9/27/09

“The Wedgie” Document – Censor Turek, Praise Darwin

This is a succinct and exemplary segment of “The Wedgie” Document. While one would hope that it is not very exemplary, I do fear that the sort of occurrence herein described is all too common.

“The Wedgie” Document Archives

The following is from an article by Mike Adams that is entitled, Is Atheism Only a Bundle of Sentiments?

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

“This semester, I learned that one of my colleagues is teaching our Sociology of Religion course with two supplemental texts, neither of which could be characterized as sociological in nature. One is The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins. The other is God is Not Great, by Christopher Hitchens. (The latter is an especially odd choice because it merely documents all the bad things members of each religion have done. The professor, who also teaches a course in Race and Ethnicity, would certainly never choose a course that merely documented all the bad things done by every race other than his own)…

[Frank Turek] would then give a lecture outlining the reasons why he has concluded that atheism requires more faith than Christianity. We would then open up the microphone for an extended Q and A session.
As we approach the date of that lecture (March 24th, 2008 in the UNC-Wilmington Warwick Center Ballroom) we began to advertise. Unfortunately, our six requests for help from the university were ignored altogether. Two of those requests were directed towards the folks who run the “Faculty and Staff News” link on www.UNCW.edu. The folks who run that source of information claim to have a right to decline postings because they are “political” or, for that matter, to decline to post for any reason they choose…

I decided to write a letter directly to Chancellor Rosemary DePaolo to assert that the UNC-Wilmington website is a public forum and that, therefore, they really do not enjoy a right to engage in unbridled discrimination. Unsurprisingly, DePaolo did not give me the courtesy of a response…

Currently UNCW is promoting a “Celebration of Darwin” with various speeches and courses, which, taken together, make the Turek lecture so much more important in an environment claiming an interest in “tolerance” and “diversity” of different view…”

FYI: Frank Turek is the co-author, along with Norm Geisler of the book I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist et al (so, of course, he is being censored).




Continue reading “The Wedgie” Document – Censor Turek, Praise Darwin...

9/25/09

Get Your Free Copy of “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life”

Charles Darwin is still a hip play′a and as his books keep pumping out of the presses.



Get your free copy in November.

Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron will be giving away 100,000 free copies of Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life” at 50 top university campuses in the USA on the 19th of November.

This edition includes an intro that you can read at this link which is sure to 1) cause sensory detonations and 2) inspire a bout of polemics on various fronts.

For example, when some claim that Charles Darwin was an atheist, some that he was an agnostic, some a deist, or a theist till his death, a Humanist, a Unitarian, etc. fireworks are sure to ignite. And this is just for starters as the atheist attempts to re-write the history of social Darwinism’s influence on Communism and Nazism will cause the atheist apologists to scurry in their attempt to cover up history as recent as the last century (see here and here for my take).

This event is preceded by the recent release of Ray Comfort’s new book, “Nothing Created Everything: The Scientific Impossibility of Atheistic Evolution” which reportedly,

…debunks a popular view introduced by contemporary atheist Richard Dawkins, who, in 2004, wrote in his book The Ancestor’s Tale, “The fact that life evolved out of nearly nothing, some 10 billion years after the universe evolved literally out of nothing—is a fact so staggering that I would be mad to attempt words to do it justice.”



Keep in mind that Richard Dawkins’ best explanation for the origin of life and the “appearance of design in the universe” is “luck”—the luck of the gaps.
It is as though, in our theory of how we came to exist, we are allowed to postulate a certain ration of luck.[1]

Explain[ing] how the complex, improbable appearance of design in the universe arises...makes heavier demands on luck.[2]

Ray Comfort’s new book is already being juxtaposed with Adrian Desmond and James Moore’s “Darwin's Sacred Cause: How a Hatred of Slavery Shaped Darwin's Views on Human Evolution” which argues:
Darwin's scientific quest to was fueled by his Christian abolitionism. His "sacred cause," as Darwin called it, was to undermine a key precept of the slave trade—that blacks comprise an inferior race separate from whites—by proving the common descent of mankind from lower life forms.[3]



These along with the recent book by Benjamin Wiker, “The Darwin Myth: The Life and Lies of Charles Darwin” are sure to make for the retelling of history, the re-writing of history and a continuing polemical saga.

Benjamin Wiker notes that
One of Charles Darwin’s very few character flaws was this: he was oddly possessive about his theory, so much so that he failed to acknowledge his predecessors, including his own grandfather [Erasmus Darwin], until his detractors pointed out the glaring omissions. He wanted the theory of evolution to be his discovery, his creation, his baby.[4]

And also considers:
Why Darwin didn't "discover" evolution
How Darwin set out to create a godless version of evolution
Why many of his best friends and allies criticized Darwin's theory, and how he never refuted their objections
How "social Darwinism" is not a misapplication of Darwinism, but is Darwinism
Why Darwin's theory supported natural slavery, an institution he abhorred
How much of what we know about Darwin comes from his Autobiography--which at key points is downright misleading

How Darwin helped make ideological atheism the battle cry of science



And on it goes.

See my Essays Particular to Charles Darwin and Essays Particular to Evolution for more information.

[1] Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker—Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1986), p. 145
[2] Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (Boston & New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2006), p. 121
[3] Dan Gilgoff, “Charles Darwin, Christian,” U.S. News & World Report, February 13, 2009
[4]New Book Uncovers ‘the Life and Lies of Charles Darwin’,” The Discovery Institute
Continue reading Get Your Free Copy of “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life”...

9/22/09

Twits, Tweets and Twitter

Well, I have gone and done it:

I am now a Twit who Tweets on Twitter.

Find me at in my nest at this link.
Continue reading Twits, Tweets and Twitter...

9/20/09

UPDATE: Ex-Christian.Net

Atheism is Dead’s next series will begin on Sat 26th.

