(Investigator 98, 2004 September)
THE BIBLE SUPPORTED IN FIVE AREAS
Following the publication of a letter in a local newspaper questioning the existence of God and the truth of the Bible I received a response from a gentleman with degrees in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. He argued, "God exists" and that the "Bible is true." He supported his contentions by claiming personal investigation and observation in five areas.
1. The world in which we live
2. Eyewitness accounts
5. My own experience
1. THE WORLD IN WHICH WE LIVE
How did we get here? There are two primary theories:
Is Evolution correct?
reports of an
individual who was able
to do amazing things. A large number of people who saw the same thing
credibility to the reported incidents. An independent historian named
who lived around the time of Jesus wrote about a man called John the
and also about a person called Jesus who did amazing miracles. However,
eyewitness accounts can be fraudulent.
The ability to predict the future with 100% accuracy is beyond the possibility of any person.
a list of prophecies
taken from the Bible allegedly predicted hundreds of years beforehand
Many artefacts have shown very close agreement with the writings contained within the Bible.
terribly wrong with the world.
Some people have more than they need. Others struggle to survive. The
is damaged by self-interest. If evolution were true this selfishness
be the natural consequence of chemical reactions yet we all know the
between right and wrong. This answers my question about whether God
and confirms my suspicions that the Bible is true.
EXCHANGE OF INFORMATION
thanking him for
his comments but that
I was not interested in indulging in protracted personal
However, I suggested he may be interested in corresponding through the
medium of INVESTIGATOR Magazine. The following exchange then
I agree with you, that individual correspondence is too time consuming, and I am not particularly interested in debating the Evolution vs Creation topic at great length. When I think about Evolution, I am struck by the absence of even one single item of evidence, which offers credible proof as to its validity. Can you tell me just ONE thing about evolution, that You know for CERTAIN to be true? All I wish to say is that it takes MUCH GREATER faith to believe the evolution hypothesis, than it does to believe the Creation account of our existence, and when you stand back and look at all the jigsaw pieces (some of which I sent you) I think there is more than enough evidence to determine an answer to the question whether God exists or not. Thank you
Evidence? Yes – pre-Cambrian fossils. Observable evolutionary processes occurring today include the herring gull and the black-backed gull, the drosophilid flies, the Vinegar fly and the Apple maggot fly. I have prepared a detailed response to your letter which alas, in my opinion, exhibited several misconceptions, faulty reasoning and erroneous conclusions.
Once again I
send a copy to the magazine
I recommended as this will enable me to comment publicly on your
and will also solicit replies from other well informed individuals.
I can preface my response with extracts from your letter but then as a
non-contributor you won't get to see it.
I would very much like to see the detailed responses that you have prepared, regarding my original letter to you. I would also like to see the evidence, that you mentioned, regarding proof of evolution in various insects species. Would it be possible to obtain this information somewhere?
Evidence of insect evolution can be found in "Creationism - An Australian Perspective" by Drs Martin Bridgstock and Ken Smith.
you submit an article
to the magazine as I suggested or (2) shall I submit my response to the
magazine prefaced by your letter or (3) if for some reason you do not
to be identified shall I do as in (2) but edit out any personal
Look, 1 am not interested in a protracted letter exchanging campaign. With regards to the magazine, I don't know if that is wise either, as I don't intend to subscribe, and don't know if my letter will be of any interest, and I would probably not see the replies (if any) anyway.
Besides, dealing with people who aren't prepared to look at situations from different angles, with an open mind, is usually not a prudent use of time – as I'm sure you would agree. Some people are like concrete: Set solid, and unmovable. So, if you are able to save us both some time, by directing my attention to an area of research, or the publication of some documentary proof that supports your argument, then I'll be happy to follow that up. All I ask is that it be fairly easy for me to locate – not buried in some jungle trail amid inter-faculty archives, somewhere. Facts are what we are looking for, not one person's biased opinion, against another's. That sort of discussion should be left for the coffee shop crowd.
I re-iterate that I would very much like to see, what evidence you have to support your belief in evolution as fact, and I guarantee you that I will not initiate a protracted letter writing exchange afterwards. After looking at what you have provided, I will endeavour to reply, and then leave it at that. Is that a fair proposal? Creationism - Is that a book? A magazine article? Location? Where is the info on the birds and insects too?
