peace? General rabble rousing? Denying Jesus doesn’t get you off from these. This “Why would they die for a lie?” argument collapses” “

      You’re kidding, right. The crime is preaching the Gospel. Stopping the preaching “gets you off.” The original apostles were martyred for preaching the gospel; see example of the first martyr, Stephen in Acts.

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        John:

        I still don’t see a coherent argument for how moral relativity allows for any meaningful discussion. How can I be critical of Chinese murdering female infants if it is morally acceptable to them? How can I be critical of a dad cutting out on his family if he values his independence over his famiIy?

        Where’s the difficulty? You see someone else doing something you think is morally wrong. What else would you do but object?!

        How do instinct + social conditioning give purpose?

        Instinct gives us the Golden Rule (roughly). That’s the commonality we see among cultures–why other cultures don’t look at you funny when you say that “don’t kill” is a good principle to follow. Society gives us many of the differences between cultures. For example, honor is treated quite differently in modern Denmark (say) than in feudal Japan.

        The crime is preaching the Gospel.

        Oh? Show me. We have traditions from 150 years after that we can reliably go back and know that this is what they were charged with? Was this illegal everywhere a disciple was allegedly martyred?

        Stopping the preaching “gets you off.”

        Does stopping the theft get you off from a charge of theft? Does stopping murdering get you off of a charge of murder? I’ve not heard of such a thing.

        The original apostles were martyred for preaching the gospel; see example of the first martyr, Stephen in Acts.

        This one is so close to the event that it might actually be true. More interesting are the stories much, much later.

        • John Dahlinger

          Ok, l’ll try again. How can I say you should not kill your infants if their morality is as valid as mine? Apparently in China, “don’t kill” is NOT a good rule to follow all the time. Of course I can object, but if morality is relative, why do they have to care? And if morality is relative, what right do I have to object anyway?

        • John Dahlinger

          “Show you” the apostles died martyrs for preaching the gospel?

          Come on, I have not seen any historical doubt that most, if not all but one (John) of the original apostles died because of proclaiming their faith. A quck google search will confirm that. I am pretty confident that is historian (Christian and non-Christian) “consensus.”

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        John:

        How can I say you should not kill your infants if their morality is as valid as mine?

        From your standpoint, is their morality as valid as yours? Of course not.

        I have no idea what would prompt such a question.

        if morality is relative, why do they have to care?

        We’ve already been over this, but I’ll try again. The strawman “moral relativism” says that (1) you accept that others can have differing definitions of morality and (2) you have no right to object. I reject point #2, so drop this strawman characterization, please.

        “Show you” the apostles died martyrs for preaching the gospel?

        Precisely. The tradition comes from writings one hundred and fifty years after the supposed martyrdoms (as you saw in my previous post).

        Might’ve happened. Might not’ve. This weak evidence doesn’t satisfy me, and it certainly shouldn’t satisfy you.

  • John Dahlinger

    ” The strawman “moral relativism” says that (1) you accept that others can have differing definitions of morality and (2) you have no right to object. I reject point #2, so drop this strawman characterization, please. ”

    Huh? #2 follows logically from #1; a conclusion based on the first premise. On what grounds can I critique anothers morals, if they can always respond with “well, that’s relative”? How else can that conversation go?

    ” Might’ve happened. Might not’ve. This weak evidence doesn’t satisfy me, and it certainly shouldn’t satisfy you. ”

    Well, as you pointed out with regard to science, as laymen, we can only go on what the “consensus” of the experts is. Just as I am “unsatisfied” with scientists evidence for evolution, you are “unsatisfied” with the historians consensus on the apostles martyrdom. Maybe it comes down to our intitial presuppositions?

    • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

      John:

      Huh? #2 follows logically from #1; a conclusion based on the first premise.

      On what planet??

      On what grounds can I critique anothers morals, if they can always respond with “well, that’s relative”? How else can that conversation go?

      You think that act X is immoral and the other guy thinks that X is moral. Tell me, John: is X immoral or not?

      I’m not sure why this is difficult.

      Well, as you pointed out with regard to science, as laymen, we can only go on what the “consensus” of the experts is. Just as I am “unsatisfied” with scientists evidence for evolution, you are “unsatisfied” with the historians consensus on the apostles martyrdom. Maybe it comes down to our intitial presuppositions?

      In most cases, that symmetry is there, but I don’t see it in the example you give.

      What about Muslim historians? What do you think they’d say about this bit of Christian history? I wonder if they’d have an agenda. Similarly, I wonder if Christian historians have an agenda on topics of Christian history.

      Scientists don’t usually have that whole burning-in-hell thing pulling them to go one way over another in scientific matters.

      But let’s go back to the evidence. Are you telling me that you’re satisfied with the “why would they die for a lie?” story even though our historical evidence dates from 150 years after the fact? I’ll grant you that that’s a data point, but how much support does it lend to the most incredible story imaginable?

