Update: June 19, 10:56 am: The commenting issues have now been fixed! Yay! So please ignore the first paragraph of the post.

The commenting issues around here remain unresolved. In the past I have been told by the overlords that this was being treated as a high-priority problem. If that is so, then I would hate to see how a low-priority problem is treated. It’s also been pointed out to me that if you read the blog through an RSS feed, then you will have to resubscribe to the blog. Of course, if you are reading this post then you have already surmised that something was wrong with the feed.

Anyway, though I don’t want to return to full-time blogging until the situation with the comments is resolved, I did want to comment on this post from Karl Giberson, over at HuffPo. He writes:

The best way to understand America’s ongoing resistance to evolution — as evidenced in the recent Gallup Poll — is the theory’s failure as an origins myth. Most Americans believe they are created by God, in God’s image, whatever that means; they believe God cares about them and wants them to care for each other. They believe they are called to live virtuous lives and be people of character. They may fall short of these ideals but they believe these profound truths are rooted in their creation story.

There’s a lot wrong with that. Attributing the resistance to evolution to its “failure as an origins myth” is an instance of blaming the victim. It makes it sound like there’s some deficiency in evolution that causes people to reject it. A more reasonable way of making the point is to say that people have absorbed a lot of comforting fairy tales about their origins, and a more realistic account based on copious evidence finds it hard to compete.

The bigger problem, though, is the idea that we need God to tell us to live virtuous lives and to be people of character. It reflects poorly on people who think that way. There ought to be no connection between our beliefs regarding our obligations to one another and our beliefs about how we got here.

The part I really wanted to comment on, however, was this:

Whether we think that the biblically based story of our origins is historically and scientifically accurate or not, we certainly have to admit that it is a beautiful story and that, at its best — with some egregious exceptions — it has nurtured our civilization in wholesome ways.

We certainly do not have to admit any such thing. There is nothing beautiful about the Genesis creation story. That the story is complete fiction both historically and scientifically is the least of its problems.

The main point of Genesis 1 is that humans are the pinnacle of creation. We alone are created in the image of God, and the creation did not become “very good” until we appeared. Perhaps some find that appealing, but personally my opinion of humanity is a bit lower than that. I think Bertrand Russell had it right when he remarked, “If I had omnipotence, and millions of years in which to experiment, I would not consider humanity much to boast of for my efforts.” I’m afraid I find nothing beautiful about the idea that we were created for the purpose of serving God. Moreover, contra Giberson, I would say the belief in this ugly myth has mostly led to disastrous consequences for human civilization. The endless religious conflicts that have destroyed so many lives is one issue, of course, but so is the environmental degradation caused by people believe the Earth exists solely to provide for human needs.

But the real horrors begin in Genesis 2. Whereas Genesis 1 ends with man and woman being created together, Genesis 2 makes it clear that this is not so. The point of Genesis 2 seems to be that women only exist to service the needs of man. We learn that man was created first. Only when it was discovered that man by himself had needs that were going unfulfilled was woman created. There is absolutely nothing in the story to suggest that women have any independent worth or importance. Unsurprisingly, this story has served as the basis for so much misogyny and sexism. Beautiful, indeed.

Then we come to Genesis 3. Here the “profound truth” seems to be that the pursuit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. Our natural state is one of total ignorance and sloth, merrily doing whatever God wants without a trace of independent thought. But as soon as we pursue some thing God had told us not to pursue, He comes down on us with His full wrath. God hates it, apparently, when we try to think for ourselves or pursue knowledge. Is that the message Giberson thinks is beautiful?

This is why I react with such hostility to people who say, “Genesis was never meant to teach us science!” as though that solves all the problems. I find the claim dubious on its merits. Leaving that aside, I think it only makes matters worse to argue that the story is purely allegorical, with no scientific or historical merit. As an allegory the story is a complete disaster. Having discarded any notion that the story is true, there is no reason at all to pay any attention to it whatsoever.

Comments

  1. #1 Anonymous
    June 18, 2012

    I can comment…

  2. #2 SLC
    June 18, 2012

    People don’t seem to be having any trouble posting comments over at Orac’s site.

  3. #3 Stephen Lucas
    United States
    June 18, 2012

    Lets see if this comment gets through. An edited RSS feed means I’m now seeing your posts!

    In response to the post itself, my biggest problem with Genesis after the “woman serves man” issue is that it is two incompatible origin stories mashed together.

  4. #4 JimR
    June 18, 2012

    Testing Comments

  5. #5 Ross G
    Washington, DC
    June 18, 2012

    Looks like commenting is working on your blog again. It has been fixed.

  6. #6 Michael Bernard
    Los Angeles
    June 18, 2012

    There is more to Genesis then creation, male/female relationships, the equation of knowledge with sin (really sexual knowledge). Its sin itself. The Original Sin. Without it Jesus have died in vain. No sins to take on his back at the cross.

    I know. I know. The mothers of the world still have a fair amount of it left and generously instruct their children about it as often as possible.

  7. #7 Neil Rickert
    http://nwrickert.wordpress.com/
    June 18, 2012

    There is nothing beautiful about the Genesis creation story.

    I don’t agree with that, as long as we are talking of Genesis 1. I see it as poetic. On the other hand Genesis 2,3 are nothing to brag about.

    The main point of Genesis 1 is that humans are the pinnacle of creation.

    I don’t agree with that either. Either the main point is as an origins story, or the main point is to explain why the sabbath should be observed. I’m uncertain between those.

    Genesis 2,3 is a simple story, though I wouldn’t call it “beautiful.” However, Christianity has made a mess of it. On my reading, it is a simple “Just So” story to explain why humans are different from other animals. I see the “original sin” bit as an invention of Christian theology, as something made out of whole cloth.

    However, I do wonder what Karl Giberson has been smoking.

  8. #8 AnswersInGenitals
    June 18, 2012

    The biggest problem I have with genesis is that it leaves unanswered the most pressing question of the story: If god did not want Adam and Eve to eat the Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge (FOTOK), then why did he put the tree in the garden of Eden? I mean, god created the entire friggen universe and knew where everything was. So why didn’t he stick the tree in Bangkok, or Brisbane, or greater downtown Burbank? The whole thing looks like a setup. One might argue that god’s intention was to test Adam and Eve. But that explanation doesn’t work: 1) being omnipotent, god already knew how the test would play out; 2) If it was just a test, then the serpent was just following orders and acting as god’s agent. He certainly wouldn’t have been punished. Without the whys and wherefores, genesis isn’t a beautiful story – it’s a half finished story with the most important parts left out.

  9. #9 Nickmatzke
    June 18, 2012

    testing…

  10. #10 Nickmatzke
    June 18, 2012

    OK, I can comment now too. Although Jason accurately points out some of the reasons that the Genesis story has caused problems for society, I can’t endorse the rest of his critique. The Genesis story is so deeply woven into western culture that it can’t be extricated in any reasonable way. The story is older than any extant country or political system — heck, it is older than the English language itself, by a lot. More than a few other famous pieces of literature are really just riffs on Genesis. Frankenstein, anyone? The conceptual debts to Genesis don’t start and end with literature, they continue to music and even science — e.g. mitochondrial Eve, the Tree of Life, the Big Bang, “pangenesis”, “gene”, etc.

    Another line of argument we could make would be to note that any story that has been around and valued for thousands of years is likely to contain some deep reflections on human nature and its paradoxes. Concepts like paradise, rebellion, free will, knowledge vs. innocence, naming things, origins, etc., are almost defined by Genesis. If you missed the bit in Genesis about how knowledge leads to loss of innocence and expulsion from paradise, and the connection between this and, say, leaving childhood and becoming an adult, or civilization learning science and finding that knowledge doesn’t solve all our problems, you weren’t paying close enough attention.

    Ignoring Genesis? You might as well suggest people ignore Homer and Shakespeare because after all they’re just fiction and therefore obviously worthless, plus they have chunks we moderns consider immoral and therefore obviously worthless.

    PS: Also the Christian spin on Genesis is just one of the many that is available. E.g. I don’t think the jews think that the snake is Satan, and they certainly don’t think that Genesis contains a prophecy that Jesus will come and smite down Satan.

  11. #11 Jason Rosenhouse
    Harrisonburg, VA
    June 18, 2012

    Nick –

    I don’t agree that early chapters of Genesis contain any deep reflections on much of anything. As I argued in the post, most of its reflections are rather primitive and ought to have been discarded long ago. It’s very clever of you to note the parallel between Genesis 3 and the loss of innocence involved in going from childhood to adulthood, but I’m afraid I see that as pretty banal.

    Your comparison to Homer and Shakespeare is not well taken. My criticism of Genesis is not, “It’s fiction and therefore it’s worthless.” My argument is, “As history or science it’s worthless, which is highly significant when you consider all the people who persist in claiming otherwise. As literature it’s beyond worthless, since all of its major points are primitive and offensive.” In this the Bible differs greatly from Homer and Shakespeare, who were genuinely insightful, and, especially in Shakespeare’s case, expressed themselves in beautiful prose. For that matter, I would say that as literature most of the Bible lacks the insight and cleverness that you would find in Stephen King or Lee Child.

    Genesis has certainly had a lot of cultural influence, but that is irrelevant to any point I am making here. What I think should be discarded about Genesis is the idea that it remains an especially insightful story into the human condition even if you agree that it has no historical or scientific significance. The only reason Genesis was ever interesting was that people claimed the stories were actually true. Absent that, there are dozens of literary works that are of demonstrably human origin which have far more to offer in the way of insight and deep reflection.

  12. #12 Matthew
    June 18, 2012

    I don’t agree with the blogger’s take on Genesis. I guess you need to define beauty. You have defined it in terms of morality, but certainly there is much to be said for the structural elegance of the Genesis 1 account. As a poem, there is considerable beauty in the way the days are set out, with tohu wa bohuw (formless and empty) setting up days 1-3 (formless is formed) and 4-6 (empty is filled), with day 1 and 4, 2 and 5, and 3 and 6 all complementing one another. Then there is the restless activity of God at the beginning contrasted with his rest on day 7. There is considerable elegance and beauty, then, in that sense.
    Again, structurally, chapters 1-3 and the Flood account have wonderful correspondences that make them a treasure to study. So in its wider context I would say that Genesis 2-3 are also beautiful. As to the blogger’s objection that humans are the pinnacle of creation in the account, this is only partially true – it is kept in check by man and land animals being created on the same day. Creation becomes ‘very good’ only when it is complete, and not simply because humans have arrived. Finally, I cannot deny that Genesis 2 has been interpreted misogynistically, but this need not be the case. The Hebrew word for Eve’s role indicates something along the lines of a perfect co-rule complementing Adam’s role in nature perfectly. Lastly, God’s cursing is less the actions of a wrathful God (indeed, there is little in the passage to indicate wrath), and more of a mournful God stating the consequences of wanting to be like him, and failing. You don’t have to believe these things, to find beauty in them.

