Thursday, September 15, 2011

David Berlinski on Uncommon Knowledge

The brilliant David Berlinski is a guest on Peter Robinson's Uncommon Knowledge.

I had the pleasure of having dinner with Berlinski a few years ago. Berlinski is a genuine skeptic, unlike the atheist frauds who today lay claim to the moniker. He asks deep questions about all claims to knowledge, including his own. He is a gifted writer and thinker. His books-- including the Devil's Delusion and his most recent One, Two, Three; absolutely elementary mathematics, are must-reads for those interested in scientism, philosophy of science, and mathematics.

He is a gentleman as well as a scholar, and I highly recommend his work. He is a public intellectual in the finest sense, unlike the poseurs so prominent in the public square today.

96 comments:

  1. David Berlinski is a fraud of monumental proportions. I remember seeing a YouTube video of a debate on ID in which he was a participant, which included a segment in which the participants asked questions of debaters on the other side. The question he asked was for an estimate of the number of discrete genetic changes necessary to change an even-toed ungulate the size of a wolf into a whale. He guessed 50,000, and included the development of a waterproof skin (funny, I'd thought that had been done 400 million years ago, when vertebrates left the sea to become terrestrial; a skin that doesn't let water out will also stop water entering).

    Later, in the same debate, he stated that he doesn't actually believe in ID, but he doesn't have a better theory.

    He's quite happy to accept his sinecure from the Discovery Institute though. On another occasion, he apparently admitted (this is third hand, so I can't personally vouch for its accuracy, although the person who claimed it I find believable, and it matches my opinion of David Berlinski from the videos I've seen of him) that he's quite happy to accept the money from the Discovery Institute if they're prepared to pay him.

    Even just his acceptance of money from the Discovery Institute despite his not believing in ID makes him at least a cynic, if not an intellectual prostitute.

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  2. @bach:

    He's a very smart man, and a real skeptic. He understands the logical b.s. in Darwinism, and he comes at it from a perspective that is not theist.

    He's a genuine public intellectual, which is so rare today.

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  3. Michael,

    No, I disagree. He's a fraud. I'll have a look at the videos when my Internet connections faster so the download is faster. His book 'the Devil's Delusion' is oldish. In it he quotes Frans de Waal as writing 'If an extraterrestrial were to visit the Earth, he would be unable to distinguish any difference between apes and humans'. I've been trying to track down the source of this quote. It appears to be only in 'the Devil's Delusion'. It isn't in 'Your Inner Ape' or 'the Age of Empathy'. If you've got a copy, could you provide a source. It's apparently on page 162 of David's book.

    Anyway, Darwinism only refers to the idea that natural causes are the only things considered in science. If you're referring to the branch of biology initiated by Darwin then it's evolutionary biology. It's extremely dishonest to refer to Darwinism or Darwin's theory of descent with modification by means of natural selection (and sexual selection) when everyone knows that Darwin got things wrong too ('On the Origin of Species' was published 150 years ago).

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  4. Smart Berlinski may be. A deep thinker he is not.

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  5. ...everyone knows that Darwin got things wrong...

    So do all those who believe in Darwinism (neo or not)!

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  6. Mike,
    Dave Berlinksi is one of my FAVOURITE - hands down - thinkers in print. His books, The Devil's Delusion and the The Deniable Darwin, are amongst some of the most lent out from my personal library of over 16,000 paper volumes. I have my copy of 'One, Two, Three.." ordered as of Monday.
    He would be shocked, I am sure, to see his books on the 'much read/borrowed' shelf right next to 'City of God' 'Mere Christianity', The Greeks, Tacitus, de Chaucer, and some other VERY big names.
    Mr Berlinski is a person I would VERY much like to meet and yap with. A Carafe of wine or a pot of coffee and a few words on the 'spooky stuff' would be awesome. Maybe one day I'll make it out to Seattle while he is presenting there, or see him at a signing / convention.
    You rub shoulders with some real thinkers, Mike. Not too shabby yourself, either ;)
    Keep up the good work, and keep the Berlinski coming!
    We love our 'David B'.
    Bach,

    To call Berlisnksi a 'fraud' and a 'cynic' and a 'prostitute' should be a ringing endorsement for anyone paying attention to this blog.
    Oh, and it's funny too :P

    TAKE NOTE READER: David Berlinski really, REALLY upsets Atheists with mathematical and scientific FACTS, history, and philosophy. Berlinski is a classy, brilliant, and extremely precise philosopher of science and a TRUE polymath.
    Check out the video, and if you're a fan of modern philosophy, his stuff is a MUST.
    Enjoy!

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  7. crus:

    I met Berlinski in Birmingham Alabama a couple of years ago. I was a visiting professor (gave a lecture on eugenics) and Berlinski was in town also lecturing. Mutual friends arranged dinner. He's funny, a real gentleman, and a hero of mine for his intellectual courage and integrity.

    I loved the Devil's Delusion (parts of it had me laughing out loud), and 123 is a great book as well.

    He's a great example of an agnostic who is a very deep thinker who I admire. Ray Tallis is another.

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  8. Mike,

    Can you give us some examples of Berlinski's deep thoughts? I know him as a superficial writer who criticizes subjects on which he is not an expert.

    Take his critique of the Big Bang cosmology. He mentions that in the standard cosmology the initial state of the Universe is an infinitely dense singularity. He goes on a tangent for several paragraphs railing that singularities are mathematical objects that have no realization in physics. He views this as evidence against the Big Bang.

    That's pretty silly. A singularity is predicted by a theory based on general relativity, a classical theory of gravity. At high energy densities, quantum effects must be taken into account, so the purely classical theory becomes unreliable. The description of the earliest moments of the Big Bang require a quantum theory of gravity. We do not have one at the moment, although it looks like string theory might one day become one.

    In the same piece, he ridicules the idea that quasars are distant objects because it means that they are fantastically energetic. Well, they are energetic. They are giant black holes at galactic centers whose immense radiation is powered by matter falling into the black hole.

    I can go on, but this hopefully explains why I don't take Berlinski seriously.

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  9. Oleg,

    Sorry, Michael won't be able to provide any of David Berlinski's deep thoughts because he's pretty superficial himself and easily impressed, provided of course they agree with his preconceived worldview.

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  10. Who knows, maybe we missed some brilliant work by him. I doubt that, however. The simplest model of Berlinski is that he is a contrarian who likes to questions everything. That rarely makes anyone a deep thinker.

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  11. @oleg and bach:

    [Can you give us some examples of Berlinski's deep thoughts? I know him as a superficial writer... I can go on, but this hopefully explains why I don't take Berlinski seriously.]

    [Michael won't be able to provide any of David Berlinski's deep thoughts because he's pretty superficial himself]

    Berlinski and I (and all people) are very superficial. Human beings can't be anything but. Some of us know that, and make modest claims about reality. Others feign deep knowledge (RM+NS explains life, matter is all there is, etc...), and deny our obvious contingency.

    The beginning of wisdom is an admission of our limitedness. In only that sense could I call myself wise. Job 28:28. (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Job+28&version=KJV)

    Atheism is such shallow arrogance.

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  12. A rare moment of consensus on Michael's blog. Everyone rejoices.

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  13. "The simplest model..."
    That is the crux of it, B & O.
    The simplest model, eh? Needs to be simple.
    Needs to be reduced, measured, quantified, and labelled for reference.
    Monism/Scientism again.
    Get out of Plato's cave, for Goodness sake!

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  14. I know him as a superficial writer who criticizes subjects on which he is not an expert...

    And, as we all know, Oleg has a doctorate in theology and another one in Thomistic philosophy.

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  15. Spot on, Matteo. However, I do not think anyone (myself included) pretends that I offer some deep thoughts on these matters.

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  16. “Atheism is such shallow arrogance.”

    Any atheist’s arrogance pales in comparison to the arrogance of believing the universe was created for us, and that the creator’s greatest desire is for our respect.

