10/08/2006                                                                                       View Comments

All Truth is God's Truth

This post is excerpted from The Dark Side: How Evangelical Teachings Corrupt Love and Truth, by Valerie Tarico, www.lulu.com/tarico

If devotion to truth is the hallmark of morality, then there is no greater, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking. —Ayn Rand

IN JUDAISM AND CHRISTIANITY, TRUTH IS ONE OF THE CORE ATTRIBUTES OF GOD: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6), and seeking truth is one of the core attributes of a godly person. Sometimes when truth is mentioned in scripture, the writer is talking specifically about spiritual issues. But an overall reading of the Bible makes it clear that honesty and truth-seeking belong to God and the righteous, while obscuring truth is evil, even Satanic. The writer of Isaiah speaks of swearing by the God of truth (Isa. 65:16). In the book of John, Jesus promises that God’s spirit of truth will dwell in his followers. “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13).

If Evangelical beliefs are accurate, orthodox Christians are the only people who genuinely worship the God of Truth. Given this, one might imagine that believers would be in a uniquely good position to recognize truths whenever they present themselves. In fact, many Evangelicals make this assumption in a variety of spheres, believing that belief itself obviates the need for specialized training in areas such as diplomacy, public policy, criminal justice, counseling, or teaching. Guided by God’s spirit, a fellow Christian can be trusted to perceive reality and know what needs to be done.

The same assumption applies when believers respond to scientific findings. Belief itself is seen as a relevant qualification for making judgments about the accuracy of those findings, and with reason. “He will guide you in all truth.” This promise appears to include truths that are uncovered through the systematic process of inquiry that we call science. A literal reading of the Bible suggests that Christians have within them the very same spirit of God who created and sustains nature. Shouldn’t having the God of nature dwelling in you make nature easy to recognize? Shouldn’t having the God of Truth dwelling in you make truth easier to recognize?

In actuality, orthodox Christians as individuals and the church as an institution are often the last to acknowledge what is real in nature and human nature, sometimes fighting to deny new discoveries to the bitter end and beyond. By beyond I mean beyond logic, beyond any reasonable doubt in the scientific community, beyond the wall that separates skepticism from sheer foolishness.

The Story of Galileo

In 1616 the Catholic Church examined the theory that the earth revolved around the sun. The following statement was issued that February by a special Theological Advisory Committee: [This claim is] “philosophically (i.e., scientifically) foolish and absurd, and is considered official heresy because it explicitly contradicts the meaning of Scripture in many places, in terms of the verbal significance of the words and in terms of the accepted interpretation and understanding of the church fathers and the Doctors of Theology.”1

Galileo was tried by an ecclesiastical tribunal and spent the last thirty years of his life in virtual house arrest for putting forth such heresy. Yet even at the time he was tried and convicted, the heliocentric (sun-centered) theory was accepted by many astronomers of his day, in other words, by the relevant scientific experts. A book by Copernicus, published in 1543, more than seventy years prior to Galileo’s trial, had opened this door in the scientific community. Although some experts still argued in support of Aristotle’s view that the sun revolved around the earth, evidence was available to suggest otherwise had the church tribunal been in a position to weigh that evidence objectively.

Since then, of course, both the Catholic Church and her Protestant offspring have accepted that the earth rotates and revolves around the sun. Catholics have moved away from a literal interpretation of verses such as Joshua 10:12–13 (KJV): Then spake Joshua... “Sun stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon... So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hastened not to go down about a whole day.”

Since then, also, the Catholic leadership, has formally apologized for the whole affair. Because it has a central authority and a sense of history, the Catholic hierarchy is capable of learning. In recent years the Church of Rome has been much more humble about taking an authoritative stance on issues of science. In fact, some Catholic scholars have even argued that God permitted the church to make such a humiliating error in order to teach theologians the proper domain of their authority.

But Protestants have no centralized authority that can acknowledge the errors and excesses of Christianity’s past. Besides, they often feel those mistakes have nothing to do with their own church or faith. (Those weren’t mistakes of Christians, they were mistakes of Catholics.) In the United States, the Evangelical landscape is dotted by small, home-grown denominations and independent congregations. In keeping with the rest of American culture, there is a bias toward “newer is better,” and Evangelicals tend to rely on recently written books and on-the-spot interpretations of the Bible by their devotional leaders.

As stated previously, many Evangelicals don’t know that their core doctrines were largely inherited from Catholics or that Catholics continue to share those beliefs. In fact, many Evangelicals don’t believe that Catholics are Christians at all. One consequence of this ignorance is that very few study church history and vanishingly few have any sense of the battles that have raged between Christian orthodoxy and science. Nor do they know that, in the long run, the church has lost every one. Unfortunately, this means that they are prone still to fight the tide, convinced they will win.

Galileo Was No Exception

The reality is that there are plenty of battles to study, and plenty to be learned from them. They began as soon as Christians switched from being a persecuted minority to an officially sanctioned majority in the Roman Empire. History tells us that in 415 CE in Alexandria, a center of learning and home to the most famous library in the ancient world, a Christian mob seized Hypatia, an Egyptian philosopher and mathematician, dragged her away from her students, dismembered her, and burned her body.2 Not long after, a fire of questionable origin consumed the famed library, which housed scholarly works of the ancients. So began the Dark Ages.