We will be considering the comments, questions, assertions, fallacies and general belligerence which came about as a result of ongoing discussions with Ex-Christian.Net
Continue reading UPDATE: Ex-Christian.Net...

Christopher Hitchens’ Bestiary

On October 11, 2007 AD at 5:30 pm a “A debate, dialogue, and discussion” took place between Christopher Hitchens and Alister McGrath which was entitled “Poison or Cure? Religious Belief in the Modern World” (find the transcript here, find the video here).

Let us consider some of Christopher Hitchens unexplicative non-explications.

“…yes, Dr. McGrath, you're right, there is something about us as a species that is problematic, and it isn't just explained by religion. Something about us that tempts us to do wrong. It's pretty easily explained, I think. We are primates, high primates, but primates. We're half a chromosome away from chimpanzees and it shows, especially shows in the number of religions we invent to console ourselves or to give us things to quarrel with other primates about. If anything demonstrates that God is manmade, not man God made, surely it is the religions erected by this quasi-chimpanzee species and the harm that they're willing to inflict on that basis…These are problems not for me. For me it's simple, we're primates. This is what we would expect to happen if there was no God.”

One thing to be stated for certain is that all of atheism’s arguments and attempted elucidations end the same way, “It just is.” Ask about the universe, life, morality and everything and the answer is always the same, “It just is”—the it just is of the gaps.



Thus, we are tempted to do wrong by “something” because we are quasi-chimpanzees. Incidentally, Roy J. Britten wrote an article entitled, “Divergence between samples of chimpanzee and human DNA sequences is 5% counting indels” (Proceedings National Academy Science, 99:13633-13635 [2002]). This
5% difference in DNA is a generic and conveniently impressive sounding statistic. Of course, this mere 5% represents a difference of circa 150,000,000 DNA base pairs. We should not chalk up our bad behavior to being quasi-chimpanzees just because there is evidence that all of life was designed by the same designer.

Richard Dawkins has stated, “We are not, then, merely like apes or descended from apes; we are apes.”[1] Charles Darwin wrote, “In a series of forms graduating insensibly from some ape-like creature to man as he now exists, it would be impossible to fix on any definite point when the term ‘man’ ought to be used.”[2] Perhaps, Christopher Hitchens is right and when another quasi-chimpanzee wants the same job that I am trying to get I could either perform better in the interview, acquire more education in the field or I could simply go ape-wild on my competition and get the job by being the only able bodied candidate left standing. Then what? Well, higher primates such as Christopher Hitchens may shun my behavior and engage in arguments from outrage, argument to embarrassment and arguments to ridicule. A group of even higher primates may incarcerate me. Or, I may not get caught, in which case I would simply have gotten away with it.



We certainly do not need invented religions to quarrel with other primates about there are plenty of secular reasons. As obvious as it is, it may be noteworthy to note the words of Michael Shermer, editor of Skeptic magazine, Arguing for Atheism:
I am not convinced by Dawkins’s argument that without religion there would be “no suicide bombers, no 9/11, no 7/7, no Crusades, no witch-hunts, no Gunpowder Plot, no Indian partition, no Israeli/Palestinian wars, no Serb/Croat/Muslim massacres, no persecution of Jews as ‘Christ-killers,’ no Northern Ireland ‘troubles’….”
In my opinion, many of these events—and others often attributed solely to religion by atheists—were less religiously motivated than politically driven, or at the very least involved religion in the service of political hegemony.

Any viable worldview must explain the human ability to perform both the most beautiful acts and the most macabre. Does it follow that “This is what we would expect to happen if there was no God”? No, because this statement neglects a myriad of complexly interacting circumstances such as free will and any of the, what we consider negative, implication that come with. Does reasoning that it-just-is answer anything or help matters at all? No.

[1] Richard Dawkins, writing in the Late City Final Edition (4-9-89)
[2] Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, p. 180


Continue reading Christopher Hitchens’ Bestiary...

9/18/09

“Contending with Christianity's Critics: Answering New Atheists and Other Objectors” by William Lane Craig, Paul Copan, et al.

Of interest to some may also be in the book, Contending with Christianity's Critics: Answering New Atheists and Other Objectors.



The book’s contents are as follows:
PART 1 THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
Dawkins's Delusion—by William Lane Craig

At Home in the Multiverse?—by James Daniel Sinclair

Confronting Naturalism: The Argument from Reason—by Victor Reppert

Belief in God: A Trick of Our Brain?—by Michael J. Murray

The Moral Poverty of Evolutionary Naturalism—by Mark D. Linville

Dawkins's Best Argument Against God's Existence—by Gregory E. Ganssle


PART 2 THE JESUS OF HISTORY
Criteria for the Gospels' Authenticity—by Robert H. Stein

Jesus the Seer—by Ben Witherington III

The Resurrection of Jesus Time Line—by Gary R. Habermas

How Scholars Fabricate Jesus—by Craig A. Evans

How Badly Did the Early Scribes Corrupt the New Testament? An Examination of Bart Ehrman's Claims—by Daniel B. Wallace

Who Did Jesus Think He Was? —by Michael J. Wilkins


PART 3 THE COHERENCE OF CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE
The Coherence of Theism—by Charles Taliaferro and Elsa J. Marty

Is the Trinity a Logical Blunder? God as Three and One—by Paul Copan

Did God Become a Jew? A Defense of the Incarnation—by Paul Copan

Dostoyevsky, Woody Allen, and the Doctrine of Penal Substitution—by Steve L. Porter

Hell: Getting What's Good My Own Way—by Stewart Goetz

What Does God Know? The Problems of Open Theism—by David P. Hunt



Continue reading “Contending with Christianity's Critics: Answering New Atheists and Other Objectors” by William Lane Craig, Paul Copan, et al....

Atheist Alogic – The Flunking of Craig James, George Francis & PZ Myers

It appears that another one of those newspaper-blog-column wars ensued on June 2009 AD regarding atheism. Andy Birkey’s article Kersten’s back at the Strib… and riling up atheists is a one stop shop for the same, old, tired, and ubiquitously discredited atheist talking points.

