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1/29/09

The First Commandment of Thermodynamics

At least, some treat the First Law of Thermodynamics as a sort of commandment which they seek to employ in a self-serving manner. Such was the case with Brian Sapient of the Rational Response Squad (during his, and Kelly’s, debate with Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron).
To read/Or not to read

Two quick things to point out: he made the slight misstatement of referring to the Law as being the Third rather than First. Also, some mistakenly claim that he argued that the universe is eternal but he did not. Rather, he argued that eternal uncaused energy/matter brought our universe into being. Thus, according to his argument our universe is finite but energy/matter is infinite.

Here is the crux of his statements in this regard:
“Science has a law, it's called the third law of thermodynamics; which shows us, and it's one of the most tested laws in science, that matter or energy can neither be created nor destroyed. That we always have the same amount of matter and energy.

We could blow up this building, and while it would look completely different, there would be the exact same amount of matter and energy in the universe.

That tells us scientifically, if we were to use a more scientific approach, that the components of our world today, our universe, have always existed.

And we have real science to lend credence to that.”[1]

The erudite and elucidating retort by Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron was basically to hit the floor fetal position and such their thumbs.

Yet, the crucial non sequitur here seems to be that the First Law is relevant to the universe in which it functions. As obvious as this seems, it does appear as if this is what is being overlooked: “we always have the same amount of matter and energy.” Who is “we”? It is us, here, this, universe.

Thus, the disconnect, the non sequitur, is to conclude that “the components of our world today, our universe, have always existed.” This is sort of like sealing a box and stating that nothing can go into the box and nothing can come out. Yes, but this is within the box. Let us think outside of the box.

We know that within the universe energy/matter is neither created nor destroyed but only changed. We are dealing with conservation of energy within a system. We have real science to lend credence to this but not to the assertion that energy/matter is the uncaused eternal first cause.

The fact that the universe is not eternal leads us to the rational conclusion that energy/matter came into being at the moment of the universe’s inception (along with space/time). Furthermore, it is reasonable to conclude that whatever existed “before” that, whatever brought the universe into being, was without matter, or immaterial, or spirit (and timeless, or eternal and space-less or without spatial restrictions).[2] Thus, we have real science that supports the conclusion that energy/matter came into existence at a finite point having not existed previously.

Therefore, real science does not demand that energy/matter cannot be created or destroyed any“where” any“time” but only within our universe, within the box in which the Law functions.


The Bible predicted the First Law of Thermodynamics:
Genesis 1:1
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”

“beginning” = time.

“heavens” = space.

“earth” = matter.

“In the beginning” = the finite creation of the universe.

“God” = a preexistent time-less, space-less, matter-less being or; eternal, not confined to locality nor subject to natural laws, immaterial or spirit.

“created” = brought into being, infused with energy/matter, designed.

Genesis 2:1-3

“Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”

Thus, the Bible stated that energy/matter were brought into being, placed within the box (the universe) and that no more energy/matter is being created.

[1] These statements were made during a debate series between Brian Sapient and Kelly (Rational Response Squad) vs. Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort (Way of the Master) which aired on ABC Nightline.
[2] Note that in energy/matter we are dealing not with potency but with the within the box interactions of energy/matter.

Continue reading The First Commandment of Thermodynamics...

1/27/09

Scientific Cenobites, part 3 of 9

This is part three of a nine part essay which merely seeks to present what scientists have to say about science and scientists.
Atheism and science

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9

With regards to the Archaeoraptor liaoningensis Sloan fraud Dr. Storrs L. Olson (Curator of Birds, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC) made some important comments about the disparity between the happenings within the science community as opposed to those occurring on the popular, or journalistic, level. He wrote an open letter to Dr. Peter Raven (Committee for Research and Exploration, National Geographic Society) in which he stated, in part:

“Prior to the publication of the article ‘Dinosaurs Take Wing’ in the July 1998 National Geographic, Lou Mazzatenta, the photographer for Sloan’s article, invited me to the National Geographic Society to review his photographs of Chinese fossils and to comment on the slant being given to the story. At that time, I tried to interject the fact that strongly supported alternative viewpoints existed to what National Geographic intended to present, but it eventually became clear to me that National Geographic was not interested in anything other than the prevailing dogma that birds evolved from dinosaurs…

More importantly, however, none of the structures illustrated in Sloan’s article that are claimed to be feathers have actually been proven to be feathers. Saying that they are is little more than wishful thinking that has been presented as fact. The statement on page 103 that ‘hollow, hairlike structures characterize protofeathers’ is nonsense considering that protofeathers exist only as a theoretical construct, so that the internal structure of one is even more hypothetical.
Atheism and science
The hype about feathered dinosaurs in the exhibit currently on display at the National Geographic Society is even worse, and makes the spurious claim that there is strong evidence that a wide variety of carnivorous dinosaurs had feathers. A model of the undisputed dinosaur Deinonychus and illustrations of baby tyrannosaurs are shown clad in feathers, all of which is simply imaginary and has no place outside of science fiction.

The idea of feathered dinosaurs and the theropod origin of birds is being actively promulgated by a cadre of zealous scientists acting in concert with certain editors at Nature and National Geographic who themselves have become outspoken and highly biased proselytizers of the faith. Truth and careful scientific weighing of evidence have been among the first casualties in their program, which is now fast becoming one of the grander scientific hoaxes of our age—the paleontological equivalent of cold fusion. If Sloan’s article is not the crescendo of this fantasia, it is difficult to imagine to what heights it can next be taken. But it is certain that when the folly has run its course and has been fully exposed, National Geographic will unfortunately play a prominent but unenviable role in the book that summarizes the whole sorry episode.”

Dr. Olson made reference in his letter to “Mr. Czerkas” who is the director of the The Dinosaur Museum in Blanding, Utah. This museum boasts that they have the only Archaeoraptor model on display for public viewing anywhere in the world. Surely, they are as most museums are not fond of putting sci-fi models of jury-rigged fossil frauds on display.
Atheism and science
Lewis Simons, who eventually reported on the Archaeoraptor fraud for National Geographic, came to the following conclusion:

“a tale of misguided secrecy and misplaced confidence, of rampant egos clashing, self-aggrandizement, wishful thinking, naïve assumptions, human error, stubbornness, manipulation, backbiting, lying, corruption, and most of all, abysmal communication.”[i]

In apparent exasperation as to the continuing and instant claims of missing-link-dino-birds Larry Martin (University of Kansas biologist) wrote, “You have to put this in perspective. To people who wrote the paper, the chicken would be a feathered dinosaur.” [Ji Qiang’s paper in Nature about Caudipteryx zoui. Martin was quoted in Kenneth Chang’s article, “A Feathered Dinosaur”]

As for Gigantoraptor, just as a pig’s tooth was illustrated as Nebraska Man (and his life partner) Gigantoraptor, which is an actual fossil, was imaginatively illustrated in models and paintings:

“Gigantoraptor had long arms, bird-like legs, a toothless jaw, and probably a beak. There are no clear signs as to whether it was feathered. However, judging from its close affinity to other dinosaurs known to have been feathered, Xing Xu of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing speculates that it was.”[ii]

It probably had a beak and who knows about the feathers yet, the illustrations fill in the gaps in our knowledge:


Atheism and science

[i] Lewis M. Simons, “Archaeoraptor Fossil Trail,” National Geographic, 198[4]:128-132, October
[ii] David Cyranoski, “Giant bird-like dinosaur found - Chinese researchers unearth a surprising find,” Nature News, June 13, 2007 republished by BioEd Online – Biology Teacher Resources from Baylor College of Medicine



Continue reading Scientific Cenobites, part 3 of 9...