From then to now, orthodox Christians have battled long and vigorously against scientific findings in a host of fields. Andrew Dickson White devoted a book to this topic. His work, History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom, fills two volumes, and describes field after field of scientific findings that have been resisted over the centuries by the church.3 Here are some examples:

? Astronomy (the earth revolves around the sun; no “firmament” above the sky; marvels in the heavens such as asteroids and eclipses have natural causes)
? Geography/geology (an ancient earth, no global flood; fossil record)
? Biology (natural selection, speciation)
? Archeology (the antiquity of human cultures)
? Anthropology (pre-agricultural societies; migration patterns; cultural syncretism; functions of competition, aggression, etc.)
? Meteorology (natural causes of droughts, floods, etc.)
? Chemistry (chemical reactions between compounds)
? Medicine (natural causes of illness; natural healing processes)
? Psychiatry (physical causes of insanity and seizures; limits of volition)
? Comparative Philology (origins and evolution of languages)

Are you ready for a surprise? White was a co-founder of Cornell University. He wrote his treatise in 1894. And yet, over a century later, several of these conflicts continue. Churchgoers frequently hold wild misconceptions about the methods of inquiry used by scholars and about scientific findings. In this regard, they are much like their secular peers. But for believers, honest ignorance is often matched by dogmatic denial. Literalists ignore or distort discoveries that contradict the literal words of the Bible. They may fight to prevent the dissemination of scientific findings that they see as a threat to faith. They may refuse to implement technologies or policies that they see as challenges to Bible-based morality.

Modern Evangelicalism and Science

With the rise of Evangelicalism in the United States, these battles have only intensified. One dramatic example is the controversy that surrounds evolutionary theory, which threatens the notion of a literal six-day creation sequence. In common, everyday speech, a theory is simply a hunch or a hypothesis. By contrast, in science, a theory is the structure of logic that integrates a series of data points into a unified whole. It takes the data and extracts a theme or pattern. A good theory explains why the findings are as they are, predicts what we can expect to find with further research or exploration, and links the data in question to other scientific findings. Misunderstanding this difference, many American Evangelicals have dug themselves in to fight against the theory of evolution, not understanding that they might as well be fighting the theory of gravity.

Since Darwin’s time, the evidence for natural selection has become overwhelming. Gaps in the fossil record become smaller with each additional discovery. The process of selection has been observed in nature. Computers have been programmed to model different selective pressures and rates of mutation. Natural selection has been observed under laboratory conditions, and has been shown to function in areas outside of biology, as in the spread of information. DNA sequencing now allows geneticists to assess closeness of relationship between different species just as they would with human families. The guesswork is gone. In fact, genetic engineers are at the point of creating new species themselves by applying their knowledge of how change happens in the natural world.

And yet young earth creationists continue to insist that dinosaurs coexisted with humans and that the world was created 6,000 to 20,000 years ago. The Seattle-based Discovery Institute promotes “intelligent design,” with the expressed goal of opening the door to biblical creationism. In some school districts, teachers have been forbidden to discuss origins of biodiversity. Textbooks in Georgia were labeled with warning stickers stating that the theory of evolution is “only a theory,” meaning just one possible hypothesis among many. The fact is, there are no scientifically plausible alternatives. Teaching anything other than evolution to explain biodiversity is teaching religion. It requires that one deny not only findings in, but the very methods of, scientific endeavors as diverse as anthropology, genetics, biology, geology, physics, medicine, pharmaceuticals, and computer science.

Animosity toward evolution science does damage that stretches far beyond questions about biology. When creationist leaders publicly scorn any scientific methodology that supports natural selection, they feed public mistrust of scholarship in general. Some devout believers avoid educational programming or popular science magazines such as Scientific American or National Geographic that assume the earth is ancient and species have evolved. Some even avoid science in general, and scientific education for their children.

Such avoidance fosters ignorance and misinformation. For example, it opens the door to unproven medical treatments, while creating wariness about well-researched medical practices. Neurology and psychiatry are viewed with particular mistrust. They are seen as infringing the domain of theology and morality, with the result that many Evangelicals don’t support mental health treatment services in their communities. They may resist psycho-active medications for themselves or family members unless extreme psychosis forces treatment.

In the United States, as in other countries, scientific panels consult on issues ranging from energy policy to prescription drug approval. As boundaries between church and state have blurred and as Evangelicals have gained political influence, appointments to these panels are based increasingly on ideology rather than on scientific qualifications. And more and more, the panels produce recommendations that are explicitly opposed by experts in the relevant fields of inquiry. As a consequence, a wide range of public policy debates become tussles between competing ideological opinions, even when data suggest a specific course of action.

How is it that those who call themselves servants of truth: “you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32), have spent literally millennia fearing it, opposing it, and having to be dragged into the light? I’ll grant that once they are dragged, kicking, and screaming, and sometimes committing more lethal acts of aggression along the way, they often settle down and reconcile their faith quite comfortably with realities such as the lack of a literal firmament above the sky or a heliocentric universe or a biological explanation for seizures.

