acrimonious debate; this one mainly about
the "soul" and "resurrection".
Five articles follow:
of a Soulful Mind
Bible: Sifted; Substantiated; Sensational Anonymous
Surge Squeeze In Sky?
OF A SOULFUL MIND
John H Williams
response (in # 112)
to my comments in #111, I thought that I'd made myself crystal
regarding aspects of his contributions, but my words haven't been
by him, so I need to recap.
I believe that he
what I've said, as he's done with other writers who've opposed
and offered, "Is he telling me not to use scientific evidence?" As he
knows, that's not at issue, so why say it?
He's as indirect and
evasive in argument
as he's speculative in his 'connections' between the real now and the
of then. I'll try again, with apologies to all other readers for
The issue is not
"scientific evidence", but
its application to alleged happenings and characters found in an
book in a way that Mr A believes is correct, since he's proved
his own satisfaction that it's all inerrant, thereby, via barely
speculation, creating the illusion that the Bible got there first and
science is 'catching up' with the biblical version of history, "having
checked and tested its statements using scientific literature". (#112)
In #67 he
suggested that "the average
monetary cost of, for example, earthquake damage is less than the cost
of supplying humankind with shoes. Yet most of us do not rail against
because our shoes wear out." First he makes a hotly – contested
that there's a god he and others call "God", then he makes a totally
comparison between those who might rail against, say, the Aceh
excluding those who'd died, and those who might rail against the fact
shoes wear out. An earthquake/tsunami "would provide
opportunities for cooperation…producing
good feelings and friendships, so that earthquakes would be less
than regularly replacing our shoes. Indeed, people might even pray for
His science on plate
tectonics is faultless,
but his application of it to what he believes "the Bible
is utterly bizarre!
He and I both read New
so I'm often familiar with much of what he quotes. Sometimes I
his use of a discovery or revelation, such as "Mitochondrial Eve" and
him speculating on an invented biblical character whose behaviour
helped 'create' a 'sinful' DNA destiny. That there's a word, sin, much
moralistic 'god-botherers', is no evidence that such a thing exists:
also unicorn, dragon, heaven, hell, the devil, the fall, purgatory,
angels and all gods.
I've criticised Mr A's
method as literal,
presumptuous and contrived, to which he's impervious, for he 'explains
away' his grossly speculative explanations, using analogies and
which obfuscate, effectively muddying the waters. No matter how hard I
try or how often I re-read, as impertinently advised by him, it remains
as clear as Torrens Lake water. Over nearly ten years I've wondered if
this 'technique' is deliberate sophistry or whether Mr A is incapable
clear and direct written communication: maybe it's a combination of the
Mr A's latest
explanation, in responding
to Dean Dowling's questions in #111, is 'Resurrection and Other Simple
Questions' in #112.
1 Where is the
evidence for life after death?
evidence for the existence
of a soul?
one dies is
one resurrected two to
three days after death?
4 Is all
belief just wishful thinking?
isn't any (see
Harry Edwards' in
#113 et al).
response to Q1).
notice that religious thinking
tends to be wishful.
Here's Mr A's
introductory paragraph, p 37:
"To minimise theology and answer Dowling in accord with experience
and science (?) I'll make "soul" synonymous with mind. Therefore
anyone who experiences having a mind also has a soul"!
With extreme economy,
chutzpah, Mr A 'answers' the unanswerable by turning soul into
without any rationale for his 'switcheroo', or any attempt to define
Dowling meant by the word!
I'll do what Mr A
ought to have done, via
the 1995 edition of the Collins Concise (Australian Edition).
the eleven meanings of soul, only two are applicable to the version I
that Dowling referred to:
or immaterial part
of man, the seat of the human personality, intellect, will and
emotions, regarded as an entity that survives the body
(for this latter part, see "wishful thinking").
2 This, I
what is understood
to be applicable in a religious context:
"Christianity. The spiritual part
of a person, capable of redemption from sin through divine grace". (My
use of bold)
My Collins gives 24
meanings for mind! The
ones closest to soul in those above are (trust me):
1 "the human
to which are ascribed
thought, feelings, intention, etc"
intellect, as opposed
to feelings or wishes"
original or creative thought: it's all in the mind" (this one
is, I submit, particularly
I won't labour the
obvious, though Mr A may
well dispute it and find a source more in keeping with his sophistry.
just seventeen words he left key terms undefined, having told us that
X is term Y, a bravura sleight of mind!