  13. #13 Matthew
    June 18, 2012

    And to respond to Nick and Jason’s comment to Nick, a definite human author (John Steinbeck) wrote East of Eden, and in it his characters discover a profound lesson on human character and the nature of grace in Genesis 3. Steinbeck founded his entire novel on this lesson, and in doing so crafted one of his best works. I would suggest that Jason has not found much beauty, because he hasn’t really tried.

  14. #14 Dunc
    June 19, 2012

    Tolkien’s Ainulindalë is a far superior creation myth…

  15. #15 Kel
    June 19, 2012

    My impression of the “beauty” of Genesis is that it’s truly in the eye of the beholder. I’ve listened to debates and discussions where theists of a non-literalist bent will talk in almost reverent terms when talking about the metaphor of the genesis account, but it’s not something I can personally understand. Though my lack of appreciation is not in and of itself evidence that it’s not poetic, I freely admit, though I haven’t really heard anyone outside of the tradition rave about it in the same way one raves about the Homeric tales or Beowulf.

  16. #16 David Evans
    June 19, 2012

    I suspect that much of the beauty we see in (parts of) the Bible can be credited to the translators of the King James version. Who were, incidentally, Shakespeare’s contemporaries.

  17. #17 Wow
    June 19, 2012

    “I’m afraid I find nothing beautiful about the idea that we were created for the purpose of serving God.”

    In actuality, it is claiming that we were born into servitude. Slavery that.moreover, lasts throughout this life and into an eternal afterlife.

    Being born a slave isn’t, to my mind, a beautiful story.

  18. #18 Wow
    June 19, 2012

    “Only when it was discovered that man by himself had needs that were going unfulfilled”

    And wasn’t that because Adam, offered any of the animals created so far, as mate, refused?

    I can understand refusing bestiality, but that was God’s intent.

    Apparently, Gen 2 thinks that God is here to serve Mankind.

    That’s a much more appealing story for the humans. But it rather sucks for God.

    And remember, another point “for” believing the Bible is it gives carte blanche for not only our rapine of the planet (it was given to us and in any case, God can fix it) but also for our evils (either Satan is doing it to us, or, like the RCC believes, we’re inherently evil, therefore not our fault, just appeal to God to forgive and we’re away scot-free!).

    Its why Randians (despite Ayn being an atheist) have so many christian followers.

  19. #19 Wow
    June 19, 2012

    “The story is older than any extant country or political system”

    Democracy, started with the Greeks long before they had a copy of the old testament, Nick.

    “heck, it is older than the English language itself, by a lot.”

    It’s older than my socks. This doesn’t, however, mean that the story is anything. So why did you bring that up?

    “Another line of argument we could make would be to note that any story that has been around and valued for thousands of years”

    And my arse has been my arse for a very long time. That doesn’t mean I listen to what it says (paraphrasing, IIRC, A TP novel).

    What is that line of argument arguing?

    That it’s old? That people have listened to it? Well that isn’t in dispute. What’s in dispute is whether it has any value even as a work of fiction.

    “Concepts like paradise, rebellion, free will, knowledge vs. innocence, naming things, origins, etc., are almost defined by Genesis”

    Nope. They’re all in genesis, but they’ve not been defined by it. Not even “almost”.

    “loss of innocence and expulsion from paradise, and the connection between this and, say, leaving childhood and becoming an adult”

    We don’t expel people for learning in civilised society. Though it seems like many people in the Bible Belt and Fox Channel watchers that they WILL expel people for learning and no other reason, but that’s rather the problem with the Bible and how it has caused IMMENSE damage to civilised society.

    “and finding that knowledge doesn’t solve all our problems”

    Strawman. Nobody says it will solve all our problems. And, according to the bible, knowledge CAUSED all our problems. Knowledge is sinful to Genesis and the Bible. And the solution to the problem that the Bible says caused those problems? Dropping knowledge for “Belief”. The refusal of knowledge.

    But you’re not willing to give up the fruits of that knowledge.

    “You might as well suggest people ignore Homer and Shakespeare because after all they’re just fiction and therefore obviously worthless,”

    If they’re obviously worthless, maybe you can explain why.

    Jason is saying that the bible is worthless AS FICTION. NOT your strawman of “fiction is worthless”.

  20. #20 Wow
    June 19, 2012

    “but certainly there is much to be said for the structural elegance of the Genesis 1 account.”

    There is no structural elegance. It’s a bunch of words that don’t make sense with the rest of that book.

    The PHONE BOOK has structure. It’s even elegant (residential alphabetically sorted, commercial in a separate section sorted by commercial enterprise and then by alphabetically is very elegant). We don’t call it beautifully written.

    You seem to be saying “it’s beautiful because I define it to be so”.

    You can do so, but you can’t say that it applies to anyone but yourself. Since the society ALWAYS includes more than the one person, for the gestalt being “society” such definitions are inapplicable.

  21. #21 Vincent Torley
    Japan
    June 19, 2012

    Jason,

    I have to say I find your comments grossly unfair. Even Richard Dawkins has acknowledged that he finds Genesis 1 a beautiful myth, although he doesn’t believe a word of it. You write: “I find nothing beautiful about the idea that we were created for the purpose of serving God.” But Genesis 1 nowhere says that. It says we were meant to be fruitful and multiply, and rule the earth. In any case, what’s wrong with serving the Being who made you?

    You write about “the environmental degradation caused by people believe the Earth exists solely to provide for human needs.” If you’re correct, then atheistic countries such as China (and the former Soviet Union) should have a much cleaner environmental record than theistic countries like America. Somehow I think not. For my part, I think the environmental degradation caused by the Industrial Revolution was a price worth paying for human progress.

    You also write: “The point of Genesis 2 seems to be that women only exist to service the needs of man.” Nonsense. When Adam meets Eve, he calls her “bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.” Not once does he order her about. Not until Genesis 3:16, after the Fall, is Eve told that Adam will rule her, and that’s depicted as a punishment, meaning that it wasn’t part of God’s original plan.

    Regarding Genesis 3, you seem to think that the takeaway message is: “God hates it, apparently, when we try to think for ourselves or pursue knowledge.” Oh, really? I suppose that explains why the Jews have always placed such a high premium on learning.

    It’s contradictory to blame Genesis for legitimizing environmental degradation and then blame it for keeping us all ignorant. If we were ignorant, we’d never have invented the environmentally polluting technologies which Genesis supposedly legitimizes!

    One final comment. It’s pretty silly to open a 3,000-year-old text, read it and automatically think you can understand it. The book was written in a foreign language and for a people whose worldview was very different from our own. We shouldn’t expect to be able to understand such a text simply by reading it. It’s a much better idea to consult the people to whom the book was given (the Jews) and ask them what it means, before you pronounce judgement on the Genesis story.

  22. #22 Ian Kemmish
    June 19, 2012

    How about a comparative test?

    Try to write a parable whose moral is that the most important thing is to obey without thinking apparently arbitrary orders (in the desert, especially the Bronze Age desert, anything else can mean instant death). Then try to write it in poetry, so that it will be transmitted through a few hundred generations without change, and with people still accepting it.

    Not as easy as it sounds, is it?

  23. #23 Wow
    June 19, 2012

    Ian, what does that have to do with whether it’s of any value?

    It’s hard to make a sandcastle out of excrement. That doesn’t mean it’s worth doing.

  24. #24 NickMatzke
    June 19, 2012

    “Tolkien’s Ainulindalë is a far superior creation myth…”

    …and it’s just another riff on Genesis.

  25. #25 SLC
    June 19, 2012

    Stephen Jay Gould would not agree with Prof. Rosenhouse relative to Genesis 1. In several of his essays, he extolls it as the basis of Haydn’s oratorio, The Creation. The late Professor Gould was a member of a choral society and often sang in performances of that piece of music.

    Attached is a link to a performance of one of the chorus/trio selections from the work for those who may be unfamiliar with it.

  26. #26 Wow
    June 19, 2012

    “But Genesis 1 nowhere says that. It says we were meant to be fruitful and multiply, and rule the earth.”

    But that’s not what Jason says either. Therefore why bring it up?

    “In any case, what’s wrong with serving the Being who made you?”

    For that to be the case, it would have to be true. I.e. not a myth. Not merely a work of fiction. What’s good about serving the Being who DIDN’T make you?

    And you (with your wife) made your children. Are they merely there to serve you?

    Slavery is what is wrong with “serving the Being who made you?”.

    “If you’re correct, then atheistic countries such as China should have a much cleaner environmental record than theistic countries like America”

    America was founded SPECIFICALLY as a secular (i.e. atheistic) country.

    “Not once does he order her about.”

    Not that we see written down. Yet we see very little conversation written down between the two. Either they didn’t talk to each other, they weren’t together very long, or the book missed out a lot.

    However, and again you strawman, Jason is saying that Woman was created specifically to service the carnal needs of Man.

    Refute that. Not your preferred statement.

    ““God hates it, apparently, when we try to think for ourselves or pursue knowledge.” Oh, really?”

    Yes. Really.

    How else do you describe eternal punishment for eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge?

    “It’s pretty silly to open a 3,000-year-old text, read it and automatically think you can understand it”

    Why? Just because you think you have understood it?

    “The book was written in a foreign language and for a people whose worldview was very different from our own”

    We read it in our language at this time.

    Therefore, like the epic of Gilgamesh, it’s irrelevant to today. So why do so many people insist it is relevant today?

  27. #27 Wow
    June 19, 2012

    “…and it’s just another riff on Genesis.”

    But a much better one.

    So lets drop the old-and-busted Genesis and use Tolkien.

    At least nobody believes THAT is a true and literal account of history.

  28. #28 Wow
    June 19, 2012

    “Stephen Jay Gould would not agree with Prof. Rosenhouse relative to Genesis 1.”

    That’s fine.

    If that’s supposed to mean Jason is *wrong*, however, that’s not fine.

  29. #29 Dunc
    June 19, 2012

    “…and it’s just another riff on Genesis.”

    I’m afraid I really don’t see it, beyond the most superficial similarity that they’re both creation myths. It terms of structure, content, and underlying concepts, they really have very little in common as far as I can see. Perhaps you’d care to elucidate?

  30. #30 JimR
    June 19, 2012

    The Hindu story of creation says that it is a recurring phenomenon. That may be closer to reality than anything in Genesis. Also there are many stories going back 5,000 years to greatly enrich the Hindu take on creation. Age, variety and tradition do not make it credible.

    Anyhow this mythology was known in the Middle East when scribes and tale spinners were putting together the different accounts of creation that appear in Genesis and later tales. I think credit should be given to the origins of the biblical material. The KJB translators not only made it accessible beyond the priestly class, but put their own spin on it and polished it into the best prose/poetic available to them.