1/26/09

Richard Dawkins, Albert Einstein, God and Atheism

Author Richard Dooling wrote, “Dawkins can't declare Einstein's God somehow not God and thereby free himself from calling the greatest physicist of the twentieth century deluded for believing in him.”[1]
To read/Or not to read


Indeed, for all of Albert Einstein’s references to God Prof. Richard Dawkins still refers to him as an “atheistic scientist.” Since Prof. Richard Dawkins cannot tolerate the thought of a brilliant scientists who believes in God he claims that Einstein’s God was metaphoric and thus referred to an “Einsteinian religion” which is distinct from “supernatural religion.”[2]

While Einstein did not seem to believe in the personal monotheistic God of his fellow Jews he was certainly no atheist:

“I'm not an atheist. I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God.”[3]



“God doesn’t play dice with the universe”
—Albert Einstein


“God plays Scrabble!”
—Philip Gold


[1] Jeremy Lott, God, AI, and the rapture of the geeks. Dooling also “calls Richard Dawkins's bestselling book The God Delusion ‘a collection of arguments that most liberal-arts students encounter before their junior year’ and are bored of by graduation.”
[2] Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (Boston & New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2006), p. 11
[3] “What Life Means to Einstein: An Interview by George Sylvester Viereck,” The Saturday Evening Post, Oct. 26, 1929<\span>


Continue reading Richard Dawkins, Albert Einstein, God and Atheism...

1/25/09

The Quadripartite Equine Riders, part 5 of 11

This is part five of an eleven part essay in which is a review of a conversation that took place between Prof. Richard Dawkins, Prof. Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens.

Part 1: Introduction
Part 2:
Strident, Arrogant, Vitriolic, and or Shrill?
Part 3:
Amazing Perplexity and Anonymous Confession of an Atheist Clergyman
Part 4:
Tri-Theism? Nice Try
Part 5:
Faith, Evidence and Doubting Thomas and It’s Absolutely Relative
Part 6:
On Scientific Authoritarian Faith
Part 7:
Cosmology and the Pathetic Bible
Part 8:
On Cosmology, Theology and Eternal Regress
Part 9:
Dennett the Mesmerist and Atheism is Humbler and Holier Than Thou
Part 10:
The Universe is All About Me
Part 11:
On Jihad and Abortion

Faith, Evidence and Doubting Thomas
Sam Harris stated,
“…this idea that you start with a premise that belief without evidence is especially noble, I mean, this is the doctrine of faith, this is the parable of doubting Thomas…”

I found it fascinating that he correlates “belief without evidence” with doubting Thomas since that “parable” makes precisely the opposite point. But I will divert your attention to my essay responding to Prof. Richard Dawkins’ claim that the apostle Thomas should be the patron saint of scientists since I have corrected this notion there—for now, note that not one of the apostles took Jesus resurrection on “faith.” This is merely indicative of Prof. Richard Dawkins’ lack of knowledge with regards to that which he seeks to discredit.

It’s Absolutely Relative
Sam Harris stated:
“And I think we make a very strong case when we point that out, and point out also that whatever people are experiencing, in church or in prayer, no matter how positive, the fact that Buddhists and Hindus and Muslims and Christians are all experiencing it, proves that it can’t be matter of the divinity of Jesus, or the unique sanctity of the Koran.”

According to various theologies this actually proves no such thing. For instance, according to the theologies of various religions there are many paths to God even though specific religions may not believe so. This would not even prove that it cannot be the divinity of Jesus, or the unique sanctity of the Koran (Qur'an), since God would be reaching people thorough various means.
Even according to Christian theology there is no reason to deny that religious people of various theologies, or atheologies, have “mystical,” or “spiritual” experiences. The God of the Bible may be using their contemporary beliefs in order to eventually draw them to the true theology. God may have been giving them over to their own passions if they are so free-willingly following their own way (Romans 1:26).

Ex-atheist C. S. Lewis wrote:
“If you are a Christian you do not have to believe that all the other religions are simply wrong all through. If you are an atheist you have to believe that the main point in all the religions of the whole world is simply one huge mistake. If you are a Christian, you are free to think that all these religions, even the queerest ones, contain at least some hint of the truth. When I was an atheist I had to try to persuade myself that most of the human race have always been wrong about the question that mattered to them most; when I became a Christian I was able to take a more liberal view.”[1]

[1] C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: The MacMillan Company, 1960), p. 29

Continue reading The Quadripartite Equine Riders, part 5 of 11...

1/23/09

Altruism or Allfalseism

Professor Richard Dawkins’ attempted explanations of altruism are no less than fascinating and his conclusion is well, all-false-ism. Firstly, he assures us that only now, conveniently within his lifetime and only amongst his own privileged class of scientific cenobites is the truth of the matter understood:
To read/Or not to read



“It is important not to mis-state the reach of natural selection. Selection does not favour the evolution of a cognitive awareness of what is good for your genes. That awareness had to wait for the twentieth century to reach a cognitive level, and even now full understanding is confined to a minority of scientific specialists.”[1]

Elsewhere, we have pointed out that when Prof. Richard Dawkins was asked to provide his “most persuasive” case for Darwinian evolution he made reference to his faith in natural selection.Prof. Richard Dawkins decides to explain altruism by comparing human beings whose brains can compute 20 million billion calculations per second to birdbrains—quite literally, bird’s brains:

“What natural selection favours is rules of thumb…Rules of thumb, by their nature, sometimes misfire. In a bird’s brain, the rule ‘Look after small squawking things in your nest, and drop food into their red gapes’ typically has the effect of preserving the genes that built the rule, because the squawking, gaping objects in an adult bird’s nest are normally its own offspring. The rule misfires if another baby bird somehow gets into the nest, a circumstance that is positively engineered by cuckoos.”[2]



Now he reaches his conclusion regarding the urges toward altruism:
“Could it be that our Good Samaritan urges are misfirings, analogous to the misfiring of a reed warbler’s parental instincts when it works itself to the bone for a young cuckoo? An even closer analogy is the human urge to adopt a child.” [3]