The point is, this pattern is endemic to orthodox Christianity. It is not the exception; it is the rule. It has historical consistency, consistency across subject matter, and consistency across the cultures that have widely accepted orthodox faith. The European Dark Ages have been attributed in part to the fact that orthodox world views displaced earlier modes of thought that were more open to naturalistic explanations of the natural world. For centuries inquiry was actively suppressed. Folk medicines were labeled witchcraft and their practitioners killed. Scientists presented new findings and proposed new theories at their own risk, as the case of Galileo demonstrates. In the New World, the Puritan leaders planted themselves squarely in opposition to the evolution of human knowledge, and Christian soldiers marched forward, resisting new findings as these emerged. They do the same today.

To Consider

Do not let kindness and truth leave you, says the Psalmist (Prov. 3:3). A righteous man hates falsehood (Prov. 13:5). Time and again, we are told that the wicked resist truth, that they turn away from it, while veracity, including honest self awareness, pleases God (2 Tim. 3:8, 4:4; Psa. 51:6). With such an explicit mandate to pursue truth, devout believers should be predisposed to embrace truth wherever it presents itself. One might expect that resistance would be the exception, attributable to individual hard-heartedness or soft-headedness, or to transient infiltration by the Father of Lies. And yet, given the intellectual walls imposed by unquestionable doctrines and biblical literalism, is it any surprise that history suggests otherwise?

How would our world be different if all of us genuinely opened ourselves to the pursuit of truth, wherever that might lead? What if we all, Christian and non-Christian alike, echoed the prayer of a Kenyan brother:

From the cowardice that dare not face new truth,
From the laziness that is contented with half truth,
From the arrogance that thinks it knows all truth,
Good Lord, deliver us.

What would it mean to fear falsehood more than questions and to behave as if all truth really is God's truth?

23 comments:

twincats said...

It's very simple. Scientific truth (or verifiable facts) have the tendency, for the devout believer, to shake their faith, challenge their beliefs and require them to reconcile said facts with their faith and beliefs. This often takes years, even decades or centuries to straighten out.

They'd much rather not have to do that because they (rightly) feel it compromises the basis of their faith; that 2,000 year old book of plagarized fables and parables written by and for an earlier civilization.

Elder Norm said...

To twincats,

You said "Do not let kindness and truth leave you, says the Psalmist (Prov. 3:3). A righteous man hates falsehood (Prov. 13:5). Time and again, we are told that the wicked resist truth, that they turn away from it, while veracity, including honest self awareness, pleases God (2 Tim. 3:8, 4:4; Psa. 51:6). With such an explicit mandate to pursue truth, devout believers should be predisposed to embrace truth wherever it presents itself. "

That statement makes it sound to me, that the christians that deny science are not righteous and not truthful. Maybe the fundamentalists are satanic and not of God.
After all, don't they say that Satan uses lies and trickery to fool the righteous man and so denying fact and science and pretending that you speak for a God that loves truth, doesn't that make the typical christian, --- wait for it ---- "of the devil?". :-)

Hey, its my off day.

Elder Norm

Bentley said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Thank you for this succinct summation of the worshippers of ignorance. Faith has a poisonous effect on the polocies of our present government. "Trust us, we know what's best." "We know the truth, but it's classified."

Bentley said...

Shouldn't we look to the Bible for the source of all knowledge and wisdom?

Shouldn't we turn our telescopes away from outerspace and delve deeper into the word of God?

If John or any disciple is speaking from a divine source, then whatever they say, should we not believe?

If the disciples say and believe that the world is flat, then we must too also believe that the world is flat, otherwise we would be demonstrating our lack of faith towards God's inspired words.

If the disciples believe in unicorns and dragons and talking snakes and talking bushes and talking donkeys, then we too as Christians must not rebuke their Holy Authority, to refute their beliefs would mean treason against God's Holy word, a deadly sin, punishable by a eternal torment in Hell.

This is something Christians must take into account when, standing up for the absolute inspired holy word of God, not one word can be in error, nor can the word of God be refuted nor proved to be untrue.

Therefore a "True Christian" must remain vigilant in the beliefs of men over 2000 years ago, to take a stance against God's holy word and to take a stance for scientific discovery and exploration would certainly mean an eternal existance of pain and suffering in hell.

So to keep the status of a "True Christian" you must believe that the world is flat and the Earth is the center of the universe and snake and donkeys talk, etc. To believe otherwise, you would be going against the divine teaching of the inspired word of God, and considered an Atheist or a communist or infidel or heathen sinner and must be willing to spend their eternity in Hell.

fjell_strom said...

It is this very subject - the church vs the honest search for truth - which burns most beneath my fingernails. I hope one day to become an authority. Would love to command a library of specifics on this internally and be able to let fly an arsenal of knowledge, like a gattling gun ejecting not bullets but uncomfortable truths, when confronted by a creationist who wants to dance.

Omni said...

The Bible is supposed (by some) to be the literal truth; doesn't scientific proof that even ONE thing in it is wrong break the spell and verify that it is NOT the literal truth?

cholebear said...

Thank you for this summation. It was just what I needed to stand tall in knowledge against those who stand merely in faith. It has been difficult in my conservative area, especially with the holiday's approaching, to not want to go postal. Any respectable approach to dissuade believers in helpful. However, I agree with one of the other comments that it always shakes their belief. I am ready, though, if they wish to 'dance.'

Vynette said...