    There is a whole lot more spin put on the Jesus material because the scribes in the second and third centuries thought they had controlled all the “heretical” versions which have now come to light. The older stories were protected by the Jewish tradition against reinterpretation and editorial changes by above scribes. Otherwise who knows how Genesis would read now. Probably would have indicated the Roman emperors were anointed by god.

    Some of the newer religions created in the last 200-300 years have tried an alternate take, sometimes with supplemental texts. It is a lot easier for small minds to over-interpret a small body of work, than to absorb and interpret that which is writ large as the science of the world is. A body of text constantly changing as more is added and new interpretations arise. Genesis can only be appreciated as a passing fancy for a small group of people 1,000s of years ago. I would not even put it in the top 500 books worth reading.

  31. #31 Wow
    June 19, 2012

    Also, the Brahma Age is about 4 billion years.
    That (approximately) makes the earth 1 Age old and the universe 3 Ages old.

    Three ages, like

    1) First Age: Population 1 stars. Low metallicity, no rocky planets.
    2) Second Age: Population 0 stars. Life-bearing rocky planets can form. Earth forms
    3) Third Age: The age of Earth bearing life.

    If you want to show “truth” of a religious text by “miraculous” concordance with only recently revealed truths of the universe, isn’t this a far greater “proof” of the divine inspiration of the Hindu Faith?

  32. #32 Matthew
    June 19, 2012

    To reply to Wow, you clearly have a subjective opinion of what constitutes beauty, and you are trying to box people in to your own conception of it. I stand by my statement of structural elegance. Poetry has a form and structure that the phone book lacks. I know a lot of people who do not appreciate Shakespeare – those who study Shakespeare (that is, put more effort into him than simply reading him) are generally the ones who appreciate his work the most (I don’t deny that people can and do read him and appreciate him with little work). Similarly, those who have invested time into understanding Genesis 1 appreciate its beauties more than those who do not. I have invested a great deal of effort into studying this passage; the comments from both you and Prof. Stackhouse display, quite frankly, your ignorance of the text. Now let the name-calling and angry responses from Wow begin…

  33. #33 Nickmatzke
    June 19, 2012

    “America was founded SPECIFICALLY as a secular (i.e. atheistic) country.”

    Well that’s tosh. Secular yes, atheistic no. Secular != atheistic.

    http://dododreams.blogspot.com/2009/02/secular-thought.html

    =======
    [T]here was a good deal of misunderstanding … respecting the import of the word secular. There is no uncertainty about it. There is not a better defined word in the English language. Secular is whatever has reference to this life. Secular instruction is instruction respecting the concerns of this life. Secular subjects therefore are all subjects except religion. All the arts and sciences are secular knowledge. To say that secular means irreligious implies that all the arts and sciences are irreligious, and is very like saying that all professions except that of the law are illegal. There is a difference between irreligious and not religious, however it may suit the purposes of many persons to confound it. Now on the principles of religious freedom which we were led to believe that it was the purpose of this Association to accept, instruction on subjects not religious is as much the right of those who will not accept religious instruction as of those who will. To know the laws of the physical world, the properties of their own bodies and minds, the past history of their species, is as much a benefit to the Jew, the Mussulman, the Deist, the Atheist, as to the orthodox churchman ; and it is as iniquitous to withhold it from them. Education provided by the public must be education for all, and to be education for all it must be purely secular education.

    -John Stuart Mill, “Speech on Secular Education,” 1849
    =======

  34. #34 Nickmatzke
    June 19, 2012


    Dunc
    11:11 am

    “…and it’s just another riff on Genesis.”

    I’m afraid I really don’t see it, beyond the most superficial similarity that they’re both creation myths. It terms of structure, content, and underlying concepts, they really have very little in common as far as I can see. Perhaps you’d care to elucidate?”

    Start here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ainulindal%C3%AB#Concept_and_creation

    ================
    Ainulindalë – Concept and creation

    The Ainulindalë has been called “Tolkien’s ‘Genesis’ essay”[5] with yet another source observing that “the Biblical parallels evinced by the creation account of the Ainulindalë … are inescapable.”[6] Its style has been compared to old Norse texts. While the wording is substantially different, the Valar and the Æsir show certain similarities like influencing the world and recursively being influenced by their actions. Specifically, Manwë has been compared to Odin in this context.[7]

    5. Bramlett & Christopher, p. 36 Bramlett, Perry C.; Christopher, Joe R. (2007). I Am in Fact a Hobbit: An Introduction to the Life and Works of J. R. R. Tolkien. Mercer University Press. ISBN 0-86554-894-3.

    6. Fisher, Jason (2011). Tolkien and the Study of His Sources: Critical Essays. McFarland. pp. 47. ISBN 0-7864-6482-8.
    ================

  35. #35 Jason Rosenhouse
    Harrisonburg, VA
    June 19, 2012

    Matthew –

    I have invested a great deal of effort into studying this passage; the comments from both you and Prof. Stackhouse display, quite frankly, your ignorance of the text.

    Did you mean Professor Rosenhouse?

    I’ve studied Genesis plenty, thanks. It’s pretty arrogant of you to suggest that someone who doesn’t share your aesthetic tastes must be operating from a position of ignorance.

  36. #36 Matthew
    June 19, 2012

    Sorry, I did mean Rosenhouse! I had a different blogger’s name in my head, my bad, and I hope it didn’t offend. It wasn’t the fact that you don’t share my aesthetic taste, that’s fine. You are definitely entitled to your belief that the passage is not beautiful. To each his own in beauty, for sure. No, your ignorance of the passage came through in the simple fact that you misunderstood it. This was very evident throughout your post, as I mentioned in a previous comment. As for arrogance, well, there seems to be a lot of that on this blog, isn’t there? Isn’t it rather arrogant to dismiss the sacred writings of an entire culture as lacking ‘the insight and cleverness that you would find in Stephen King or Lee Child’? Consider my arrogance as par for the course!

  37. #37 Matthew
    June 19, 2012

    I do realize that conversations through blog posts really get us nowhere, and will only end in frustration on both sides. You can have your say, and then I will bow out. Clearly, your post got me thinking, so it was successful on that front! I would challenge you, though, if you are certain that you have adequately understood the passage, find online someone who has studied this passage academically and send them this post, and see if they agree that you have interpreted the passage in a way that is sound.

  38. #38 Michael Fugate
    June 19, 2012

    Are you saying there is complete agreement among academics as to how one should interpret Genesis? That’s pretty amazing. Your initial response does seem a bit sugar-coated – wiping out all living creatures on earth except a few humans (backtracking on animals later) indicates sadness and not anger? What would have been the consequences if angry?

  39. #39 tomh
    June 19, 2012

    Matthew wrote:
    Isn’t it rather arrogant to dismiss the sacred writings of an entire culture…

    Why is it arrogant? Just because someone, even an entire culture, believes something to be “sacred” does this automatically make it worthy of respect? There are hundreds of holy texts, heck, Scientology alone has about twenty, but this doesn’t mean I will respect and revere all of them, no matter how many people consider them “sacred.” The Bible is no different than the hundreds of others that someone, somewhere, considers sacred, easily ignored and easily dismissed. No arrogance needed

  40. #40 Nickmatzke
    June 19, 2012

    ============
    tomh
    June 19, 6:55 pm

    Matthew wrote:
    Isn’t it rather arrogant to dismiss the sacred writings of an entire culture…

    Why is it arrogant? Just because someone, even an entire culture, believes something to be “sacred” does this automatically make it worthy of respect? There are hundreds of holy texts, heck, Scientology alone has about twenty, but this doesn’t mean I will respect and revere all of them, no matter how many people consider them “sacred.” The Bible is no different than the hundreds of others that someone, somewhere, considers sacred, easily ignored and easily dismissed. No arrogance needed
    ============

    This is all just some weird expression of knee-jerk hatred of religion replacing scholarly deliberation. I bet you could survey 100 nonreligious/atheist literature and history professors at major public institutions and none of them would endorse the crude dismissals of Genesis as junk that ought to be ignored that we are seeing here.

  41. #41 Matthew
    June 20, 2012

    Michael,
    My comment about sadness was in reference to Genesis 3. Wrath is certainly found in the Flood account. Please don’t take my words out of context. Secondly, I asked that a scholar review the post to see if it was sound, which is not the same thing as asking if he was in complete agreement with it. Obviously different scholars will have different opinions. But if you had an erroneous reading of Macbeth, even scholars that disagree on Macbeth will still agree that that particular reading has little or no merit. I would like everyone to note that I was not initially trying to pick a fight – I think my first comments were respectful. My later comments were due to annoyance from the tone of the conversation. I have been following this blog for over a year now, but I am no longer sure why. Prof. Rosenhouse and his audience clearly do not like other perspectives. I get the feeling that Prof. Rosenhouse is preaching to the choir, and have to question then who he is writing for. I agree completely with Nick above. Although Prof. Rosenhouse and those who comment on this blog bemoan the immorality that religion has brought, I see very little charity and a great deal of hate in many of the things said on here. Even if you are 100% correct in basing your worldview solely on scientific evidence, there is a good way and a bad way to be correct, and your way is simply a copy of the way of the fundamentalist Christians that you so very much hate. It is dismissive of everything and everyone who do not share your worldview. That is, I think, a dangerous place to be. I am sorry for any remarks I made in anger that offended people. I hope that this blog and its readers can take a higher road in the future.

  42. #42 Michael Fugate
    June 20, 2012

    Well you didn’t make that clear in your initial post – so don’t blame me for your mistakes. What do you mean by sound? This was a long time ago, long before written language. Do you really think anyone can know what they meant? Hell, Shakespeare and Chaucer are in English and it is not always clear what they meant – inside jokes and all.

    My way is to copy fundamentalists? How so? Really from one comment you can tell that? I didn’t dismiss you, I asked you a question about which you are now claiming that I lied about what you said. Just keep getting those digs in while you take the high road or it is to keep digging yourself into a bigger hole.

  43. #43 Mandrellian
    June 20, 2012

    Nick, as always, you’re appealing to popularity (like your ridiculous and embarrassing “Handel’s Messiah is objectively great and science didn’t tell us this objective truth” gaffe) as if it’s some kind of be-all, end-game:

    “I bet you could survey 100 nonreligious/atheist literature and history professors at major public institutions and none of them would endorse the crude dismissals of Genesis as junk that ought to be ignored that we are seeing here.”

    …you proclaim as if it’s a slam-dunk.

    That would demonstrate only that 100 nonreligious humanities professors don’t “crudely dismiss Genesis as junk”, an adolescent piece of hyperbole – I don’t recall anyone using the word “junk” before you arrived with your colours flying. That result would also not be surprising in the least, considering that people such as humanities professors would, one would assume, find more to enjoy in the close study of ancient myth and literature than non-humanities professors. Would your next trick be to survey a billion dolphins about the objective beauty and value and greatness of tuna?