At this point Prof. Richard Dawkins appears to have a moment of clarity that is sadly all too quickly dulled again by his commitment to his absolutely materialistic worldview. He has obviously come to a conclusion that is subhuman or inhuman, a conclusion that speaks volumes about the worldview that he has made a career of preaching. According to his worldview, adopting a child or any form of altruism is merely gene or brain damage. Thus, he rushes in with a qualifier that is meant to soften the shocking blow of his amoral conclusion:
“I must rush to add that ‘misfiring’ is intended only in a strictly Darwinian sense. It carries no suggestion of the pejorative. The ‘mistake’ or ‘by-product’ idea, which I am espousing, works like this. Natural selection…programmed into our brains altruistic urges, alongside sexual urges, hunger urges, xenophobic urges and so on.” [4]

Basically, he believes that in the past when “we lived in small and stable bands like baboons” [5] altruism was performed “towards close kin and potential reciprocators.” Natural selection branded this urge into our genes so that by now when we act in an altruistic manner it is counter Darwinian.
Prof. Richard Dawkins is so eager to rescue his conclusion from the arid wasteland of his materialistic worldview that he offers a doxology to natural selection that is just short of a halleluyah chorus as he refers to “misfirings, Darwinian mistakes: blessed, precious mistakes.”[6] In fact, according to the Dawkinsian worldview not only is altruism a mistake but we are accidents. Not just we humans but you as an individual, “We are very lucky accidents or at least each one of us is—if we hadn’t been here, someone else would have been.”[7] But he does not stop there. No, he is so keenly aware of the logical conclusion to which he is leading us that he actually requests that his readers cease thinking and allow him to massage and reshape the heartless inhuman conclusion,
“Do not, for one moment, think of such Darwinizing as demeaning or reductive of the noble emotions of compassion and generosity.”[8]

This is because such misfiring mistakes, blessed as they may be, have produced, in the guise of sexual desire, “great poetry and drama: John Donne’s love poems, say, or Romeo and Juliet.”[9] He discusses sexual desire because while, as he claims, the only Darwinian reason for sex is procreation[10], a couple may still feel desire for each other even though they know that they are infertile. Thus, that misfiring mistake is still beneficial at least because it produces things that Prof. Richard Dawkins considers aesthetically pleasing.

“Mercy to a debtor,” he continues, “is, when seen out of context, as un-Darwinian as adopting someone else’s child…much of it [sexual lust] constitutes a misfiring. There is no reason why the same should not be true of the lust to be generous and compassionate, if this is the misfired consequence of ancestral village life.”[11]


The bottom line is that the Darwinian/Dawkinsian worldview is pure selfishness: everything that any organism does is done for the benefit of the self (Prof. Richard Dawkins is, after all, the conceiver of “the selfish gene”). This includes human beings and includes altruism in the form of mercy, adoption, etc.Therefore, altruism in its many forms must be, can only be, explained by “blessed, precious mistakes.” Yet, and furthermore, these mistakes are not “Calvinistically deterministic” but are filtered though relative/situational ethics (or, as a cleaver chap would state it—the moral zeitgeist). Prof. Richard Dawkins describes this as the “civilizing influences of literature and custom, law and tradition - and, of course, religion.”[12] Simply stated, when evidence is lacking Prof. Richard Dawkins calls upon the mighty powers of the supernatural realm of his worldview: not “God did it” but “Natural selection did it.” How? Why? When? What?
These are fascinating questions and very advantageous for Prof. Richard Dawkins who has built his career answering them. But note very, very carefully that what is meant by “answering them.” Prof. Richard Dawkins sings the praises of Darwinianism since, according to him, they allow one to be an intellectually satisfied atheist.But what this means is that Prof. Richard Dawkins can, in the guise of scientific respectability, invent stories that fill the gaps in our knowledge. His a priori adherence to his absolutely materialistic Darwinian worldview is the basis from which he weaves tall tales. These are woven together with just enough of what one can see through a microscope our out in nature to seem as if pure speculation equals empirical science. Here is one such example “The story as I have told it…may not actually be the right one. But something a bit like it surely did happen.”[13] It is simply fascinating to encounter an argument that produces such a subhuman and irrational conclusion. Such that the arguer has to backtrack and ask you to stop thinking that the logical conclusion of the argument is accurate.

[1] Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (Boston & New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2006), p. 220
[2] Ibid., p. 220
[3] Ibid., pp. 220-221
[4] Ibid., p. 221
[5] Ibid., p. 220
[6] Ibid., p. 221
[7] Sheena McDonald’s, Interview with Richard Dawkins (1994 U.K. Channel 4)
[8] Dawkins, The God Delusion, p. 221
[9] Ibid., p. 221
[10] Ibid., p. 221
[11] Ibid., pp. 221-222
[12] Ibid., p. 222
[13] Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden – A Darwinian View of Life (New York, NY: Basic Books, 1995), p. 91


Continue reading Altruism or Allfalseism...

1/22/09

The Apostle Thomas : Patron Saint of Scientists?

In his article Is Science a Religion?, Professor Richard Dawkins wrote:

To read/Or not to read


“Well, science is not religion and it doesn’t just come down to faith. Although it has many of religion’s virtues, it has none of its vices. Science is based upon verifiable evidence. Religious faith not only lacks evidence, its independence from evidence is its pride and joy, shouted from the rooftops. Why else would Christians wax critical of doubting Thomas? The other apostles are held up to us as exemplars of virtue because faith was enough for them. Doubting Thomas, on the other hand, required evidence. Perhaps he should be the patron saint of scientists.”

Elsewhere, we have pointed out that when asked to present the “most persuasive” argument in favor of Darwinian-atheistic-evolution Prof. Richard Dawkins did, in fact, appeal to his own faith. Now that he “got religion” is he going so far as to bestow sainthood?

Gregg Easterbrook wrote a review of Prof. Richard Dawkins’ book “The God Delusion.” What is interesting is how succinctly his article’s subtitle captures a sentiment that has been expressed with regards to the New Atheists as a whole: “In ‘The God Delusion,’ a vocal atheist ignores more sophisticated concepts of God in favor of fundamentalist stereotypes.” It may be that when Prof. Richard Dawkins elucidates evolutionary theory in technical terms, he is speaking above the common man’s head. Although, Richard Lewontin who is the Alexander Agassiz Research Professor at Harvard University an evolutionary biologist and geneticist has categorized Prof. Richard Dawkins amongst a group of science-popularizers who has “put unsubstantiated assertions or counterfactual claims at the very center of the stories they have retailed in the market.”[1] It may be that when Sam Harris expounds upon neuron-scientific breakthroughs, he is referring to a field with which many of us are not the least bit acquainted. It may be that when Daniel Dennett is philosophizing, he engages in mental maneuvering beyond our scope. However, it has become extremely common, and simple, to note that when these, and others, expound their opinions regarding religion, theism, the Bible, etc., they are attempting to elucidate a topic of which they are less than erudite.

The issue at hand is actually multifaceted and perhaps we aught to be somewhat empathetic towards Prof. Richard Dawkins. He makes reference to some Christians who are critical of the Apostle Thomas. He is, after all, known as “doubting Thomas.” Here we may have to differentiate what the text of the Bible actually states as, perhaps, opposed to what individual Christians make of it. Yes, he did do what may be referred to as doubt, but the issue is how was this doubt taken and what was its significance? Another, issue is Prof. Richard Dawkins’ statement regarding the difference in reactions between Thomas and the other apostles for whom it is claimed that “faith was enough for them.”