    -KW

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  17. "Any atheist’s arrogance pales in comparison to the arrogance of believing the universe was created for us, and that the creator’s greatest desire is for our respect."

    Which is even less arrogant than believing that you have a personal relationship with the creator of the universe.

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  18. @Hurr Durr:

    [Which is even less arrogant than believing that you have a personal relationship with the creator of the universe.]

    Worship of God is an extraordinarily humbling experience.

    Thinking that you are the pinnacle of intellect that exists is the ultimate arrogance.

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  19. Thinking that you are the pinnacle of intellect that exists is the ultimate arrogance.

    Given that most atheists don't assert that, your comment is a non-sequitur.

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  20. Michael,

    Evolutionary biologists don't believe that RM + NS explains life. It isn't feigning deep knowledge to claim that matter (and energy) is all there is to the Universe. It is feigning deep knowledge to claim that there is 'something else', the nature of which is unknown and for which there isn't the slightest skerrick of evidence, besides the special pleading that it 'explains' something or another better than the science explanation, the exact argument being imperfectly understood and ridiculed from the start.

    Now that's what I call superficial thinking.

    It's also superficial thinking to insist that an atheist who does something wrong out of atheist reasons but a believer who does something wrong wasn't a believer to begin with.

    It's also superficial thinking to insist that 'correlation does not indicate causation' and then to insist that because Rachel Carson published 'Silent Spring' in 1962 criticizing the overuse of DDT, then she's responsible for the '30 million excess deaths due to malaria since then' despite the fact that third world countries discontinued their vector control programs in the '60s because it worked too well and continued to use DDT unrestricted in agriculture, so that when malaria made its inevitable comeback, the mosquitoes had become DDT resistant.

    Perhaps you don't like Rachel Carson because she wrote 'Darwin himself could scarcely have found a better example of the operation of natural selection than is provided by the way the mechanism of resistance operates'. (page 272, 'Silent Spring')

    All of your diatribe being provoked by my comment to your touching faith in the markets to find substitutes for oil and natural gas (both vital in modern agriculture in making fertilizers to grow enough food to feed almost 7 billion people, but not quite), that the same markets gave the world Viagra but hasn't given the world a malaria vaccine.

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  21. Berlinski has 7 Dawkins', 16 Hitchens, 153 bachfiends, Olegs and PZ M's for breakfast before starting to really think.

    The Berlinski dissers here, simply lack even the IQ level to figure out what he's talking about.

    Sad but true.

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  22. So, Gary, what is Berlinski talking about? Enlighten us.

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  23. @anon
    [Any atheist’s arrogance pales in comparison to the arrogance of believing the universe was created for us, and that the creator’s greatest desire is for our respect.]

    "The universe is not the product of darkness and unreason; it comes from intelligence, freedom, and from the beauty that is identical with love."

    Benedict XVI


    "Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son. God gave his Son so that every person that believes in him would not be lost, but have life forever."

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  24. Don't blame me for quote mining and cut and paste.

    I recognize that many are more intelligent than I am and I like to quote them...

    But none are atheists!

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  25. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven...

    This life is short but the next is forever...

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  26. Atheism is arrogance incarnate.
    It is the sum of pseudo-intellectual snobbery.

    The atheist cannot know there is no God.
    Therefore his position is one of blind faith alone.

    Ironically, in that very blind faith he indulges every waking moment, yet he accuses the theist of it!

    Hypocrisy, thy name is atheism!

    As the poet said so beautifully,
    "Forth from his dark and lonely hiding-place, (Portentous sight!) the owlet Atheism, sailing on obscene wings athwart the noon, drops his blue-fringed lids, and holds them close, and hooting at the glorious sun in Heaven, cries out, Where is it?" -Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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  27. Gary,

    Yes, but the atheist can know that there's no evidence that there is a god. That's different to saying that an atheist cannot know that there isn't a god.

    Absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence, but absence of evidence for which there should be evidence is evidence of absence.

    There are many different versions of god around, ranging from the personal god who listens to prayers and formed the Universe and everything in it to the deistic god which just represents nature.

    Tell me which god you believe in, and provide the evidence.

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  28. @bachfiend
    [the atheist can know that there's no evidence that there is a god...]

    What about the nose on your face? Is that evidence that you have a nose?

    How can you be so blind? Evidence of God is everywhere, beginning with your own existence.

    Stop starring at your navel and have a look at the wonderful world God has made for us...

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  29. I just read David Berlinski’s “Was There a Big Bang?” linked to above. It’s truly horrible. The very title suggests that the answer is no, and I’m willing to bet he came up with the title before he did one iota of research.


    He’s cherry picked tidbits of the historical scientific debate to support his point, while totally ignoring a myriad of other observations that support hot big bang cosmology. I can almost picture Berlinski going thru some of the books in my library, highlighting quotes that look like they may be useful taken out of context.


    The whole thing reeks of pseudo-science, by a pseudo-intellectual, who makes a living supplying scientific gibberish to an audience eager for some scientific validation of their beliefs.


    The reality is you don’t really even need to read the article to know it‘s bull; the simple fact that Berlinski has earned Dr. Egnors praise tells you that.

    -KW

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  30. “Stop starring at your navel and have a look at the wonderful world God has made for us…”

    Starring at the world in slack-jawed awe isn’t going to get you any farther in your understanding than starring at your navel. It’s only when you investigate the world starting with the assumption that God isn’t necessary to explain something that you learn anything.

    -KW

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  31. Dr Pangloss .... sorry ... Pepe,

    The fact that I have a nose is obvious to me. That there's a personal god, who listens to prayers, takes a deep interest in humans and last appeared to long dead and probably fictional humans thousands of years ago, isn't obvious to me at all.

    It's also isn't obvious to me that noses were designed, as Dr Pangloss, noted, to carry spectacles. Rather spectacles were designed for noses.

    Talking of noses ... I'm reminded that humans, like all mammals, have about 1,000 different genes for smell receptors, making up about 3% of the total number of genes. About 700 are 'broken', not working, not translated into protein, similar to the way that humans have functioning genes for all the enzymes making vitamin C save one, so humans can't make vitamin C at all, need it supplied in the diet and are prone to the disease of scurvy.

    Humans aren't particularly intelligently designed and don't show any evidence of the lavish attention from a loving and caring deity.

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  32. Stop starring at your navel and have a look at the wonderful world God has made for us...

    Made for us? Humans only have access to a tiny speck of the universe. The observable universe is about 90 billion light years across. We are pretty much confined to the solar system, which is roughly two ten-thousandths of a light year (Jupiter's orbit). That is 10^{44} times smaller than the observable universe volume-wise. Seems like a waste of space.

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  33. The atheist cannot know there is no God.
    Therefore his position is one of blind faith alone.


    Do you believe in the existence of fairies? Unicorns? Zeus? Thor? Marduk? If not, why not?

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  34. [Seems like a waste of space.]

    Yes. Because the pile of pre-existing space for God to work with was a precious, limited resource. God. He's, he's just not green enough. The fiend probably doesn't even separate compost and glass bottles from the rest of the trash. And he probably drives a V-8 instead of a Prius, too.

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  35. [Do you believe in the existence of fairies? Unicorns? Zeus? Thor? Marduk? If not, why not?]

    Because Aristotelian-Thomistic philosophy does not lead to the conclusion that Fairies, Unicorns, Zeus, Thor, and Marduk exist?

    Do you have any other brilliant questions?

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  36. I know its hard to believe anyone would make such a profoundly asinine statement but read it and weep:

    bachfiend actually said this ...

    "Yes, but the atheist can know that there's no evidence that there is a god."

    Now I really am impressed. By the depths of stupidity you're willing to accept to lie to yourself.

    This proves at least one thing absolutely:
    "You can lead an atheist to evidence but you can’t make him think" - Ray Comfort

    So the atheist can know theres no evidence for God huh?
    And you think you know this how exactly?
    You got some "evidence" for this statement of yours?