    The perceived beauty of the Genesis story would still be debatable even if you obtained 100% positive replies from every humanities professor on the planet – although likely not to you, who seem convinced that any time you think something is great (or you notice a lot of other people do) that that means it is, in fact, indisputably, factually, objectively great and valuable. No. Genesis, flawed philosophy aside, is a work of art and literature as much as Handel’s Messiah and as such is open to as much subjective judgement as any other such work.

    Prof Rosenhouse posted his subjective opinion on Genesis: that its messages and lessons are largely negative and that its artistic value is easily exceeded by other works (I agree; though Robert Crumb’s illustrated version adds great dimension to it, but only because I happen to like R Crumb’s illustrations more than the text, in this case). Now, it’s your perfect right to disagree with his assessment of the story, but your impassioned defence of its beauty and power and influence (as if no culture had _ever_ explored the themes of Genesis before, as if Genesis just popped up out of a cultural vacuum) isn’t really a challenge to his opinion or refutation of his review; it’s just a counter-opinion.

    Moreover, the negative side-effects that arise from actually believing the falsehoods and following the dubious lessons of Genesis are legion and undeniable. When taken as directed (i.e. as Ken Ham takes it), Genesis is not a positive force in this world. When taken as art/literature or plain ancient myth, Genesis is unremarkable when compared to similar works. Indeed, the only thing which makes Genesis remarkable among the religious narratives of its day (and of the present) is its persistence as a cultural force.

    As art, Genesis is frankly unremarkable. My mythological preference is Greek and Celtic legends for their greater colour and greater inventiveness at explaining humanity’s flaws (disclaimer: that is my subjective opinion and I require no agreement for it to be true, for me).

    As philosophy, its underlying messages of “worship and obey without question” and “you are born with a stain of guilt that you inherited” are reprehensible. God’s negligence and wrath in Genesis is infamous.

    As a social influence, Genesis (and the scriptures that follow it) is almost unparallelled. But influence on its own does not make beauty; all dictators publish manifestos.

    Oh, but I forgot that **lots of people** like Genesis or think it’s beautiful, so it must be a Good Thing and must be True. Case closed.

  44. #44 Jason Rosenhouse
    June 20, 2012

    Matthew –

    I have been following this blog for over a year now, but I am no longer sure why. Prof. Rosenhouse and his audience clearly do not like other perspectives. I get the feeling that Prof. Rosenhouse is preaching to the choir, and have to question then who he is writing for. I agree completely with Nick above. Although Prof. Rosenhouse and those who comment on this blog bemoan the immorality that religion has brought, I see very little charity and a great deal of hate in many of the things said on here. Even if you are 100% correct in basing your worldview solely on scientific evidence, there is a good way and a bad way to be correct, and your way is simply a copy of the way of the fundamentalist Christians that you so very much hate. It is dismissive of everything and everyone who do not share your worldview.

    Now I’m angry. I wasn’t before, not even after reading Nick’s truculent little comment, but now I am. Why do you say I don’t like other perspectives? Why do you think I allow comments at all if not to provide a forum for other perspectives? Why do you think I made a point of not blogging about anything substantive while the commenting feature at the blog was down? I think I’m actually pretty generous about allowing people to criticize me here.

    Except for Wow, who you should simply ignore, I don’t see how you’ve been treated rudely by anyone here. You, by contrast, have called me ignorant, have suggested that my lack of appreciation for Genesis could only be the result of my lack of study, and have now cast a variety of aspersions on my motives and my opinions for people who disagree with me. Nick, for his part, casually chalks-up my opinion to knee-jerk hatred, you know, since a lot of literature professors would disagree with me. Lecture me some more about charity and being respectful towards people with different perspectives.

    You are aware, aren’t you, that I just wrote a book about creationists? I’m so intolerant of people with different perspectives that I devoted a huge amount of time and money, over a period of years, to socialize with them, let them explain their ideas to me in their own words, engage them in civil conversations, and then present one of the most sympathetic portraits of them ever written by an academic. And you have the audacity to suggest that I am dismissive of people with different world views from me, and that my morbid hate has left me in a dangerous place? Seriously?

    And that, mind you, is how I treat people whose worldview is about as different from mine as could be, and whose beliefs have, in my view led to enormous harm and injustice in society. How much more mellow do you think I am with someone like Nick, with whom I probably agree on about ninety-five percent of everything, who leaves (mostly) sensible comments criticizing me over largely academic questions?

    Your first comment was fine. I didn’t reply to it simply because life is short and you can’t reply to everything. Regarding the first part of your comment, our standards of beauty are obviously very different. Shows you what a dumbass hater I am. Regarding Genesis 2, the sequence of events couldn’t be clearer. God creates man, places him in the Garden, notices that man is lonely, discovers that the animals don’t satisfy his needs, and then creates woman specifically as a helper to him. Truly a person would have to be out of his mind to think that the story assigns to women a role subservient to that of men! (Incidentally, I could also have pointed out in the post that the primary cultural significance these days of Genesis 2 is to provide a justification for hostility to gay marriage.)

    Your only counterpoint on Genesis 3 was that God seems more mournful than wrathful. I don’t agree (you really don’t think God’s reaction to Adam and Eve’s sin was a bit draconian?) but it hardly affects my point in any event. It’s nice that you find the story beautiful, or that Nick thinks the point of the story is about loss of innocence. It’s just that the Roman Catholic Church, among other Christian denominations, tells me the true meaning of the story is that these are actual historical events, that I am tainted by the original sin of Adam and Eve, and that I must recognize my need for a savior under penalty of eternal damnation. Good luck trying to find beauty in that, but then I guess they’re all just ignorant too and haven’t devoted serious time to studying the text.

    My interpretations are readily defensible based on what the text actually says and are far more consistent with the history of Christian thought than are the modern liberal platitudes you and Nick are shoveling. You are welcome to comment here, and you are welcome to criticize anything I say. You could even be a lot harsher than you were in that first comment and I wouldn’t bat an eyelash. Just drop the martyr act and the motive questioning and get down to business. Everyone gets prickly when their opinions on emotional subjects are challenged. But kindly drop the pretense that you are the open-minded, educated one and the rest of us are just ignorant haters.

  45. #45 NickMatzke
    June 20, 2012

    That would demonstrate only that 100 nonreligious humanities professors don’t “crudely dismiss Genesis as junk”, an adolescent piece of hyperbole – I don’t recall anyone using the word “junk” before you arrived with your colours flying.

    Oh really? Let’s review what the Genesis-is-junk people have just said in this very thread, shall we?

    Leaving that aside, I think it only makes matters worse to argue that the story is purely allegorical, with no scientific or historical merit. As an allegory the story is a complete disaster. Having discarded any notion that the story is true, there is no reason at all to pay any attention to it whatsoever.

    Jason is saying that the bible is worthless AS FICTION. NOT your strawman of “fiction is worthless”.

    It’s hard to make a sandcastle out of excrement. That doesn’t mean it’s worth doing.

    Therefore, like the epic of Gilgamesh, it’s irrelevant to today. So why do so many people insist it is relevant today?

    Wow
    June 19, 10:47 am

    “…and it’s just another riff on Genesis.”

    But a much better one.

    So lets drop the old-and-busted Genesis and use Tolkien.

    At least nobody believes THAT is a true and literal account of history.

    I think “crudely dismiss Genesis as junk” was a pretty accurate summary of what the anti-Genesis party in this thread has been arguing for.

    That would demonstrate only that 100 nonreligious humanities professors don’t “crudely dismiss Genesis as junk”

    It would demonstrate that a consensus of serious, well-informed and not-biased-towards-religion scholars think that crudely dismissing Genesis even taken as literature is an overwrought position that is only being taken seriously by smart people because of the tendency to carpet-bomb anything having anything to do with religion rather than do a little critical thinking and acknowledge that there might be some things of value even amongst the stuff atheists disagree with.

    But actually, thinking about it a little more, probably if you did such a survey and told all of these professors that you were doing such a survey, you would probably get some contrarian opinions along the lines that Jason has been laying out, partially because some profs just love taking unpopular contrarian positions, and partially because there are legitimate critiques of the Genesis stories e.g. from a feminist perspective. But I don’t think there would be much doubt that “Genesis is junk, let’s ignore it” would be widely unpopular among humanities scholars.

    Re: The return of comments — Jason has one of the best discussion spaces in the blogosphere. Yes, people do get hot under the collar sometimes, but for the most part the discussions are productive even between gnus and non-gnus here, which is rare elsewhere.

    Sadly it is the nature of comment spaces, or at least my nature, to mostly only pipe up when I find something to disagree with. I agree with Jason on most things, actually, but that’s much less interesting to write comments about.

  46. #46 Dunc
    June 20, 2012

    Nick – yes, there’s certainly a clear stylistic similarity between the Ainulindalë and some of the Norse sources, and there are parallels with Paradise Lost, but I still don’t see the link to Genesis specifically. (The obvious parallels to Milton relate to elements which do not actually appear in Genesis, as far as I can recall.) Your wikipedia quote does not elucidate further, and the Google books link for the one relevant reference partially available on-line does not actually contain anything to support the claim (although the book itself might, but I’m not about to buy it and read it just to follow up on someone’s off-hand remark in a blog comment).

    Do you actually know what you’re talking about here (in which case you should actually be able to make the argument yourself), or are you just uncritically quoting wikipedia on a topic which you don’t actually know much about?

  47. #47 Wow
    June 20, 2012

    “To reply to Wow, you clearly have a subjective opinion of what constitutes beauty”

    Yes. So do you and everyone else.

    “and you are trying to box people in to your own conception of it.”

    I disagree with the characterisation of it, but for sake of the discussion, I’ll agree. So are you and everyone else.

    Remember, this is ENTIRELY ABOUT how the Bible is worthwhile because “it is beautiful”. That is then trying to say to everyone they should accede that claim based on their personal description of “beautiful”.

    “Poetry has a form and structure that the phone book lacks.”

    Blank Verse.

    Seems you have as little understanding of poetry as you do of beauty.

    And the phone book has a structure and form that poetry lacks. What was the point of your statement other than to show you don’t know what poetry is (or, rather, have an extremely limited “layman’s” view of what constitutes poetry).

    “those who have invested time into understanding Genesis 1 appreciate its beauties more than those who do not.”

    Wrong. Absolutely wrong.

    The more people take the time to read the bible (especially the Old Testament), the more likely they are to either be or become atheist.

    Atheists tend to know more about the bible than those professing christianity.

    And this entire topic is about how, when READING the bible (you know, “coming to understand it”), the less value it has as a story and the destructive story it has to tell becomes more apparent.

  48. #48 Wow
    June 20, 2012

    “Well that’s tosh. Secular yes, atheistic no. Secular != atheistic.”

    Secular == Atheistic.

    Atheism is the rejection of claims made for a god entity. This doesn’t mean KNOWING there is no god (gnostic atheism).