The article states:
After a several-month hiatus, Katherine Kersten’s lightning rod-conservatism is back at the Star Tribune, and her edgy, faith-tinged opinion hasn’t failed to disappoint those looking for controversy.
Her Sunday-only column this week took aim at atheism and what she perceives as its detrimental impact on society. She argues that without faith in God, people have no basis to form a moral framework. As a society we are embracing atheism, she writes, “[b]ut before we do, we would be wise to consider the potential consequences.”
Such as? Bloodshed. “The French Revolution, Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s Soviet Union — all sought to replace Judeo-Christian ethics with reason, and ended in massive bloodletting,” she wrote. “In ancient Rome, disabled babies were left on hilltops to die.”
Her column sparked outcry from many atheists who say that faith in a Judeo-Christian God does not form the basis for people’s compassion, sense of equality, ethics and morals. People do.

The argument appears to be misunderstood. Firstly, let us note that morals refers to a description of the mores and merely describe what is while ethics is in reference to the ethos and prescribes what should be.
Atheists can make any claim that they want about anything, that is not the issue. The issue is that it must be recognized that they are merely expressing personal preferences in the form of impotent assertions and oft expressed as arguments from outrage, arguments to ridicule, arguments to embarrassment, etc. If there is no God then everyone is doing just that and fittest will win.

The theist assertion, if you will, and let us now refer to Judeo-Christian theology, is that God is the ultimate ethos; the premise, the basis. Grounded in God’s very triune (and therefore, eternally relational) nature and character the ethos is neither arbitrary nor something to which God is subject but is a consequence of the very nature of His eternally relational being.

That being said, in this essay I am interested in considering the quotes that Andy Birkey provided on this issue by Craig James, George Francis and PZ Myers.

Craig A. James wrote:
Her [Katherine Kersten’s] argument presupposes that God exists and gave us our morality, and presupposes that without God there will be no morality. But if you drop the presupposition, that is, assume God does not exist, then the Bible itself proves that Kersten is wrong! The Bible (and many other supposedly God-inspired writings) is full of all sorts of great moral lessons (and some terrible ones, too), and since these were written by men and women, not God, it proves that humans can be moral without divine guidance.

Let us review: the Bible itself proves that Kersten is wrong in claiming that God has bequeathed ethics[1], even though the Bible states that God has bequeathed ethics, because if we presuppose atheism (and he must not understand atheism since he defined it as “God does not exist”—right?) then there is no God to inspire the Bible and thus no God to bequeathed ethics.
Well, there you have it; simply presuppose atheism and you have a one-stop-shop defeater for any and every theistic claim. Having said that, let us note that his response is actually just fine: he is presupposing atheism and is Kersten presupposing theism. They are both engaging in presuppositional apologetics as do we all since, au fond, we all come to a point at which we cannot prove or evidence our ultimate premise but we merely presuppose them.
As Greg Bahnsen notes,
The conflict between believers and unbelievers is ultimately over their differing worldviews — networks of presuppositions in terms of which all experience is interpreted and reasoning is guided…An argument asserts the truth of a proposition on the basis of others.



Craig A. James claims that this “proves that humans can be moral without divine guidance” but it does no such thing. Without divine guidance we would likely have much the same as we have today where people live, as if, we have no divine guidance. So what is the point of God giving guidance when we have the free will to ignore it? That is just the point: true ethics presupposes that you are not forced to be ethical. This touches upon one of atheism’s consoling delusions: the consoling delusion of absolute autonomy.
Moreover, it means that God has fulfilled His “responsibility” to express the ethos in order to, as it were, parse between all of the naturally occurring behaviors and prescribe which are we do and which we are not. This, again, touches upon one of atheism’s consoling delusions: the consoling delusion of lack of ultimate accountability. God has made us responsible by revealing His ethos via the written word in the Bible and having written it within us as it is administered via our consciences.

George Francis Kane (public relations officer for the Minnesota Atheists) wrote:
Atheists base their moral judgments on the actual effects of actions on peoples’ lives, rather than principles religion claims to know with certainty. The religious conception of equality that Kersten touts is equality before the god of the Bible, and is not realized until the afterlife. Equality before the law is a secular concept that could only arise when the legitimacy of government is based in the consent of the governed, rather than divine election. Atheists demonstrate compassion no less than that of Christians, but based upon quality of life rather than unbending absolutes.

This statement is a monkey fist of fallacies and misunderstandings. Let us review and correct:
Atheists base their moral judgments on the actual effects of actions on peoples’ lives, rather than principles religion claims to know with certainty.
I am not certain who has bequeathed upon George Francis Kane the authority to declare dogmatheism: to speak, ex cathedra, for all atheists but let us go with it. Thus, atheists base their moral judgments on the actual effects of actions on people’s lives, because they claim to know with certainty that we should base our moral judgments on the actual effects of actions on people’s lives. Moreover, this is a false dichotomy which juxtaposes principles of “religion” over against the actual effects of actions on people’s lives. Yet, the Golden Rule makes particular and specific reference to the actual effects of actions on people’s lives: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Also, the Bible describes one of the two premises upon which the whole of the of the Law is based as “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”[2]

The religious conception of equality that Kersten touts is equality before the god of the Bible, and is not realized until the afterlife.
This is certainly false and demonstrates a lack of knowledge of the Bible’s contents, concepts and contexts as the Bible states the following of the here and now:
there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him (Romans 10:12).

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28).

there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all (Colossians 3:11).

Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God (1st Corinthians 10:32).

Equality before the law is a secular concept that could only arise when the legitimacy of government is based in the consent of the governed, rather than divine election.
Again, this is simply false and demonstrates a lack of knowledge of the Bible’s contents, concepts and contexts as the Israelite “divine election” system, or theocratic government, contained a very careful judicious system whereby Jews, Gentiles, males, females, etc. were equal and could seek justice. For example, regardless of nationality, religion or gender at least two witnesses were required before even considering someone to be found guilty of a crime.