    Talk about pretentious & shameless effrontery!!

    You can't say there is no evidence for God because you can't know all evidences that exist!


    This is not hard.

    You may say that the evidence so far presented to you has been insufficient -in your own opinion (doesn't make it true).

    Your incredibly impudent answer is yet another proof of the deep and despicable arrogance of atheism.

    "There are many different versions of god around, ... "

    Oh please. Get a brain for petes sake!!

    Yes bring on Thor, Zeus and invisible pink unicorns while yer at it, ya dumb nit.

    Folks it doesn't get much more inane than this kind of flagrant sciolism.

    Hello! Anybody home in atheism land (aka lala land)?
    The lights are on, the stereo is blaring but nobody's home.

    Only 99% of atheists give a bad reputation to the rest?

    Why is it that 99.9% of atheists are also invariably misophists?

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  37. As always the atheists respond with deeply asinine questions on invisible pink unicorns, Thor, Santa Claus; or humongous but insupportable assertions about "knowing there is no evidence" and such.

    Fairies, unicorns and such are not entities, anyone anywhere has - ever or would ever - claim created a profoundly complex yet understandable universe.

    Thor, Zeus ... ??
    Gee, you really wish to humiliate yourself in public like this? Ya sure?

    No wonder you post anonymously!

    A guy in tights, with a viking helmet, swinging a hammer and fornicating whenever possible.

    No wonder they made a comic book hero out of him.

    Thor allegedly fathered the goddess (and possible valkyrie) Þrúðr; with Járnsaxa, he fathered Magni; with an unnamed mother he fathered Móði, and he is the stepfather of the god Ullr.

    Stepfather no less.

    Thor rides in a chariot pulled by two goats, Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr ... um ... that he eats and resurrects.

    Sounds a bit like a few people I've met, but nowhere near an absolute, self-existent creator God of infinite power and intelligence.
    Oh, and holy - never heard any those Greek, Norse etc. mythical, comic book gods being called that.

    Zeus is even worse.

    Get real atheists, you've lost it big time.

    A disbelief in God does not result in a belief in nothing; disbelief in God usually results in a belief in anything at all, no matter how idiotic.

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  38. Gary,

    Richard Dawkins got criticized over 'the God Delusion' because he attacked a concept of god that is a caricature; an old bearded man who listens to prayers, takes a great interest in the affairs of humans, performs miracles, created the Universe and everything in it about 6,000 years ago.

    His critics, the sophisticated theologians (whatever that mean) reckon that he didn't address their nuanced version of god (whatever that means).

    The god that Richard Dawkins was considering was just the god accepted by around 40% of the American population, who aren't worried that their version has god creating Adam and Eve 1,000 years after the Sumerians invented glue.

    I was just giving you the opportunity of stating which version of god is correct, and to give some of the evidence in support of it, and I'll assess the evidence.

    Of course, there's absolutely no evidence for the 'caricature' god. If you define god as just nature and the principles that run it, then there's no evidence for (or against) it, although there's no point in positing such a god.

    You're citing Ray Comfort as an authority? The 'banana man'? The only time I got agree at Richard Dawkins was when he referred to Ray Comfort as an Australian (he's a New Zealander).

    I suppose we Australians can't be too satisfied. We did give the world Ken Ham. Although, he couldn't find enough gullible people in Australia, so he had to go to the richer fields of America.

    But I digress ... Ray Comfort was the idiot who reckoned the banana was intelligently designed to have exactly the right shape to fit in the hand, with an easily opened nonslip container, ignoring the fact that the original banana looked nothing like the present one, and it took thousands of years of selective cultivation by humans to get the present varieties .... Idiot ...

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  39. Bach,
    You wrote:

    "His critics, the sophisticated theologians (whatever that mean) reckon that he didn't address their nuanced version of god (whatever that means)."
    Why do you impose your monist logic to a situation you admittedly do not understand, Bach?
    If you don't know what a nuanced theology is, or cannot tell a sophisticated theological argument from that of a simpleton...why the stand?
    Why the verdict of guilty with the sentence of DEATH?
    You don't get it? FINE! That doesn't make you stupid or bad. But it does not mean the criticisms of Dawkins work are inaccurate.
    I am no seminarian either, but I do understand enough of the central Christian theology AND philosophy to assert Dawkins IS over-simplistic and inconsistent. I must also add that serious and sophisticated theologians, philosophers, and thinkers would not take Dawkins actual writings into account, as they are inane. Instead they take into account the EFFECT of a Dawkins (Simplicio-like) style character.
    He (Dawkins and men like him) have been the subject of the conversation since Greece. What to do with a dogmatic, myopic, and self righteous monist? Let him speak! He is the best evidence against his own argument.
    In Canada we have a saying about such sorts: 'Give him enough rope - he'll hang himself'.

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  40. Because Aristotelian-Thomistic philosophy does not lead to the conclusion that Fairies, Unicorns, Zeus, Thor, and Marduk exist?

    Aristotelian-Thomistic scholasticism leads just as easily to the conclusion that fairies, unicorns, Zeus, Thor, and Marduk exist. You just prefer a bloated sky-god from Judea to any of them. There's no actual rationality to your choice to prefer one over the other.

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  41. @bach

    About 700 are 'broken', not working, not translated into protein...

    Ah! The myth of Junk DNA again!

    Humans aren't particularly intelligently designed...

    It’s easy to criticize a design that is not fully understood. Why not instead try to understand why human were designed that way?

    Atheism and Darwinism are such science-stoppers!

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  42. Pépé: It’s easy to criticize a design that is not fully understood. Why not instead try to understand why human were designed that way?

    Not for the lack for trying, Pépé. "Creation scientists" have been busily at work addressing precisely this question. Here is a fine example of their work: The Amazing Design of the Human Nose. Let me know if that's what you want.

    "ID scholars" tried that, too. Here is their famed journal Progress in Complexity and Design. It folded after publishing three and a half volumes. Here is PCID's successor, BIO-Complexity. Every article has a coauthor who is a member of the editorial board. Last year, it published a total of 4 articles. 2 this year so far. A real success story.

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  43. [Aristotelian-Thomistic scholasticism leads just as easily to the conclusion that fairies, unicorns, Zeus, Thor, and Marduk exist.]

    Interesting. Clinically interesting.

    BTW, you need to decide whether you are an atheist or a polytheist. It is fascinating to me that you assert that the real problem is not that there is no god, but that there are, in fact, too many gods.

    Again: clinically interesting.

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  44. BTW, you need to decide whether you are an atheist or a polytheist.

    As usual, you miss the point: Aristotelian-Thomistic scholasticism doesn't actually demonstrate anything. It is a thought experiment with no content that can be used to "prove" anything. I know Catholics love to whip out Aquinas like that actually demonstrates that their "God" is true. But lacking anything that ties it to reality, there is no way to actually determine if it is true. Using the same arguments one can "prove" the existence of Superman, Santa Claus, or alien overlords. So the question is why believe any of the claims based upon this "proof"? Pretending that it is a rational basis for belief is simply silly.

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  45. Anaonymous, the time has come for you to put up or shut up.

    The onus is now on you to explicate precisely how A-T metaphysics would lead to the conclusion that Marduk, Thor, Unicorns, or Santa Claus exist.

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  46. The onus is now on you to explicate precisely how A-T metaphysics would lead to the conclusion that Marduk, Thor, Unicorns, or Santa Claus exist.

    Simple: fill in their names as the "First Cause". You have no basis to contest doing this.

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  47. Once again we have ample proof, right here folks! Come and get your ample proof for free!

    Why is it that atheists can't understand English sentences wherever their void view is being addressed?

    Must be the no god complex.

    Oh, well.

    Here's a typical example from mind on hold bachfiend

    He's claims I cited Ray Comfort "as an authority".

    Did I? Of course not.
    I quoted Comfort on a point for which he is absolutely correct. Never claimed any authority for him at all. The quotation is a ubiquitous fact.