  49. #49 Wow
    June 20, 2012

    “Except for Wow, who you should simply ignore, I don’t see how you’ve been treated rudely by anyone here. You, by contrast, have called me ignorant”

    Maybe you should simply ignore Matthew, Jason?

  50. #50 Wow
    June 20, 2012

    ” Wow
    June 19, 10:47 am

    “…and it’s just another riff on Genesis.”

    But a much better one.

    So lets drop the old-and-busted Genesis and use Tolkien.

    At least nobody believes THAT is a true and literal account of history.

    I think “crudely dismiss Genesis as junk” was a pretty accurate summary of what the anti-Genesis party in this thread has been arguing for.”

    You think that because your brain is broken.

    If I were to say that a clay teapot is worse than a tin one, is it calling the clay teapot “junk”?

    No.

    But to someone who MUST play the victim card, they have to pretend that they’re being put upon.

    Since Christians haven’t been persecuted for several hundred years, they have to resort to pretending they’re being put upon, else they are being cheated of their martyrdom.

  51. #51 Wow
    June 20, 2012

    PS Jason, on the whole “ignorant” thing.

    Surely exhortation to “simply ignore” is an exhortation to active ignorance.

    Get your thinking straight, kid.

  52. #52 tomh
    June 20, 2012

    Nickmatzke wrote:
    I bet you could survey 100 nonreligious/atheist literature and history professors at major public institutions and none of them would endorse the crude dismissals of Genesis as junk that ought to be ignored that we are seeing here.

    Only Matzke could invoke an appeal to an authority that isn’t there, that lives only in his imagination. You bet you could survey those people and get the result you want? I bet you couldn’t. Now, let’s settle the bet.

  53. #53 Matthew
    June 20, 2012

    Dear Prof. Rosenhouse,

    I am very sorry to have caused you anger. I did apologize for having offended in the last post, but seem to have done more harm than good. Re-reading my comment, I still don’t see the source of anger, but that might be because we read tones that weren’t intended to be there. My intended tone was not one of anger, and I’m sorry to have been the cause of that. I was reacting to Wow initially, and then felt jumped on by several others who were twisting my words and responding in what I inferred to be anger and arrogance (again, my interpretation of tone, which may have gotten me in trouble as well). To compare an entire culture’s sacred texts to Stephen King does, I think, engender hate, even if that was not your intention. I’m sorry for not giving you the benefit of the doubt, however – your intention was clearly not to be hateful. Please accept my apology – having you respond in anger was not my intention. Sincerely, Matthew

  54. #54 Wow
    June 20, 2012

    “I was reacting to Wow initially”

    1) Why then address it to Jason?

    2) What, specifically, was “wrong” that you got all bent out of shape on thereby excusing yourself for your intemperate post?

    “To compare an entire culture’s sacred texts to Stephen King does, I think, engender hate”

    And telling suicide bombers that they’re wrong about the afterlife will make them hate you. Thing is: is the hate in any form justified?

    And why is it NOT possible to compare it? After all, you just did. By saying “it’s better than a Stephen King novel”.

    What engendered anger was that people who don’t believe your fictional story call it a fiction story and you hate that.

    Investigate why. Does the book change its words when someone calls it fiction? No. So why would you get angry?

  55. #55 SLC
    June 20, 2012

    Re Matthew @ 11:43 am

    Nothing to apologize for. The internet is a no holds barred place where no quarter is asked or given. Anybody who can’t take the heat should get out of the kitchen.

  56. #56 Xuuths
    June 20, 2012

    Matthew, many of us who post here are extremely well acquainted with genesis, some with advanced theological degrees and long academic pedigrees (even some reformed clergy).

    It is laughable for you to come in and suggest that we are the ignorant ones.

  57. #57 Jason Rosenhouse
    June 20, 2012

    Matthew –

    Your apology is accepted.

    As for the Stephen King comparison, I would simply point out that Stephen King and Lee Child are really good. It’s not like I compared the Bible to Stephenie Meyer or something. :)

  58. #58 Matthew
    June 21, 2012

    True enough – I haven’t tried Lee Child, but I am a HUGE Stephen King fan.

  59. #59 SLC
    June 21, 2012

    Re Jason Rosenhouse @ June 20, 11:48 pm

    Agreed, Lee Child is good. However, I must say that his hero, Jack Reacher, is, in many respects, a less then admirable figure, being that he kills people with no remorse.

  60. #60 eric
    June 21, 2012

    Matthew:

    To compare an entire culture’s sacred texts to Stephen King does, I think, engender hate.

    Why? Why should we put sacred texts out of reach of normal comparisons, metaphor, or analysis? How could we even understand these texts without trying to compare them to other human stories? In what way is it hateful?

    And do you apply your own standard evenhandedly? Do you think comparing the Kama Sutra to – um, let’s call them less sacred books of the same theme – is to engender hatred? What about comparing Hubbard’s Dianetics to Heinlen’s The Puppet Masters? Does that engender hate too?

    I really take offense at the idea that a book can be declared sacred and this declaration somehow means it must be treated with academic kid gloves. In part because without the freedom to talk and argue and analyze, the only acceptable way to interpret these texts is via someone’s authority. In part because it basically gives believers a heckler’s veto on academic analysis of any book they want to declare sacred. And in part because I suspect most of the folk who want sacred texts treated with respect really just mean they want their sacred texts treated with more respect than other people’s sacred texts – IOW, I reject the argument because its not applied consistently, its really just an example of special pleading.

  61. #61 Jason Rosenhouse
    Harrisonburg, VA
    June 21, 2012

    SLC –

    I’ve been a little disappointed with the two most recent Reacher novels, partly for the reason you say. For me it’s not so much that he kills without remorse, it’s that he sometimes uses an excessive level of violence. What I really like about Reacher as a character is how practical he is, and how rational he is when he tries to solve a crime or outthink his adversaries. I really do think Child is very insightful and observant about how people behave in various situations.

  62. #62 ildi
    June 21, 2012

    I always thought Reacher was excessively violent; the seductive part is that Child makes the bad guys so despicable that the violence seems justified. Reacher is in many ways the modern version of Clint Eastwood’s man with no name crossed with Sherlock Holmes.

    Funny that comparing Stephen King’s writing to the Bible is ‘hateful’. Many of his best novels exemplify the Christian concept of free will and choosing to be good or evil (The Shining, The Stand); much more so than Tolkien, in my mind.

    Also, I don’t hate evangelical Christians, just as I don’t hate wiccans or neo-pagans or woo-meisters. I fear them when they have the power to impose their damaging beliefs on society. I never expected to see the giant steps backward the U.S. is taking with regard to women’s reproductive rights or public education or vaccinations, for example.

  63. #63 Nickmatzke
    June 22, 2012

    Dunc
    June 20, 4:53 am

    Nick – yes, there’s certainly a clear stylistic similarity between the Ainulindalë and some of the Norse sources, and there are parallels with Paradise Lost, but I still don’t see the link to Genesis specifically. (The obvious parallels to Milton relate to elements which do not actually appear in Genesis, as far as I can recall.) Your wikipedia quote does not elucidate further, and the Google books link for the one relevant reference partially available on-line does not actually contain anything to support the claim (although the book itself might, but I’m not about to buy it and read it just to follow up on someone’s off-hand remark in a blog comment).

    Do you actually know what you’re talking about here (in which case you should actually be able to make the argument yourself), or are you just uncritically quoting wikipedia on a topic which you don’t actually know much about?

    I’m not an expert, either, but when I read the Silmarillion many moons ago, it occurred to me that the beginning was an obvious parallel to Genesis. Later I learned Tolkien was a serious Catholic and did put various bits of this into his writing, although mostly not in an overbearing way.

    So I made the initial remark I did just based on that. Then, when challenged, I did the obvious thing and check wikipedia, where, lo and behold, the very first thing mentioned in parallels was Genesis, and that a couple of scholarly works by Tolkien experts (I think) have independently reached the same conclusion.

    Now you’re saying you still don’t buy it, and you won’t be bothered to read the research of the researchers on the question. I don’t know how this can constitute a reasonable response in what is supposed to be rational discourse.

    I too read the online bits of the cited works, amongst the things mentioned: Ilúvatar, who is obviously God, sings the world into existence from chaos (analogous to God speaking the world into existence), does things in the same general order as the Bible, etc. Later in the Silmarillion we have brother killing brother, cleansing the world of evil with a Flood, survival of the Noah figure and his family (Elendil), etc.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=98VQ3gHsVsMC&lpg=PP1&dq=Tolkien%20and%20the%20Study%20of%20His%20Sources%3A%20Critical%20Essays&pg=PA52#v=snippet&q=Genesis&f=false

    Of course there are debts to Milton as well — particularly the Melkor/Satan figure — but of course Milton’s Paradise Lost is itself just another, very Christian, riff on Genesis, informed by Christian apocrypha etc. about angels and Satan that are read into Genesis rather than actually in the text.

  64. #64 Wow
    June 23, 2012

    “it occurred to me that the beginning was an obvious parallel to Genesis”

    So? It is also an obvious parallel to the Bhuddist creation myth. “something created the world, something bad happened to it, people were born into this bad world and many die”.

    ALL creation myths do that.

    Why? Because these myths are trying to explan the world we see when we open our eyes and walk about in it.

    Since they all have the same inspiration, there will be a lot of similarity between ALL of them.

    And given that we’re talking about whether the Silmarillion is a better book as fiction than the Bible, so what? According to literary scholars there are only seven tropes for literature. We have more than seven books. There must therefore be a lot of copying ideas going on…

    What the Silmarillion DOESN’T have in common with The Bible is a psychotic split personality where the same act is described as happening in a completely different order.

    It also doesn’t claim women are made because man wanted a woman, doesn’t claim that humanity is all 100% sinful from birth, doesn’t say slavery is nice and proper, and doesn’t pretend to be true.

    All of which make the Silmarillion objectively a better book.

  65. #65 Nickmatzke
    June 23, 2012

    “it occurred to me that the beginning was an obvious parallel to Genesis”

    So? It is also an obvious parallel to the Bhuddist creation myth. “something created the world, something bad happened to it, people were born into this bad world and many die”.

    ALL creation myths do that.

    Um no. For starters, Buddhist cosmology lacks a starting point for creation (time is infinite) and thus also a creator God.

    Sentence #1 of the Wikipedia entry on Buddhist temporal cosmology:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_cosmology#Temporal_cosmology
    ==================
    Buddhist temporal cosmology describes how the universe comes into being and is dissolved. Like other Indian cosmologies, it assumes an infinite span of time and is cyclical.
    ==================

    But I’m beginning to think you will say virtually anything, no matter how wrong or crazy, just to avoid any admission of a point of weakness in any Gnu argument…

    And given that we’re talking about whether the Silmarillion is a better book as fiction than the Bible, so what? According to literary scholars there are only seven tropes for literature. We have more than seven books. There must therefore be a lot of copying ideas going on…

    What the Silmarillion DOESN’T have in common with The Bible is a psychotic split personality where the same act is described as happening in a completely different order.

