Tuesday, January 27, 2009

My Debate with a Christian Meterologist

The following is a debate that I had over the course of a couple months, via e-mail, with a Christian who e-mailed me after we had some discussions on the comment section on a blog on the local newspaper's website. For the purposes of this post, I will be referred to as Midwest Atheist, and he will be John. My e-mails will be in Blue (or black since Blogspot is crappy and changed all of my text effects after I published it) and his will be Green.




12/7/08
Thanks for your willingness to chat. Let me give you a brief summary of where I am coming from and why I believe the way I do at the same time attempting to keep it brief. I was raised in a Christian home and always believed that Jesus died for my sins. However, I never made Him Lord of my life until much later. I went living my life as I saw fit. I drifted away from the church in my college years, but still believed but wasn’t active. In fact didn’t think much about it. I guess you could call me a “Sunday Christian”. Although like I said didn’t really attend church on a regular basis. As I got older I ran into some major health problems. I didn’t know because I thought I was healthy, but had not adequately watched my blood pressure. After a year of testing, trying to control my blood pressure, visiting doctors every month or so, I was diagnosed with stage 3 kidney failure by a nephrologists. It was due to my high blood pressure and the damage that had been done was irreversible. The Kidneys were functioning at 50 to 60 percent. He said that the deterioration would continue and we would need to find out what rate they were deteriorating at, to know when a transplant may be needed or dialysis. Needless to say I wasn’t prepared for this news. Nothing I could do would or could change that. In addition I was having troubles in my marriage and realized that everything was out of control despite my best efforts (You see I was living my life the way I wanted, my own little reality). It was at that point, that I dropped to my knees and made Jesus both my Lord and Savior, that was on October 17th, 2005. The doctor wanted me to go to the Mayo Clinic for one more test, it was the test that was used for transplants. He also wanted to do a biopsy of the Kidney to make sure that there wasn’t anything else going on. The Mayo test was October 28th and the biopsy was scheduled for November 15th. In the meantime I had prayed, that I be healed, but if that was not God’s will that I be able to handle whatever came my way. In either case I dedicated my life to Him and knew that he had my best interest in mind. While I was getting up after one of my prayers, I thought out of the blue popped into my head, what if this test revealed my kidneys were functioning at 85 percent. I didn’t think much about it and was still expecting the worst. On November 15th after being prepped for my biopsy, I was taken into the procedure room where the nurses continued to get the equipment set up, After the doctor came in he asked for the results of the Mayo test. When he opened my file, he face went white. He then asked the nurses to accompany him out of the room. A couple of minutes later he came back in and repeated why I was there. He said the test from the mayo show my kidneys functioning in the normal range. He said they are at 85 percent, with a corrected value of 90 percent. There was no need to do the biopsy. He told me he couldn’t explain it.. There was no scientific or medical reason for this. I told him I had the answer and proceeded to tell him about making Jesus the Lord of my life and how I prayed. To this day, they still do not have any answers and my family doctor says my case is still studied and talked about.




After all of this I have been an ardent student of the Bible. You might call me a Berean. I have also looked at other religions and the Atheist view. Not only is Christianity unique, but the evidence I have looked at is overwhelmingly convincing that the Bible is true, and through my own experience played out right before my eyes. My hope is that everyone would experience this tremendous love and support that Jesus has provided me. It’s available to all, but what I have found is that people refuse it because they think they will have to give up something, or live a rigid life with rules and regulations, and actually the opposite is true. There is freedom. From the Bible , I know that not everyone will come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. All I can do is speak the truth to those that do not believe and when I see inaccuracies, or things that make no sense, to point those out. I cannot convert anyone, only God’s knows our heart.
With that in mind, on my blog I was simply pointing out inconsistencies I see in the Atheists view. I by no means want you to think that I harbor any ill feelings toward you or any other non believer, that is simply not the case. I do not mind a healthy discussion of the subject. Christianity has with stood 2000 years of scrutiny, so it’s I am not worried about it crumbling in our conversation.



Here is what I wrote on the Blog for your reference.
1.. Atheists claim that since the Bible was written by humans and humans error, the Bible therefore has errors and thus is not relible. However, they also quote other human authors as true to debunk facts in the Bible.. Dan Barker did this often in the recent debate. This is a contradiction.


2. Atheists claim truth is relative, but that in itself is an absolute statement (From Dan Barker). Another contradiction.


3. Atheists claim that the Bible is full of contradictions (which it isn't, but will not go into here), and therefore can't be reliable.In points 1 and 2 above I pointed out contradictions in the Atheists thinking and thus by their own deductions, what an Atheist says cannot be reliable. "
Dan Barker used other authors in his argument against the reliability of the Bible. My point is if he is going to disqualify the Bible on the merits of its human authorship, then he shouldn't be using other human authors as being the truth to show the unreliability of the Bible. That is a contradiction of method. He quoted several authors during the course of the debate.

Now you may say that he is using science. As for science. I am a scientist by profession. I can say with experience and accuracy that there is bad science going on. Scientists have their own biases that they bring with them. I am not saying that all science is bad but it’s not infallible, but there is bad interpretation to it. Let me give an example with Global warming. It was become the accepted norm that global warming is occurring and it’s from manmade sources. However, if you read the IPCC report (which the IPCC is a UN political entity), its 21 climate models are just scenarios, and based soley on CO2 concentrations. However, we know that there are a considerable amount of natural things occurring, that the IPCC acknowledged. In fact if you look at the report, they show these things as have a low level of scientific understanding. I can go on and on about how the data they use are not the most reliable. But we see based on this bad science, governments are jumping on board and making decisions based on it and convincing the general public of its truthfulness. The same can be said with evolution. It is a theory, but is being passed off as factual.

As for the Bible contradictions. I have read through many of the Atheists contradictions on various web sites. The problem is that they take verses of scripture out of context and place them next to each other and say, see these contradict. You cannot do that with any type of literature!!! (For some reason, non believers want to attach a different set of literary critique standards for the Bible verses other historical documents). If the versus were meant to be together they would have been placed together in the first place. Each passage has to be understood in its context. I have read several books on debunking these contradictions and there are several web sites that do the same. Now there are differences in the accounts in the Bible, but differences do not mean contradictions. I could attend the same event as you and we both write about it and the accounts would most likely be different, but they would both be true.

As for the absolute truth versus relative truth. Dan Barker was asked after the debate about this and he stated there was no absolute truth. Which as I have pointed out above is a contradictory statement. You mentioned Morals being relative, which again he also stated that. In fact, someone asked him about who he is accountable to and his answer was himself and society, and then went on about how we have laws that we are to obey. My question is who’s laws does he obey, the laws of the United States, Afghanistan, Iraq, Canada, France?? Although there may be a commonality with them, they are all different. In fact some laws in countries are seen as barbaric in other countries.

As for my point above in the blog, is that the Atheists use the same methods to slam the Bible as they use to justify their beliefs which are contradictory.

Gee, I guess I didn’t make this very brief.


12/08/08
Thanks for the e-mail.I'll also start off by saying that I have no ill will toward you or most Christians in general. I also used to be one. I was raised Lutheran, and remained so until a few years into college, and after a period of a couple of years of examination of my faith, I realized that it didn't stand up to scrutiny. I wasn't a wishy-washy christian, in fact I was very into my faith, and if you put a gun to my head and told me to renounce Jesus, I would have told you to pull the trigger. I thought I was in constant communication with god, and would pray often.






I run a blog at www.midwestatheist.blogspot.com, and you may be particularly interested in a conversation I've had with a local pastor- (http://midwestatheist.blogspot.com/2007/07/my-debate-with-pastor.html)





A few words on you kidney disease. First, I'm glad that you recovered well from your illness. Second, while I'm not a nephrologist, I am in the medical profession, so I know my way around some medical issues at least superficially. Stage 3 kidney disease is defined as a GFR of 30-59. With your improvement to 85%, that would still put you in the Stage 2 (60-89) region- not exactly what I would call a miraculous recovery. Kidney disease also comes in Stage 4 (15-29) and Stage 5 (<15->tgodhealamputees.com





Again, the bible is far from reliable, but if you didn't at least get an inkling of that at Dan's debate, I'm not sure that I can do much to convince you of it. You may want to watch a number of videos on my website that show the numerous problems with the bible. http://midwestatheist.blogspot.com/2008/07/bible-unearthed-history-channel.html, http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=D26E40B7D61258ED, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/bible/, http://video.google.ca/videoplay?docid=-3126202689810625112&q=rivals+of+jesus&ei=k3OUSIaDEorg-wGZkuGnBg, http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7956238808750388174&hl=en-CA, http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=A170D17D2F53B548, http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6101527704063312894&hl=en





And there are many others for your perusal at my website, able to be sorted into different topics, or see a master list here: http://midwestatheist.blogspot.com/2007/08/favorite-atheist-videos-links.html





Dan Barker used other authors in his argument against the reliability of the Bible. My point is if he is going to disqualify the Bible on the merits of its human authorship, then he shouldn't be using other human authors as being the truth to show the unreliability of the Bible. That is a contradiction of method. He quoted several authors during the course of the debate.





As I responded in the blog, Dan may pull from human authors to show problems with the bible, but he does so from a number of authors, and from a consensus of scholars. There is a big difference between that and dogmatically asserting that an author has the "truth" and therefore the bible is wrong. He doesn't solely attack the bible on contradictions between authors, of which there are plenty, but also on historical and scientific contradictions, and absurdities. Face it- the book is full of myths. Do you believe the world is less than 10,000 years old? That humans walked with dinosaurs? That a man lived in a whale for several days? That all of the animals of the world were gathered on a single boat while a flood covered the entire world? That the sun stood still so that one of god's chosen could finish his slaughter? That snakes and donkeys spoke human language? I could go on and on. Where is the extra-biblical evidence for any of this? Why didn't other societies of the day document the standing-still of the sun? Isn't it obvious that this is a manifestation of a culture that believed the sun moved around the earth, and not the correct alternative?





Christianity has with stood 2000 years of scrutiny, so it’s I am not worried about it crumbling in our conversation.





Has it really? Then why are there thousands of different denominations if the bible makes god's word so clear? Why did Islam crop up hundreds of years later and move to overtake the number of christians worldwide? Whence cometh all of the other religions since then? If anything, there are more different religions today then there were before the bible was written, so I hardly think it has stood up to scrutiny.





what I have found is that people refuse it because they think they will have to give up something, or live a rigid life with rules and regulations,





I don't think I have ever seen this, though I think many christians believe this is why more people don't join their ranks. I think Dan expressed it perfectly when he said, "My heart could not accept what my mind rejects." No matter how hard I may want to, once I realized that the bible is incredibly unreliable and full of total nonsense, I could no longer place faith in it. I also realized that faith is an incredibly poor tool for discerning reality from fantasy. All of the religions of the world have faith that they are right, but they can't all be. However, they can all be wrong. Science, logic, and reason are the best tools- the ONLY tools- we have to discern reality.





As for science- I'm not sure about global warming. The scientific community seems as though it isn't fully behind either position. However, we do know that CO2 increases temperature, and we are on a path to creating more CO2 than this planet has ever seen, so it is prudent (if not imperative) to take steps to decrease our output of CO2. However, when you question the truth evolution- that we do in fact share a common ancestor with the great apes- then I have to seriously question your scientific credentials.(http://midwestatheist.blogspot.com/search/label/--Evolution) Your misuse of the term "theory" raises a red flag as well. The theory of evolution is as established as the theory of gravitation. The genetic evidence alone, let alone the fossil record, makes this an open and shut arguement. Look into the broken vitamin C gene, the fusion of human chromosome 2, endogenous retroviruses, etc to see that there is no scientific debate on this issue (videos on all of these can be found on my site as well- let me know if you want the direct links)





I could attend the same event as you and we both write about it and the accounts would most likely be different, but they would both be true.





Wrong. If I say the birth of Jesus was 7 BCE and you say it is 5 CE (I forget the exact dates, but these are close), then one of us is factually wrong. We can't both be right. The same is true with the number of numerical and scientific inconsistencies Dan presented and outlined in his book.





My question is who’s laws does he obey, the laws of the United States, Afghanistan, Iraq, Canada, France?? Although there may be a commonality with them, they are all different. In fact some laws in countries are seen as barbaric in other countries.





Well, you observe the laws of the society you live in, of course. I agree with your last sentence, that many laws seem barbaric to us. But that could be because humans are ego-centric, we always have been. We always think that our way is the right way. Of course, those societies look at ours and say that we are the ones living the wrong way. You can think that it's okay to go out in public with a woman whom you are not married or related to in this country- and you would be right. However, try to do that in Iran or Saudi Arabia, and you will likely be jailed.





As for my point above in the blog, is that the Atheists use the same methods to slam the Bible as they use to justify their beliefs which are contradictory.





I guess I still don't see the justification for this assertion. The problem is that we evaluate the bible with the SAME critiques as we evaluate all other texts, and the evidence simply doesn't support its outlandish claims. If I were to hand you any other book with the number of supernatural claims that the bible has, with a dearth of any evidence outside that book to corroborate those claims, then you would dismiss it out of hand. In reality, it is the christian (or other theist) who is inconsistent. They hold their special text in regard above all others, and make excuses and apologize for it whenever it is shown to be in error. Thanks for the e-mail,





Take care,Midwest Atheist



12/08/08

Midwest Atheist,

My responses are rather long, sorry, but I actually could have gone on alot longer. I guess I could have added some jpegs to really clog the e-mail up. lol




I'll also start off by saying that I have no ill will toward you or most Christians in general. I also used to be one. I was raised Lutheran, and remained so until a few years into college, and after a period of a couple of years of examination of my faith, I realized that it didn't stand up to scrutiny. I wasn't a wishy-washy christian, in fact I was very into my faith, and if you put a gun to my head and told me to renounce Jesus, I would have told you to pull the trigger. I thought I was in constant communication with god, and would pray often.

1. I was raised in the Lutheran church as well, but no longer belong. I am not sure what synod you were a member of, but I was with the ELCA. The one thing I will say is that I never felt that it adequately encouraged the reading of the Bible, or a personal relationship with Jesus. I can say that it did leave me empty. I can honestly say that I think a lot of people in that church felt if you went to church, you were a Christian. I see that today in many churches. They compartmentalized their religion, living one way on Sunday and completely different Monday through Saturday. Another words it was a part of their life, but wasn’t applied to all things. True Christianity isn’t really a religion, it’s more of a lifestyle. It wasn’t until I began attending a Bible based church, that not only encouraged the reading of the Bible, but also personal relationship with Jesus. My pastor now also says don’t take my word for it, look it up yourself in the Bible. I can say that I have grown more in the 3+ years in this church than in the 40+ years in Lutheran Church. I remember trying to read the Bible and like you didn’t fully understand it, I didn’t understand why the Old and New Testaments were so different. I know it sounds crazy, but I can attest to it. Once I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior reading the Bible not only became a joy, but it came alive, with passages becoming clear and seeing how the entire Bible fits together. The indwelling Holy Spirit is our teacher, and prior my receiving it, is when I struggled with Biblical interpretation.

2. You state that after a couple of years of examination of your faith, it didn’t stand up to scrutiny.. Interesting statement, because on your own public forum on your web site you said, and I quote “ A good reading of much of the bible over one summer was enough to kill my belief in it as a divine text” So was it one summer or was it several years? The point I make here is you made a factual error in these statements. Was it one summer or several years? However, I do understand the meaning of what you wrote, which was you examined your faith and came up with a conclusion. The fact that your 2 statements didn’t add up factually did not reduce the meaning of what you wrote.





I run a blog at www.midwestatheist.blogspot.com, and you may be particularly interested in a conversation I've had with a local pastor- (http://midwestatheist.blogspot.com/2007/07/my-debate-with-pastor.html)A few words on you kidney disease. First, I'm glad that you recovered well from your illness. Second, while I'm not a nephrologist, I am in the medical profession, so I know my way around some medical issues at least superficially. Stage 3 kidney disease is defined as a GFR of 30-59. With your improvement to 85%, that would still put you in the Stage 2 (60-89) region- not exactly what I would call a miraculous recovery. Kidney disease also comes in Stage 4 (15-29) and Stage 5 (<15->www.whywon'tgodhealamputees.com

1. I never said that my situation was dire. I simply stated that I was in stage 3 kidney failure with a function of 50 to 60 percent and now my kidneys are functioning at 90 percent (that was the value the nephrologists used which is in the normal range). Kidney disease is considered chronic, which means they never improve. At best they may remain the same, but they do not heal. The only healing that can sometimes occur, is if it due to an injury and it can be repaired shortly after the accident. My kidney function increased 30 to 40 percent. As the nephrologist stated to me, this is a significant change. He made it very clear after my diagnosis, that my kidney function would never be any better than 50 to 60 percent, and all that could be done was to try and slow the failure down as best we could, through medication, diet, exercise and controlling both my blood pressure, cholesterol and protein intake. I take a blood pressure medicine and a cholesterol pill and that’s it. Unfortunately my eating and exercise habits really haven’t changed. Lol. Thus to diminish a nearly a 40 percent improvement in kidney function, when the best that I could hope for was remaining the same, is none the less quite remarkable and rather astonishing coming from a medical professional. You keep speaking of disease going into remission. Kidney disease does not!!! If you can find a scientific, or medical reason for it to occur I would be interested in hearing it. In fact my nephrologist said to me on my last visit to him which was in March of 2006. “You are a walking miracle, you don’ not have to see me anymore”. Since that time my creatinin level has dropped back and remains at normal levels. The Chronic kidney disease was taken out of my medical records.