"Creationism – An Australian Perspective" (a book) is out of print but you may get a copy from Australian Skeptics Inc. PO Box 268 Roseville 2069.
I can only repeat what I said in my letter – that to debate religion, particularly the existence of God, is a futile pursuit. However, I enjoy playing the Devil's advocate so as a matter of courtesy, and in response to your invitation to comment, I have gone through your letter point by point.
It's a pity you are not interested in the opinions of others who are eminently qualified to comment. To me this indicates that you have already answered your questions to your own satisfaction.
You claim to have researched your material and after briefly putting the arguments for and against evolution and creation theories conclude that God exists and that the Bible is true. In my opinion the research left much to be desired, was subjective, misconceived and tended to ally incompatible and irrelevant subjects. You list five areas you conclude provide a definite answer to the questions "Does God exist?" and "Is the Bible is true?"
The first is a misconception about the big bang theory. You say, "There was nothing – then an explosion." The big bang model postulates a universe expanding rapidly from a highly compressed primordial state – extremely high temperatures and density. Not "nothing." Then, comparing evolution with creation you ask and "Which one is true?" In the case of evolution you concede, "There are some very strong clues." In the case of creation you use the "intelligent design" argument. I suggest you read Richard Dawkin's The Blind Watchmaker to become better informed.
While there is plenty of evidence to support the big bang and evolution theories to make them plausible, it takes an incredible amount of blind faith to conceive of flesh, blood and bones being made out of dust or fashioned on a potter's wheel.
In the second area you suggest that eyewitness accounts are evidence enough but admit they can be fraudulent. Personally I wouldn't say fraudulent – unreliable, uninformed or misinterpreted would be better descriptions. That a large number of people see, say or believe something doesn't give credibility to a claim.
Examples: Millions once believed the world to be flat and that the sun revolved around it. On 13 October, 1917, an estimated crowd of 70,000 people saw the sun "dance" at Fatima, yet the phenomenon was reported nowhere else – suggesting mass hallucination. Millions of Sai Baba's devotees believe he performs miracles when in fact they have been exposed as simple magic tricks. The ancients believed that disease was possession by evil spirits, we now know better. Jesus allegedly turned water into wine – a simple magic trick – even I can go one better than that and turn the wine back into water!
Eyewitnesses, anecdotal reports and biased historical accounts are notoriously unreliable. Flavius Josephus (37-100 AD) the Jewish historian, did not live around the time of Jesus as claimed by you, but was born nearly 40 years after his death. His books (the Antiquities) were published almost 100 years after the death of Christ and only contain brief references to Jesus. (Books XIII 63ff and XX 200). However, any implication in the texts of Christ's divinity could not have come from Josephus. The passages undoubtedly represent the tampering (if not invention) of later Christian copyists. There are no references to support the existence of a deity. As a historian, Josephus shares the faults of ancient writers: his analyses are superficial, his chronology faulty and his facts exaggerated.
In the area of prophecy I agree entirely that it is impossible to predict the future with 100% accuracy, in fact I go further – it's not possible to predict the future at all. How often has the "second coming" been prophesied? An analysis of the predictions of Nostradamus will demonstrate why one can't predict the future, and an understanding of the laws of probability and coincidence will show how it is so easy to fool people into believing the prophesies to be true. I recommend James Randi's The Mask of Nostradamus.
Among the archaeological findings you listed are:
The Arch of Titus (81 AD) built to commemorate the capture of Jerusalem in 70 AD. At that time the Romans were worshiping a pantheon of gods. Christianity and monotheism only becoming Rome's official religion under Constantine nearly 200 years later.
The Merneptah Stele (one of four being the Israel Stela) commemorates Meneptah's suppression of the revolt in Palestine in 1200 BC. Egyptians at that time certainly had no knowledge of the Bible or of the Christian God.
The Cyrus cylinder I assume refers to the Akkadian cuneiform text, which records events in the life of Cyrus, the Great, who founded the Persian Empire around 500 BC. There arc no references in that text to the Christian God or to the Bible.
The Sennacherib Prism details the siege of Jerusalem in 701 BC. Although there are references in the Bible to this event in 2 Kings 18:13-19:36 and Isa. 36:1-37:37, they refer to two campaigns whereas the original Assyrian source mentions only one.