    It also doesn’t claim women are made because man wanted a woman, doesn’t claim that humanity is all 100% sinful from birth, doesn’t say slavery is nice and proper, and doesn’t pretend to be true.

    All of which make the Silmarillion objectively a better book.

    I never made an argument about which was “better”, so I don’t care. The original argument was about Jason’s statement about Genesis: “As an allegory the story is a complete disaster. Having discarded any notion that the story is true, there is no reason at all to pay any attention to it whatsoever. ”

    I pointed out among other things that this didn’t wash among other reasons simply because of the mass of famous, respected western literature that depends on Genesis. As if to prove my point, someone brought up the Ainulindalë as a better creation story, apparently not realizing its obvious dependency on Genesis. It’s pretty ironic to recommend something like Ainulindalë when trying to argue that Genesis is worthless and should be ignored, considering the dependency of the Ainulindalë on Genesis, and therefore the fact that the author of the Ainulindalë himself obviously didn’t ignore Genesis, but respected it greatly (even if we didn’t know this from other sources, which we do).

    Now you’re talking about the Bible vs. the Silmarillion. I don’t have any stake or interest in arguing which is “better”, but again you are scoring own goals against your own side by making the comparison. Like the Bible, the Silmarillion has long, boring, confusing, almost unreadable, not-very-good parts, genealogies and the like. Like the Bible, the Silmarillion was the product of a long process of editing together not-always-matching stories, and as a result has various internal contradictions that puzzle its readers. One can even make a decent argument that there is a fair bit of Eurocentrism/racism and sexism in Tolkien.

    Yet the work has substantial value nonetheless. Ditto for the Bible. Claims to the contrary are, well, objectively wrong.

  66. #66 Wow
    June 24, 2012

    “Um no. For starters, Buddhist cosmology lacks a starting point for creation (time is infinite) and thus also a creator God.”

    Um yes.

    For a start, the universe is god and exists without physical form until it decided to manifest physically. I.e. exactly the same as your christian system, except that god is the universe (after creation of it) plus god. Which is no difference at all.

    “I never made an argument about which was “better”,”

    Well, I can agree with that: you’ve not made an argument for which is better. You’ve merely gone all hysterical and CLAIMED it was better (because the Silmarillion is merely a copy in your mind).

    “because of the mass of famous, respected western literature that depends on Genesis”

    Which was only because christianity has 2000 years and killed off all the other religions. in the english speaking world.

    It’s pretty easy to be top dog when you’ve killed off so many others.

    And, given Genesis will have been inspired from other creation myths, then Genesis is less than those other myths, even if we cannot find them any more because these “heresies” are destroyed. See the library at Alexandria.

    “Like the Bible, the Silmarillion has long, boring, confusing, almost unreadable, not-very-good parts, genealogies and the like.”

    And, unlike the bible, doesn’t codify slavery, include god-induced mass slaughter, doesn’t have two different creation myths within the same book that are contradictory.

    Therefore, merely as fiction, the Silmarillion is far a better book.

    “One can even make a decent argument that there is a fair bit of Eurocentrism/racism and sexism in Tolkien.”

    Nope, only to the extent that women don’t appear apart from a few cases. Galadriel is extremely powerful and is a far greater character than her husband. But only appears a short while.

    Whereas the sexism and myscogyny in the bible is rampant and disgusting (“Hey, don’t shag these male people here, because that’s immoral and unkind, take my virgin daughters and gang bang them instead!”).

  67. #67 Dunc
    June 25, 2012

    I too read the online bits of the cited works, amongst the things mentioned: Ilúvatar, who is obviously God, sings the world into existence from chaos (analogous to God speaking the world into existence), does things in the same general order as the Bible, etc. Later in the Silmarillion we have brother killing brother, cleansing the world of evil with a Flood, survival of the Noah figure and his family (Elendil), etc.

    Except Illuvatar doesn’t sing the world into existence from chaos (the music of the Ainur is merely a foreshadowing, not creation), the construction of the world doesn’t proceed in anything like the same order as in Genesis, and the other parallels later in the Silmarillion are (a) not in the Ainulindalë, which is the creation myth, and (b) perfectly standard fare from a wide variety of mythic traditions from all over the world. In this respect, Genesis itself is “just another gloss” on even older myths.

    Now you’re saying you still don’t buy it, and you won’t be bothered to read the research of the researchers on the question. I don’t know how this can constitute a reasonable response in what is supposed to be rational discourse.

    I’m not saying I don’t buy it, I’m saying you hadn’t actually made the argument at the time I wrote that. Now that you have tried to make the argument, I’m saying I don’t buy it on these specific points, because I think you’re wrong about them.

    Also, I am not personally making an argument that “Genesis is worthless”, or that it “should be ignored”. Other people in this thread may be, but I am not one of them. I’m merely making the argument that it’s not a particularly wonderful work of literature, and there are many better alternatives out there. Of course it’s a fundamental part of the Western Canon, which you have to be aware of in order to understand and fully appreciate a great many other works. All I’m saying is that, as a work of literature in its own right, I don’t think it’s all that great. Influential, certainly, but beautiful? Not so much.

  68. #68 Wow
    June 25, 2012

    Also Satan falls after creation, whereas Melkor falls AFTER.

  69. #69 Wow
    June 25, 2012

    Sorry, BEFORE.

    He tries to meld the blueprint (the singing of the Ainur) that Eru intended to his own vision of creation, attempting to subvert Eru.

  70. #70 NickMatzke
    June 25, 2012

    Meh. There’s not much point in arguing further with people who are going to assert things that are refutable with the simplest of google searches, like Buddhism and Christianity having the same basic creation stories, or there being no legitimate argument for racist and sexist elements to Tolkien’s writings.

  71. #71 Wow
    June 25, 2012

    What can be refuted by a Google search? That someone can be wrong too?

  72. #72 Jon S
    June 26, 2012

    As a YEC I’d suggest that the reason Americans “resist” evolution is because many know it to be false. The bigger question would be “Why do so many people resist God and his Word?” (the Bible does answer that question).

    There certainly are deficiencies in evolution that cause people to reject it: namely it can’t be observed, and is only assumed and believed by faith based on a biased interpretation of the evidence all the while the bias is hidden from view, repressed, or denied. To be honest, there’s nothing wrong with comforting belief systems rooted in truth. I maintain that evolution is the fairy tale, while scripture provides us with the real history of our origins.

    Why does believing that we need God to live virtuous lives reflect poorly on me and others who believe that? Is it because you hold man in such high esteem? You go on to say that your opinion of humanity is not the “very good” description indicated in the Bible. So which is it? Is man inherently good or bad? If your opinion of man is low, then you should agree that God is needed in order for humanity to live a virtuous life. If you disagree, then you must think man is inherently good, right? But is this what we observe in human nature? Do young children need to be taught how to do wrong or to hurt others, steal or be mean? No, they don’t. Good parents will teach their children right from wrong and will teach them how to share and get along with others. Children that don’t have such parents will inevitably continue to hurt others, steal and be mean.

    We instinctively want to do whatever pleases us, even if it hurts others, so we need to learn how to suppress our sinful desires in order to get along and do the right thing. It’s not always easy to do the right thing, so it makes perfect sense that God’s laws are needed. Without God, the only reason for being good is so that others are nice to us and treat us the way we want to be treated so that we don’t get hurt. With God we ultimately want to do right because he first loved us, and therefore we should love others (1 John 4:19).

    So Genesis is beautiful on several accounts. First, it’s true history, and secondly it’s supported by the scientific evidence.

    Bertrand Russell’s remarks are only an accurate account of humanity after the fall. Prior to the fall man was “very good”, as was the entire creation. But after the fall man became wicked, which is why God sent the flood. Nonetheless we were created by God, not merely to serve him as you suggest (remember Jesus came as a servant- Mark 10:45), but to partake in his kingdom as heirs and sons (Acts 3:25, Romans 8:17, Galations 3:29, Ephesians 3:6, Titus 3:3-7).

    The only disasters to speak of are of sinful and wicked humans doing sinful and wicked things (regardless if the cause was religious, evolutionary, or other), which is precisely why Christ came- man needed a savior. If you maintain that religion is responsible for destroying so many lives, don’t forget all the lives lost in the name of Darwinism and evolution, as well as many other causes that are nonreligious. In the end man is sinful and in need of a savior. Evolution or putting an end to religion is not the answer to humanity’s problems. Christ is.

    Of course there’s environmental degradation, but the cause isn’t rooted in the fact that the Earth was created as man’s home and given to him to subdue it (Genesis 1:28). Even without religion there would environmental degradation, perhaps to a greater extent. But from a Biblical perspective man is supposed to be caring and tending the Earth (Genesis 2:15), not degrading it. So your environmental concerns cannot be blamed on religion, but squarely on man’s sinfulness.

    Your portrayal of the creation of woman is also inaccurate. You claim that woman was created to serve man, but the Bible says that woman was created to help man (Genesis 2:18), and this implies that women do have importance. The demand for women to be independent is purely a modern liberal trademark and does nothing to help women or further society. By supporting such independence you create animosity between man and woman, rather than a complimentary relationship, which is what the Bible intended (1 Corinthians 11:11-12). Further, even though the Bible instructs women to submit to their husbands, it instructs men to love their wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Ephesians 5:24-26). This further demonstrates the value women have in the Bible. The very notion that men are to give themselves up for their wives as Christ did for the church is invaluable and beautiful.

    Again you misrepresent scripture. The profound truth is that disobeying God is wrong, not that we shouldn’t pursuit knowledge. The problem is that when we seek to glorify ourselves and seek independence from God we become lost. No one truly wants to be separated from God forever; that would be a horrifying experience. God wants what’s best for us (Romans 8:28). He wants us to be in fellowship and communion with him (1 Corinthians 1:9), and he wants us to obey him for our well being. Adam had everything he could want, and there was only one command God had given him (which certainly wasn’t an overbearing command), but Adam and Eve, being deceived, disobeyed God, and that resulted in death just as God had warned. Thought independent of God is meant for selfish gain rather than for God’s glory or to further his Kingdom. God tells us that whatever we do, it should be done in the name of Jesus, giving thanks to God through him (Colossians 3:17). So God doesn’t hate it when we try to think for ourselves or pursue knowledge; what he hates is when we do it for our own selfish gain or apart from him, or anytime we sin.

    Of course Genesis doesn’t teach science, but it does give us real history, and if those historical events are real (such as the Creation account), then that has a huge impact on science.

  73. #73 Wow
    June 26, 2012

    “As a YEC I’d suggest that the reason Americans “resist” evolution is because many know it to be false”

    How do they and you “know” that?