    Oh so typical is also the way atheists use strawman fallacies in everything everywhere, but always accuse their opponents of such where there are none. Strange.

    Do atheists even understand logical fallacies?

    Not in my experience.

    Every single time I've been accused of a strawman argument I ask for proof - never got any to date - not even an attempt.

    In short atheists like to attribute all kinds of "fallacies" to their opponents all while committing them themselves.

    Atheism itself is a logical fallacy.
    Go figure huh.

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  48. As usual Anonymous is out to lunch and apparently not coming back.

    Lets see, he wants us to fill in their names as first cause.

    Whose names? Well Thor, fairies, Santa Claus etc..

    Brilliant, just brilliant.

    This is known as pretzel logic, high in fiber, (too much salt) but it makes good shit.

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  49. Pepe,

    'Junk DNA' isn't a myth. It refers to DNA which isn't translated into product, usually proteins, or at least polypeptides such as vasopressin and oxytocin (which consist of exactly the same amino acids in the same order, but reversed) or RNA as in transfer or ribosomal RNA.

    Broken genes are something else. They're pseudogenes. They have a mutation such as one codon being changed to a 'stop' codon, so what's produced is an incomplete and inactive product.

    We know that we once had many more functioning smell receptors because we can read them and compare them with other mammals, such as our closest relatives, the chimps, who have many more functioning smell receptors.

    Of the 3.2 billion base pairs in the human genome, 1.5% code for genes, 3.5% are strongly conserved so presumably has some function. 95% has apparently no function, largely consisting of viral fragments and repetitive elements. Some of it has been cooped into having a function. For example, placentation in mammals uses a gene from a virus to cause cell fusion in the outer layer of the placenta.

    Gary,

    You still don't get it. There's no evidence for the caricature god believed by 40% of the American population. There's no evidence either for or against the deistic god (either one that created the universe and set up the physical principles running it, and then disappeared never to be seen again, or one representing impersonal nature), but that one's pointless as a deity worth worshipping.

    The 'sophisticated' theologians believe in a 'nuanced' deity on the continuum between the two extremes. Unless you know which 'nuanced' deity they're talking about, it's impossible in advance to ascertain what evidence should be there.

    I was just asking you which god do you believe in? Multiple comments, and you still haven't committed.

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  50. Gary,

    Seriously, tell us about your specific beliefs. You’ve demonstrated your incredulity regarding some gods; where exactly do you draw the line? Do you believe in a literal Garden of Eden? The devil? Demons? The Rapture? The Flood?

    I would appreciate it if you could respond without your usual stream of bigoted insults.

    -KW

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  51. @bach

    Junk DNA' isn't a myth.

    Yes it is! It's another Darwinian fraud, like all the others.

    @oleg

    Not for the lack for trying...

    Really? What about going up to date on the latest research?

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  52. @KW:

    [Gary,

    Seriously, tell us about your specific beliefs. You’ve demonstrated your incredulity regarding some gods; where exactly do you draw the line? Do you believe in a literal Garden of Eden? The devil? Demons? The Rapture? The Flood?]

    literal Garden of Eden: yep. If it didn't exist literally, it wouldn't affect my faith. But I believe that it existed literally.

    The devil: yep. Evil is personal, and takes the form of a person.

    Demons: yet. ditto.

    The Rapture: yep.

    The Flood: yep. Probably local, but involved all of the world known to the ancients.

    Here's my questions for you, KW:

    Do you believe:

    nothing caused the universe?
    there is no intelligence at the ground of nature?
    there is no objective right or wrong?
    'things change and survivors survivors' explains the diversity of life?
    all people in human history who have had spiritual experiences are wrong or crazy?
    your mind is nothing more than meat/chemistry?
    non-physical things (math, morals, reason) have no real existence?

    ReplyDelete
  53. @ bach and oleg

    I suggest you read Barry Commoner article Unravelling the DNA myth.

    I am getting tired in spoon feeding you!

    ReplyDelete
  54. [Simple: fill in their names as the "First Cause". You have no basis to contest doing this.]

    Please explicate from the content of A-T metaphysics why it would be valid to do such a thing. Please tell me precisely why, with reference to the actual contents of A-T metaphysics, it would be proper to regard a Unicorn as the intelligent ground of all being, or a rational atheist, or any other non-infinite imaginary entity.

    Again: put up or shut up.

    The floor is yours.

    ReplyDelete
  55. bachfiend ...

    .. don't get it. There's no evidence for the caricature god believed by 40% of the American population.

    Then There's no evidence either for ...

    Translation into what you're really saying, "I dismiss any & all evidence, then I boldly assert that therefore there is none, and I think that is an adequate rebuttal of theism."

    Right.

    I was just asking you which god do you believe in? Multiple comments, and you still haven't committed.

    I'm not even interested in your stupid little word games.
    You're a 3rd rate thinker by any standard.

    There can only be 1 omnipotent.
    There can only be 1 omnipresent.
    Think that over, maybe you'll eventually figure out why.

    I believe as Dr Egnor, and?

    You have proof of your no God position? Hmm. Didn't think so.

    I.e. its pure blind faith on your part and all atheists are living by blind faith in nothing.

    Where is your evidence supporting no God?
    The whole world would love to see it.
    Atheists have none.

    No one will be holding their breath.

    We all know you hold your position by blind faith alone.

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  56. Anonymous

    "You’ve demonstrated your incredulity regarding some gods; where exactly do you draw the line? Do you believe in a literal Garden of Eden? The devil? Demons? The Rapture? The Flood?"

    See Dr. Egnors response.

    Your question is little more than a word game since you understand nothing at all of the the issue.

    " I would appreciate it if you could respond without your usual stream of bigoted insults.
    -KW"

    Gee, KW, whoever you really are hiding behind anonymous, I see like all the other athie fundamentalists babbling aimless bigotry here themselves that you love to hand it out but you can't take it at all.

    Should I draw up the list of insults you've handed out thus far poor boy? The list is long.

    "Get out of the kitchen" maybe?

    You're very good at avoiding having to answer, poor at the quality of your questions and zero in honesty.

    ReplyDelete
  57. Pépé: I suggest you read Barry Commoner article...

    Pépé,

    Commoner's ramblings are not even wrong. Here is the editorial reaction of Nature Genetics (the leading journal in the field) to the very article you cited (your link doesn't work, by the way).

    Wag the dogma, Nature Genetics 30, 343 - 344 (2002)
    doi:10.1038/ng0402-343

    It's an empirical fact. Creationists like crackpots. Got any more?

    ReplyDelete
  58. Gary H.: There can only be 1 omnipotent.
    There can only be 1 omnipresent.
    Think that over, maybe you'll eventually figure out why.


    But we're told that there are three of them. Can't you, guys, get your story straight?

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  59. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  60. Oleg (what a surprise) said ...

    "Commoner's ramblings are not even wrong. Here is the editorial reaction of Nature Genetics ...

    Wag the dogma, Nature Genetics 30, 343 - 344 (2002) doi:10.1038/ng0402-343

    It's an empirical fact. Creationists like crackpots. Got any more?"


    Another "rebuttal" from Oleg based on a critical rant against Commoner's short piece. With precisely zero support offered in it.

    Hell, its not even a page long and the kid doesn't really say anything other than I deny it!!

    Hard to believe that some ignorant atheist can't see the difference between a real science based rebuttal and mere denial??

    Not at all.

    I'd even bet the "reviewer", like all the incredibly dishonest Darwiniac fundamentalists that have "reviewed" S. Meyers "Signature in the Cell", neither read it nor understood it.

    Oleg doesn't get the concept of the trinity either. I mean hey, it's only been around since day one.

    But, does any atheist get anything other than his own perpetual void argument? Unlikely indeed.

    ReplyDelete
  61. Gary H.: Another "rebuttal" from Oleg based on a critical rant against Commoner's short piece. With precisely zero support offered in it.