It would appear then, that although artefacts may corroborate some biblical stories they only confirm that they are historically accurate. In particular the existence of certain cities, localities and individuals. The artefacts mentioned above commemorate battle victories and wars and in no way provide evidence of God's existence or the truth of the Bible in every respect.
Finally, your personal experience. I agree, the world could be a better place in many respects. Steps in the right direction would be a more equitable distribution of wealth. More bureaucratic and corporate accountability. The allocation of priorities where common sense and humanitarianism dictates – such as money for medical research and the prevention of disease instead of WMD. The encouragement of' people to be more self-reliant and responsible for their actions and not least of all – the abolition of all religions whose teachings are based on superstition, myth, legend, and miracles.
There is something radically wrong with our values when we treat some humans like gods. We pay them millions of dollars to kick a ball around (David Beckham – $62,000,000 for a four year contract, Harry Kewel $17M). We make national icons out of those whose only talents are being able to run or swim fast. But this is socio-economics and has nothing to do with the existence of God or the truth of the Bible. Self-interest stems from an inherent desire to survive, procreate and dominate (survival of the fittest) and has been with us since man first wielded a club. It's a fact of life and I'm afraid superstitious beliefs in such things as the existence of a creator God, miracles, the power of prayer and religion in general has on more than a few occasions motivated him to use it. Yes, parts of the Bible are true but only when it comes to its historicity. It in no way provides compelling evidence of God's existence. If it comforts you to believe otherwise – that's your prerogative.
the following but I
declined to reply. I have however for the purpose of this article
Thank you for your reply. As promised this will be my final reply, as I don't wish to consume too much of your valuable time. I really appreciate you taking the time to respond, and your sharing of your vast knowledge with me. You appear to have spent a lot of time researching this topic.
Re: The opinions of others: Actually I am interested in the expert opinions of others, which is why I have corresponded with you. What I am not interested in, are drawn-out arguments over technical matters, regarding events and/or theories which neither of us have witnessed, which is what I suspect the magazine approach would become. I am very, very, very, very busy, with many tasks to complete, which is why it took me so long to write to you in the first place.
Big bang: How did the matter get there in the beginning? I am curious about that "fact." What caused the explosion? I am curious about that "fact?" What caused living things to form? (DNA needs proteins before it can form, but proteins need DNA before they can form). I am curious about that "fact?" Rocks are used to date fossils, and fossils date rocks? I am amazed at that "fact." Rock dating discrepancies are simply discarded! I am amazed at that. What about the missing links? (Stephen J Gould: "there are no transitional fossils." Dr Colin Patterson: "there is not one such fossil for which one could make a watertight argument.") I am curious about those missing facts?
I cannot answer the question about the big bang and I doubt anyone can. As for the rest there are explanations for them all but it's not incumbent on me to spend time doing the research for others. There are many books available and the explanations are there for anyone seeking them. The quotes are probably taken out of context.
I repeat my question: Can you tell me any one thing about evolution, which you KNOW FOR CERTAIN to be true? (No – it's all hypothesis)
I have already answered that question.
Actually, if the truth be known, I am all for evolution. I think it would be great to have wings one day, so that humans could fly to places rather than travel by road/train.
And I also think it would be great to have gills like a fish, so that we could swim under water for hours. However, when I sit down, and ponder all the necessary changes that would be required to alter human DNA to achieve this, I must admit, "I must be dreaming." Observation of the real world in which I live says that it will never happen. It is very easy to lose information – but very difficult to acquire vast amounts of useful, meaningful, correctly sequenced information in order to turn a human with no wings, into a human with wings capable of self sustained flight. How then a worm with no eyes, no legs, no ears, no arms, etcetera, into a fully functioning human being!
The writer overlooks the fact that evolutionary changes took place over hundreds of millions of years not overnight. Again I refer him to the many books available on how these evolutionary changes took place. Regarding wings and gills, the rapid pace of medical technology may make this possible sooner than he thinks! I wouldn't give up hope yet – after all the humble maggot turns into a blowfly, the legless tadpole into the powerful-legged frog and the multi-legged caterpillar metamorphoses into a beautiful winged butterfly!
Experiment: Why not switch your computer "on/off" a few billion times, to see if your operating system evolves to a higher level of Windows!
I don't see the connection. Garbage in garbage out! One thing's sure though – the switch would have taken on a different form and run out of warranty!