2. Why does God not heal all people? I simply don’t know. He meets people where they are at in life and reaches people in different ways. For me as a scientist it required something tangible and defying science. For others it may be something different.. The best way I could answer that is the Bibles main message is for our salvation. The entire Bible was written with that in mind. I know we think 100 year life is long, but comparing it to eternity it is just a blip. After all, even though he restored my kidneys to normal, I will still die at some point.




Again, the bible is far from reliable, but if you didn't at least get an inkling of that at Dan's debate, I'm not sure that I can do much to convince you of it. You may want to watch a number of videos on my website that show the numerous problems with the bible. http://midwestatheist.blogspot.com/2008/07/bible-unearthed-history-channel.html, http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=D26E40B7D61258ED, http://www.pbs..org/wgbh/nova/bible/, http://video.google.ca/videoplay?docid=-3126202689810625112&q=rivals+of+jesus&ei=k3OUSIaDEorg-wGZkuGnBg, http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7956238808750388174&hl=en-CA, http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=A170D17D2F53B548, http://video.google..com/videoplay?docid=6101527704063312894&hl=enAnd there are many others for your perusal at my website, able to be sorted into different topics, or see a master list here: http://midwestatheist.blogspot.com/2007/08/favorite-atheist-videos-links.html


Dan Barker used other authors in his argument against the reliability of the Bible. My point is if he is going to disqualify the Bible on the merits of its human authorship, then he shouldn't be using other human authors as being the truth to show the unreliability of the Bible. That is a contradiction of method. He quoted several authors during the course of the debate.


As I responded in the blog, Dan may pull from human authors to show problems with the bible, but he does so from a number of authors, and from a consensus of scholars. There is a big difference between that and dogmatically asserting that an author has the "truth" and therefore the bible is wrong. He doesn't solely attack the bible on contradictions between authors, of which there are plenty, but also on historical and scientific contradictions, and absurdities. Face it- the book is full of myths. Do you believe the world is less than 10,000 years old? That humans walked with dinosaurs? That a man lived in a whale for several days? That all of the animals of the world were gathered on a single boat while a flood covered the entire world? That the sun stood still so that one of god's chosen could finish his slaughter? That snakes and donkeys spoke human language? I could go on and on. Where is the extra-biblical evidence for any of this? Why didn't other societies of the day document the standing-still of the sun? Isn't it obvious that this is a manifestation of a culture that believed the sun moved around the earth, and not the correct alternative?

1. Dan may pull from human authors to show problems with the bible, but he does so from a number of authors, and from a consensus of scholars: The problem with this assertion, is one, what is considered concensus? and who says it’s a consensus? And two, you are placing your faith in science done my fallible and possibly biased men with agendas. We don’t know that for sure, but we do know that humans have biases and agendas.. There are a considerable amount of scientists that can dispute those claims. Again breaking it down you are accepting that all of these authors are correct and the Bible is wrong. Manmade global warming is accepted as a consensus of scientists today, or so we are told. However, those that have other views are basically silenced and limited to obscure places on the web for the most part. In fact one of the climatologists on the Weather Channel stated in a blog that if a scientist’s did not accept the fact of man-made global warming, they should be stripped of their credentials!!! There was a piece dome by the BBC that said one of the members of the IPCC stated that they had to write the final report harsh enough to force the United States to sign the Kyoto treaty. If that is not an agenda I don’t know what is. That atmosphere does not promote open minded and factual thinking. Several other quotes. Nancy Pelosi the Speaker of the House recently stated that our new energy policy will be a global warming policy!! All based on what is said to be a consensus of opinion by scientists. But that consensus is only from one group of scientists. This type of bias and agenda thinking isn’t new. So, to lay your entire argument on science is to say the least, not necessarily accurate.



2. The Bible was written by over 40 authors over a period of 1500 or so years with astonishing accuracy and consistency. No other works have ever approached that. At least none that I am aware of. We have over 20,000 copies of the New Testament alone, dating to back to within 100 years of the original writings. The only errors that have ever been found are minor errors that have nothing to do with the message. A good example of this is my e-mail to you. It had errors in it ( I am not a good typist), and I certainly am not good at grammar, but despite those errors you managed to understand what I was saying. In comparison, Ceasar's wrote in 100-44 B.C. The earliest copy we have is from 900 AD, that is a time span of 1000 year between the original writing and the earliest copies, and there are only 10 known copies. Plato's writings were from 427-347 B.C. The earliest copies we have are from 900 AD some 1200 years later, and there are only 7 known copies. Aristotle wrote between 384-322 BC, we only have 5 copies with the earliest dating back to 1100 AD. All of these writing are accepted, with far less copies than we have of the New Testament and much more time between the original writings and the latest dated copies we have.

For some books in the Bible (at least Mark, Luke and Acts) the church had at least in some areas, the personal testimony of some living apostles to affirm the absolute divine authority of these books. For example, Paul would have affirmed the authenticity of Acts and Luke, and Peter would have affirmed the authenticity of Mark as containing the gospel which he himself preached.

3. As far as the standing still of the sun. Just because we don’t have any other writings about the standing still sun doesn’t mean they do not exist, only that we haven’t found any. Today we refer to the sun rising and setting and all our records reflect this. But we know that is scientifically incorrect, but we still use it and in fact have tables published with sunrise and sunset times. Thus 10,000 years from now if they find our ancient writing and they see these sunrise and sunset tables that will dismiss them as the sun moving and not the earth. same can be said about our language. What do you think they will say if there ever read about a guy going in and having his ears lowered? But we say that and its part of our language referring to a haircut. As for a flood covering the entire world. There is scientific evidence supporting this. As for the others, yes I do believe in all that. After all, He created everything. So a talking snake is far easier to believe than life evolving from a single cell, or even muli-cell organism.



Christianity has with stood 2000 years of scrutiny, so it’s I am not worried about it crumbling in our conversation..


Has it really? Then why are there thousands of different denominations if the bible makes god's word so clear? Why did Islam crop up hundreds of years later and move to overtake the number of christians worldwide? Whence cometh all of the other religions since then? If anything, there are more different religions today then there were before the bible was written, so I hardly think it has stood up to scrutiny.

1. If you compare the different main stream denominations that are truely Christian (Lutheran, Baptist, Presbyterian Anglican etc....) you will find unity in the fundamental beliefs. The divinity of Christ, the resurrection, and the virgin birth just to list a few. These are all common among the true Christian denominations. Now there are differences in worship style, the selecting of leaders, types of music, baptism etc. These are what I would refer to as important but when disagreed upon does not change Christianity. As for other religions, we live in a fallen world and still have free will. I find it amazing that Islam accepts the Bible, but then goes and makes changes and adds on to get the Koran. Why wouldn’t they come up with a completely different religion, instead of piggybacking off the Bible? Christianity is the only religion that is based on a person, who was devine, both fully man and fully God, who is still alive. Mohammad is dead and no where does it claim he still lives. Buddha is dead. We even see today people taking the Bible and twisting it to meet their own fleshly desires and to justify their own actions.. In fact the Bible actually says that is what to expect. We see it with our own eyes every day the sin nature of human beings, and the capacity for deception. Look at out economic crisis we have now, look at the full prisons, look what is going on in public schools today. The Bible talks about our sin nature, it is a theme throughout the Old and New Testaments. I would claim that the Bible is accurately attesting to what we are seeing in the world today.

2. Other religions for the most part are based on good works. They never say how many good works it takes, is it a simple majority? Is it 90 percent good and 10 percent bad? What is good? Christianity is unique in that the Bible teaches salvation by faith only. If you have true faith, then the natural good works will be the fruit, but your entry into heaven has nothing to do with good works. Christianity teaches than it’s not good people that go to heaven, but forgiven people. I acknowledge I am a sinner just like you. I am no better than you. The thief on the cross is a great example.






what I have found is that people refuse it because they think they will have to give up something, or live a rigid life with rules and regulations,


I don't think I have ever seen this, though I think many christians believe this is why more people don't join their ranks.. I think Dan expressed it perfectly when he said, "My heart could not accept what my mind rejects." No matter how hard I may want to, once I realized that the bible is incredibly unreliable and full of total nonsense, I could no longer place faith in it. I also realized that faith is an incredibly poor tool for discerning reality from fantasy. All of the religions of the world have faith that they are right, but they can't all be. However, they can all be wrong. Science, logic, and reason are the best tools- the ONLY tools- we have to discern reality.

1. I have already stated that science has its biases as well. You are putting faith in fallible human beings. I place my faith in an infallible God. I have yet to see a comprehensive challenge to Christian apologetics when addressing the “contradictions of the Bible”from Atheists. I have seen Christian web sites and papers and have broken down each of the contradictions and explained them. It is one thing to just throw information out like Dan Barker did, it is quite another to systematically go through and explain why the Christian answers to these are incorrect..



As for science- I'm not sure about global warming. The scientific community seems as though it isn't fully behind either position. However, we do know that CO2 increases temperature, and we are on a path to creating more CO2 than this planet has ever seen, so it is prudent (if not imperative) to take steps to decrease our output of CO2. However, when you question the truth evolution- that we do in fact share a common ancestor with the great apes- then I have to seriously question your scientific credentials.(http://midwestatheist.blogspot.com/search/label/--Evolution) Your misuse of the term "theory" raises a red flag as well. The theory of evolution is as established as the theory of gravitation. The genetic evidence alone, let alone the fossil record, makes this an open and shut arguement. Look into the broken vitamin C gene, the fusion of human chromosome 2, endogenous retroviruses, etc to see that there is no scientific debate on this issue (videos on all of these can be found on my site as well- let me know if you want the direct links)

1. If you would like I can get into the detail about your CO2 argument. Why for example is the temperature rise found only in the low temperatures and not the high temperatures? Does CO2 mysteriously disappear during the day? If CO2 were solely responsible then there should be close to an equal rises in both. We don't see that. Daytime temperatures have changed very little. What accounts for the medieval warm period that was warmer than now? What about the water vapor in the air? Why does NASA apply an urban correction to the raw data without first adequately testing it?

2. It is technically the theory of universal gravitation. Just like evolution, it can’t explain everything. There are major holes in it. Again you are resting solely on a group of scientists that say so.






I could attend the same event as you and we both write about it and the accounts would most likely be different, but they would both be true.


Wrong. If I say the birth of Jesus was 7 BCE and you say it is 5 CE (I forget the exact dates, but these are close), then one of us is factually wrong. We can't both be right. The same is true with the number of numerical and scientific inconsistencies Dan presented and outlined in his book.

1. But even those details do not change the message, which is Christ was born. When, is not important! That it occurred is. Christians accept that range of values for the Birth of Christ. Does it change the message if I say the sun is 80 million miles away, or you say its 90 million miles away? Or even say it’s somewhere between 80 and 90 million miles away? Back in the Biblical times, the writers did not deem it important to have exact dates/times in their writings. It was the message and meaning that they were interested in. Just like today in newspapers, they write about an event, but do not always get the precise time down that it occurred, because that isn’t the important part of the message. You hear of an accident occurring during rush hour or around 5 pm, bur hardly ever see at 542 pm. Because it’s the message not the time date that is deemed important to the writers. See also my discussion at the beginning of this e-mail about your statements being factually incorrect.





My question is who’s laws does he obey, the laws of the United States, Afghanistan, Iraq, Canada, France?? Although there may be a commonality with them, they are all different. In fact some laws in countries are seen as barbaric in other countries.


Well, you observe the laws of the society you live in, of course. I agree with your last sentence, that many laws seem barbaric to us. But that could be because humans are ego-centric, we always have been. We always think that our way is the right way. Of course, those societies look at ours and say that we are the ones living the wrong way. You can think that it's okay to go out in public with a woman whom you are not married or related to in this country- and you would be right. However, try to do that in Iran or Saudi Arabia, and you will likely be jailed.


As for my point above in the blog, is that the Atheists use the same methods to slam the Bible as they use to justify their beliefs which are contradictory.


I guess I still don't see the justification for this assertion. The problem is that we evaluate the bible with the SAME critiques as we evaluate all other texts, and the evidence simply doesn't support its outlandish claims. If I were to hand you any other book with the number of supernatural claims that the bible has, with a dearth of any evidence outside that book to corroborate those claims, then you would dismiss it out of hand. In reality, it is the Christian (or other theist) who is inconsistent. They hold their special text in regard above all others, and make excuses and apologize for it whenever it is shown to be in error.

1. You evaluate the Bible on simply accepting a “consensus” of science, which I have pointed out can be infallible and very dangerous to do. Science is filled with assumptions, which cannot be proven or they wouldn’t be assumptions. Plus science cannot address any type of supernatural happenings. There were plenty of eyewitnesses to the miracles Jesus performed. Jesus had many enemies that if what he did wasn’t true would have been well documented. His enemies wanted to discredit him, but were unable. After his resurrection, many of His Apostles suffered and died a martyrs death. Common sense should tell you that people won’t willingly die for a known lie. But when they witnessed his death and then his appearance after the resurrection, they knew it wasn’t a lie. In fact Jesus is mentioned in the writings of Josephus as having performed miracles.

What I find interesting is that you talk about humans being ego-centric, but then will go and place your trust in them to give you sound information. That doesn’t make any sense. Plus if we go strictly by consensus, there is far more Christians in the United States than true unbelievers. And there are more believers (I use that loosely referring to any deity) than pure Atheists. So by the consensus argument, you should at least believe in some type of deity. Of course Christians hold the Bible in higher esteem than any other book. Although the Bible was penned by human authors, it was God’s hand that guided the writing, that is why it’s called God’s Word and why with over 40 different authors over 1500 years the message is consistent. There is no other human writing over that time span than can compare.

This is really just the tip of the iceberg in terms of evidence not only for the reliability of the Bible, but also what it claims. I could go on about how we got the canon of the both the Old and New Testaments. The fact that archeology has never uncovered anything that disputes the Bible. The fact that the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in 1947, was nearly identical to the corresponding books in the Bible. Thanks again for taking the time for this conversation. I am assuming you are the same Midwest Atheist that made the introductions at the recent debate. I hope as you said then, that you would keep an open mind and would be willing to change. Remember, it will not be another human that reaches you, it will be God himself. We are simply messengers of the Gospel. But you have to be willing. He gave us free will as a gift. We as sinful humans have created the state in which the world is in. Along with the ability to choose between right and wrong, we also must endure the consequences; otherwise it wouldn’t be true free will. To try and encapsulate the God of the universe, with our finite minds we will never fully know the full knowledge of God. In our circumstances we see the narrow picture, but God see’s the entire picture. I am sure if we could ever see the entire picture our decisions we make would be much different. That is why I find it important to trust in Jesus, he sees the whole picture of my life.

John


12/10/08
Midwest Atheist, My responses are in bold: Its rather long, sorry, but I actually could have gone on alot longer. I guess I could have added some jpegs to really clog the e-mail up. lol I'll also start off by saying that I have no ill will toward you or most Christians in general. I also used to be one. I was raised Lutheran, and remained so until a few years into college, and after a period of a couple of years of examination of my faith, I realized that it didn't stand up to scrutiny. I wasn't a wishy-washy christian, in fact I was very into my faith, and if you put a gun to my head and told me to renounce Jesus, I would have told you to pull the trigger. I thought I was in constant communication with god, and would pray often. 1. I was raised in the Lutheran church as well, but no longer belong. I am not sure what synod you were a member of, but I was with the ELCA. The one thing I will say is that I never felt that it adequately encouraged the reading of the Bible, or a personal relationship with Jesus. I can say that it did leave me empty. I can honestly say that I think a lot of people in that church felt if you went to church, you were a Christian. I see that today in many churches. They compartmentalized their religion, living one way on Sunday and completely different Monday through Saturday. Another words it was a part of their life, but wasn’t applied to all things. True Christianity isn’t really a religion, it’s more of a lifestyle. It wasn’t until I began attending a Bible based church, that not only encouraged the reading of the Bible, but also personal relationship with Jesus. My pastor now also says don’t take my word for it, look it up yourself in the Bible. I can say that I have grown more in the 3+ years in this church than in the 40+ years in Lutheran Church. I remember trying to read the Bible and like you didn’t fully understand it, I didn’t understand why the Old and New Testaments were so different. I know it sounds crazy, but I can attest to it. Once I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior reading the Bible not only became a joy, but it came alive, with passages becoming clear and seeing how the entire Bible fits together. The indwelling Holy Spirit is our teacher, and prior my receiving it, is when I struggled with Biblical interpretation. 2. You state that after a couple of years of examination of your faith, it didn’t stand up to scrutiny.. Interesting statement, because on your own public forum on your web site you said, and I quote “ A good reading of much of the bible over one summer was enough to kill my belief in it as a divine text” So was it one summer or was it several years? The point I make here is you made a factual error in these statements. Was it one summer or several years? However, I do understand the meaning of what you wrote, which was you examined your faith and came up with a conclusion. The fact that your 2 statements didn’t add up factually did not reduce the meaning of what you wrote.