There's no mention
in the definitions
of 'mind' of being a soul, an entity which "survives the body after
and "capable of redemption."
Ergo: soul is NOT
synonymous with mind! Au
contraire, it is mind that thinks up soul, and since the mind
generally accepted as the bit that 'happens' in the smarter parts of
brain, once a human dies, so too does anything thought up by the grey
its circuitry fizzles, the last light is off-switched, saying sayonara
to existence, and 'hello' to a state already 'experienced' for what
have seemed like an eternity, or at least 4.6 billion years.
I apply Occam's Razor,
in partnership with
Cleese's "the bleedin' obvious": there aren't "50, 60 or 70
resurrected dead" 'up there' or wherever (Anonymous p37/8 # 112),
because all the 'souls' which 'existed' in billions of minds couldn't
gone anywhere, since they and their former brains remain (permanently)
dead. That a supposed entity, soul, leaves a brain and somehow
itself (how?) to a supposed place (in the sky?) where 'it' 'lives' for
ever, is, I submit, absurd and worthy of ridicule.
Before I shuffle off
for eternity – the chances
of my mind/soul floating 'offshore' being lower than many – I'd like to
see just one writer, preferably with the intellect (mind) of a
Potter or an Edwards, and who, like them, can write lucid, terse and
prose, confirm that Mr A is right, and why. It's not going to happen,
Mr A may savour all
this, see it as yet another
challenge, hit the books, one in particular, and attempt to
but whatever he writes I will return to my previous policy of not
to Mr A's voluminous writing. I hope that no-one perceives this
as a 'win' to anyone.
To return to my theme,
and my piece in #109:
I expressed an
(exaggerated) "shock and discomfort"
at finding Mr A and I on the same side regarding ID, since I believed,
with some reason, that we were diametrically opposed on almost
except good science.
I understand that some
ID adherents, such
as Jerry Bergman, are Young Earth Creationists with a literal
of Genesis, and thus share very similar beliefs to Mr A, though as he
out, he 'verifies' his creationism by, in my opinion, misusing science.
Ken Ham, an Australian
who changed his former
surname to that of 'Mr and Mrs Noah's first son', is a 'successful'
heavily involved in telling YEC lies for God. Both Ham and Mr A share a
belief in 'God and the Bible's 'truths'. As an aside, here's a
sickening example, in which Ham addresses a group of children at a
Boys and girls, if
a teacher mentions evolution, dinosaurs or the Big Bang, put up your
and say, "Excuse me, were you there?" Can you remember that?
Sometimes people will
answer, "No, but you weren't there either." Say, I have a book about
history of the world (waves the Bible). Who's the only one who's always
Who knows everybody?
So who should you
trust, God or scientists?
I'll let this shocking
and mendacious exchange
speak for itself.
That Mr A has
apparently 'refuted' x or y
and 'proved' it to his own satisfaction is no
as I said, "self-proof is a contradiction", meaning that those other
Mr A ought to be doing the validation of his unusual beliefs.
When I wrote "normally
in any discourse one
lets one's ideas speak for themselves", what I meant was obvious: that
Mr A apparently found this difficult to grasp reinforces my criticism
his writing and style of argument. I asked that Mr A cease the annoying
and tedious mantra found in many of his articles, telling us how many
he's 'proved' or 'refuted' this or that. Assuming a negative response,
I requested that the Editor do it.
I admit I was wrong in
implying that Mr A
is humourless, for at the end of his article he 'advises' Dowling: "If
you have further questions why not go to church (which?) and inquire
Oh, ha ha!
It's well known that I
dislike aspects of
Mr A's work, apart from his anonymity (when can we expect him to 'come
out'?), in particular his hubris ('I am right because I've proved it to
myself'), his moralistic judgements, based on a literal interpretation
of The Bible, his voluminous and unclear explanations, examples and
– apples frequently becoming oranges – and his capacity to
critics in a tediously convoluted way.