Atheists demonstrate compassion no less than that of Christians, but based upon quality of life rather than unbending absolutes.
This, again, is a misunderstanding of both Christianity and the Bible. Firstly, no one claims that atheists demonstrate less compassion than Christians (although, the studies are against them). Secondly, Christianity, being based on the Bible (or when it is, as it should be, based on the Bible) does contain absolutes but not unbending absolutes—in a matter of speaking. This is because the ethos is absolute but the application is not. One of the ways that Christians love the LORD their God with all their minds is to apply the absolute ethos via reasoning about the actual effects of actions on people’s lives, etc. “‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ Says the LORD” (Isaiah 1:18).

PZ Myers wrote:
I always like how these doctrinaire promoters of “Judeo-Christianity” primly declare that they have such moral authority, when their faith has such a poor track record of promoting morality. Christians have advocated slavery, have murdered people for the awful crime of miscegenation, have decreed that people who don’t have the kind of sex they prefer are second-class citizens.
Christians are thieves, murderers, rapists, and jay-walkers; it seems that having a belief in a transcendent authority actually doesn’t equate to being necessarily law-abiding and ethical or even, shocking as that may be, immune from the temptations of their natures.

If we had to wait until a morally perfect or superior person appeared before that person could promote morality (or ethics) I am afraid that, that day would never come. Then again, when Jesus came, lived that life and made those promotions, He was hated, mocked, beaten and killed and has been cursed for two millennia. He is also incorrect in claiming that “‘Judeo-Christianity’…has such a poor track record of promoting morality.” Judeo-Christianity has a great track record of promoting morality but has a poorer track record of exampling morality. Then again, PZ Myers, being an atheist activist, can only see one side of the picture and utterly disregards the millions of ethical lives lived for millennia according to the Judeo-Christian ethos. This includes the founding principles of the very country in which he lives that protects his freedom to besmirch Judeo-Christianity.

I am certain that the statement that “it seems that having a belief in a transcendent authority actually doesn’t equate to being necessarily law-abiding and ethical or even, shocking as that may be, immune from the temptations of their natures” is supposed to mean something—but alas. Now, of course, this is merely more emotive generalizing. However, let us note that no one, not even the Bible, has ever claimed that it logically follows that “belief in a transcendent authority” concludes in being “law-abiding and ethical or even…immune from the temptations of their natures.” Again, for millions of people through millennia this has been the case. Yet, overall, free will still reigns and so since those who hold to a “belief in a transcendent authority” are, shocking as that may be, mere human beings after all they may fail to live up to that transcendent authority.

I wonder if we could revamp the statement and apply it to atheists:
I always like how these doctrinaire promoters of “Atheism” primly declare that they have such moral authority, when their lack of faith has such a poor track record of promoting morality. Atheists have advocated slavery, have murdered people for the awful crime of miscegenation, have decreed that people who don’t have the kind of sex they prefer are second-class citizens.
Atheists are thieves, murderers, rapists, and jay-walkers; it seems that having no belief in a transcendent authority actually doesn’t equate to being necessarily law-abiding and ethical or even, shocking as that may be, immune from the temptations of their natures.

Just consider, at the very least, the history of the 20th century; the most secular and bloodiest century in human history (see the essay From Zeitgeist to Poltergeist, Part 11 of 13 for example).

God chose not to create automatons since true love requires choice as does true ethics. We have a conscience as a guide and must exercise our minds in the application.

Perhaps God should have created a perfect world but also allow for the free will that would make that world meaningful. Perhaps we would choose to do evil things. Perhaps He could condemn the evil while also providing a way of forgiveness. Perhaps He should come to Earth as a human and go what we go through; see how He likes it. Perhaps we could have a go at Him and belittle Him, curse Him, spit on Him, beat Him and murder Him. Perhaps He would eventually restore the perfect world—this is the Bible’s message.

[1] This, in counter distinction to the claim by Dan Barker, “Darwin has bequeathed what is good.”
[2] The other premise is “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”

Continue reading Atheist Alogic – The Flunking of Craig James, George Francis & PZ Myers...

9/15/09

Christian Apologetics – “5-Minute Apologetics for Today: 365 Quick Answers to Key Questions” by Ron Rhodes

Ron Rhodes’ new book on Christian apologetics is entitled “5-Minute Apologetics for Today: 365 Quick Answers to Key Questions.” Having spend the weekend hanging out with him I felt compelled to mention it as it will surely be well worth reading.

Following is a description:

From Amazon.com:

Christians sometimes come across objections about the Bible they don’t know how to answer, and they don’t know where to look or whom they should ask. Believers can also get confused about doctrine, not having the knowledge or background to recognize unbiblical teaching. Bible scholar Ron Rhodes addresses many questions surrounding Christianity on topics such as…

atheistic objections to Christianity

evolution vs. creationism

alleged contradictions or general accusations concerning the Bible

answering the claims of cults about biblical doctrine

relativism vs. absolute truth

ethical issues such as abortion and divorce


This book of short, one-page answers on 365 of the most frequently asked questions can greatly increase readers’ level of discernment in critical areas in just minutes a day. Busy people can boost their understanding of the Bible at their own pace by browsing topics of interest or by reading a topic a day.






Other books by Ron Rhodes:



“Reasoning from the Scriptures with…” series:















“10 Most Important Things…” series:












Miscellaneous books:



































































Continue reading Christian Apologetics – “5-Minute Apologetics for Today: 365 Quick Answers to Key Questions” by Ron Rhodes...

Darwin’s Dilemma

Today, hot on the heals of Darwin - Voyage That Shook The World, a new documentary is being released entitled “Darwin’s Dilemma.”