After going to college, I began to question my faith. Over a period of 2 years, I questioned it more and more. This culminated in one summer of me really looking at the bible with a critical eye for the first time, reading all of the verses that the pastors to tell you to read during confirmation. I then saw for myself how completely out of touch with reality the bible was.


I run a blog at www.midwestatheist.blogspot.com, and you may be particularly interested in a conversation I've had with a local pastor- (http://midwestatheist.blogspot.com/2007/07/my-debate-with-pastor.html)A few words on you kidney disease. First, I'm glad that you recovered well from your illness. Second, while I'm not a nephrologist, I am in the medical profession, so I know my way around some medical issues at least superficially. Stage 3 kidney disease is defined as a GFR of 30-59. With your improvement to 85%, that would still put you in the Stage 2 (60-89) region- not exactly what I would call a miraculous recovery. Kidney disease also comes in Stage 4 (15-29) and Stage 5 (<15->


1. I never said that my situation was dire. I simply stated that I was in stage 3 kidney failure with a function of 50 to 60 percent and now my kidneys are functioning at 90 percent (that was the value the nephrologists used which is in the normal range). Kidney disease is considered chronic, which means they never improve. At best they may remain the same, but they do not heal. The only healing that can sometimes occur, is if it due to an injury and it can be repaired shortly after the accident. My kidney function increased 30 to 40 percent. As the nephrologist stated to me, this is a significant change. He made it very clear after my diagnosis, that my kidney function would never be any better than 50 to 60 percent, and all that could be done was to try and slow the failure down as best we could, through medication, diet, exercise and controlling both my blood pressure, cholesterol and protein intake. I take a blood pressure medicine and a cholesterol pill and that’s it. Unfortunately my eating and exercise habits really haven’t changed. Lol. Thus to diminish a nearly a 40 percent improvement in kidney function, when the best that I could hope for was remaining the same, is none the less quite remarkable and rather astonishing coming from a medical professional. You keep speaking of disease going into remission. Kidney disease does not!!! If you can find a scientific, or medical reason for it to occur I would be interested in hearing it. In fact my nephrologist said to me on my last visit to him which was in March of 2006. “You are a walking miracle, you don’ not have to see me anymore”. Since that time my creatinin level has dropped back and remains at normal levels. The Chronic kidney disease was taken out of my medical records.

Again, there is much that we don't understand about biology. Do you dispute that cancer goes into remission spontaneously, often with no prayer involved, or prayer to a god other than yours? Just because your nephrologist has never seen a case of this happening, does not mean that it has never happened. If I had to choose between the options of spontaneous natural process that we don't know fully improved your kidney function or super invisible man in the sky used magic to heal your kidneys, I'll go with the first option.




2. Why does God not heal all people? I simply don’t know. He meets people where they are at in life and reaches people in different ways. For me as a scientist it required something tangible and defying science. For others it may be something different.. The best way I could answer that is the Bibles main message is for our salvation. The entire Bible was written with that in mind. I know we think 100 year life is long, but comparing it to eternity it is just a blip. After all, even though he restored my kidneys to normal, I will still die at some point.


Again, the bible is far from reliable, but if you didn't at least get an inkling of that at Dan's debate, I'm not sure that I can do much to convince you of it. You may want to watch a number of videos on my website that show the numerous problems with the bible. http://midwestatheist.blogspot.com/2008/07/bible-unearthed-history-channel.html, http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=D26E40B7D61258ED, http://www.pbs..org/wgbh/nova/bible/, http://video.google.ca/videoplay?docid=-3126202689810625112&q=rivals+of+jesus&ei=k3OUSIaDEorg-wGZkuGnBg, http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7956238808750388174&hl=en-CA, http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=A170D17D2F53B548, http://video.google..com/videoplay?docid=6101527704063312894&hl=en

Did you watch any of these videos that show historical inconsistencies?




And there are many others for your perusal at my website, able to be sorted into different topics, or see a master list here: http://midwestatheist.blogspot.com/2007/08/favorite-atheist-videos-links.html


Dan Barker used other authors in his argument against the reliability of the Bible. My point is if he is going to disqualify the Bible on the merits of its human authorship, then he shouldn't be using other human authors as being the truth to show the unreliability of the Bible. That is a contradiction of method. He quoted several authors during the course of the debate.


As I responded in the blog, Dan may pull from human authors to show problems with the bible, but he does so from a number of authors, and from a consensus of scholars. There is a big difference between that and dogmatically asserting that an author has the "truth" and therefore the bible is wrong. He doesn't solely attack the bible on contradictions between authors, of which there are plenty, but also on historical and scientific contradictions, and absurdities. Face it- the book is full of myths. Do you believe the world is less than 10,000 years old? That humans walked with dinosaurs? That a man lived in a whale for several days? That all of the animals of the world were gathered on a single boat while a flood covered the entire world? That the sun stood still so that one of god's chosen could finish his slaughter? That snakes and donkeys spoke human language? I could go on and on. Where is the extra-biblical evidence for any of this? Why didn't other societies of the day document the standing-still of the sun? Isn't it obvious that this is a manifestation of a culture that believed the sun moved around the earth, and not the correct alternative?


1. Dan may pull from human authors to show problems with the bible, but he does so from a number of authors, and from a consensus of scholars: The problem with this assertion, is one, what is considered concensus? and who says it’s a consensus? And two, you are placing your faith in science done my fallible and possibly biased men with agendas. We don’t know that for sure, but we do know that humans have biases and agendas.. There are a considerable amount of scientists that can dispute those claims. Again breaking it down you are accepting that all of these authors are correct and the Bible is wrong. Manmade global warming is accepted as a consensus of scientists today, or so we are told. However, those that have other views are basically silenced and limited to obscure places on the web for the most part. In fact one of the climatologists on the Weather Channel stated in a blog that if a scientist’s did not accept the fact of man-made global warming, they should be stripped of their credentials!!!

This is BS- It's the same sort of nonsense that the movie Expelled tried to claim- that scientists get other scientists fired who disagree with them- when in fact this simply does not happen. If scientists lose their jobs by bucking the status quo, it is solely on the grounds that they are using slopply science and are drawing shoddy conclusions from inadequate or non-existant evidence. It would be the same as if a medical doctor started campaigning for not immunizing your kids to avoid autism (like many cranks out there are advocating), even though all of the medical research and evidence shows no link between the two.



There was a piece dome by the BBC that said one of the members of the IPCC stated that they had to write the final report harsh enough to force the United States to sign the Kyoto treaty. If that is not an agenda I don’t know what is. That atmosphere does not promote open minded and factual thinking. Several other quotes. Nancy Pelosi the Speaker of the House recently stated that our new energy policy will be a global warming policy!! All based on what is said to be a consensus of opinion by scientists. But that consensus is only from one group of scientists. This type of bias and agenda thinking isn’t new. So, to lay your entire argument on science is to say the least, not necessarily accurate.

2. The Bible was written by over 40 authors over a period of 1500 or so years with astonishing accuracy and consistency.

Astonishing accuracy and consistency? Please. In just about every case, where the bible meets reality (history, science, etc), it is the bible that is found to be in error. What is consistent between the Old and New testaments? They are like reading about a schizophrenic god who undergoes a personality change when Jesus is born. And Revelations is like reading a book by an author who is having an acid trip.

No other works have ever approached that. At least none that I am aware of. We have over 20,000 copies of the New Testament alone, dating to back to within 100 years of the original writings. The only errors that have ever been found are minor errors that have nothing to do with the message.


A good example of this is my e-mail to you. It had errors in it ( I am not a good typist), and I certainly am not good at grammar, but despite those errors you managed to understand what I was saying.


True, however you are not a perfect being that has existed for all time. If you were, I would expect to find no errors, and it should be incredibly clear what you mean to say, otherwise you would not choose to communicate your vitally important message via such a flawed medium such as the written word.

In comparison, Ceasar's wrote in 100-44 B.C. The earliest copy we have is from 900 AD, that is a time span of 1000 year between the original writing and the earliest copies, and there are only 10 known copies. Plato's writings were from 427-347 B.C. The earliest copies we have are from 900 AD some 1200 years later, and there are only 7 known copies. Aristotle wrote between 384-322 BC, we only have 5 copies with the earliest dating back to 1100 AD. All of these writing are accepted, with far less copies than we have of the New Testament and much more time between the original writings and the latest dated copies we have.

All of this is irrelevant. Does the quantity of copies somehow make a text more reliable? Or is the veracity of the document solely dependent upon the duration of time between the events described and the earliest copies available? Like Dan Barker pointed out, apply this same reasoning to the book of mormon, and you will see that it wins over the bible by a landslide. Does any of this make it any more reliable? There are an aweful lot of spiderman comics (many copies)- written over decades (accuracy)- with many different authors (consistent)- in a current day setting (there for the events were written down as they (supposedly) happened, in a setting that we know exists (New York). Does any of this make Spiderman comics a reliable method of determining actual history? Like the bible, there are a lot of good lessons and morality that one can glean from the pages of a Spiderman comic, but that doesn't mean I think that Spidey is slinging away in the Big Apple.



For some books in the Bible (at least Mark, Luke and Acts) the church had at least in some areas, the personal testimony of some living apostles to affirm the absolute divine authority of these books. For example, Paul would have affirmed the authenticity of Acts and Luke, and Peter would have affirmed the authenticity of Mark as containing the gospel which he himself preached.

How can you substantiate any of these claims?



3. As far as the standing still of the sun. Just because we don’t have any other writings about the standing still sun doesn’t mean they do not exist, only that we haven’t found any. Today we refer to the sun rising and setting and all our records reflect this. But we know that is scientifically incorrect, but we still use it and in fact have tables published with sunrise and sunset times. Thus 10,000 years from now if they find our ancient writing and they see these sunrise and sunset tables that will dismiss them as the sun moving and not the earth. same can be said about our language. What do you think they will say if there ever read about a guy going in and having his ears lowered? But we say that and its part of our language referring to a haircut. As for a flood covering the entire world. There is scientific evidence supporting this. As for the others, yes I do believe in all that. After all, He created everything. So a talking snake is far easier to believe than life evolving from a single cell, or even muli-cell organism.

Please, if you believe in fables like The Garden of eden, a 10,000 year old earth, men living inside whales, the tower of babel, a 40 day flood covering the whole earth (WHAT scientific evidence is there for this? What did the animals eat when they came off the ark now that all of the plants would be dead? How did all of the marsupials get back to Austrailia without leaving a single fossil? Why don't we see humans and trillobites or velociraptors intermixed)? Serously John, you would believe in any bit of nonsense that would happen to be in that book, wouldn't you. You have already decided that everything written therein HAS to be true, you can't even fathom the alternative. So you then seek out scraps of evidence to support your predetermined conclusion. This is not how critical thinking, reasoned thinking, or scientific thinking works. I'm not sure how much of an intellectual conversation with a young-earth creationist- let alone one who claims to work in the field of science. In order to reach those conclusions, you have to throw so much established science out the window, that I wouln't even know what common ground we stand on anymore.



Christianity has with stood 2000 years of scrutiny, so it’s I am not worried about it crumbling in our conversation..

Has it really? Then why are there thousands of different denominations if the bible makes god's word so clear? Why did Islam crop up hundreds of years later and move to overtake the number of christians worldwide? Whence cometh all of the other religions since then? If anything, there are more different religions today then there were before the bible was written, so I hardly think it has stood up to scrutiny.

1. If you compare the different main stream denominations that are truely Christian (Lutheran, Baptist, Presbyterian Anglican etc....) you will find unity in the fundamental beliefs. The divinity of Christ, the resurrection, and the virgin birth just to list a few. These are all common among the true Christian denominations.

I note the word "TRUE christian denominations". It is always amusing to me that every christian considers themselves to be an authority able to distinguish TRUE from UNTRUE christians.

Now there are differences in worship style, the selecting of leaders, types of music, baptism etc. These are what I would refer to as important but when disagreed upon does not change Christianity. As for other religions, we live in a fallen world and still have free will. I find it amazing that Islam accepts the Bible, but then goes and makes changes and adds on to get the Koran. Why wouldn’t they come up with a completely different religion, instead of piggybacking off the Bible?

Why would Christianity piggyback of the Torah?

Christianity is the only religion that is based on a person, who was devine, both fully man and fully God, who is still alive.

Can you demonstrate that Jesus is still alive? Can you introduce me to him in the same way that you would for any other person that you claim to be alive?

Mohammad is dead and no where does it claim he still lives. Buddha is dead. We even see today people taking the Bible and twisting it to meet their own fleshly desires and to justify their own actions.. In fact the Bible actually says that is what to expect. We see it with our own eyes every day the sin nature of human beings, and the capacity for deception. Look at out economic crisis we have now, look at the full prisons, look what is going on in public schools today. The Bible talks about our sin nature, it is a theme throughout the Old and New Testaments. I would claim that the Bible is accurately attesting to what we are seeing in the world today.

2. Other religions for the most part are based on good works. They never say how many good works it takes, is it a simple majority? Is it 90 percent good and 10 percent bad? What is good? Christianity is unique in that the Bible teaches salvation by faith only. If you have true faith, then the natural good works will be the fruit, but your entry into heaven has nothing to do with good works. Christianity teaches than it’s not good people that go to heaven, but forgiven people. I acknowledge I am a sinner just like you. I am no better than you. The thief on the cross is a great example.

This is part of what I have come to see as the real problem with the doctine of Chritianity. Belief is more important than action. What you think is more important than what you do. What could be more out of touch with reality? You can send prayers the way of the poor and starving or you can go out there and work the soup kitchen. Which action actually results in real demonstrable good to the man on the street? There is no fairness in the doctrine of Christianity, even though that is what it claims to achieve. A very good person on earth can be subject to an eternity of torture for simply believing in the wrong god. Likewise, an incredibly evil person can accept Jesus as his lord and savior on his death bed and get into heaven. Hitler could be in heaven right now if he had accepted Jesus before his death, in fact he was a Roman Catholic, so the odds are pretty good that, according to the doctrine of christianity, his is hanging out with Jesus. If hell is defined as separation from god (and not as eternal torture, as some christians will say), then I'd rather be there then in heaven which is 24/7 bowing down to god and telling him how great and powerful he is for eternity. Plus, there are (or will be) way more interesting people in Hell (if it exists)- Einstein, Thomas Johnerson, James Randi, most Nobel prize winners, etc. I have heard it said, "Heaven for climate, Hell for company."



what I have found is that people refuse it because they think they will have to give up something, or live a rigid life with rules and regulations,

I don't think I have ever seen this, though I think many christians believe this is why more people don't join their ranks.. I think Dan expressed it perfectly when he said, "My heart could not accept what my mind rejects." No matter how hard I may want to, once I realized that the bible is incredibly unreliable and full of total nonsense, I could no longer place faith in it. I also realized that faith is an incredibly poor tool for discerning reality from fantasy. All of the religions of the world have faith that they are right, but they can't all be. However, they can all be wrong. Science, logic, and reason are the best tools- the ONLY tools- we have to discern reality.

1. I have already stated that science has its biases as well. You are putting faith in fallible human beings. I place my faith in an infallible God. I have yet to see a comprehensive challenge to Christian apologetics when addressing the “contradictions of the Bible”from Atheists. I have seen Christian web sites and papers and have broken down each of the contradictions and explained them. It is one thing to just throw information out like Dan Barker did, it is quite another to systematically go through and explain why the Christian answers to these are incorrect..

As for science- I'm not sure about global warming. The scientific community seems as though it isn't fully behind either position. However, we do know that CO2 increases temperature, and we are on a path to creating more CO2 than this planet has ever seen, so it is prudent (if not imperative) to take steps to decrease our output of CO2. However, when you question the truth evolution- that we do in fact share a common ancestor with the great apes- then I have to seriously question your scientific credentials.(http://midwestatheist.blogspot.com/search/label/--Evolution) Your misuse of the term "theory" raises a red flag as well. The theory of evolution is as established as the theory of gravitation. The genetic evidence alone, let alone the fossil record, makes this an open and shut arguement. Look into the broken vitamin C gene, the fusion of human chromosome 2, endogenous retroviruses, etc to see that there is no scientific debate on this issue (videos on all of these can be found on my site as well- let me know if you want the direct links)

1. If you would like I can get into the detail about your CO2 argument. Why for example is the temperature rise found only in the low temperatures and not the high temperatures? Does CO2 mysteriously disappear during the day? If CO2 were solely responsible then there should be close to an equal rises in both. We don't see that. Daytime temperatures have changed very little. What accounts for the medieval warm period that was warmer than now? What about the water vapor in the air? Why does NASA apply an urban correction to the raw data without first adequately testing it? 2. It is technically the theory of universal gravitation. Just like evolution, it can’t explain everything. There are major holes in it. Again you are resting solely on a group of scientists that say so.