    And how do you know you haven’t had Satan whisper that in your ear to lead you astray?

  74. #74 SLC
    June 26, 2012

    Re Wow

    Hasn’t Mr. Wow figured out that Mr. Matzke is trying for a Templeton Fellowship?

  75. #75 Jon S
    June 26, 2012

    Wow, I’m hoping that people are waking up, becoming informed and getting the answers they need. There’s a lot of good Creationist organizations out there, and I’m hoping they’re making an impact on our culture.

  76. #76 Wow
    June 27, 2012

    They are, Jon. That’s why people are abandoning the Christian church and more people becoming atheists.

    And that’s why the Christian right are DEMANDING to be placed as the official state religion of the USA.

  77. #77 Peter S
    England
    June 27, 2012

    Jon S,

    > As a YEC I’d suggest that the reason Americans “resist” evolution is because many know it to be false.

    There is a lot of research on why so much of the America public does not accept or understand evolution. My view is that it is largely because many evangelical Christians, who are numerous in the USA, correctly sense that scientific knowledge about the natural world is incompatible with their religion. Existence is scary. We seek to resist death at all costs. Religion offers false certainty on the big questions and if mainstream science present uncomfortable facts, many simply ignore it and choose instead to listen to creationist organisations which are hugely well funded and have honed the art of smearing science with propaganda and pseudoscience. I suggest you read Jerry Coyne’s recent article which presents the latest research and demographic data on this question. It’s available in full for free here:

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1558-5646.2012.01664.x/full

    > There certainly are deficiencies in evolution that cause people to reject it: namely it can’t be observed, and is only assumed and believed by faith based on a biased interpretation of the evidence all the while the bias is hidden from view, repressed, or denied

    With respect, that seems to be straight from the AIG handbook. Do you really think there’s a global conspiracy among scientists to suppress the truth? Have you read Richard Dawkins “The Greatest Show on Earth” or Jerry Coyne’s “Why Evolution is True” or Donald Prothero “What the Fossils Say and Why it Matters”? They present the evidence for evolution and if you won’t take it from non-believing scientists then check out the work of Francis Collins, who was formerly head of the Human Genome Project and is himself an Evangelical. Or Ken Miller, a Catholic, who testified in the Dover vs Kitzmiller trial – the entirety of which is available in transcript online and essentially puts Darwinian theory on trial in a court of law. It’s a fascinating read and also documents how dishonest creationist organisations have been in their mischaracterisations of science and attempts to indoctrinate children. You can read it here:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dover/kitzmiller_v_dover.html

    > Why does believing that we need God to live virtuous lives reflect poorly on me and others who believe that?

    Because the rest of us have to be brave and take responsibility for our actions and cultivate our own moral and ethical code based on observation and empathy. If there are no gods to obey, and we intend on being an integrated individual in society, we need to be mature and deal with the hardest questions about how to live the good life. It reflects poorly on you because you are essentially out-sourcing that responsibility to what authority figures in your religion tell you is true. These will be people who have positioned themselves into positions of great reverence by telling people what they think their god thinks is right and wrong. If you need a god to tell give you a rule book to prevent you from behaving harmfully, then it implies that without this you believe yourself incapable of figuring out how to be moral. It makes me sad that intelligent people like you have such a low view of your capacity for self-improvement.

    > Without God, the only reason for being good is so that others are nice to us and treat us the way we want to be treated so that we don’t get hurt.

    I think the reasons to do good go far beyond this explanation which, with respect, I find shallow and denigrating to those who have done the hard work of cultivating their own personality. I do good because evolution and culture has equipped me with a sense of empathy which I can see is a great virtue for many reasons. Yes, there is a utilitarian aspect to my conduct which affects others. However I recognise that I may only have this one life and when I look at the things I most value I realise that it is the people I love and the freedoms I have. It is also the pride I take as an adult in my own personal development and the inherent dignity that comes with the lifelong effort to overcome some of my cruder instincts to be selfish etc. Again, the fundamentalist take on these questions belittles those who espouse it.

    > Prior to the fall man was “very good”, as was the entire creation. But after the fall man became wicked, which is why God sent the flood.

    These are some extraordinary claims you are making. You claim offer an explanation for why the living die and why there is suffering. You say you know the motives and actions of the god of the universe and that “He” (funny how the gods are usually men isn’t it?) chose to drown almost every person on the planet which included babies and infants. Drowning is brutal way to die. Drowning babies for goodness sake! What amazes me is that you are prepared to deny all of modern biology and cosmology in order that you can preserve this belief in a godly genocide. Can you not understand why people find this to be a disturbing belief?

    I could go on picking at what you’ve said but I hope you get the gist. Please don’t think I’m attacking you – I’m sure you’re a decent and intelligent person – it’s just that you post hit a nerve as I found evangelical Christianity and it’s doctrines of hell, creationism and its denigration of apostates to be a hugely divisive force in personal life and what you said echoes so much of what I was brought up to believe, only to discover to my horror that once I got serious and really tired to research the world honestly, the whole house of cards crumbled. A shattering experience and one that, to be frank, will haunt me for the rest of my life.

    I hope you are able to break free from the dogma.

  78. #78 Wow
    June 27, 2012

    “Yes, there is a utilitarian aspect to my conduct which affects others.”

    However, isn’t there just as much utilitarianism in the faithiests morality?

    1) God will hurt you if you don’t obey

    2) God made you to love and obey him

    3) Pascal’s wager

    Even their belief that there “must” be a god is based on utilitarianism: “How else could the universe be created?” they proclaim. Putting a reason for God there as “something he has to have been doing”. Utilitarian reasoning.

    As a thought experiment:

    What if there is a god, but he didn’t make the universe, it really DID just make itself.

    How is that wrong?

    Now, if that’s possible, then the proof of nonexistence of god is the fairly simple consequence of asking “so why hasn’t he popped over and proven himself at least ONCE?”.

    “Oh, it would be proof of His existence, therefore no faith is needed!”. But Jesus caused the dead to live, according to the same people. That sort of evidence would remove all requirement for faith.

    It entirely does not work.

    And, just like the idea of “flying by throwing yourself at the ground and missing” is proven false by it entirely not working, god is a false proposition.

  79. #79 SLC
    June 27, 2012

    Re Wow @ 4:15 am

    Unfortunately, the type of unscientific crap that whackjobs like Mr. Jon S promulgate is not confined to evolution. One can see it at work in the spread of quackacademic medicine in medical schools across the country, as Dr. David Gorski describes in numerous posts on his Respectful Insolence blog. One can see it at work with the spread of anti-vaccination propaganda and the reduction in the acceptance of vaccination. One can see it at work in the denialism of global warming.

    The only solace so far is that the situation in the Muslim world is much worse, mainly because the religious fascists there wield much more control over the governments then they do in the West, at least up to now, although the Christofascists are working assiduously to turn that around .

  80. #80 Wow
    June 27, 2012

    “The only solace so far is that the situation in the Muslim world is much worse”

    I don’t generally find “it’s even worse for someone else” to be a source of solace, SLC.

    Unless I think they deserve it, which isn’t so much solace as shadenfreude and not generally held admirable.

    What contra-indicates your thesis “the religious fascists there wield much more control over the governments” being the cause is the USA itself, compared to, for example, the UK.

    UK: State religion, religious education mandatory until 13. Whacko ideas like YEC: very nearly unheard of.
    USA: Separation of church and state. No RE in school. Whacko ideas (Rapturists? FAR more nuts than even YEC): very common.

    Why?

    Richard Dawkins reckoned the reason is partly the innoculation of the UK population against religion by being constantly bathed in a weak-sauce religious state. And partly the removal of government intervention (but, oddly enough, not the monetary and logistical aid) in the USA leading to religions going for the Hard Sell.

    I think that’s a very plausible proposition.

    You don’t hear any door-to-door salesmen say “you shouldn’t have any vacuums”, they will every last one agree you MUST have a new one. They’ll happily slag off the competitors and get VERY irate and insistent if you don’t buy or want to leave.

  81. #81 SLC
    June 27, 2012

    Re Wow @9:11 am

    Apparently, Mr. Wow hasn’t heard about the march of creationism in Great Britain, caused in part by Tony Blair’s support of religious schools. It’s not nearly the problem in Britain yet that it is in the US but give the religious whachos time.

  82. #82 Wow
    June 27, 2012

    You’re correct.

    And, being a UK resident, this is pretty telling, isn’t it?

  83. #83 Jon S
    June 28, 2012

    Peter, my apologies in advance for not including your original comments.

    Your view would only be true if by scientific knowledge you meant “secular” scientific knowledge. According to “secular” science, only natural explanations are acceptable, while supernatural ones are forbidden; therefore truth is dismissed for the sake of propping up ones philosophies and worldview (such as Professor Richard Lewontin admitted when he claimed “we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door”). I’d suggest that accurate scientific knowledge is not incompatible with Christianity; in fact it’s complimentary. But yes, existence is scary for those who don’t know the meaning of it. It’s interesting that man is the only creature that can contemplate his own existence or life after death. No other creature is capable of worshiping God or performing marriage or burial ceremonies. For the most part mankind does resist death at all costs, but not necessarily those who have assurance of salvation. We have nothing to fear and everything to gain. There are many missionaries who’ve willingly lost their lives for the sake of advancing the gospel message (ex. Jim Elliot). Religion only offers false certainty if the religious beliefs are false. However if the religious beliefs are true, then it offers true certainty. Of course if atheism is false, then it as well offers false certainty to those who rest in it, such as Dawkins, who’s an “intellectually fulfilled atheist”. It’s interesting that you accuse Creationism of being pseudoscience, yet that’s exactly how I view evolution, because it’s not true science. If an apelike creature is our ancestor, then provide me with the observable evidence that is both testable and repeatable. If you cannot do this, then your beliefs are just built on untestable assumptions, which is basically pseudoscience.

    As for Coin, he states the obvious, namely that the United States is extremely religious, which is why it resists evolution more than other First World countries. This is a good thing, for the less religious we become, the more a country is swayed by evolutionary indoctrination. So I agree that spreading the gospel message is just as important as ever! What Coin claims to be the “facts” of evolution can be easily debunked. It’s interesting that you claim that scientific knowledge about the natural world is incompatible with religion, yet Coin would like to be able to convince Americans that evolution is compatible religion, but recognizes that this underhanded tactic wouldn’t work very well. So he wants to resort to a different underhanded tactic, namely trying to help loosen the grip of faith on America. Coin praises the less Godless countries for believing more in evolution, while lamenting countries like the U.S for believing in God rather than evolution and calls this an “embarrassment.” (of course I’m somewhat pleased). Never mind that salvation will bring eternal life while the rejection of God brings eternal death. Coin seems comfortable with this tradeoff for his own selfish agenda. Considering that America is the greatest country in the world, I’d think he’d want the other countries to become like us so that they’re better off, however he wants to drag us down to their level… that’s the real embarrassment! He’s trying to destroy what has made our nation great. Our nation has been greatly blessed by God, but those who adhere steadfastly to evolution would like nothing better than to destroy that. The U.S. will certainly decline if we rival the evolutionary beliefs of other countries.