The documentary,
…explores one of the great mysteries in the history of life: The geologically-sudden appearance of dozens of major complex animal types in the fossil record without any trace of the gradual transitional steps Charles Darwin had predicted. Frequently described as “the Cambrian Explosion,” the development of these new animal types required a massive increase in genetic information. “The big question that the Cambrian Explosion poses is where does all that new information come from?”

Info here and here






Continue reading Darwin’s Dilemma...

Evilbible - the Polemical Saga Continues, part 2 of 5

Please note: this essay has been moved to True Freethinker at this link.
Continue reading Evilbible - the Polemical Saga Continues, part 2 of 5...

9/14/09

On Natural Laws and Miracles

there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature.”[1]
—Fred Hoyle


Atheists oft argue that miracles cannot occur because the laws of nature are immutable. By a convenient inference they further argue that since miracles do not occur, the supernatural does not exist.

I mostly wish to brainstorm in a few directions as I do not claim to be as omniscient about the laws of nature—as some of my atheist friends appear to consider themselves:

What are the laws of nature?
The laws of nature are: gravity, electromagnetism, strong nuclear force and weak nuclear force. Yet, the point of my question was not intended to list and discuss them but was to point out that what we term “the laws of nature” is our taxonomy of inferences derived from observations of the natural world. One question to keep in mind is whether we have discovered all of the laws of nature as of yet.




Are they immutable?
Perhaps. They certainly appear to be. Yet, in order to answer in the affirmative we must first presuppose that we know all of the laws. Assuming that we do; we must further assume that we know of every possible action and interaction of these laws in every possible scenario and in every possible combination.

What if they are not immutable?
In such a case, God can bend them.

What if they are immutable?
In such a case, God can “break” them. According to such a scenario God would have created what we understand to be immutable laws for the very purpose of displaying His ability to “break” them and in doing so alert us to the miraculous.

Can God break, or manipulate, the laws of nature?
Some atheists claim that God cannot exist for the very reason that the laws of nature cannot be broker, or bent. However, answering presuppositionally; God created the laws of nature, God invented them, God holds the patent on them, has the template of them, God put them into place and can manipulate them like a guitarist who strung her guitar can strum the strings, or place them in whatever order, or tightness them she pleases.

Lastly, note that as our scientific knowledge increases the more parochial concepts such as the impossibility of God due to presumed immutable laws fades away:
In hindsight, it is an irony that while modernity in its positivistic spirit started out with the notion that the reality perceived by our senses is the only knowable reality there is, we now end up with the idea that the true nature of physical reality is quite different from what we experience through our senses. The legend of the tangibility of matter, or what may be called “the matter myth,” which served as the basis for the certainty of knowledge, was lost.[2]

Here, within science, were raised the problem of reality (an ontological problem), issues of the limits of human knowledge (an epistemological problem), and the problem of testability (a methodological problem).

Relativity and quantum physics, which serve as the pillars of contemporary science, and more recently chaos theory, are now presenting us with a radically new physical view of the world in which positivistic, deterministic, and materialistic philosophies no longer have secure places. They present us with deeper, greater, and more mysterious aspects of nature.

Scientists now proceed to the area that traditionally belonged to metaphysics, discussing the possibility of the ultimate reality of the universe, the origin and finality of the cosmos, the problem of consciousness, and the like. The natural sciences, as they touch upon the edge of objectivity and empirical testability, raise many questions about the world to which science itself cannot provide definite answers within its limited framework. In these frontiers of science, our metaphors are running out and our common sense often breaks down. We have to wrestle with the limits of our knowledge, logic, and rationality. Here in science the fundamental epistemic problems are naturally raised, as they were in religion and theology in earlier centuries.

We now start to take seriously, especially in fundamental physics and cosmology, the things that are not seen. As recent developments in theoretical physics and cosmology witness, as speculative as they may be, some theories quite beyond what can be directly measured by physical apparatus are possible and are indeed commonplace. It not only raises a possibility for the epistemology of the unseen in general, but also makes its ontological discussion feasible.[3]

[1] Fred Hoyle, “The Universe: Past and Present Reflections,” Engineering and Science, November, 1981, p. 12
[2] See, e.g., Paul Davies and John Gribbin, The Matter Myth (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992)
[3] Hyung S. Choi (Canyon Institute for Advanced Studies), “Knowledge of the Unseen: A New Vision for Science and Religion Dialogue,” The American Scientific Affiliation – Physical Science, From: Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 53.2 (June 2001): 96-101

Continue reading On Natural Laws and Miracles...

9/12/09

The Wedgie Document – Corroborating Documentation

One thing that Atheism is Dead has noted in our research of “The Wedgie” document is that scientists whose research conclusions go against the accepted orthodoxy de jour are being blacklisted. We noted that the peer review referees are more like goalies who are playing for their preferred team in purposefully stopping the other team’s balls from getting though; and then, self-servingly conveniently, triumphantly claiming other side has not scored any points.

T“The Wedgie” Document Archives

Further confirmation of this comes to us from a portion of Rochus Boerner’s essay, “Some notes on Skepticism” as he considers the fallacy of “Accusations of Selective Reporting (the ‘File Drawer Effect’).”
Following are his observations:

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

One of the standard criticisms levered by pseudoskeptics against unconventional research that relies on statistics (primarily parapsychology) is that only successful experiments were reported and the unsuccessful ones were suppressed (by burring [sic] them in the "file drawer"). Unlike the previous criticisms, the file drawer criticism is valid in principle, but I mention it in this list anyway because pseudoskeptics obsess only about the (largely imaginary) file drawers of the parapsychologists while ignoring the large file drawers of suppressed conventional science.