I am not relying on the word of a few scientist based on their authority- I have examined the evidence, and found that it is an open and shut case. It is undeniable that we share a common ancestor with the great apes. If you doubt this, then you are either ignorant of the mountains of evidence attesting to this fact or you are willfully ignoring the evidence to maintain your belief in the inerrancy of the bible.

Answer me this- what would it take for you to begin to believe that the Bible is not the word of god, and that Jesus was not god, or even, never even existed? I could list you pages of things that could happen that would convince me that Jesus is god, but can you even think of a couple of things that would change your mind?




I could attend the same event as you and we both write about it and the accounts would most likely be different, but they would both be true.Wrong. If I say the birth of Jesus was 7 BCE and you say it is 5 CE (I forget the exact dates, but these are close), then one of us is factually wrong. We can't both be right. The same is true with the number of numerical and scientific inconsistencies Dan presented and outlined in his book. 1. But even those details do not change the message, which is Christ was born. When, is not important!

You totally gloss over the glaring fact that this IS a contradiction in a book that you claim is inspired by a perfect god and that the book is incredibly reliable and consistent!

That it occurred is. Christians accept that range of values for the Birth of Christ. Does it change the message if I say the sun is 80 million miles away, or you say its 90 million miles away? Or even say it’s somewhere between 80 and 90 million miles away?

True, I may not know whether the sun is 80 ot 90 million miles away, however surely a god would know EXACTLY how far away it is, and I would expect this perfect being to be correct when telling us this fact. In fact, if God had written the distance to the sun in the bible, that would be compelling reason to believe it was the word of god as the men of that time didn't have the tools to figure that out on their own. As it stands, the bible looks exactly as a book should look if it were written by a band of nomadic desert people of 2000 years ago. There is nothing remarkable there that requires an alternative explanation.

Back in the Biblical times, the writers did not deem it important to have exact dates/times in their writings. It was the message and meaning that they were interested in. Just like today in newspapers, they write about an event, but do not always get the precise time down that it occurred, because that isn’t the important part of the message. You hear of an accident occurring during rush hour or around 5 pm, bur hardly ever see at 542 pm. Because it’s the message not the time date that is deemed important to the writers. See also my discussion at the beginning of this e-mail about your statements being factually incorrect. My question is who’s laws does he obey, the laws of the United States, Afghanistan, Iraq, Canada, France?? Although there may be a commonality with them, they are all different. In fact some laws in countries are seen as barbaric in other countries.

Well, you observe the laws of the society you live in, of course. I agree with your last sentence, that many laws seem barbaric to us. But that could be because humans are ego-centric, we always have been. We always think that our way is the right way. Of course, those societies look at ours and say that we are the ones living the wrong way. You can think that it's okay to go out in public with a woman whom you are not married or related to in this country- and you would be right. However, try to do that in Iran or Saudi Arabia, and you will likely be jailed.

As for my point above in the blog, is that the Atheists use the same methods to slam the Bible as they use to justify their beliefs which are contradictory.

I guess I still don't see the justification for this assertion. The problem is that we evaluate the bible with the SAME critiques as we evaluate all other texts, and the evidence simply doesn't support its outlandish claims. If I were to hand you any other book with the number of supernatural claims that the bible has, with a dearth of any evidence outside that book to corroborate those claims, then you would dismiss it out of hand. In reality, it is the Christian (or other theist) who is inconsistent. They hold their special text in regard above all others, and make excuses and apologize for it whenever it is shown to be in error.

1. You evaluate the Bible on simply accepting a “consensus” of science, which I have pointed out can be infallible and very dangerous to do. Science is filled with assumptions, which cannot be proven or they wouldn’t be assumptions. Plus science cannot address any type of supernatural happenings. There were plenty of eyewitnesses to the miracles Jesus performed.

There are plenty of eyewitnesses to the battle between Spiderman and Dr. Octopus as well. Or so the comic tells me....

Jesus had many enemies that if what he did wasn’t true would have been well documented. His enemies wanted to discredit him, but were unable.

Huh? There is no extra-biblical evidence that a man named Jesus even existed!

After his resurrection, many of His Apostles suffered and died a martyrs death. Common sense should tell you that people won’t willingly die for a known lie.

Where is the extra-biblical evidence of who died, and why they were killed? And how can we authenticate it's source, and that it was not tampered with?

But when they witnessed his death and then his appearance after the resurrection, they knew it wasn’t a lie. In fact Jesus is mentioned in the writings of Josephus as having performed miracles.

Historians agree that the 2 mentions of Jesus in Josephus' writings are either partial or complete forgeries- interpolations into his writings by later christians trying to create evidence for their god. The fact that one passage calls Jesus "The Christ", shows that it could not have been written by Josephus- since he was a jew, and never converted.



What I find interesting is that you talk about humans being ego-centric, but then will go and place your trust in them to give you sound information. That doesn’t make any sense. Plus if we go strictly by consensus, there is far more Christians in the United States than true unbelievers. And there are more believers (I use that loosely referring to any deity) than pure Atheists. So by the consensus argument, you should at least believe in some type of deity.

I don't go by consensus- I go by weight of evidence.

Of course Christians hold the Bible in higher esteem than any other book. Although the Bible was penned by human authors, it was God’s hand that guided the writing, that is why it’s called God’s Word and why with over 40 different authors over 1500 years the message is consistent. There is no other human writing over that time span than can compare. This is really just the tip of the iceberg in terms of evidence not only for the reliability of the Bible, but also what it claims. I could go on about how we got the canon of the both the Old and New Testaments. The fact that archeology has never uncovered anything that disputes the Bible. The fact that the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in 1947, was nearly identical to the corresponding books in the Bible. Thanks again for taking the time for this conversation. I am assuming you are the same Midwest Atheist that made the introductions at the recent debate. I hope as you said then, that you would keep an open mind and would be willing to change. Remember, it will not be another human that reaches you, it will be God himself.

God knows where to find me, as I have read the bible and prayed for him to reveal himself to me often, always to no avail.

We are simply messengers of the Gospel. But you have to be willing. He gave us free will as a gift. We as sinful humans have created the state in which the world is in. Along with the ability to choose between right and wrong, we also must endure the consequences; otherwise it wouldn’t be true free will. To try and encapsulate the God of the universe, with our finite minds we will never fully know the full knowledge of God. In our circumstances we see the narrow picture, but God see’s the entire picture. I am sure if we could ever see the entire picture our decisions we make would be much different. That is why I find it important to trust in Jesus, he sees the whole picture of my life. John

Take care,
Midwest Atheist



12/10/08

After going to college, I began to question my faith. Over a period of 2 years, I questioned it more and more. This culminated in one summer of me really looking at the bible with a critical eye for the first time, reading all of the verses that the pastors to tell you to read during confirmation. I then saw for myself how completely out of touch with reality the bible was.

I have simply pointed out factual errors that you have made in your statements over the past 2 months, since you brought up the fact part of the Bible. In fact, there is evidence there that you embellished the statement just for me. After all, in the original quote from your web site blog forum you were talking to another non-believer, but notice when talking to me is went from a 2-3 month period to a period of several years!!! That is a considerable diferences, which by any reasonable standard raises a red flag about your genuiness. However, I gave you the benefit of the doubt here and understood your message.


Again, there is much that we don't understand about biology. Do you dispute that cancer goes into remission spontaneously, often with no prayer involved, or prayer to a god other than yours? Just because your nephrologist has never seen a case of this happening, does not mean that it has never happened. If I had to choose between the options of spontaneous natural process that we don't know fully improved your kidney function or super invisible man in the sky used magic to heal your kidneys, I'll go with the first option.

You and I both know, that your reasoning here is a cop out. I could make the same argument for evolution. We are learning new things each day and in the future science may a repudiate all that has been written now. Secondly, from your original statement on the La Crosse Tribune blog you came into this biased. Here is your blog " To AChristian: What "irreversible medical condition" were you magically healed from? Since I'm not aware of any such thing (unless you spontaneously grew an arm or a let), then I think you are either confused, or trying to mislead. Isn't it amazing that everyone who claims god healed them, suffered from an illness that could (and does) go into remission all by itself, usually without prayer? Why has there never been a single case of a person who has regrown a severed limb, despite millions, if not billions, of sincere prayers to many different gods? To me the only thing you would accept as a healing is the growth of a limb. Not very open minded!!! You have chose to believe that what happened to me is not a miracle, otherwise it would destroy your entire line of reasoning 9which it has). I never stated there wasn't other cases, I stated that science says there shouldn't be any cases!!! Then to pawn it off on diet and excercise is about as absurd as it gets. If that were the case there would be far fewer transplants and dialysis needed.

This is BS- It's the same sort of nonsense that the movie Expelled tried to claim- that scientists get other scientists fired who disagree with them- when in fact this simply does not happen. If scientists lose their jobs by bucking the status quo, it is solely on the grounds that they are using slopply science and are drawing shoddy conclusions from inadequate or non-existant evidence. It would be the same as if a medical doctor started campaigning for not immunizing your kids to avoid autism (like many cranks out there are advocating), even though all of the medical research and evidence shows no link between the two.

That is absolutely a false statement. Again I never said that scientists get fired, I stated there are some that think there credentials should be stripped, you are embellishing what I said. I stand firmly by my statement. The man-made Global warming argument is a perfect example here and now. There is shoddy science going on that is being accepted due in part to political pressure. Futhermore, in your own words you said people are ego-centric, which would include scientists. But again you want to place your faith in science. As for the movie, there are a lot of movies out there that have all kinds of messages. I want to look at the facts. In my line of work as a scientist, I can say there are pressures to tow the line. We have had papers rejected for publication, not because of bad science, but because it went against what the agency higher ups wanted because it didn't tow the party line. So, you are blatanty wrong here.


That is debatable- however an error is an error. It shows that the bible is not inerrant, and thus is not divinely inspired (unless you believe your god makes mistakes)

Number one, The Bible is inerrant in its original writings. God used human authors to get his message to us.

True, however you are not a perfect being that has existed for all time. If you were, I would expect to find no errors, and it should be incredibly clear what you mean to say, otherwise you would not choose to communicate your vitally important message via such a flawed medium such as the written word.

See above, God used fallible human authors. Again it doesn't chnage the message.

All of this is irrelevant. Does the quantity of copies somehow make a text more reliable? Or is the veracity of the document solely dependent upon the duration of time between the events described and the earliest copies available? Like Dan Barker pointed out, apply this same reasoning to the book of mormon, and you will see that it wins over the bible by a landslide. Does any of this make it any more reliable? There are an aweful lot of spiderman comics (many copies)- written over decades (accuracy)- with many different authors (consistent)- in a current day setting (there for the events were written down as they (supposedly) happened, in a setting that we know exists (New York). Does any of this make Spiderman comics a reliable method of determining actual history? Like the bible, there are a lot of good lessons and morality that one can glean from the pages of a Spiderman comic, but that doesn't mean I think that Spidey is slinging away in the Big Apple.


This is quite relavent!! Comic books haven't been written for 1500 years!!! Archeology has never uncovered evidence to substantiate a comic book. That is the most absurd thing I have ever heard. The difference is in the evidence and eyewitness accounts.

How can you substantiate any of these claims?


Historical record of when they lived and the consistency of the message they were preaching.


Please, if you believe in fables like The Garden of eden, a 10,000 year old earth, men living inside whales, the tower of babel, a 40 day flood covering the whole earth (WHAT scientific evidence is there for this? What did the animals eat when they came off the ark now that all of the plants would be dead? How did all of the marsupials get back to Austrailia without leaving a single fossil? Why don't we see humans and trillobites or velociraptors intermixed)? Serously John, you would believe in any bit of nonsense that would happen to be in that book, wouldn't you. You have already decided that everything written therein HAS to be true, you can't even fathom the alternative. So you then seek out scraps of evidence to support your predetermined conclusion. This is not how critical thinking, reasoned thinking, or scientific thinking works. I'm not sure how much of an intellectual conversation with a young-earth creationist- let alone one who claims to work in the field of science. In order to reach those conclusions, you have to throw so much established science out the window, that I wouln't even know what common ground we stand on anymore.


Here you did not address what I said. Fact: We have sunrise and sunset tables published today by the Naval observatory. Does that mean that we belive the sun revolved around the earth? I am pointing out how you have to understand the contect of the culture to get the full picture and not appy today's standards to 2000 years ago. This has nothing to do with the Garden of Eden and the other things you pointed out. You went of on a tangent here, because there is no argument against what I said.


I note the word "TRUE christian denominations". It is always amusing to me that every christian considers themselves to be an authority able to distinguish TRUE from UNTRUE christians.

True Christin demominations are the ones thah adhere to the Bible. There does have to be some discermnent going on by the person. As I have said before there are many false witnesses and false claims, but if you read and under the Bible you fojnd which ones are not true. This isn't anything new. many of Paul's epistles were for this very purpose.


Why would Christianity piggyback of the Torah?

Is doesn't it affirms the Tora. The Tora are part of the Christian's Bible. You should know that.

Can you demonstrate that Jesus is still alive? Can you introduce me to him in the same way that you would for any other person that you claim to be alive?

No, I can't prove it in the way you want. Can you prove Geoege Washington lived? Can you prove Aristotle lived? No you can't but you can provice evidence thath he did.

This is part of what I have come to see as the real problem with the doctine of Chritianity. Belief is more important than action. What you think is more important than what you do. What could be more out of touch with reality? You can send prayers the way of the poor and starving or you can go out there and work the soup kitchen. Which action actually results in real demonstrable good to the man on the street? There is no fairness in the doctrine of Christianity, even though that is what it claims to achieve. A very good person on earth can be subject to an eternity of torture for simply believing in the wrong god. Likewise, an incredibly evil person can accept Jesus as his lord and savior on his death bed and get into heaven. Hitler could be in heaven right now if he had accepted Jesus before his death, in fact he was a Roman Catholic, so the odds are pretty good that, according to the doctrine of christianity, his is hanging out with Jesus. If hell is defined as separation from god (and not as eternal torture, as some christians will say), then I'd rather be there then in heaven which is 24/7 bowing down to god and telling him how great and powerful he is for eternity. Plus, there are (or will be) way more interesting people in Hell (if it exists)- Einstein, Thomas Johnerson, James Randi, most Nobel prize winners, etc. I have heard it said, "Heaven for climate, Hell for company."



I wouldn't say belief is more important than action in the Christian doctine. I admit there are hypocrits and perhaps those are not true Christians, only God knows a heart. I would say there are people who abuse te Bible for selfish reasons, which is exactly the opposite teaching of the Bible. The point is, that wwe are ALL sinners. We have all screwed up in our lives. We tend to want to downplay our own actions and magnify others actions, so that puts us all in the same boat. Plus there are tremendous Christian actions going on all over the world. There are missionaries going into hostil countries, helping teach them farming practices, supplying them with medication and physician services, teaching them the Bible. We had several groups of youth from our church go down to help with the Katrina clean-up and help re-build lives. There are Christan missionaries in the muslem world. There are many deeds that go unnoitced, because they are doing it for their their won benefit but for the benefit of others. Does the freedon From Religion Foundation have such a vast network of missionaries around the world. I haven't seen Dan Barker over in Saudia Arabia, Indonesia, Iraq. If he is so zealous in his non belief, why isn't he placing placards in those countries? Or is he?

Answer me this- what would it take for you to begin to believe that the Bible is not the word of god, and that Jesus was not god, or even, never even existed? I could list you pages of things that could happen that would convince me that Jesus is god, but can you even think of a couple of things that would change your mind?


Ye, I as I stated before there are some fundamental doctrines of Christianity that if proven wrong would crumbly the faith. One is the resurrecion of Jesus. 2. If they physically found the Bones of Jesus laying in a tomb. Those two points alone would cause me to not believe.


You totally gloss over the glaring fact that this IS a contradiction in a book that you claim is inspired by a perfect god and that the book is incredibly reliable and consistent!

Again, It is the inspired word of God in the original writings!! get your facts straight please. I have also pointed out that by dismissing the Bible on this account, you would also have to dismiss what you have said because it had factual errors.

True, I may not know whether the sun is 80 ot 90 million miles away, however surely a god would know EXACTLY how far away it is, and I would expect this perfect being to be correct when telling us this fact. In fact, if God had written the distance to the sun in the bible, that would be compelling reason to believe it was the word of god as the men of that time didn't have the tools to figure that out on their own.. As it stands, the bible looks exactly as a book should look if it were written by a band of nomadic desert people of 2000 years ago. There is nothing remarkable there that requires an alternative explanation.

I think I have already proven this to be a false assertion.

There are plenty of eyewitnesses to the battle between Spiderman and Dr. Octopus as well. Or so the comic tells me.....

But again there is no evidence to support this that this is true.

Huh? There is no extra-biblical evidence that a man named Jesus even existed!

Read Josephus.

Historians agree that the 2 mentions of Jesus in Josephus' writings are either partial or complete forgeries- interpolations into his writings by later christians trying to create evidence for their god. The fact that one passage calls Jesus "The Christ", shows that it could not have been written by Josephus- since he was a jew, and never converted.