We will present various quotations from the New Testament that will make it exceedingly clear that Prof. Richard Dawkins is not only mistaken but even missed making a point about how Christians should stick closer to the text of scripture than they sometimes do. He could have expounded the actual text and made an informed and well rounded statement. Yet, perhaps due to his ignorance of that which he is so vehemently opposed to, he was unable, or unwilling, to do so.


Simply stated, the New Testament knows nothing about faith being enough for all of the apostles except Thomas. Here we use Prof. Richard Dawkins’ derogatory definition of “faith” as referring to believing in something while lacking any evidence and taking pride in that fact. Ironically, this meaning of faith is precisely descriptive of Prof. Dawkin’s own faith, as referred to in the second part of our essay The Gap Filler. The New Testament also knows nothing of anyone looking down on Thomas for his doubt. The bottom line of that which follows is that not one of the apostles relied on faith for their belief in Jesus’ physical resurrection from the grave in which He was placed after He died. Rather, they each relied upon various experiences of which they were eyewitnesses. Mover, Jesus went to great lengths to prove that it was He, that He was literally present, and that He was in the flesh.

Let us now survey the relevant New Testament texts:

“By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep” (1st Corinthians 15:2-6).
Note the specificity: Jesus died, was buried and then appeared. He appeared to the “brothers”: apostles, disciples and lay believers. Note that at the time of the writing it was stated that “most of whom are still living” which contemporaneously meant: go and ask the eyewitnesses for yourself.

“Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias…This is now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead” (John 21:1, 14).
He “showed Himself” and did so “again”: at this point not once, not twice, but thrice.

“they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, ‘The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!’ And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread. Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, ‘Peace to you.’ But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. And He said to them, ‘Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.’ When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, ‘Have you any food here?’ So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb. And He took it and ate in their presence” (Luke 24:33-43).
The text is so clear that it needs no explanation but let us review: the believers, who previously had their faith shattered, gather and retell that the Lord has “risen” and “appeared.” Then Jesus appeared—“stood in the midst of them.” They were terrified and frightened because they did in fact see someone but “supposed they had seen a spirit.” Jesus asks why they are troubled and proceeds to prove to them in various ways that what they are actually looking at is not a spirit but Jesus Himself, in the flesh. He does this by asking them to “behold” (to perceive through sight or to gaze upon) His hands and feet, parts of His physical body. He asks them to “handle” Him, to touch His physical body. He explains that while a spirit does not have “flesh and bones” Jesus obviously does. He proceeds to “showed them” His hands and feet, displaying parts of His physical body. Lastly, we learn that they were in such a state of joyful shock that Jesus asked them for food and He “ate in their presence”, this consists of wrapping a physical hand around a physical piece of food, placing said food in a physical mouth, chewing it with physical teeth, swallowing it, etc., etc.

Please pardon the extensively detailed retelling but we attempting to drive three points home:
One—the New Testament is extremely clear on this subject.
Two—orthodox Christianity understands the text as is.
Three—Prof. Richard Dawkins simply has not provided adequate or viable explanations for this and the various other likewise texts of the Bible that speak of physical resurrection.

“Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly” (Acts 10:40).

“God raised Him from the dead. He was seen for many days by those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses to the people” (Acts 13:30-31).

Jesus, “whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses” (Acts 3:14-15).

“For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living” (Romans 14:9).
Clearly the brothers believed due to their eyewitness observation of what may be termed a reproducible experiment. This was not blind faith, this was not one person’s imagination, this was not even symbolic for the rising of Jesus as a spirit. This was the physical resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

Luke 24 referred to “the eleven.” Thomas was not there at the time and so was told of the physical appearance of Jesus but would not believe by faith, none of them did. Finally, when Jesus appeared to Thomas:
“He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord…Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ So he said to them, ‘Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.’ And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, ‘Peace to you!’ Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach your finger here, and look at my hands; and reach you hand here, and put it into my side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing. And Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:20 & 24-29).
Why was he urged to believe and not to be an unbeliever? Because he was presented with the same evidence to which the rest had been exposed. They, in turn, demonstrate no ill will towards Thomas, there is no indication that they belittled him at all for his doubt. But what about Jesus’ statement “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”? Surely this is nothing but a call to blind faith. The fact that we experience the passage of time in a linear manner means that the very moment that something occurs it is instantly relegated to the past where it is no longer directly accessible. If you drop something and someone in the next room asks you, “What was that?” They have to rely on your word, your retelling of what happened. Secondarily, they may be able to see some evidence, for instance: spilled milk and a broken glass. Once Jesus ascended what we have is the historical accounts of those who were eyewitnesses and those who interviewed eyewitnesses. This is the same way that we “know” ninety-nine percent of everything that we say that we “know.”

If events such as the resurrection had not occurred the disciples would have never encouraged skeptics, seekers, or even other believers, to check out the facts and ensure the truth of their teachings. There are many examples in the New Testament of the disciples not only proclaiming that they themselves are eyewitnesses but they appeal to the knowledge of their audience in saying, “you yourselves know of this,” or “you yourselves have seen this” (For some examples see, 2nd Peter 1:16; 1st John 1:3; John 19:35; Acts 2:22, 26:24-28).

Far from preaching blind faith, the New Testament challenges and encourages detective work. A Greek doctor name Luke did just that and he wrote the following:
“Dear Theophilos: Concerning the matters that have taken place among us, many people have undertaken to draw up accounts based on what was handed down to us by those who from the start were eyewitnesses and proclaimers of the message. Therefore, your Excellency, since I have carefully investigated all these things from the beginning, it seemed good to me that I too should write you an accurate and ordered narrative, so that you might know how well-founded are the things about which you have been taught” (Luke 1:1-4).
In the New Testament we find praise for the Bereans who did not just believe by faith but conducted their own research:
“the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded [or more noble] than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:10-11).

“He [Jesus] through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days” (Acts 1:2-3).
Think on these things anytime that the New Atheists expound upon the text of the Bible, or rather, their dogmatic interpretations/perceptions of what the text of the Bible states.

[1] Richard Lewontin, “Billions and Billions of Demons,” New York Times Book Reviews, Volume 44, Number 1 (January 9, 1997) - find full text here


Continue reading The Apostle Thomas : Patron Saint of Scientists?...

1/21/09

The Quadripartite Equine Riders, part 4 of 11

This is part four of an eleven part essay in which is a review of a conversation that took place between Prof. Richard Dawkins, Prof. Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens.