I too am becoming
voluminous, so will end.
I'd like to think that all readers will find my opinions unambiguous
In his "Mythteries"
article (#114) Mr Williams
accuses me of "sophistry" and of proving to my "own satisfaction" that
the Bible is "inerrant".
I do not recall
labelling the Bible inerrant
but wrote: "For my investigations I
rely on mainstream
science. I do not assume the Bible to be true but check its statements
using scientific literature. I did this with Creationism, Adam and Eve
(See #110), and scores of other topics…"
I don't know what
Williams wants when he
tells me to let "ideas speak for themselves" and "self proof is a
in terms", is he telling me not to use scientific evidence?
If I want to check
how fast steel balls will
fall I would drop a few and time their descent or consult a book on
That's science. I investigate the Bible similarly. (#112)
What I do is investigate
Bible statements by
consulting textbooks, journals, reports and magazines. Let me
The Bible says that
Saul, David and Solomon
did battle with the Edomites. (I Samuel 14:47; II Samuel 8:13-14; I
11:14-16) This implies that Edom was a complex society able to field an
however, maintain that in
David's time Edom was a pastoral society of wandering Bedouins:
Director of the British
School of Archaeology in Jerusalem, started [in 1971] excavating the
at Buseirah. Her intention, she admits, was to find evidence to confirm
the Biblical account that there had been an Edomite city there in the
century BC: she was looking for Biblical Bozrah…
found that there
had been no city there,
no occupation of any kind, before the end of the eighth century BC…
investigations indicate that
Edom reached statehood only under Assyrian auspices in the seventh
B.C.E. (Finkelstein & Silberman 2001)
New excavations in 2002
at Khirbat en-Nahas,
50km south of the Dead Sea, revealed a copper smelting industry that
about 1200 BC along with a large fort and numerous buildings. This
indicates that Edom was:
…a complex society
the ability to construct
major buildings, defend itself with strong fortifications and create a
technologically sophisticated organization to draw copper from ore and
thereafter to manufacture objects with it. If it could do this, there
no reason to doubt that it could also field an army." (Levy &
The previous faulty
conclusion came about because
archaeologists had mainly worked in Edom's eastern, fertile highlands.
Edom's economic power, however, actually lay 1,500 metres lower down,
the semi-arid, western lowlands!
The sins of the fathers
are, indeed, visited
on subsequent generations. Nutrition and smoking in early life may
the health of men's sons and grandsons, a new study has revealed.
London geneticist Marcus
Pembrey who made this
discovery stated: "The Bible says the sins of the fathers are visited
his children unto the third and fourth generations." (Ibid p. 10)
The Bible verses are
Exodus 20:5; 34:7; Numbers
14:18; Deuteronomy 5:9.
statement was fulfilled politically
(e.g. Genesis 15:16; II Kings 10:30; 15:12). But since the Bible often
links obedience to the Scriptures with health and prosperity, it's
to also interpret the "third and fourth generations" threat medically,
genetically and economically.
newspaper The Advertiser,
expected in Australia's
multimillion-dollar gemstone industry.
discovery that the precious
gems come from volcanic rocks.
two-year study by NSW
Mineral resources Department scientists has identified the primary
promises to provide a basis
for exploration procedures in other areas of Australia…
virtually all sapphires mined…came
from river floodplain "alluvial" deposits, but the source of the gems
never been identified.
scientists had determined
the stones originate from volcanic rocks called tuffs, which rarely are
exposed to the surface… (May 2, 1987, p. 2)
The Bible agrees that
sapphires originate underground,
in places not "exposed to the surface". Job 28:1-4 describes mining
and mining activity. After that it says:
As for the
of it comes bread;
but underneath it is turned up as by fire. Its stones are the place of
sapphires, and it has dust of gold. (Job 28:5-6)
Delitzsch (1949, p. 98)
interprets verse 5:
…the earth above
furnishes nourishment to
man…he also digs out its inward parts…since this is turned or tossed
mining work, as when fire breaks out in a house, or even as when a
fire rumbles in a mountain…
A possible alternative
that verse 5 – "turned up as by fire" – refers not to mining but to
or volcanic conditions "underneath the earth" – but that's speculative.