Being a Jew and never converted is meaningless for his writings to be true. He was an historian not a theologian. This question, I would also refer to Marck Chavalas, that is better his area of expertise.


I don't go by consensus- I go by weight of evidence.

And the evidence you see is being told to you by humans!!! Who you have pointed out can be ego-centric. I would say that is hardly trustworthy evidence.

God knows where to find me, as I have read the bible and prayed for him to reveal himself to me often, always to no avail.

You do have to have a willing and accepting heart. Remember, he knows your heart. Perhaps it will not be for many years. I know a man who didn't except Christ until he was 66 years old!!! Its all in God's timing. he knows us better than we know oursleves.






12/10/08

John

Just out of curiosity, what are your scientific credentials, and can you give me links to scientific articles that you have had published?

Midwest Atheist




12/10/08

I am a Meteorologist. Not a climatologist, but obviously have a background in Climate. The only papers I have published are regional tech memos on spotter networks. The paper that was rejected was one by myself and a colleague of mine wrote when the Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS) was in the process of being commissioned. ASOS was sold to congress that it would be cheaper and just as reliable as human observers. We did a survey of users of the data, tower personnel, pilots, airport managers etc. When we compiled the results in the paper, we were told not to submit it. What the users had told us was contrary to what was being sold to congress.
Our office also did a comparative study between the ASOS temperatures versus the HO83 thermometer. This was done at other offices as well. I believe ASOS was on average about 2 degrees warmer than the HO83. I do not have the exact number.
I recall when we saw those results we remarked, this will have an impact on climate. But ASOS was accepted, and the differences we were told were acceptable.



As for man-made global warming. My boss who has a Masters in the field just put on a recent seminar on climate change. There were media people(meteorologists, weathermen) attending from the area. Channel 8 and 19, channel 3 in Madison and I believe some from Iowa and Minnesota. Some of the sources I said was from that, and he got them from the IPCC report, other published papers. I can get you the references to these if you like.
With my degree in Meteorology, I had to take quite a bit of math and sciences courses. I even took several semesters on the history of science. So, even though I am not an expert in all these fields, I do have a background on the scientific methods and are aware of he agendas, biases, politics and funding issues.



I never wanted this to become tit for tat argument. I know we both could come up with many more questions for each other, and get so caught up in the minutia that we loose site of the big picture. What we like to say in the weather business, the trees get in the way of seeing the forest.
You had requested more detail on my kidney healing and I provided that. You can either accept it, rationalize it or reject it. What you do with it is not in my control. But I can tell you, I spoke the truth.
I wish you only the best. And I truly do appreciate you taking the time for the dialogue we have had.
God Bless.




12/10/08

No problem, and again, I'm glad your kidney problem seems to have resolved- I hope it stays that way. Thanks for the conversation, and hopefully you can see where I'm coming from a little. Believe me, I don't want to roast in hell (if it exists). I have no vested interest in denying the truth, were it presented to me in a believable way. Like I said, "My heart cannot accept what my mind rejects." Is it just for an otherwise good person like me to be tortured forever simply because I would not believe with blind faith in the absence of evidence? You had a personal experience (you kidney problem). I have had no such thing. Is it just that I should be tortured when god did not give me the same sort of evidence that he gave you?

A do find it a little amusing that your profession, meterology, is one of the sciences that ousted god- and you still cling to him being responsible for other sciences (biology) that ousted him (with evolution). What I mean by that is- if someone came to you and said that lightning is caused by god throwing them out of the clouds, and that stormclouds were a result of sin (liked the hurricane damage to New Orleans)- I would think you would say they are mistaken. We have good ideas about the processes that generate lightning and rain, and they don't have anything to do with sin. You presumably draw your weather predictions on years of science, not on some sort of "sin-density mapping". Just as 99% of biologists would say your denial of evolution is just as incorrect. Just a side-note.

Also, you had asked me previously "What type of person do you consider blessed or fortunate?", so I'll answer that question now.

I don't use the term blessed because of its religious connotations. However I would say that the question is subjective. Personally, I would say that a fortunate person is one that has the means and opportunity for a comfortable existance. I would say that a child born with AIDS to a starving family in Africa is not fortunate. However, the case could be made that at least she had the opportunity to be born, and live some experiences for a few years before she died. But if a person is born and is suffering some sort of pain disorder- constant pain- for his/her entire existance- is that a fortunate life? I would probably say no, but that is still a subjective call. I guess it comes down to asking the person in question personally, "would you rather you had not been born so that you would not be in your current or future state?" I think most people would not wish to have not existed, and therefore most people are fortunate, in my opinion. Because whatever their state is, it is probably better than the alternative (non-existance).

Personally- I consider myself extremely happy and fortunate. I have a good job, that is secure, and allows me to provide for my family. I have a wonderful wife and two wonderful children, whom I love more than anything. Every day I get to live is a "blessing", even though no invisible space-god "blessed" me with it. I constantly feel fortunate to be alive. Life has gained so much more value and meaning since I shed my religious upbringing. Instead of thinking of this life as the blip on the radar before an eternity of bliss- I see this life as the one and only shot I have to be happy, enjoy my loved ones, and help others. Which outlook treats this life with more reverence and respect? For me, it has been the latter. Every second is precious, as time marches steadily on. Life is valuable because it is finite. To say that it is infinite dilutes the value of it all (In my opinion).

I hope that answers your question
Midwest Atheist




01/11/09

Perhaps you have already seen this. If not here it is.

http://www.allaboutthejourney.org/




01/14/08

Midwest Atheist,

I just wanted to address your recent letter to the editor, published in the Monday, January 12th La Crosse Tribune. [Letter to the editor: This is a response to Rusty Rost’s letter which advises nonbelievers to enjoy “the freedom afforded by Christianity to believe whatever (they) wish.”Does the Bible allow for different belief systems? What’s the biblically correct way to confront a family member who entices you to worship another god? They’re to be put to death, and your hands are to be the first ones on them to bring about that end (Deuteronomy 13:6-10). In fact, if you hear about a city worshiping other gods on your turf, you are to kill everything (including cattle) and burn the city to the ground (Deuter-onomy 13:12-16). This biblical intolerance isn’t surprising, given the very first commandment prohibits the worship of other gods. In fact, one is guaranteed eternal torture for the mere crime of doubting the divinity of Jesus. The “good” book also prescribes the death penalty for the following offenses: Picking up sticks on the Sabbath, being an unruly child, adultery, homosexuality, premarital sex, blasphemy, etc.Nonbelievers don’t get off much easier. Psalm 14:1 calls them corrupt fools who do nothing good. This is demonstrably false when one looks at the incredible time and money the following atheists have given to help others: Bill Gates, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Warren Buffett, Lance Armstrong, Christopher Reeve, Francis Crick, Pat Tillman and many others.Thank goodness secular society has dragged Christianity into civility, convincing its adherents to ignore the Bible’s more distasteful teachings. ]




From our earlier e-mails I assumed that you had done an in depth study of the Bible, but the more comments I see from you (blogs, letters etc), I can see that is not the case. I am not sure the reason why, perhaps you were misguided at some point on how to do an in depth study.

In your letter, you have done exactly what has been enumerated many times, that being taking verses out of context and then applying them to situations where they do not belong. The Book of Deuteronomy was written at a time when Moses and the Israelites were in Moab. This was the time when Moses leadership was being transferred to Joshua and Moses was emphasizing the laws that were especially needed at that time for the Israelites. The purpose was then to prepare the Israelites for possession of the land that God had given them.

Now lets look at the verses you quoted within the context that it was written. Deut 13:6-10. I have to agree that is sounds very severe , but ultimately it would save thousands of lives. When the northern Kingdom went into idolatry, thousands of them were slain and most of the survivors were taken as slaves to the brutal nation of Assyria. Wouldn’t it have been better to have stoned the false prophets that lead them into idolatry instead of a whole multitude being slain. The only comparison I can think of today, is when we have evil people in prison who have been convicted of crimes, released back into society to commit more crimes. We could have saved a lot of people by keeping that person out of society, either by incarceration or the death penalty, which are both used today.



In Deut. 13: 12-16. The same line of reasoning is used here as in the previous verses I just discussed. However, notice that in verse 14, a thorough investigation is to be done so that it is proved that what is going on there is indeed detestable. Again this is similar to today of removing people from society who are evil. The big difference is that we as humans only have a court of law to look at the evidence and try and determine what the true heart of the person is. God, in his infinite wisdom already knows our heart.

Now, having said all this remember that the Old testament Laws were fulfilled by Christ. Another words today we are living on the other side of the Cross, so many of the Old Testament Laws are no longer valid for us. In the New Testament Paul addresses marriage to an unbeliever, saying they are to remain married, as the believer may be able to save the unbeliever (1Cor 7:12-14). That unbeliever may indeed have other idols ( money, sports, the god of Islam etc). No where does it say to kill them because of their unbelief as you allude to in your letter. In I cor. Paul talks about false teachers and specifically in 1 Cor 6:14 not being yoked to them. Again it says nothing about killing them, as a believer you are simply not to cooperate with them in their endeavors to spread false information. God knows our human weaknesses and we see that today with all the con artists on TV (yes some are using the Bible to scam people, called false teachers), the internet and telemarketing. He wants us to avoid these as it would only lead to problems. Again He is looking out for us.

So, in your letter you took those verses out of context of their meaning and applied them to 2009, all the while completely ignoring the New Testament teachings. The result then is the spreading of false information. Your not alone though. Unfortunately, I know many so called “Christians” that follow that same type of reasoning, many times to use it to their advantage. Those would be Christians in name only though. In my opinion, this type of false information is either done out of ignorance, or a deliberate attempt to mislead people.
My hope is that would indeed dig deeper into the Bible, using proper study techniques. It can be a daunting task and difficult to get started. However there are plenty of resources out there, on the internet and if you find a Bible based church, there are individuals that can assist you. This type of in depth study cannot be done via e-mail. It’s a process and I know of a lot people who have a relationship with unbelievers, some hard core atheists and others more agnostic and some having gone through the entire process of hard core atheist to Chris follower. I would encourage you to seek out someone like this and systematically go though the objections that you have in your mind. You really have nothing to loose.

Thanks again for your time.

John



01/14/08

John,

Thanks for your input, I'll keep my response short.

If you are going to make the claim that these verses don't apply anymore since they are in the old testament, than the 10 commandments don't apply and neither do the prohibitions on homosexuality. And even if we take it, as you say, to only apply to the people of the time- I still find the laws detestable. To kill your own family member because he entices you to worship another (presumable imaginary) god, how barbaric! When you mention verse 14, this only means that you won't take rumor as evidence enough to kill the city and it's cattle, but that you will confirm it. So what? The end result is that you are to kill everyone in the city if they are worshiping the wrong god on your turf. That's genocide.

What about the killing of someone picking up sticks, or adulterors, or unruly children, or non-virgin brides, etc? Do these not apply anymore? And even if they don't, does that mean they were moral then?

Bottom line- the Bible has a heck of a lot of problems with it, and it's hard for me to believe that any sort of an omniscient omnipotent god would choose to communicate with us through this book rife with historical and scientific inaccuracies. Infinite punishment for finite crimes is fundamentally immoral, yet this is central to Christian dogma. Human sacrifice (in Jesus) is immoral, and this is central to Christian dogma. Punisment for the crimes of one's ancestors (original sin) is immoral, and this is central to Christian dogma. The point is, even if you explain away some of my quibbles with certain portions of the text, the underlying dogma is too detestable to be swallowed by any rational thinking person.

Midwest Atheist


01/14/09

Midwest Atheist,

First lets stick to the facts and hand and not get off on a tangent. I know you have many, many questions that can't all be awswered at once. First, I said many of the Old Testament Laws arre not valid today, specifically the one you cited in your letter. As far as homosexuality is concerned it is addressed in the New Testament ( Romans 1: 24-27, I Peter 2:6-7 refers back to Somon and Gomorrah). In addition 1 Timothy 1:8-10, Paul discusses the OT Laws in relation to that time. In order to understand the relationship of the OT Law and NT teachiings you have to do some digging between the two and understand the big picture. I am sure volumes of books have been written on this.

As for morality, what are you basing your morals on? You have said earlier to me that moral values are relative so then how can you make a judgement of what is immoral? You have no bases to do that. In order for something to be immoral there has to be a standard in which you base that on. I base mine on the complete understanding of the Bible. As for a sacifice, would you not sacrifice your life to save your children? That is precisely what God did. He sacrificed His Son's life to save you amd me. I would hope to think that you would do the same thing for your children.

As for verse 14: We basically use that standard today in the court of law, or at least we are suppose to. Before someone is convicted or even charged it is thoroughly investigated (or at least should be). Where did you come up with the rumor part. The Bible I read says the following: "Then you must inquire, probe and investigate it thoroughly. And if it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been has been done among you." It had to be proven and investigated that is way more than just not a rumor. I am curious is to where you got your interpreation from?

By the way, the quote at the end of you e-mails is quite interesting. I have a similar one. I think atheists have more gods than christians. You put all your faith and trust in mankind, science, and yourself, although I am not sure what happens when those all differ on a particular subject..

John



01/16/09

Are you kidding me? This guys site is full of nonsense [http://www.allaboutthejourney.org/]. I'm only up to evolution now, but he clearly doesn't understand the science, and he's just picking things from other christian apologists out there- like Kent Hovind- to fill his pages with. "Planetary evolution"? No transitionary fossils? Come on. I'll keep reading a little more, but if he's got his science this far off, I don't know how the rest of it can be worthwhile.

-Midwest Atheist





01/16/09

I simply said its an interesting link. I said nothing about the truthfulness or even authenticity of it. You continuinually want to add words to my statements to satisfy your beliefs.

Do you have a degree in the Biological sciences? What are your credentials? You have told me you work in the medical field, but that is wide open.



01/16/09

Sorry, I don't mean to put words in your mouth. However, when you send me a site link with not much by way of explanation, it implied is that what you are sending me is a decent source of information. Otherwise, please don't waste my time by sending me links to sites that have useless information, but are "interesting". By the way, this applies also to the Discovery institute's website and Answers in Genesis.

I am a pharmacist with a doctor of pharmacy degree, so I have a good background in biology, anatomy, chemistry, physiology, etc. Besides my formal education, I have done a lot of research on my own on these matters (like evolution, etc) beyond my formal education.


01/16/09

The one thing I really do not understand about your statements, blogs, letters etc is how you selective use evidence, science etc to support or prove your ideas and how you flip fop back and forth.
Let me give you a few examples.


1) I gave you my story on my Kidneys being healed. It is in my medical records. You can go on the National Kidney Foundations web site, the Mayo clinic web site or any other well established medical institution and there is nothing about Kidneys renewing themselves after being damaged by high blood pressure etc. There is a reason it is called chronic Kidney disease. The scientific evidence (which is what you say you base your conclusions on) is overwhelming that Kidney function does not improve.. However, when presented with these facts you throw them out and make the statement, and I quote “If I had to choose between the options of spontaneous natural process that we don't know fully improved your kidney function or super invisible man in the sky used magic to heal your kidneys, I'll go with the first option." Here you chose to throw away sound scientific evidence in order to explain your reasoning, and instead choose to believe some unexplained phenomena ( perhaps the spontaneous natural process you are talking about is what God used to heal my Kidneys) Again you repeatedly have said to me that you go with the sound scientific evidence. Here you clearly did not.


2) Both Mark Chavalas and myself explained where your letter to the editor was factually incorrect. Again he is a History professor, who has actually been to the Holy Land and excavated sites and have seen the evidence he talks and writes about first hand. His Specialty and training makes him an expert in that field. Yet you have not addressed anything about where he is incorrect in his or my analysis of the text. It is one thing to throw out objections, it is quite another to back that up with sound reasoning. Again you claim to use your brain along with logic and evidence to come to your conclusions. That is precisely what I and Mark did, yet I have not heard anything rebuking the evidence that I or Mark wrote about . If you can’t then do you plan on writing another letter apologizing for being incorrect and misleading people?


3) You cite quite often all the contradictions in the Bible. However, there are numerous Christian apologetics that have gone through the atheist “Bible contradictions” one by one and have refuted them. Again, I do not see any rebuttal from atheists that show clear hard evidence that these explanations are not true. Like you did, many continue to persist in taking verses out of context to prove their point. As a highly educated person, you should know that is not sound textual criticism. Your recent letter to the editor is proof of this.


4) You made several absolute moral statements in your response to my Det. E-mail. However in previous e-mails you say morality is relative. So if it’s relative, how can you say something is immoral? It maybe to you, but it may not be to someone else, and if that is the case you really don’t know whether it is immoral or not.


5) You quoted the following “Please don't waste my time by sending me links to sites that have useless information, but are "interesting". By the way, this applies also to the Discovery institute's website and Answers in Genesis.” First of all what evidence do you have that these sites have useless information (Is it because you don’t agree with them) and all the sites you look at have truthful information?


What medium of communication would you have used in order to get message across through the ages. The written word has withstood the test of time. Some 2000 years after Christ it remains the best selling book in the history of the world (do a google search on best selling books of all time). I would say that is an incredible means of communication through the ages. In fact the written word (secular) is a lot of what we now about ancient civilizations.