  • John Dahlinger

    ” You think that act X is immoral and the other guy thinks that X is moral. Tell me, John: is X immoral or not? ”

    I don’t know, and that is my point. Neither person has any grounds to say that X is moral or
    immoral, because it is a preference. How can we have any meaningful dialogue? Is killing infants moral (to Chinese) or immoral (to you)? Is polygamy moral (to some Mormons) or immoral (to me)? Is abortion immoral (to me) or moral (to you)? Or are we waiting for our “instinct and society” to just “evolve” the answer? Is one of us “more evolved” than the other in our thinking?

    ” most incredible story imaginable? ”

    There is your presuppostion exposed right there.

    ” What about Muslim historians? What do you think they’d say about this bit of Christian history? I wonder if they’d have an agenda. Similarly, I wonder if Christian historians have an agenda on topics of Christian history. ”

    The martyrdom of the apostles is accepted by Christian and secular historians, as far as I know. Muslims don’t accept much evidence that is accepted by Christian and secular historians regarding the Gospels as written. Perhaps one of the religions (Christianity versus Islam) is more solidly based on the evidence?

    • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

      John:

      I don’t know

      Of course you know! That’s the point. You think that X is immoral. Some other guy disagrees. If he hasn’t convinced you to change your mind, is X immoral? Of course it is!

      Neither person has any grounds to say that X is moral or immoral, because it is a preference. How can we have any meaningful dialogue?

      Are we speaking the same language? You strongly feel that X is immoral. So you’re going to be tongue-tied when the other guy says that it’s perfectly fine?!

      You seem to be alluding to objective morality. Sure, that’d be great if it existed and we could access it reliably. Is this the case?

      There is your presuppostion exposed right there.

      You disagree? You’re saying that the claim that a god exists who created everything and he sent Jesus to earth to die and be resurrected isn’t just about the most incredible story imaginable?

      I can’t think of a more incredible feat than creating everything. Maybe it’s a failure of my imagination! :-D

      The martyrdom of the apostles is accepted by Christian and secular historians, as far as I know.

      You didn’t respond to my question. Does this seem strongly grounded to you, given that the tradition appeared more than 150 years after the fact?

      Muslims don’t accept much evidence that is accepted by Christian and secular historians regarding the Gospels as written. Perhaps one of the religions (Christianity versus Islam) is more solidly based on the evidence?

      Yeah–perhaps people in a religion have other agendas than simply following the facts where they lead.

  • John Dahlinger

    ” Of course you know! That’s the point. You think that X is immoral. Some other guy disagrees. If he hasn’t convinced you to change your mind, is X immoral? Of course it is! ”

    Excellent! Now we are getting somewhere!

    Is divorce immoral? Of course it is!
    Is polygamy immoral? Of course it is!
    Is abortion immoral? Of course it is!
    Is premarital sex immoral? Of course it is!
    Is Athiesem an untenable worldview? Of course it is!

    This is fun!

    • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

      By changing the subject, I assume that means that you now understand how my morals work and accept that it’s a coherent approach.

  • John Dahlinger

    I am not changing the subject. I am applying your principles to state the obvious after examining the evidence, having rational discourse with others and applying my instinct/society influences. It’s easy!

    • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

      Must be just me then. I have no idea what we’re talking about.

      I described how my moral thinking works. Seems to me that nothing is left unexplained. Do you agree?

  • John Dahlinger

    ” I described how my moral thinking works. Seems to me that nothing is left unexplained. Do you agree? ”

    I guess I agree that nothing is left unexplained in terms of how your moral thinking works. I don’t agree with the thinking because it leads to dogmatic moral conclusions that can be “validated” because of “instinct” or “society,” which I don’t think is appropriate. That is what I was trying to demonstrate by my responses.

    But, just to be sure, I summarize your approach this way: You determine whether an action is moral or immoral by examining the scientific evidence (if any), having rational discourse with others and applying your instinct/society influences; perhaps throwing in the particular circimstances involved. Is that correct?

    • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

      I don’t agree with the thinking because it leads to dogmatic moral conclusions that can be “validated” because of “instinct” or “society,” which I don’t think is appropriate.

      My sketch of moral thinking above wasn’t supposed to be a sketch of how I do things or something that I recommend to you. Rather, I think that that’s how morality works for all of us.

      You could point out how this is unfortunate or how you wish it were some other way, but that’s off the subject. If morality doesn’t work this way– we all have access to some sort of infallible moral truth, say–then show me.

      You determine whether an action is moral or immoral by examining the scientific evidence (if any), having rational discourse with others and applying your instinct/society influences; perhaps throwing in the particular circimstances involved. Is that correct?

      Pretty much. Do you do it any other way?

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