To cite just a few examples of what has been buried in those file drawers: fundamental criticisms of relativity are a priori ineligible for publication in the mainstream scientific journals. That's why most physicists are not aware of experimental evidence that apparently refutes special relativity. Positive results on cold fusion are similarly banned from publication, as are papers that radically question the accepted time line of human evolution. Cremo and Thompson's Forbidden Archeology contains several hundred pages of archeological discoveries that have been left to be forgotten in that particular file drawer. Veteran astronomer Halton Arp, who has been made a persona non grata in astronomy due to his discovery that modern cosmology is catastrophically wrong, describes how most of his own papers ended up in the astronomical "file drawer" instead of the astronomical journals as follows (Arp, Seeing Red, 1998):
"In the beginning there was an unspoken covenant that observations were so important that they should be published and archived with only a minimum of interpretation at the end of the paper. Gradually this practice eroded as authors began making and reporting only observations which agreed with their starting premises. The next step was that these same authors, as referees, tried to force the conclusions to support their own and then finally, rejected the papers when they did not. As a result more and more important observational results are simply not being published at the journals in which one would habitually look for such results. The referees themselves, with the aid of compliant editors, have turned what was originally a helpful system into a chaotic and mostly unprincipled form of censorship."

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the file-drawer of medical and other profit-oriented research that has been suppressed due to economic conflicts of interest is at least as thick as the body of published research. The tobacco industry had suppressed evidence that smoking causes cancer for decades, and the chemical industry has likewise suppressed evidence of public-health risks caused by its products. Examples of manipulated drug trials in medicine are legion. On July 25, 2002, The Nation published a special report titled Big Pharma, Bad Science that gives the following devastating assessment of the quality of modern medical research:
"In June, the New England Journal of Medicine, one of the most respected medical journals, made a startling announcement. The editors declared that they were dropping their policy stipulating that authors of review articles of medical studies could not have financial ties to drug companies whose medicines were being analyzed. The reason? The journal could no longer find enough independent experts. Drug company gifts and "consulting fees" are so pervasive that in any given field, you cannot find an expert who has not been paid off in some way by the industry. So the journal settled for a new standard: Their reviewers can have received no more than $10,000 from companies whose work they judge. Isn't that comforting? This announcement by the New England Journal of Medicine is just the tip of the iceberg of a scientific establishment that has been pervasively corrupted by conflicts of interest and bias, throwing doubt on almost all scientific claims made in the biomedical field."

"Unknown to many readers is the fact that the data being discussed was often collected and analyzed by the maker of the drug involved in the test. An independent 1996 study found that 98 percent of scientific papers based on research sponsored by corporations promoted the effectiveness of a company's drug. By comparison, 79 percent of independent studies found that a new drug was effective. This corruption reaches from the doctors prescribing a drug to government review boards to university research centers."

"Increasingly, the industry has converted academic research centers into subsidiaries of the companies. The billions of dollars of academic government funding essentially pays to flush out negative results, while private industry gets to profit from any successful result."

"And the results are expensive and sometimes tragic for the public. Experimental clinical drug trials are hazardous to participants and, more broadly, critical to those with life threatening conditions who need to know which treatments are fruitless to pursue. Yet researchers on industry payrolls end up pressured to suppress negative results. At the most basic level, researchers who defy their corporate sponsors know they may lose their funding."

Writer John Anthony West and geologist Robert M. Schoch have uncovered commanding geological evidence that the Egyptian Sphinx is thousands of years older than conventionally assumed, but their data has been, and is still being ignored by conventional Egyptology. When confronted with this research, Egyptologists have no explanation for it, but they insist that it cannot possibly be correct, because it contradicts their theories.

This site contains many more examples of suppressed and ignored discoveries spanning virtually the entire spectrum of human sciences. By the standards set by the pseudoskeptics themselves, therefore, almost all of science would have to be invalid. Pseudoskeptic Michael Shermer writes in "Baloney Detection" (Scientific American 11/2001, p. 36)
Watch out for a pattern of fringe thinking that consistently ignores or distorts data.

But "Consistently ignoring and distorting data" is pervasive in physics, astronomy, biology, medicine, psychology, archeology and paleoanthropology. The "file drawer effect", while not uncontrolled per se is therefore in practice an uncontrolled criticism. Due to the broken peer review system and massive conflicts of interest in commercial science, it applies to and invalidates much of accepted science.

Continue reading The Wedgie Document – Corroborating Documentation...

9/11/09

FYI: New Series on EvilBible.com

We will be taking a break from the “A Murder of Atheists” series in order to deal with a more pressing issue.

Thus, on Sunday 13th we will begin a series in which I present responses to various question, comments, assertions and fallacies that have been aimed at me regarding evilbible.com
Continue reading FYI: New Series on EvilBible.com...

A Murder of Atheists, part 4

We now continue considering the group effort by Robert Greg Cavin, Michael Martin, Theodore Drange, Robert Price, Richard Carrier, Peter Kirby, Jeffery Lowder, Evan Fales, Duncan Derrett and Keith Parsons to discredit Jesus’ resurrection?

This group, referred to as a “murder”—a term in this sense is taken from referring to a group of crows a “a murder of crows”—is refuted by one single solitary Christian, Norman L. Geisler, in his article A Critical Review of The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave which I have parsed.

Chapter 4: “Apocryphal Apparitions: 1 Corinthians 15:3-11 as a Post-Pauline Interpolation” by Robert Price

Summary of the Argument:


Price argues “This periscope presents us . . . with a piece of later, post-Pauline Christianity” (69). In other words, it was not written by Paul but is a later interpolation or redaction. In his own words, “A scribe felt he could strengthen the argument of the chapter as a whole by prefacing it with a list of ‘evidences for the resurrection’” (91). Price offers the following reasons for his view. Response will be given to each argument as presented.

First, Price attempts to shift the burden of proof from those who accept the Greek text of 1 Corinthians 15:3-11 to those who reject it.

Response: But clearly this would unreasonably undermine virtually all ancient texts by the same argument. Further, his argument from the adage that “history is written by the winners” (71) is implausible and contrary to fact. For this is not always true. Indeed, on the accepted dates of 1 Corinthians (A.D. 55-56) by even most critical scholars, Christianity was not a political winner. In fact, it was not a winner until centuries later. What is more, it is Price who bears the burden of proof on his otherwise implausible speculation.