    It's not a rant, Gary. It's a short statement in the leading genetics journal putting Commoner's piece in perspective. On the one hand, we have an old guy with a chip on his shoulder (his theory of protein inheritance was run over by Watson and Crick in the 1950s). On the other, the editors of a prestigious scientific journal. If you want to bet on the crackpot, go ahead. It's a free country.

    ReplyDelete
  62. This thread is a magnet for crackpots. In addition to Berlinski and Commoner, we also have Meyer. Anyone wants to add more?

    ReplyDelete
  63. Gary,

    You're wrong when you state I have a third rate mind. You mean third rate brain because the mind is just a product of the brain.

    You're not familiar with the history of the religion you follow. The trinity hasn't been around since day one. It only developed in the second century and became the winning dogma.

    Other Christian sects had 1 god, 2 gods, 30 gods, ...

    There's a hypothesis that Islam started out as a Christian sect, in Palestine and Syria. Christian Arabs had been transplanted there by the Byzantines. The earliest Islamic text is an inscription on the Mosque on the rock in Jerusalem usually translated as 'There is but one god, and Mohammed is his messenger'. But Mohammed can also be translated as 'he who is to be praised', so the inscription should have read 'There is but one good, and his messenger (ie Jesus) is to be praised'. Muslims were one of the Christian sects that recognized just one god. And then 150 years later when a new dynasty of Arab rulers took over and moved the Arabs back to Arabia, they had their scriptures rewritten to justify their rule (similar to what King Josiah did in Judah).

    It's a far stretch to claim 'Signature in the Cell', therefore Jesus. Stephen Meyer claims that ID is the best explanation. Theories with explanatory power are useless. Lastthursdayism also explains everything too, if you assume that the entire Universe was created just last Thursday, with everyone having memories of events occurring before then.

    Meyer attempts to show that ID is a scientific theory by listing ways in which it could be tested, a list of 12 'predictions' in Appendix A, which are nonsensical, being either untestable (you'd need a time machine), part of science (the one about the function of the centriole, actually there are mutant flies without centrioles so they don't seem that important) or inconsequential (eg, design is perfect, unless it's due to the Fall, in which design is imperfect).

    You forgot omniscient and omnibenevolent in your list of the godly qualities. A god that's everywhere and capable of doing anything, but doesn't actually give any evidence of actually being here isn't my idea of a god, particularly since both Abraham and Moses (both fictional characters) were supposed to have seen him, Abraham actually having a meal with him.

    ReplyDelete
  64. @ oleg
    ...(your link doesn't work, by the way).

    Yes it does! You should use a better browser.

    Creationists...

    I take it as a compliment that you call me a Creationist.

    Got any more?

    The living cell is the most complex creation in the entire universe. Science does not yet understand more than 1% of that complexity, because the science establishment dogmatically refuses to acknowledge design. Progress will really take off once Darwinism is dead, circa 2020.

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  65. @bach:

    [Theories with[out] explanatory power are useless.]

    Survivors survive.

    And your 'theories' about the origins of Christianity and Islam are funny.

    The Trinity is subtly in the OT: "We will create man in Our image", the fact that when God visited Abraham before Sodom and Gomorrah he came as three men.

    The NT directly invokes the Trinity-- Jesus constant references to His Father ("my Father and I are One") and his invocation of the Holy Spirit.

    Matthew ends with "In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit".

    The notion that Islam may in part be a Christian heresy is very old, and may carry some glimmer of truth. The operative word is heresy, not Christian.

    Keep up the amateur theology, though. It's pretty funny.

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  66. Michael,

    'We will create man in our image' appears in Genesis because Judaism started as a polytheistic religion.

    The trinity appears in the new testament because the winning dogma with the trinity got to chose the gospels. The disciples Matthew and John didn't write the gospels of Matthew and John. Paul's companion Luke didn't write Luke and Acts. Peter's secretary Mark didn't write Mark. Paul didn't write half of his letters, and some of his genuine one's had later additions.

    Christian heretical sects were just the one's that didn't survive, such as the Gnostic one's.

    Abraham was voted by Jehovah and two angels, not Jehovah, Jesus and the holy ghost.

    Matthew is unreliable. A solar eclipse, earthquake and raising up and many dead saints in Jerusalem were reported at the time of Jesus ' death, reported nowhere else, particularly not in contemporary non-gospel sources.

    My knowledge of the history of Christianity is better than yours.

    You really are simpleminded. 'Survivors survive' is the most idiotic summary of differential survival and reproduction. ID doesn't even have a coherent theory.

    ReplyDelete
  67. Excuse the spell check typos...

    It should read:

    Abraham was visited by Jehovah and two angels ...

    And

    ... raising up of many dead saints ...

    ReplyDelete
  68. @bach:

    You imbibe Higher Criticism and are a real sucker for liberal interpretation.

    The authorship of all 4 gospels is very well attested, both by ancient sources and by source criticism. The Griesbach (Two Gospel) hypothesis is by far the best explanation of the 4 gospels that we have, and it confirms the traditional authorship. It is in agreement with Papias's early recounting, and with the very early reporting that Luke was written by Paul's Luke as a gospel for gentiles.

    You prefer to invoke an imaginary document ("Q") than accept the evidence of early witnesses.

    That's because you have an agenda, and a hatred.

    ReplyDelete
  69. Michael,

    Did I mention the Quelle source?

    None of the gospels mention an author in the text. The names of the authors were ascribed later, as a guess. The gospels are also contradictory. Read the gospels side by side and see if the accounts are the same. Matthew and Luke have different accounts of how jesus came to be born in Bethleham and came to live in Nazareth. Luke has a fictional empire wide census requiring everyone to go back to the home of their far distant ancestors. Matthew has Herod committing a killing of all males under the age of 2 in response to the Magi telling him that a future ruler had been born in Bethleham. Josephus didn't mention this atrocity in his 'History' despite mentioning other atrocities of Herod.

    The accounts of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus differ amongst all the gospels. Go and reread them and see for yourself.

    Eusebius called Papias 'a man of small mental capacity'.

    I hadn't heard of the Griesbach hypothesis before. It's interesting, but I think unlikely. It posits Matthew being written first in Hebrew (it has the same problem as the Q source in that there's no extant copy in Hebrew) and also appears to have been written in Greek because it has the Greek mistranslation of young woman in Isaiah as virgin.

    It's also odd that Paul would have had Luke rewrite Matthew for the Gentiles and change so many of the details (Paul and Luke didn't know Jesus, so Luke's account according to this hypothesis has to have been based on a Hebrew Matthew). It's also odd that Mark writing down Peter's confirmation of Matthew wrote such a short text, leaving out much of the stories and abruptly ending with the empty tomb, to be completed later by scribes adding other text.

    I subscribe to the view that there was an oral tradition for 30 years, then Mark was written, followed by Luke and Matthew independently of each other, followed by John towards the end of the first century. In addition to a number of other gospels ascribed to such authors as Peter and Thomas, which were rejected from the canon.

    I have an agenda. I'm fascinated by the history of the early church. You have an agenda too. You want the gospels to have been written by the people they were ascribed to to confirm your beliefs. You still haven't explained why Matthew if he wrote it first in Jerusalem in Hebrew included a solar eclipse and an earthquake at the time of Jesus' death with the tombs of saints being opened up and the resurrected saints appearing to many in Jerusalem, despite such remarkable events not being recorded in any contemporary historical account.

    There is a forgery from several centuries later, the gospel and acts of Pontius Pilate, which has the earthquake felt in Rome and the emperor summoning Pilate to Rome where he's put on trial and executed, before he goes back to Jerusalem to live for another 10 years.

    The accounts certainly don't seem figurative, they didn't to the early Christians and you wouldn't be putting fictional events in a supposed history. If Matthew was first, then the other gospels should have followed its account. They don't.

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  70. @bach:

    [Did I mention the Quelle source?]