Since you are adamant in your non-belief, does the free thought society, or any atheist organization have missionaries in other countries trying to free people from the religious enslavement you claim. Do you have missionaries in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Iran, or are you just in the “free countries” ? I have asked this several times and have never gotten an answer.


01/16/09

My goodness you write a lot. I'll try to respond below each section as best I can. Time is often short to come by for me, so I have not responded to some of the points you made before either because I thought the reply would be too lengthy, or I didn't feel your point was sufficiently strong to merit a lengthy response (no offense)



The one thing I really do not understand about your statements, blogs, letters etc is how you selective use evidence, science etc to support or prove your ideas and how you flip fop back and forth.
Let me give you a few examples.
1) I gave you my story on my Kidneys being healed. It is in my medical records. You can go on the National Kidney Foundations web site, the Mayo clinic web site or any other well established medical institution and there is nothing about Kidneys renewing themselves after being damaged by high blood pressure etc. There is a reason it is called chronic Kidney disease. The scientific evidence (which is what you say you base your conclusions on) is overwhelming that Kidney function does not improve.. However, when presented with these facts you throw them out and make the statement, and I quote “If I had to choose between the options of spontaneous natural process that we don't know fully improved your kidney function or super invisible man in the sky used magic to heal your kidneys, I'll go with the first option. Here you chose to throw away sound scientific evidence in order to explain your reasoning, and instead choose to believe some unexplained phenomena ( perhaps the spontaneous natural process you are talking about is what God used to heal my Kidneys) Again you repeatedly have said to me that you go with the sound scientific evidence. Here you clearly did not.


Please reference me where your case study on this condition was published. If this case was as thoroughly documented and miraculous as you claim, I find it hard to believe that none of your nephrologists would have submitted this as an intriguing case study. Again, if miraculous healing was happening, why are there zero casese, ever, of regrowing a limb? Did you go to http://www.whydoesgodhateamputees.com/? I suppose it's possible that Jesus healed your kidneys, but I find other explanations more plausible. If I came up to you and claimed the exact same evidence you gave to me and claimed that aliens had abducted me and fixed my kidneys (and there are abductees who claim all manner of healings, implants, etc), would you believe me based on that alone?

2) Both Mark Chavalas and myself explained where your letter to the editor was factually incorrect. Again he is a History professor, who has actually been to the Holy Land and excavated sites and have seen the evidence he talks and writes about first hand. His Specialty and training makes him an expert in that field. Yet you have not addressed anything about where he is incorrect in his or my analysis of the text. It is one thing to throw out objections, it is quite another to back that up with sound reasoning. Again you claim to use your brain along with logic and evidence to come to your conclusions. That is precisely what I and Mark did, yet I have not heard anything rebuking the evidence that I or Mark wrote about . If you can’t then do you plan on writing another letter apologizing for being incorrect and misleading people?

As I said before, at best you and Mark are making the case that at one time it was okay to kill people for converting isrealites and worhiping other gods on their turf. I have stated that I find your explanation just as objectionable as the case I made in the first place. So I fail to see how either of you accomplished anything. So Mark has been to Jerusalem. So what? Does that give him special credentials to know what happened 2000 years ago? If I travel to where Joseph Smith (supposedly) dug up the golden tablets in New York, does this give me credentials to say that the book of Mormon is true? As far as the "rumor" discussion on verse 14, I think you misunderstood my e-mail. I was saying that I agreed that the verse does say you need more evidence than just rumor, but that it still authorizes genocide in the end if people are worhipping other gods. Is that much better? I don't think so. Oh I forgot, all of their cattle must be killed as well. How ridiculous. This is the god you believe in- one who orders the murder of an entire city- children, women, livestock, and all- because some of the people are worhiping pretend gods. Even if I knew such a god existed, he has some serious explaining to do before I would consider worshiping him based on much of the OT.

3) You cite quite often all the contradictions in the Bible. However, there are numerous Christian apologetics that have gone through the atheist “Bible contradictions” one by one and have refuted them. Again, I do not see any rebuttal from atheists that show clear hard evidence that these explanations are not true. Like you did, many continue to persist in taking verses out of context to prove their point. As a highly educated person, you should know that is not sound textual criticism. Your recent letter to the editor is proof of this.

I disagree that I took them out of context. If you want to make the case that it doesn't apply anymore, fine. I think my point still stands even if I make the point that god once authorized these rules, but has since changed his mind. Also, you act as though a few Christian apologists making up some explanations to make their dogma make sense, without any outside evidence to corroborate them, makes this a closed case. The reason skeptics keep bringing up problems with the text is because the criticisms haven't been adequately addressed. Apoligists do nothing more than say this is what god is like, or that is what god is like, and support their case by pulling out verses the same as we do. If god wanted to settle the score, he could certainly do so once and for all- but he's mysterously quiet on the issue- while Christians killed each other on such issues as whether communion is the literal body and blood of Christ. By the way, it is not like Christian apologists are the only ones who do this, Muslim scholars do the exact same thing using the same methods to 'prove' their god is the true one. You may want to check out the book, "50 Reasons people give for believing in a god". While I'm mentioning books, I'm currently reading Carl Sagan's "Demon Haunted Worls: Science as a Candle in the Dark." This book is outstanding so far, and is at the top of a lot of a lot of skeptics' lists. Definitely worth a read.

4) You made several absolute moral statements in your response to my Det. E-mail. However in previous e-mails you say morality is relative. So if it’s relative, how can you say something is immoral? It maybe to you, but it may not be to someone else, and if that is the case you really don’t know whether it is immoral or not.

This whole debate theists try to trod out- "is morality absolute or relative? Well it's relative then there's nothing to say you're wrong for killing someone!"- is tiresome and has been answered ad nauseum. I know that's not what you said, I don't want to put words in your mouth, but that's usually where this goes. Yes morality is technically relative- this is why Muslim societies tolerate- nay, celebrate- honor killings. But I have no problem saying, in an absolute way, that infinite punishment for finite crimes- is immoral. I suppose you are right and that is my morality, but that is all I have to go on. And if Romans is correct, and there is a god who wrote my morality on my heart, then why should my sense of morality be contrary to his in so many ways?

5) You quoted the following “Please don't waste my time by sending me links to sites that have useless information, but are "interesting". By the way, this applies also to the Discovery institute's website and Answers in Genesis.” First of all what evidence do you have that these sites have useless information (Is it because you don’t agree with them) and all the sites you look at have truthful information?

I think they are useless information because the methods they use are shoddy, the conclusions they reach are contrary to the vast body of scientific data and the consensus of the scientific community. I also find the case that the holocaust deniers pose, and the 9/11 conspiracy theorists, equally dubious- and for the same reasons. Just because some crackpots can string together a few facts to fill in a captivating story, does not mean that it deserves equal time.

What medium of communication would you have used in order to get message across through the ages. The written word has withstood the test of time. Some 2000 years after Christ it remains the best selling book in the history of the world (do a google search on best selling books of all time). I would say that is an incredible means of communication through the ages. In fact the written word (secular) is a lot of what we now about ancient civilizations.

It seems to me that if belief is of such importance, than god should make himself clear. Either make a book that is much smaller, and to the point, and that makes predictions for all generations (it could make predictions that would prove it is the word of god- like exact coordinates- date, and time of meteorite impacts, etc), or better yet- give everyone a vision of some sort with a premonition of a future event that they would not have known about to prove to each person that what they saw was not a hallucination. If god saw fit to send angels, and give visions to all sorts of people throughout the ages, then it is unfair of him to not also do so with the rest of us. Why should I be expected to believe when faced with a dearth of evidence, while others are visited by angels and the like?

Since you are adamant in your non-belief, does the free thought society, or any atheist organization have missionaries in other countries trying to free people from the religious enslavement you claim. Do you have missionaries in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Iran, or are you just in the “free countries” ? I have asked this several times and have never gotten an answer.


First, I would not say I am necessarily 'adamant' in my non belief- I can think of hundreds of things that could happen to convince me that god exists. I certainly have no desire to go to hell, if such a place exists. We don't have any missionaries (that I'm aware of) in other countries. Although, sometimes authors of atheist books will do book tours, I don't believe that they often go to the places you mention for obvious reasons.


Why not? Isn't it exceedingly obvious. We have no hope of an afterlife (generally speaking). Christians and Muslims believe that if they are killed while spreading the word of god, they will be martyrs and will have a special place in god's kingdom. I can see that motivation, but it is one which my belief system lacks. Also, there is no "Church of Atheism" that stands to benefit by winning converts. Not so with other religions- look at the Vatican as a shining example of the wealth available to those who can successfully win converts to their church. Lastly, I can see how some theists may do mission work out of genuine concern for their fellow man, and a desire to save them from hellfire. I can respect that empathy. However, for us atheists, the same thing happens when each of us dies- nothing. So there is nothing dreadful that we have to save our fellow humans from. Would the world be a better place if people employed reason in place of faith, action in place of prayer, evidence in place of feelings, etc? Of course. However, I'm not Don Qixote tilting after windmills. I understand that these goals are unlikely to be acheived by me, and the payoff and necessary sacrifice to my life and time don't make it worthwhile to me. I am content to do my little part in my part of the world to increase rational thinking. There are plenty of books and authors out there promoting this approach, and I leave it in people's hands to educate themselves and make the effort on their own. I can't make someone a critical thinker- they have to want to do it on their own.

-Midwest Atheist



01/16/09

Sorry, I admit I can get wordy, but I am very passionate about this subject. The piercing words you say touches close to my heart as I think you will find it does with many Christians. As for my Kidney healing, I have never followed up on its documentation. It was not necessary for me as I lived it!!! It is in my medical records and I know that my family physician has told me that it is well studied. So I assume it is documented somewhere.



Is it OK to kill people. Certainly the Bible attests that evil had to be gotten rid of in order to save many lives. We see that happen in our recent history. Hiroshima/Nagasaki. We put evil doers in prison and execute them even today. Again they were not killed because they were worshipping other gods, it was because they were attempting to lead the Israelites way. Mark Chavalas is an expert in History just like you are an expert in Pharmacy, so his credentials are relevant. The fact that he has looked at the actual evidence and not looked at the interpretation of the evidence, has to be considered. Unless you are an evolutionary Biologist, that is what you do as well is examine someone’s else’s interpretation, but only those you want to believe.
Clearly you took those verses out of context, I have no idea how you can you didn’t. You applied those words to today in your letter, which isn’t the case. That is taking it out of context.
To say the apologetics criticism hasn’t adequately addresses biblical contradictions is nonsense. The atheists haven’t even attempted to address them or rebuke the ones that are out there. There silence tells me that they cannot, otherwise as vocal as your guys are there would be something out there.


God did make Himself extremely clear. But you have to listen. He gave us free will. If he forced up to change then it wouldn’t be free will. People in Jesus time did reject him, even when they were staring at him in the face, they simply didn’t want to see the truth. If you have kids I am sure you can understand this principle. How many times have the got caught doing something red handed and denied it, explained it away or simply refused to comply because they were not getting their way.


I do appreciate the time you have spent in this e-mails. I will say that if you are a compassionate person you will realize that the words you say can pierce a heart. Not because it is the truth, but because of the exact opposite. I find it interesting that people find the Holmen Star or the 10 commandments offensive, that is words they use, but it is OK for them to publicly go and offend Christians.
Christian missionaries are not in the field to gain brownie points with God. They are there to help their fellow mankind, both with material needs such as food and water, but also spiritual needs. They do it from the heart, not to get a tax deduction, or anything else. The willingly sacrifice their life to help others.


You may think that I am out to get you, but I am not. Do I want to see you become a Christian, absolutely? I know I don’t have that power, all I can do is tell the truth in Love ( Sometimes my zealousness overshadows that love, sorry if that is how I come across to you) I would truly love to see you and your family in Heaven someday and I say that from the bottom of my heart.
I know you believe death is final, but when my mother passed away she was in a nursing home (Alzheimers). She had a roommate and because my mother’s condition was extremely grave they had the current pulled between the beds. At the time of her death, around 3 am, My dad who was with her woke up to the lady in the next bed saying “take me with you” I want to go”. At that moment my mother took her last breath. Something supernatural was going on at that moment. I know you won’t believe this, but it is true.



01/19/09

Have you ever e-mailed or spoken to Mark Chavalas concerning the hisorical inaccuries you claim are widespread in the Bible?

If it is historically inaccurate, why is is used as a main text in history classes at secular universities? I heard heard Mark say that is some of his classes The Bible is the main text. Not for religious teaching, but for historical facts. I would highly doubt a secular university would allow a text to be used that was as full of inaccuracies as you claim. Doesn't sound logical to me.



01/19/09

I was on your blog recently. It is pretty one sided towards one position. Certainly it is not an objective look at religion or Christianity. You have a lot of links on their but really haven’t found anything that provides substantial evidence for any of your claims. Do you actually believe Richard Dawkins? And can you honestly say you put credibility in his work. My goodness, he is a supporter of the Great Apes project that is working to extend moral and legal rights to Apes. Do you honestly consider apes to be of equal value to the Human Being, or deserving or moral and legal rights? Plus if morality of relative, what moral basis is used? I am not against the protection of animals, but not legal rights.

A remark he made to Bill Moyers on evolution really points to his bias and/or ignorance. "among the things that science does know, evolution is about as certain as anything we know". When Moyers questioned him on the
use of the word theory. Dawkins stated that "evolution has been observed. It's just that it hasn't been observed while it's happening." He added that "it is rather like a detective coming on a murder after the scene... the detective hasn't actually seen the murder take place, of course. But what you do see is a massive clue .... Huge quantities of circumstantial evidence. It might as well be spelled out in words of English.” First apparently he doesn’t know what the word observe means. Second, Ask any investigator today, there are often times the overwhelming evidence of a murder points in one direction, but later proved incorrect. Only a thorough unbiased investigation uncovers the truth, and unfortunately, this often takes way too much time and the innocent suffer in prison.
I can honestly say Richard Dawkins does not take an unbiased approach to his science. He is way to invested financially to be unbiased, a point that I had made over and over with any scientist, or anyone who has a large financial stake in their work.




01/20/09

I was on your blog recently. It is pretty one sided towards one position. Certainly it is not an objective look at religion or Christianity.


Yes it is one sided- didn't you notice the title of the blog? Do you expect me to take an "objective" look at christianity, or any other religion? No more than you would expect a christian blog to take an objective look at atheism.


You have a lot of links on their but really haven’t found anything that provides substantial evidence for any of your claims.


What claims, exactly, are you referring to.


Do you actually believe Richard Dawkins? And can you honestly say you put credibility in his work.


Why not, he is eminently qualified to talk on the subjects which he speaks and writes about. He has written a lot of science books, and has recently held the "Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science" chair at Oxford. So I am certainly not alone in placing credibility in his work.


My goodness, he is a supporter of the Great Apes project that is working to extend moral and legal rights to Apes. Do you honestly consider apes to be of equal value to the Human Being, or deserving or moral and legal rights? Plus if morality of relative, what moral basis is used? I am not against the protection of animals, but not legal rights.


If you understood evolution, you would understand that there is really not much separating us from other great apes.

Here's some interesing links on my website: http://midwestatheist.blogspot.com/2007/08/susan-savage-bonobo-species-ted-20-min.html, http://midwestatheist.blogspot.com/2008/08/intelligence-contest-humans-vs-chimps.html


I'm not sure whether I fully support defining certain great apes as "persons", however I don't think it's a crazy idea, or that it's a debate not worth having.

A remark he made to Bill Moyers on evolution really points to his bias and/or ignorance. "among the things that science does know, evolution is about as certain as anything we know". When Moyers questioned him on the use of the word theory. Dawkins stated that "evolution has been observed. It's just that it hasn't been observed while it's happening." He added that "it is rather like a detective coming on a murder after the scene... the detective hasn't actually seen the murder take place, of course. But what you do see is a massive clue .... Huge quantities of circumstantial evidence. It might as well be spelled out in words of English.” First apparently he doesn’t know what the word observe means. Second, Ask any investigator today, there are often times the overwhelming evidence of a murder points in one direction, but later proved incorrect. Only a thorough unbiased investigation uncovers the truth, and unfortunately, this often takes way too much time and the innocent suffer in prison.
I can honestly say Richard Dawkins does not take an unbiased approach to his science. He is way to invested financially to be unbiased, a point that I had made over and over with any scientist, or anyone who has a large financial stake in their work.



How is he financially invested? If he were to come to the realization that evolution were not true, and he wrote a book about it, he would be swimming in cash. He would become the poster child for intelligent design, and his phone would be ringing off the hook. What you just said makes no sense whatsoever. You obviously have no idea of the mountains of evidence that confirms evolution as a fact.



Here are just a few links, among many, from this tag on my site (http://midwestatheist.blogspot.com/search/label/--Evolution):
http://midwestatheist.blogspot.com/2008/02/evidence-for-evolution-part-ii-vitamin.html
http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=582F4F412D62146F
http://midwestatheist.blogspot.com/2008/01/evidence-of-common-ancestry-ervs-9-min.html
http://midwestatheist.blogspot.com/2008/02/kenneth-miller-evolution-fossils-genes.htmlBy the way- I found this article in CNN today rather interesting: http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/americas/01/19/eco.globalwarmingsurvey/index.html


It seems you are in the shrinking minority when it comes to both your opinions on evolution and global warming, when compared to the scientists working in the relevant fields.





01/20/09
You may find this article interesting:
http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/News/2009/January/09010901.asp

No I haven't talked to Chavalas about historical inaccuracies.

I don't know any history class that uses the bible as a primary text. That's nonsense. If you can please provide a curriculum that states that, I'd be interested to find out about it. Some histories may refer to the bible occassionally, but they don't take it as authoratative. There are clearly stories in there that did not happen- ie- Adam and eve, the Creation myth, Noah's Ark, the sun standing still in the sky for a day, Jonah and the whale, the parting of the Red sea, Moses in the desert for 40 years, etc.

There are a number of documentaries that take a look at the history of the bible on my site for you to watch:

http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=D26E40B7D61258ED
http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=A170D17D2F53B548
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-206887275399093528&hl=en
http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=1FB58057C0B73E4F
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7785317849743909385&hl=en-CA
http://youtube.com/watch?v=Fz_C20TeaxE
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6101527704063312894&hl=en

Plus many more that I wasn't even able to link to.

Midwest Atheist





01/20/09
I heard march Chavalas saying that the Bible is a primary text in some of his courses. Why wouldn't you ask a History Professor about the Historicity of the Bible. Seems like a smart thing to do.



Although Richard Dawkins has an education , he has still made some outlandish statements that he claims are fact. "Evolution has been observed". It also makes no sense to grant Apes legal and moral rights, when the unborn fetus doesn't even have moral and legal rights. After all, A human fetus always becomes a human being. No one has "observed" an ape becoming a human being. As far as apes and man being close, so are Humans and robots, there are lots of similarities there too. There are even similarities between my dog and me. Somehow after 10 years he understands my commands. Similarities does not make us equal! You have to wonder about a so called scientist that would make such statements (the observable part and the rights to apes). You know the saying, there is a fine line between brilliance and insanity.
Interesting, I saw on Fox last month that there were now 650 or so scientists who have problems with Global warming and the way the IPCC has conducted their study. That was an increase of some 200 over the past year. ( can't remember the exact number), so not sure where CNN is getting their information. I can certainly share with you some data if you would like. Plus I never claimed global warming may not be true, just that the science being used is very suspect and thus puts the conclusions in doubt and so the evidence is not as overwhelming as it may seem. There is a lot of evidence against it that is not being made public!! I believe there are also scientists who have real problems with evolution.
On evolution, not sure where CNN gets their information, but if its from the same place they get their global warming info, I would say its suspect. But if evolution has been treated in the scientific community as Global Warming has (its now called climate change, guess that is more palatable, although by definition climate is always changing), then there are serious problems with evolutionary science. Again the scientific process is carried out by, fallible, biased human beings, who are susceptible to influence by big government or corporate monies that fund their research. Most research is funded by governments or corporate donations that have a stake in the outcome of the research.
Richard Dawkins in a known and outspoken atheist, just like Dan Barker.. He has dedicated his life not only science, but many books on atheism. I would say he is a cult figure in the atheist world (most atheist web sites link to him). He gets lots of money for speeches, books etc, (on atheism not science) many probably from atheist organizations. He is more known (in general terms) for his atheism than for his science work. Dan Barker makes his sole living on the bases of atheism. When you are dependent on this for a lucrative career, it is highly unlikely you are going to turn your back on that kind of money, power and prestige. Although I don't know Richard Dawkins, having seen Dan Barker, he is pretty stuck on himself. Certainly not a humble man by any means. Richard Dawkins appears to be cut from the same mold. Both too proud to ever admit they could be wrong. I never once heard Dan Barker either admit he was wrong, or even that he didn’t have an answer. I really have a hard time believing he has all the answers to every question that he is asked, but that is the way he came across.
Again, I thank you for your dialgue. By the way what happen to the Free Thought Society. The web site is defunct.

After I wrote it I did realize what I said about your blog being biased. lol. That is perfectly natural. Thanks again for your dialogue. Although we disagree 180 degrees on everything we have discussed, I appreciate you sharing your thoughts. It has given me things to think about and has actually deepened my faith even more, as I dig deeper into the scriptures. One thing I am understanding more is the hardening of the heart spoken about in the Bible. I had trouble understanding that concept, of how that could actually happen, but I see it now. The great thing is hearts can be softened.






01/20/09

Yeah, the website is having issues currently. We're working on it. The group is doing great, though. We had a meeting on Friday, and probably had around 18 people there, and about half of them were newcomers. So the group is doing really well for only being a year old now.

As far as Dan Barker never saying he was wrong, you must have been watching a different debate. Right from the get go he said he was a fundamentalist preacher for something like 18 years (that number's probably not exactly right), and then he realized he was wrong after doing much studying. I have heard his first clip of him on the Oprah show in like the 80s or early 90s where she asks something like, "you were a preacher for 18 years and then you just said that there is no god? What does that say about you?" To which he responded, "I was wrong." Of the two of you, Dan is the only one who has demonstrated that he can change a deeply held conviction when presented with evidence. Dan was exactly in the position that you claim Dawkins is- his whole livlihood is wrapped up in his belief system. If you haven't read Dan's book, you should. He lost his job, his family, his songwriting career- everything once he owned up and made his doubts common knowledge. Dan made his "sole living on" theism before his deconversion, so if that doesn't blow your notion out of the water, then I don't know what would.

On CNN's science- so now the 99% of biologists who acknowledge evolution as true, and the 97% of climatologists accept humans effecting global warming, and CNN's science team are all wrong- and you are right. Okay. No offense, but I'll stick with the evidence and the consensus of those in the relevent fields.

Feel free to e-mail me anytime.

You should check out this podcast (among many others) - Reasonable Doubts. Here are to particularly outstanding episodes with well researched objections to some biblical problems:

http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/reasonabledoubts/Msxh/~3/465279600/rd26_cross-examining_the_four_witnesses_part1.mp3

http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/reasonabledoubts/Msxh/~3/484257894/rd27_cross-examining_the_four_witnesses_part2.mp3


01/21/09
First of all, where did Dan Barker get his theological training? he says he was a preacher at 15!! I do not know of anyone that starts a career at 15, except maybe show business and then its usually always coerced via the parents. CNN is a known left wind news channel. Fox leans to the right, so in this day and age it's awfully difficult to get anything fair from the primary new sources. But you are wrong on your data. I work in a field closely related to climatology and see first hand what is going on. The raw data used for climate comes directly from our office (for this area), and the same goes on nationwide. Some of the coop observer networks, expecially in the western United States have not been properly maintained. I.E buildings, parking lots ect have been built right next to the observing platform. They shold be moved but there is numerous documented cases that haven't been. That is just the tip of the iceberg.

01/21/09


Re: Dan Barker- If you have questions- read his book: Godless. It's cheap, and not very long. You could probably pick up a copy in the library. However, I believe he says he started "Preaching" when he was 15 when he would go on missionizing trips to Mexico and other places to "spread the word." So while I don't believe he was making a living at it necessarily, he feels he was preaching, and I would tend to agree. The book goes into great lengths, and probably spends too much time (in my opinion), establishing his former religiosity and showcasing his resume as a dedicated theist. I suppose it is necessary because a large number of christians will always say- "well you weren't a TRUE christian."



01/21/09

You never answered the question. Why would Richard Dawkins state that evolution has been observed? That is a lie. If he is willing to lie about that, what else is he lieing about? Usually when you lie you credibility is greatly diminished.

Why would anyone want to give moral and legal rights to apes and not to the human fetus? Do you have a documented case where a human fetus has become anything other than human?

Why on earth if you believe that the Buible is full of historical inaccuracies, and you hosted an event where there was a historian that you had access to, you never talked to him about those? Either via e-mail or in person. That behavior is contrary to your statement you made at the debate about being open minded and willing to look at evidence.

The population of La Crosse county is nearly 100,000 and you have 18 at free thought society meetings. No more comment needed.


01/21/09

You never answered the question. Why would Richard Dawkins state that evolution has been observed? That is a lie. If he is willing to lie about that, what else is he lieing about? Usually when you lie you credibility is greatly diminished.

Evolution has been observed in the laboratory- in species of fruitflies and certain worms. Also, there was a groundbreaking study of e.coli, where samples of all generations were frozen and saved for later analysis, where a species of e.coli was observed to undergo 3 seperate mutations, and the combination of all three were essential to digest a media of citrate that they were placed in. This ability was absent in all other samples, and has never been observed in e.coli before.

I think the kind of evolution you want to observe would be like an ape giving birth to a human. Obviously, that doesn't happen, and is not at all what the theory of evolution involves.

Why would anyone want to give moral and legal rights to apes and not to the human fetus? Do you have a documented case where a human fetus has become anything other than human?

Did you watch the videos I sent you on the Bonobo apes doing many amazing tasks/using tools and Chimps beating humans in memory tests? These are cognitive processes that a fetus (which lacks a central nervous system) obviously cannot do. The lack of speech is one of the few main things that separates bonobos and many primitive tribal peoples that exist today.

Why on earth if you believe that the Buible is full of historical inaccuracies, and you hosted an event where there was a historian that you had access to, you never talked to him about those? Either via e-mail or in person. That behavior is contrary to your statement you made at the debate about being open minded and willing to look at evidence.

Because I don't need a historian to tell me that there is no evidence to backup the stories that I mentioned before (Noah's flood, etc), because I have watched other documentaries with other equally (or greater) qualified historians telling how there is no evidence to back this up, and an overwhelming amount of evidence to prove it never happened. Same with Moses wandering in the desert for 40 years. A group of people that he was supposed to be leading (millions), wandering in the desert for 40 years, would leave a lot of evidence (garbage) behind. There has been none found. I do communicate with Chavalas from time to time, about some issues, but I certainly don't think he has all the answers. I gave Mark the opportunity to make his case, and answer the problems with the bible that Dan Barker presented during the debate, and frankly, Mark did a dismal job. He didn't even try. His one attempt was to say that he found some camel bones in a temple site (not enough to officially write up, by the way) and he plays this off as adequate evidence to refute the great amount of other evidence that says camels were not domesticated at that time in history. Apart from that, Mark read his whole case, including rebuttals, leading me to the conclusion that the historian had no answers to these many problems/contradictions in the biblical text.

The population of La Crosse county is nearly 100,000 and you have 18 at free thought society meetings. No more comment needed.

What does this mean? We've only been around for 1 year. Admittedly, non-theists are a minority of the population (~16%), however it is growing- with around 1/3-1/4 of young people identifying with no specific religion. Also, atheists are notoriously hard to get to goin any type of group- the phrase that is often used is "It's like trying to herd cats". We're all very individual, and most don't feel the need to join any sort of group. I enjoy the group for the social aspects. We are a social animal, something religion has known about and made use of for a long time, and I see no reason why I should not enjoy the opportunity to engage with others on a social level. Of the 100,000 in La Crosse county, how many go to your church? Kind of an unfair comparison, in my opinion, to use the figures that you did.



01/22/09

You are talking mutaton, not evolution (although I agree mutation would be part of evolution). However, It is one thing for a species to change or adapt to an enviornmment. It is quite another say an ape evolved into a human being. We see different strains of bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics. But we don't see bacteria changing into anything else but bacteria. When Mr Dawkins said that, the subject matter was the evolution of animals into Human beings. He was not speaking about these small incremental mutations you are talking about. So again. He was wrong and telling a lie!

A couple other points about Richard Dawkins. One, he stated that believed Jeses existed contrary to your point, secondly, when asked about the human capacity for charity towards others, especially strangers, he stated that was a Darwinian mechanism miss-fire!! So when Darwinism doesn't explain something adequately it is a miss fire. Rather convenient I would say.

At some time a fetus has a central nervous system, otherwise it would never be born and survive outside the womb. So your statement is at least partially false. So, cognative process are what you define the value of life. So people with alzheimers who loose their cognative abilities then should have no legal and moral rights, or for that matter anyone who looses their cognative abilties, either by disease or accident should not have any moral and legal rights. That position is down right scary!! Again, a Human fetus always becomes a Human. That is something special and unique.

I was just pointing out how such a minority atheists are in. I have no problem with you organizing any events or social gatherings. The average attendance at our church is between 700 and 1000 each Sunday.

One additional point that you had brought up a while ago is about the denominations and how they differ. My Wife attends a non-demonational Bible Study for women. There are around 100 women who attend, coming from Catholic, Lutheran (various synods), Church of Christ, Assembly of God, Presbyterian and others around the area. They study the Bible in depth (They usually put in 4 to 6 hours per week from September through May on an in depth study. It may be just one Book of the Bible, or it may be on the Prophets etc.). Even with the diverse church backgrounds, there is unity in the study.

Well neither one of us know his true heart, I was only going by the evidence that he presented. Again it is highly unlikely that a 15 year old is going to strike out to some far away land under the own volition, whether he was making a living by it or not. It is not uncommon even today for parents to force their kids into doing something, and they do it, but later in life then reject it. I have heard from born again christians whose parents made them go to church as children, and yes they did everything a christan was suppose to do, the baptism, sunday school, accepting christ, serving. However it was all external, nothing internal. It wasn't until later they realized what they had done was not anything life transforming, as they would fall away. It wasn't til much later after accepting Christ willingly that the inner transformation occurred. Although we do not know anyone's heart, like God does, we can go by the "life long" fruits that person does. Dan Barker does not fit that. the visible fruits that he produced only lasted a very small amount of time in the grand scheme of things.

I never wanted this to become tit for tat argument. I know we both could come up with many more questions for each other, and get so caught up in the minutia that we loose site of the big picture. What we like to say in the weather business, the trees get in the way of seeing the forest.
You had requested more detail on my kidney healing and I provided that. You can either accept it, rationalize it or reject it. What you do with it is not in my control. But I can tell you, I spoke the truth.
I wish you only the best. And I truly do appreciate you taking the time for the dialogue we have had.
God Bless.



01/22/09

Ditto.

BTW- I saw this story on CNN-
http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/01/21/eco.warmingantarctic/index.html

How do you fit that in your worldview?



01/22/09

Since you love referencing other links, here are some. One on the gobal warming is a full hour lecture given by a professor of atmospheric science. Not only is he a climate expert, but also is a contributing member to the IPCC. At the beginning of the clip his credentials are given. Its about 40 minutes of lecture with the last 20-25 minutes questions from the audience.

Global warning Links:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-WWpH0lmcxA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIuNxy6i1o0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LvEuJsYE7k

Evolution
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWBw_YGlOus
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-UCo7JQm-A&feature=related

I listened to those podcasts, at least as much as I could (still have more to listen to). They are completely bogus.. They didn't shed any light on anything you haven't already said. They didn't provide any hard evidence for their claims, they are simply staing their own interpretation taking Biblical verses out of context. Its the same old atheist dogma. As I said before you claimed the evidence supports that Jesus never existed, but your guru Richard Dawkins made the opposite claim. So which one of you are looking at the evidence? You both can't be correct. I will add that although he said he existed, he rejected the Biblical account of Jesus. So then, where is his evidence he is using, when you claim there is no extra Biblical evidence of Jesus. Again one of you is wrong. Whom am I to believe?



01/23/09

On the podcasts, Mark Chavalas disagrees. He listened to them both, and found both presenters very knowledgeable about what they were talking about, he just comes to a different interpretation. So no, your historian says they are not 'bogus'.


01/23/09

On Mark Chavalas. He is not a theologian, thus in the debate he was sticking to his expertise which is History, language and ancient texts. He was well aware that Dan would come out in attack mode, throw tons of contradictions, etc up. It would have been impossible in the time alloted to do justice to addressing just the so-called contradictions he threw out, let alone all the other points. Mark made a conscious decision after reviewing other debates of Dan's and his mode of operation to concentrate on the proper reading, textual criticisms and proper historical setting to get his points across. So in that respect it wasn't even a debate, it was more like 2 people giving speeches on their positions. I would say if another debate is done, it should be more focussed. If Dan wants to debate on the mertis of theology then get a theologian, not a historian. But to truely understand the Bble, you have to study it correctly, which Dan Barker has not done.

On a related note, When I was listning to the PODCAST you forwarded me, it wasn't 10 minutes into it and the hosts of the show were off track about the Bible. They spoke about Jesus being placed in the tomb Friday before sunrise with the resurrection occurring early Sunday morning. They said that is a 1 ½ days, not the three days the Gospels claim and then pawn that off as a contradiction. This really shows their ignorance of the Bible and the understanding of it in its proper historical context. It was common at that time to refer to the day something started and the day that something ended as being complete days. Thus the three days were Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The same can be said about titles and authorship. At that time most documents were not officially titled like we do today. They simply used the first sentence of the text as the title. Similarly, authorship was not as important back then as it is today. The interest then was not who wrote it but what it contained. It was these types of things Mark was attempting to get across at the debate. Unfortunately, those on the atheist side never seem to apply these principles. You have done it, Richard Dawkins has done it, and those guys on the podcast, so it appears it is a prevalent theme within the atheist world, and perhaps even part of your dogma.



01/23/09

Lengthy responses again! :) I'll try to be brief. I may have to put our conversation up on my blog at some point, It might be helpful to others to not have to go over the same stuff we had in such detail in order to understand the other side a little better. If I do post it, I would of course change your name.

You are talking mutaton, not evolution (although I agree mutation would be part of evolution).

Mutation, along with Natural Selection, IS evolution. That is all it is in its entirety. It is the creationists who claim it is anything more.

However, It is one thing for a species to change or adapt to an enviornmment. It is quite another say an ape evolved into a human being.

Not exactly true (but close enough). Modern apes and humans evolved from a common ancestor. This is a fact that is supported by many lines of convergant evidence. It is not some sort of conjecture. The head of the human genome project, Francis Collins (and evangelical Christian), has been quoted saying that even without any fossils, the genetic evidence alone proves evolution.

We see different strains of bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics. But we don't see bacteria changing into anything else but bacteria.

Nor would we expect to in the timeline in which we are observing.

When Mr Dawkins said that, the subject matter was the evolution of animals into Human beings. He was not speaking about these small incremental mutations you are talking about. So again. He was wrong and telling a lie!

I'm not familiar with the interview you are referring to, but if you are saying that Dawkins said something akin to "we have observed an ape giving birth to a non-ape". then you did not understand what he was saying. Evolution does not work that way, and Dawkins fully understands that.

A couple other points about Richard Dawkins. One, he stated that believed Jeses existed contrary to your point,

I'm not saying that Jesus never existed- although I think it is a possibility that he never existed. I don't think there is sufficient evidence to be conclusive one way or another. Not a single contemporary wrote about him, so I think it is a fair question to ask. I doubt the supernatural stuff for the SAME REASON that you doubt the supernatural claims of other religion. You don't believe that Mithras and Dionysus and Alexander the Great were born of virgins do you? So why would you believe Jesus was?

secondly, when asked about the human capacity for charity towards others, especially strangers, he stated that was a Darwinian mechanism miss-fire!! So when Darwinism doesn't explain something adequately it is a miss fire. Rather convenient I would say.

Again, I think you are misunderstanding what Dawkins is saying. When he says a Darwinian missfire, he is referring to a function that evolved for a purpose, and recently our environment may have changed renering that original evolved trait useless or potentially harmful. On the altruism example, some anthropologists speculate that altruism may have evolved because for the vast majority of human evolution we lived in small groups, where everytime we did something good for one of our group, the likelihood that the favor would be repaid was very high. Also helping those in our group helped our own individual survival through fostering a healthy group. So those who evolved a propensity towards helping others had a better rate of survival and creating offspring than those who did not. So the trait was selected for. Recently, humans have begun to live in large societies. Thus, our acts of altruism have a diminished chance that we will ever be repaid the favor. However, since we evolved this "impulse" of altruism, we still feel the drive to help others even though the liklihood that we will be repaid is not high. The same is true with sexuality. Those with a high sexual drive created more offspring, so that trait was selected for. However, we are still attracted to a mate even if we are aware that no offspring will result (she's on birth control, infertile, etc). So this evolved drive still kicks in, even though it may be inapplicable in the current context.

At some time a fetus has a central nervous system, otherwise it would never be born and survive outside the womb. So your statement is at least partially false

Personally, I don't have a problem with aborting a clump of 50 cells that has no central nervous system, and thus, has no mechanism to be self-aware. I'm not crazy about abortion once a fetus becomes more mature, however. So I'm still on the fence about that. However just because something will be something at a later date, does not mean that it is now. For instance, I may be blind someday- that does not mean I am blind now. Just like a fetus may be a human one day, but that does not mean it is necessarily a human how.

So, cognative process are what you define the value of life. So people with alzheimers who loose their cognative abilities then should have no legal and moral rights, or for that matter anyone who looses their cognative abilties, either by disease or accident should not have any moral and legal rights. That position is down right scary!! Again, a Human fetus always becomes a Human. That is something special and unique.

I would not say that Alzheimer's patients have no legal or moral rights, however I tend to lean that way once a person has NO brain function, and has no hope of regaining it. For instance, a brain dead person that is kept alive by machines is not a person anymore, in my opinion. Eventually, a person with Alzheimer's may get to the stage where such incredible brain damage has occurred that they are not able to do anything- eat, get out of bed, etc. At that point, unfortunately, I place very little value on that life as well. I place the same standards on my own life, if I were to be in that condition, and it is laid out in my living will.

I was just pointing out how such a minority atheists are in. I have no problem with you organizing any events or social gatherings. The average attendance at our church is between 700 and 1000 each Sunday.

700 or 1000 people!? Well if there's 100,000 people in La crosse county and that's the best you can do, I don't need to comment further....

On a related note, When I was listning to the PODCAST you forwarded me, it wasn't 10 minutes into it and the hosts of the show were off track about the Bible. They spoke about Jesus being placed in the tomb Friday before sunrise with the resurrection occurring early Sunday morning. They said that is a 1 ½ days, not the three days the Gospels claim and then pawn that off as a contradiction. This really shows their ignorance of the Bible and the understanding of it in its proper historical context. It was common at that time to refer to the day something started and the day that something ended as being complete days. Thus the three days were Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

If it's the part of the program I'm thinking of, I don't think they mentioned the 3 day thing to point out a contradiction. The context they were discussing that in is that he was only in hell for 1&1/2 days, which according to the dogma, is supposed to attone for all sins past and future. They were making the case that this dogma is ridiculous for that reason. Heck, I don't see Jesus' supposed 'sacrifice' as anything all that great. First, a sacrifice is something that you give up and don't get back. So nothing was sacrificed since he came back to life in 1.5 days. Second, If god's offering the deal- be tortured for a day then dead for 2 days, and after that you get to be a god and master of the universe for eternity? Sign me up, too!

The same can be said about titles and authorship. At that time most documents were not officially titled like we do today. They simply used the first sentence of the text as the title. Similarly, authorship was not as important back then as it is today. The interest then was not who wrote it but what it contained. It was these types of things Mark was attempting to get across at the debate. Unfortunately, those on the atheist side never seem to apply these principles. You have done it, Richard Dawkins has done it, and those guys on the podcast, so it appears it is a prevalent theme within the atheist world, and perhaps even part of your dogma.

Atheism has no dogma, and I would hope you knew that.



01/25/09

1. Websters definition of Dogma - "Something held as an established opinion: a definte authoratative tenet". Atheism qualifies for this, you believe there is no God (a belief or opinion) and evolution is the mode in which we humans came into existence (authoratative tenet).

2. Darwinism has no answer for the origin of matter. In fact, Dawkins now postulates that it could be aliens or autocatalyst. This is contradictory to his opening statement in one of his books where he states and I paraphrase we have to find natural causes without any intelligent design. In additiona, that statement in itself shows he is not an objective scientist. An objective one would say he would follow where the evidence takes him, instead of putting pre-conditions on what he is looking for. Now, I know evolution and origins are seperate, but the origins of matter is the foundation. You can't build a solid theory without a good foundation. Its like building a house and starting with the walls.

3. Darwinism does not explain emotions, especially Love.

4. For someone who wants to see hard evidence, there is no hard evidence of transitional beings. For one, you would think after million or billions of years you would see evidence today, or even in the past 500 years. You should see apes in various stages of development, like colonies that have basic human speech, or the ability to build huts etc. You simply do not see that.

5. With all the genetic information we have today, and all the so called "solid" evidence we have on evolution, has there been any computer simulations done to reproduce evolution. By that I mean apes to humans. And have they then projected this into the future to see where humans are going to evolve to in another miliion years? I suppose though, if they did that, it would be contaminated as it would take a intelligent designer to writte the software.

6. As you stated in an earlier message, how does mark Chavalas know, was he around 2000 yaers ago. I would ask the same thing. What evolutionary scientist was around 2 million years ago?

7. The cognative tests you referenced earlier on apes. Is there any evidence to support that this cognative ability has changed over the past million, or billion years? If so, who did the testing back then to compare?

8. How do your podcast people know that Christ's death on the cross was not enough to atone for the sins of the world?

9. How can you demand the type of 100 percent evidence for the Bible, yet you don't for evolution? Another words you say give me the smoking gun evidence that Jesus existed and/or his divinity as an example, but you haven't shown me any concrete, smoking gun evidence that Humans evolved from an ape. That makes no sense to me at all. You have showed me that apes are intelligent, but have no basis for comparison to the past, plus you have showed me that e-coli can mutate. It takes a great leap of faith to take those two and come up with apes to Humans, no matter how much additional circumstancial evidence you have.

10. As for church attendance. We are not the only church in La Crosse county, thus you would have to look at attendance at all churches. Same as you would have to look at all free thought society chapters members in La Crosse county. That is how you would develop accurate statistics.


01/25/09

There is a new series out by Dawkins on Evolution that just received a best documentary award in Britain. You may be interested to watch it- there are three parts. Here is the link for part one:
http://video.google.ca/videoplay?docid=-4471435322910215458

1. Websters definition of Dogma - "Something held as an established opinion: a definte authoratative tenet". Atheism qualifies for this, you believe there is no God (a belief or opinion) and evolution is the mode in which we humans came into existence (authoratative tenet). Atheism doesn't state there is no god. Atheism is simply a lack of a belief in a god. I maintain that there could possibly be a god (though unlikely), I just lack a belief in a god. Now some atheists go that extra step and assert that a god does not exist, but that is their opinion, and not a necessity of atheism. Evolution is not held as an authoritative tent. There are many things that could disprove evolution. A short timeline for the existence of Earth, rabbits in the Precambrian, a general mismash of the fossil column (which is exactly what should be found if Noah's flood actually happened- instead we find a stepwise progression from simple to complex.).

2. Darwinism has no answer for the origin of matter.

Doesn't have to, and doesn't try to.

In fact, Dawkins now postulates that it could be aliens or autocatalyst. This is contradictory to his opening statement in one of his books where he states and I paraphrase we have to find natural causes without any intelligent design.

This is not a contradiction- He said that there COULD be alien origins for the life on Earth, but that the origins of the aliens themselves at some point would have to have come about by natural processes, such as evolution.

In additiona, that statement in itself shows he is not an objective scientist. An objective one would say he would follow where the evidence takes him, instead of putting pre-conditions on what he is looking for.

That's not what he's doing. Besides, have you ever heard of the term- hypothesis?

Now, I know evolution and origins are seperate, but the origins of matter is the foundation. You can't build a solid theory without a good foundation. Its like building a house and starting with the walls.

Evolution and origins are definitely separate- and origins does not provide foundation to evolution. They are completely separate issues, just as origins has nothing to do with gravity. From the viewpoint of evolution, there could still be some creator god that provided the spark for the first self-replicating molecule.

3. Darwinism does not explain emotions, especially Love.

It most certainly does. Did you even read my post on altruism?

4. For someone who wants to see hard evidence, there is no hard evidence of transitional beings.

Again, wrong. There are volumes and volumes of transitional fossils. Ever heard of tiktaalik? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-iioE2Vd1s , http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=A54BD256AACAB34D

For one, you would think after million or billions of years you would see evidence today, or even in the past 500 years. You should see apes in various stages of development, like colonies that have basic human speech, or the ability to build huts etc. You simply do not see that.

Don't we? That's exactly what we see with our ancestors, the transitional period, the hominids that came before us.

5. With all the genetic information we have today, and all the so called "solid" evidence we have on evolution, has there been any computer simulations done to reproduce evolution.


Yes, there are many simulations. Here is one: http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=812A19E991E7E838 , and it is certainly not the only one.

By that I mean apes to humans. And have they then projected this into the future to see where humans are going to evolve to in another miliion years? I suppose though, if they did that, it would be contaminated as it would take a intelligent designer to written the software.

Your ignorance about evolution is profound. You should really actually watch some of the videos I've been sending on to you. they are meant to educate you a little bit so you might actually have a clue about what you're talking about. Maybe start with the Dawkins award documentary, "Darwin's Genius". He answers these rudimentary misunderstandings about evolution in part 2, I believe. One can't build a simulation that will show exactly what will happen in the future evolution of animals because it is driven by random mutations. You can't predict the weather a month from now, but that doesn't mean I dismiss you ability to tell me if it will rain later today.

6. As you stated in an earlier message, how does mark Chavalas know, was he around 2000 yaers ago. I would ask the same thing. What evolutionary scientist was around 2 million years ago?

No, but if you applied these standards, you would never convict anyone of any crime, unless you happened to be there. Dismissing evolution is like finding a dead body in a locked room with a gunshot wound, and a gun laying nearby with another person's fingerprints on it, and coming to the conclusion that this person was not shot to death because the room is locked and nobody saw him get shot, so how do we know that's how he died? The analogy is accurate because the level of evidence for evolution is just as strong. If you don't understand that, then it is willful ignorance on your part, and certainly not the fault of scientists.

7. The cognative tests you referenced earlier on apes. Is there any evidence to support that this cognative ability has changed over the past million, or billion years? If so, who did the testing back then to compare?

Irrelevant. I mentioned those tests to demonstrate that apes are not these dumb animals that you make them out to be, not as evidence that we evolved from them.

8. How do your podcast people know that Christ's death on the cross was not enough to atone for the sins of the world?


They don't "know", they are simply using common sense to come to the conclusion (as I have) that vicarious pseudo-sacrifice to attone for crimes is a ridiculous concept at face value. To sacrifice a person to attone for another's crimes is nonsense, and this is why we have no judicial equivalent of this. And it makes even less sense when that person being sacrificed is the same person as the one who is supposed to be doing the forgiving. It is like this- let's say you offended me, and here's my solution- I'm going to arrainge for my own torture, death, and resurrection. Then when I come back to life, everything is all better, and you don't need to pay meu back anymore. What sort of bizarre system of justice is this?

9. How can you demand the type of 100 percent evidence for the Bible, yet you don't for evolution? Another words you say give me the smoking gun evidence that Jesus existed and/or his divinity as an example, but you haven't shown me any concrete, smoking gun evidence that Humans evolved from an ape.


The fact that you can make that statement means you haven't been paying attention, or watching any of the short videos I sent you. You carry the smoking gun for evolution in your DNA. You just prefer to close your eyes tight, plug your ears, and say "there is no evidence, they can't prove it!" I watched the two videos you sent on evolution. I found it amusing that the guy used the example of the evolution of the whale in one video. Actually, we have a very complete picture of the evolution of the whale, including an incredible amount of transitional fossils.

That makes no sense to me at all. You have showed me that apes are intelligent, but have no basis for comparison to the past, plus you have showed me that e-coli can mutate. It takes a great leap of faith to take those two and come up with apes to Humans, no matter how much additional circumstancial evidence you have.

Again- you might have to actually look at the other evidence I provided- fusion of chromosme 2, the broken vitamin C gene, ERVs, etc.

10. As for church attendance. We are not the only church in La Crosse county, thus you would have to look at attendance at all churches. Same as you would have to look at all free thought society chapters members in La Crosse county. That is how you would develop accurate statistics.

No I don't. Just because there may be different churches, they have different views of god- baptist, methodist, lutheran, catholic, presbeterian, etc. Many of these views attract different attendees for different reasons. For the same reason, people may stay away from our group because they don't like certain orgainzational aspects or goals of our group. Also, many people may not attend your church because the location is invnvenient for them. Same with our group- I certainly don't expect to attract people from all over la crosse county to come for every meeting. Besides, I'm never tried to make the case that we were in the majority, I understand that we are a minory- but not as big of a minority as you would like to think. We outnumber most denominations of christianity, put together. We outnumber Jews, blacks, gays, etc. And we are growing. But numbers are unimportant to me. The truth will either win or fail based on the strength of the evidence, not on popularity polls.

Also, on the abortion issue, the bible also values the life of a fetus as less than an adult- Exodus 21:22-25


01/27/09

I am concluding my e-mail correspondence with you and just wanted to say thanks for a spirited exchange of ideas over the past month. Certain things have become very apparent through our e-mail correspondence that leads me to believe going any further would not be wise. Those things have also been reinforced to me through various scripture passages. Perhaps our paths will cross again sometime. Until such time, take care.


01/27/09

John,

Likewise, thanks for the exchange. Obviously, both of us feel passionately about the topics, and I enjoy a lively discussion. If you came away with a stronger faith, that's fine with me. As long as I got you to think a little bit, I'm satisfied. I do hope you do some reading and/or watching some videos explaining how we know evolution to be true- because this is basic scientific knowledge, and it should be kind of embarrassing for you as a person trained in science to deny this basic knowledge. On the global warming thing- I'm not as well versed on that issue. However, I'm willing to go with the scientific consensus that says humans contribute to it. Even if I am wrong, I think this is a prudent course of action, because if we are right- then we avert disaster, if we are wrong- then there is no harm done, and we'll probably have cleaned up the air and our environment a lot in the process.

Thanks for the exchange, and feel free to e-mail me anytime. Take care.

-Midwest Atheist