Part 1: Introduction
Part 2:
Strident, Arrogant, Vitriolic, and or Shrill?
Part 3:
Amazing Perplexity and Anonymous Confession of an Atheist Clergyman
Part 4:
Tri-Theism? Nice Try
Part 5:
Faith, Evidence and Doubting Thomas and It’s Absolutely Relative
Part 6:
On Scientific Authoritarian Faith
Part 7:
Cosmology and the Pathetic Bible
Part 8:
On Cosmology, Theology and Eternal Regress
Part 9:
Dennett the Mesmerist and Atheism is Humbler and Holier Than Thou
Part 10:
The Universe is All About Me
Part 11:
On Jihad and Abortion

Tri-Theism? Nice Try
Prof. Richard Dawkins claims that the Nicaean Creed states that “there are three gods, not one. The virgin Mary, Jesus died … went to the … what was it? … down for three days, and then came up again?”
No, not one of the other three other Riders corrected him.

I would certainly be willing to believe that it was a mere slip of the tongue. As a dyslexic, I could more than empathize and perhaps the other three did not catch it or did not want to embarrass him. However, I also wonder what that was all about and I would not even mention it if it were not for the fact that Prof. Richard Dawkins wrote, not stated in friendly conversation but wrote in his book “The God Delusion,” that Mormonism is a monotheistic religion and Christopher Hitchens has stated the same. It simply makes me wonder at their lack of knowledge regarding the most basic of theological concepts such as simply knowing in how many gods a certain religion believes.[1] And this is all that I am stating, I am not besmirching them for not being conversant regarding theological minutia.

Prof. Daniel Dennett states that he does not think that many religious people ever ask themselves “What if I’m wrong?” The context of the discussion at this point is the Nicaean Creed with which Protestants, Roman Catholics and the Orthodox Church agree. Therefore, it may be reasonably stated that Prof. Daniel Dennett is here addressing the overwhelming majority of the world’s 2.5 billion Christians. The greater context of the discussion, at this point, is that science is more humble than “religion.”

Yes, imagine that, “Hey, I’m humbler than thou!!!” How is that a scientific statement? Moreover, how is it humble to look at 2.5 billion people (give or take) and claim to know their inner thoughts?
Christopher Hitchens disagrees with Prof. Daniel Dennett and, of course, this is turned into another point against the 2.5 billion Nicaean Creeders. This is because, obviously, they are just sort of hypnotizing themselves with “a mantra,” as Prof. Richard Dawkins refers to it.

Fascinating: you are damned if you do not doubt and also if you do doubt. Speaking of hypnotizing mantras, I cannot help but mention Prof. Richard Dawkins’ recommendation to the effect of: ignore the evidence and maintain your materialism at all cost (The Blind Watchmaker, p. 1),
“Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”

Francis Crick likewise wrote (What Mad Pursuit, p. 138),
“Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved.”

Interestingly, Prof. Daniel Dennett also stated that they, atheists, also should ask themselves “What if I’m wrong?” However, he will later state “Actually I can’t think of anything” when asked if there is “any challenge to your atheism that has given you pause.”

Not tri-theism.
Rather, try theism.

[1] Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (Boston & New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2006), p. 36

Continue reading The Quadripartite Equine Riders, part 4 of 11...

1/19/09

Scientific Cenobites, part 2 of 9

This is part two of a nine part essay which merely seeks to present what scientists have to say about science and scientists. When all parts have been posted I will provide a PDF format of the entire essay.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9

Scott C. Todd, Department of Biology, Kansas State University made the following proclamation:
“Even if all the data pointed to an intelligent designer, such a hypothesis is excluded from science because it is not naturalistic.”[i]

This is an example of scientific dogmatism whereby if the theory conflicts with the evidence one does not augment the theory but rather, proclaims that something is wrong with the evidence. If all the data (whatever “all” means) to an intelligent designer science would progress as ever and would develop new methodologies and would develop a new filed of research as it has done time and time again. I have dealt more specifically with Scott Todd’s statements in my essay Omni-Science, contextually his statement is somewhat sober, considering.

Richard Lewontin (Harvard University Professor of zoology and biology):
“Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural…we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door….

scientists transgress the bounds of their own specialty they have no choice but to accept the claims of authority, even though they do not know how solid the grounds of those claims may be. Who am I to believe about quantum physics if not Steven Weinberg, or about the solar system if not Carl Sagan? What worries me is that they may believe what Dawkins and Wilson tell them about evolution…In the end we must trust the experts and they, in turn, exploit their authority as experts and their rhetorical skills to secure our attention and our belief in things that we do not really understand.”[ii] [read the full text here]

Lord Solly Zuckerman on the furor regarding Homo habilis:
“The debate in the press seemed to me less like a scientific discussion than a public auction of anatomical speculations.”[iii]

[Some of the greats of paleoanthropology in the 1920s and 1930s,] “considered themselves to have written scientific analyses of human evolution, they had in fact been telling stories. Scientific stories, to be sure, but stories nevertheless.”[iv]

“Scientists are generally aware of the influence of theory on observation. Seldom do they recognize, however, that many scientific theories are essentially narratives.”[v]

“Paleoanthropology, like all sciences, is an activity done by people and is therefore prey to the same kinds of subjective interpretations and personal interests that influence other activities done by people.”[vi]

Anthropologist, David Pilbeam wrote:
“A major change is a growing realization that many evolutionary schemes are in fact dominated by theoretical assumptions that are largely divorced from data derived from fossils, and that many assumptions have remained implicit.”[vii]

Misia Landau has made commented on the,
“usually unmentioned aspect of paleoanthropological description: ‘namely, that it is thick with interpretation not about what the fossils look like but also about what they mean.”[viii]

Michael Hammond, a sociologist of science at the University of Toronto, commenting on Piltdown:
“‘what could have led so many eminent scientists to embrace such a forgery?’[ix] How is it that trained men, the greatest experts of their day, could look at a set of modern human bones—the cranial fragments—and ‘see’ a clear simian signature in them; and ‘see’ in an ape’s jaw the unmistakable signs of humanity? The answers, inevitably, have to do with scientists’ expectations and their effect of the interpretation of data.”[x]

Paleontologist Marcellin Boule’s,
“interpretations of the Neanderthal fossils he was studying were entirely erroneous, powered as they were by a particular set of preconceptions of his own.”[xi]

“the weight of authority in any science, but particularly so in paleoanthropology, a science that is often short on date and long on opinion.”[xii]

“It is, in fact, a common fantasy, promulgated mostly but the scientific profession itself, that in the search for objective truth, data indicate conclusions. If this were the case, then each scientist faced with the same data would necessarily reach the same conclusion. But as we’ve seen earlier and will see again and again, frequently this does not happen. Data are just as often molded to fit preferred conclusions. And the interesting question then becomes ‘What shapes the preference of an individual or group of researchers?’ not ‘What is the truth.’”[xiii]

[Sir Arthur Keith] “considered the human brain to be so special that only a very long period of slow evolution could have fashioned it from a more a more primitive state. As mentioned earlier, his obsession with the idea led him erroneously to accept two modern skeletons, Galley Hill Man and Ipswich Man, as being of ancient origin. When Piltdown Man Came along, once more it seemed to offer evidence in support of his cherished theory. ‘By 1912, Keith was definitely looking for evidence in this regard, and was obviously ready to suspend much critical judgment on almost any fossil which gave more weight to his idea.’”[xiv]

“the power of preconceptions, of seeing in the anatomy what you expect to see. ‘Contrary to Simons’ and my original view, Ramapithecus itself does not have a parabolic dental arcade,’[xv] says Pilbeam. ‘I ‘knew’ Ramapithecus, being a hominid, would have a short face and a rounded jaw—so that’s what I saw.’[xvi] Pilbeam and Simons were not uniquely guilty of this error. It occurs often, such is the uncertainty of interpreting fragmentary anatomy in fossils….