    The two source hypothesis depends on it, essentially. You didn't know about the two gospel hypothesis, so it was a reasonable assumption of mine.

    [None of the gospels mention an author in the text. The names of the authors were ascribed later, as a guess.

    The ascriptions were relatively early, by the 2nd century, when people who had known the apostles (or a generation later) were still alive. Their views count heavily, much more than the views of atheists or functional atheists 2000 years later.

    [The gospels are also contradictory. Read the gospels side by side and see if the accounts are the same. Matthew and Luke have different accounts of how jesus came to be born in Bethleham and came to live in Nazareth...]

    Differences in accounts strengthen their credibility, rather than diminish it. Differences in accounts of historic events are the rule: look at all of the differences in accounts of witnesses to the assassination of JFK. Some heard 3 shots, some 2, some 4. Some say JFK spoke after he was hit by the first shot, some said not. The accounts are wildly varying, with shooters in the Depository, on the Grassy Knoll, on the triple underpass.

    This is because people in extraordinary circumstances have difficulty with precise memory. The assassination lasted 6 seconds.

    Jesus' public life lasted 3 years, probably. He performed miracles, taught profound lessons, died, was resurrected, and ascended. There are and would be significant differences in the memories of people witnessing these astonishing events.

    If there weren't differences, that would be suspicious, because it would suggest that there was a conspiracy or myth-making going on. Liars get together to concoct a story. Witnesses to astonishing events tell what they think they saw, and it is usually not entirely consistent with other witnesses.

    [The accounts of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus differ amongst all the gospels. Go and reread them and see for yourself.]

    I know the accounts very well. They strongly indicate a real event, with astonished people doing the best they can to describe something no person had ever witnessed or expected. NT Wright has a superb book (Resurrection of the Son of God) in which he makes a very powerful argument that there is a substantial core of truth to the resurrection accounts simply using the principles of historical research.

    [Eusebius called Papias 'a man of small mental capacity'.]

    Eusebius lived 200 years after Papias. If you trust Eusebius' account of Papias' intellect two centuries later, why don't you trust Papias' account of gospel authorship one century later?

    [I hadn't heard of the Griesbach hypothesis before. It's interesting, but I think unlikely.]

    It's hard for you to present yourself as a serious student of the NT if you hadn't heard of the Griesbach hypothesis.

    [It posits Matthew being written first in Hebrew (it has the same problem as the Q source in that there's no extant copy in Hebrew)]

    Based on internal evidence and strong early witnesses.

    [and also appears to have been written in Greek because it has the Greek mistranslation of young woman in Isaiah as virgin.]

    The underlying structure of Matthew fits nicely with Aramaic, and the greek mistranslation of almah as parthenos is from the Septuagint, which was widely used in the first century, even among Aramaic-speaking Jews.

    (continued)

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  71. (continued)


    [It's also odd that Paul would have had Luke rewrite Matthew for the Gentiles and change so many of the details (Paul and Luke didn't know Jesus, so Luke's account according to this hypothesis has to have been based on a Hebrew Matthew). It's also odd that Mark writing down Peter's confirmation of Matthew wrote such a short text, leaving out much of the stories and abruptly ending with the empty tomb, to be completed later by scribes adding other text.]

    The ending of Mark is a mystery, for which there are many hypotheses. The variety of endings speaks to the veracity of the text-- people inventing a story out of whole cloth would have made sure to be consistent and complete.

    [I subscribe to the view that there was an oral tradition for 30 years, then Mark was written, followed by Luke and Matthew independently of each other, followed by John towards the end of the first century.]

    There are very good reasons to date major parts of John in the 40's, before the fall of Jerusalem in 70. There is an intimate knowledge of Judean geography and custom, and a complete lack of knowledge of the Roman suppression. In addition , John 5:2:

    "Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades."

    The pool didn't exist after 70, yet John wrote of it in the present tense, implicitly challenging readers to go see it for themselves. When John wrote, it hadn't yet been destroyed.

    John A.T. Robinson, a liberal biblical scholar, has dated the core of John to the 40's

    Luke's Acts was obviously written before Paul's death (ca 64) and the fall of Jerusalem (68-70). That means that Luke's gospel was written even earlier, and Luke's sources (Mark and Matthew) were written even earlier.

    The date of the autographs and the massive quantity of very early manuscripts is very well established, and is more impressive than any ancient documents. Many of the greek and roman secular texts that we have date from a thousand years or more after the autographs.

    The NT is unquestionably the best documented and sourced group of ancient texts that we have.

    (continued)

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  72. (continued)


    [In addition to a number of other gospels ascribed to such authors as Peter and Thomas, which were rejected from the canon.]

    They were, and are, obvious frauds.

    [I have an agenda. I'm fascinated by the history of the early church.]

    Odd. Maybe there's hope.

    [You have an agenda too. You want the gospels to have been written by the people they were ascribed to to confirm your beliefs.]

    I believe the Gospel is true, for many many reasons. I am quite satisfied with the evidence for the historical truth of the gospels. Much of modern higher criticism is ideologically-driven misrepresentations of scholarship.

    [You still haven't explained why Matthew if he wrote it first in Jerusalem in Hebrew included a solar eclipse and an earthquake at the time of Jesus' death with the tombs of saints being opened up and the resurrected saints appearing to many in Jerusalem, despite such remarkable events not being recorded in any contemporary historical account.]

    A forger wouldn't have written about so many things that could be checked so easily by his contemporaries.

    Secular records of earthquakes (Matthew) and massacres (Herod) etc from two thousand years ago are quite incomplete, to say the least. As archeological finds accumulate, the essential accuracy of the NT as a historical document is increasingly confirmed.

    [There is a forgery from several centuries later, the gospel and acts of Pontius Pilate, which has the earthquake felt in Rome and the emperor summoning Pilate to Rome where he's put on trial and executed, before he goes back to Jerusalem to live for another 10 years.]

    A forgery, as distinguished from the NT, which is not a forgery.

    [The accounts certainly don't seem figurative, they didn't to the early Christians and you wouldn't be putting fictional events in a supposed history. If Matthew was first, then the other gospels should have followed its account. They don't.]

    If it was a fraud, the accounts would have been reconciled. Real accounts (JFK assassination) diverge enormously, around a true event.

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  73. Dr. Egnor, I'm very pleased to see that you're very informed as to biblical sources, controversies and such as well as in philosophy and science.

    Contrary to your critics, who in general do not have a bloody clue on anything much.

    Where did you find time for it all?!

    Your critics are usually sciolists, deceiving and being deceived, like these ignorant atheist nincompoops posting here.

    They love to fool both themselves and the unwary ignorant.

    The great archaeologist, Nelson Glueck said, "It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a biblical reference."

    No other book in all of history has received so much vehement persecution, hatred, multiplied 1000's of attempts to destroy it both physically and evidentially.

    Yet, no other MSS is history is so well supported by so many experts in the fields of archaeology and history.

    No other book in history is so loved and so hated. Atheists seriously need to ask themselves why?

    "Here is my Creed. I believe in one God, the Creator of the Universe. That He governs it by His Providence. That He ought to be worshipped.

    That the most acceptable service we render to Him is in doing good to His other Children. That the soul of Man is immortal, and will be treated with Justice in another Life respecting its conduct in this. These I take to be the fundamental points in all sound Religion, and I regard them as you do in whatever Sect I meet with them.

    As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion, as he left them to us, is the best the World ever saw, or is likely to see."

    - Benjamin Franklin, Letter to Ezra Stiles, President of Yale University, March 9, 1790

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  74. Egnor: Differences in accounts strengthen their credibility, rather than diminish it. Differences in accounts of historic events are the rule: look at all of the differences in accounts of witnesses to the assassination of JFK. Some heard 3 shots, some 2, some 4...