Second, Price’s rejects the argument that a text is “innocent till proven guilty.” Indeed, he argues just the opposite.

Response: But if this were so, hardly anything could be believed from the past or present. For life would be a chaos if we assumed that road signs, speed limits, food labels, and restroom signs were wrong until proven right!

Third, he chides B. B. Warfield for claiming that only the originals are without error. He claims this is misguided and is an unfalsifiable view.

Response: First, it was not Warfield who first claimed this. St. Augustine pointed out 1500 years earlier that only the original manuscripts are without error.[1] Further, inerrancy is not unfalsifiable. All one need to do is find an original with an error in it. So, inerrancy is falsifiable in principle and could be in practice, if one found an original with an error in it. The fact that no one has yet found an error leaves open the possibility that there are none. Further, not positing inerrancy halts research for if one assumes an error in the text, then why research the matter any further. Scientists do not stop researching when they come upon an anomaly in nature, and why should we when we find a discrepancy in Scripture.

Fourth, Price lists several internal arguments against the authenticity of the resurrection. However, none are even close to being decisive. Perhaps the strongest argument is: “If the author of this passage were himself an eyewitness of the resurrection, why would he seek to buttress his claims by appeal to a thirdhand list of appearances . . . ?” (88).

Response: First of all, Price is seemingly unaware that he implies the answer in the word “buttress.” Paul did give his own first-hand experience, and then he sought to buttress it with further support from other living eyewitnesses to the event so that his readers could give confirmation. Further, even Price admits there are other possible explanations for each of his objections then. In fact, he makes a very revealing admission that his hypothesis “can in the nature of the case never be more than an unverified speculation” (93).

Fifth, Price makes the strange claim that “the resurrection of Jesus is not even at issue in 1 Corinthians 15” (96)! Thus, he thinks it is not crucial to Paul’s argument.

Response: It is difficult to see how one can read verses 12-19 and make such a claim. Here Paul lists seven disastrous consequences of denying the resurrection of Christ. Later, he calls the resurrection of Christ the “firstfruits” of those who have died (v. 20). And still later he makes Christ in His resurrection power the “last Adam” who brought life to the race in contrast to the “first Adam” who brought death (vs.46-49). Thus, it is central to Paul’s whole argument here. Finally, couple the foregoing point with Price’s acknowledgment of his view that “I freely admit the lack of direct textual evidence” (92). Indeed, one wonders why he even bothered to write the article since it gives all the appearances of grasping for straws.

To summarize:
(1) He has no manuscript evidence for his view.
(2) He admits it is “unverified speculation.”
(3) He himself lists possible alternatives to his speculation.
(4) It is contrary to some of the earliest testimony of the Church Fathers (1 Clement, Ignatius, Irenaeus, and many others).
And (5) other verses in this same section which he rejects speak of the miraculous resurrection of Christ and believers (cf. 1 Cor. 15:12, 20, 22, 26, 42-46, 53-56). So, it is simply untrue that the resurrection of Jesus is not in view here.

Sixth, Price discusses William Craig’s contention that Paul would not have made known the resurrection to them without providing this evidence by claiming it is implicit in verse 12 which Price claims reads well as a continuation of verse 2. And as for Craig’s argument that verse 12 refers back to verse 11, Price contends it refers to verse 1. In response to Craig’s argument that the logic of the chapter demands the authenticity of these verses, Price contends that he has missed the logic of the chapter with the unlikely hypothesis that “the resurrection of Jesus is not even at issue in 1 Corinthians 15” (96).
In fact, “‘evidence for the resurrection’ is way out of place there, as Bultmann and others . . . [have] observed” (96). Price also rejects Craig’s attempt to explain why the Gospels do not mention an appearance to the 500, claiming that if it had happened, then surely the Gospels would have mentioned it (81).

Response: At best, Price offers here a faulty argument from silence. He has no positive evidence for his view. What is more, as Habermas notes, even Bultmann admitted that Paul is trying to produce evidence in 1 Cor. 15. Further, some believe this appearance may be mentioned in the Gospels (as the appearance in Galilee – Matt. 28:16). Even if it is not, there is no reason why it cannot be true. After all, almost all scholars agree, even the critics, believe that Paul wrote 1 Corinthians and that it is very early – by the mid fifties.
By virtue of its being written by an eyewitness of the resurrected Christ (1 Cor. 9:1; 15:8) at such an early date and which offers multiple confirmations by other eyewitnesses, it has a rightful claim to authenticity. Further, as Habermas observes, Price also uses Galatians 1 to note Paul’s comment that he received this materials from the Lord and so he didn’t go to Jerusalem to see the other apostles. This shows that Paul was convinced by his own experience that Christ had been raised from the dead (cf. 1 Cor. 9:1).

[1] See St. Augustine, “Reply to Faustus the Manichaen,” in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, ed. Philip Schaff (Christian Literature Publication Co.,1887; reprint Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1952), 4:155-345
Continue reading A Murder of Atheists, part 4...

9/10/09

The Desperation of the Deicidal, Memetic Eugenics and the Evolutionary Watchmen, part 2 of 2

Atheism is Dead will now conclude our addendum, as it where, of the parsed essay Dan Barker and the Alien Rape Voyeurs.

Part 1 and Part 2

Part 1: Timothy McVeigh as “Christian Terrorist”
Part 2: Introductory Conclusion
Part 3: How To Be Ethical Without a God
Part 4: Threats and Promises / Punishment and Reward
Part 5: Selfish Morality
Part 6: The Alien Rape Voyeurs
Part 7: The “Problem of Evil”
Addendum: The Desperation of the Deicidal, Memetic Eugenics and the Evolutionary Watchmen, part 1 and part 2

In part 1 I noted that the Barkerian ethic, Dan Barker’s arbitrary moral commandments, are clearly not authored to function in the real words but was a tool by which to besmirch Christians. I further suspected that it was a window into Dan Barker’s appeal, however un or sub conscious, appeal to one or two of atheism’s consoling delusions: the consoling delusion of lack of ultimate accountability and the consoling delusion of absolute autonomy.