WHAT IS TESTABLE
I test in the Bible
what is testable to see
if it's plausible or false.
Already hundreds of
Bible points in at least
15 scientific disciplines – including archaeology, astronomy,
psychology and zoology – have come up trumps. Often the Bible seemed
until newer science refuted previous faulty science.
Some Bible claims,
however, are at present
not testable or only indirectly testable — for example the Soul:
Williams (in #114)
criticised my comments
about the soul which I made to Dean Dowling who had asked for evidence.
With extreme economy,
chutzpah, Mr A answers the unanswerable by turning soul into mind,
without any rationale for his 'switcheroo'…he left key terms undefined,
having told us that term X is term Y, a bravura sleight of hand.
Williams claims he
11 meanings of "soul"
and 24 of "mind" and supplied this definition as the relevant one
or immaterial part
of man, the seat of the human personality, intellect, will and
emotions, regarded as an entity that survives the body
I did not wish to
consider various sectarian
doctrines of soul or of resurrection. Nor can "The spirit or
be tested scientifically.
Believers in a soul or
in resurrection, however,
have this in common: They believe that the post-death experience
the continuation of one's thoughts and recall of one's past life. The
element of various life-after-death concepts is that the mind survives,
with memories intact, and knows itself. The mind, therefore, would have
to be an essential component of the "soul".
Therefore a testable
approach to the soul
was to consider whether the mind could survive death and continue in a
different medium detached from the brain.
I cited four lines of
research that scientists
are already working on by which people may eventually survive
(#112 pp 37-39) My argument was that if human technology can
preserve the mind after the body dies, then for God, if he exists and
the power attributed to him, it would be easy. No "switcheroo" or
– but testing the doctrine to the extent possible.
Williams asked the
additional question of
how the soul "transmits itself to a supposed place in the sky?" Again,
think of the more-testable aspect, i.e. the mind:
Science is already
(#112 p. 39) and also considering ways of preserving minds
If that much becomes humanly possible, then transmission of the mind
become as simple as sending e-mail. Again God, if he exists with the
attributed to Him, could do infinitely better.
Williams also brought
up the theodicy debate
(the question of God and evil) of eight years ago where I answered the
skeptical claim that the notion of an all-powerful God who loves humans
is incompatible with human suffering. Williams presented it thus:
In #67 he suggested
that "the average monetary
cost of, for example earthquake damage is less than the cost of
humankind with shoes. Yet most of us do not rail against God because
shoes wear out." First he made the hotly-contested assumption that
a god…then he makes a totally invalid comparison between those who
rail against, say, the Aceh disaster and the fact that shoes wear out.
(#114 p. 53)
I explained eight years
ago that studying theodicy does not require the "assumption
that there's a god".
courses on theodicy do not require that students believe in God.
students of English literature who discuss "Why Did Romeo and Juliet
Suicide?" The students can consider this question even if Romeo and
are fictitious. Similarly the question of how God and evil could
is a logical problem which can be considered even if God is fictitious.
Mr Williams also
misrepresented the "shoes"
comment. However, it's on the Internet and readers can read for
Williams says that
people "other than Mr
A ought to be doing the validation of his unusual beliefs."
Firstly, acceptance of
science is hardly
"unusual". Secondly, the laboratory and field work is done by other
people. I mainly do a paper chase to find their published research
or reports about it.
I repeat, what I do is
go to science publications
to check whether claims in the Bible are correct. Scholars consult
and judges and juries listen to witnesses. I do much the same. Why does
Williams, who is exceptionally intelligent, still not understand this?
Perhaps he overrates
himself and therefore
reads too superficially? Dunning et al (2005), in Scientific
Mind, wrote about "swelled heads":
Our self-image suffers
from poor perspective:
we constantly overestimate our skills and overlook flaws… In study
study, researchers have found that self-ratings of aptitude hold only a
tenuous to modest relation, at best, with actual performance… As a
the average person claims to be above average in skill – a conclusion
in aggregate, defies statistical possibility… People…hold inflated
of their expertise, skills and character.