    If there weren't differences, that would be suspicious, because it would suggest that there was a conspiracy or myth-making going on. Liars get together to concoct a story. Witnesses to astonishing events tell what they think they saw, and it is usually not entirely consistent with other witnesses...

    The variety of endings speaks to the veracity of the text-- people inventing a story out of whole cloth would have made sure to be consistent and complete...

    If it was a fraud, the accounts would have been reconciled.


    The less consistent the story, the more compelling it is. That's an interesting take.

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  75. Michael,

    What is the evidence that a Jew of the first century speaking Aramaic would have been familiar with the Greek translation of the OT?

    You have the hypothesis that the solar eclipse, the earthquake and the resurrection of the dead saints actually happened because you insist that Matthew was written contemporaneous. I assert that it was written 40 years later, in Greek, outside Palestine, and the author didn't expect it to be compared to what actually happened. I also didn't call it a forgery. I called it a Midas robed book. I said that it was written after a long period of stories being passed orally from person to person before being finally being written down by an unknown author, who didn't identify himself.

    You're being overly defensive in thinking that I called it a forgery. Why are you so sensitive?

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  76. I got to stop commenting using an iPad. It should have read 'I call it (Matthew) a misattributed book'. I still don't know how the spell check turned misattributed into Midas robed!

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  77. @oleg:

    [The less consistent the story, the more compelling it is. That's an interesting take.]

    The truth is in between. The police know this, when they interrogate witnesses/suspects separately.

    If the stories are exactly the same, down to the fine details, there is reason to think that the stories are concocted and memorized. Fake stories that are rehearsed are like myths- clean, utterly consistent, story-like with all of the messy stuff worked out.

    Obviously, complete lies can be inconsistent in major ways if the conspirators haven't gotten together to synchronize their stories.

    Witnesses to astonishing events tend to maintain a clear core of truth, but often misremember or misinterpret aspects of the event. Again, JFK's assassination is a good example.

    Interrogators are trained to suspect huge inconsistencies, as well as utter consistency, as signs of lying.

    Honest people telling a true story about a profound event tell a core of consistent truth with a penumbra of confusions.

    The Gospels have the hallmarks of true events told by honest (and fallible people).

    Gary Wills said it best (paraphrasing)-- 'The Christian story in the NT looks most like a bunch of ordinary people staggered from an astonishing event that they are trying to make sense of."

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  78. @bach:

    [You have the hypothesis that the solar eclipse, the earthquake and the resurrection of the dead saints actually happened because you insist that Matthew was written contemporaneous. I assert that it was written 40 years later, in Greek, outside Palestine,]

    I believe that the Griesbach hypothesis (also Farmer hypothesis http://www.maplenet.net/~trowbridge/farmer.htm, which is similar) is the best way to explain Gospel authorship and date. It eliminates the need for Q.

    Matthean priority has a long and ancient history. It was the view of all of the early church historians, from the 2nd to the 4th century. Origen, Papias, Irnaes, Eusebius, Epiphanius all attested to it, and it should be noted that 2nd century sources probably had contact with eyewitnesses of the apostles. Augustine asserted Matthean priority as well.

    The consistent project of higher criticism has been to remove the authorship and dates of the gospels further and further from Christ, with the obvious intent of diminishing their credibility.

    It is a shameful perversion of scholarship.

    I've never understood how a 'scholar' living 2000 years after an event can casually discard the testimony of people who lived within a couple of generations or less of an event.

    Only ideology explains it. Shameful.

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  79. Michael,

    The two gospel hypothesis ( and it's strange that it's a hypothesis, not a theory as in Darwin's well supported theory of descent with modification by means of natural selection ... Yeah, I know, red flag to a bull, I enjoy pulling your chain ...) postulates the earliest most reliable account (Matthew) was written by a disciple, an eyewitness in Hebrew for the Jews, and Luke took it and wrote one for the Gentiles, and changed the stories of the birth of Jesus and left out details of the crucifixion).

    Neither Luke nor Paul were eyewitnesses, so they weren't staggered by the events they were describing. Mark wasn't an eyewitness either, traditionally he was a secretary of Peter reporting what he heard Peter say.

    So by your version, Matthew and John were eyewitnesses and any difference is due to the differing perspectives of eyewitnesses. Luke and Mark are derived from Matthew and the authors edited the eyewitness account ... Is that your position? Just to rescue the idea that the trinity is true, whereas other early Christian sects had other theologies including god being single.

    I think my explanation that the 4 gospels were written independently in different places after decades of oral tradition of early Christians retelling the stories is more plausible.

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  80. @bach:

    Regarding the earthquake and the resurrection of the dead saints, could you quote me the sources from the latter half of the first century who disputed Matthew's observation.

    His gospel was undoubtedly very popular, and whether or not it was written in Jerusalem, there were countless people who read it who would have known about major events in Jerusalem at the time.

    Can you quote a source from that time that shares your view that Matthew lied about the earthquake?

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  81. @bach:

    The most reasonable understanding is the one that was asserted by virtually all of the ancients: Matthew and John were written by apostles who were eyewitnesses. Mark is essentially an eyewitness account, as it is Marks's notes on Peter's preaching. Luke was written as an account for gentiles, using eyewitness sources. All were composed before the fall of Jerusalem, although John 21 was probably added by a disciple of John's after his death.

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  82. @bach:

    [Neither Luke nor Paul were eyewitnesses, so they weren't staggered by the events they were describing.]

    Paul wasn't staggered? He was knocked to the ground and blinded, for goodness sake! His experience on the Damascus road is the paradigm for a radical transformation.

    Luke was a good historian, and Paul's faithful companion, who "having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you,"

    His account-- the infancy narratives and the prodigal son are prime examples-- is some of the most beautiful literature (and history) penned by man.

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  83. Michael,

    It's not that there are 1st century accounts disputing the solar eclipse, the earthquake and the plague of zombies. It's that there are no historical accounts of them happening. And there should have been, they were pretty dramatic events.

    Mark if he was reporting what Peter said wasn't an eyewitness.

    And literacy wasn't high in the first century, there would not have been countless people reading Matthew, which had to be copied by hand, who would have had the slightest idea what happened in Jerusalem years earlier, let alone what happened 10 miles away from their homes.

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  84. Michael,

    Paul had an epileptic fit. I agree that whoever wrote Luke and acts was writing literature.

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  85. @bach:

    [there are no historical accounts of them happening. And there should have been, they were pretty dramatic events... there would not have been countless people reading Matthew...who would have had the slightest idea what happened in Jerusalem years earlier, let alone what happened 10 miles away from their homes]

    One or the other, bach. Not both. Either we expect abundant records of events, or the rubes were clueless.

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  86. @bach:

    [Paul had an epileptic fit.]

    A little hard to diagnose after 2000 years. The video EEG is lost to history. Nice story, though.

    Also, a beautiful example of the genetic fallacy.

    [I agree that whoever wrote Luke and acts was writing literature.]

    Luke wrote about epileptics, and was a physician. He didn't notice that his mentor Paul was an epileptic. Odd.

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  87. Michael,

    The idea that Luke was the author of 'Luke' and 'Acts' is only a supposition based on the idea that the two books were written by the same author and 'Luke' is the most gentile orientated gospel of the 4. Of the Gentiles accompanying Paul, Luke would appear to fit the bill the best.

    But again, the author doesn't identify himself as Luke, and the supposition is only because the personal case thanges from 3rd person to 1st person in one section indicating a participant in the events.

    The supposition that Paul had epilepsy is unproven. The comment that the EEG has gone missing is ... Well, the nature of epilepsy until very recently was unknown, and most illnesses around that time were thought to have supernatural causes.

    The idea that Matthew was the first gospel and most accurate, based on eyewitness accounts, so everything described in it must have happened, otherwise other witnesses would have disputed it doesn't work.