It surprises me to see the refusal of some people to acknowledge what is obvious. When I look at, for example, a light switch on a wall, it is obvious that someone, or some people, designed & manufactured it. When I look at more complex things like, for example, a motor vehicle, it is obvious that someone, or some people designed and built it. Now, the greater the complexity of the item, the greater the likelihood that it had to be designed and manufactured by people with greater and greater skill. I wouldn't expect primary school students to successfully design a jet aeroplane.
Faulty analogies. It is a mistake to compare the evolutionary development of animate beings and the technological development of inanimate objects. The switch was developed from a bulky two brass contacts and a bridging knife to the stage where a miniaturised electronic version can now be operated without any physical contact.
Thus, when I look at the amazing complexity of a human being, it must surely, continue by logical default, that someone, or something with immense intelligence must have played a part in the design and manufacture. If this is not clear, then I'm sorry.
As I said before, there is plenty of evidence to support evolution theories to make them plausible but it takes an incredible amount of faith to conceive of a creator. The obvious counter to ‘an intelligent being' is where did it come from and what preceded it? I have already recommended reading Dawkin's ‘The Blind Watchmaker'.
Eyewitness accounts: Yep. The world is full of lies and deceit. I saw a video the other day, which claimed that the US Apollo moon landings were faked. I was interested to watch the show, and the evidence presented was quite amazing. Official NASA photographs were released with the cross-hairs UNDERNEATH parts of some of the objects on the image. Now, as the cross hairs were supposed to have been etched onto the lenses of the cameras that the astronauts used, this could not have been possible, unless the images were "fudged." So, yes, I agree with you that eyewitness accounts can be incorrect.
There is little doubt that photography and computer technology has blurred the difference between virtual reality and reality. I saw the documentary too but was satisfied with the official explanations. In addition, when one considers how easily and frequently government papers are ‘leaked', a deception such as a fake moon landing involving thousands of people would be a secret hard to conceal. Also on record is the data at the Parkes Radio Telescope, which was involved in the tracking of Apollo 11.
Eyewitnesses: Can be misled. True. This is just one piece of the puzzle for "consideration." Josephus (37 - 100AD): You say he was born 40 years AFTER Jesus death. But if Jesus was born 0BC (though actual date may be a little different), and died in his mid-thirties (35AD), then 37AD is quite close - not 40 years, and you say he didn't have parents?
Not quite sure what he meant about ‘parents' I don't recall having mentioned them.
Prophecies: The Bible was written progressively, yet contained many predictions that were not realised until after they had come true. How could this be? As for the second coming, the Bible says no one knows the hour.
Some of the predictions the writer mentioned were made hundreds of years before the alleged events, in one case 1500 years before. Given that sort of time frame and the hundreds of thousands of events that occur during such a lengthy period, you can make just about anything fit sooner or later. For example, my predictions for the next five years are: There will be a plane crash with a large loss of life. An earthquake. The death of a film star. There will be floods in Bangladesh and the value of shares will rise and fall! All will come to pass simply because of the laws of probability.
Archaeology: Merneptah's Stele mentions the word ISRAEL. That is the important part. Cyrus: mentioned in Isaiah 45:1
None of the above makes any difference to what I've already said.
Personal experience: I seem to recall some time ago, you were involved with a public debate with Barry Newman, one Saturday evening, on some topic about God – I can't remember exactly. (It was ‘God is Just'). Anyway, from the reports in the Manly Daily afterwards, you commented how you had been expecting a hostile reception, but were surprised by the warmth you received by the Christian people. That difference is the Holy Spirit.
It was said with tongue in cheek! I was born, baptised and confirmed as a Christian but when I reached the age when I could rationalise chose not to believe in the existence of a supernatural being, the resurrection, the virgin birth, miracles, heaven and hell. This doesn't mean to say I have no empathy with other beings – believers or otherwise. As an atheist debating a devout Christian in a church hall with a predominantly church-going audience of over 200 I must admit I was a little surprised at the warm reception. Even more surprising was the tremendous ovation I received when the debate finished! The cakes and coffee were great too!
Anyway, my time is up, so I guess we will just have to agree to disagree. Thanks Harry, and may God bless you, with much happiness and joy and peace of heart, in this troubled world.
Not well informed but a nice fellow all the same!