The clearest message of the Ramapithecus affair, however, is the power of preconceptions, which in this case led competent scientists to ignore the evidence of other competent scientists because the conclusions drawn from the evidence were at variance with established ideas. All scientists are guided to some degree by a set of assumptions, usually implicit rather than explicit. ‘I try hard to detect them in my own thinking,’ says Pilbeam, ‘to isolate those assumptions that are not articulated because they are so ‘obvious,’ yet will seem so silly a few years from now. I am also aware of the fact that, at least in my own subject of paleoanthropology, ‘theory’—heavily influenced by implicit ideas—almost always dominates ‘data’…

Ideas that are totally unrelated to actual fossils have dominated theory building, which in turn strongly influences they way fossils are interpreted.’”[xvii]

[i] Scott C. Todd, “A View from Kansas on that Evolution Debate,” Nature, Vol. 401, Sep. 30, 1999, p. 423
[ii] Richard Lewontin, “Billions and Billions of Demons,” New York Times, Book Reviews, Volume 44, Number 1 (January 9, 1997) reviewing Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark
[iii] Roger Lewin; noted science journalist, Bones of Contention (New York, NY: A Touchstone Book published by Simon & Schuster Inc., 1987), p. 28 citing “Myths and Methods in Anatomy,” Journal of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, vol. II, no. 2, pp. 87-114 (1966), p. 91
[iv] Ibid., p. 32
[v] “Human Evolution as Narrative,” in American Scientist, vol. 72, (1984), p. 262
[vi] Lewin, p. 5
[vii] “Current Argument on Early Man,” in Major Trends in Evolution, edited by Lars-Konig Konigson, published by Pergamon Press, 1980, p. 262
[viii] “The Baron in the Trees,” a presentation to conference on “Variability and Human Evolution,” Rome, 24-26 Nov. 1983, ms., p. 9
[ix] “A Framework of Plausibility for an Anthropological Forgery,” Anthropology, vol. 3, p. 47 (1979)
[x] Lewin, p. 61
[xi] Lewin, p. 62
[xii] Lewin, p. 64
[xiii] Lewin, p. 68
[xiv] Lewin, p. 71 citing “A Framework of Plausibility for an Anthropological Forgery,” Anthropology, vol. 3, p. 51 (1979)
[xv] “Rethinking Human Origins,” in Discovery, vol. 13, pp. 5-6 (1978)
[xvi] Lewin, p. 123 citing an interview with the author, Harvard, 23 Oct. 1984
[xvii] Lewin, pp. 126-127 citing “Rethinking Human Origins,” in Discovery, vol. 13, pp. 8-9 (1978)

Continue reading Scientific Cenobites, part 2 of 9...

1/17/09

Is the Bible Skeptical About Miracles? – Jesus’ Baptism

In Matthew 3:13-17 (also Mark 1:9-11 and Luke 3:21-22) we find Jesus being baptized along with some astonishing events.

To read/Or not to read


Part 1: The Apostle Thomas: Patron Saint of Scientists?
Part 2: Moses as Skeptical Scientist
Part 3: The Fleece
Part 4: Malta’s Viper
Part 5: Show Yourselves


“Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?’ But Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he allowed Him.When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’”

This public revelation is interesting in counter distinction to other claims to revelation:
Siddhartha Gautama became the Buddha after receiving revelation inwardly and while alone (or was born knowing, depending on the story).
Muhammad who was alone in a cave for his first revelation and received subsequent revelation which where tantamount to seizure like fits.
Joseph Smith was alone in the woods when he received his first vision.
Moses received his first revelation whilst alone yet subsequently had very public revelations.
Et al.

Continue reading Is the Bible Skeptical About Miracles? – Jesus’ Baptism...

1/16/09

Finally

I'm actually considering a visit to California for this one.

William Lane Craig and Christopher Hitchens will debate on April 4th.

Mark your calenders kids.
Continue reading Finally...

1/15/09

Dan Barker and Michael Newdow’s School of Job Security

With Barak Obama’s inauguration fast approaching it seemed a good time to mention the lawsuits filed by Dan Barker and Michael Newdow.

To read/Or not to read


Dan Barker, of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, appears to spend his Decembers attempting to break the record for filing lawsuits. He has teamed up with Michael Newdow who is another contender for the record. You remember Michael Newdow, right? He is the atheist who claims that atheism is a religion?[1] He is also a minister of the Universal Life Church and so am I, by the way, I sent five bucks in the mail and got a certificate.



Never at a loss for bizarre turns of phrases, Dan Barker stated that prayer at Presidential inaugurations and having the president state “So help me God” (a phrase that has been in the presidential oath for at least 128 years) amounts to “picking a winner between believers and those who don’t believe.”[2]

He further stated, “We're challenging Inaugural Committee's right to invite religious Christian ministers in, by the way, which is a new practice. It was not done early in our history.” No, early in our history President Thomas Jefferson attended Christian God worshipping services in the Capitol Building.

He also stated, “That is un-American. It is unfair. It marginalizes. It makes those of us good Americans who don't believe in God second-class citizens. It's unfair.” Yet, what is his response? He wants to turn those of us good Americans who believe in God into second-class citizens. It's unfair.

Michael Newdow, who is up to three lawsuits on this issue alone, takes the same tactic,
“Interlarding those ceremonies with clergy who espouse sectarian religious dogma does not unite, but rather divides, our citizenry…Similarly, instead of instilling confidence in our governmental structure, it tears at the very foundation upon which that structure is built.”[3]

Being an adherent of a religious sect of atheism, Michel Newdow attempts to supplant clergy from the inauguration in order to preach the agospel of atheism. Yet, interlarding those ceremonies with nothing, Michael Newdow’s agospel does not unite, but rather divides, our citizenry. Similarly, by removing Christian references, instead of instilling confidence in our governmental structure, it tears at the very foundation upon which that structure is built.

Annie Laurie Gaylor employed her erudite ability to intellectually elucidate the issue at hand by stating, “We think we should win.”


She further demonstrated a trait which is, very sadly, typical of her ilk; a stunning lack of knowledge regarding the Bible’s contents, “The complaint points out that the Bible that is traditionally used in the inauguration, not only calls atheists fools, but says atheists as blasphemers should be put to death, Gaylor said.”
Firstly, in a way I cannot blame her since Christians are constantly and annoyingly quoting this to atheist. The verse “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14 and 53) is contextually about people who turn away from God yes, but they are specifically Psalms about morality. Thus, there are atheist fools, Christian fools and miscellaneous fools. “There is no God” in reference to atheism was likely not even an issue in Israel, this was about behaving as if “there is no God” to whom one is accountable (one of atheism’s consoling delusions).