    A Matthew written in Hebrew has the same problem as the hypothetical Q source. There's no copy of it existing.
    Christianity wasn't a runaway success early on, attracting mainly the disadvantaged.
    Literacy in 1st century Palestine was very low, less than 1% of the population. In the early Christians, it would have been less.
    Copies of a Hebrew Matthew would have to be laboriously written out by hand, so the number of copies would have been very small, and the very small number of Christian converts who would have had access to a copy would have been very low.
    So, the number of early Christians who were in Jerusalem at the time and in a position to know what happened, literate, had access to a Hebrew Matthew and read it, to know whether it was accurate or not would have been extremely low.
    So if there was a Hebrew Matthew and it was inaccurate, what would a disappointed literate early Christian convert do? Write a refutation? Being able to read doesn't mean a person was also able to write too. We teach both reading and writing, but they are different skills. A written refutation would have to be preserved and copied multiple times over the years to reach us though.
    Or would the disappointed convert just drop out of the religion?

    A Hebrew Matthew, if it existed, would only have been circulated in Christian cycles, and wouldn't be seen by historians.

    I think the the usual account that all the gospels were written decades after the events is correct.

    Why would the early Christians be writing accounts early on? John the Baptist, Jesus and Paul were all predicting that the end of days was going to happen very soon. To the early Christians, the urgency was to get the word out quickly, by word of mouth. The early Christians would have been telling each other stories and adding explanation to put everything into context. And then decades later, people decided that they'd better write down what they remembered of the stories, which inevitably had errors, exaggerations, elements from other stories ... And the gospels differ in their details.

    Ist century Roman empire didn't have mass media or the Internet. The common people would have had a reasonable idea what was happening in their vicinity, but little idea about events 10 miles away. Without records, they would have had very little idea what happened 30 years ago and far away.

    Quick, what happened in Vietnam in January 1968. Unless you're literate, with access to the records and thinking about it, if you were in the 1st century you'd have absolutely no idea about remote events, in time and space.

    And the dramatic events in Matthew should have been recorded in the secular accounts of the time, let alone in the other gospels. They aren't of the same nature as the question whether there were 2, 3 or 4 shots at the assassination of JFK.

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  88. @bach:

    [The idea that Luke was the author of 'Luke' and 'Acts' is only a supposition based on the idea that the two books were written by the same author...]

    There are many early sources that attribute it to Luke, Paul's companion. There have been no other attributions that I know of. Why do you doubt all of the evidence? It's like asserting that Julius Caesar didn't write Gallic Wars. Why deny the obvious, unless your goal is to cast doubt on the NT indiscriminately?

    [The supposition that Paul had epilepsy is unproven.]

    Enough said.

    All of your fact-free speculation about the first century and gospel authorship is pointless, unless your purpose is to trash the NT.

    Any sane opinion agrees with the traditional authorships, and the two gospel hypothesis explains most things quite well, and it attested by a number of very early sources.

    Why fight the obvious?

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  89. Michael,

    'Why fight the obvious?'

    Because it isn't obvious? Because there are better explanation? Because the two gospel hypothesis doesn't work? Because it's only a hypothesis, not with the strong evidentiary support of a theory, as in Darwin's theory of descent with modification? Because the victors in a war of dogma get to write the history and preserve he accepted dogma by repeated copying through the years, writing over other texts to produce palimpses? Because it isn't sane to accept the word of 'authority' without question, let alone one's you can't vouch for? If the chairman of your department comes up with a new neurosurgical procedure, you wouldn't accept until you've examined it carefully.

    You aren't very critical in certain areas, as in Thomistic dualism, but overly critical in others, as in evolutionary biology. You need to get a consistent degree of questioning and be prepared to doubt or at least question everything.

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  90. @bach:

    [Because it's only a hypothesis, not with the strong evidentiary support of a theory, as in Darwin's theory of descent with modification?]

    Authorship of a 2000 year old document is is a different kind of question than a scientific theory. The traditional view of gospel authorship and dating fits the evidence nicely, and I see no reason to question it. I think that many of the questions raised about it are ideologically driven-- to reduce the credibility of the record.

    As regards Darwin's theory, I have no quarrel with descent with modification. The theory of common descent is obviously a real non-trivial theory, quite possibly true, although I think that the evidence supporting it is exaggerated by Darwinists. Modification obviously happens, and speciation (although rarely observed) is also a reasonable hypothesis. I don't hold to a theory of separate creation, although that is one plausible interpretation of the fossil record.

    As I've noted repeatedly, I believe that natural selection is tautological, or at best banal, depending on how its stated. Nothing in evolutionary data supports atheism or materialism.

    [You aren't very critical in certain areas, as in Thomistic dualism,]

    Thomistic dualism, like all theories of the mind, has its problems, but I believe that it is the best solution yet proposed. Much of its strength is the incredible weakness of the competing theories- materialist and Cartesian dualist.

    [You need to get a consistent degree of questioning and be prepared to doubt or at least question everything]

    I think that I am rather skeptical of quite a few things-- a lot of people are rather upset with me because of my skepticism about atheism and Darwinism. I used to be quite skeptical of Christianity, but I have come to believe that it is the truth.

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  91. Michael,

    Well, the bible isn't one document, it's a collection of books, the authorship of which is unknown, copied many times down the years, translated may times, had bits added here and there, like the ending of Mark and the story in John about the adulteress and 'he who is without sin ...'. Your assertion that the gospels were written by the people said to have written them is on very shaky grounds based on wishful thinking.

    Evolutionary biology is much better supported, I'd say with almost 100% certainty, because the evidence comes from multiple disciplines, such as genetics, geographical distribution of species etc.

    Claiming that your version of how the bible originated is the true one is nonsensical because the proponents of the winning dogma preserved the accepted gospels and also the commentary on the history too. The losers in the dogma wars, the 'heretics', didn't get to preserve their gospels and to have their arguments preserved. What we know about the heretics we know only from the criticism of their enemies.

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  92. bachfiend

    You are one royal bore.
    Your nonsense driven dogma is pathetic.

    You pick up all the atheist tripe possible concerning the bible, from your fave web sites no doubt.

    Whats the real reason for atheism and denial of reality?

    I'd bet good money that it all comes down to your chief sins and why you seek to sear your own conscience and rid yourself of every thought of accountability.

    Like the great majority of atheists.
    Science and reason have absolutely nothing to do with it. Atheists have neither on their side.

    "Hell and destruction are insatiable"
    Remember that before you die.

    "For the anger of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because the thing which may be known of God is clearly revealed within them, for God revealed 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.

    Because, knowing God, they did not glorify Him as God, neither were thankful. But they became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
    Bragging of being wise, they became morons ...

    For this cause, God gave them up to the filthy lusts of their heart, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves."

    Great description of the average atheist and his end.

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  93. Gary,

    I actually get my theology from Bart Ehrman's, professor of new testament studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, plus other books, such as 'the Case for God', by Karen Armstrong.

    And I don't expect to roast in hell, because there's no such place and also because I've never felt the slightest urge to live what the religious would call an immoral life, besides denying the existence of a god of course.

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  94. bachfiend said...

    " I actually get my theology from Bart Ehrman's..."

    Ah, what a surprise, again. The skeptics among textual critics.

    "Lower criticism" is generally little better than higher criticism and many of your "teacher's" erroneous views fall to pieces under scrutiny.

    "Unfortunately, as careful a scholar as Ehrman is, his treatment of major theological changes in the text of the New Testament tends to fall under one of two criticisms: Either his textual decisions are wrong, or his interpretation is wrong."
    - Dan Wallace

    Textual criticism is as laden with problems as any other form.

    " And I don't expect to roast in hell, because there's no such place"

    Right. You can tell yourself all about it when you get there.

    "and also because I've never felt the slightest urge to live what the religious would call an immoral life, besides denying the existence of a god of course."

    Right, again. I believe you. ;-)

    Deniers of God's existence have no more brain than deniers of the holocaust.

    In short, the pattern is clear;
    You seek out the books, data and opinions you need to reinforce your false sense of security in atheism.

    ReplyDelete
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