Based upon that which we considered in part 1 it may be that Dan Barker and some other atheists are attempting to get away with that which they want to get away.

Why else condemn people who are perfectly moral (metaphorically speaking) simply because Dan Barker personally does not approve that upon which they premise their moral behavior? What business is it of his?

Let us further brainstorm: what if there are people who are morally, emotionally, societally, culturally, evolutionarily—call is what you will—immature enough that they do need threats of punishment and promises of reward in order to motivate them towards moral behavior? What is it to Dan Barker or atheists in general? Why not leave them alone to continue being perfectly moral? Why badger them with your self-appointed superiority? Why bother them with your self-preferential premise of critical thinking, rational, reason, logic and other atheist consoling delusions?

This is where memetic eugenics comes into play: selecting breeding of thoughts, cultural characteristics, beliefs, etc.

Allow me to generalize that stated that atheists in general, and the militant and activist sorts in particular, have come to consider themselves arbiters of evolution. They seek to determine, to direct, to maneuver evolution towards their ends. They appear to consider themselves the watchers. They are the eyes of the blind watchmaker. They are the watchmen—but who watches the watchmen?




They claim, for example, that religion, theism, supernaturalism, etc. are, as will all things good, bad and the ugly (such as rape) byproducts of evolution (this is so even of completely contradictory observations: see Skell’s and Wiker’s comments in the hyperlink to rape). They claim that religion, theism, supernaturalism, etc. assisted in our survival and (just like rape) but are now, so they have determined, outdated and must be discarded. Evolution, of this sort, is no longer to function on natural selection but unnatural selection—human imposed selection. They are attempting to do this via dictating child rearing, co-opting science and generally demonizing and dehumanizing anyone with whom they disagree, etc.

Certainly, the atheist talking points on this issue include reference to 9/11, evil done in the name of “religion,” outdated cosmogonies, superstitions in general, etc,. etc., etc. while, of course, failing to account for the same when it is done by atheists and premised upon atheism (see From Zeitgeist to Poltergeist part 10 and part 11).

Yet, why it is the business of atheist living in the safety, comfort, freedom and overabundance of food and money of first world countries to tell people in third world countries who are eating grubs, dying of commonplace ailments and living in huts that they better get with the program? Or for that matter; who are they to tell the same to their fellow first worlders?

Who are they to promulgate the view, as stated by Dan Barker,

Darwin has bequeathed what is good…abortion is a blessing.[1]

There is no moral interpreter in the cosmos, nothing cares and nobody cares…what happens to me or a piece of broccoli, it won’t [matter] the Sun is going to explode, we’re all gonna be gone. No one’s gonna care.[2]

Or as stated by Dr. William B. Provine (Professor of Biological Sciences, Cornell University):

Let me summarize my views on what modern evolutionary biology tells us loud and clear—and these are basically Darwin's views.
There are no gods, no purposes, and no goal-directed forces of any kind.
There is no life after death. When I die, I am absolutely certain that I am going to be dead. That's the end of me.
There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning in life, and no free will for humans, either.[3]

[Incidentally, how evolutionary biology implies any such things is certainly mysterious. It appears to come down to Dr. Provine’s admission that “I hated the idea of human free will.”[4] He certainly found a self-servingly convenient way to do away with it then—he co-opted science in order to do away with what for him was a philosophically troubling problem. And to what does this lead him? “ultimate moral responsibility is nonexistent.” He thus concludes that “Blame is useless…It just creates a horrible system of criminal justice.”]

Lastly, let us note that, as per Dr. William B. Provine misosophy, the whole issue is a non issue as 1) Dan Barker serves up condemnations without providing a premise beyond his personal preferences and 2) Dan Barker is a strict determinist who does not believe in free-will.
Thus, 1) his condemnations are not only baseless but impotent—emotive and polemical, yes but baseless but impotent nonetheless—and 2) he is condemning people for doing that which they are destined, fated, biologically/biochemically predetermined to do.

As he states it:

I happen to think that we have the illusion of freewill…I’m a strict determinist. We are natural creatures. The material world is all there is. We actually don’t have what we would call libertarian freewill…I am a determinist, which means that I don’t think complete libertarian free will exists. Since we don’t know the future...we have the illusion of free will, which to me is what “free will” actually means


Let us note two points before concluding: 1) he, again, positively affirms God’s non-existence and absolute materialism, “The material world is all there is”—please prove it and 2) he notes an entry in the Barkerian Dictionary wherein “free will” does not mean “free will” but it means “the illusion of free will.”

The desperation of the deicidal is that in their quest to commit deicide they are sacrificing the cogency of their thought process; they are literally becoming more and more incapable of logically connecting one thought with the next. Where it not for their amen chorus of adherents, their enablers who are all too please to have fuel added to the fires of their own rebellious unbelief, they would be more widely recognized for the cacophonous concocters of chaotic corruptions which they are.

So, there you have it: those whose ethical system are based on threats and promises are biologically/biochemically determined to do that which you do, Dan Barker is biologically/biochemically determined to refer to them as morally bankrupt and make a living by besmirching them, I am biologically/biochemically determined to write about it, you are biologically/biochemically determined to comment on it and then we die—carpe despero!


[1] During his debate with John Rankin
[2] During his debate with Paul Manata
[3] Provine, W.B. 1994. Origins Research. 16 (1): 9.
[4] Julie Geng, “Prof Denies Human Free Will,” The Cornell Daily Sun, August 30 2005


Continue reading The Desperation of the Deicidal, Memetic Eugenics and the Evolutionary Watchmen, part 2 of 2...