Annie Laurie Gaylor’s main misstatement is that “blasphemers should be put to death.” Note that she is speaking in the present tens. Yet, the Bible states no such thing when we read it literally which means taking it as it is intended which employs context; grammatical, historical, cultural, literary, genre, etc.
It is as if these sorts of atheists do not even understand something as basic, simple, and elementary as why Christian Bibles consist of, note the terminology and tenses here, the “Old” and the “New” testaments, or covenants. But what would Jews say who do not refer to old and new but only have the “old,” the Tanakh, or Torah? The would actually point out the obvious and be in agreement with Christianity at this point: strictly speaking, the Old Testament law was given to, agreed upon, and administered amongst a particular people, in a particular geographical locality, at a particular time—the ancient Israeli Jews who lived in a theocratic kingdom. The Rabbinic tradition and Christianity deal with such conflicts by resorting to scholarship and debate.


Annie Laurie Gaylor also stated, “There is good reason for those of us who are nonreligious to be offended by the Bible, by God being brought up at an official inauguration.” And again I retort thusly, “There would be good reason for those of us who are ‘religious’ to be offended if the Bible were removed, by atheism pushing God out of official inaugurations.”

Ultimately, this is, as is obvious already, an emotive issue, “Gaylor takes great joy in naming Rev. Warren in the lawsuit, knowing that he will be served.”

And again, “‘that is exclusionary to those of us who aren't Christian, to those of us who aren't religious,’ she said.” Yet, what they seek is exclusionary to those of us who are Christian, to those of us who are religious.

The lawsuit itself makes reference to those “who explicitly reject the purely religious claims that will be endorsed, i.e., (a) there exists a God, and (b) the United States government should pay homage to that God.”
Good point.
After all, who ever heard of a country which declared its independence whilst referencing our Creator and Nature’s God or that the government is being established for the very purpose of protecting the rights given us by our Creator?


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


FYI: I posted an essay entitled, Bishop Gene Robinson, Rick Warren, Barak Obama and the Presidential Inauguration which combines the latest news with regards to the controversy surrounding the Barak Obama’s inauguration with some research I did on Bishop Gene Robinson when he first became a Bishop.

[1] During an interview with Bill O'Reily on the TV show “The Pulse” (7-12-02).
[2] FOX News, “So Help Me God”: Atheists Want Phrase Yanked From Presidential Oath of Office, December 31, 2008
[3] Samara Kalk Derby, Freedom From Religion Foundation sues over prayer at inauguration, December 30, 2008

Continue reading Dan Barker and Michael Newdow’s School of Job Security...

1/13/09

Richard Dawkins - "Brave New Schools - Dad links son's suicide to 'The God Delusion'"

The following is the full text of the article by Bob Unruh, Brave New Schools - Dad links son's suicide to 'The God Delusion'

To read/Or not to read


A New York man is linking the suicide of his 22-year-old son, a military veteran who had bright prospects in college, to the anti-Christian book "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins after a college professor challenged the son to read it.

"Three people told us he had taken a biology class and was doing well in it, but other students and the professor were really challenging my son, his faith. They didn't like him as a Republican, as a Christian, and as a conservative who believed in intelligent design," the grief-stricken father, Keith Kilgore, told WND about his son, Jesse.

"This professor either assigned him to read or challenged him to read a book, 'The God Delusion,' by Richard Dawkins," he said.

Jesse Kilgore committed suicide in October by walking into the woods near his New York home and shooting himself. Keith Kilgore said he was shocked because he believed his son was grounded in Christianity, had blogged against abortion and for family values, and boasted he'd been debating for years.

After Jesse's death, Keith Kilgore learned of the book assignment from two of his son's friends and a relative. He searched Jesse's room and found the book under the mattress with his son's bookmark on the last page.

A WND message seeking a comment from Dawkins or his publisher was not returned today.
The first inkling of a reason for the suicide came, Keith Kilgore told WND, when one of Jesse's friends came to visit after word of his son's death circulated.

"She was in tears [and said] he was very upset by this book," Keith Kilgore said. "'It just destroyed him,' were her words.

"Then another friend at the funeral told me the same thing," Keith Kilgore said. "This guy was his best friend, and about the only other Christian on campus.

"The third one was the last person that my son talked to an hour before [he died,]" Keith Kilgore told WND, referring to a member of his extended family whose name is not being revealed here.

That relative, who had struggled with his own faith and had returned to Christianity, wrote in a later e-mail that Jesse "started to tell me about his loss of faith in everything."

"He was pretty much an atheist, with no belief in the existence of God (in any form) or an afterlife or even in the concept of right or wrong," the relative wrote. "I remember him telling me that he thought that murder wasn't wrong per se, but he would never do it because of the social consequences - that was all there was - just social consequences.

"He mentioned the book he had been reading 'The God Delusion' by Richard Dawkins and how it along with the science classes he had take[n] had eroded his faith. Jesse was always great about defending his beliefs, but somehow, the professors and the book had presented him information that he found to be irrefutable. He had not talked … about it because he was afraid of how you might react. ... and that he knew most of your defenses of Christianity because he himself used them often. Maybe he had used them against his professors and had the ideas shot down."

He then explained to Jesse his own personal journey of seeking "other explanations of God's existence" and told of his ultimate return.

"I told him it was my relationship with God, not my knowledge of Him that brought me back to my faith. No one convinced me with facts. ... it was a matter of the heart."

Keith Kilgore believes it was a biology class that raised questions for his son, and a biology professor at Jefferson Community College in Watertown, N.Y., where his son was attending, who suggested the book.

A school spokeswoman told WND that the "God Delusion" was not a part of the biology curriculum, and several of the professors she contacted said they had not even read the book. However, the spokeswoman was unable to contact all of the professors in the department and could not state that none of them had suggested the book to Jesse.

Local police also did not respond to WND inquiries about the investigation into the death.
"One of his friends, and his uncle (they did not know each other) both told me that Jesse called them hours before he took his life and that he had lost all hope because he was convinced that God did not exist, and this book was the cause," Keith Kilgore told WND.

Keith Kilgore, a retired military chaplain who has dealt with the various stages of grief and readily admits he's still in the "anger" stage over his son's death, said his son apparently had checked the "Delusion" out of the college library.

"I'm all for academic freedom," Keith Kilgore said. "What I do have a problem with is if there's going to be academic freedom, there has to be academic balance.

"They were undermining every moral and spiritual value for my [son]," he said. "They ought to be held accountable."

He suggested the moral is for Christians simply to abandon public schools wholly.
"Here's another thing," he continued. "If my son was a professing homosexual, and a professor challenged him to read [a book called] 'Preventing Homosexuality'… If my son was gay and [the book] made him feel bad, hopeless, and he killed himself, and that came out in the press, there would be an outcry.

"He would have been a victim of a hate crime and the professor would have been forced to undergo sensitivity training, and there may have even been a wrongful death lawsuit.

"But because he's a Christian, I don't even get a return telephone call," the father told WND.
He said he tried to verify the book assignment himself several times, without getting a response from the school.

Jesse Kilgore blogged on NetPotion and Newblog, and the writings that remained mostly addressed social ills and how anti-Christian many of the world's developments appeared to be.
He used the pen name JKrapture because, his father said, "He believed in the rapture, the evangelical concept of the Lord coming back."

On the Web, Jesse described himself as "conservative and mainly independent. I am a culture warrior and traditionalist. I have been debating since I was in 5th Grade, and never looked back. It is a habit I can't let go of."

One of Jesse's uncles, writing on the same website as Jesse, wrote: "While I knew he was having struggles with his faith, I had no idea that it ran that deep. … There are not enough words to describe how devastated I am at his loss. I know that some of you got to know him pretty well and (since I already started getting some questions about him) felt that you all should know that he is no longer with us."

From among the online community came these responses: "I am shocked and so sorry for your loss – our loss. My prayers are with you and all of your family at this difficult time," and "I AM at a loss of words.....I am sooooo sorry to hear your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family."

Keith Kilgore told WND he feels, by allowing his son to move into the atmosphere of a secular school, like "I put a toddler in the front of my car."

"My son is the Adam Walsh of the culture war. That's who my son is," he said, referring to the child abduction victim whose case was used to create a wide range of amber alert and other programs to protect children.

He said he has a wake-up call over the anti-Christian agenda of public education. And he has some goals.

"I want to hold schools accountable for what they're teaching our kids. This was malpractice," he said.

Dawkins, considered one of the world's most outspoken atheists, is a professor in the United Kingdom. He came to prominence in 1976 with his book "The Selfish Gene," promoting evolution.
In his "Delusion" treatise he claims that a supernatural creator almost certainly does not exist and that faith qualifies as a "delusion" – a fixed false belief.

Continue reading Richard Dawkins - "Brave New Schools - Dad links son's suicide to 'The God Delusion'"...

1/12/09

Is the Bible Skeptical About Miracles? – Show Yourselves

In this segment we will consider instances in which people were healed of some malady and were told to go to people who would have known of their malady so that they may see that they had been miraculously healed.

To read/Or not to read


Part 1: The Apostle Thomas: Patron Saint of Scientists?
Part 2: Moses as Skeptical Scientist
Part 3: The Fleece
Part 4: Malta’s Viper


Legion: the Gadarene Demoniac
In Mark chapter 5 (and Luke 8:27-39 and Matthew 8:28-34) Jesus had traveled to the country of the Gadarenes which is opposite Galilee. Jesus is confronted by two demon possessed men one of whom is known as Legion (“for we are many”). This is quite a tragic story:
Legion made “his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains, because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones (v. 3-5).

This was an extreme case of demonic possession. Jesus exorcized him and when He went to leave Legion (the now ex-Legion) “begged Him that he might be with Him. However, Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, ‘Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you’” (v. 18-19).


Blind From Birth
In John chapter 9 Jesus encounters “a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’” (v. 1-2).
As we saw in the last segment, this is odd and fallacious theology as Jesus explains, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him (v. 3). And how could the man have sinned in order to have been born blind? He either sinned in the womb or he was a Hindu or Buddhist. Apparently, there was a non-biblical concept of a baby being able to sin in the womb.

Jesus heals him and sends him to “wash in the pool of Siloam,” Jesus had placed mud mixed with saliva on his eyes.
“So he went and washed, and came back seeing.Therefore the neighbors and those who previously had seen that he was blind said, ‘Is not this he who sat and begged?’Some said, ‘This is he.’ Others said, ‘He is like him.’He said, ‘I am he.’Therefore they said to him, ‘How were your eyes opened?’He answered and said, ‘A Man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed, and I received sight.’’Then they said to him, ‘Where is He?’He said, ‘I do not know’” (v. 7-12).

Note that he was seen by those who knew that he was blind and that some, in quite a natural response, questioned whether it was really him, “He is like him.”

Next:
“They brought him who formerly was blind to the Pharisees. Now it was a Sabbath when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also asked him again how he had received his sight. He said to them, ‘He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.’Therefore some of the Pharisees said, ‘This Man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.’Others said, ‘How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?’ And there was a division among them” (v. 13-16).

This goes to who the dead, dry as dust, heart of “religion”—they are more concerned about administrating laws than praising God for healing a blind man.


Thus:
17 They said to the blind man again, ‘What do you say about Him because He opened your eyes?’ He said, ‘He is a prophet.’But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind and received his sight, until they called the parents of him who had received his sight. And they asked them, saying, ‘Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?’His parents answered them and said, ‘We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but by what means he now sees we do not know, or who opened his eyes we do not know. He is of age; ask him. He will speak for himself.’ His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had agreed already that if anyone confessed that He was Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, ‘He is of age; ask him.’So they again called the man who was blind, and said to him, ‘Give God the glory! We know that this Man is a sinner.’He answered and said, ‘Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see’” (v. 17-25).

This is fascinating and quite logical: those who did not know him did not believe that he had been healed. Quite logically, they called for his parents to ask them whether he had been born blind and how he now sees. Their answer is likewise quite logical: they knew he was blind and that he now sees but nothing about what happened in between so why not ask him.His answer is the same he knew that he was blind and that he now sees but nothing about how the change occurred. It is almost as if the man and his parents are to deny the fact of the change from blindness to sight because they cannot provide a scientific account. Yet, they could care less—they are just happy that the man can see. This reminds me of complaining about the poor design of a Panda’s “thumb” while the Panda is saying, “Let’s see you try to strip thousands of bamboo leaves from branches. I’m doing just fine, Mr. Opposable.”

A disputation ensues between the Pharisees and the ex-blind man, and he is basically excommunicated. Finally, we get a glimpse into the point of this parabolic action as Jesus moves from physical blind/sightedness to spiritual blind/sightedness:
“Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said to him, ‘Do you believe in the Son of God?’
He answered and said, ‘Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?’And Jesus said to him, ‘You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you.’Then he said, ‘Lord, I believe!’ And he worshiped Him.And Jesus said, ‘For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.’Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, ‘Are we blind also?’Jesus said to them, ‘If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains’” (v. 35-41).

The Leper
In Matthew 8:1-4 (also Luke 5:12-14) we find a leper engaging Jesus.
The “leper came and worshiped Him, saying, ‘Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.’Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, ‘I am willing; be cleansed.’ Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus said to him, ‘See that you tell no one; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.’”

The priests would have been acquainted with the leper since it was they who would have diagnosed him. They would have followed a systematic process of diagnosis and quarantine which had been in place for millennia (see Leviticus chapter 13).

These are some of the examples of people who knew the demon possessed men, their own son and a diagnosed leper and witnessed the change in them.

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