Jesus of Nazareth lived and died for 'truth' as is evident by his statement to Pilate.

The New Testament is emphatic that God has never been seen by the human eye:
"No man has seen God at any time" (John 1:18, 6:46)
"Whom no man has seen or can see." (1 Tim 6:16)
"No man hath beheld God at any time." (1 John 4:12)
"(God is) eternal, immortal, invisible." (1 Tim 1:17)

These texts were all written after Jesus' death. Taken singly or collectively, they completely refute the suggestion that God suddenly took on the form of a man.

The Trinity, the Virgin Birth, and most of the doctrines of Christendom are demonstrably false. The are not a product of the New Testament or Hebrew Christianity but of early gentile theology.

Truth will out - even if it has taken 2000 years.

As for creation vs science, the Bible does not say that the world was created 'ex nihilo'. It says that 'God' imposed order on a pre-existing chaos.

J. C. Samuelson said...

"As for creation vs science, the Bible does not say that the world was created 'ex nihilo'. It says that 'God' imposed order on a pre-existing chaos."

Not sure it makes any difference whether it did or not. What's your point? If you're saying God didn't create anything, I don't have a problem with that since I don't believe such an entity exists. If you're saying that God is real, but was working with existing materials, you have more explaining to do, both theologically and scientifically.

The Hebrew word bara' found in Gen 1:1 is used about 46 times in the OT, each time in connection with a divine act attributed to God. It is the only Hebrew verb (out of three total) that can have the meaning of ex nihilo creation. Interestingly, one of the other 'creation' verbs is used alongside bara' in Genesis - asah, which usually means to fashion (supposes existing materials). So, from a theological standpoint, why would the Hebrew authors choose bara over asah if the latter would have applied in Gen 1:1? That is, why would they use a verb with creation ex nihilo as its most common definition instead?

Also, from a theological standpoint that doesn't exactly bode well for God's alleged omnipotence either, which is well attested to.

I guess I'm wondering what's your angle? Are you an atheist/agnostic with a unique take on things, or are you a believer trying to make the Bible fit science?

Scientifically, you'd have to explain this God individual.

Hope this makes sense.

Vynette said...

J.C.

My comment regarding 'creation vs science' was made in the context of demonstrating just how thoroughly even the text of the Old Testament has been made to serve theological agendas - that even the 'first' word in the book could be misunderstood has an inescapable symbolism for me.

My principal aim, however, is to demonstrate to all who will listen that the personality cult of 'Jesus Christ', constructed by the Christian churches, has nothing whatever to do with the Jesus of Nazareth portrayed in the New Testament. In not perceiving the difference, many have rejected Jesus and his simple message.

In my view, the most effective method of dealing with Christian religious fundamentalism is to demonstrate to the faithful that they are kept in obedience to
ecclesiastical authority by an invented doctrinal system of rewards and punishments. A frontal attack on religious belief per se encourages a wholesale retreat behind the barricades.

I work towards the establishment of a level playing field. If we get back to what the Bible actually says about 'God', and about our relationship to this entity, we may be able to judge the reasonableness or otherwise of its propositions.

You asked about my 'beliefs' and I would answer that what one believes is immaterial to reality.
If I happen to personally believe in a higher intelligence, will that alter the validity or otherwise of my arguments?

To answer your original question, I'm appealing to authority here but the fact that 'B'reesheeth' stood in a compound relationship, i.e. construct and following genitive, was pointed out to me by my old university Classical Hebrew and Ugarit teacher, Professor Francis Anderson, a scholar of international renown and author of several monographs on Hebrew and its kindred Semitic languages e.g. "Spelling in the Hebrew Bible."

Now, I'm no expert, but Professor Anderson certainly is. Paraphrased then: In the beginning OF God's creation of the heavens and the earth, the earth was without form and void and darkness was on the face of the deep.

Sorry for this rather patchy discourse but it's hard to squeeze so much into so little space.

Cheers

boomSLANG said...

vynett: "I work towards the establishment of a level playing field."

As far as theology goes---it seems to me that the first thing that would level the playing field is to establish an objective definition of what a "God" even is. So far, it's yet to happen. The bible is certainly the closest that any Christian can come, with the bible being the "Word of God", which is "true" because it says it's true. 'Doesn't seem too "level", IMO.

vynett: "..what one believes is immaterial to reality."

Agreed... what one believes doesn't influence reality---yet, reality does, and should, influence what one believes, or disbelieves. A person who walks point blank into a Bengal tiger's pen thinking/professing that "God" is "watching over" them(it happened), and who then gets mauled, should learn from that experience that a personal "God" is NOT part of reality.(provided they survive)

vynett: "Now, I'm no expert, but Professor Anderson certainly is."

John Travolta is an "expert" on Scientology. This, too, says nothing about reality, as far as Scientology being connected with it.

vynett: "Paraphrased then: In the beginning OF God's creation of the heavens and the earth, the earth was without form and void and darkness was on the face of the deep."

Speaking of Genesis---I'd be curious to know what a "firmament" is.....and what it's purpose is/was? Also, how a "perfect creator" could not know that "darkness" is merely the absence of "light"(?)

Vynette said...

Boomslang,

It seems I have not made my position clear. I am not arguing about the truth, or otherwise, of the set of written texts we know as the Bible.

My argument is simply that we should know what these texts say - the level playing field - and then discuss whether they contain elements of truth or not.

Because we are discussing the 'text' of the Bible, I introduced an authority on that text to demonstrate a point. I was not arguing about the 'truth' of the statement, merely what the statement means in English.

As to 'firmament' etc, the particular language employed in the Creation and Fall account is, in my OPINION only, an attempt to portray human failings in an allegory.

boomSLANG said...

Okay vynette, understood.

I think the part that may have thrown me off was your statement regarding how Jesus was portrayed in the New Testament, and how people not discerning the differences within the different interpretations have missed, or lost-out, on Jesus' "message", etc.

"In not perceiving the difference, many have rejected Jesus and his simple message."

What I'm saying, whether totally relevant to what you're saying, or not......is that no one can say with any certainty what that "message" is. The Holy bible is one big subjective grab-bag, regardless of what language it's interpreted to/from. The end.

Wisdom said...

CAN YOU GIVE A REBUTTAL????

I posted this as a testimony to the mighty web master and he seems to not wanna share with you great thinkers of the 21st century so I'll try posting it in here.Im guessing Dave is all talk and no action like most of you....

Imagine you are watching a debate between an evolutionist and a creationist. The evolutionist stands and gives his 15-minute opening argument on why you should believe that mankind evolved over millions of years from primordial goo through the zoo and finally to you. He presents a rather extensive array of facts that he says point to the obvious truth of evolution. He talks about fossils and science and energy and the rest, hoping to persuade you, the listener, that it is more reasonable, indeed, more intelligent to believe that you have evolved than that you were somehow created by supernatural fiat. He rests his case, gets a round of applause from the audience and sits down. The moderator presents the creationist to you and the creationist opens with the following argument…

“ Thank you Mr. Moderator. Thank you to all who have come here tonight to weigh this subject, for it is not just a subject, it is the subject that will decide everything else about how we think about ourselves and how we live out our lives. And thank you to my opponent tonight, for agreeing to this debate and for spending the last fifteen minutes illustrating the truth of special creation by arguing for the belief of evolution. Now how can I say this? He just stood up here and presented all kinds of evidence that he believes to be in favor of evolution and against the idea of special creation, so how can I say that he, in so doing, has proven special creation? Simply, because my opponent has attempted to persuade us of something. In attempting to do so he has appealed to many different aspects of man, aspects that cannot be explained by evolution. He has made appeal to your mind. He has assumed, as I have, that those of you sitting out there, listening to this debate are rational, intelligent, cogent beings that are capable of making decisions about what is true and what is not. He has assumed that you all are capable of drawing rational conclusions based upon the arguments presented. He has also made appeal to your senses to accurately intake and communicate to your minds the pictures, sounds, and other data that comprised his case. And he has made an appeal to your ability to choose. He has assumed that you and I are capable of choosing to believe in one of these two ideas, of changing our minds based upon his abilities to persuade you or at least based upon the evidence’s force to compel you into believing one of these ideas while rejecting the other. In making these appeals, in assuming these truths, he has proven beyond any doubt that 1) evolution cannot be true and 2) that special creation must be true. Let me elaborate by addressing the first area I mentioned.”
“To do this I want to introduce you to someone named Al. Now I might be stretching the rules of debate a little bit by bringing up someone else, but I needed him to illustrate this point for you. So would everyone give Al Kaseltzer their undivided attention.”

At this point he pulls out of his pocket two Alka-Seltzer tablets and drops them into a glass of water, puts a microphone up to the glass and sits down. 10 seconds pass, twenty, thirty, forty-five, a minute, and then two. Finally he stands and continues…

“Thank you Al. I want to ask those of you in the audience, ‘As we watched Al plop and listened to him fizz, did you come out with a better understanding of our origins from that fizzing? No? As you listened to the sounds emanating from the container did you think that they were insightful, intelligent, meaningful sounds that were communicating valid ideas that correspond to your origins?’”

“At this point you might be thinking that I’ve totally lost it, but before you dismiss me as completely whacked let me ask you this. From an evolutionary scheme what is the difference between Al, myself and my opponent tonight?”

“Evolutionary theory would have you believe that the human race evolved over many millions of years from random chemical interactions combining to finally form you. In other words, you are just a mistake. Actually, we can’t even say a mistake, for mistake assumes original intent. There is no intent, no purpose, or thought, or meaning or plan. According to evolutionary theory you are just a random conglomeration of time, chance, matter and chemical combustion. Hence, so is your mind. Your brain is the accumulation of millions of years of unguided, unintended chemical processes. If this is the case then what in the world makes you think that my opponents mind, or yours for that matter, is a reliable guide that gives meaningful insights and has accurate interpretations of laws of logic and physical phenomena? How is his brain, or mine, or yours, any different from the Alka-Seltzer? The Alka-Seltzer is purely a set of chemicals combusting; excreting gas. So, too, your brain is just random set of chemicals combusting, excreting “brain gas”. In evolution thought is simply the gaseous excretions of the chemical combustions of the goo in your head. So what makes these gaseous excretions intelligent or meaningful? If our brains are just random conglomerations of electro-chemical reactions, how is it any different from any other electro-chemical reactions? What makes one chemical reaction “intelligible thought” while another “unintelligible”? One chemical reaction “logical” while another is “illogical”? One personal and meaningful while another impersonal and meaningless? Whether they come from a container made of glass or of skin and bone, they are all just gaseous excretions.”

“Lets change the metaphor slightly. How is the bodily excretion we call thought any different from any other chemical excretion from your body? They are both just chemicals doing what chemicals do and chemicals reacting the way chemicals react. What makes one more logical than another? In evolution how is cognition any different from flatulation? According to evolution your intestines are the accumulation of millions of years of random chemical reactions, just as your brain is. So what, per se, is the difference between the gaseous excretions of the two? What is the difference between brain gas and intestinal gas? I ask my opponent to explain the qualitative difference between the two excretions from the evolutionary point of view. When did the brain go from just another set of chemicals that excretes what it does to a thinking, reasoning machine where the gas is now intelligent? Are our intestines the same intelligent machine? They came about in the same way as the brain did! Just multiple chemical reactions accumulating over time to make it what it is. So why trust the one for rationality and not the other? Actually, the real question is why trust either of them? They are, after all, unintended, unguided, meaningless happenstances of time. Your brain was designed to think the same way your intestines were designed to think and the Alka-Seltzer was designed to think. They weren’t. They all are just chemicals passing gas. “

“So from the standpoint of evolution, what is intelligence and how does it differ from non-intelligence, one random chemical reaction versus another? How does anyone make that distinction in an evolutionary world? When does the gas become intelligent or rational? How does this occur? What transpires for something to all of a sudden, one Friday afternoon at 3 pm, transform from just another gas to an intelligent, meaningful thought? Was that a chemical reaction? If it was then how is it any different from any other? What made that one intelligent? You end up in the same boat. In the evolutionary worldview there is no basis for intelligence, logic, or rationality. Thought is not meaningful but random. It is neither controlled nor categorized. So too all the concepts interpreted in thought like logic, rationality, sense perception and knowledge of the external world and history. In evolution rational thought and irrational thought are the same. They are both gaseous excretions. Gases doing what gases do. There is no difference between the two. How, then, can we compare thoughts? How can we have this debate? If all thoughts are merely gaseous excretions then all thoughts are equally valid. How can we say that one excretion is true while another is false? Right as opposed to wrong? Logical versus illogical? They are, after all, merely gaseous excretions. Would we say that it’s right for copper to expand when it is heated or wrong for oil and water to separate? It would be like me shaking up a bottle of Pepsi and then asking all of you to determine whether it was right or wrong for the Pepsi to fizz the way it did. That would be nonsense, because the Pepsi just does what it does because it is natural for it to do so. So how can my opponent assert that one belief is true while another is false or make the claim that it is right or wrong for a particular gas (thought or belief) to excrete from the brain when it is natural for it to do so? In evolution there can be no right or wrong thoughts, ideas, or beliefs, just chemicals doing what chemicals do.”

“Yet my opponent has assumed that those listening here tonight are rational. He has assumed that some beliefs are truer than others, some thoughts more valid than other thoughts. He holds that there is a distinction between rational and irrational thought and that one view of the origin of man is more rational than another. He believes that his argument is somehow more valid than Al Kaseltzer’s argument, but please explain to me how this is possible when they are both just chemicals passing gas? He thinks that the excretions from the random chemicals in his head are superior to the excretions of the chemicals in the glass of Alka-Seltzer, but how can this be true in evolution? He believes that the laws of logic and standards of rationality extend beyond individuals. He believes that you, in the audience, are capable of making meaningful decisions based upon his arguments, or he wouldn’t have come. But from an evolutionary standpoint how are the random chemical combinations of your brains any better suited to think and to reason than the chemical combinations of the Alka-Seltzer? Yet, if my opponent had been asked to come and attempt to persuade 200 glasses of Alka-Seltzer that they evolved over millions of years do you really think he would have shown up? Obviously he believes himself and all of you to be much more than random impersonal non-rational masses of matter.”

“ In short, he has assumed special creation in order to persuade you of evolution. By his doing so, he has demonstrated for all of us that evolution cannot be true as well as demonstrating the self-evident truth of special creation. Not only has he assumed this great truth, but so have all of you. Everyone who came tonight to weigh these issues has assumed the specially created intellect of their minds, even if they, up to this point, have believed in evolution. None of those who came tonight thought that you would just be watching soda fizz. You came expecting a meaningful dialogue and transferal of information from intelligent beings. You assumed that my opponent and I were more than just random impersonal chemicals passing gas, as testified to by the immediate distinction you made between the noise coming from the Alka-Seltzer and the noise emanating from the debaters. You have presupposed truths particular only to special creation in order to weigh the subject of evolution.

You have also assumed yourself to be far more than random impersonal non-rational masses of matter, or you would never have shown up nor would you bother to attempt to think anymore. Had you been truly convinced of evolution and followed it to its inevitable conclusion then you would have long ago decided that the pursuit of truth and rationality was an exercise in futility. Yet you are all still here! You are all still trying to come to reasonable conclusions about our origins. You are still attempting to use your intellect as well as your senses because somehow you know that you are far more than just chemicals, that your thoughts are far more than just brain gas.

This is why special creation is self-evident, because it must be assumed for us to think that we are thinking or trust that we are trusting or reason that we are reasoning. You must assume your minds rationality in order to do any other thought, and therefore must assume special creation. It is also self-evident because, as we all now realize, that if it were not for special creation we would never be able to think about evolution or our origins. There would never be theories to analyze, thoughts to ponder, or ideas to believe because without the special creation of your mind there would be no theorizing, thinking or believing at all; just chemicals passing gas.

You have heard of the famous proverb of Rene Descartes, “Cogito ergo sum.” “I think therefore I am.” Actually it ought to be, “I think therefore I was specially created”. That is the necessary conclusion, because if you were not specially created, if your mind is nothing more than chemicals passing gas, then there is no reason to think that you are thinking nor to trust that your thoughts have any correspondence to reality. But since your mind is specially created to make rational decisions and intelligent choices you can reasonably believe that you are able to make rational decisions and intelligent choices.

In summation, evolution undermines rational, meaningful thought. Evolution is therefore self-refuting because it eliminates any possibility of knowing anything, including knowing whether or not evolution is true.

Special creation is the only system that can uphold rational, meaningful thought. Therefore, special creation is self-evidently true. It must be assumed in order to think about anything, including thinking about our origins and evolution.

So once again I would like to thank my opponent for proving my point by making distinctions in thoughts and beliefs and by believing himself and everyone listening to be intelligent, rational thinkers thus disproving evolution and proving special creation. And I would like to further thank him for any rebuttal he may offer, for it too will prove my argument by once again appealing to your specially created intellects.”

Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh, what a relief it is.

Anyone care to challenge this great Godly mind??????

Anonymous said...

Naw. Been done before, dinksmoker. Don't care to waste my time. Good laugh though - I'll think about it the next time I take an Alka-Seltzer tablet and ponder the possibility of it 'combusting' in my stomach sending flames pouring out my mouth and nose. Har har! Get your science right before posting garbage like that. It might help your credibility just a little. Or not. -Wes.

boomSLANG said...

Aaah yes, the "ontological" argument for God dressed up in a cheap suit:

Wisdom:(the crux, if there is one) "Special creation is the only system that can uphold rational, meaningful thought. Therefore, special creation is self-evidently true. It must be assumed in order to think about anything, including thinking about our origins and evolution."

Gess wut?...Ima retARD and my frend got me to rite this---i CAN'T NOT reson, there4, Ima a person who CAN't not "think about anything"; there4 I Can't not "assume" there is "special creation"; there4, "special creation" ain't not true.

So in essence, if humans were not intelligent and could not perceive or contimplate existance, the rest of the 125 billion gallaxies that were presumably "specially created", would be purposeless. It doesn't get much more arrogant than that.

Mr.Genius said...

To Mr. Wisdom, whom has all the answers to the creation of the universe at his immediate disposal.

Special Creation...your father was attracted to the opposite sex and by wooing your mother into a compromising position, your father took the liberty and inseminated your mother...special creation!

Now Eve having been created from one of Adams ribs, where did all the animals and insects and sea creatures come from?
One of God's ribs???? Special creation perhaps???

Jim Arvo said...

"Wisdom" asked "CAN YOU GIVE A REBUTTAL????"

Good grief, please tell me you're joking. That little essay is so rife with fallacies it would take an essay five times as long just to briefly address them all.

"Wisdom" went on to say "Im guessing Dave is all talk and no action like most of you...."

So let's take stock of what we have here. We have a sophomoric essay, that is probably a cut-and-paste from somewhere, and an arrogant poster who thinks it's really deep, and apparently thinks everybody who doesn't agree is either lazy or stupid. The only question I have is how much time I should spend on this claptrap. Answer: not much...

First, "Wisdom", you (or whoever write this) continually commit the fallacies of composition, straw-man, and appeal to ignorance. Actually, that little essay commits practically every fallacy there is, but the ones I mentioned are most pervasive.

For example, you commit the fallacy of composition when you express your incredulity about evolution producing order from disorder, and you compound this by special pleading -- i.e by simply ignoring all the evidence that is stacked against your position. Myriad systems, particularly biological systems (which operate far from thermodynamic equilibrium) produce a local increase in order. Adaptation is but one manifestation of this. In fact, your entire characterization of evolution is a ridiculous straw-man since you conveniently ignore the role of feedback (i.e. selection), which is the very antithesis of randomness. You commit the same grievous error as every other creationist in equating evolution with "randomness". That's complete nonsense.

I've already wasted too much time on this. If you have the fortitude to try to defend your position I will gladly point out a few more of the glaring errors in that essay.

J. C. Samuelson said...

smd"CAN YOU GIVE A REBUTTAL????"

Allow me to second my distinguished colleague's incredulity - you must be joking.

"I posted this as a testimony to the mighty web master and he seems to not wanna share with you great thinkers of the 21st century so I'll try posting it in here.Im guessing Dave is all talk and no action like most of you...."

Do you honestly expect reasonable debate when you begin with insults? Perhaps you should post your argument in one of the forums here. That said, you have a lot of work to do beforehand.

To begin with, your entire argument can be summed up thusly: we are capable of rational thought, therefore special creation is true. In the interest of brevity and clarity, perhaps you should edit your essay to begin with your assertion. Then follow it up with your supporting materials/logic (if any).

Second, before you post it would behoove you to review the current science supporting evolution. Start here.

Third, it might be a good idea to brush up on your logical fallacies. Your essay, as Jim pointed out, is rife with them. For just a few examples, your essay affirms the consequent, presents a false dilemma, is mostly an argument from ignorance, and begs the question.

So what's the origin of rational thought? The simple answer is we don't know. The complexity of the brain is such that neuroscience is still in its relative infancy. In fact, even the lower unconscious functions - breathing, heart rate, etc. - escape our understanding. That said, we do know a great deal about the biological composition of it. With a PET scan we can observe the apparent correlation between brain activity/metabolism and thought processes. But purely biological considerations may not tell the whole story.

Thought does not appear to be completely random, though it may be spontaneous to an extent. After all, it does not originate in a vacuum. We are surrounded or immersed in our experiential reality. While biochemical processes can be observed to play a role, these can be modified by our experience with the aforementioned physical environment. That's not to say we have control over it. We don't, most of the time.

That's about the extent of my knowledge of biochemistry as it relates to neuroscience.

As for the brain's development through evolution, that may not be as improbable as you seem to think. And this really is the crux of what you're talking about. Though you didn't say so explicitly, your essay hints at the idea that our brains are too complex to have evolved. This is the same argument proponents of ID use to promote their ideas, and has been dealt with quite soundly. Read this article to get a glimpse into how evolution - which is actually a very simple concept - creates the illusion of design.

To wrap this up, creationists score no points by pointing toward gaps in our knowledge. And there's nothing to fear from saying, "I don't know."

As a final note, when an amateur has a solution that seems to have completely eluded the notice of a vast majority of experts, it is prudent to wonder whether the amateur has an adequate grasp of the topic. In other words, you're probably not as clever as you think.

steamboat_willey said...

Wisdom:

Your post was really sad. We weren't even engaged in the creationism vs. evolution debate, and your post completely derailed an interesting discussion. The original post talked about the anti-scholastic attitude in this country, and used opposition to the teaching of evolution as an example. Vynette pointed out that oftentimes people misinterpret the Bible in desperate attempts to reinforce theology. She, boomSLANG and JC were having an interesting discussion about the meaning of various ancient terms.

Then you came in with an outrageously long cut and past of an infantile, fallacious argument.

I want to go back to the discussion with Vynette. . . .

Vynette:

You said Genesis 1 didn't teach creation ex nihilo, but that God imposed order on a pre-existing chaos. Would you care to go into that a little further? boomSLANG had a very good question about the firmament. Did Professor Anderson teach you that it really means "tin bowl"? If it was just a "an attempt to portray human failings in an allegory," why did it also appear in other places in the Bible besides Genesis? Why did it also appear in other ancient near eastern texts? When it says "the spirit of God moved over the surface of the deep" (and knowing that the word "deep" is cognate with Tiamat), stuck the firmament in there and created a three-tiered cosmos, doesn't it become obvious that the story came out of the older mythological tradition? In Babylonian myth, the great conqueror god, Marduk, bifurcated Tiamat, placed the firmament in the middle of her carcass, and thus made the three-tiered cosmos. Please comment on the relationship of Genesis 1 to other myth and what it tells us about how we should deal with mythology.

Vynette said...

Steamboat-Willey

Sorry it's taken so long to get back to you - I thought this thread was finished.

The noun 'raqiya' means a solid expanse or extended surface. When used in Genesis, and other places where the 'sky' context is obvious, it refers to the ancient idea of a surface supporting and separating 'waters' above from 'waters' below. The verb form 'raqa' means to hammer or beat out and it is so used in the context of metal-work.

As to mythology, the bible states plainly that Abraham's original home was in Ur of the Chaldees - Babylonia. So it is obvious that the creation and flood stories derived from common ancestral folklore.

It is at this point, however, that the writer/s of Genesis switches from the general to the particular and concentrates on the Hebrews' tribal descent from Abraham.

And the allegory? Loss of innocence and freedom through refusal to take responsibility, selfishness and a fatal self-deception. Of course, this is a generalised view.

steamboat_willey said...

My points about this idea of the cosmos, and the story in Genesis 1, are

1. The conception of the cosmos that includes a firmament is completely different from what we know to be true earth and the universe. The Bible writers shared the idea of a three-tiered cosmos -- dome, disk and Sheol, all suspended in water. That watery chaos existed before God began His creative activity. He could turn that chaos loose on us any time He wanted, as He did when he opened the "floodgates of heaven" (doors in the firmament). There is no way to reconcile those ideas with science, except:

2. Genesis 1 was an ati-mythological polemic. The writer shunned using the proper names of characters from other mythology -- Tiamat, the dragon of Chaos, who's name is cognate with "the deep," the sun, the moon, the stars. The writer poked fun at the entire Host of heaven. The only lessons that could be taken away are:
a. No mythology is sacrosanct. Just as the writer of Genesis poked fun at Enuma Elis, we can poke fun at Genesis any time we want.
b. Since mythology always includes things that don't make sense, you have to figure out what it contains that does make sense in order to maintain faith in God. With our modern understanding of the universe, we cannot maintain a geo-centric theology. Any conception of the divine as creator would have to extend to life wherever it is found.