The Bible expresses
I bid every one among
you not to think of
himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober
Mr Williams needs to stop assuming he knows it all and do some
re-reading. He needs to re-acquaint himself with what we wrote before
so that it won't need explanation again.
HUNDREDS of testable
claims in the Bible
are scientifically accurate. If from this finding someone infers that
rest of the Bible is also true and this prompts him into a life of
his decision would be rational since it's based on testable evidence.
Delitzsch, F. 1949 Biblical
On The Book of Job, Volume 2, Eerdmans.
Dunning, D. et al. Scientific
Mind Number 4, 2005, pp 20-27.
Finkelstein, I. &
Silberman, N. A. 2001 The Bible Unearthed, p. 68.
Hooper, R. New
Scientist, 7 January,
2006, p. 10.
Levy, T. E. &
Najjar, M. Biblical
Archaeology Review, July/August 2006, pp 24-35.
Magnussen, M. 1977 The
the Bible Lands, pp 73-74.
John H Williams
#115, pages 52-53 has an anonymous and thus
cowardly personal attack on
I request that the editor exercise appropriate editorial control in
The author's use of
direct sarcasm (the lowest
form of wit), as well as speculation about whether I have a "swelled
or "flawed self-image", implies that personal invective is acceptable
this magazine. Such writing lowers the tone of the Investigator.
I don't believe that
I've been hubristic,
nor have I implied that I know it all. The writer concerned
lectured me, based on his misunderstanding of what I meant by his
beliefs", which refer to his literal interpretation of Genesis myths,
sin 'inherited' from Adam 'n' Eve in a non-existent Middle Eastern
inter alia. Regarding validation, I meant having other Investigator
writers expressing agreement and support, which has been sparse.
If someone who'd never
met me had the gall
to tell me to my face he thought I was "exceptionally intelligent",
find himself confronted by me, while those more pacifist than I would
him with deserved silent scorn.
The anonymous attack
was contemptible. I
point out the obvious: his invective could equally well apply to
The next time he makes personal reference to my alleged shortcomings, I
ask that he show some "character" and append his name.
John H Williams
SURGE SQUEEZE IN SKY?
John H Williams
That supposed in-sky
storage depot of departed
entities known as souls may be even more crowded than quoted (in #112
p. 37), though one should factor in those billions being
rotisseried 'down below'.
The US Population
in 2002 estimated former humans at 106 billion. This figure is clearly
a 'best estimate', based on some extrapolation and guesswork.
That number is
influenced by the work of
Carl Haub and his 2002 United Nations paper, Determinants and
Trends, and it
assumes the first Homo
sapiens appeared about 50,000 years ago, a figure open to debate.
Arthur Clarke (in
2001) wrote, "Behind every
man now alive stand 30 ghosts, for that is the ratio by which the dead
outnumber the living." It's closer to 16 ghosts (mid-2007), if we
the 106 billion.
The table below gives
lower and upper limits
and gives the estimates of several demographers.
||1 - 10
||5 - 20
||170 - 400
||254 - 310
||629 - 720
||1,550 - 1,625
||2,400 - 2,520
On the Internet biblical
issues that could
be settled in five or ten pages sometimes go to over 100! Much of the
effort consists of recriminations, putdowns, sarcasm and invective.
Williams' "exceptional intelligence"
(#115 p. 52) was no insult. One of my university lecturers so-described
his students and explained, "You are among the top 5% of Australians in
p. 42) is even more distinguished than the top 5%!
why he was repeating
objections I answered long ago, requiring me to answer them again. I
that despite his "exceptional intelligence" he needs to do some
I cited Scientific American Mind to show that people, even the
tend to overrate their abilities. "Swelled head" was a phrase used in
magazine – it was not my sum-up of Williams.
The Bible says
peace with all people"
and "Blessed are the peacemakers." A peaceful approach to debate saves
words by avoiding "invective" and other emotive terms and thereby makes
presentation of evidence more concise and its evaluation easier.
evidence for the Bible
that I'll only be able to organize and share some of it in my lifetime.
Therefore I don't waste the space allotted to me in Investigator
with "contemptible…cowardly personal attack".
of biblical claims investigated/debated here: