Back in June, Brown University biologist Ken Miller published this review of Michael Behe’s book The Edge of Evolution in Nature magazine. Considering the venue, Miller quite appropriately focused on Behe’s rather dubious scientific arguments and showed that they were entirely incorrect.

Miller has now published a second review (not freely available online), this time in the Catholic magazine Commonweal. The scientific flaws are hardly the only thing wrong with Behe’s arguments, it seems. In Miller’s view, Behe’s arguments have disturbing theological consequences:

A hopeful reader might be forgiven if he dismissed my criticisms as little more than partisan carping from a true believer from the “evolutionist” camp. After all, if God exists, he would indeed be an “intelligent designer” of the very highest order. So, why shouldn’t we regard this provocative book as a helpful and timely scientific defense against the forces of atheistic materialism? One reason, as I mentioned, is that what it says is wrong. Its scientific arguments are built on a mistakenly improbable view of evolution. There is, however, a deeper reason that will also be of interest to Commonweal readers: Behe’s view of the designer.

The final chapter of The Edge is a confusing investigation of the nature of the “designer,” as implied by Behe’s case against evolution. Behe happily notes, as I would, that we live in a universe whose fundamental physical constants are remarkably hospitable to life. To me, and apparently to Behe, these constants may well reflect the will of a creator we would both identify as the God of Abraham. That, however, is where we part company.

Behe’s designer-God never gets it quite right. Behe accepts at face value common descent and the long natural history of life, but he attributes their complex features to the mutational tinkering of the designer. As a result, Behe’s interventionist God had to produce millions of failed species over billions of years to arrive at the present state of the world. If today’s world were God’s only intent, just how “intelligent” could he be? Furthermore, it turns out that this designer-God has crafted some pretty awful things along the way. One wonders about the day he designed the malaria parasite so well that it could kill a million children a year, or the poliio genome that crippled my aunt, or the parasites that eat the livers of millions of souls in the tropics. To Behe these are not byproducts of a fruitful and creative natural world that also gave us the beauty of a sunset, the grace of the eagle, and the talent of Beethoven. No, each vicious parasite and fatal disease is the the direct and intentional work of the designer.

Quite right. Behe’s insipid theorizing is impossible to reconcile with the idea of a just and loving God. He takes the already serious problem of evil, and makes it ten times worse.

Incidentally, this argument against ID is made also by the young-Earthers in a rare fit of clear-thinking. Their response is to argue that the good bits of creation are God’s handiwork, while the nasty bits are the result of human sin. That’s a pretty weak argument, but it is not the subject of this post.

So where do I agree with Behe? Well, Behe has responded to Miller. After pointing out that Miller’s attempted answer to the argument from evil in nature is the same as that presented by Francisco Ayala, Behe writes:

So, how to respond to such a position? The first thing to say is that it’s very hard to see how the Miller/Ayala position gets God off the hook. The “byproducts of a fruitful and creative [Darwinian] natural world” that Miller alludes to are not simply byproducts — they are deadly, dangerous, vicious byproducts. No matter if malaria were designed directly by God or indirectly by a sloppy process He put in motion, many children of mothers in malarious regions of Africa are going to be just as dead. There is going to be as much suffering in the world one way as the other.

Why couldn’t a grieving mother justifiably demand of an infinitely powerful God that He explain why He chose such a sloppy process to make life, instead of a more efficient process that would not produce natural evils such as parasites and tsunamis? One that wouldn’t cause such enormous pain? It seems to me that designing a poor Darwinian process that inevitably spins off natural evils leaves One as vulnerable to being sued for incompetence as directly designing them as finished products.

Bingo! That’s exactly right, and it nicely punctures the sophistry offered up by theistic evolutionists. Miller is quite right that a God who directly creates malaria, polio, and all manner of other nastiness is not the all-loving, all-powerful God of Christianity. But he is dead wrong that he can do any better. I’m afraid the moral distinction between directly creating malaria and directly setting in motion a process that has things like malaria as inevitable side consequences (when other mechanisms of creation were available) eludes me.

And if you add to this the fact that evolution by natural selection is a rotten way of creating intelligent life (if the fossils are to be believed, then evolution on this planet stagnated at several moments in history, and could only be started up again by mass extinctions that must have been horrible for the species who experienced them) then you see just how feeble a view of things theistic evolution really is.

But here’s the catch. Behe has no answer either. This is the best he can do:

On the other hand, as a theist one can make an argument that what strikes us as evil in nature is part of a larger whole which is good. In his recent book Francisco Ayala wrote that one could regard tsunamis as the unintended side effect of a good process (plate tectonics) which is necessary to build a habitable world. Well, heck, one can make the same argument for parasites and viruses. It may well be that such seemingly vile creatures actually play positive roles in the economy of biology, of which we are in large part unaware. If that’s the case, then directly designing parasites and viruses is as defensible in terms of the overall goodness of nature as is designing the processes of plate tectonics. The fact that they are dangerous to humans is an unintended side effect of something that is good in itself.

Yes, it is always an option to hide behind the “mysterious ways of God” defense. Does anyone really find that satisfying? Just so we’re clear as to the challenge faced by theists, to salvage God talk from the clutches of the problem of evil it would have to be the case that parasites and viruses are logically necessary to achieve the hypothetical greater good Behe mentions here. That’s a pretty steep burden.

Richard Dawkins summed up the essential problem very nicely in River Out of Eden:

Cheetahs give every indication of being superbly designed for something, and it should be easy enough to reverse-engineer them and work out their utility function. They appear to be well-designed to kill antelopes. The teeth, claws, eyes, nose, leg muscles, backbone and brain of a cheetah are all precisely what we should expect if God’s purpose in designing cheetahs was to maximize deaths among antelopes. Conversely, if we reverse-engineer an antelope we find equally impressive evidence of design for precisely the opposite end: the survival of antelopes and starvation among cheetahs. It is as though cheetahs had been designed by one deity and antelopes by a rival deity. Alternatively, if there is only one Creator who made the tiger and the lamb, the cheetah and the gazelle, what is He playing at? Is he a sadist who enjoys spectator blood sports? Is he trying to avoid overpopulation in the mammals of Africa? Is He maneuvering to maximize David Attenborough’s television ratings?

And:

The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive; others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear; others are being slowly devoured from within by rasping parasites; thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst and disease. It must be so. If there is ever a time of plenty. this very fact will autmoatically lead to an increase in population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored.

Exactly right. The day I find a scientist or theologian who has any plausible answer to this objection is the day I will stop thinking of Christian theism as utter foolishness.

I would add only that in Miller’s view God tolerated millions of years of this ceaseless suffering and misery all so that one day humans might appreciate the beauty of a sunset, or the pleasures of a Beethoven sonata. And Miller says Behe has no answer to the problem of evil?

Comments

  1. #1 Chris Bell
    October 31, 2007

    Your post title scared me, but I’m OK now.

  2. #2 The Professor
    October 31, 2007

    Yes, it is always an option to hide behind the “mysterious ways of God” defense.

    Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t. :)

    My response to “God works in mysterious ways” is that we’re not dealing with a God Whose observed behavior puzzles us or whose (audible) discourses refer to terms and concepts outside our of our ken. We’re dealing with a God who simply fails to show up at all, and with fallible men who, in His absence, are telling us stories about Him, stories that are inconsistent with themselves and with real-world truth.

    There’s nothing mysterious about men telling inconsistent stories. It’s just plain old lying.

  3. #3 Moopheus
    October 31, 2007

    “If today’s world were God’s only intent, just how “intelligent” could he be?”

    Wouldn’t this be a big problem fir ID, that they just assume that there’s a particular purpose to this tinkering and that we’re actually important to the process? For all we know, the designer designed us to better food for mosquitoes, and to build nice warm houses for cockroaches and mice to live in.

    “The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation.”

    It may not be plausible, but I’ve always had the impression that western religion on the whole basically just doesn’t give a hoot about what happens in the natural world. I mean, they’re just animals right? They can’t experience “real” suffering. Animals don’t really count for much except as resources to be exploited.

  4. #4 Pseudonym
    October 31, 2007

    It may not be plausible, but I’ve always had the impression that western religion on the whole basically just doesn’t give a hoot about what happens in the natural world.

    That hasn’t been mostly true since the 1970s. Mainline/Liberal Protestantism usually pretty closely reflects the Zeitgeist, and in recent decades it really has taken the whole environmentalism thing seriously (using words like “justice” and “stewardship” and stuff like that).

    But once again, you can get a skewed view of western religion if you only pay attention to the US religious right or the uppermost levels of the Catholic Church. (Both of which, I do concede, have a disproportionate influence in a minority of countries around the Western world.)

  5. #5 Jon S
    October 31, 2007

    “The day I find a scientist or theologian who has any plausible answer to this objection is the day I will stop thinking of Christian theism as utter foolishness.”

    The answer to the objection about cheetahs, Gazelles and suffering is found in Genesis. The earth was originally free from pain and suffering. Cheetahs and Gazelles (at least the original cat and gazelle kind) lived peacefully together. But Adam and Eve brought sin and suffering into the world when they disobeyed God. That brought about a curse, and we are living in that fallen world today. Of course faith in Jesus Christ and his victory over death is the answer to the problem of sin, death, pain and suffering.

  6. #6 Divalent
    October 31, 2007

    “But Adam and Eve brought sin and suffering into the world when they disobeyed God. That brought about a curse, and we are living in that fallen world today. ”

    Looks like you agree with Miller and Behe. God did it. His universe, his rules.

  7. #7 Pseudonym
    November 1, 2007

    Divalent: Actually, Jon S probably doesn’t agree with Miller. Miller, AFAIK, doesn’t believe in a non-metaphorical Adam and Eve.

  8. #8 Traumador the Tyrannosaur
    November 1, 2007

    Okay let’s bring bring Adam and Eve into the equation of god being a terrible designer… In fact if God directly constructed Adam and Eve into a destroyable paradise he is twice the bastard for cruelty and sadistics.

    So he designs a creature with free will into Eden, a perfect paradise minus one feature. A big red self destruct button (well okay a lot of red buttons… apples). He than expects said free willed critters to follow his commandments to the letter or he’ll punish them despite having built the whole situation.

    From a designers point of he builds a human when he really wanted a robot, and than due to his bugger up takes it out on the creation.

    This is not to me an all knowing all loving sort of thing to do. In fact I’d go as far as say very intentionally cruel.

    That’s like putting a candy bar in a room with a 7 year old, on PURPOSE, leaving the room, and than punishing the kid when you discover they’ve “shockingly” eaten the candy…

    See at least had the story gone that Adam and Eve being real smart, became inventors and created sin themselves it might work. Heck had Satan made Sin it would work… oh but wait then, that would make Satan a creator too, and thus a God…

    Polytheisms work so much better for sweeping devine morality issues under the rug… Too bad the Poly’s are mostly dead religions or Christians could try and borrow some stuff to fix their creation stories

  9. #9 Flaky
    November 1, 2007

    If anything, the existence of pathogens backs up Christian ID. All you need to do is to read the Bible to see what it means that God is loving and just. God expresses his love not unlike an abusive parent. If you’re suffering by design, chances are that you, or someone you are associated with, however incidentally, has ticked God off with some insignificant transgression.

  10. #10 TomS
    November 1, 2007

    Let me try this:

    It is an undeniable fact that there is great suffering in the world.

    If you take God to be an explanatory factor, then you are searching for a God-based explanation for this fact. And that inevitably leads to the problem as described.

    But the theist need not look to God as an explanatory factor for everything – or for anything at all, for that matter.

    This, to be sure, leaves the problem of evil unresolved. I don’t mean to ignore or minimize that. But God is not the explanation. No more than God is the explanation for thunder, or the vertebrate eye, or “why is there something and not nothing”. Any of which God is quite inappropriate as an explanatory factor for.

  11. #11 Petra
    November 1, 2007

    I agree that neither Miller nor Behe have an answer to the suffering problem and that it’s not something trivial, either.

    I have to admit though that I find it personally more endurable (not satisfying at all) to think that this is the result of a process that requires death to continue – rather than the direct, cruel idea of a God who willingly and very consciously put suffering into the world.

    A God that could stop this and doesn’t do so (or chose a less cruel way) isn’t quite a fancy being, either, but at least it doesn’t seem like he took an intact world and put some suffering in there consciously – for no apparent reason. With a God-conducted evolution, death and suffering and survival of the fittest at least have the meaning of progress in the whole scheme, however cruel it may seem. We might not understand why the process needs to be this cruel, but we can agree that death (and even or especially death by environmental factors like starving, sickness, etc.) isn’t pointless.

    Can we attribute all of that to mysterious ways? Or sin? Even the death of truly innocent beings who have hardly even taken a breath on this world before they cruelly die?

    I prefer an evolutionary process conduced by God over a creator or designer whose process works without all that, but who chose to put it in there, anyway.

  12. #12 James McGrath
    November 1, 2007

    First, let me share the fact that the Discovery Institute responded to something I wrote, and in the process let slip a significant admission.

    Second, although I am more of a panentheist than a theist, I still think that one can make a better case for why a God of the sort traditionally envisaged by Christian theology (not necessarily popular thought in that tradition) would create through evolution than for some other method. If God’s aim was to create free beings, then it is unclear how else that could be accomplished. If one creates a first ‘Adam and Eve’ as adults, then they must be pre-programmed with all the things humans learn growing up. If they are created as infants, then what? Raised by wolves? Raised by angels? Evolution certainly makes sense as a process that can produce this end, even though it is clearly extremely wasteful in the process.

    Anyway, this is just my way of saying that I think Miller does genuinely have the theological upper hand in this one, from the perspective of Christian theology, even if in the end you find neither persuasive when viewing their discussion as an outsider to that tradition. But for me, the thing that is amazing and demands awe (rather than attempts at explanation) is the fact that the universe has produced living things that can compose music and appreciate the beauty of a sunset.

  13. #13 386sx
    November 1, 2007

    If God’s aim was to create free beings, then it is unclear how else that could be accomplished.

    They have free beings up in heaven and they don’t have any bad stuff up there. So just do things the same way down here. No big deal!

    I never understood why god wasn’t happy enough with all the angels that were created. God had to go and make people too. Why not just make a bunch of angels and save lots of trouble? The whole thing is just stupid. :P

  14. #14 jba
    November 1, 2007

    “They have free beings up in heaven ”

    What I was taught as a child was that angels *didnt* have free will (when I then asked how lucifer rebelled I was told to stop asking questions, but that is a differant issue) and that’s why god created humans. Of course the bigger “why” of why god wanted creatures with free will at all never really got answered either. I always just assumed that god was insecure and wanted people to choose to worship it. Which isn’t much of a choice when the alternative is hell, but I’ve found consistancy isn’t a religious virtue. But I also wasnt raised in what most consider a mainstream xian sect (it was mormonism), so the teachings I got only hold so much weight to most of these folks.

  15. #15 Nick
    November 1, 2007

    “The answer to the objection about cheetahs, Gazelles and suffering is found in Genesis. The earth was originally free from pain and suffering. Cheetahs and Gazelles (at least the original cat and gazelle kind) lived peacefully together. But Adam and Eve brought sin and suffering into the world when they disobeyed God. That brought about a curse, and we are living in that fallen world today. Of course faith in Jesus Christ and his victory over death is the answer to the problem of sin, death, pain and suffering.”

    This doesn’t explain anything. The problem is still that cheetahs “appear to be well-designed to kill antelopes” and antelopes appear designed for “the survival of antelopes and starvation among cheetahs.” Human sin certainly did not design the “teeth, claws, eyes, nose, leg muscles, backbone and brain of a cheetah.”

  16. #16 Koray
    November 1, 2007

    How could the cheetahs and gazelles have been living peacefully before the apple scandal? What were the cheetahs eating???

    It’s amusing to see the all powerful having to make a compromise between habitable worlds and no tsunamis. The almighty can’t eat his cake and have it, too?

  17. #17 Jason Rosenhouse
    November 1, 2007

    Jon S-

    As I said in my opening post, I don’t think the “sin entered the world” defense is very convincing. The problem comes when you try topicture the details. We imagine Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, living in God’s perfect creation without any worry about parasites or diseases or any of the other nasty bits of nature. Then they sin. What happens next? Does God say, “Uh oh! They sinned. Better go add some nasty things to my creation?” Were microbes already there in benign form get altered as the result of Adam and Eve’s sin? And what about the gazelles and the cheetahs? As Nick suggests, was the result of the sin that these creatures had their anatomy changed for the purpose of having them engage in blood sport? What, exactly, happened as the result of the sin.

    The fact is that arguing that sin entered the world is not really an attempt at an explanation. It is meaningless phrase that gets used to wish the problem away.

    James McGrath-

    It’s not clear to me why an adult Adam and Eve poofed into existence in Eden, just as the Bible describes, would be any more or less free than an Adam and Eve that arose as the products of evolution. And even if we stipulate for some reason that God had to create through evolution, he certianly did not have to make natural selection the driving force of the process. He could have left a role for Lamrckian evolution, or for directed mutation, either one of which would have led to a far less odious evolutionary process.

    As for the universe inspiring awe, you will get no argument from me. God talk, by contrast, leaves me distinctly cold and uninspired. The universe is a far more impressive place without Him.

  18. #18 Caliban
    November 1, 2007

    I love the “original sin” defense for the problem of evil. It’s by far the most entertaining.

    Another problem with it is the total lunacy of God choosing to ruin his perfect, happy world over the consumption of one, forbidden apple. Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill.

    Couldn’t Adam have just said “Dude, relax. I get that you’re angry, but there’s no good reason to destroy the wholle world over one stupid apple. If you don’t want me to eat the apples, then why put the tree there? Besides, it’s only a matter of time before one of the giraffes eats them.”

  19. #19 Dale Husband
    November 1, 2007

    Well, if the evil things that happen to nature is a result of human sin, then that illustrates the power of human sin….and the weakness of God.

    No, you cannot save the God concept by blaspheming it, can you?

  20. #20 Ginger Yellow
    November 1, 2007

    “If that’s the case, then directly designing parasites and viruses is as defensible in terms of the overall goodness of nature as is designing the processes of plate tectonics. The fact that they are dangerous to humans is an unintended side effect of something that is good in itself”

    How, in the Christian worldview, can something be good in itself? Something is good because it concords with God’s will. And don’t forget, God is omnipotent. Why couldn’t he come up with teflon plates that don’t cause earthquakes when they slide under each other? Or a system of creation that doesn’t require tectonics?

    “The answer to the objection about cheetahs, Gazelles and suffering is found in Genesis. The earth was originally free from pain and suffering. Cheetahs and Gazelles (at least the original cat and gazelle kind) lived peacefully together. But Adam and Eve brought sin and suffering into the world when they disobeyed God. That brought about a curse, and we are living in that fallen world today. ”

    And what did the gazelles ever do to deserve paion and suffering? They didn’t disobey God. This only lends more credibility to the “God is a sociopath” school of thought.

  21. #21 Jon S
    November 1, 2007

    Traumador Says “if God directly constructed Adam and Eve into a destroyable paradise he is twice the bastard for cruelty and sadistics… He than expects said free willed critters to follow his commandments to the letter or he’ll punish them despite having built the whole situation… From a designers point of he builds a human when he really wanted a robot… This is not to me an all knowing all loving sort of thing to do. In fact I’d go as far as say very intentionally cruel.

    God is a holy God and hates sin. In fact he hates sin so much the punishment is death (Romans 6:23). But again, the world he created was originally very good and without sin, death, or suffering. He only gave Adam one command, but Adam was deceived and blew it. God certainly didn’t want robots, or he would have created us as such. Instead he wants us to freely worship him. After sin entered the world God cursed the earth, and now we live in a fallen world. God is not taking anything out on creation, as you suggest. God had a plan to redeem man right from the beginning, and while bad things happen, all things work for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28).

    TomS- You say the problem of evil remains unresolved if we use God as an explanatory factor for anything and everything. Of course God is not the source of evil, as some will try to proclaim. Evil and sin is disobedience to God. If Adam and Eve never disobeyed God, we’d still be living in a perfect world. However Adam did disobey, and that brought sin into the world. But you’re incorrect when you say the problem of sin is unresolved, because it was resolved on the cross. God is a perfect explanatory factor for thunder and the vertebrae eye. That’s not to say that we stop trying to understand those things, as many atheists will insist upon; instead it’s a good reason to study and understand the world around us.

    Petra- No one is truly innocent (Romans 3:23). All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory. Evolution isn’t the answer to anything, but Christ is.

    386sx says “I never understood why god wasn’t happy enough with all the angels that were created. God had to go and make people too. Why not just make a bunch of angels and save lots of trouble? The whole thing is just stupid. :P”

    God was quite happy with his creation of angels. But he also chose to create humans in his image because it gave him pleasure and glory to do so. Far from being stupid, it’s quite amazing!

    jba- Of course angels had free will, which is exactly the point you made concerning Lucifer. God certainly is not insecure and doesn’t need anyone or anything to be complete. He created man for his own glory, not because he needs us to keep from getting lonely.

    Nick- The original cat kind had teeth and claws, but they were vegetarians at the beginning. Bears, bats, and many other animals have teeth and claws, yet many are vegetarian, so just because cheetahs appear to be well designed to kill doesn’t pose a problem as you suggest.

  22. #22 Jim
    November 1, 2007

    Jon S-
    The god you describe sounds exactly like the kind of god an 8 yr old would imagine … I think that you’ll take that as a compliment … it’s not.

  23. #23 Caliban
    November 1, 2007

    Vegetarian mosquitoes? Yeah, that makes perfect sense…

    Why did they even need to eat at all? Why not just live on God’s love? If it wants us to “freely worship” it so bad, wouldn’t that be a better way to go?

    It could have planned any kind of world it wanted. How is a world with suffering, Hell and a very conditional redemption a better plan than a world without those things?

  24. #24 Jon S
    November 1, 2007

    Jason- I understand you don’t find the ‘sin entered the world’ defense very convincing. But I think it makes perfect sense of the world around us. It explains why there’s death, disease and suffering in a world created by a loving, all powerful God. If God does exist, and if he has revealed himself through the Bible, then the ‘sin entered the world’ defense is true whether one finds it convincing or not. I think in the end it boils down to what is the truth? If there’s no God, then truth is relative, and in the end it doesn’t really matter what the truth is. But if the God of the Bible is real, then there is ultimate truth. I personally don’t find it very convincing that truth is relative. That would mean everyone can do what’s right in their own eyes, whether anyone else likes it or not. I’m sorry, but I don’t buy that. Sounds like wishful thinking to me… wouldn’t it be great if we could do whatever we wanted without any consequences? Well, that’s a fairy tale life without God. I’d rather experience some pain and suffering now and be rewarded with heaven at the end. To me heaven is worth all the misery we have to go through to get there.

    As for microbes, although the Bible doesn’t spell out the details, God does proclaim his creation very good. So if there were microbes present at the beginning, then perhaps they were benign, and after the curse it’s possible that they mutated into something harmful (but remained microbes without evolving into man). And again, the cheetahs and gazelles that we see today were probably represented by their original kind, and yes, their anatomy has most certainly changed from then to now, but they both lived peacefully together at the beginning of creation on a vegetarian diet as indicated Genesis 1:29-30. I don’t see why this is hard to understand, as I pointed out that we see many animals today that are vegetarians, even though they have canines and claws and other predatory anatomy.

    You say “The fact is that arguing that sin entered the world is not really an attempt at an explanation. It is meaningless phrase that gets used to wish the problem away.”

    But your argument only makes sense if there is no God. On the other hand, if there is a God, then sin is precisely the reason why there’s death and suffering in the world, and exactly the reason Jesus died on the cross. If God is real, then dismissing sin is as meaningless is simply denying the truth. From the perspective of a believer, the explanation offered in Genesis makes complete sense and has nothing to do with wishful thinking. I’d certainly love to be living in a perfect world. However that would be wishful thinking and delusional. The good news is that Christ died on the cross for our sins, and those that put their faith and hope in him will have eternal life in paradise. Now I’m sure that sounds like wishful thinking to an atheist, but to a believer it’s truth.

  25. #25 Leni
    November 1, 2007

    …then perhaps they were benign, and after the curse it’s possible that they mutated into something harmful (but remained microbes without evolving into man).

    Jon, that would have required a level of evolution far greater and more chaotic than what scientists actually propose.

    What you are proposing is evolution on crack, which is especially ironic given that you reject evolution.

    That said, you have absolutely no evidence for any of this. It seems rather silly for you to reject evolution and then instead propose this ridiculous, overly complicated scenario that not only flies in the face of everything we know, but insults out intelligence along the way. Vegetarian sharks and benign e. coli?
    How stupid do you think we are, Jon?

    And to make matters worse you actually used the word “mutation”. That’s about as valid as sci-fi movie makers callng the 50-foot woman a “mutation”.

  26. #26 Caliban
    November 2, 2007

    That’s just great Neal. Boy, you sure showed us. If Christians, according to the bible, are to be “known by thier love”, i guess you must make some sort of Commie or athiest, huh?

    I suggest you remove the log from your own eye before you come here and start judging others. I wonder what Jesus would have to say about such behaviour? Neal, people like you are the reason why so many turn away from religon. Congradulations.

  27. #27 Caliban
    November 2, 2007

    By all means, Neal, if you have ANY evidence, for your position, why don’t you provide it?

  28. #28 386sx
    November 2, 2007

    God was quite happy with his creation of angels. But he also chose to create humans in his image because it gave him pleasure and glory to do so. Far from being stupid, it’s quite amazing!

    Not really. If god is omnipotent then nothing is amazing to god. Nor should it be amazing to anyone who understands that god is omnipotent. Omnipotence means god can do whateveh like it was nothin. :D

  29. #29 386sx
    November 2, 2007

    God was quite happy with his creation of angels. But he also chose to create humans in his image because it gave him pleasure and glory to do so. Far from being stupid, it’s quite amazing!

    I think what is amazing is the things that god doesn’t do, rather than the things god does do. God can do whatevah… but doesn’t. That’s the amazing part. Religions always have everything backwards for some reason. Oh well. :D

  30. #30 Nick Sullivan
    November 2, 2007

    Hah, theodicies are always going to plague creationists and the ID camp which they keep quote mining off.

    Neal, quite hiding behind complexity. It’s just an argument from ignorance to serve your own, ironically so, hypocritical theological beliefs.

    ANY KIND OF ADEQUATE BIOCHEMICAL, PHYSICAL EVIDENCE THAT WOULD EVEN COME CLOSE TO DESCRIBING, EXPLAINING THE INFINITE AND INFINITELY IMPLAUSABLE PATHWAYS TO EVEN THE FIRST FUCKING LIVING CELL LET ALONE THE VAST LIVING ECOSYSTEMS WE HAVE (SOMEHOW) THE ABILITY TO OBSERVE, DESCRIBE, COMPREHEND ETC ETC ETC (ALL PROCESSES YOU AND YOUR FUCKING ASTRO-ASSERTIVE FAT ASSES CANT EVENT DESCRIBE LET ALONE EXPLAIN!!!!!!) THE BURDEN OF DEMONSTRATION IS ON YOU, YOU FUCKING ASSHOLE!!!!!!

    1st, all caplocks is a good sign of the writers lack of maturity or sanity, re Timecube.
    2nd, you want evidence? Google Scholar + evolution, or there’s always talk origins archive and wikipedia’s actually become rather good. Then, I suppose you want evidence + 1 right?

    Also, if you claim evolution is wrong, and the science is accepted, thus the burden of proof is on you to show how evolution doesn’t actually work. Have fun.

  31. #31 Caliban
    November 2, 2007

    Neal, the only thing “infinitely implausible” here is the dribble you’ve been posting.

    I guess someone forgot to take thier crazy pills last night…

  32. #32 SLC
    November 2, 2007

    Re Jon S

    I see that we are being revisited by YEC Jon S with his ludicrous fantasies, which have no basis in fact. However, in the interest of scholarly intercourse, I would pose the following query. In my previous employment, I had dealings with several bridge engineers and designers, all of whom could design a human spine superior to the one we are cursed with. Since according to Mr. Jon S, Adam was a perfect physical specimen, presumably his spinal column did not exhibit the poor design we fallen humans are stuck with. Is it Mr. Jon S’ contention that god deliberately altered Adams’ spinal column so as to curse his descendants with the subject poor design? If so, would Mr. Jon S care to elucidate us as to just what the design of Adams’ spinal column consisted of.

  33. #33 Luna_the_cat
    November 2, 2007

    Jason, just out of curiosity, have you ever read “Grass” by Sheri S. Tepper? I’m guessing it may not be entirely your cup of tea, but it has some interesting ideas embedded in it, regarding God, moral responsibility, and a plague which…um, I can’t reveal that bit, that’s a plot spoiler. But it sounds like a really nasty way to die, though.

  34. #34 Caledonian
    November 2, 2007

    The day I find a scientist or theologian who has any plausible answer to this objection is the day I will stop thinking of Christian theism as utter foolishness.

    Let us know when you find the explanation in Jewish theism.

    Or for that matter, when you find something in any religion that explains why a hyperintelligent, ‘transcendent’ deity responsible for the entire universe should be concerned about the neurological states of organisms one way or another.

    The problem of evil isn’t to explain why evil exists, but why humans think their concepts of evil are objectively important.

  35. #35 Dyticum
    November 2, 2007

    I think Ginger Yellow has made the most trenchant observation. Putting aside the bizarre claim that those of us currently living should be punished for an action that temporally we were rather ill-equipped to prevent, any god that would convert peaceful vegetarian animals into vicious carnivores, ensuring endless generations of pain and suffering should hardly expect to be the object of worship. Is the concept of innocent bystander so hard for god to understand? Watch the lions bring down an elephant in Attenborough’s “Life on Earth” and tell me again about the loving and merciful god that orchestrated all this.

  36. #36 Blake Stacey
    November 2, 2007

    Ken Miller:

    To me, and apparently to Behe, these constants may well reflect the will of a creator we would both identify as the God of Abraham.

    I’m gonna call “bollocks” on that. Everybody knows that the dimensionality of spacetime was chosen so that Aphrodite could get tied up in knots.

    Once again, theology is merely vanity by another name. Just listen to Uncle Carl:

    There is something stunningly narrow about how the Anthropic Principle is phrased. Yes, only certain laws and constants of nature are consistent with our kind of life. But essentially the same laws and constants are required to make a rock. So why not talk about a Universe designed so rocks could one day come to be, and strong and weak Lithic Principles? If stones could philosophize, I imagine Lithic Principles would be at the intellectual frontiers.

    And those Lithic Principles would be invoked, no doubt, by the stones which wished to distance themselves from Intelligent Sedimentation while retaining their childhood admiration for the great god Volcano.

  37. #37 Blake Stacey
    November 2, 2007

    Hmmm. I see that Neal is continuing the habit he displayed at ERV of sounding exactly like a Markov re-processing of himself.

  38. #38 Kristine
    November 2, 2007

    My goodness, Neal. And they call women emotional.

    The burden of evidence is on anyone who makes a claim; however, those who make an extraordinary claim have the added burden of demonstrating why that claim should replace what is already known and demonstrated.

    Of course we can’t demonstrate a complete pathway from amino acids, say, to the development of cells; but by doing the hard work we will be able to in the future. If we just say “Goddidit,” we would kill all further research. What if we had just said “Goddidit” (as people like you did) in response to bacterial infections and viruses? We would not have antibiotics and vaccines at all, as people like you once did not (for which you probably thank God).

    “Implausible pathways,” what rot. Calm yourself, and make yourself a peanut-butter and banana sandwich and sit down for a lonely night watching “Privleged Planet” as your ID heroes apparently do, since you’re convinced you’re right.

    I fail to see why creationism appeals to anyone – it’s all about “somebody else did this, somebody else did that, I can do nothing by myself, because I’m worthless.” How boring, even if it were true; and what vanity, to be so “worthless” that you (or we, I guess) deserve eternal punishment! I wonder if there’s a connection between following the lives of celebrities, watching too many soap operas, or being obsessed with sports figures, and talking incessantly about God (oh, excuse me, the designer).

    Everything that we know about dysfunctional relationships goes right out the window when people talk about God. Whatever happened to “Absolute power corrupts absolutely”? Even if God exists, what’s the big diff between him and, say, Saddam Hussein? By whose authority is God God? I didn’t vote for him. ;-)

  39. #39 Leni
    November 2, 2007

    THE BURDEN OF DEMONSTRATION IS ON YOU, YOU FUCKING ASSHOLE!!!!!!

    LOL. Anger issues much? Perhaps Neal has an undiagnosed case of IMS.

    Maybe if you spent more time eduicating yourself and less time freaking out you’d have noticed the reams upon reams of literature on the evidence for evolution that exists, beginning around one hundered and 60 years ago with Darwin’s The Origin of Species”.

    Try to keep up, will you?

    Not that you’d be able to understand it, but the evidence is there. Given how much evidence there is, your total ignorance of it and refusal to accept what little you are aware of is not a valid position, it’s a tedious excercise in willfull ignorance and outrageous arrogance.

    The ball is in the creationist court, so why don’t you come back when they fing the f#*@ing ark.

  40. #40 Jon S
    November 2, 2007

    Leni said “Jon, that (benign microbes) would have required a level of evolution far greater and more chaotic than what scientists actually propose.”

    Nonsense. This is precisely what we observe today when we examine bacterial resistance. A normal strand of bacteria may be harmful, but when we expose them to antibacterials, only the mutated strands immune to the antibacterials survive; this is due to a loss of genetic material, and the surviving bacteria are far more deadly. In the same way, if there were microbes at the beginning of creation, and if they were benign, then after the curse we can presume that the mutated strands lost genetic information, and, thus, became harmful.

    Leni said “you have absolutely no evidence for any of this. It seems rather silly for you to reject evolution and then instead propose this ridiculous, overly complicated scenario that not only flies in the face of everything we know, but insults out intelligence along the way. Vegetarian sharks and benign e. coli? How stupid do you think we are, Jon?”

    I’ll refrain from responding to your last question. But bacterial resistance is a perfect example to support my point. Do you believe in bacterial resistance? And you laugh at vegetarian sharks, but there are sharks, such as the whale shark (the largest shark) which eats plankton! Did you know there are bears that are vegetarian? So why is it hard to imagine a vegetarian diet at the beginning of God’s creation? There are known examples of Lions today that don’t eat meat, and of a lioness that adopted several oryx calves. This is a picture of what it was like at the beginning, and of what it will be like in heaven (Isaiah 11:60).

    SLC said “In my previous employment, I had dealings with several bridge engineers and designers, all of whom could design a human spine superior to the one we are cursed with. Since according to Mr. Jon S, Adam was a perfect physical specimen, presumably his spinal column did not exhibit the poor design we fallen humans are stuck with. Is it Mr. Jon S’ contention that god deliberately altered Adams’ spinal column so as to curse his descendants with the subject poor design? If so, would Mr. Jon S care to elucidate us as to just what the design of Adams’ spinal column consisted of.

    This is more nonsense. Go ahead, let’s see your bridge engineers create a spine superior to what God designed. Why is it that man is constantly trying to imitate nature if man can create things better than God? Darwinism actually has misled researchers into developing a harmful set of treatment techniques for certain back conditions. These therapies were based on the idea that humans at one time walked on all fours and that back problems were produced primarily by complications resulting from humans newly evolved upright posture. Treatment today is the opposite of the now disproven Darwin-influenced techniques. Physical therapist Robin McKenzie said “The lumbar spin is, instead, a most efficient means for supporting weight and providing for movement in erect, bipedal posture.” Third world countries, in fact, rarely report chronic back pain. Darwinist professor of osteopathy David Shuman said “… no question that the human back, given proper care and rightly understood, is an astonishingly effective mechanism… the human back is the hallmark of our true nobility and a major factor in the…supremacy of… man”

  41. #41 386sx
    November 2, 2007

    To me, and apparently to Behe, these constants may well reflect the will of a creator we would both identify as the God of Abraham.

    Thanks. Maybe Abraham should have asked his god to spare Sodom and Gomorrah if only two righteous persons were found therein, instead of the ten or fifty Abraham was hoping for.

    Naturally of the two righteous persons who were found therein, the God of Abraham decided to turn one of them into a pile of salt. :D

    The God of Abraham was a complete jerk, and the fact that you are willing to overlook that means…. something. I dunno exactly what.

    Maybe you’re projecting your idea of what your god should be like into the God of Abraham. Well, I hope it’s a much nicer god than the jerk God of Abraham. :P

  42. #42 Kristine
    November 2, 2007

    Why is it that man [sic] is constantly trying to imitate nature if man [sic] can create things better than God?

    Ahem. Drink water much? From a tap? Or from a “God-created” creek? Or do you drink beer? (Probably not.) We are nature – that’s true whether we “imitate” it or not.

    Drive a car? Ride a bus? Or do you walk every single place you go on your “God-designed” feet? Come on. Incidentally, the spine was not “designed,” or your God is a poor designer. When you get older, you’ll find out how “great” the spine is. Believe me.

  43. #43 Caliban
    November 2, 2007

    Jon, the scenario you’re proposing is beyond silly. It is patently ridiculous.

    “The world used to ruled by pixies. And all was peace and love. But then a selfish human displeased the pixies so they cast a mighty spell that changed many of the creatures into corrupted, carnivorous versions of themselves. The only way to break free of this terrible magic is to open one’s heart to the divine mischief of the great Pixie Spirit. If you want evidence for this, notice that some of the creatures today are vegetarian, just like they were before the great Pixie spell was cast! And look at bacteria, they mutated to become resistant to drugs just like tigers mutated from vegetarians to carnivores.”

    The difference between that scenario and the one you propose differs only cosmeticly.

  44. #44 Jason Rosenhouse
    November 2, 2007

    Neal-

    Your comments have been deleted. If you wish to comment here in the future do not write in all caps, and leave your profanity at home. This is a family blog.

  45. #45 Jon S
    November 2, 2007

    Dyticum says “any god that would convert peaceful vegetarian animals into vicious carnivores, ensuring endless generations of pain and suffering should hardly expect to be the object of worship. Is the concept of innocent bystander so hard for god to understand? … tell me again about the loving and merciful god that orchestrated all this.”

    But God does expect worship, despite our supposed innocence. It makes sense that those who worship God, despite our pain an suffering, will receive the crown of life. God expects us to persevere, and he promises to reward those who are willing to suffer for him. While I don’t like to suffer any more than anyone else, I’m willing to endure for the sake of God’s promises that he will make it worthwhile. Secondly, no one is innocent, otherwise there was no need for Jesus to die on the cross. That’s the type of loving and merciful God we have. He was willing to become a man and expose himself to pain and suffering to the point of death so that whoever believes in him will not taste eternal death, but will have eternal life. Jesus is the only innocent man to live, yet he paid the penalty we deserve, and his blood covered the atonement for every one who believes in him. That doesn’t sound like something an evil tyrant would do.

    Kristine says “I fail to see why creationism appeals to anyone – it’s all about “somebody else did this, somebody else did that… How boring, even if it were true; and what vanity, to be so “worthless” that you (or we, I guess) deserve eternal punishment!…Even if God exists, what’s the big diff between him and, say, Saddam Hussein? By whose authority is God God? I didn’t vote for him. ;-)”

    Creationism appeals to me because it’s true. There’s nothing boring about an almighty God creating and sustaining everything by his very word. If you want fun, then heaven is where you want your final destination to be, because that’s where the celebration party will be. Having your excitement here on earth is pointless if God is real. The diff between God and Saddam should be obvious. God is a good, just omnipotent, all powerful, all knowing, holy creator, while saddam was only a man, and an evil one at that. God is God because there is no one greater than him.

  46. #46 Jon S
    November 2, 2007

    Kristine says “Ahem. Drink water much? From a tap? Or from a “God-created” creek? Or do you drink beer? (Probably not.) We are nature – that’s true whether we “imitate” it or not. Drive a car? Ride a bus? Or do you walk every single place you go on your “God-designed” feet? Come on. Incidentally, the spine was not “designed,” or your God is a poor designer. When you get older, you’ll find out how “great” the spine is. Believe me.”

    What’s your point? Of course I drink water, and I do enjoy a good beer or wine on occasion. But we’re not nature in the sense you’re referring to. We didn’t come about by random chance. I never said the spine we have today is perfect; only that it’s a well designed spine. Since we live in a sin-fallen world after the curse, it only makes sense that the spine will wear down, and we will eventually die. That doesn’t negate the great design of the spine. If Adam and Eve didn’t sin at the beginning they’d still be alive today, and their spine would be just as strong as when God first created it.

    Caliban says “Jon, the scenario you’re proposing is beyond silly. It is patently ridiculous… The difference between that scenario and the one you propose differs only cosmeticly.”

    Nonsense. What kind of scenario do you propose? One where hot gasses eventually form a lifeless planet that eventually produces just the right mixture of chemicals and elements that just so happens to come together to form the first life, and that first life just so happens to be able to sustain itself and reproduce and become more and more complex until you can say ‘hi, I’m just a random pile of pondscum and I laugh at the existence of God?’ Really Caliban, who’s fooling who with fairy tales and insanely impossible odds?

  47. #47 Caliban
    November 2, 2007

    Jon, You list five historical events that need to have transpired for life to arrive naturaly. Five. And this seems to you “insanely impossible odds”? Despite the fact that we already have mountains of evidence supporting those events (with the one exception of abiogenesis)and absolutely none supporting your scenario?

    As for being a “random pile of pondscum” this remark seems especially ironic to me as you are the one telling us how sinfull and deserving of eternal torture humanity is. Personaly, i find the evidence that reveals my common ancestry with all life on the planet far more majestic and enobling than your worship-Jebus-or-burn-forever worldview.

  48. #48 Michael Glenn
    November 2, 2007

    “What kind of scenario do you propose? One where hot gasses eventually form a lifeless planet that eventually produces just the right mixture of chemicals and elements that just so happens to come together to form the first life, and that first life just so happens to be able to sustain itself and reproduce and become more and more complex until you can say ‘hi, I’m just a random pile of pondscum and I laugh at the existence of God?’”

    Sounds good to me, except for the “hi” part. Since evolution isn’t a random process, no one is a “random pile of pondscum.” Well, maybe you see yourself that way, but I don’t think anyone else here does.

    As for laughing at “God,” well, not really. But I do reserve a smile for people who “worship” an entity who sets his children up for a fall and then punishes them terribly when they do.

    What a pointless universe that would be!

  49. #49 SLC
    November 2, 2007

    Re Jon S

    As usual, it is a total waste of time arguing with with a schmuck like Mr. Jon S. Richard Dawkins once said that one who rejects the theory of evolution is either ignorant, stupid, or insane. Mr. Jon S is all of the above. Contrary to Mr. Jon S’ admiration for the human spine, I challenge him to find a bridge designer who will agree with him that it is anything but a poor design. Reference to physical therapists or osteopaths who wouldn’t know how to design a bridge if their life depended on it is totally unimpressive (I suspect that Mr. Jon S also wouldn’t know how to design a bridge). Of course the reason it is a poor design is that it is adapted from a quadrupedal animal. Other then the S curve, the human spine differs not at all from that of a dog, a cow, or a horse. None of those animals suffer from back trouble because it is a pretty good design for a quadruped.

  50. #50 Pierce R. Butler
    November 2, 2007

    SLC: Other then the S curve, the human spine differs not at all from that of a dog, a cow, or a horse. None of those animals suffer from back trouble because it is a pretty good design for a quadruped.

    Certainly untrue for horses, arguably so for many breeds of dog (whose skeletal problems are found mostly in their hip joints). Of course, these are the products of artificial selection, and would disappear after a few generations of natural selection.

  51. #51 Pierce R. Butler
    November 2, 2007

    Jon S: God … created man for his own glory, not because he needs us to keep from getting lonely.

    My dictionary says “glory” is “high renown or honor won by notable achievements” (plus other definitions painting it as an intrinsic quality of god, heaven, etc). If some god feels a need for “glory”, he/she/it would be better advised to seek it from other deities – the sycophancy of humans would be a very poor substitute.

    If I had the power to, say, create a new species of ant, I’d be quickly bored if they felt their primary function was to praise Me – and would tell them to get busy on something, anything, more creative/useful.

    I’ve never gotten a clear answer to this, and don’t really expect one now, but I gotta ask: just what do you believers mean by “glory”?

  52. #52 Neal
    November 2, 2007

    Gosh, I guess the coalition of ignorance (macro-evolutionary conjecture and assertion) lives on even still, with the vastly tilted scientific evidences (continuing to accumulate at ever increasing velocity) that shows you, are just so bankrupt in your “enterprise” (by the way Star Trek fans, the ship Enterprise probably has more (as ridiculous as it sounds) scientific credibility (which is an absurdity to say the least) than your pet philosophy regarding chemicals to ecosystems. Your program of “perpetuating the obvious inanities of a hideously outdated concept” just exposes your own personal agendas which might include some sort of anti-religious philosophical preference. Again YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELVES. Trying to convince yourselves and the innocent public (ON THEIR DOLLARS FOR THE SAKE OF BUDDA!!!!!) that for some totally scientifically unrepresented idea (that caught hold decades ago because “they didn’t know what we know now”) that you actually have substantive evidential matter that could even come close to supporting your claims!!!! (Oh by the way, I hope you realize your assertions have INCREDIBLE EFFECT ON THE PUBLIC AT LARGE AND HOW SIMPLE INDIVIDUALS RESPOND IN THEIR CIRCUMSTANCES FOR THE “GOOD” OR “BAD” (if there are such things right? (you masters of knowing it all)

    Did someone say this is a “family friendly forum?” (meaning innocent kids are involved?) This is something I have a hard time believing. Stripping innocent children of what should be the unambiguous, non-authoritorion-adult relationship to essentially demand they are exposed to the hugely unsubstantiated drivel that the ones in charge of the development of such individuals have the RESPONSIBILITY to
    guide these innocent ones in attempt to allow them the ability to come to well informed decisions.
    Continue on, morons. Continue to produce (because of your philosophical preferences) individuals who will bring a system of fairness and global respect down to the continuing progression “i want what i want now and will do any thing i can to get it” And you MUST!!!!!! know what i mean. ON the other hand most of you most certainly DONT.

  53. #53 Michael Glenn
    November 3, 2007

    Neal, when you post a tantrum worthy of a two-year-old, you yourself come across as “i want what i want now and will do any thing i can to get it.”

    In other words, “Don’t have a cow, man . . .”

  54. #54 Caliban
    November 3, 2007

    Neal, nothing you say is new to anyone here. It’s the same bogus claims that have been disproved day after day by people actually producing work in the relevant fields.

    If you have evidence to support your position that evidence will speak for itself. In science, the idea that causes a revolution and overthrows previous assumptions is the idea that wins Nobel prizes, fame and prestige. All one has to do is present thier case and show the evidence.

    If you know so much about the topic why does no one listen to you? Well, besides the fact that your posts read like the ramblings of a very agitated schitzophrenic…

  55. #55 Leni
    November 3, 2007

    Jon S wrote (bold):

    Leni said “Jon, that (benign microbes) would have required a level of evolution far greater and more chaotic than what scientists actually propose.”

    Nonsense. This is precisely what we observe today when we examine bacterial resistance. A normal strand of bacteria may be harmful, but when we expose them to antibacterials, only the mutated strands immune to the antibacterials survive;

    That’s evolution. Not magic curses.

    Now explain to me every single step required to make a pre-curse great white shark into a post-curse. And then provide the evidence. Ok- if you don’t have sharks, that’s fine. I’ll take some other current species of carnivore; bears maybe. You just have to demonstrate that they were at one point in our recent past, after humans evolved presumably, exclusive herbivores.

    No, the Bible doesn’t count as evidence. Neither does complaining about the fossil record.

    If this process wasn’t magic and is “precisely” what we see in bacteria, then you should be able to detail those steps fairly readily. If you can’t, then perhaps the honest thing would be to refrain from making the argument until you can.

    In the same way, if there were microbes at the beginning of creation, and if they were benign, then after the curse we can presume that the mutated strands lost genetic information, and, thus, became harmful.

    The problem here Jon, is that you are presuming an awful lot and providing no evidence to support these presumptions.

    Case in point: equating loss of genetic information with “harmful”. Nowhere have you justified this. You are simply attaching a meaningless value of “bad” to a process you have neither described nor justified. I don’t see at all how mutation = information loss = innocent vegetarian great white sharks becoming big mean carnivores.

    Leni said “you have absolutely no evidence for any of this. It seems rather silly for you to reject evolution and then instead propose this ridiculous, overly complicated scenario that not only flies in the face of everything we know, but insults out intelligence along the way. Vegetarian sharks and benign e. coli? How stupid do you think we are, Jon?”

    I’ll refrain from responding to your last question.

    You needn’t. The mere fact that you expect to be taken as seriously as the generations of people who have done a great deal more work than you (painstaking, meticulous observations resulting in peer-reviewed research I might add) speaks for itself.

    But bacterial resistance is a perfect example to support my point. Do you believe in bacterial resistance?

    No, I don’t believe in it. I know it can happen because it’s a well-documented phenomenon.

    And you laugh at vegetarian sharks, but there are sharks, such as the whale shark (the largest shark) which eats plankton!

    I laugh at herbivore sharks with teeth like the guy on the top right. With the big teeth.

    Also, I chuckle a bit at the fact that you think whale sharks are “vegetarian”. They aren’t. They eat plankton, sure. And krill, small fish, squid and even some larger fish. Also, filter feeders are very rare among shark species . There is no reason to suspect that they are representative of sharks as a whole and several reasons to suspect they are not.

    Fossil evidence for one. But also (and more importantly) the fact that both whale sharks and their more toothy carnivorous cousins have been around a lot longer than humans. So if a human is responsible for their traits it worked retroactively.

    Last, why wouldn’t the whale shark get the “harmful” carnivore mutation? Was the whale shark less guilty of Adam and Eve’s sin than the Great White or the Tiger shark? Well, they are cuter and friendlier, that’s true. Maybe that’s why.

    Did you know there are bears that are vegetarian?

    Do I care? (No.) If one species of bear is veggie it doesn’t mean they all had to be at one point. Especially if the vast majority of them aren’t and if their ancestors don’t appear to be either.

    It could just as easily be that because the vast majority of them are omnivorous scavengers that it is the vegetarian who is the anomaly. In fact, that’s what the evidence suggests.

    So why is it hard to imagine a vegetarian diet at the beginning of God’s creation?

    I can imagine it just fine. But then as soon as I do it immediately occurs to me that it’s not a very good model for reality and so I move on.

    Jon, it’s not the evidence that makes you think this, it’s the fact that you want the world to look like how you believe the Bible says it does.

    Let’s at least be honest about that. You can hopelessly slaughter bacteria evolution and whale shark diets, but would you just admit that it isn’t their biology that made you magically jump to the conclusion that the Bible is right, but rather the Bible that made you jump to the conclusion that their biology is “wrong”.

  56. #56 Neal
    November 3, 2007

    “Neal, when you post a tantrum worthy of a two-year-old, you yourself come across as “i want what i want now and will do any thing i can to get it.”

    In other words, “Don’t have a cow, man . . .””

    Totally irrelevant statement. You are so cozy in your world of vastly unsubstantiated assertions. You haven’t a clue.

    “Neal, nothing you say is new to anyone here. It’s the same bogus claims that have been disproved day after day by people actually producing work in the relevant fields.”

    There is absolutely NOTHING about my claims being “disproved ” by anybody “producing work in their relevant fields”. First of all, most scientific work being done, including in the biological, medical etc. fields are not concerned with the philosophical assertions of the macro-evlolutionary “darwinian” camp of individuals who somehow continue to suck public funds for their personal vendettas against whatever the hell it is they don’t like about certain social “conventions”. OK? There layers upon layers upon layers upon layers etc etc etc of assumptions (lets just skip over these unanswerable problems, (because we can and nobody can stop us because after all we are “SCIENTISTS” and the stupid ass public should only DARE to question what we say), and move on to more less controversial areas that (oh, by the way) will produce greater funding.) You pathetic buttholes!!!!! There are VASTLY, HUGELY SO MANY MORE UNEXPLAINED UNKNOWNS AND UNEXPLAINED ELEMENTS TO WHAT YOU ASSERT TO BE “SCIENTIFICALLY DEMONSTRATED CERTAINTIES” that I believe you are perversely dillusional and without any kind of hope. (And I worry about anybody innocently influenced by your perversional sense of entitlement, that in your minds allows you to think there is any kind of substantive support for your philosophically preferred assertions. (god, you are a pack of dumb shits!!!!!)

  57. #57 Leni
    November 3, 2007

    Sorry to multi-post, but I just thought of an intersting case, Jon.

    Gorillas.

    Take a look at their skulls for a minute.

    Have you looked? I hope so.

    What’s striking about it is not the fact that they have “fangs” despite the fact that their diet is largely plant matter. (They do eat ants and grubs and things- but so far as I know they don’t hunt or scavenge meat.)

    Anyway, what’s striking about this animal is the evidence for it’s plant based diet, right there on top of it’s skull. It’s not the teeth or the claws or the fact that it has an herbivore cousin somewhere among primate species. It’s that huge, unmistakable crest that anchors the massive muscles it uses for the constant chewing it must do in order to eek the meager sustenance out of the reedy weeds it lives on.

    So Jon, if all species exhibited some tendency toward herbivorism, we should expect and be able to see it in the fossil record. Because not even that is the easy do-nothing lifestyle you seem to think it is. Those calories are hard fought for, whether they come from plants or other animals.

    But we don’t all show evidence of past herbivorism. The fact that your answer to this is “It was magic!” (cue Disney sparkles) isn’t just sad, it’s abysmally depressing. You’re not just rejecting some wanton evidence, you’re rejecting the truth about nearly every being that ever lived.

    Go read about gorillas. You will love them, I promise. You might not want to be one, for sure, but only a heartless moron would fail to admire them and be amazed by both their brutality and their gentleness. And to see some of our own strengths and failings in them. They aren’t flawed because they aren’t vegetarian, they’re flawed because they’re alive.

    I wouldn’t want to live in a world where people could not appreciate that amazing and heartbreaking reality.

  58. #58 Neal
    November 3, 2007

    First of all, most scientific work being done, including in the biological, medical etc. fields are not concerned with the philosophical assertions…

    That would be because they are science and not philosophy. They are doing exactly what they should be doing. Science.

    That doesn’t mean scientists aren’t concerned with the philosophical implications of their work, it just means they might not necessarily blather on about inappropriately in the primarily literature the way you no doubt would.

  59. #59 Leni
    November 3, 2007

    Crap, that last one was me!! Not Neal!

    I have this weird habit of typing the persons’ name to whom I am responding in the “Name” field when I post. (Most annoying tendency EVER.) Sorry!

  60. #60 Russell Blackford
    November 3, 2007

    Jason, I just want to say that your post quite superbly brings out the tension between any Darwinian account (including Behe’s ID-added one) and the existence of an all-powerful providential deity. It’s surely one of your best posts yet, and one of the best I’ve seen anywhere on Scienceblogs.

  61. #61 SLC
    November 3, 2007

    Re Pierce R. Butler

    Not to be nitpicky here but would hip joint problems be considered a spinal column problem?

    Re Jon S

    By the way, in order for present day carnivores, such as lions, to have previously existed as vegetarians, they would have had to have had totally different digestive systems and dentitions. A present day lion would starve to death on a vegetarian diet, aside from its dentition being totally unsuited for consuming vegetation. Would Mr. Jon S care to inform us of any evidence in the fossil record of lions with appropriate dentition for a vegetarian diet. Not to mention, of course, the notorious Tyrannosaurus Rex. Any evidence in the fossil record of Tyrannosaurs with teeth like Apatosaurs (aka brontosaurs)?

  62. #62 Caledonian
    November 3, 2007

    Obviously the merciful creator deity made protein trees to slake the hunger of the herbivorous T-Rexes.

    These trees haven’t survived in the fossil record because they were *so* delicious.

  63. #63 Dyticum
    November 3, 2007

    Jon says:
    “Secondly, no one is innocent, otherwise there was no need for Jesus to die on the cross. That’s the type of loving and merciful God we have.”
    So this god of yours, because of a mistake made by his own imperfect creation, solves the problem by having someone willingly tortured to death. That’s the type of loving and merciful god YOU have, and you are welcome to him and all the twisted logic it takes to want to worship him. In the meantime you still haven’t explained why those peaceful vegetarian animals should be made to suffer. Does your loving and merciful god have something against animals?

  64. #64 Jason Rosenhouse
    November 3, 2007

    Russell-

    Thanks for the kind words. Glad you liked the post!

    Everyone-

    Might I suggest that Neal’s comments are not worth responding to?

  65. #65 Caliban
    November 3, 2007

    Neal, you are nothing to us here but a pathetic chew-toy. Evolution is not a philosophical belief. It’s a scientific theory. And yes, scientists all over the world do in fact produce work every day that empiricaly disproves creationism just as the work of doctors everyday disproves the belief that pixies cause headaches.

    It’s amusing to watch you make a complete ass of yourself over and over again, so i guess you do have some value here. I honestly don’t think i’ve seen anyone on the science blogs as arrogantly stupid as you before. Congradulations, you deserve a very special hat for this distinction.

  66. #66 Caliban
    November 3, 2007

    Jason,

    Yep. I’m done. Nice post by the way. You are my favorite writer on the science blogs, so keep up the good work. :)

  67. #67 Richard Simons
    November 3, 2007

    Jon S wrote

    The original cat kind had teeth and claws, but they were vegetarians at the beginning.

    Have you ever seen a cat trying to eat grass? Have you ever read the list of ingredients on a can of cat food? Cats could not get in enough plant material to live on and their metabolism is incapable of handling it.

    It seems you believe cats and lions to be all part of the ‘cat kind’ that entered the ark. To get from ‘catty creature’ to lions, leopards, cats and cheetahs in a few decades (all are either mentioned in the Bible, painted in ancient Egyptian tombs or found mummified) would require mutation on a scale that we now associate with cancer.

    You do realize, do you not, that cats and lions are more genetically different than are humans and chimpanzees? Cheetahs are even more distant from other cats.

    You also seem to believe that a ‘Thing’ (I can’t bring myself to use the word god in this context) that would cause pain and suffering to all creatures for ever because of the failings of just two organisms is worthy of praise. As far as I am concerned, you are sick. If your two-year-old child threw its dinner on the floor, would you hurl the puppy against the wall and then expect to be praised for your actions?

  68. #68 windy
    November 3, 2007

    Even if you design a bunch of perfectly meek vegetarian animals that would never harm a fly, telling them to “multiply and fill the earth” is a recipe for suffering. How did paradise creatures escape Malthusian considerations, seeing that there was “no death” either? Even if they stopped “multiplying” once the paradise was wall-to-wall herbivores, did none of the larger animals ever step on a mouse?

    If I had the power to, say, create a new species of ant, I’d be quickly bored if they felt their primary function was to praise Me – and would tell them to get busy on something, anything, more creative/useful.

    But watch out, so you don’t end up like Beau Bridges in that Outer Limits episode. BTW, that episode has the familiar theme “scientists should not play god” – but as people have pointed out in this thread, gods don’t seem to be much better at playing god?

  69. #69 windy
    November 3, 2007

    Have you ever seen a cat trying to eat grass?

    Sure, but they usually puke afterwards :)

  70. #70 Robert Miller
    November 3, 2007

    I have a challenge for the evolutionists at EvolutionBlog. I challenge the evolutionists at EvolutionBlog to find a single factual error in Conservapedia’s theory of evolution article which is located here: http://www.conservapedia.com/Theory_of_evolution

    The article is very critical of the the evolutionary position and I don’t believe you will be able to find a single factual error in the article.

  71. #71 Pierce R. Butler
    November 3, 2007

    windy: …gods don’t seem to be much better at playing god?

    Ergo, the most realistic theistic (how’s that for an oxymoron?) hypothesis would be that we are part of an experiment gone awry.

    In which case, the logical prediction would be that soon we get to bust loose, devour cities, and menace jiggly blondes. Maybe this explains the weird enthusiasm of some bible-bangers for the day when the sky falls and the earth cracks open…

    Jon S: how ?bout that “glory”, huh?

    Robert Miller: you’re right – I doubt that anyone here could find only one error in Conservapedia’s evolution article.

  72. #72 Blake Stacey
    November 3, 2007

    Ah, Conservapaedia. I pick a sentence at random:

    Dr. Jonathon Wells published a book in 2000 entitled Icons of Evolution. Dr. Wells contends that the book shows that “the best-known “evidences” for Darwin’s theory have been exaggerated, distorted or even faked.”

    And Wells is wrong. Thoroughly, mind-blowingly wrong.

    The Conservapaedia piece also asserts that no transitional fossils exist, that the bacterial flagellum could not have evolved, that Darwin caused Hitler, etc., etc. All the work debunking these claims has already been done, at TalkOrigins, RationalWiki and elsewhere. Conservapaedia calls New Scientist a “science journal” instead of a popularized science magazine (whose reputation among actual scientists seems to be dropping daily, I might add).

  73. #73 Robert Miller
    November 3, 2007

    Blake,

    Did Dr. Wells contend what Conservapedia states he contended? Did you demonstrate that Wells is incorrect?

    I think you largely threw a bunch of half baked allegations against the wall which you did not support in hopes that it would largely stick. However, I think you largely failed.

    Lastly, the Conservapedia article in question did call New Scientist a science magazine. However, the point you made about the article calling New Scientist a science journal was also correct and a resulting change was made in the article.

  74. #74 Dyticum
    November 3, 2007

    I wasted a few minutes over at Conservapedia. If the purpose was to yet again recycle creationist canards (no transitional fossils, evolution leads to Hitler, etc.), puff up of figures from the Discovery Institute as credible authorities, or cite scripture, the author could have saved himself the trouble and just provided links to answersingenesis, DI propaganda, and the bible. Without dressing them up as a bibliography.

  75. #75 Pierce R. Butler
    November 3, 2007

    Blake -

    Assuming your extract is reproduced correctly, the first error in it is the spelling of Wells’s first name.

    Pls note it says that those claims are what Wells “contends”, not that they are correct. There is, sfaik, no reason to doubt that is what he has said, somewhere, sometime…

  76. #76 Robert Miller
    November 3, 2007

    Dear Mr. Butler,

    Thank you for you helpful comment regarding the spelling of Dr. Wells first name.

  77. #77 Leni
    November 3, 2007

    LOL. Well. It looks like we met the challenge.

    What did we win?

  78. #78 Jon S
    November 3, 2007

    Caliban says “You list five historical events that need to have transpired for life to arrive naturaly. Five. And this seems to you “insanely impossible odds”? Despite the fact that we already have mountains of evidence supporting those events (with the one exception of abiogenesis)and absolutely none supporting your scenario?… Personaly, i find the evidence that reveals my common ancestry with all life on the planet far more majestic and enobling than your worship-Jebus-or-burn-forever worldview.”

    Yes, I do think it’s insanely impossible. I actually have the same evidence you do, such as fossils, rocks, gravity, chemistry, etc, so we do have mountains of evidence to support the events of the Bible and a young earth. It’s the interpretation of the evidence that differs. What we observe today actually contradicts evolution, such as bacterial resistance. Keep in mind that we can’t observe evolution via the scientific method. Evolution supposedly relies on mutations, but mutations are generally harmful, which is why we get cancer. When we see mutations, they’re never the kind that causes an organism to become more complex and form completely novel features. After all the generations of fruit flies, they’re still fruit flies. Abiogenesis is pure fantasy. And I find evolution meaningless. However, if the Bible is true, then what you found to be noble is foolishness.

    Michael Glenn says “Since evolution isn’t a random process, no one is a “random pile of pondscum.”… But I do reserve a smile for people who “worship” an entity who sets his children up for a fall and then punishes them terribly when they do… What a pointless universe that would be!

    Of course evolution is a random process. Where did you go to school? Are you trying to tell me that evolution has thought and motives? Now your view of God is way off the mark. He actually promises a paradise, without sickness, disease or suffering for those who put their faith and trust in Christ. That sounds like a very merciful, loving, and forgiving God, don’t you think? Pointless would be an accidental universe where we die and that’s the end.

    SLC says “Richard Dawkins once said that one who rejects the theory of evolution is either ignorant, stupid, or insane. Mr. Jon S is all of the above. Contrary to Mr. Jon S’ admiration for the human spine, I challenge him to find a bridge designer who will agree with him that it is anything but a poor design. Reference to physical therapists or osteopaths who wouldn’t know how to design a bridge if their life depended on it is totally unimpressive (I suspect that Mr. Jon S also wouldn’t know how to design a bridge). Of course the reason it is a poor design is that it is adapted from a quadrupedal animal. Other then the S curve, the human spine differs not at all from that of a dog, a cow, or a horse.”

    God says “The fool says in his hear, ‘There is no God.’ (Psalm 14:1). I’d rather accept God’s word over High Priest Dawkins. I fail to see the logic in finding a bridge engineer who believes the spine is a good or bad design. What authority does a bridge engineer have to make a declaration about the spine? And why would their word have authority over a physical therapist or osteopath who doesn’t know how to build a bridge? Is the engineer’s word the final authority on such matters? Go ahead silly, have your bridge engineer create a human spine better than what we have and I’ll be impressed. Your insistence that the spine is a poor design is simply based on your faith in evolution, not evidence. If the quadruped design is so superior, and the bipedal design so inferior, then it would go to reason that we would never have evolved an upright posture. That would be very inefficient and uncomfortable, especially during that million year transition faze.

  79. #79 Jon S
    November 3, 2007

    Just splitting this up to shorten the post.

    Pierce R. Butler says “My dictionary says “glory” is “high renown or honor won by notable achievements” (plus other definitions painting it as an intrinsic quality of god, heaven, etc). If some god feels a need for “glory”, he/she/it would be better advised to seek it from other deities – the sycophancy of humans would be a very poor substitute. If I had the power to, say, create a new species of ant, I’d be quickly bored if they felt their primary function was to praise Me – and would tell them to get busy on something, anything, more creative/useful. I’ve never gotten a clear answer to this, and don’t really expect one now, but I gotta ask: just what do you believers mean by “glory”?

    Actually God does not have any needs; he’s self sufficient. Thus he does not feel a need for glory. He does, however, expect us to glorify and worship him because he’s worthy. God would not seek glory from any other deity except himself. Other gods are detestable to him and are worthless. Glory means to exalt God above all else, and to praise and worship him alone.

    SLC says “By the way, in order for present day carnivores, such as lions, to have previously existed as vegetarians, they would have had to have had totally different digestive systems and dentitions. A present day lion would starve to death on a vegetarian diet, aside from its dentition being totally unsuited for consuming vegetation. Would Mr. Jon S care to inform us of any evidence in the fossil record of lions with appropriate dentition for a vegetarian diet.

    Perhaps they did have different digestive systems and dentitions, but that wouldn’t necessarily be a requirement. As I previously indicated there was a lion that had a meatless diet, so it’s not far-fetched as you may suppose. And again their teeth and claws are not a problem in a sinless and death-free world any more than it is for bears, apes, and other ferocious looking animals that don’t eat meat today.

    Dyticum says “So this god of yours, because of a mistake made by his own imperfect creation, solves the problem by having someone willingly tortured to death. That’s the type of loving and merciful god YOU have, and you are welcome to him and all the twisted logic it takes to want to worship him. In the meantime you still haven’t explained why those peaceful vegetarian animals should be made to suffer. Does your loving and merciful god have something against animals?”

    God doesn’t make mistakes, and he made a perfect creation that he called ‘very good’. He’s in control of everything, including time. Everything has gone according to his plan from the very beginning. Now Jesus had to suffer and die in our place in order for us to be saved and experience eternal life in heaven. If he didn’t, then everyone would be sent to hell. Fortunately we do have a loving God that was willing to become man and accept the penalty we deserve. He humbled himself and died on the cross for our salvation. It was through the sin of one man, Adam, that all men became sinners, and it is through the righteousness of one man, Christ, that we are saved. Yes, that’s the type of loving and merciful God we have. And I have explained why animals and the rest of creation have to suffer. It’s because Adam and Eve sinned. They disobeyed God, and since God is a holy, just, and righteous God who hates sin, he had to punish it with the ultimate punishment… death. He warned Adam that if he disobeyed he would surely die. So because of Adam’s disobedience, we all share in that curse. But God, in his loving mercy, offered a way out for those who put their faith and trust in Christ.

    Richard Simons says “Have you ever seen a cat trying to eat grass? Have you ever read the list of ingredients on a can of cat food? Cats could not get in enough plant material to live on and their metabolism is incapable of handling it. It seems you believe cats and lions to be all part of the ‘cat kind’ that entered the ark. To get from ‘catty creature’ to lions, leopards, cats and cheetahs in a few decades (all are either mentioned in the Bible, painted in ancient Egyptian tombs or found mummified) would require mutation on a scale that we now associate with cancer. You do realize, do you not, that cats and lions are more genetically different than are humans and chimpanzees? Cheetahs are even more distant from other cats. You also seem to believe that a ‘Thing’ (I can’t bring myself to use the word god in this context) that would cause pain and suffering to all creatures for ever because of the failings of just two organisms is worthy of praise. As far as I am concerned, you are sick. If your two-year-old child threw its dinner on the floor, would you hurl the puppy against the wall and then expect to be praised for your actions?

    Yes, my cats love eating grass, and they regurgitate it every time. So is that evidence that today’s carnivores were never vegetarian at one time in history? Of course not. I don’t have a problem with the length of time it took once the original cat kind came off the ark until they became various species. It doesn’t take thousands or millions of years for such a process to occur. We have observational evidence of this, especially when it comes to breeding. Take the poodle for example. It didn’t take millions of years for man to breed this from what may have been a wolf-like creature. And yes, I do believe God cursed the earth because of Adam’s sin. Why? Because I believe the Bible is God’s word, and he told us that’s what happened. It doesn’t matter if you believe Christians are sick. It ultimately only matters what God thinks.

  80. #80 Pierce R. Butler
    November 3, 2007

    Nope, still no clear answer.

    At least my ants got the hint and went to making crop circles.

  81. #81 Dyticum
    November 3, 2007

    Jon,
    From the time I was in Sunday school I have had trouble with the idea that this omniscient and omnipotent god would not have just created non-sinners, sparing himself from being ‘humbled’ as you say (admittedly a rather unseemly thing for a god), and sparing the rest of us the threat of a burning lake of fire. That, to my young mind, is what a loving and merciful god would have done. The god of the bible always struck me as the sort of fiction a bunch of priests would invent if they wanted to frighten children and keep the tithes flowing. Sadly this scam is a proven winner, and there is no end of vengeful and jealous gods in human history who have worked that angle. The advantage of the previous ones is that they could invent vegetarian dinosaurs or winged horses or whatever was necessary, and would not have to worry about being refuted by science. As others have pointed out carnivores are meat eaters from snout to anus – they did not one day make a lifestyle change. The science is relatively straightforward in this case.

  82. #82 Jason Rosenhouse
    November 3, 2007

    Neal-

    I asked you nicely the first time and you ignored me. I’ve deleted your most recent comments and you can consider yourself banned.

  83. #83 Richard Simons
    November 4, 2007

    Jon says “And yes, I do believe God cursed the earth because of Adam’s sin. Why? Because I believe the Bible is God’s word, and he told us that’s what happened. It doesn’t matter if you believe Christians are sick. It ultimately only matters what God thinks.”

    But that did not address my question, which was whether something that does evil like that is worthy of praise. If you tortured animals because your child did something he shouldn’t, you’d be locked up, possibly for life, yet you think this is the action of a benevolent god. Truly nasty.

  84. #84 Leni
    November 4, 2007

    Jon S wrote

    Of course evolution is a random process.

    Evolution isn’t a singular entity, it’s the result of several processes, some of which are random and some of which are not.

    Genetic drift is random, or at least appears to be. Natural selection is not. The word “selection” ought to have tipped you off to that.

    Jon S wrote

    …actually have the same evidence you do, such as fossils, rocks, gravity, chemistry, etc, so we do have mountains of evidence to support the events of the Bible and a young earth.

    Really? You have fossil evidence supporting recent herbivore ancestors for each and every species on the planet??

    Holy crap! Let’s see it!

  85. #85 Leni
    November 4, 2007

    Sorry again with the multi-posting, but I keep encountering things so egregious that I feel compelled to respond:

    Jon S wrote:

    What we observe today actually contradicts evolution, such as bacterial resistance. Keep in mind that we can’t observe evolution via the scientific method.

    Except that we can observe evolution, and then did. Using “the scientific method”.

    If we hadn’t, you wouldn’t be able to use the “antibacterial resistance” argument.

  86. #86 J. J. Ramsey
    November 4, 2007

    Jon S: “God says “The fool says in his hear [sic], ‘There is no God.’ (Psalm 14:1). I’d rather accept God’s word over High Priest Dawkins.”

    Dawkins as “High Priest”? Not to me, he isn’t. And I’m an atheist these days. Indeed, when it comes to knowing where the flaws are in the Bible, I can probably outdo him–and I’m pretty much an amateur. I at least can write a critique of the birth narratives that isn’t easily dismissible by the bog-standard Christian apologetics about Quirinius serving twice.

    And how do you know it is God’s word? To defend the Bible as even true, let alone the word of God, you have resorted, for example, to describing antibiotic resistance, which is evidence for evolution, as evidence against it. You have been trying to provide evidence for your beliefs, but you haven’t been thinking very clearly about that evidence.

  87. #87 Jon S
    November 4, 2007

    Dyticum says “From the time I was in Sunday school I have had trouble with the idea that this omniscient and omnipotent god would not have just created non-sinners, sparing himself from being ‘humbled’ as you say (admittedly a rather unseemly thing for a god), and sparing the rest of us the threat of a burning lake of fire. That, to my young mind, is what a loving and merciful god would have done.

    Fortunately God is in control and has a plan that’s better than what you or I could come up with. You may think your plan is better, but keep in mind that we’re just fallible human beings that make lots and lots of mistakes. I wouldn’t trust my eternity to what a bunch of people would vote on or could make up. The fact is that God chose to do things the way he did for a reason, and we may not fully understand it until after we die, and even though I may not like that, I accept it because I believe it’s true, not because of any kind of psychobabble.

    Dyticum says “As others have pointed out carnivores are meat eaters from snout to anus – they did not one day make a lifestyle change. The science is relatively straightforward in this case.”

    I never said the change occurred in one day. The change may have taken any number of generations, perhaps over the course of several hundred years or so.

    Leni says “Evolution isn’t a singular entity, it’s the result of several processes, some of which are random and some of which are not.
    Genetic drift is random, or at least appears to be. Natural selection is not. The word “selection” ought to have tipped you off to that… You have fossil evidence supporting recent herbivore ancestors for each and every species on the planet?? Holy crap! Let’s see it!… Except that we can observe evolution, and then did. Using “the scientific method”. If we hadn’t, you wouldn’t be able to use the “antibacterial resistance” argument.

    Huh? Evolution isn’t a singular entity? Sort of like God, huh? Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? You make it sound like evolution has a mind of its own. Natural selection isn’t random? I don’t know what evolution books you’ve been reading, but it kind of sounds like ID to me where there’s a purpose or goal. I think most evolutionists would rebuke you for such notions. Natural selection happens when a particular trait just so happens to give an organism an advantage, or is sometimes neutral and passed along to its offspring. That’s just my simple, offhand definition. And no, of course theres no evidence for recent herbivore ancestors for each and every species on the planet, silly. I don’t believe in silly evolutionary fairy tales. As I previously indicated, no one has ever observed evolution in action. Antibacterial resistance is actually the opposite of evolution, depending on how you define your terms. If evolution is nothing more than change in an organism, then of course I believe in evolution. But if you define evolution as some sort of upward progression of organisms from simple to more complex, such as molecules to man evolution, then I don’t believe in that because there’s no evidence for it, just conjecture. Antibacterial resistance happens because of a loss of genetic information, which is exactly the opposite of what we’d expect if evolution were true in a molecules to man scenario. Evolutionists often use a bait-and-switch definition of evolution.

  88. #88 thalarctos
    November 4, 2007
    Did you know there are bears that are vegetarian?

    Do I care? (No.) If one species of bear is veggie it doesn’t mean they all had to be at one point. Especially if the vast majority of them aren’t and if their ancestors don’t appear to be either. It could just as easily be that because the vast majority of them are omnivorous scavengers that it is the vegetarian who is the anomaly. In fact, that’s what the evidence suggests.

    You got it exactly right–bears are omnivores who go for the least effort in obtaining food, and berries are generally far easier to take down than cows.

    Contrary to Jon’s assertion, no bear is vegetarian on principle–any bear of any species would eat meat that didn’t involve chasing down, like roadkill or a T-bone. Even pandas opportunistically eat rats, mice, insects, and other invertebrates in addition to bamboo.

  89. #89 windy
    November 4, 2007

    If the quadruped design is so superior, and the bipedal design so inferior, then it would go to reason that we would never have evolved an upright posture.

    At least you got *something* right! Bipedal design is indeed not “inferior”. At some point in our evolution, we needed the bipedal design more than we needed to avoid back problems (add to this that the back problems mostly appear in old age). The same with wisdom teeth: selection drove us to have short faces faster than we could lose the superfluous teeth. Such instances of less-than-perfect design are easily explained by conflicting selection pressures, not so easily by a benevolent omnipotent designer or by perfect design ruined by “sin”.

  90. #90 David Marjanovi?
    November 4, 2007

    (if the fossils are to be believed, then evolution on this planet stagnated at several moments in history, and could only be started up again by mass extinctions that must have been horrible for the species who experienced them)

    Well, no. If the fossils are to be believed, evolution has never stagnated. How could it? Mutation and selection are both inevitable. Of course, evolution doesn’t go in any specific direction, so it certainly is the case that we wouldn’t exist if any of those mass extinction events had not happened.

    BTW, considering long threads like this, it would be a good idea to introduce comment numbering. Many other ScienceBlogs already have it. It makes scrolling up and down while writing a comment much easier.

    After sin entered the world God cursed the earth

    Cursing Adam and Eve would be understandable.

    Cursing the earth is not. Again: what did the gazelles do to deserve having cheetahs running after them?

    And besides, remember that Adam and Eve only appear in one of the two creation stories (roughly Genesis 2). The other, roughly Genesis 1, has humans being created last, not first, and both sexes at the same time. Before you start godbotting ( = making an argument on the premise that the Bible is true), sort out the contradictions in the Bible.

    God is a perfect explanatory factor for thunder and the vertebra[t]e eye.

    Then why isn’t he needed to explain either?

    God certainly is not insecure and doesn’t need anyone or anything to be complete. He created man for his own glory

    The second sentence contradicts the first, and both contradict the supposed fact that God’s glory is already infinite.

    The original cat kind had teeth and claws, but they were vegetarians at the beginning. Bears, bats, and many other animals have teeth and claws, yet many are vegetarian, so just because cheetahs appear to be well designed to kill doesn’t pose a problem as you suggest.

    Tss, tss, tss. Have a look at the teeth of a polar bear, a brown bear, a cave bear, and a panda. No, they are not identical as you seem to assume.

    And what exactly have the plants done to deserve being killed and eaten (usually not in that order)?

    If there’s no God, then truth is relative

    That’s nonsense, and you know that full well.

    I’d rather experience some pain and suffering now and be rewarded with heaven at the end.

    So you openly admit you believe because you want to believe? That’s rare. Congratulations for your honesty…

    (but remained microbes without evolving into man).

    Newsflash: Evolution is not a spiritual force that drives everything towards becoming humans. It is the simple fact that those individuals that are well enough adapted to their environment — and each population has a different environment! — have the most fertile offspring.

    On the other hand, if there is a God, then sin is

    Newsflash: There are more possibilities than just two (atheism and your particular brand of fundamentalist Christianity).

    A normal strand of bacteria may be harmful, but when we expose them to antibacterials, only the mutated strands immune to the antibacterials survive; this is due to a loss of genetic material

    Untrue. It’s often due to horizontal gene transfer — the gain of genetic material. Also, mutations don’t necessarily result in loss.

    You also haven’t responded to the speed issue.

    And have you seen the teeth of a whale shark? And its gill rakers?

    Darwinist professor of osteopathy David Shuman said “… no question that the human back, given proper care and rightly understood, is an astonishingly effective mechanism… the human back is the hallmark of our true nobility and a major factor in the…supremacy of… man”

    What do I care about the heavily … censored words of an unknown authority? Behold your eyes, and the eyes of a squid, and then come back. And that’s just one example of Stupid Design.

    But God does expect worship, despite our supposed innocence. It makes sense that those who worship God, despite our pain an suffering, will receive the crown of life.

    What is worship even good for? God already knows he’s the best (and infinitely so, infinitely more so than our prayers could ever express), and he already knows what we might need. I have to conclude that the concept of prayer is older than the concepts of omniscience and omnibenevolence. (Which in fact it is.)

    We didn’t come about by random chance.

    Mutation is random. Selection is not.. It is determined by the environment.

    Please stop making arguments from ignorance. They are a waste of everyone’s time.

    Gosh, I guess the coalition of ignorance (macro-evolutionary conjecture and assertion) lives on even still

    Neal, you are part of the coalition of ignorance that doesn’t know that “macroevolution” is just “microevolution” over a longer timeframe.

    Any evidence in the fossil record of Tyrannosaurs with teeth like Apatosaurs (aka brontosaurs)?

    Nope.

    Yes, I do think it’s insanely impossible. I actually have the same evidence you do, such as fossils, rocks, gravity, chemistry, etc

    …and yet you act as if you knew anything about them…

    What we observe today actually contradicts evolution, such as bacterial resistance.

    This shows your ignorance of evolution, which predicts exactly what we see here.

    Evolution supposedly relies on mutations, but mutations are generally harmful

    No, most mutations are harmless. The vast majority of all mutations is neutral: they neither have an advantage nor a disadvantage. For example, paternity tests work by comparing neutral mutations.

    Also, don’t forget that whether a mutation is harmful depends on the environment. If I had no arms or shoulder girdles — that’s one single mutation –, I’d have real trouble, as long as I were a human. If I spent my life swimming in an eel-like fashion, or burrowing using my head as a shovel, or slithering through dense grass, I’d actually have an advantage. Or let me use a more tangible example: sickle-cell anemia. Brought about by a single mutation, and is a horrible disease. Except that, in the places where it occurs, those people who don’t have one copy of the mutated gene tend to die from malaria before they can’t reproduce. Those with the sickle-cell anemia gene are immune to malaria. This is the schoolbook example. Did you have no biology at school?

    After all the generations of fruit flies, they’re still fruit flies.

    And? Just wait a few million years.

    (Except that I can predict your answer. “They’re still flies! They’re still insects! They’re still arthropods! They’re still animals! See? Nothing has changed!!!1!”)

    Abiogenesis is pure fantasy.

    No, there are plenty of testable hypotheses in it. For example, the famous Urey-Miller experiment from the 1950s required an atmosphere full of methane, ammonia, and hydrogen — which falls apart when the sun shines. More recent hypotheses don’t require that. I suggest you start reading. Keywords: clay, pyrite, hydrothermal…

    And I find evolution meaningless.

    What do you mean?

    God says “The fool says in his hear[t], ‘There is no God.’ (Psalm 14:1).

    The wise man knows in his brain: There is no evidence for the existence of anything supernatural, and nothing supernatural is needed to explain anything.

    I’d rather accept God’s word over High Priest Dawkins.

    You are starting from the assumption that Psalm 14:1 is actually God’s word. That’s an extraordinary claim. As such, it requires extraordinary evidence.

    You have fallen among the scientists. You can’t simply start by assuming your conclusions and then reaching them based on themselves in a circular argument.

    If the quadruped design is so superior, and the bipedal design so inferior, then it would go to reason that we would never have evolved an upright posture.

    How does that follow? All that’s required is that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages and that the disadvantages are not large enough for a Darwin Award.

    That would be very inefficient and uncomfortable, especially during that million year transition faze [sic].

    There is no transition between a horizontal and a vertical spine. Look at chimps, bears, and so on: they use one posture or the other, not any intermediates. Consequently there was no transition phase (the word is Greek).

    And look at gibbons: they spend just about all of their lives vertically, like us… Maybe what’s new isn’t the human pose. Maybe what’s new is the knuckle-walking of chimps and gorillas.

    Actually God does not have any needs; he’s self sufficient. Thus he does not feel a need for glory. He does, however, expect us to glorify and worship him because he’s worthy.

    What for, then? See above.

    God would not seek glory from any other deity except himself. Other gods are detestable to him and are worthless.

    So you believe other gods exist? That’s an interesting Christian.

    Fortunately we do have a loving God that was willing to become man and accept the penalty we deserve.

    You act as if “we deserve” is some kind of law that exists independently of God…

    It doesn’t take thousands or millions of years for such a process to occur. We have observational evidence of this, especially when it comes to breeding. Take the poodle for example.

    Oh dude. Poodles are still the same species as all other dogs and wolves by just about any definition of “species”; they can all interbreed. Cheetahs and house cats are much more different than that. Take a look at their genes, and compare the difference to those between poodle and wolf. You’ll find the latter ridiculously tiny.

    And yes, I do believe God cursed the earth because of Adam’s sin. Why? Because I believe the Bible is God’s word, and he told us that’s what happened.

    You are again assuming your conclusions and using them as premises.

    It doesn’t matter if you believe Christians are sick. It ultimately only matters what God thinks.

    You are assuming that you know what God thinks.

  91. #91 thalarctos
    November 4, 2007

    Third world countries, in fact, rarely report chronic back pain.

    A lot of things don’t get reported in the developing world because the systems aren’t in place to do so; absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. In fact, manual labor is ubiquitous in resource-poor countries, and lots of people simply wear their bodies out from it. As a result, musculoskeletal problems are a huge issue there; just not the most pressing (life-critical) one.

    What little evidence there is does not accord with your assertion (from a PubMed search just now on back AND pain AND “developing world”):

    Little is known about the prevalence and determinants of LBP (low back pain) in rural developing populations, even though approximately half of the world’s population, mostly from the developing world, is engaged in agriculture, a known strenuous activity…RESULTS: The 1-year prevalence of LBP was 64%…CONCLUSION: A high prevalence of LBP and LBP with additional musculoskeletal pain existed in this rural Chinese sample. We found evidence of a link between physical exposures and LBP, and LBP with additional musculoskeletal pain. Further understanding of the characteristics and risk factors of LBP in rural developing areas is needed.

    [1] Barrero LH, Hsu YH, Terwedow H, Perry MJ, Dennerlein JT, Brain JD, Xu X. Prevalence and physical determinants of low back pain in a rural Chinese population. Spine. 2006 Nov 1;31(23):2728-34.

    Musculoskeletal diseases are one of the major causes of disability around the world and have been a significant reason for the development of the Bone and Joint Decade. Rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and back pain are important causes of disability-adjusted-life years in both the developed and developing world.

    [2] Brooks PM. The burden of musculoskeletal disease–a global perspective. Clin Rheumatol. 2006 Nov;25(6):778-81. Epub 2006 Apr 12.

    Low back pain exists in epidemic proportions in the western world and is on the increase. Its cause is mostly nonspecific. Not much is known about it in the developing world because the data is scanty.

    [3] Galukande M, Muwazi S, Mugisa DB. Aetiology of low back pain in Mulago Hospital, Uganda. Afr Health Sci. 2005 Jun;5(2):164-7.

    Musculoskeletal pain is a major health problem in all surveys undertaken in both developed and developing countries.

    [4] Muirden KD. Community Oriented Program for the Control of Rheumatic Diseases: studies of rheumatic diseases in the developing world. Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2005 Mar;17(2):153-6.

    Osteoarthritis is a major cause of disability in both the developed and developing world. With the population aging, the prevalence of osteoarthritis is increasing and its consequences are impacting significantly on society. This is one of the reasons why osteoarthritis has been adopted as a major focus (along with osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, back pain, and musculoskeletal trauma) by the global initiative–the Decade of Bone and Joint Disease. Adequate studies on the costs of osteoarthritis are urgently required so that cogent arguments can be made to governments to appropriately fund prevention and treatment programs for this condition.

    [5] Brooks PM. Impact of osteoarthritis on individuals and society: how much disability? Social consequences and health economic implications. Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2002 Sep;14(5):573-7.

    Additionally, when some of the biggest medical problems are reduced life span for adults, millions of child deaths per year, and chronically impaired quality of life, diagnosing and treating chronic back pain simply isn’t going to be one of the highest priorities. As Saki observed, “There are so many things to complain about here, it never would have occurred to me to complain about that.”.

  92. #92 David Marjanovi?
    November 4, 2007

    The fact is that God chose to do things the way he did for a reason

    No, that’s not a fact, that’s a belief. Read here what the word “fact” means.

    Huh? Evolution isn’t a singular entity? Sort of like God, huh? Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? You make it sound like evolution has a mind of its own. Natural selection isn’t random? I don’t know what evolution books you’ve been reading, but it kind of sounds like ID to me where there’s a purpose or goal. I think most evolutionists would rebuke you for such notions.

    Not at all. You are making up a false dichotomy between “random” and “goal”. Evolution does not have a goal, and it is not random. Mutation is random, drift is random, selection is not random.

    As I previously indicated, no one has ever observed evolution in action.

    I have observed it. In petri dishes. Just take ten million bacteria and a million bacteriophages and keep that on 37 °C overnight.

    Antibacterial resistance is actually the opposite of evolution, depending on how you define your terms.

    I dare say that if you don’t use the definition that biologists use — try “descent with inheritable modification” –, then your definition is wrong.

    But if you define evolution as some sort of upward progression of organisms from simple to more complex

    That definition is indeed wrong. Natural selection causes evolution to go in whatever direction the environment goes. Sometimes greater complexity is an advantage, sometimes smaller complexity is an advantage (pretty often actually — e. g. for parasites), and sometimes the present complexity is just right. In sum, there is no “progress” and no “increase in complexity”.

  93. #93 SLC
    November 4, 2007

    Re Jon S

    1. “I fail to see the logic in finding a bridge engineer who believes the spine is a good or bad design. What authority does a bridge engineer have to make a declaration about the spine? And why would their word have authority over a physical therapist or osteopath who doesn’t know how to build a bridge? Is the engineer’s word the final authority on such matters? Go ahead silly, have your bridge engineer create a human spine better than what we have and I’ll be impressed.”

    Mr. Jon S again proves that he is a schmuck of the first order. Bridge designers actually have to design a structure and thus have to have a considerable knowledge of static and dynamic forces. Osteopaths, physical therapists and Mr. Jon S wouldn’t have the faintest notion of how to design anything. The spinal column is, in fact, much like a bridge structure in its support requirements. Since Mr. Jon S is totally incompetent in engineering and design, his opinions on these topics are of no more value then his opinions about the theory of quantum mechanics.

    2. “God says “The fool says in his hear, ‘There is no God.’ (Psalm 14:1). I’d rather accept God’s word over High Priest Dawkins.”

    Prof. Dawkins is a distinguished scientist with some 40 years of contributions to biology. Mr. Jon S is an ignorant putz of no known accomplishment who demonstrates his ignorance every time he posts on this thread.

    3. “Perhaps they did have different digestive systems and dentitions, but that wouldn’t necessarily be a requirement. As I previously indicated there was a lion that had a meatless diet, so it’s not far-fetched as you may suppose. And again their teeth and claws are not a problem in a sinless and death-free world any more than it is for bears, apes, and other ferocious looking animals that don’t eat meat today.”

    Would Mr. Jon S kindly point us to a source for his claim of meatless lions. Furthermore, his claim that bears and apes don’t eat meat is a pile of crap. I would suggest that sometime he watch the Discovery Channel when they show bears capturing spawning salmon. In addition, I would point out that Chimpanzees eat meat, particularly monkeys, a fact which he might also glom onto if he ever watched the Discovery Channel. But of course, the Jon Ss of the world aren’t interested in the facts; their minds, such as they are, are made up and the facts are irrelevant.

    I must say Mr. Jon S that never have I heard anyone write so knowledgeably from such a vast fund of ignorance.

  94. #94 Richard Simons
    November 4, 2007

    When Dyticum said
    “As others have pointed out carnivores are meat eaters from snout to anus – they did not one day make a lifestyle change. The science is relatively straightforward in this case.”
    Jon S responded
    “I never said the change occurred in one day. The change may have taken any number of generations, perhaps over the course of several hundred years or so.”
    But later in the same post he added
    “And no, of course theres no evidence for recent herbivore ancestors for each and every species on the planet, silly. I don’t believe in silly evolutionary fairy tales.”

    So Jon, do you or do you not believe that animals changed from being herbivores to carnivores?

    Jon S said “Natural selection isn’t random? I don’t know what evolution books you’ve been reading, but it kind of sounds like ID to me where there’s a purpose or goal. I think most evolutionists would rebuke you for such notions.”

    On the contrary. I challenge you to find any biology textbook that says that natural selection is random. You might be confusing it with mutation, which is, as far as can be determined, random with effect to its outcome. Something that is non-random does not need to have a purpose or goal. For example, raindrops do not move in a random manner but I don’t think anyone would claim that they have the goal of hitting the ground.

    “But if you define evolution as some sort of upward progression of organisms from simple to more complex,” . . then you are using a 300-year-old concept that has not been seriously considered in the last 100 years apart from in the Stalinist Soviet Union.

    You really do need to find out just what the theory of evolution is before you post any more of this rubbish.

    While I have a creationist at hand, as it were, perhaps you could tell me how cacti got to the Americas after the Flood?

  95. #95 SLC
    November 4, 2007

    Re Richard Simons

    Mr. Jon S has no interest in learning anything about evolution or any other scientific subject. He is perfectly satisfied with the fairy tales in the Hebrew and Christian bibles.

  96. #96 thalarctos
    November 4, 2007

    He is perfectly satisfied with the fairy tales in the Hebrew and Christian bibles.

    Yeah, but given that commandment in his books against bearing false witness, you’d expect him to at least have some qualms about posting such blatant and easily refuted untruths about bears, musculoskeletal problems in the developing world, and many other such misrepresentations.

  97. #97 poke
    November 4, 2007

    Presumably Ken Miller thinks that God can only adjust the physical constants when choosing the type of Universe to create. Creating human life would lie in some very narrow range that always includes animals eating one another and such; so God has no choice. I don’t think the Problem of Evil is a problem for such a restricted notion of God. Why God is restricted in this way is another question entirely. However, Ken Miller has also argued for interventionism through quantum indeterminacy, so who knows what’s going on in his head.

  98. #98 Jim
    November 4, 2007

    Jon S only has a platform here as long as we keep entertaining his delusions. His “issues” have been addressed a long time ago, & many times over since. If he’s not willing to do the work involved then why should he become the responsibility of those who are?

  99. #99 Jon S
    November 4, 2007

    Thalarctos and several others chimed in on the technicalities of a bears diet. Sorry for not being technical enough while trying to be brief. I spelled out my point clearly enough for anyone to follow if they’re willing. My point has been that there’s nothing far-fetched about the Bible’s claim that all animals with the breath of life were vegetarian at one point and not carnivorous. The examples I gave should be sufficient.

    Windy says “Bipedal design is indeed not “inferior”. At some point in our evolution, we needed the bipedal design more than we needed to avoid back problems (add to this that the back problems mostly appear in old age). The same with wisdom teeth: selection drove us to have short faces faster than we could lose the superfluous teeth. Such instances of less-than-perfect design are easily explained by conflicting selection pressures, not so easily by a benevolent omnipotent designer or by perfect design ruined by “sin”.

    This is science fiction story telling based on the assumption that evolution is true. But if we start with the Bible, the original design was perfect, and after sin entered the world our bodies became imperfect, which is why we have diseases, grow old and die.

    David Marjanovic says “Cursing Adam and Eve would be understandable. Cursing the earth is not… Again: what did the gazelles do to deserve having cheetahs running after them?… And besides, remember that Adam and Eve only appear in one of the two creation stories (roughly Genesis 2). The other, roughly Genesis 1, has humans being created last, not first, and both sexes at the same time. Before you start godbotting ( = making an argument on the premise that the Bible is true), sort out the contradictions in the Bible.

    Cursing the earth, even though you may not find it understandable, can be explained when you realize that the earth was created to be man’s home. God didn’t create the earth just so that cute little animals could roam about doing their thing. God cursed our home as part of the punishment for sin. While God does value the animals and the rest of his creation, he is a just God. The punishment for sin is extremely severe… death. This should give us an idea of just how much God hates sin. The fact that we have any pleasure at all in life shows his mercy, as does the fact that Jesus paid the penalty for those who believe in him. Finally, there are no contradictions in the Bible. I’ve dealt with your supposed contradiction previously on this website, so you should be able to look it up if you’re genuinely interested.

    David says “Have a look at the teeth of a polar bear, a brown bear, a cave bear, and a panda. No, they are not identical as you seem to assume.”

    Again you miss the point due to your belief and indoctrination in evolution. Of course their features are different today. I never suggested that the animals alive today have the same features as the original created kind. The features animals have today most certainly changed since the beginning. The point is that many animals in today’s world which ‘appear’ to have teeth suited to eat meat, are not necessarily meat eaters. For this reason it shouldn’t come as a surprise when we read the Bible and learn that there were no carnivores at the beginning of creation.

    David says “And what exactly have the plants done to deserve being killed and eaten?”

    Plants aren’t alive in the same sense that animals with blood are alive. That’s the distinction the Bible makes.

    David, you deny that truth is relative. Prove it.

    David says “So you openly admit you believe because you want to believe? That’s rare. Congratulations for your honesty…”

    I believe what I believe because I believe it’s true, not because it’s what I want to believe. Do you believe what you believe because that’s what you want to believe?

    David says “Newsflash: Evolution is not a spiritual force that drives everything towards becoming humans. It is the simple fact that those individuals that are well enough adapted to their environment — and each population has a different environment! — have the most fertile offspring.”

    True, but an upward drive is exactly what we observe if you believe in evolution. You must admit that in order to go from first life to man you must have an upward trend from simple to complex. Now you may argue for or against the entire path being straight upward, but the end result points to an real upward progression. Now do you expect man to continue to evolve into a more highly evolved creature until we become a race of X-men, or do you suspect we’ll revert to our ape-like ancestors? If I’m right, man will never evolve into a more supreme being or god because evolution is fantasy.

    David says “It’s often due to horizontal gene transfer (antibacterial resistance) — the gain of genetic material. Also, mutations don’t necessarily result in loss.

    Okay, but where do the horizontal genes come from? Did they previously exist in another organism in the first place? I don’t have a problem with horizontal gene transfer, but keep in mind that the genetic information already exists. They didn’t come out of nowhere. Gene transfer doesn’t account for an ape-like ancestor becoming human. Bacteria is still bacteria. The transferred genes haven’t transformed the organism into a completely new organism with unique features.

    David says “What is worship even good for? God already knows he’s the best (and infinitely so, infinitely more so than our prayers could ever express), and he already knows what we might need. I have to conclude that the concept of prayer is older than the concepts of omniscience and omnibenevolence. (Which in fact it is.)”

    Worship is done for our benefit, not for the good of God. Again God doesn’t need or crave our worship. We worship God because he’s worthy of praise, and we benefit from worshiping God in various ways.

    David says “Mutation is random. Selection is not.. It is determined by the environment.”

    Fine, consider myself educated.

    David says “Please stop making arguments from ignorance. They are a waste of everyone’s time.”

    I agree, so please stop making arguments from ignorance.

    David says “I have observed it (evolution). In petri dishes. Just take ten million bacteria and a million bacteriophages and keep that on 37 C overnight.

    Okay, and what do you get? Did they evolve into a new organism other than bacteria?

    SLC says “Bridge designers actually have to design a structure and thus have to have a considerable knowledge of static and dynamic forces. Osteopaths, physical therapists and Mr. Jon S wouldn’t have the faintest notion of how to design anything. The spinal column is, in fact, much like a bridge structure in its support requirements. Since Mr. Jon S is totally incompetent in engineering and design, his opinions on these topics are of no more value then his opinions about the theory of quantum mechanics.”

    I don’t care what bridge engineers are capable of designing. They aren’t qualified to make empirical claims on biological systems. Just because you stayed at a Holiday Inn last night doesn’t make you qualified to perform open heart surgery. If your bridge engineers are so special, then have them design a better spinal column that what we have right now. Your arguments are completely irrelevant.

    SLC says “Prof. Dawkins is a distinguished scientist with some 40 years of contributions to biology. Mr. Jon S is an ignorant putz of no known accomplishment who demonstrates his ignorance every time he posts on this thread.”

    God is not impressed with his credentials.

    SLC “Would Mr. Jon S kindly point us to a source for his claim of meatless lions.”

    Westbeau, G., Little Tyke: the story of a gentle vegetarian lioness, Theosophical Publishing House, IL, USA, 1986. (Information is drawn from pp. 3-6, 17, 32-35, 59-60, 113-114.)

    Richard Simmons said “So Jon, do you or do you not believe that animals changed from being herbivores to carnivores?

    I do believe that at one time all creatures with the breath of life were not carnivores, but after sin entered the world certain animals did become carnivores. I’ve explained this many times now.

    Richard says “You really do need to find out just what the theory of evolution is before you post any more of this rubbish.”

    I understand the theory of evolution better than you suppose. The issue here is that you have a tough time arguing outside an evolutionary frame work because you’ve been so well indoctrinated since a young lad. When you say evolution, you may mean any kind of change in an organism. Fine. We see change in organisms all the time. But then you also contend that it’s all those tiny changes that changes one organisms into a new organism with completely novel features, such as an ape to human, or a dinosaur to a bird. These are actually very different things and you fail to distinguish between them. Most evolutionists, in fact, can’t see the difference. They think if change happens, then after millions of years something extraordinary will come into existence. But the bottom line is that, while we can observe small changes over time in an organism, we never see them changing into a new organism. Thus you have two different ideas wrapped up into your definition of evolution. One is observable, and one is not. It’s the unobservable that I’m trying to deal with, and that seems to go over the head of most evolutionists.

    Richard says “While I have a creationist at hand, as it were, perhaps you could tell me how cacti got to the Americas after the Flood?”

    Since I wasn’t there to observe the process, I can only provide conjecture, just the same as you would for an ape evolving into a human. First, we don’t know what kind of cacti were existing at the time of the flood. Odds are that the kind surviving today are not representative of the first kind. So when the flood came and wiped out all living creatures upon the face of the earth, it’s quite possible that surviving cacti seeds settled somewhere in what we now know as North America. A little research may provide a better answer, but that’s off the top of my head.

  100. #100 Blake Stacey
    November 4, 2007

    poke:

    However, Ken Miller has also argued for interventionism through quantum indeterminacy, so who knows what’s going on in his head.

    That one threw me for a loop when I read about it. I mean, the fact that you can’t construct a hidden-variable theory which agrees with quantum mechanics means that you can’t have little gears inside the electron determining which way it will go. It’s actually harder to do the intervention thing with a quantum system than a classical one. Then, too, in order to control mutations you have to wrangle big molecules — enzymes and whatnot — and even a single nucleotide is larger than the decoherence scale. If you don’t want the cell to correct the mutation you’ve introduced, you need to suppress the DNA mismatch repair machinery.

    And, of course, if you work only at the molecular level, you have to face the prospect that an asteroid will whack the planet and destroy all the species you’ve so carefully engineered.

    Why must everyone treat quantum physics as an escape hatch for their personal fantasies?

  101. #101 thalarctos
    November 4, 2007

    Sorry for not being technical enough while trying to be brief.

    Well, that’s what happens when facts are no object. You have a choice here–you can continue to demonstrate that you have no knowledge at all on a wide variety of subjects, or you can make an effort to listen to the people who are patiently taking their time to explain to you where you’re going so wrong.

    My point has been that there’s nothing far-fetched about the Bible’s claim that all animals with the breath of life were vegetarian at one point and not carnivorous.

    Others have repeatedly pointed out to you how far-fetched *your* (not “the Bible’s”) claims here are. Me, I’m more curious right now about where exactly the Bible claims what you say it does? Seriously, I’d genuinely like to know the classical Hebrew words in Genesis for “vegetarian” and “carnivorous”.

    The examples I gave should be sufficient.

    They are sufficient to establish that you are totally foundering. I thought earlier that you were deliberately lying; I’m starting to come around to the point of view that you are in totally over your head, and genuinely have no idea what you are talking about, whether it’s bears, the musculoskeletal system, paleontology.

    Even for the Bible claims you make, I doubt that without looking it up, you can tell me the Hebrew word(s) used for animals in Genesis, and whether the connotation(s) implies/imply carnivory or not.

  102. #102 SLC
    November 4, 2007

    Re Jon S

    1. “Westbeau, G., Little Tyke: the story of a gentle vegetarian lioness, Theosophical Publishing House, IL, USA, 1986. (Information is drawn from pp. 3-6, 17, 32-35, 59-60, 113-114.)”

    A childrens book written by a religious nut, just like Jon S. Show me a study published in a peer reviewed scientific journal indicating that a carnivore can survive on a vegetarian diet. In addition, this was not a lioness in the wild but one in captivity. I suspect that she was fed a special diet rich in protein, probably by hand, which would not be available in the wild.

    2. Referring to Prof. Richard Dawkins, Mr. Jon S writes, “God is not impressed with his credentials.” Is that so. How does Mr. Jon S know this? Does god whisper in Mr. Jon S’ ear perchance? Or is Mr. Jon S gods’ mouthpiece?

    3. “I don’t care what bridge engineers are capable of designing. They aren’t qualified to make empirical claims on biological systems. Just because you stayed at a Holiday Inn last night doesn’t make you qualified to perform open heart surgery. If your bridge engineers are so special, then have them design a better spinal column that what we have right now. Your arguments are completely irrelevant.”

    But Mr. Jon S is qualified to make empirical claims on biological systems (snark). Bridge designers are qualified to make judgments on structures like the human spine because of their knowledge of the effect of the static and dynamic forces to which such a structure is subject to. They are a lot more qualified then morons like Mr. Jon S.

    Re Jim

    It should be quite obvious that Mr. Jon S is a religious nut who gets all his information from Answers in Genesis. We should probably treat him like the troll that he is and ignore him. On the other hand, unlike Mr. Neal, he isn’t particularly obnoxious other then being a schmuck. I guess he does provide some comic relief, if nothing else. Mr. Jon S likes to claim that his opponents are all brainwashed. Unlike him, we have brains to be washed.

  103. #103 windy
    November 4, 2007

    Whoops, almost missed the perfect opportunity to recycle a certain objection to atheism:

    God would not seek glory from any other deity except himself. Other gods are detestable to him and are worthless.

    Why is God so angry at something that doesn’t exist?

  104. #104 windy
    November 4, 2007

    Cursing the earth, even though you may not find it understandable, can be explained when you realize that the earth was created to be man’s home. God didn’t create the earth just so that cute little animals could roam about doing their thing. God cursed our home as part of the punishment for sin. While God does value the animals and the rest of his creation, he is a just God. The punishment for sin is extremely severe… death. This should give us an idea of just how much God hates sin.

    Again, the animals didn’t sin, did they? (Except, weirdly, the snake?? Do snakes have free will?) How “just” would it be to punish a murderer by “cursing his home” and making his wife, children and pets suffer?

  105. #105 David Marjanovi?
    November 4, 2007

    Thalarctos and several others chimed in on the technicalities of a bears diet. Sorry for not being technical enough while trying to be brief. I spelled out my point clearly enough for anyone to follow if they’re willing. My point has been that there’s nothing far-fetched about the Bible’s claim that all animals with the breath of life were vegetarian at one point and not carnivorous. The examples I gave should be sufficient.

    They aren’t. Case in point: snakes, tapeworms, sharks again… salamanders… incidentally, most salamander species of North America lack lungs. No “breath of life”. They simply let oxygen and carbon dioxide diffuse through the skin, like earthworms. And plant roots and so on.

    And, again, is killing a plant really so different from killing an animal?

    David, you deny that truth is relative. Prove it.

    Instead of “truth”, I prefer to talk about “reality”. That reality is not relative is very easy to prove: reality is consistent, and it does not go away if we stop believing in it. No matter how often I try, and no matter what I believe I cannot walk through walls, because electrostatic repulsion is part of reality. There is such a thing as a fact, and there is such a thing as reality.

    Now “truth” is a different manner. What if solipsism is true? What if nothing except my mind exists and everything else is just a figment of my imagination? Sounds silly, but there is no way to disprove it.

    That’s why scientists prefer talking about “reality” over talking about “truth”. Science isn’t about “truth”, it’s about “reality”.

    (Scare quotes to indicate that these are how I prefer to use these two terms. Not everyone uses them in these ways.)

    This is science fiction story telling based on the assumption that evolution is true. But if we start with the Bible, the original design was perfect, and after sin entered the world our bodies became imperfect, which is why we have diseases, grow old and die.

    Right. And how do we distinguish between these two possibilities?

    By science. By trying to falsify both and see if we succeed. If we fail in both, we apply the principle of parsimony: YEC needs a lot more assumptions, so it loses.

    Cursing the earth, even though you may not find it understandable, can be explained when you realize that the earth was created to be man’s home. God didn’t create the earth just so that cute little animals could roam about doing their thing. God cursed our home as part of the punishment for sin. While God does value the animals and the rest of his creation, he is a just God. The punishment for sin is extremely severe… death. This should give us an idea of just how much God hates sin. The fact that we have any pleasure at all in life shows his mercy, as does the fact that Jesus paid the penalty for those who believe in him.

    You still haven’t explained how the gazelles deserve having cheetahs run after them. You haven’t even tried. Adam and Eve may have deserved having cheetahs run after them — but gazelles?

    Finally, there are no contradictions in the Bible. I’ve dealt with your supposed contradiction previously on this website, so you should be able to look it up if you’re genuinely interested.

    Ah, really. Humans appearing first and humans appearing last is the same? Please do give me a link.

    Of course their features are different today. I never suggested that the animals alive today have the same features as the original created kind. The features animals have today most certainly changed since the beginning.

    I specifically mentioned cave bears… do you know how fast stalactites & stalagmites grow, and that they sometimes contain radioactive uranium decay products?

    The point is that many animals in today’s world which ‘appear’ to have teeth suited to eat meat, are not necessarily meat eaters.

    But this is wrong! I can tell immediately from looking at the dentition of a cave bear — which I have done often — that I’m looking at a herbivore. A bear, but a herbivore. With pandas, I’m told, it’s even more obvious. With polar bears, on the other hand, it’s just as easy to tell that they are more carnivorous than brown bears, which in turn are more carnivorous than cave bears.

    Would you please stop making arguments from ignorance?

    Plants aren’t alive in the same sense that animals with blood are alive. That’s the distinction the Bible makes.

    Have you ever stopped to ask if that distinction makes sense?

    (Of course you haven’t. You’ve never stopped to ask if any part of the Bible makes sense. Otherwise you wouldn’t be a YEC.)

    I believe what I believe because I believe it’s true, not because it’s what I want to believe. Do you believe what you believe because that’s what you want to believe?

    No. I don’t believe, I know. I know what the known evidence says. You don’t even know most of the evidence (see above), believe that the Bible is true, and construct all further arguments on this belief. I don’t construct arguments on beliefs, but on facts. Read here what a fact is and isn’t.

    True, but an upward drive is exactly what we observe if you believe in evolution. You must admit that in order to go from first life to man you must have an upward trend from simple to complex.

    Of course not. Life has diversified since its beginning, in all directions. That’s all. There is no trend. I recommend S. J. Gould’s book Full House.

    Now do you expect man to continue to evolve into

    I expect us to continue to evolve into whatever direction our environment takes. That’s impossible to predict, especially taking into account that today we make much of our environments ourselves.

    In the short run (the next few decades), I expect AIDS resistance to become more common in much of Africa. Probably this has already started. After all, those who aren’t resistant tend to die without reproducing — that’s called natural selection.

    Okay, but where do the horizontal genes come from? Did they previously exist in another organism in the first place?

    Yes, and there they arose by mutation and selection. That’s simple. For example, one protein that confers penicilin resistance pumps the penicilin out of the cell at least as fast as it comes back. Such substance-specific pumps are plentiful in all organisms. Tweak the substance specificity a little, and there you go.

    The transferred genes haven’t transformed the organism into a completely new organism with unique features.

    Sure they have. When multiple resistance genes meet in the same bacterium and happen to get on the same plasmide… do you know what a plasmide is?

    we benefit from worshiping God in various ways.

    Such as?

    Okay, and what do you get?

    A few were resistant to the virus and started new colonies in the presence of the virus. Mutation and natural selection in action. For a mutation that happens about once in ten million bacteria per generation.

    Did they evolve into a new organism other than bacteria?

    1) Overnight? No.
    2) There wasn’t selection for anything other than immunity to the virus.
    3) It is so ignorant to act as if all bacteria were the same species. The diversity of bacteria you carry around in your gut, in terms of the differences between the species, is greater than that of all animals together. And even within what is considered the same species… someone mentioned Escherichia coli upthread; a few strains cause deadly diarrhea, but most are completely harmless gut bacteria, and some of these get used in molecular biology (like in the experiment I had to do in the first year of molecular biology).

    I don’t care what bridge engineers are capable of designing. They aren’t qualified to make empirical claims on biological systems.

    It’s not so simple. Both bridges and vertebral columns are subject to the same laws of physics, which bridge engineers hopefully understand.

    God is not impressed with his credentials.

    You are still starting from what ought to be, if anything, a conclusion. You run the risk of building castles in the air.

    Westbeau, G., Little Tyke: the story of a gentle vegetarian lioness, Theosophical Publishing House, IL, USA, 1986.

    Theosophical Publishing House?

    Theosophy is a brand of woo that we both abhor. Has it been published in a scientific journal, too? If not, you’ll understand that I stay skeptical.

    Besides… ovolactovegetarian or vegan…?

    I understand the theory of evolution better than you suppose.

    If we here had to tell you the utterly basic fact that selection is not random, then you should rather phrase that as “I don’t understand the theory of evolution quite as incredibly badly as you suppose”…

    When you say evolution, you may mean any kind of change in an organism. Fine.

    See? That’s already wrong. We mean any kind of change in the allele frequencies in a population. And if you don’t know what an allele is, please do look it up.

    one organisms into a new organism with completely novel features, such as an ape to human, or a dinosaur to a bird.

    With all due respect, I cannot help noticing that this is another argument from ignorance. Very little is ever genuinely new. Name one new feature that we have but chimps don’t. On your other example, I can tell you that not one is new. Feathers, which are much older than birds, are fundamentally the same thing as scales (thickened outgrowths of the epidermis). The beak, which is much younger than birds, is an outgrowth of the caruncle, which is a structure used by many baby “reptiles” and monotremes to open the eggshell. What else can you think of?

    These are actually very different things and you fail to distinguish between them. Most evolutionists, in fact, can’t see the difference.

    The failure is with you: due to your generally poor knowledge of genetics, anatomy, and developmentary biology, you don’t see that they are in fact the same. Another argument from ignorance — I can’t help it, sorry.

    Since I wasn’t there to observe the process, I can only provide conjecture, just the same as you would for an ape evolving into a human.

    Eh, no. That’s not what we do, and you… should… know that. We do make conjectures, but then we check if the evidence — genes, fossils, and so on — are consistent with them. If they aren’t, we throw our conjectures on the trash heap. If more than one is, we keep looking for ways in which evidence could distinguish between them. If we fail with that, we apply the principle of parsimony: the one that needs the fewest ad hoc assumptions wins. As long as it stays consistent with all known evidence, and new evidence is discovered all the time.

    So when the flood came and wiped out all living creatures upon the face of the earth, it’s quite possible that surviving cacti seeds settled somewhere in what we now know as North America.

    (South, actually. Cacti come from the top storeys of the Amazon rainforest — a very dry place…)

    Cactus seeds can’t survive 40 days in seawater. If you say all the rain turned it into freshwater (which cactus seeds probably can’t survive either, but I’m no botanist), you cannot explain how almost any marine animals survived. You’ll have to invoke yet another miracle. As if the flood story didn’t already require enough.

    (Yep, that’s a long page, but you need to read it all. Take your time, and then come back.)

    I mean, the fact that you can’t construct a hidden-variable theory which agrees with quantum mechanics

    Wow! News to me. Where can I read more?

    Why must everyone treat quantum physics as an escape hatch for their personal fantasies?

    Because, to cite the insider joke, nobody understands it. :-)

    Unlike him, we have brains to be washed.

    :-D I need to remember that! LOL!

  106. #106 Pierce R. Butler
    November 4, 2007

    David Marjanovi?: … is killing a plant really so different from killing an animal?

    I have in the past successfully hacked a plant into multiple pieces, stuck these in some dirt, and ended up with several more plants as a result.

    So far, this technique has not worked for me with humans or other animals. But I’m not ready to give up!

  107. #107 SLC
    November 4, 2007

    Re David Marjanovi?

    A couple of good quotes relative to quantum mechanics.

    1. Nobel laureate Richard Feynman, “If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don’t understand quantum mechanics.”

    2. Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg, “Quantum mechanics is a totally preposterous theory which unfortunately appears to be right.”

  108. #108 SLC
    November 4, 2007

    Another question we might pose to Mr. Jon S is the following. What is his opinion as to what god had in mind in creating Neanderthals, Homo Heidelbergensis, Homo Erectus, Homo Ergaster, Homo Habilis, Australopithecus Afarensis, Australopithecus Africansis, Australopithecus Boisoi, Australopithecus Robustus, among other hominids? Was he perhaps experimenting, trying to find the right stuff? How come these creatures aren’t mentioned in the Hebrew bible? I guess they didn’t merit inclusion on the arc.

  109. #109 386sx
    November 4, 2007

    Another question we might pose to Mr. Jon S is the following. What is his opinion as to what god had in mind in creating Neanderthals, Homo Heidelbergensis, Homo Erectus, Homo Ergaster, Homo Habilis, Australopithecus Afarensis, Australopithecus Africansis, Australopithecus Boisoi, Australopithecus Robustus, among other hominids?

    What are you asking an opinion for? Obviously he can blurt out whatever opinion he feels like. “Poof!”

  110. #110 Leni
    November 5, 2007

    Jon S wrote:

    Huh? Evolution isn’t a singular entity? Sort of like God, huh? Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?

    Is there any thought you have that isn’t contaminated by god? No, Jon, not like God. I clearly stated that evolution is the result of several processes, some of which are random and some of which are not.

    For whatever reason, you seem to think that they all are.

    You make it sound like evolution has a mind of its own. Natural selection isn’t random?

    No, it isn’t. But that doesn’t mean it has a mind of it’s own either. Remember, traits are selected for, not picked at random.

    This is really basic stuff Jon. I would, if I were you, take an hour or so to familiarize yourself with this distinction. It’s really a very important one.

    Here’s a somewhat hokey example that explains why it isn’t random in 4 very simple steps.

    You can see the bird is choosing the green beetles. Not randomly pecking away and getting whatever it happens to catch. There is a reason the bird is choosing the green beetles.

    The bad part is that they don’t suggest what that reason might be. Perhaps the green beetles are easier for the birds to see on sandy soil, but if a change in the environment lead to the growth of grasses, the brown beetles might then be easier for the birds to see and so would lose their advantage.

    The birds’ selections are acting on the beetle population in a non-random way. The environments’ changes are random, or might as well be, but the birds’ actions are not.

    (To complicate things, imagine that female beetles prefer brown male beetles. You’d have two forms of selection competing against each other. The horrors!)

    I think most evolutionists would rebuke you for such notions. Natural selection happens when a particular trait just so happens to give an organism an advantage, or is sometimes neutral and passed along to its offspring. That’s just my simple, offhand definition.

    I know most evolutionists would not rebuke that. They might quibble with my example or specific points in my description, but that is essentially an accurate portrayal of the process.

    In any case, that’s not a very good definition. It’s been explained to you why. I don’t think I need to cover that again.

    And no, of course theres no evidence for recent herbivore ancestors for each and every species on the planet, silly.

    LOL. And here I thought that you would have complained that I set the bar too high by faceciously asking fo r”each and every species” the way creationists are wont to do.

    So… what evidence do you have? Other than that you think the Bible says so and some childish speculation about vegetarian bears?

    But if you define evolution as some sort of upward progression of organisms from simple to more complex, such as molecules to man evolution, then I don’t believe in that because there’s no evidence for it, just conjecture.

    Oh my, Jon, that was just bad. The Wikipedia entry on Natural selection should be fine for your purposes. Will you please at least make a small effort to understand what you are talking about? I’m not an expert, and I don’t expect you to be either but my god Jon, could you at least try?

    In fact, this is probably going to be my last response to you. I don’t think it’s worth making the effort to post if you won’t make the effort to get even the simplest of basics right.

    (Hopefully it will be my last post. I’ll probably look tomorrow and get irritated and do several more double posts, but at this point it is my intention not to.)

  111. #111 SLC
    November 5, 2007

    Re 386sx

    “What are you asking an opinion for? Obviously he can blurt out whatever opinion he feels like. “Poof!””

    I raised this issue because I think it would be instructive as to how Mr. Jon S would respond. I suspect he would claim that either these species are all apes, hybrids of humans and apes or that they never existed and the fossils that have been found are all faked (e.g. he would invoke Piltdown man).

  112. #112 386sx
    November 5, 2007

    I raised this issue because I think it would be instructive as to how Mr. Jon S would respond.

    Well he just keeps saying things that only appear to be opinions without any support other than someone else’s unsupported opinions. God hates other gods, god don’t need no more glory, blah.

    Billions of people with outlandish amazing claims, but when you ask them for something to back it up… they got nothin. No god, no miracle, no nothin.

    They act like they’re so sure they “know” what they are talking about, but at most it could only amount to speculation. Blah.

  113. #113 386sx
    November 5, 2007

    They act like they’re so sure they “know” what they are talking about, but at most it could only amount to speculation. Blah.

    Not only that, but when you point that out to them they pretend as though they don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. Religion is the big river of denial. :P

  114. #114 Jon S
    November 5, 2007

    thalarctos: I can’t help you if you’re not willing to open your eyes and see the truth. Your ‘facts’ and intellect have blinded you. You fail to see the holes in your own arguments, whether it’s science or the claims of the Bible, all the while boasting in your wisdom. Genesis 1:29-31 doesn’t use the term ‘vegetarian’ or ‘carnivore’ because these are modern terms. It says that every green plant was given for food. Now you can continue to boast in your own wisdom and pass insults, or we can attempt to have a real discussion.

    SLC: Insults as usual, huh. Have you observed your own lack of knowledge on this bridge issue? Your bridge engineers are certainly not qualified to comment on the human spine, and if they do, they reveal their own ignorance as well. It’s laughable. When will you produce a spine better than the one God made? We’re waiting.

    Windy says “Why is God so angry at something that doesn’t exist?… Again, the animals didn’t sin, did they? (Except, weirdly, the snake?? Do snakes have free will?) How “just” would it be to punish a murderer by “cursing his home” and making his wife, children and pets suffer?”

    He’s angry at those who worship other gods, not the actual idol or god. No, the animals didn’t sin, and the snake was Satan. I guess your last question would depend on many circumstances, but generally speaking it wouldn’t be very just for us to do that. But God would have the right to punish in whichever way he chooses.

    Wish I could go into further detail, but I gotta go. Keep the insults coming.

  115. #115 Michael Glenn
    November 5, 2007

    “God would have the right to punish in whichever way he chooses.”

    There y’all have Judeo-Christian-Islamic theology in a nutshell.

    No matter how heinous and hideous the acts of Jon S’s beloved entity, Jon S will approve. As a fundamentalist once put it, “God isn’t fair, just right.”

    What a sad, pointless world Jon S believes in . . .

  116. #116 Caliban
    November 5, 2007

    Jon, you really have nothing to offer here. At this point i think it should be painfully obvious that no one here is going to agree with anything you say. Why bother to keep posting? Do you think you can irritate us into the arms of Christ?

    Several posters here have gone out of their way to try to explain to you the most rudimentary basics of evolution and yet you continue with these embarrassingly ignorant posts.

    You don’t accept evolution. You know so much more than everyone else, especially all those arrogant scientists right? Great. Good for you. Your work here is done. Now don’t you think your time might be better spent in some other venue? Perhaps you could get working on winning the Nobel prize for your brilliant arguments against evilolution?

  117. #117 windy
    November 6, 2007

    No, the animals didn’t sin, and the snake was Satan.

    OK, so Satan was cursed to crawl in the dust and is vulnerable to being crushed by a man’s heel… makes perfect sense.

  118. #118 SLC
    November 6, 2007

    A bit off topic but attached is a link to a presentation by Richard Dawkins at the AAI 07 convention. It will, of course, be of no interest to Mr. Jon S who is contemptuous of Prof. Dawkins, a man of much accomplishment unlike himself, but it may be of interest to others.

    http://richarddawkins.net/article,1839,Richard-Dawkins-at-AAI-07,RichardDawkinsnet

    Re Jon S

    I notice that Mr. Jon S did not respond to my question posted yesterday. I will repeat it below.

    “Another question we might pose to Mr. Jon S is the following. What is his opinion as to what god had in mind in creating Neanderthals, Homo Heidelbergensis, Homo Erectus, Homo Ergaster, Homo Habilis, Australopithecus Afarensis, Australopithecus Africansis, Australopithecus Boisoi, Australopithecus Robustus, among other hominids? Was he perhaps experimenting, trying to find the right stuff? How come these creatures aren’t mentioned in the Hebrew bible? I guess they didn’t merit inclusion on the arc.”

  119. #119 thalarctos
    November 6, 2007

    Jon, first you wrote:

    My point has been that there’s nothing far-fetched about the Bible’s claim that all animals with the breath of life were vegetarian at one point and not carnivorous.

    Then you wrote:

    Genesis 1:29-31 doesn’t use the term ‘vegetarian’ or ‘carnivore’ because these are modern terms.

    So I take that to mean that you’re not going to address how “×—×™×”” (“chayah”) implies “carnivore”, after all, nor how your two assertions accordingly contradict each other.

    thalarctos: I can’t help you if you’re not willing to open your eyes and see the truth. Your ‘facts’ and intellect have blinded you.

    Your concern is touching, if misplaced. I’ve been in your situation, and then I got better. I am quite happy with the work I have done to get where I am, and I would never again settle for dropping into a group of people who actually know what they are talking about and demonstrating my own ignorance on so many topics so efficiently.

    It seems to be a mercy, however, that you have no corresponding sense of shame to embarrass you about it. Because I would be ashamed to my core to make such a spectacle of my own ignorance in the way you are doing. Fortunately (I suppose), you seem to have no such corresponding embarrassment.

    Now you can continue to boast in your own wisdom and pass insults

    I don’t see where I’ve insulted you–you said incorrect things about “vegetarian” bears, and I patiently provided counterexamples that demonstrated that you were wrong on the facts. You asserted that low back pain is not a problem in the developing world, and I provided citations that demonstrated, again, that you were wrong on the facts.

    I observed that you ought to have qualms about bearing false witness because of what it says in your book, and as you continued to demonstrate that you have no idea what you are talking about, I observed that you were clearly in over your head.

    Finally, in this post, I pointed out a direct contradiction from one of your posts to another, and the fact that you don’t know enough about Classical Hebrew to back up either assertion.

    So where, exactly, are the “insults” I’ve supposedly delivered to you?

    or we can attempt to have a real discussion.

    If you were interested in having a real discussion, you would accept the gift that you’ve been given of many people here patiently spending their time, effort, and expertise to explain some basic things on a variety of topics to you. That is what constitutes a real discussion, not making up easily-refuted untruths.

    Instead, you turn your back on that gift, and continue, without shame, to demonstrate that you neither know about any of the subjects you post about, nor are you interested in remedying that problem.

    Which is fine; you can remain as ignorant as you want. But if you’re going to try to persuade people to settle for the same counterfactual ignorance, you’re in the wrong place to find anyone who’d want to settle for that.

  120. #120 SLC
    November 6, 2007

    Re thalarctos

    My hat is off to Mr. thalarctos for his demonstration of infinite patience with Mr. Jon S. I see from his blog that he is in the education business, which I guess accounts for his ability to suffer fools, if not gladly, at least respectfully. I confess to being unable to suffer fools gladly and Mr. Jon S is a fool of monumental proportions.

  121. #121 thalarctos
    November 6, 2007

    Thank you, SLC; you’re very kind.

    Just one tiny detail to keep the record straight: I’m a she-thalarctos, rather than a he-thalarctos. But that’s a detail–much more important, your post *totally* made my day.

  122. #122 Jim
    November 6, 2007

    thalarctos-
    I concur with SLC; you, & others, have been more than fair with Jon S. I still say that it’s a wasted effort though. Fundys simply ignore what they can’t address. As I’m sure you’ve noticed Jon S only attempted to address points that whose meaning/logic could be twisted. If a point was made that he couldn’t possibly address, without giving up ground, he just ignored it … but he still came back to spew. This is typical for fundys as well because they “know” that they are right before they even consider the reasons.
    On a different note, I noticed from your blog that you’re in Seattle … I live just on the other side of the Cascades north of Yakima. So, “hello” neighbor.

  123. #123 SLC
    November 6, 2007

    Re Jim

    Mr. Jim is correct about Mr. Jon S. I had a back and forth with him on a thread on this blog several months ago arguing about the age of the earth (he is a YEC) and he merely regurgitates crap from Answers in Genesis. If a particular subject isn’t covered there or on similar web sites, he will ignore it as he has no ideas of his own.

  124. #124 Jon S
    November 6, 2007

    Michael Glenn says “No matter how heinous and hideous the acts of Jon S’s beloved entity, Jon S will approve. As a fundamentalist once put it, “God isn’t fair, just right.” What a sad, pointless world Jon S believes in”

    You’re partly right. God isn’t fair. But he is just, holy, and mighty. You’re wrong on the pointless part. Atheism is pointless, while a reality with God in heaven is what life is all about.

    Caliban says “Jon, you really have nothing to offer here. At this point i think it should be painfully obvious that no one here is going to agree with anything you say. Why bother to keep posting?… Several posters here have gone out of their way to try to explain to you the most rudimentary basics of evolution and yet you continue with these embarrassingly ignorant posts.”

    I’m actually having fun, so I’d hate to stop posting just because you profoundly disagree. It’s time consuming, but worth it. I enjoy a good argument. Hopefully someone will be open to the truth, although I’m not holding my breath. I’ve gone out of my way to share the truth when you or anyone else asks me a question. It’s funny to some degree, because I think you’re the one who’s ignorant. I’ve listened to your arguments, but for some reason you can’t see the holes when I point them out.

    SLC says “Another question we might pose to Mr. Jon S is the following. What is his opinion as to what god had in mind in creating Neanderthals, Homo Heidelbergensis, Homo Erectus, Homo Ergaster, Homo Habilis, Australopithecus Afarensis, Australopithecus Africansis, Australopithecus Boisoi, Australopithecus Robustus, among other hominids? Was he perhaps experimenting, trying to find the right stuff? How come these creatures aren’t mentioned in the Hebrew bible? I guess they didn’t merit inclusion on the arc.”

    Sorry dude, wish I could respond point by point to everyone’s questions, insults, and comments, but there’s only so much time in a day. I’ll answer your question the best I can, but the question you pose is steeped in evolutionary assumptions. Firstly, I don’t know the mind of God, but I can read the Bible, which says God made man in his image on day 6, which is the same day he made land animals. Adam and Eve were the first humans, so all humans are descended from them, including what we label Neanderthals. These people were just as human as you and I, and the more we learn about them the more we shed the label they have for being brutish apes. Oh, and SLC, if you don’t like me regurgitating stuff from YEC resources, then please stop regurgitating stuff from your evolutionist resources, and try to come up with your own ideas.

    thalarctos says “So I take that to mean that you’re not going to address how “×—×™×”” (“chayah”) implies “carnivore”, after all, nor how your two assertions accordingly contradict each other.”

    I Googled chayah, and came up with the following translated words. Which one of these implies “carnivore”? alive, alive should not live, animals, appetite, beast, beasts, came to life, come alive, come to life, creature, creatures, give life, gives me life, healed, keep, keep alive, keep him alive, keep his alive, keep the alive, keep them alive, keep you alive, keep…alive, kept alive, kept me alive, leave, leave alive, life, live, lived, lives, living beings, living thing, make alive, makes alive, nourished, preserve, preserve his life, preserve…alive, preserves the lives, raise, recover, recovered, recovery, remained alive, repaired, restored to life, revive, revived, save, save his life, saved, saved our lives, saving, spare, spared, stay alive, surely live, surely recover, survival, survive, survived, wild animals, wild beast, wild beasts.

    Of course I’m not fluent in Hebrew or Greek, so I’d certainly have to look up such words, but they can be found readily if you’re genuinely interested. I can even consult some friends if you’re seriously interested in questions relating to Biblical text. You also asked where your insults were. I guess your insults are tamer than most, but you said facts are no object to me and you accused me of lying. Both are untrue. I’ve been completely honest, and I disagree with your interpretation of the facts. I don’t have a problem admitting when I’m wrong, and I have already. Several people pointed out that natural selection is not random when I corrected someone for mentioning that evolution is not random. So I consider myself educated and now have a better understanding of what you believe, which will in turn help me better argue with other atheists and evolutionists who are genuinely interested in answers.

    thalarctos says “It seems to be a mercy, however, that you have no corresponding sense of shame to embarrass you about it. Because I would be ashamed to my core to make such a spectacle of my own ignorance in the way you are doing. Fortunately (I suppose), you seem to have no such corresponding embarrassment.”

    I’ve nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. I know with confidence that the Bible is the word of God and is authoritative on all things, and I know evolution is hogwash. The truth is nothing to be ashamed of.

    Thank

  125. #125 Leni
    November 6, 2007

    I just want to echo SLC about thalarctos’ posts. But David’s and others’ posts were also enjoyable to read. Oh and Jason’s of course :D

    Ultimately, it’s ok with me if Jon S doesn’t get it. It’s still informative and interesting for me, and I’m sure many others.

    Too bad we can’t coordinate our efforts and only ask one question or address one point at a time. Ha! Imagine how much shorter the threads would be!

  126. #126 Tyler DiPietro
    November 6, 2007

    Shorter Jon S to SLC: Take your archeological data and shove it in the other end, I gotz me the BIBLE!

  127. #127 Michael Glenn
    November 6, 2007

    “God isn’t fair. But he is just, holy, and mighty.”

    No, not just (which would mean fair, equitable, or morally upright or good). An entity who sets his children up for a fall and then punishes them terribly when they do is by no stretch of the imagination just. Vicious, maybe, along with holy, if by holy monstrous is meant, and mighty, if by mighty committing the worst outrages imaginable is meant.

    Jon S lives in a tiny world barely ten thousand years old, apparently created for the purpose of condemning the majority of the human race to an eternal gulag. Again, what could be more sad and pointless than that?

    Well, one thing, perhaps . . .

    “A reality with God in heaven is what life is all about.”

    No humane, compassionate person would want to spend an eternity with a monster.

    That would indeed be beyond sad and beyond pointless . . .

  128. #128 Caliban
    November 7, 2007

    Jon’s world: “You are born worthless and will be tortured for all eternity unless you bow down and lick the boots of an imagined, celestial dictator.”

    Reality: We don’t know eveything there is to know, and that’s the adventure of it. Each peice of knowledge we acquire, no matter how small, is a gift to humanity. We are not worthless, sinfull, or mere objects to be cast aside for torture at the whim of some demon. Thank goodness i’m not a Christian. If Jon’s insane babbling has a benefit, it is that it reminds us how fortunate we are not to be him.

  129. #129 Leni
    November 7, 2007

    Jon S to Caliban:

    I’m actually having fun, so I’d hate to stop posting just because you profoundly disagree. It’s time consuming, but worth it. I enjoy a good argument.

    He didn’t ask you to stop because he disagreed. He suggested you stop embarrassing yourself.

    I’ve gone out of my way to share the truth when you or anyone else asks me a question.

    No you haven’t. You said that you had the same evidence we did (“..actually have the same evidence you do, such as fossils,rocks, gravity, chemistry, etc, so we do have mountains of evidence to support the events of the Bible and a young earth.)

    And then failed to provide any.

    That’s going out of your way to provide nothing, not going out of your way to provide the truth.

  130. #130 thalarctos
    November 7, 2007

    I’m actually having fun

    It’s a small mercy that you’re unable to feel the embarrassment most people would feel about such a world-wide display of determined ignorance.

    I enjoy a good argument.

    No, you enjoy hectoring people, and making up untruths to retrofit a pre-determined conclusion. It’s sad that you can’t see those distinctions.

    I Googled chayah, and came up with the following translated words. Which one of these implies “carnivore”?

    See, that’s what you don’t get. *You* made the positive claim about what the bible says; that means *you* have to back it up. And backing it up means mustering facts and evidence in an organized way; not just a half-assed Google search after the fact, the implications of which you don’t even understand.

    Same with bears, paleontology, and the developing world. You make up “facts” and fling them at the wall in the hope something will stick. Then, when your untruth is pointed out, you tap-dance away, rather than admitting that your premise–and the conclusions you’ve based upon that premise–have been shown to be in error.

    It simply does not work that way.

    Of course I’m not fluent in Hebrew or Greek

    Most people for whom that is true would therefore refrain from making grandiose public claims about understanding what the bible says.

    You also asked where your insults were. I guess your insults are tamer than most

    Again, please show me any insult I’ve made.

    but you said facts are no object to me and you accused me of lying. Both are untrue. I’ve been completely honest, and I disagree with your interpretation of the facts.

    You hold on doggedly to demonstrated untruths no matter how many people patiently explain basic material to you in order to show that it cannot be true.

    By my definition, that is lying, and I am not insulting you; I am simply stating a fact.

    I know with confidence that the Bible is the word of God and is authoritative on all things, and I know evolution is hogwash.

    So it is a waste of time to try to present evidence to you, because you’ve already made up your mind. That’s fine; I won’t try anymore. If you’re ever interested in a serious discussion–as opposed to your simply hectoring us with demonstrated untruths–you can always try again then.

    The truth is nothing to be ashamed of.

    No, I am not saying that the truth is anything to be ashamed of. I am saying your public determination not to admit any facts that don’t fit your pre-determined conclusion would be embarrassing, if you had any sense of shame, which you clearly do not. Again, you fail to understand a basic distinction.

    Have a nice life, Jon.

  131. #131 thalarctos
    November 7, 2007

    Ultimately, it’s ok with me if Jon S doesn’t get it. It’s still informative and interesting for me, and I’m sure many others.

    I totally agree! Whenever someone bring specific knowledge in archaeology, paleontology, or physical anthropology (just to name a few areas in which I’m not educated), I always learn something.

    Even if Jon doesn’t (or can’t) appreciate the various domain expertise that people are being generous enough to share here, I certainly do.

  132. #132 SLC
    November 7, 2007

    Re Jon S

    1. Mr. Jon S claims that Neanderthals descended from Adam and Eve. The readers of this blog will notice that he studiously refrained from commenting on the other hominids I listed. Did Homo Erectus also descend from Adam and Eve? How about Australopithecus Afarensis?

    2. You know, given Mr. Jon S’ admission that he’s having fun, I’m beginning to suspect that he may be pulling our chains. It’s pretty hard to believe that a grown man could be as stupid as he appears to be.

  133. #133 Dyticum
    November 7, 2007

    I too have come to the conclusion that the protracted idiocy of JonS must be at least in part by design. Perhaps he sees it as a way of keeping his enemies from doing productive things like advancing science (science has not been kind to his “mighty” friend). Hey, it works – I am a scientist and here I am wasting my time on him! Maybe the YECs have decided that if science cannot be stopped it can at least be slowed somewhat through the uninterrupted emission of nonsense. Diabolical! (reference to fallen angel deliberate)

  134. #134 Jon S
    November 7, 2007

    Michael Glenn says “An entity who sets his children up for a fall and then punishes them terribly when they do is by no stretch of the imagination just. Vicious, maybe, along with holy, if by holy monstrous is meant, and mighty, if by mighty committing the worst outrages imaginable is meant… No humane, compassionate person would want to spend an eternity with a monster.”

    It’s a shame you view God with such contempt and scorn. Satan is the real monster. If you don’t want to spend eternity with a monster, then you need to get your heart right with God. An eternity without God is something to be concerned about.

    Caliban says “We are not worthless, sinfull, or mere objects to be cast aside for torture at the whim of some demon. Thank goodness i’m not a Christian. If Jon’s insane babbling has a benefit, it is that it reminds us how fortunate we are not to be him.”

    All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and it is through faith in Christ that we are saved. There are no demons in heaven, but there are in hell.

    Leni said “You said that you had the same evidence we did… And then failed to provide any.”

    You want evidence for a young earth? The existence of comets, lunar recession, the amount of helium in our atmosphere, radiohalos, the latest australopithecine fossils, just to name a few. I’m quite aware evolutionists have their own counter arguments, so we can go back and forth over who’s evidence is better. It never seems to go anywhere, but we can discuss those if you’re interested.

    thalarctos says “It’s a small mercy that you’re unable to feel the embarrassment most people would feel about such a world-wide display of determined ignorance.”

    Perhaps you’d like to discuss your own ignorance? You seem to be very high on yourself. I’ve been patient and answered everyone’s questions politely, honestly, and to the best I’m able, but you like to keep up the condescending attitude, which is fine, I suppose, but not very constructive. You reject God and scripture and act as if you are the authority on all areas of science. But the fact is that you’re wrong about evolution. Neither you, nor anyone else has been able to demonstrate where this has been observed using the scientific method. Evolution can’t be proven with the scientific method because it’s has nothing to do with today or reality. All examples provided, such as gene transfer or the loss of genetic information, doesn’t prove evolution. No one has ever observed gene transfer, mutations, or natural selection producing a new organism or an existing organism with completely novel features (such as a pig with feathers, scales, or gills). Just-so stories to explain evolution doesn’t cut it. What has all the testing on bacteria or fruit flies produced besides bacteria and fruit flies? Do you hold doggedly to demonstrated untruths, such as bacterial resistance? If so, this is a lie. You’ve already made up your mind. That’s fine; I won’t try anymore. If you’re ever interested in a serious discussion–as opposed to your simply hectoring us with demonstrated untruths–you can always try again then. Your public determination not to admit any facts that don’t fit your pre-determined conclusion should be embarrassing. Now, having said all that (all said in good humor), I do appreciate the patience and expertise you and everyone else has offered, however I just happen to think you’re all badly mistaken.

    SLC says “Mr. Jon S claims that Neanderthals descended from Adam and Eve. The readers of this blog will notice that he studiously refrained from commenting on the other hominids I listed. Did Homo Erectus also descend from Adam and Eve? How about Australopithecus Afarensis?”

    Another trick question from SLC? I did answer your question, but perhaps you missed it, so I’ll repeat myself. All humans are descended from Adam and Eve. There is no evolution, so Australopithecus Afarensis couldn’t be a descendant of ours. In fact no apes or ape-like creatures are in our ancestry.

  135. #135 SLC
    November 8, 2007

    Re Jon S

    1. How about Home Erectus? With an 1100 cc brain case, this animal was clearly not apelike (apes have 450 cc brain cases). Was Homo Erectus descended from Adam and Eve? By the way, Mr. Jon S failed to explain why Australopithecus Afarensis wasn’t on the arc, not to mention Homo Erectus. How come none of the smaller dinosaurs, like velociraptors and troodons were on the arc? These dinosaurs were about the size of human beings so the argument that they were too large to fit doesn’t wash.

    2. Since Mr. Jon S is an evolution denier, what is his opinion about the relationship between HIV and AIDS and global climate change?

  136. #136 Leni
    November 8, 2007

    Jon S wrote:

    Leni said “You said that you had the same evidence we did… And then failed to provide any.”

    You want evidence for a young earth? The existence of comets, lunar recession, the amount of helium in our atmosphere, radiohalos, the latest australopithecine fossils, just to name a few.

    This isn’t evidence or explanation. It’s a string of nonsensical, unsubstantiated claims. I’m not going to do your homework for you. If you have a point, make it. if you have evidence, present it. Don’t crap all over the floor and expect us to clean it up for you. We aren’t your wife.

    In other words, if you want “the other side” to listen to you, you should consider providing some evidence or at the very least explaining your position in a clear and sensible way.

    …so we can go back and forth over who’s evidence is better. It never seems to go anywhere, but we can discuss those if you’re interested.

    Back and forth? You never provided any actual evidence, Jon, remember?. You couldn’t even come up with a coherent definition for evolution! How can there be back and forth of evidence when only one side actually has any evidence?

    There’s no back and forth, and there won’t be until you do your part. If all you’re willing to do is read your bible, then the conversation was over before it even started. No, I’m not going to do your homework for you.

    If you have any sensible information about the topics you mentioned, then just provide it. Don’t give me some bullshit line about how we can talk about it while we’re talking about it, but then not say a thing about it.

  137. #137 Michael Glenn
    November 9, 2007

    According to Jon S (just a couple of comments above, if anyone is still interested at this point), “It’s a shame you view God with such contempt and scorn. Satan is the real monster. If you don’t want to spend eternity with a monster, then you need to get your heart right with God. An eternity without God is something to be concerned about.”

    There’s no contempt in stating the obvious. Pointing out that the behavior of Jon S’s entity is monstrous is no more contemptuous than pointing out that Hitler was a tyrant or Ted Bundy a serial killer.

    Perhaps Satan drives the Jealous God to such behavior?

    When you believe what Jon S does, it’s best to work out whether you’re on the “right” path for spending eternity with this entity. For all Protestants know, it may save the most agonizing spot in its eternal gulag for non-Catholics. For all Christians know, it may save the worst place for non-Muslims. Even if Jon S were somehow correct, the chances of his being on the “right” path would be virtually nil.

    Luckily, an eternity with or without the Jealous God is something Jon S needn’t be the least bit concerned about–if only he knew it.

  138. #138 John M
    November 10, 2007

    Re: The ‘vegetarian’ lion.
    This lion, ‘Little Tyke’, is lauded on several creationist and vegetarian websites (all of them use virtually identical text and the story seems to be more apocryphal than real) which all state that it was fed on a diet of cooked grains, eggs and milk.
    Eggs and milk are not vegetables (neither are grains for that matter but I think Jon S should be using the term ‘herbivore’ rather than ‘vegetarian’ which is usually used to refer to humans) and are made of the same biological building blocks as any meat ‘on the hoof’ so to speak i.e. protein, fat, enzymes, amino acids, vitamins and minerals.

    I can’t imagine a biblical lion striking up a fire to cook its grains (not that grains as we know them are available on the African savannah), milking a passing wildebeeste and cracking a few ostrich eggs perhaps (avian foetuscide in The Garden of Eden?) and still be considered a herbivore.

    Re: The ‘vegetarian’ whale shark.
    Whale sharks primarily feed on plankton which, to quote any dictionary, “is made up of animals and plants that either float passively in the water or….”. Note: Animals!

    Talk about bearing false witness.

  139. #139 386sx
    November 10, 2007

    It’s a shame you view God with such contempt and scorn. Satan is the real monster.

    Yeah, what was it that made you say that Little Tyke and whale sharks are vegetarians. I guess google.com must be the tool of satan or something…

  140. #140 John M
    November 10, 2007

    Dear 386sx
    Perhaps I did not make my point entirely clear here as I presumed that everyone had read the previous posts although the relevant ones were rather far up the page.

    It wasn’t me who claimed that these creatures were vegetarians and I certainly made no mention of my view of God in my comments.

    There have been several prior posts where Mr. Jon S has proposed a supposed known example of a vegetarian lion as proof, or at least evidence of the possibility, that animals which are currently exclusively carnivores were or could have been, as he terms it, ‘vegetarians’ prior to ‘the original sin’.

    In further support of his theory he also proposed that whale sharks are also ‘vegetarians’ because they eat only plankton therefore those who ridiculed the possibility of vegetarian great white sharks in subsequent responses must be wrong.

    My comments simply noted the fact that the diets of both creatures in question, the lion ‘Little Tyke’ in particular and the whale shark in general, were not and are not ‘vegetarian’ and I never at any time mentioned God, contempt, scorn, tools of Satan or monsters.

    I simply believe that proponents of either point of view on this blog, evolutionist or creationist, are obligated to ensure that any ‘evidence’ that they present in support of their argument should at least stand up to the most rudimentary examination and investigation.

    I also fail to understand why you would think that Google.com is ‘a tool of Satan’ since it is nothing more than a modern equivalent of an index card system in a global reference library.
    It may be worth noting that three of the first five websites returned by the ‘tool of Satan’ in a search entry for “vegetarian lion” belonged to religious organisations i.e. answeringenesis.org, all-creatures.org and godsdirectcontact.org.
    Free publicity for the opposition?

  141. #141 Leni
    November 10, 2007

    I think 386sx was responding sarcastically to a comment made by Jon S a few posts up.

  142. #142 JohnM
    November 10, 2007

    Leni.
    You are correct. My apologies to 386sx.

  143. #143 386sx
    November 11, 2007

    You are correct. My apologies to 386sx.

    No problem. My fault. :) You have a good day.

  144. #144 Jon S
    November 13, 2007

    Sorry for the delay. Had work to do.

    SLC says “1. How about Home Erectus? With an 1100 cc brain case, this animal was clearly not apelike (apes have 450 cc brain cases). Was Homo Erectus descended from Adam and Eve?

    There’s nothing in erectus specimens which is outside the range of human variation. They are likely to have been just another type of human descended from Adam and Eve.

    SLC says “By the way, Mr. Jon S failed to explain why Australopithecus Afarensis wasn’t on the arc, not to mention Homo Erectus. How come none of the smaller dinosaurs, like velociraptors and troodons were on the arc? These dinosaurs were about the size of human beings so the argument that they were too large to fit doesn’t wash.”

    We don’t know exactly what animals were on the ark, but we do know that the original animal kinds were represented. It’s possible one ape-like creature represented the ape kind. This would mean the apes we see today are descended from the original apes that were on the ark. Since we don’t have a precise account of each animal on the ark we can only take an educated guess based on the biblical passages we do have. As for velociraptors, it’s your assumption that they weren’t on the ark. They may very well have been, although we can’t say definitively one way or another. All we know is that at least one kind of raptor was represented. It could have been a velociraptor, deinonychus, dromaeosaur, or another kind.

    SLC says “Since Mr. Jon S is an evolution denier, what is his opinion about the relationship between HIV and AIDS and global climate change?”

    I don’t have an opinion yet. But since you are a Bible denier, how about you tell me your opinion, and then I’ll respond.

    Leni says “If you have a point, make it. if you have evidence, present it… If you have any sensible information about the topics you mentioned, then just provide it.”

    I’ll provide a brief summary. The existence of comets: given the observed rate of loss and maximum periods, comets could not have been orbiting the sun for the alleged billions of years. The only solution for evolutionists is hypothetical sources to replenish the supply of comets, such as the Oort Cloud or Kuiper Belt.

    Lunar recession: the moon The moon moves about an inch and a half further away from the earth every year due to tidal interaction. Thus, the moon would have been closer to the earth in the past. Six thousand years ago, the moon would have been about 800 feet closer to the earth. But if the earth and moon were over four billion years old, then we would have big problems. The moon would have been so close that it would actually have been touching the earth less than 1.5 billion years ago.

    The amount of helium in our atmosphere:The rate at which helium is entering the atmosphere from radioactive decay is known fairly well, as is the rate at which helium is presently escaping from the atmosphere into interplanetary space. Since the rate of loss is less than the rate at which helium is entering the atmosphere, the evidence indicates a young age for the earth.

    The latest australopithecine fossils are looking less human-like and more ape-like than what was previously thought.

    I’m familiar with some of the evolutionist rebuttals, so, as I said, we can go back and forth on how we interpret the evidence. You’ll only accept evidence that conforms to your point of view; creationists do the same. Are you willing to admit your own biases?

    Michael Glenn says “There’s no contempt in stating the obvious. Pointing out that the behavior of Jon S’s entity is monstrous is no more contemptuous than pointing out that Hitler was a tyrant or Ted Bundy a serial killer.”

    Jesus cannot be compared with Hitler or Ted Bundy, and he is by no means monstrous. If you want to see a monster, see how Jesus dealt with Satan in the desert (Matthew 4:1).

  145. #145 SLC
    November 13, 2007

    Re Jon S

    1. Mr. Jon S erroneously claims that the brain case size of Home Erectus is not outside that of Homo Sapians. Mr. Jon S is full of crap. Home Sapian males range from 1200 to 1900 cc putting the 1100 cc brain case of male Homo Erectus outside that of the human range.

    2. The animals that were on the arc are enumerated in the chapter on Noah. Is Mr. Jon S now claiming that the biblical account, the revealed word of god is incomplete? There is no mention of any animal resembling Australopithecus Afarensis, Velociraptor, or Troodon. Therefore, they were not on the arc or they would have been mentioned. Or is Mr. Jon S no longer a biblical literalist?

    3. What is the source of Mr. Jon S’ claim that new Australopithecus Aferensis fossils are looking more apelike? Again, Mr. Jon S is full of crap. He is obviously referring to other species, probably Australopithecus Amenesis which were, in fact, more apelike then Afarensis. There is no question that Afarensis was a bipedal animal, unlike apes which knuckle walk on their front limbs.

    4. Mr. Jon S’ comment on the recession of the moon assumes that the recession rate is constant. There is no basis for such an assumption. As a matter of fact, the recession of the moon is due to its tidal force on the earth, which is a function of the friction of the ocean tides against the land mases. Since the land masses of the earth were originally in one piece on a supercontinent called pangaea, the tidal friction was less then now so that the recession rate was slower. Or does Mr. Jon S also reject the continental drift theory of the tectonic plates?

    All of Mr. Jon S’ bullshit has been totally discredited numerous times. I would refer interested readers to the Talk Origins and Talk Design web sites.

  146. #146 Michael Glenn
    November 13, 2007

    “Jesus cannot be compared with Hitler or Ted Bundy, and he is by no means monstrous.”

    Jon S., Your Jesus is the Jealous God, who throws human beings into an eternal gulag simply for what they believe (or don’t believe). That’s monstrous, and Matthew 4 doesn’t change a thing.

    But wait! Allah throws Christians into the eternal gulag for what they believe. How monstrous! What will you do now, Jon S.?

    Fortunately, there’s no reason to believe in either the Muslim gulag or the Christian gulag, so you’re safe.

    We’re all safe.

    A number of good people here are trying to reacquaint you with reality, Jon S.

    It won’t hurt you to stop posting non sequiturs and listen . . .

  147. #147 386sx
    November 14, 2007

    If you want to see a monster, see how Jesus dealt with Satan in the desert (Matthew 4:1).

    Yeah I’m sure Satan is still hurting from that. That poor Satan has to spend an eternity being in charge of running hell. That poor guy. Lol.

    Matthew 4:11 “Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.”

    OMG Jesus really dealt very severely with the monster Satan there. OMG!!!

  148. #148 MartinM
    November 14, 2007

    The moon moves about an inch and a half further away from the earth every year due to tidal interaction. Thus, the moon would have been closer to the earth in the past. Six thousand years ago, the moon would have been about 800 feet closer to the earth. But if the earth and moon were over four billion years old, then we would have big problems. The moon would have been so close that it would actually have been touching the earth less than 1.5 billion years ago.

    The distance to the moon is around 15 billion inches. You’re off by an order of magnitude.

    The rate at which helium is entering the atmosphere from radioactive decay is known fairly well, as is the rate at which helium is presently escaping from the atmosphere into interplanetary space. Since the rate of loss is less than the rate at which helium is entering the atmosphere, the evidence indicates a young age for the earth.

    You haven’t even made a case here. You’ve argued that helium should accumulate in the atmosphere, but you haven’t told us how much there is now, and how much we would expect after billions of years of accumulation. You need both figures to draw any conclusions.

  149. #149 SLC
    November 14, 2007

    Re Jon S

    1. Mr. Jon S, in declining to comment on the issues of global climate change and HIV/AIDS refers to me as a bible denier. That puts me in pretty good company that includes devout Roman Catholics Ken Miller and Francisco Ayala and devout Evangelical Protestant Francis Collins, all of whom reject a literal interpretation of the Hebrew and Christian bibles. I assume that Mr. Jon S includes them in the panoply of bible deniers.

    2. Joshua of Nazareths’ putative father, Yahweh, is “arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

  150. #150 386sx
    November 14, 2007

    You haven’t even made a case here. You’ve argued that helium should accumulate in the atmosphere, but you haven’t told us how much there is now, and how much we would expect after billions of years of accumulation. You need both figures to draw any conclusions.

    Exactly. He keeps saying things that nobody can ckeck for themselves. We’re just supposed to take his word for it. Especially with the proclamations about the God stuff. How is anybody supposed to know he’s right?

    And then we get sent to hell for not believing something that nobody can check, especially when that “something” could make it real easy if it wanted to? And that’s supposed to not be a monster? Come on, at least admit that it sounds like a monster!

  151. #151 Jon S
    November 15, 2007

    To keep from being too long winded I’ll split my post.

    SLC says “Mr. Jon S erroneously claims that the brain case size of Home Erectus is not outside that of Homo Sapians. Mr. Jon S is full of crap. Home Sapian males range from 1200 to 1900 cc putting the 1100 cc brain case of male Homo Erectus outside that of the human range.”

    The average erectus size is different from the average sapiens size, but in fact the average erectus is still within the range of sapiens variation. Milford Wolpoff of the University of Michigan and others believe that the individuals whose bones have been labeled erectus were the evolutionary ancestors of modern people (as were Neandertals, in their view). But they seem to believe that the similarities are such that all Homo erectus specimens, along with Homo neanderthalensis and others, should really be called Homo Sapiens, which means, in a nutshell, people. SLC, the evidence you presented for brain case size does not contradict biblical or creationist claims. Creationists have long called attention to the fact that there are modern humans with small brains who are nevertheless of normal intelligence and of full humanity. Evolutionists are also belatedly recognizing the limitations of neuro-anatomical features. The modern human range is about 800- 2000cc. A reported measurement for a modern Wedda pygmy from Sri Lanka was 830 cc. According to Lubenow, the entire ECV range of known erectus forms runs from 700cc for a Javan infant to 1200cc, the largest Peking skull. The capacity of the Vertesszllos fragment from Hungary and dated at about 350,000ya, is estimated at about 1400cc, which is high for an erectus specimen.

    SLC says “The animals that were on the arc are enumerated in the chapter on Noah. Is Mr. Jon S now claiming that the biblical account, the revealed word of god is incomplete? There is no mention of any animal resembling Australopithecus Afarensis, Velociraptor, or Troodon. Therefore, they were not on the arc or they would have been mentioned. Or is Mr. Jon S no longer a biblical literalist?”

    The Bible says Noah was ordered to bring two of all living creatures, male and female, two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground. He was specifically ordered to take seven of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and two of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, and also seven of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth. SLC, I fail to follow your logic. The Bible doesn’t mention any animals by name, or give a detailed description of the animals. The Bible is not incomplete; it says exactly what God intended. So of course there’s no mention of an ape-like creature, australopithecines, triceratops, goat, ox, zebra, or aligator. But we do know that the australopithecine kind was represented from the biblical text, as well as velociraptors. And to answer your last question, I take the Bible literally where it’s meant to be taken literally.

    SLC asks “What is the source of Mr. Jon S’ claim that new Australopithecus Aferensis fossils are looking more apelike? Again, Mr. Jon S is full of crap. He is obviously referring to other species, probably Australopithecus Amenesis which were, in fact, more apelike then Afarensis. There is no question that Afarensis was a bipedal animal, unlike apes which knuckle walk on their front limbs.”

    The almost complete skeleton of a Australopithecus afarensis (Selam). There are six features of the fossil that are very different from humans and more like apes and gorillas. The hyoid bone is most similar to that of juvenile African apes, and unlike that of modern humans. The shape of the scapula resembles the scapulae of juvenile and adult gorillas, suggesting that this animal spent much time in the trees. The bones of the only complete finger of this fossil are curved like those of a chimpanzee. The CT images of the inner ear of this fossil show that its semicircular canals were similar to those of the chimpanzee. All other primates, living and fossil, including Australopithecus afarensis lack the proper canal and bony labyrinth morphology for proper bipedal locomotion. There are other reports that indicate afarensis was a knuckle walker, and not bipedal. Therefore there are serious questions about afarensis being bipedal.

  152. #152 Jon S
    November 15, 2007

    SLC says “Mr. Jon S’ comment on the recession of the moon assumes that the recession rate is constant. There is no basis for such an assumption. As a matter of fact, the recession of the moon is due to its tidal force on the earth, which is a function of the friction of the ocean tides against the land mases. Since the land masses of the earth were originally in one piece on a supercontinent called pangaea, the tidal friction was less then now so that the recession rate was slower. Or does Mr. Jon S also reject the continental drift theory of the tectonic plates?”

    The recession of the moon is not constant over time. It would have been faster in the past. The further the moon moves away from the earth the more constant its recession seems to become. You simply assumed I thought the recession rate was constant. The moon is actually pulling the oceans away from the earth toward itself and causes the earth to bulge. At the same time there is a bulge produced on the opposite side of the earth where the earth is being pulled away from the oceans. Since the earth rotates faster than the moon orbits, the tidal bulge stays slightly ahead of the moon. With the earth bulging, the moon is ‘pulled’ by the point of gravity, produced by the bulge, since it is closer to it than the point of gravity at the opposite side of the earth. Since the moon is constantly being pulled it is constantly accelerating. Even though the earth’s gravity is acting as a centripetal force to keep the moon in an orbital path, the acceleration of the moon caused by the tidal bulge is increasing its angular momentum, therefore moving it outward. And yes, I do believe in continental drift and plate tectonics; creationsists have published many articles dealing with these subjects and how they relate to a global flood.

    SLC says “All of Mr. Jon S’ bullshit has been totally discredited numerous times. I would refer interested readers to the Talk Origins and Talk Design web sites.”

    Please refrain from abusive language. This is a family website. As I previously predicted we can go back and forth on how evidence is interpreted. You’ll only accept evidence that conforms to your evolutionist paradigm and reject any counter evidence. As I mentioned I’m familiar with some of the evolutionist rebuttals, and they’ve been rebutted by creationists, and so it goes back and forth, neither side willing to concede, both believing they’re right, which is why I’ve been reluctant to go into all this. I disagree with you, and you disagree with me, and we don’t really get anywhere, do we? But at least I admit my biases, while you probably deny you have any evolutionary biases??? Are you willing to admit your own biases?

    Michael Glenn says “Your Jesus is the Jealous God, who throws human beings into an eternal gulag simply for what they believe (or don’t believe). That’s monstrous, and Matthew 4 doesn’t change a thing.”

    My Jesus also allowed himself to be crucified on the cross for our salvation when he could have wiped us out. Now, instead of accepting that free gift of salvation, many humans shake their fist at him, hurl insults, and defy him, but that most certainly won’t help in the long run. If you really think God is a monster, then it might benefit you to get on his good side instead of setting yourself up as his enemy, for that won’t help either. Fortunately, Jesus is a loving, humble, and merciful God who freely gives the gift of salvation to all who put their faith and trust in him for the forgiveness of their sins.

    Michale Glenn says “But wait! Allah throws Christians into the eternal gulag for what they believe. How monstrous! What will you do now, Jon S.?”

    I’m already saved by the one and only God who created the heavens and earth, and I worship no other gods.

    Michael Glenn says “Fortunately, there’s no reason to believe in either the Muslim gulag or the Christian gulag, so you’re safe. We’re all safe.”

    Someday we’ll all find out for sure. Are you prepared?

    386 says “Yeah I’m sure Satan is still hurting from that. That poor Satan has to spend an eternity being in charge of running hell. That poor guy. Lol… Matthew 4:11 “Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.” OMG Jesus really dealt very severely with the monster Satan there. OMG!!!”

    You miss the point. Jesus confronted a real monster. If Jesus is the monster, however, don’t you think he would have behaved differently, perhaps even act like a monster and do something monstrous? No, Jesus rebuked Satan allowed him to leave. I was simply trying to illustrate that Jesus isn’t the monster that many atheists try to construct.

  153. #153 Michael Glenn
    November 15, 2007

    “My Jesus also allowed himself to be crucified on the cross for our salvation when he could have wiped us out.”

    Wiped us out why? Because the entity of which your Jesus is a part set up the alleged first humans for a fall and then punished them terribly when they did. And their descendents for all time.

    But elected to save a few by carrying out a cosmic blood sacrifice.

    To say so is not fist-shaking, insulting, or defiance. It is simply stating the obvious. Hitler was a tyrant, Bundy a serial killer, and your entity, Jon S., a monster.

    Alas, I think your faith has corrupted both your common sense and your moral sense. Who but the morally dead would want to get on the “good side” of a monster?

    “I’m already saved by the one and only God who created the heavens and earth, and I worship no other gods.”

    Muslims also are “already saved by the one and only God who created the heavens and earth,” and “worship no other gods.” According to their faith, Jon S., you are condemned as a descendent of Adam and Eve who follows false beliefs. An infidel.

    “Someday we’ll all find out for sure. Are you prepared?”

    Are you prepared to meet Allah?

    For myself, absolutely. I have already pointed out that no humane, compassionate person would want to spend an eternity with a monster. And nobody will have to, because there is no such monster. There is no Allah-monster. There is no Trinity-monster. There is no Yahweh-monster. The universe and all within it were not created in order to condemn the majority of the human race to an eternal gulag, for a failing the alleged creator arranged in the first place.

    And if somehow, after all, it were? Then give me the eternal gulag, for that’s where the truly good and compassionate and noble will be: Lao-Tse, the Buddha, Socrates, Shakespeare, Einstein, even possibly the historical Jesus, among numberless others.

    I’ve stayed out of the evolution side of this discussion (not that you’ve provided much in the way of real evidence or argument in any case, and why you want to stay in an itty-bitty universe barely ten thousand years old is beyond me). Your favor-currying with what would be a most monstrous entity (if it actually existed) is fascinating enough.

    You give more than substance to the idea of walking by faith not sight. ‘Tis a pity you won’t remove the blinders of your faith and behold the wonder right before your eyes.

  154. #154 Jon S
    November 15, 2007

    Michael Glenn says “Alas, I think your faith has corrupted both your common sense and your moral sense.”

    But there can’t be any ‘true’ morality or moral sense unless there’s a holy God who takes offense at sin. Without God any moral issues, right and wrong become purely subjective. On the contrary, my faith has given me victory over sin and death (although I’ll still be a sinner until I die).

    “There is no Allah-monster. There is no Trinity-monster. There is no Yahweh-monster. The universe and all within it were not created in order to condemn the majority of the human race to an eternal gulag, for a failing the alleged creator arranged in the first place.”

    I’ve studied Islam enough to know how it began, what it’s about, and who Allah is, and some of the Koran, and I’m quite certain that’s a false religion. There’s only one true God, the creator of heaven and earth, and he has revealed himself through scripture.

    “And if somehow, after all, it were? Then give me the eternal gulag, for that’s where the truly good and compassionate and noble will be.”

    I certainly hope you have a change of heart, because I don’t want to see anyone go to the eternal gulag. But you’re mistaken in several ways. Firstly, there are no truly good and compassionate people, except for Jesus alone, and he’s already seated at the right hand of God in heaven. Second, regardless of who’s in the eternal gulag, that’s where you don’t want to be. At least here on earth Satan does not have full reign, but in the gulag, where people are separated from God, Satan will have full reign. I don’t like talking about hell, but it’s a real place. I’d much rather talk about heaven and the eternal party that will be going on for those who put their hope in Christ.

    “and why you want to stay in an itty-bitty universe barely ten thousand years old is beyond me). Your favor-currying with what would be a most monstrous entity (if it actually existed) is fascinating enough.”

    Well, firstly, I don’t want to stay in an itty-bitty universe barely ten thousand years old, nor do I want to stay in a universe billions of years old. Although I’m happy with the life I have, I’m looking forward to an eternity in heaven. So the question becomes ‘why would you want to stay in an itty-bitty universe barely 13 billion years old’? Anyway, I prefer reality, even if you think it’s itty-bitty. I don’t care for a fantasy world of billions and billions of years.

    “You give more than substance to the idea of walking by faith not sight. ‘Tis a pity you won’t remove the blinders of your faith and behold the wonder right before your eyes.”

    Actually I’ve always seen atheists as the ones with blinders on and ears covered. As for me, I’ve never seen things more clearly than when I focus on Jesus.

  155. #155 Michael Glenn
    November 15, 2007

    Yes, Jon S., we all know you see yourself as a sinner, lacking goodness, lacking compassion. That you want to be on the “good side” of a monstrous entity demonstrates your lack of a moral compass.

    “I’ve studied Islam enough to know how it began, what it’s about, and who Allah is, and some of the Koran, and I’m quite certain that’s a false religion.”

    And Muslims are equally certain yours is a false religion. Your certainty signifies nothing.

    “I don’t want to see anyone go to the eternal gulag.”

    Of course you do. That’s why you believe it. There’s no reason to believe it. You believe it because you want to.

    I’ll take a brief time in even an itty-bitty universe over a barren eternity with a monstrous gulag-mongering entity that makes Hitler and Stalin look like pikers. That you would feel comfortable at the “party” knowing most human beings were being tortured forever says much about your moral quality.

    “I’ve never seen things more clearly than when I focus on Jesus. ”

    I’m certain you see nothing else.

  156. #156 386sx
    November 16, 2007

    “I don’t want to see anyone go to the eternal gulag.”

    So pray for Jesus to stop sending people to the eternal gulag. Maybe asking Jesus to stop sending people there is some kind of sin or something. How about this, ask Jesus to destroy Satan. Maybe that’s a sin too. Oh well!!

    If you don’t pray for Jesus to stop sending people to the eternal gulag then one can only assume that you do want to see people go to the eternal gulag.

  157. #157 Iain Walker
    November 16, 2007

    The recession of the moon is not constant over time. It would have been faster in the past. The further the moon moves away from the earth the more constant its recession seems to become.

    Not so. Up-to-date models that reflect the actual complexities of the earth-moon system (and it is not a simple system to model) predict that the rate of recession would have been less in the past. This is supported by the geological data – the periodicity of the tides in a given era can be calculated from tidally laminated sediments, and the rate of recession calculated from them. This provides strong evidence that the rate of recession has been increasing over time.

    For a summary, see:
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/moonrec.html

  158. #158 Iain Walker
    November 16, 2007

    But there can’t be any ‘true’ morality or moral sense unless there’s a holy God who takes offense at sin.

    Balderdash. A moral sense is just the kind of thing you’d expect in any cognitively complex social animal – a combination of social instincts and the internalisation of group norms. No deities required.

    The interesting thing about your obsession with sin is the way it subjugates human interests to the whim of a cosmic alpha male. Your idea of morality doesn’t seem to have anything to do with empathy, and everything to do with fitting into an imaginary dominance hierarchy. Well, that’s not untypical of complex social animals either. But please stop trying to pretend that it is the be-all and end-all of moral behaviour.

    Without God any moral issues, right and wrong become purely subjective.

    Actually, the existence of a deity doesn’t entail that morality isn’t subjective. It could just as well means that there’s one more moral agent making choices about moral values, but one which has one hell of a lot more clout to enforce its own subjective preferences.

  159. #159 SLC
    November 16, 2007

    Re Jon S

    1. Mr. Jon S quotes Milton Wolpoff as an authority. Prof. Wolpoff has been propagating the notion that modern humans evolved from Neanderthals for some 30 years and continues to do so, even though all his colleagues have abandoned that notion, based on evidence from molecular biology. Mr. Wolpoff no longer has much credibility in the scientific community, much like Peter Duesberg who continues to deny the relationship between HIV and AIDS, despite the overwhelming evidence in favor of that relationship which has been accumulating over the past 25 years. By the way, the question as to whether scientists consider Neanderthals to be a subspecies of Homo Sapians is quite controversial and is not currently widely accepted in the scientific community. Presumably, the current effort to decode Neanderthal DNA will settle the question. Mr. Jon S invokes a creationist named Lubenow, who claims that Homo Erectus was a subspecies of Homo Sapiens. This clown has been totally discredited as described on the Talk Origins web site. In particular, Lubenows’ claim that descendant species can’t overlap in time with the founder species is complete rubbish as it shows total ignorance of the theory of allopatric speciation.

    2. Mr. Jon S is obviously unaware of the notion of the encephalation index which is the ratio of the size of the brain case of a particular animal with the expected size of the brain case, based on other animals in the same class (e.g. the mean encephalation index of humans is 7.0 as compared with other mammals). Thus his citing of brain case sizes for pygmies is irrelevant as their body sizes are also much smaller then other humans. Homo Erectus, however, has an average body size somewhat larger then typical modern day humans so that their smaller brain cases lead to encephalation indexes well outside the human range.

    3. Mr. Jon S admonishes me to avoid abusive language. Mr. Jon S is hereby invited to stick his admonishments where the sun don’t shine.

    4. Mr. Jon S makes several statements referring to questions about Australopithecus Aferensis alleged non- bipedality. As usual when he makes such assertions, no reference is given. I suspect that this is just more crap from Answers in Genesis.

  160. #160 Jon S
    November 17, 2007

    Michael Glenn says “That you want to be on the “good side” of a monstrous entity demonstrates your lack of a moral compass.”

    That you think God is a monster demonstrates your lack of wisdom. I’ve chosen eternal life with a holy God who hates sin so much that there’s only one punishment that can atone for sin. Since Christ took the punishment for my sin, I no longer have to face God’s wrath. Jesus faced that for me, and all who put their faith in him. There’s no gift more valuable than the gift of eternal life, and that is what I’ve chosen. If you choose to reject that free gift (which is more precious than all the wealth or health in the world) then you can never claim that you weren’t given the opportunity.

    “And Muslims are equally certain yours is a false religion. Your certainty signifies nothing.”

    Are you certain of that? Can you be certain of anything? How can you know truth if nothing is certain? As for me, I rest in Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life.

    “That you would feel comfortable at the “party” knowing most human beings were being tortured forever says much about your moral quality.”

    Of course I don’t want to see anyone go to hell, even those who may deserve it. But that’s not up to me. I put my faith in God that he knows what’s best, and I take comfort in that. However, when I’m at the party, I’ll be restored with my family and friends that are saved, and I’ll be with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and that joy will outweigh any thoughts about hell. And I’ll know that people who really hate God and reject him will get their wish and be separated from him forever, so why should I be sad when you’re getting exactly what you requested?

    386 sx says “So pray for Jesus to stop sending people to the eternal gulag. Maybe asking Jesus to stop sending people there is some kind of sin or something… If you don’t pray for Jesus to stop sending people to the eternal gulag then one can only assume that you do want to see people go to the eternal gulag.”

    Actually I pray for the salvation of people I know and even those I don’t know all the time. My hope is that they’ll all come to Christ and spend eternity in heaven. But I also take comfort knowing that God is good and just, and that no one will be sent to hell unjustly.

    lain walker says “Up-to-date models that reflect the actual complexities of the earth-moon system (and it is not a simple system to model) predict that the rate of recession would have been less in the past.”

    The link you gave was last updated in December 1999. What up to date models are you referring to? Dr. Jason Lisle’s book “Taking Back Astronomy” was published in 2006.

    “A moral sense is just the kind of thing you’d expect in any cognitively complex social animal – a combination of social instincts and the internalisation of group norms. No deities required.”

    But you only expect it after the fact because it supports your belief in evolution. The fact remains that truth is subjective if there’s no God that you’re directly sinning against. You may think it’s wrong to beat someone up for their money, but a thief, in his mind, may believe he’s well justified. So who are you to think that your morality is any better? Are you superior to the thief, or are you God that you can decree right and wrong, or do you think if you get a majority of people to agree with you then you must be more right or moral than someone else? Balderdash!

    “The interesting thing about your obsession with sin is the way it subjugates human interests to the whim of a cosmic alpha male. Your idea of morality doesn’t seem to have anything to do with empathy, and everything to do with fitting into an imaginary dominance hierarchy… But please stop trying to pretend that it is the be-all and end-all of moral behaviour.

    I wouldn’t call it an obsession with sin. I just don’t want to see anyone go to hell. And if you were truly compassionate, you wouldn’t want anyone to go to hell either, and would be willing to share the good news with anyone who asks. God is King, Creator, and Lord, so of course human interests are subjugated to him. But we also know he has our best interests in mind (Romans 8:28).

    SLC says “By the way, the question as to whether scientists consider Neanderthals to be a subspecies of Homo Sapians is quite controversial and is not currently widely accepted in the scientific community. Presumably, the current effort to decode Neanderthal DNA will settle the question. Mr. Jon S invokes a creationist named Lubenow, who claims that Homo Erectus was a subspecies of Homo Sapiens. This clown has been totally discredited as described on the Talk Origins web site.”

    It may be controversial, but truth is truth regardless of controversy. I do hope DNA research on Neanderthals will settle the question. And your talk origins website is largely an ant-icreationist website, so it’s not very credible and not impressive. Again you fail to understand that any evidence you observe must be interpreted. Evolutionists will interpret the information to support evolution, and Creationists interpret the information to support evolution. You are biased in your views, just as everyone else is biased if they hold an opinion as well. Touting evidence for either side proves very little, which is why it’s so important for both interpretations to be heard. Having only your slanted views presented in schools is purely propaganda and has nothing to do with a real education. Students should be taught to think critically, but when it comes to evolution, they’re told what they can and can’t think. That’s not education.

  161. #161 Michael Glenn
    November 17, 2007

    “That you think God is a monster demonstrates your lack of wisdom.”

    That you worship an entity that set its children up for a fall, then punished them terribly for doing what it set them up to do, not only them but all their descendents except for a few “saved” by a blood sacrifice, continues to demonstrate your lack of moral compass.

    “Can you be certain of anything? How can you know truth if nothing is certain? As for me, I rest in Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life.”

    You still fail to address the certainty of Muslims. All you are describing is your own subjectivity. You are simply telling us that you believe what you really really want to believe.

    “Of course I don’t want to see anyone go to hell, even those who may deserve it. But that’s not up to me.”

    Your beliefs are up to you. You believe this because you want to.

    “I also take comfort knowing that God is good and just, and that no one will be sent to hell unjustly.”

    Setting your children up for a fall is good and just? Again, no genuinely compassionate person would want to “party” with an entity like that. Not even for a day, let alone eternity.

  162. #162 windy
    November 17, 2007

    Students should be taught to think critically, but when it comes to evolution, they’re told what they can and can’t think.

    Then the level of indoctrination in a math or physics class should really shock you.

  163. #163 386sx
    November 17, 2007

    “I also take comfort knowing that God is good and just, and that no one will be sent to hell unjustly.”

    Sorry but torturing people forever doesn’t sound like a good and just thing. No idea why anybody would think so. Jesus wants sinners to be tortured forever, but you don’t. Well guess what happens to people who disagree with Jesus.

  164. #164 SLC
    November 18, 2007

    Re Jon S

    1. Mr. Jon S says that truth is truth. The question as to the relationship of Neanderthals and humans is a scientific matter and is not subject to determination by quoting the Hebrew or Christian (or for that matter the Quran). Of course, Mr. Jon S believes that any conflict between science and scriptures is to be decided in favor of scriptures, no matter the evidence produced by the former. Mr. Jon S is typical of the born again mentality, his mind is made up, the facts are irrelevant.

    2. Mr. Jon S says that god is good and just. Mr. Jon S is totally full of crap. The god of the Hebrew bible (who is the same god as in the Christian bible) is a murdering rapist. His putative son, Joshua of Nazareth, is a co-conspirator as he failed to disown the crimes committed by his putative father. A detailed list of Yahwehs’ criminal activities was provided on an earlier comment.

    3. The Talk Origins web site is run by real scientists. The Answers in Genesis web site is run by ignorant assholes like Mr. Jon S.

  165. #165 Stanton
    November 18, 2007

    God is a holy God and hates sin. In fact he hates sin so much the punishment is death (Romans 6:23).

    So, the world is dying because God is killing everything because of what Adam did?

    Uh, how is this proof of God’s love?

  166. #166 386sx
    November 18, 2007

    So, the world is dying because God is killing everything because of what Adam did?

    Uh, how is this proof of God’s love?

    It isn’t. It’s proof of God’s hate for sin. See here it is right here: “God is a holy God and hates sin. In fact he hates sin so much the punishment is death (Romans 6:23).”

    That proves that God hates sin, ergo that is proof of God’s hate. However, the reason that God hates sin so much is because God loves the people who are infected with the “sin” thingy that they caught from Adam and Eve. Those people must be destroyed so they don’t infect the other people. Let them rot in hell forever.

  167. #167 386sx
    November 18, 2007

    My hope is that they’ll all come to Christ and spend eternity in heaven.

    If people thought they had a good reason to do that, they would do it. People don’t willingly “choose” to go to hell. Who would ever “choose” to go to hell? Nobody. They need to have a good reason to believe this stuff. God can give them reasons but God doesn’t. I repeat: nobody would ever choose to go to hell. That’s insane. Everybody would choose to go to heaven.

    Pretty simple stuff. Pretty obvious, and you ignore it completely. That’s called denial. Or trolling. I’m not sure which.

    But I also take comfort knowing that God is good and just, and that no one will be sent to hell unjustly.

    Like I said, people need a good reason. Nobody would willingly choose hell. Everybody would willingly choose heaven. Obvious. If there is a hell, then every single person who was sent there was sent there unjustly.

  168. #168 Tyler DiPietro
    November 19, 2007

    “Again you fail to understand that any evidence you observe must be interpreted.”

    I can pretty much guarantee you that SLC does not fail to understand this. AFAIK SLC is, like many here, a trained scientist who is well aware that induction, inference and prediction all play a huge role in science. But simply because you can use ad hoc contortions to make a preconceived notion fit the data on hand doesn’t automatically make that notion equally legitimate to the prevailing theory. When one framework of understanding involves primarily handwaves, baseless conjectures and preexisting religious motivation, it is not as good as one that involves specific mechanisms and specific predictions that can be potentially falsified. Guess which one creationism is?

    You are perfectly welcome to your delusions, Jon S. But attempting to put it on an equal level to science is absurd, and a bit insulting.

  169. #169 SLC
    November 19, 2007

    Re Jon S

    1. Mr. Jon S says that truth is truth relative to the relationship of Neanderthals and humans. The difference between Mr. Jon S and the other commentators on this thread is that we believe that truth is determined by empirical evidence while Mr. Jon S and his pals over at Answers in Genesis believe that truth is determined by their interpretation of scriptures. As an example, suppose that the current activity relative to decoding the Neanderthal genome finds that Neanderthals had 48 chromosomes (humans have 46, apes have 48). That finding would totally falsify Mr. Jon S’ contention that Neanderthals are humans. By the way, I doubt that this will occur but a scientist must be prepared for the possibility of such a finding. If it occurred, it would not be the first time that a scientific paradigm was overthrown. As an example of the overthrow of a scientific paradigm, the finding in 1956 that parity was not conserved in weak interactions interactions overthrew the then existing paradigm that left handed and right handed coordinate systems were equivalent.

    2. Mr. Jon S has thus far failed to address the question as to whether Ken Miller, Francisco Ayala and Francis Collins, devout Christians all as well as distinguished scientists, are bible deniers.

  170. #170 SLC
    November 19, 2007

    Re Jon S

    By the way, Dr. Joseph Ratzinger (nee Pope Benedict XVI) has publicly stated that scriptures must not be taken literally. Is he too a bible denier?

  171. #171 Iain Walker
    November 19, 2007

    The link you gave was last updated in December 1999. What up to date models are you referring to? Dr. Jason Lisle’s book “Taking Back Astronomy” was published in 2006.

    So what? The good Dr Lisle of AiG (from whose book you seem to have copied your earlier calculation regarding lunar recession) either doesn’t seem to have been aware of recent research into the dynamics of the earth-moon system, or has decided to ignore it. All he does is perform a back-of-the-envelope calculation, based on the assumption that the rate of recession has been constant. My point was that we have good grounds to suppose that the rate of recession has not been constant, and was smaller in the past than it is now. A point which you seem to have deliberately ignored.

    And as MartinM pointed out, Lisle’s calculation makes a stupid arithmetical error which leaves his results out by a factor of ten (this is what you get for copying someone else’s homework).

    But you only expect it after the fact because it supports your belief in evolution.

    Well, I’m glad you agree that moral behaviour is consistent with an evolutionary model of human origins.

    The fact remains that truth is subjective if there’s no God that you’re directly sinning against.

    I assume that by “truth” you mean “moral judgements” (just for your information, the two terms are not synomymous). Well, as I pointed out (and as you again have ignored), having a deity around doesn’t guarantee that moral judgements have any kind of objective, determinate truth value. If you’re so hung up on moral judgements being objective, then you what you actually need is some account of moral statements which shows how they can be true or false.

    If your position is basically that a term like “good” just means “what is pleasing to (or what is commanded) by God”, then yes, of course you get objective morals, but only in a rather weak relative sense. It also makes morality subject to your deity’s whim – if God commands people not to murder children today, then murdering children is wrong. But if God commands people to muder children tomorrow, then murdering children is right. It also means that since value systems are invented, there’s nothing to prevent human beings from inventing their own value systems, which will have just as valid a claim to objectivity as God’s morality (since one can simply stipulate that any positive judgement in such a system simply means “what is pleasing to (or what is commanded by) society/the king/whatever”. That is the only kind of moral objectivity you get from Dvine Command Theory – the objectivity of descriptive statements about who desires or commands what.

    If on the other hand your position is that moral statements can be objectively true or false in some way that isn’t relative to the desires and interests of actual agents, then God becomes unnecessary, since the truth or falsity of a moral judgement is an independent matter of fact regardless of what any agent (including God) desires or commands.

    So who are you to think that your morality is any better?

    Ditto for God. Unless you have some independent criterion for determining whether one set of values is in some sense “better” than another, then there is no reason for preferring God’s set of values over anyone else’s. Apart of course from the alleged fact that he wields a bigger carrot and stick than any earthly institution, but the same consideration of rational self-interest applies when it comes to towing the line in any totalitarian regime. On the other hand, if we do have independent criteria for choosing between different sets of values, then God becomes irrelevant (again), because we no longer have any need to refer to God when choosing which set of values to adopt.

    I really think you need to learn something about moral philosophy, because your grasp of the subject seems no better than your grasp of science.

    God is King, Creator, and Lord, so of course human interests are subjugated to him.

    Nice of you to admit it. Psychiatrists have a term for this kind of thinking – “authoritarian personality-type”.

  172. #172 Jon S
    November 19, 2007

    Sorry, only have time for a quick post tonight.

    Michael Glenn says “You still fail to address the certainty of Muslims. All you are describing is your own subjectivity. You are simply telling us that you believe what you really really want to believe.”

    Muslims are certainly wrong. If the Bible is correct, then there’s only one name under heaven by which we can be saved, and that’s through the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12). Of course if Islam is truth, then that would make Christianity wrong. Every religion, in fact, including atheism is exclusive. It’s impossible for more than one religion to be true. So then, how can you or anyone know the truth if all religions seem to be certain of their beliefs? And how are we to know if know Jesus is the way? Scripture tells us (Revelation 3:20) that Jesus is knocking at the door, and if anyone hears his voice and opens the door he will come in. Ultimately I can’t prove anything to you or anyone else when it comes to religion. All I can do is stand firm on the Word of God and let you come to your own conclusions. If you want answers, I suggest turning to scripture.

    Windy says “Then the level of indoctrination in a math or physics class should really shock you.” I take it you realize that the amount of politics and religion found in math and physics is inconsequential, while politics and religion plays an enormous role in today’s science classes. If we could get the ACLU and the courts out of the school system we could actually have a well educated country.

    386 sx says “Sorry but torturing people forever doesn’t sound like a good and just thing. No idea why anybody would think so. Jesus wants sinners to be tortured forever, but you don’t. Well guess what happens to people who disagree with Jesus.”

    Jesus does not want anyone to go to hell (2 Peter 3:9); in fact he wants everyone to come to repentance. No one will go to hell that is innocent. The question is, why would you want anyone to go to heaven that hates God and rejects him? Wouldn’t that be cruel? I think anyone who wants people to be forced into heaven is a monster. Why should anyone be forced into heaven if they hate being in the presence of a Holy God? If they have chosen to reject Jesus as Lord and Savior, wouldn’t it be in their best interest to be separated from God forever?

    386 sx says “People don’t willingly “choose” to go to hell. Who would ever “choose” to go to hell? Nobody. They need to have a good reason to believe this stuff. God can give them reasons but God doesn’t. I repeat: nobody would ever choose to go to hell. That’s insane. Everybody would choose to go to heaven…Nobody would willingly choose hell. Everybody would willingly choose heaven. Obvious. If there is a hell, then every single person who was sent there was sent there unjustly.”

    No one will be sent to hell unless they’ve rejected Christ, so, in a sense, they have indeed chosen where they want to go. There is good reason to believe in God, but many people choose not to accept the evidence presented.

  173. #173 Michael Glenn
    November 19, 2007

    “Muslims are certainly wrong.”

    And, of course, according to Muslims you are certainly wrong. You still fail to address their certainty.

    “If the Bible is correct . . .”

    If indeed!

    “Of course if Islam is truth, then that would make Christianity wrong. Every religion, in fact, including atheism is exclusive. It’s impossible for more than one religion to be true. So then, how can you or anyone know the truth if all religions seem to be certain of their beliefs? And how are we to know if Jesus is the way? Scripture tells us . . .”

    The Bible tells you, the Koran tells Muslims, the Book of Mormon tells Mormons, the Church tells Catholics (some otherwise intelligent people, e.g., Chesterton, convert to Catholicism precisely because they need the “certainty” of an authority, i.e., the Church, to adjudicate competing interpretations of “scripture”).

    When you lust after “certainty” it leads you straight to the subjective. Instead of testing your beliefs against reality and going for a high degree of confidence, you seemingly want to free yourself of the potential for even a sliver of doubt. So you throw yourself on the Bible, in which there is no more reason to have confidence than the Koran, the Book of Mormon, or the Church. (By your own lights, amusingly, you’re as likely to “burn in hell” as anyone else, since the beliefs of others are just as “valid” as yours!)

    “Ultimately I can’t prove anything to you or anyone else when it comes to religion. All I can do is stand firm on the Word of God and let you come to your own conclusions.”

    Your stand is completely subjective.

    “No one will go to hell that is innocent.”

    Again, your entity set its children up for a fall. Everyone would be innocent under that circumstance.

    “There is good reason to believe in God, but many people choose not to accept the evidence presented.”

    You’ve presented no evidence beyond your own subjectivity.

    And please don’t suggest “turning to scripture” again. I (and I suspect I’m not the only one here who does) know my way around the Bible, the Koran, the Book of Mormon, and the writings of the Catholic Church. They primarily provide evidence for what their authors believed (or, in some cases, pretended to believe), with very little reference to reality outside those beliefs.

    In a word, again, all you offer is your subjectivity.

  174. #174 SLC
    November 19, 2007

    Re Jon S

    1. Mr. Jon S. has still failed to opine as to whether Drs. Collins, Miller, Collins and Ratzinger are bible deniers.

    2. “If we could get the ACLU and the courts out of the school system we could actually have a well educated country.”

    Yessir, as Neil Tyson puts it, replacing science with religion in the American classroom is the surest way for Americans to get poor. Or as Tom Friedman puts it, young people in China and India are hoping for such a replacement of science with religion. They want our jobs.

  175. #175 386sx
    November 19, 2007

    No one will be sent to hell unless they’ve rejected Christ, so, in a sense, they have indeed chosen where they want to go.

    Nobody would do that though. Nobody would reject Christ and then get sent to hell. Nobody wants to go there. What’s so difficult to understand about that?

    Why not send people to hell and punish them right now for maybe a couple years or so, and then they can learn their lesson and come back and not reject Christ and then not have to worry about being sent there for eternity?

    Your God is a complete jerk and it’s no wonder you’re so scared of it (and scared for other people’s welfare too.) I would be too if I believed that shtuff.

  176. #176 SLC
    November 19, 2007

    Re Jon S.

    Incidently, what is Mr. Jon S’ opinion as to the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe?

  177. #177 Iain WAlker
    November 20, 2007

    Every religion, in fact, including atheism is exclusive. It’s impossible for more than one religion to be true.

    Not really. Since any given religion makes a multiplicity of claims, it is entirely possible for some religions to be correct on some issues, other religions to be correct on others, and no religion to be correct on all of them. Thus the question of which (if any) religion has it right is not a exclusive matter of Christianity or Islam or Judaism or Hinduism or Buddhism etc. It could just as easily be the case that some (or all) of them are partly right, and some (or all) of them partly wrong.

    The question is, why would you want anyone to go to heaven that hates God and rejects him? Wouldn’t that be cruel? I think anyone who wants people to be forced into heaven is a monster. Why should anyone be forced into heaven if they hate being in the presence of a Holy God? If they have chosen to reject Jesus as Lord and Savior, wouldn’t it be in their best interest to be separated from God forever?

    Firstly, no-one mentioned forcing people into heaven against their will. That would just be a strawman of your own devising. The issue was whether eternal torture was a just or fair punishment for failing to conform to your deity’s supposed diktats. In other words, it’s a matter of whether the criteria by which people are assigned to eternal bliss or eternal torment are fair or reasonable.

    Secondly, your use of the words “hate” and “reject” are quite illuminating, psychologically speaking. There are plenty of theists (including many Christians) who would find your view of God as objectionable and implausible as any non-believer would find it. Do they hate and reject God? No – what they dislike and reject is your description of God. I.e., they believe in and revere God, but consider your account of God to be inaccurate. And similarly, non-believers reject (or at least are highly sceptical of) the idea that the concept of God applies to anything that exists. You might do well to learn the difference between disliking or rejecting a particular idea or description of God from disliking or rejecting God at a personal level. They ain’t the same thing.

    There is good reason to believe in God, but many people choose not to accept the evidence presented.

    In that case, are you likely to present any evidence any time soon? Or are you just going to continue to waffle on with a lot of unsupported assertions?

  178. #178 MartinM
    November 20, 2007

    The recession of the moon is not constant over time. It would have been faster in the past.

    I can’t help but notice here that once again you’ve failed to make an actual argument. It’s not enough to say that the recession of the moon was faster in the past; perhaps it was, but if it was only, say, twice as fast as current rates, that won’t cover the order-of-magnitude gap you need to close.

    No, to make an argument here you need to tell us how much faster you think the moon’s recession was, and why. You need to give us an equation describing the moon’s recession speed as a function of time, justify it, and show that applying that equation leads to the results you claim.

    Here’s the important part. If you can’t do that – and I’m guessing that you couldn’t at the time you raised the issue – then you don’t know if your own claim is correct. So why make it?

    If you’re honest with yourself, I think you’ll admit that you weren’t able to evaluate the truth of the claim when you made it. Rather, someone else made the claim, and you simply repeated it, not knowing whether it was true or false. You did this because the claim supports a conclusion you like.

    And when you accuse us of bias, of interpreting the evidence to fit our preconceptions, you’re simply assuming that we approach this issue in the same way you do. You recognize weaknesses in your own reasoning, and project them onto ours. For if your reasoning has a weakness that ours lacks, that calls into question your conclusions. That’s not something you want to accept.

    So, next time you make an argument, stop to ask yourself – do I know if this argument is actually correct? Or am I presenting a claim I can’t support? If you find that it’s the latter, you might want to reconsider the argument. And if you find yourself doing this a lot, you should consider the possibility that the weakness of your arguments reflects the weakness of your position.

  179. #179 Thylacoleo
    November 20, 2007

    Why do Christian apologists continue to believe that they can refute any argument by quoting passages from their bible, a collection of sundry documents of unsubstantiated authorship cobbled together by the Roman Catholic Church several hundred years after the unproven existence of their Jesus, yet deny as evidence any quotations from the thousands of books and articles on evolution written by verifiable authors of unquestionable dedication, qualification and experience?

    It is a sad reality that the people who quote the Christian bible and claim it to be “the word of God” either do not know, or choose to ignore, the highly questionable origins of the book and selectively quote only the parts that appear to make their god appear to be good and kind while ignoring the far greater quantity of text that describes a level of sadism, violence and depravity that would be X rated if it was made into a movie.

    Please read about the atrocities in this bible at the following site and consider what the creationists would have to say if ‘The Origin of Species’ contained such things:
    http://www.nobeliefs.com/DarkBible/DarkBibleContents.htm

    Note: This site contains hundreds of checkable quotations from the bible, and I have checked dozens of them, but bear in mind that there have been more than one hundred versions of ‘the Bible’ over the centuries, all of which were heavily censored and edited (not to mention miss-translated), to suit the self interest of the tranlators and/or their sponsors so the wording may not exactly match the one you happen to compare it to.

    Also since this is an evolution blog perhaps a discussion about the widely held belief amongst scholars of religion (except by Christians of course)that Christianity is just an evolved form of the ancient Mithra myth is appropriate.

    http://www.meta-religion.com/World_Religions/Ancient_religions/Mesopotamia/Mithraism/mithraism_and_christianity_i.htm
    http://www.vexen.co.uk/religion/mithraism.html

  180. #180 Jon S
    November 20, 2007

    Michael Glenn says “Instead of testing your beliefs against reality and going for a high degree of confidence, you seemingly want to free yourself of the potential for even a sliver of doubt. So you throw yourself on the Bible, in which there is no more reason to have confidence than the Koran, the Book of Mormon, or the Church.”

    The Bible, its history, and miracles are reality and truth. The claims of the Bible have been tested many times and for thousands of years, and no one has been able to invalidate scripture. Individuals may invalidate it in their minds, but not against reality. If you would rather go with a ‘high degree of confidence’ over truth, then that’s illogical. Truth should always be preferable to mere confidence. Your confidence can be wrong, but truth is never wrong.

    “Your stand is completely subjective.”

    As is yours.

    “Again, your entity set its children up for a fall. Everyone would be innocent under that circumstance.”

    No, God doesn’t set his children up for a fall. In fact Jesus promises that he will lose none of all that has been given him (John 6:39).

    “You’ve presented no evidence beyond your own subjectivity.”

    I’ve presented plenty of evidence. Fulfilled prophecy is sufficient evidence, however, I’m sure you will deny fulfilled prophecy in scripture because that doesn’t conform to your own beliefs and faith. I’ve heard plenty of arguments against scripture, but they’re all based on false assumptions and a lack of research. However it remains that scripture has been fulfilled.

    “And please don’t suggest “turning to scripture” again. I (and I suspect I’m not the only one here who does) know my way around the Bible, the Koran, the Book of Mormon, and the writings of the Catholic Church.”

    Having knowledge of these books is meaningless. What’s important is truth and putting that truth into practice.

    SLC says “Mr. Jon S. has still failed to opine as to whether Drs. Collins, Miller, Collins and Ratzinger are bible deniers.”

    Perhaps you should ask them yourself.

    “Yessir, as Neil Tyson puts it, replacing science with religion in the American classroom is the surest way for Americans to get poor.”

    It worked well for several hundred years. But now that we only permit the religion of secularism into schools the American education system is failing. Hmmm, maybe we should return to was has worked before??? Also, keeping atheism in schools seems to produce a lot of shootings. You think it’s possible to keep religion out of schools, but you’ve only replaced one religion with another. So if you’re for the separation of search and state, then you’ll need to find a way to keep atheism and secularism out of schools too. You’ll find this is impossible. There will always be religion in schools, so we really need to evaluate the meaning behind ‘separation of church and state’. This is a meaningless statement that is unsupported by the wording of the constitution.

    “Incidently, what is Mr. Jon S’ opinion as to the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe?”

    I think it’s laughable. The only way there’s life anywhere else in the universe is if it came from earth. People are wasting time and money searching for ET’s (or even microbes).

    386 sx says “Nobody would reject Christ and then get sent to hell. Nobody wants to go there. What’s so difficult to understand about that?”

    How can you be certain of that? Has some personal god revealed that truth to you, or is that your own fallible logic? Do you think if you reject Christ he’ll let you in to heaven anyway? Where does it say that in scripture, or are you making this up to suit your own feelings?

    “Why not send people to hell and punish them right now for maybe a couple years or so, and then they can learn their lesson and come back and not reject Christ and then not have to worry about being sent there for eternity?”

    Because their sins were not atoned for. God hates sin and punishes it with with death, just as he warned Adam. Ok, now let me see if I understand you… are you saying that if you were to die, then see for yourself that Jesus is who he claimed to be in scripture, would you accept punishment in hell for two years and then be set free on earth for another 5 years until you died a second time, then, upon returning to earth, would you repent of your sins and ask Jesus Christ into your heart as Lord and Savior?

    “Your God is a complete jerk and it’s no wonder you’re so scared of it (and scared for other people’s welfare too.) I would be too if I believed that shtuff.”

    I’m not scared of God, although I do fear him (reverence to a Holy God). God is not a jerk at all, especially not to those who put their faith and trust in him for salvation. Calling him names won’t make him feel guilty or change his mind, and it certainly won’t endear him to you.

    Ian Walker says “Since any given religion makes a multiplicity of claims, it is entirely possible for some religions to be correct on some issues, other religions to be correct on others, and no religion to be correct on all of them… It could just as easily be the case that some (or all) of them are partly right, and some (or all) of them partly wrong.”

    Your missing the point. It’s not that they all may have some truth, or be correct on some issues. The major issue is ‘what do they have to say about salvation?’. If Christianity is true (that salvation can only come through faith in Jesus Christ), then every other religion is wrong if they claim salvation can be attained through any other means. Likewise, if the Koran is correct, then infidels can’t attain salvation through their own religion. If Hindiusim is ultimately correct, then Christianity and Islam can’t be true concerning their claims to salvation. Etc.

    “Firstly, no-one mentioned forcing people into heaven against their will. That would just be a strawman of your own devising.”

    It’s not a straw man. Michael Glenn previously said “Again, no genuinely compassionate person would want to “party” with an entity like that. Not even for a day, let alone eternity.” So, because of his misconception about the character of God, he claims he doesn’t want to go to heaven where he’ll be in eternal fellowship with a Holy God that sends sinners to hell. Therefore you couldn’t get him to heaven unless you forced it upon him. That wouldn’t be very compassionate of you, would it? If he doesn’t want to be anywhere near God, then it’s in his best interest to be separated from him forever, right?

    “The issue was whether eternal torture was a just or fair punishment for failing to conform to your deity’s supposed diktats. In other words, it’s a matter of whether the criteria by which people are assigned to eternal bliss or eternal torment are fair or reasonable.”

    You’re judging God according to your own limited, finite intellect, rather than relying on what God has revealed in scripture. This is why I keep going back to the Bible, because I believe this is where God has spoken to us. I don’t know the mind of God, but I do know what he has revealed in his Word, and since he promises judgment for those who reject him, I have no reason to think otherwise. Now if you think you know the mind of God apart from scripture, then I think you better rethink your position.

    “There are plenty of theists (including many Christians) who would find your view of God as objectionable and implausible as any non-believer would find it.”

    You are right on target there. However I stand on the Word of God. What do they stand on? Their own intellect? Their interpretation of scientific data? Their feelings? If they can back up their position with scripture, then I’ll concede I’m wrong. Can you show me where I’m wrong based on scripture? If not, then you’re using your own logic, opinion and reasoning, which is limited. If God is real and has spoken to us through his word, then I think he’s smarter than you or I. Therefore I’d rather stand on the authority of God’s Word than place my hope in my own understanding.

    “are you likely to present any evidence any time soon? Or are you just going to continue to waffle on with a lot of unsupported assertions?”

    Yes, prophecy. The Jews knew of the coming Messiah; Jesus fulfilled those prophecies, claimed to be the Messiah, died for our sins, and rose from the dead.

    MartinM says “No, to make an argument here you need to tell us how much faster you think the moon’s recession was, and why. You need to give us an equation describing the moon’s recession speed as a function of time, justify it, and show that applying that equation leads to the results you claim… If you can’t do that – and I’m guessing that you couldn’t at the time you raised the issue – then you don’t know if your own claim is correct. So why make it? If you’re honest with yourself, I think you’ll admit that you weren’t able to evaluate the truth of the claim when you made it. Rather, someone else made the claim, and you simply repeated it, not knowing whether it was true or false. You did this because the claim supports a conclusion you like.”

    Although I’m not a scientist (and never claimed to be), I am relying on those who are scientists. Your beef it with them, not me. If you think Dr. Jason Lisle’s claims are wrong, then I’d suggest hashing it out with him and other physicists who support his work. While you put your trust and faith in yourself and those who support the conclusions you like, I, of course, do the same. I accept their work and conclusions, just as you accept the work and conclusions of those you trust. If they concede they’re wrong, then I’ll accept that. However if they think you’re mistaken, then I’ll accept that too. These scientists trust scripture, so I am inclined to side with them.

    “And when you accuse us of bias, of interpreting the evidence to fit our preconceptions, you’re simply assuming that we approach this issue in the same way you do. You recognize weaknesses in your own reasoning, and project them onto ours. For if your reasoning has a weakness that ours lacks, that calls into question your conclusions. That’s not something you want to accept.”

    Your assumptions are incorrect. I’m saying your conclusions are based on your beliefs that the universe is billions of years old. If you knew for certain that it was not, wouldn’t that affect how you interpreted the evidence and the world around you? I would think so. And if I believed the universe to be billions of years old, then I would likewise accept your assertions. However, you never question whether your starting point is correct; you assume the age of the universe, and assume naturalistic explanations without question. And I we point out your bias, you assume you have none. You think your conclusions are simply fitting the evidence when your starting point is incorrect. This is something you don’t want to accept. So, next time you make an argument, stop to ask yourself – do I know if this argument is actually correct? Or am I presenting a claim I can’t support? If you find that it’s the latter, you might want to reconsider the argument. And if you find yourself doing this a lot, you should consider the possibility that the weakness of your arguments reflects the weakness of your position.

  181. #181 386sx
    November 21, 2007

    No one will go to hell that is innocent.

    What does it have to be eternal torture for? What a rotten thing to do to people. Why can’t the punishment be something less brutal and less eternal? Non innocence doesn’t have to warrant eternal torture.

    Not being in heaven with god doesn’t mean that the place that is not heaven and is away from god has to be a place with horrible torture and suffering, nor does it have to be a place where people have to be there eternally. But your god has the rules set up so that it does. What a big jerk. Sorry!

  182. #182 Michael Glenn
    November 21, 2007

    The Bible, its history, and miracles are reality and truth. The claims of the Bible have been tested many times and for thousands of years, and no one has been able to invalidate scripture. Individuals may invalidate it in their minds, but not against reality.

    Well, Jon S., every believer in a sacred text can, and usually does, say the same. The Koran, the Book of Mormon, whatever. What do you mean by “tested”? What do you mean by “invalidate”? What do you mean by “against reality”? I suspect none of us will ever know, at least not courtesy of you.

    Once again you have provided no means for distinguishing your certainty from the certainty of other believers who are as convinced of your sojourn in hell as you are of theirs.

    Once again, your stand is completely subjective.

    You say my stand is also completely subjective. The difference is, I recognize my limits and deal with them by testing my beliefs against reality. Unlike you, I make no claims of certainty.

    You say you’ve presented plenty of evidence. Where is it?

    And yes, your entity did set its children up for a fall, in the Garden of Eden.

    Finally, regarding the eternal “party” with your entity: you are the one missing the point. Iain Walker has it right: as formulated by you, “forcing people into heaven against their will” is indeed a straw man.

    I was trying to make a moral point. You clearly are not able to grasp it.

    No hard feelings, though.

    I’m off. Best wishes for a happy Thanksgiving, all.

  183. #183 Tyler DiPietro
    November 21, 2007

    “It worked well for several hundred years.”

    Except that the majority of the population was illiterate for most of that time period and good education was an advantage enjoyed mostly by wealthy elites. Yessah, that certainly worked well!

    Behold the fact free world of Jon S.

  184. #184 SLC
    November 21, 2007

    Re Jon S

    1. Well, we finally got Mr. Jon S to make a testable claim, namely that there is no life anywhere else in the universe. Therefore, if, at some time in the future a mission is sent to Jupiters’ moon Europa, which is believe to have a liquid ocean under several miles of ice, and life is found swimming in that ocean, then Mr. Jon S will have to admit that his claim is wrong. Somehow, I think he would come up with a preposterous explanation to convince himself that it was somehow not in conflict with his nutty interpretation of the scriptures.

    2. Mr. Jon S passes on whether non-biblical literalists Miller, Ayala, Collins, and Ratzinger are biblical deniers. Mr. Jon S is ready and willing to make judgments on the other commentors on this blog but suddenly exhibits a lack of intestinal fortitude in judging others. I think that Mr. Jon S has some chicken feathers where his competitive spirit ought to be.

    3. Mr. Jon S makes the usual born again claim that the scientific progress made since the enlightenment is responsible for the alleged depredations of humanity in that period. Apparently, Mr. Jon S wants to turn the clock back to the Middle Ages which, he apparently feels were Eden on earth. I guess the crusades, the 30 years war, the 100 years war, the genocide of Native Americans by Spanish explorers, the mass extinctions of much of humanity caused by bubonic and pneumonic plague etc. never happened. Just another big lie spread by those evil Darwinists, right Mr. Jon S (snark)?

  185. #185 Iain Walker
    November 21, 2007

    Your missing the point. It’s not that they all may have some truth, or be correct on some issues. The major issue is ‘what do they have to say about salvation?’.

    All right, let’s restrict the question to the issue of salvation. In that case, different Christian denominations have different things to say about the subject. Some say that salvation is earned by faith alone, others that both faith and good works are required, and some even allow that sometimes good works alone can suffice, regardless of whether the individual in question actually believes in the specific theological claims of Christianity. And then there’s the Calvinistic doctrine of the Predestination of the Elect, in which no amount of faith or good works can save you if your name isn’t already on God’s little list.

    It’s not a straw man. Michael Glenn previously said “Again, no genuinely compassionate person would want to “party” with an entity like that. Not even for a day, let alone eternity.”

    And it remains the case that no-one suggested that he or anyone else should be forced into heaven against their will. I think we’re all agreed that this would be unacceptable. Hence, strawman. The question is the acceptability of the entire system of rewards and punishments that you espouse, and hence the moral character of the entity that supposedly creates and enforces it.

    You’re judging God according to your own limited, finite intellect, rather than relying on what God has revealed in scripture.

    While your conviction that your scripture actually reveals God’s word is not according to your own limited, finite intellect? Sorry to burst your bubble, but our limited, finite intellects are all that any of us have to go on, including your good self. On which note …

    I’d rather stand on the authority of God’s Word than place my hope in my own understanding.

    Did you sleep in the day they handed out a sense of irony? Your ability to ascertain whether or not the bible is divinely inspired is ultimately based on your confidence in your own understanding. A confidence which on your current showing is sadly unwarranted …

    Yes, prophecy. The Jews knew of the coming Messiah; Jesus fulfilled those prophecies, claimed to be the Messiah, died for our sins, and rose from the dead.

    Let’s see – according to a particular written tradition, it was prophesised that a Messiah will come. Later writers brought up and working in that tradition then claim that someone’s life fulfilled those prophecies. And of course there’s no question of the latter retrofitting their accounts to the former, no sirree.

    You call that “evidence”? Please.

    If you think Dr. Jason Lisle’s claims are wrong, then I’d suggest hashing it out with him and other physicists who support his work.

    No need. Lisle can be shown to be wrong with a little basic mathematics:

    Average distance from centre of earth to centre of moon = 384,403 km
    Radius of earth = 6,371 km
    Radius of moon = 1,737 km
    Average distance between lunar and terrestrial surfaces = 384,403 – (6,371 + 1,737) = 376,295 km
    376,295 km = 376,295 x 1,000 x1,000 mm = 376,295,000,000 mm
    Currently observed rate of recession = 38 mm per year

    Assuming a constant rate of recession, the earth and moon would have been touching:
    376,295,000,000 / 38 = 9,902,500,000 years ago
    which is over twice the estimated age of the earth-moon system, and considerably more than the 1.5 billion years that Lisle claims.

    And on the question of how the rate of recession has varied in the past, the evidence for a lower rate is here.

    Your efforts to paint the disagreement as a mere matter of different parties appealing to different authorities won’t wash. Authorities are only as good as the arguments and the evidence they can present to back up their assertions, and those arguments and that evidence can be evaluated independently of their say so. And on that basis, you can ascertain their credibility as an authority.

    So if you want to salvage anything of Lisle’s claims, try presenting an actual argument, instead of indulging in rhetorical evasions. Evidence that the rate of lunar recession was actually much greater in the past would be a start.

    So, next time you make an argument, stop to ask yourself – do I know if this argument is actually correct? Or am I presenting a claim I can’t support? If you find that it’s the latter, you might want to reconsider the argument. And if you find yourself doing this a lot, you should consider the possibility that the weakness of your arguments reflects the weakness of your position.

    The sheer gall, hypocrisy and sublime lack of self-awareness embodied in the above is just too, too funny. You’ve done nothing but present claims that you can’t support. Try following your own advice for a change.

  186. #186 MartinM
    November 22, 2007

    No need. Lisle can be shown to be wrong with a little basic mathematics

    Actually, it’s not that simple. Tidal forces fall off with the cube of distance, so a closer Moon means larger tides, which means a greater torque applied to the Moon, which means faster recession. What Lisle’s done is present an old toy model, where the recession speed is dependent on a single parameter – the Earth-Moon distance.

    It’s unreasonable to expect such a simple model to give accurate results; the recession rate is dependent on the size and location of the tidal bulges, which in turn depends on a variety of factors, some of which are constant (eg. properties of water), and some of which patently aren’t (eg. geometry of the ocean floor). All Lisle has really done is assume that all of these other variables are irrelevant.

    Which is rather ironic, really; YECs tend to object to ‘uniformitarian assumptions’ when such assumptions cut against them, but are quite happy to resort to hyper-uniformitarian models when it suits them.

  187. #187 Iain Walker
    November 23, 2007

    Actually, it’s not that simple. Tidal forces fall off with the cube of distance, so a closer Moon means larger tides, which means a greater torque applied to the Moon, which means faster recession. What Lisle’s done is present an old toy model, where the recession speed is dependent on a single parameter – the Earth-Moon distance.

    I was actually beginning to wonder if Lisle’s model could really be quite as simplistic as it appeared. Although I doubt that JonS would have been capable of explaining it, had he been inclined to make the effort.

    Thanks.

  188. #188 Jon S
    November 23, 2007

    As much as I love posting comments, I’ll attempt to make this my last for this article.

    386sx says “Non innocence doesn’t have to warrant eternal torture.”

    God is just, so if that is his judgment, then the punishment is warranted. If it were not, then God wouldn’t have made it eternal. Sin must be atoned for, and if the individual’s sins haven’t been paid for by Christ, then they would have to pay the penalty themselves. Those who put their faith in Christ have had their punishment atoned for since Jesus was a worthy sacrifice.

    “Not being in heaven with god doesn’t mean that the place that is not heaven and is away from god has to be a place with horrible torture and suffering, nor does it have to be a place where people have to be there eternally. But your god has the rules set up so that it does. What a big jerk. Sorry!”

    Yes, God has set the rules, so it would be wise to listen to him and obey his commands. Mankind wants to set his own rules, but what God wants is more important, and he wants man to trust him. You don’t have to be sorry to anyone who knows the Lord, only for those who reject him. So will you continue to reject God because you don’t like his rules, or will you humble yourself before him and accept his free gift of life?

    Michael Glenn says “The Koran, the Book of Mormon, whatever. What do you mean by “tested”? What do you mean by “invalidate”? What do you mean by “against reality”?

    What I mean by tested is that skeptics have been trying to prove that the Bible is not reliable, is not the Word of God, is simply made up by man, is full of errors, omissions, and inaccuracies, etc since Biblical times. There aren’t any skeptics claims that can’t be refuted. Most skeptics claims can be refuted with a little research into Biblical text or understanding the culture at the time the text was written.

    “Once again you have provided no means for distinguishing your certainty from the certainty of other believers who are as convinced of your sojourn in hell as you are of theirs. Once again, your stand is completely subjective.”

    Perhaps my ‘belief’ is subjective, but so is belief in atheism and evolution. If, however, you want certainty about Christ, then come before him in prayer.

    “You say my stand is also completely subjective. The difference is, I recognize my limits and deal with them by testing my beliefs against reality. Unlike you, I make no claims of certainty.”

    So you think. From your perspective perhaps, but if your eyes are closed, then your perspective will not be based on reality. Are you certain that you recognize your limits and deal with them by testing your beliefs against reality? Are you really certain? If you claim to make no claims of certainty, then perhaps you should admit that you’re not certain of your claims and maybe you don’t realize your limits. Maybe your limits are greater than what you perceive, and maybe your need for Christ is greater than you thought.

    Tyler DiPietro says “Except that the majority of the population was illiterate for most of that time period and good education was an advantage enjoyed mostly by wealthy elites. Yessah, that certainly worked well!”

    My point was that it was not a Godless, secular society. And congress never passed any law concerning the establishment of any religion. Now of course there were many uneducated and illiterate population for some time in this country, but that’s not a fault of Christianity, and it wasn’t until some time after the Scopes trial that politics was thrust onto the scene and all of a sudden it’s illegal to express religion in public schools upon the guise of ‘separation of church and state’ which does not exist. And now that secularism has been established in our school system (which is a violation of the constitution) it is indeed failing our country in many ways.

    SLC says “Well, we finally got Mr. Jon S to make a testable claim, namely that there is no life anywhere else in the universe. Therefore, if, at some time in the future a mission is sent to Jupiters’ moon Europa, which is believe to have a liquid ocean under several miles of ice, and life is found swimming in that ocean, then Mr. Jon S will have to admit that his claim is wrong. Somehow, I think he would come up with a preposterous explanation to convince himself that it was somehow not in conflict with his nutty interpretation of the scriptures.”

    And of course if life fails to turn up I guess that you’ll have to admit your claim was wrong. Somehow, I think you would come up with a preposterous explanation to convince yourself that life must still exist out there somewhere. So you’ve made an untestable claim because we can’t prove that ETs don’t exist unless we can observe every inch of every part of the known and unknown universe. No matter where life doesn’t turn up you will claim we haven’t searched enough places and that more research is required.

    SLC says “Mr. Jon S passes on whether non-biblical literalists Miller, Ayala, Collins, and Ratzinger are biblical deniers. Mr. Jon S is ready and willing to make judgments on the other commentors on this blog but suddenly exhibits a lack of intestinal fortitude in judging others. I think that Mr. Jon S has some chicken feathers where his competitive spirit ought to be.”

    Ok, since you call me chicken I guess I’ve got to respond now :-) I’m not familiar with them or their work, but I would not call them Bible deniers. If they don’t accept Genesis as literal history then I say that their interpretation of the text is incorrect. They must reinterpret the plain meaning of scripture to fit their worldview, and scripture will keep being reinterpreted based on their understanding of secular science instead of accepting scripture for their authority on all matters.

    “Mr. Jon S makes the usual born again claim that the scientific progress made since the enlightenment is responsible for the alleged depredations of humanity in that period. Apparently, Mr. Jon S wants to turn the clock back to the Middle Ages which, he apparently feels were Eden on earth. I guess the crusades, the 30 years war, the 100 years war, the genocide of Native Americans by Spanish explorers, the mass extinctions of much of humanity caused by bubonic and pneumonic plague etc. never happened.”

    Not all the deaths you described above were the result of Christianity. Regardless, we can point out the impact evolution has had on the even greater number of deaths from Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Lenin, etc, all in the name of evolution-inspired ideologies.

    lain walker says “All right, let’s restrict the question to the issue of salvation. In that case, different Christian denominations have different things to say about the subject. Some say that salvation is earned by faith alone, others that both faith and good works are required… And then there’s the Calvinistic doctrine of the Predestination of the Elect, in which no amount of faith or good works can save you if your name isn’t already on God’s little list.”

    What does scripture teach us about salvation? It teaches faith alone and not by works (Acts 4:12, Ephesians 2:8-9, Titus 3:5). Of course works are important to, but without faith the good works are meaningless (in the sense that it won’t earn anyone salvation). If and when denominations have conflict in theology, it’s best to return to scripture. As for the elect, scripture does teach that there’s a book of life (Phil 4:3, Rev 13:8, Rev 17:8, Rev 20:12-15, Rev 21:27) and an elect(Matthew 22:1-14, Matthew 24:21-31, Acts 2:39, Romans 8:28-30, Ephesians 1:4-14). Of course it’s important for each of us to make sure we’re part of that elect by letting the Holy Spirit into our heart so that we may be born again.

    “While your conviction that your scripture actually reveals God’s word is not according to your own limited, finite intellect?”

    Right. The authority of scripture is independent of me or my understanding of the world. My convictions aren’t what makes scripture true. The truth and validity of scripture doesn’t depend on my belief or anyone else’s beliefs.

    “Your ability to ascertain whether or not the bible is divinely inspired is ultimately based on your confidence in your own understanding. A confidence which on your current showing is sadly unwarranted …”

    True, but again, the validity of scripture is independent of what I can or cannot ascertain. If I or anyone else were to put their trust in themselves, their own intellect, or even science, then those are all subject to failure because man cannot ultimately control his destiny or know all things with certainty. But if scripture is true and is God’s spoken word, then there is a firm foundation in which we can put our trust. Then we have reason for confidence.

    “according to a particular written tradition, it was prophesised that a Messiah will come. Later writers brought up and working in that tradition then claim that someone’s life fulfilled those prophecies. And of course there’s no question of the latter retrofitting their accounts to the former, no sirree.”

    There’s no just grounds to accuse the writers of retrofitting prophecies. Retrofitting is merely an accusation that cannot be substantiated. The writers of scripture have time and again proven to have provided trustworthy accounts of history.

    “The sheer gall, hypocrisy and sublime lack of self-awareness embodied in the above is just too, too funny. You’ve done nothing but present claims that you can’t support. Try following your own advice for a change.”

    What, you don’t like me using someone else’s words against them? I was quoting from MartinM. What gall!

  189. #189 SLC
    November 23, 2007

    Re Jon S

    1. Mr. Jon S claims that failure to detect life on Europa would confirm his claim that there is no life elsewhere in the universe. Mr. Jon S, as usual, raises a straw man. Nobody claimed that life exists on Europa, merely that conditions there might be conducive to life. Thus failure to find life on Europa would in no way falsify the existence of life elsewhere. There are several hundred billion stars in the milky way galaxy alone and recent findings indicate that the number of planets in the milky way galaxy is commensurate. Thus in order to falsify the notion that life may exist elsewhere in the universe, all of these planets would have to be eliminated. But finding life on just one of these planets would falsify Mr. Jon S’ contention.

    2. Drs. Miller, Ayala, Collins and Ratizinger all hold the position that the Hebrew and Christians are not to be taken literally. Therefore, by Mr. Jon S’ definition, they are bible deniers.

    3. Mr. Jon S’ claimes that Hitler, Stalin, Mao, etc. killed people in the name of evolutionary theories is a god damn lie. For Mr. Jon S’ information, Hitler and Stalin banned Darwins’ Origin of Species; Stalin in particular supported the Lamarckian theory which is totally at variance with Darwins’ theory.

  190. #190 Tyler DiPietro
    November 23, 2007

    “My point was that it was not a Godless, secular society. And congress never passed any law concerning the establishment of any religion. Now of course there were many uneducated and illiterate population for some time in this country, but that’s not a fault of Christianity, and it wasn’t until some time after the Scopes trial that politics was thrust onto the scene and all of a sudden it’s illegal to express religion in public schools upon the guise of ‘separation of church and state’ which does not exist. And now that secularism has been established in our school system (which is a violation of the constitution) it is indeed failing our country in many ways.”

    You want to have your cake and eat it too. When the education system in this country was failing spectacularly, it wasn’t the fault of Christianity. But its failures nowadays can all be attributed to secularism. I’m impressed that you are incapable of recognizing this egregious rhetorical double standard without a hint of cognitive dissonance.

    Aside from the fact that you employ the typical born-again hyperbole and outright lies about the status of religion in public schools (hint: the idea that it is “illegal to express religion” there is a steaming crock of shit), you haven’t given any specific example of how our public school system is “failing” and how this is precisely due to “secularism”. You issue plenty of handwaves and unfounded assertions, but you seem to have some difficulty with the concept of “evidence”. Truthiness doesn’t cut the mustard here, I’m afraid.

  191. #191 Tyler DiPietro
    November 23, 2007

    “I’m impressed that you are [capable of erecting] this egregious rhetorical double standard without a hint of cognitive dissonance.”

    Fixed.

  192. #192 SLC
    November 23, 2007

    Re Jon S

    Mr. Jon S states another god damn lie in claiming that separation of church and state does not exist and that secularism is unconstitutional. Mr. Jon S, not only are you totally full of shit, as so eloquently stated by Mr. DiPietro, but you are a dangerous man spreading lies like that. It would appear that you are a follower of the fascist nitwit Rousas John Rushdoony, who preached for a Christian dictatorship in the United States. Apparently you believe that lying for Joshua of Nazareth allows one to ignore the commandment about bearing false witness. I suspect that when you arrive at the pearly gates, you will be told by St. Peter that liars are destined elsewhere.

  193. #193 386sx
    November 23, 2007

    God is just, so if that is his judgment, then the punishment is warranted.

    Okay thanks. :) Have a nice day.

  194. #194 Michael Glenn
    November 23, 2007

    Jon S. writes,

    God is just, so if that is his judgment, then the punishment is warranted. If it were not, then God wouldn’t have made it eternal.

    Holy Saint Augustine (who made a similar argument in The City of God), what a beaut of reasoning in a circle! How do we know Jon S.’s entity is just? Because of the severity of the punishment. How do we know the punishment is warranted? Because the entity is just, as demonstrated by the punishment’s being made eternal!

    Be patient here. I am going to take one last, alas lengthy, stab at instilling some common sense.

    I will say again what I have said several times before, Jon S.: your entity set its children up for a fall, then punished them terribly when they did, including their descendents forever, but chose to “save” a few of those descendents through a (for lack of a better word) cosmic blood sacrifice (which is about as bloody primitive as you can get). This is clearly laid out in your “New Testament,” in Ephesians 1:4-7, to give one example.

    Or, as the jolly Confession of Westminster puts it so plainly:

    Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid according to his eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of his will, hath chosen in Christ, unto everlasting glory, out of his free grace and love alone, without any foresight of faith or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving him thereunto; and all to the praise of his glorious grace.

    And:

    Our first parents, being seduced by the subtlety and temptations of Satan, sinned in eating the forbidden fruit. This their sin God was pleased, according to his wise and holy counsel, to permit, having purposed to order it to his own glory.

    Emphases, of course, are mine. And, of course, this is a specifically Calvinist take, but it really does capture in very plain language the behavior of Jon S.’s entity.

    Behavior that by no stretch of the imagination is just.

    Nietzsche distilled the New Testament’s stench better than anyone else:

    Paul thought up the idea, and Calvin re-thought it, that for innumerable people damnation has been decreed from eternity, and that this beautiful world plan was instituted to reveal the glory of God: heaven and hell and humanity are thus supposed to exist–to satisfy the vanity of God! What cruel and insatiable vanity must have flared in the soul of the man who thought this up first, or second. Paul has remained Saul after all–the persecutor of God.

    Can you ken that, Jon S.? Can a ray of light break through your blinding faith and restore to you even a touch of common or moral sense? You’re a human being, Jon S. You must have at least a bit of insight and empathy to your name.

    “Big Vanity” would be a worthy name for your entity, Jon S. And Big Vanity is “just” only by definition, which is to say only in the imagination of people like you.

    The most important point, of course, is that the New Testament, like any writing, is an authority only for what its authors wrote, which presumably reflects what they believed. It, like any writing, has no authority beyond that, in and of itself.

    On the other hand, some writings can be tested against reality. The Origin of Species would merely reflect what Darwin believed except for one thing: you can go out into the field and see what he saw and verify his claims.

    Even some religious teachings can be tested, in a sense. For example, practicing Buddhists apparently really are the happiest people on Earth, which says something about the efficacy of the Buddha’s teachings. I offer this not because I’m a Buddhist, nor because I believe that good cheer and inner peace represent the highest of human aspirations, nor even because the study is necessarily right (it might be overturned by later studies, since scientists interact with reality in a way that Jon S. clearly does not) but simply as an example of how certain religious claims might be testable.

    Very little, if any, of the Bible is testable in any way. Sure you can find some moral insights and perhaps even some practical advice for particular situations, but one can say the same of the Iliad or Hamlet, not to mention philosophical works down through the millennia.

    Your refusal to look at the world and see what Darwin saw reminds me very much of the schoolmen who refused to look through Galileo’s telescope.

    In fact, you said in an earlier post:

    Your assumptions are incorrect. I’m saying your conclusions are based on your beliefs that the universe is billions of years old. If you knew for certain that it was not, wouldn’t that affect how you interpreted the evidence and the world around you? I would think so. And if I believed the universe to be billions of years old, then I would likewise accept your assertions. However, you never question whether your starting point is correct; you assume the age of the universe, and assume naturalistic explanations without question.

    The simple fact is that you think everyone thinks the way you do. You start with the belief that the universe is less than ten thousand years old and interpret the “evidence and the world around you” accordingly. Those of us who accept that the universe is billions of years old do so because that’s what the evidence shows. The actual age of the universe is a discovery, the result of decades of hard work by a lot of dedicated researchers. If evidence were to be found convincingly showing the universe to be much younger, everyone here would accept that.

    Your belief, on the other hand, is based on an interpretation of a text. Absolutely nothing will change your belief, no matter what the evidence is.

    Refusing to change in the face of the evidence is faith. Willingness to change is common sense.

  195. #195 Iain Walker
    November 24, 2007

    If and when denominations have conflict in theology, it’s best to return to scripture.

    Says you. Not all of your fellow Christians hold the bible to be the be-all and end-all of their theology or their faith. That’s primarily a fundamentalist Protestant kick. Some Christians even (gasp) reckon that the interpretation of scripture needs to be mediated by experience and reason.

    But if scripture is true and is God’s spoken word, then there is a firm foundation in which we can put our trust. Then we have reason for confidence.

    Operative word – “if”. The accuracy or reliability of your holy book is not something that can be determined except by human reasoning. Consequently, any confidence one might place in the claims made in or on behalf of the bible is derived entirely from our confidence in our own intellectual ability to evaluate those claims.

    So you’re in the same boat as the rest of us, like it or not.

    There’s no just grounds to accuse the writers of retrofitting prophecies. Retrofitting is merely an accusation that cannot be substantiated.

    It is however consistent with the content of the texts of the New Testament and the contexts in which they were written. People suffer from confirmation bias, and they make things up, especially when they have an ideology to promote. Retrofitting is hence perfectly plausible. When evaluating a historical text, the author’s likely agenda is something you always need to take into account when determining their reliability. It applies to the New Testament just as much it applies to any other text.

    The point is that you can’t point to claims in the bible that biblical prophecies were fulfilled – that’s not evidence, that’s begging the question on an industrial scale, since what is actually at stake is the reliability of the bible itself. You need independent evidence that the prophecies were, in fact, fulfilled.

    The writers of scripture have time and again proven to have provided trustworthy accounts of history.

    Uh huh. One would expect them to get some historical facts right, but the remarkable thing about the bible is just how little corroborating evidence there is for many of its claimed events. And the extent to which some of the writers managed to record some history accurately says nothing about the reliability of the narrative claims of other writers (let alone any of their supernatural claims).

    What, you don’t like me using someone else’s words against them?

    Well then, if in fact you do not believe that one should always examine one’s assertions to see if they are justified, and reconsider them if you cannot support them, then I unreservedly withdraw the accusation of hypocrisy.

  196. #196 Blake Stacey
    November 25, 2007

    Michael Glenn wrote,

    Very little, if any, of the Bible is testable in any way. Sure you can find some moral insights and perhaps even some practical advice for particular situations, but one can say the same of the Iliad or Hamlet, not to mention philosophical works down through the millennia.

    Which reminded me of the time Hector Avalos said,

    For every page of Hamlet that we might enjoy innocently, there is a passage of the Bible that prompted someone to kill another human being.

    That’s The End of Biblical Studies (2007), p. 241.

  197. #197 Michael Glenn
    November 26, 2007

    For every page of Hamlet that we might enjoy innocently, there is a passage of the Bible that prompted someone to kill another human being

    Oh, that’s a good line, and one I hadn’t seen before. Thank you, Blake Stacey.

    Meanwhile, as a final note, I have a little challenge for Jon S. (should he ever happen to look this way again).

    Read and familiarize yourself with The Origin of Species, Jon S., as some of us have your New Testament.

    And then think about it . . .

  198. #198 Msn nickleri
    March 18, 2009

    People suffer from confirmation bias, and they make things up, especially when they have an ideology to promote. Retrofitting is hence perfectly plausible. When evaluating a historical text

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