    No, I don’t think there’s a “conspiracy” among scientists to suppress the truth. I do think most scientists believe as you do- they sincerely believe in evolution and that its understanding is imperative to our culture and way of life. However I think they’re severely misguided and wrong. Once indoctrinated into evolution, the believers will attempt to indoctrinate others into their way of thinking, and will oppose all attempts of resistance, which is why Creationism is forbidden in classrooms through lawsuits, and why evidence debunking evolution is not permitted or discouraged. The establishment has a grip on what students are allowed to know, think and understand, and refuses to allow them to think for themselves, observe the evidence and make up their own minds, which is what true academic freedom is about. Despite this grip, it’s encouraging to see that America stands atop the list of those countries that “deny evolution.”

    I haven’t read those books, although I’m very interested and probably will at some point. I have read a number of evolutionary books but I can see through the baloney. I’m familiar with Collins and Miller, but their theology is way off due to their evolutionary beliefs. According to them there has been death, disease and suffering since the beginning of time, yet according to the Bible God created the universe to be “very good”, so there was no death, disease or suffering until Adam and Eve sinned, which is why Jesus had to come and die on the cross. I’m also quite familiar with the Dover trial and am very critical of it because Dover was poorly represented and didn’t know how to defend itself. Judge Jones didn’t understand what Intelligent Design is and isn’t, and he misapplied a nonexistent separation of church and state clause. If such a clause existed, then evolution could not be taught either since it is itself a religious position supported only by faith, which Dover never attempted to demonstrate.

    No disrespect, but I’m going to turn your moral outrage right back at you. Firstly I agree that all humans must take responsibility for their actions, regardless their religious preferences. But it’s clear that you didn’t understand my argument because I never suggested “out-sourcing” responsibility, and neither does the Bible. Time after time the Bible makes it clear that man is responsible for his actions (Exodus and Leviticus), he does know right from wrong (Genesis 3:22) and will be judged (James 4:12, Acts 17:30-31), and this has nothing to do with what any authority figures say (church or state). The Bible is the final authority, not man. You say this implies that we are incapable of figuring out how to be moral. Exactly right. Bingo! I don’t think you (or most atheists) understand the theology you just found. If this were not so then morality would be completely subjective, which in turn means that someone guilty of great immorality would be able to call themselves righteous and good based on their own personal rationale and ability to excuse themselves as long as they believe they’re living “the good life”. And you would never be able to accuse anyone of wrongdoing; they could justify their actions in some obscure way as to be guilt free by making the same claims you’ve made. In fact if we all agreed to your moral relativism then it’s hypocritical of you to condemn the Israelites of any atrocities in the Bible. So is this what you want? Do you really want all men to be their own authority and proclaim their own maturity about how to live the good life? If you really believe in the ability of man to figure out his own morality, then why don’t you walk into some gang-infested neighborhood and tell the thugs that there is no god to obey and that they need to be integrated individuals in society and live the good life based on observation and empathy? Or should we leave them alone to figure out right from wrong on their own? Do you really think this works? I’d have better success introducing them to Christ Jesus, and I’ve seen Christians who have done just that even at the cost of their own lives! And how well did your solution work with Mao Tse Tung? I have no doubt that I could find someone who could excuse Hitler of any wrongdoing. If we can be honest and observe mankind throughout history absent the Bible we see a very depraved world. Or if you still disagree can you provide me with even one example of an upstanding society, culture or country that has been without fault or corruption, or has never caused any harm or wrong? I think not. In fact you can’t tell me that any child, left on his own without any parent figure teaching him right from wrong, will figure out how to be a moral, outstanding citizen all on his own. I find it sad that intelligent people like you think man is capable of being completely moral and faultless on their own power. The Bible makes it clear that no one is good, not even one (Mark 10:18, Romans 3:10-12), and this is apparent if you kept track of every wrong you’ve ever committed no matter how great or small. In fact if you were as morally upright as you suggest, then you don’t need a savior and Jesus’ death on the cross wasn’t needed for you. The Bible tells us that Christ died for sinners, so if you’re not a sinner, then you’re without fault and would go to heaven based on your own self righteousness. But since you do believe in “self-improvement”, then that’s an admission that you’re not perfect and that you do need rules and regulations (whether man made laws or God’s law) to make sure you do right and don’t harm others (even if it’s obeying the speed limit). In other words moral relativism isn’t the answer, as you imply. That means we need some way of objectively measuring right and wrong, and the only possible way to do that is if there was a perfect judge that could preside over humanity with righteous laws and regulations. There’s no court system on Earth capable of that, including the United States. But if God’s Word is true, then we have a solution in which all humans will indeed be held accountable. If it’s not true then we’re all in trouble because a world without God is certainly not the answer as I’ve already demonstrated (although I don’t think any ardent atheist will ever admit that no matter how apparent). If you really want to convince me that we don’t need a “rule book” from God then you need to show me two things: first that you fully want the three branches of our government to abolish all laws (since you have such a high view of your own power of self-improvement and condemn me for not), and second that a child without any rules, regulations or guidance from a parent or guardian will be able to figure out entirely on their own how to be responsible, moral, ethical and mature based on their own observations and empathy. In fact, I don’t know if you have children of your own, but if you have ever given them any rules, regulations or guidance then you’re in violation of your own philosophy and have demonstrated exactly why we do need rules, which in turn demonstrates that your whole argument is empty and that it’s a good thing that God has given us a “rule book”. Otherwise your whole premise that man can figure out his own morality is bogus. Can you honestly say that you’ve figured out your own morality without any rules or regulations placed upon you by anyone or anything, such as your parents, teachers, guardians, government or any other institution? If your morality has been influenced by any of them, then why do you suppose we don’t need a “rule book” from God? Is learning from those other sources all sufficient? Have you completed your self-improvement, or is that a life-long journey? I’d suggest that if your self-improvement theory has any merit at all then it’s a life-long journey, and you’d be wrong to suggest that God’s law is unnecessary for your well being or insulting in any way.

    Lastly, God didn’t give us a rule book just to prevent us from behaving harmfully, although that is part of it. The purpose of God’s law is multifaceted. According to 1 Timothy 1:8 we know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious. Those who are perfect, just, good, and without sin don’t need any kind of law, structure, rules or regulations. Again, if this were not so, then I’d suggest you start lobbying against all the laws that have been established and upheld by the three branches of the U.S. government. If you don’t think this is such a good idea then you really need to admit that man does need a rule book to prevent him from behaving harmfully since there are many more laws in the U.S. than there are in the Bible. I’m really shocked to think that there are people who don’t think we need rules to prevent people from behaving harmfully. Galations 3:19-25 tells us more about why God gave us the law. The law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.

  84. #84 Jon S
    June 28, 2012

    Peter, here’s the last part to your response.

    Perhaps you do find my remarks shallow and denigrating, but I find yours likewise and respectfully wish to turn your moral outrage back to you. Here you give the credit for cultivating your own personality to evolution and culture. But I find evolution shallow and denigrating, hence my denigrating remarks toward evolutionary concepts. I’m glad that there are others that you love, but this is not an evolutionary concept, except in the sense that you believe you evolved from animals and no longer behave like an animal controlled by mere instincts. What you describe are not evolutionary concepts. Animals don’t love or value freedom the way we do, and they don’t contemplate life, death or eternity. They don’t have virtues, dignity or take pride in their own personal development, and they don’t desire to forgo selfishness. Yet you’ve found a way to shed yourself of this survival of the fittest mentality and are now self righteous and indignant, taking pride in this extraordinary evolutionary jackpot that you and the rest of mankind have stumbled into by pure chance so that now you’re able to do good. I would suggest that God has created us in His image, and this is why you are able to have those thoughts and feelings. It’s not the result of time and chance. Our human capabilities were intentionally placed there by God. And I give all credit and glory to God for my ability to love and care for others, and to even contemplate life and Christianity. I don’t selfishly take credit for my own ability to do good and help others, or exalt evolution or culture. Left on my own I’m a sinner in need of a savior, and I thank Jesus for dying on the cross for my sins and redeeming me, because before I was dead in sin and now I’m alive in Christ! So it’s really the atheists take on these questions that is belittling.

    God is a “He” only because He describes Himself that way, and His word explains the differences between man and woman, their roles, and their importance. It’s troubling that atheists are so resistant to the roles he intended for our betterment and well-being, and how we’ve denigrated, disparaged and abused these roles and turned them into something revolting for the sake of political correctness.

    What I’m prepared to deny is that biology and cosmology are contradictory in any way with what is taught in scripture. I deny your secular beliefs and understanding of modern biology and cosmology, but I accept true, scientific concepts in biology and cosmology that are testable and repeatable and interpreted correctly. And yes, I do understand why you find God’s actions disturbing; it’s because you do not know him, how much he hates sin, his eternal plans, his righteousness, holiness, goodness, justice, grace and mercy. In fact it’s clear that you value your own sense of goodness and justice above his, despite the fact that you’re a mere man whose life is fleeting. Your mind is just a random accumulation of atoms arranged by time and chance. And somehow you believe that these random mutations allows you to think more clearly than an omniscient, eternal God who loved us enough to send his only son to die on the cross to cover our sins. Isn’t it possible that these random mutations have clouded your judgment?

    Thanks Peter. I’m sorry if what I’ve written hits a nerve or comes across as strong, disturbing, denigrating, belittling, or anything else. I’m just trying to speak the truth in love despite the harsh overtones. I love all people and want everyone to come to know and love the Lord with all their heart, mind, soul and strength. I’m saddened that you find Christianity to be divisive, but the truth is, you’re right, it is divisive. In fact Jesus made it clear that he came to bring division, not peace (Luke 12:49-53). I’m also sorry that your house of cards has crumbled. I’m not sure what caused this- did you trust that the Bible presents an accurate account of our origin? Or did those evolutionary books you referenced sway your way of thinking? What caused you to trust those writers over God, and why did you trust their interpretation of the evidence when it was contrary to what the Bible claims? Why did you decide to trust man over God? Are you confident that mankind is able to figure out what happened out millions and billions of years ago even though scripture makes it clear that the earth is quite young? Why do you put such faith in man despite his shortcomings? If there’s anything I can do to help restore your faith please let me know, because I don’t want to see you haunted for the rest of your life. I assure you that the Bible can be trusted. I have a cousin who’s just as devastated as you, and I’m constantly praying for him that his heart will be changed, and I pray the same for you.

  85. #85 Wow
    June 28, 2012

    Supernatural events are NOT forbidden in science.

    Seems you have as little knowledge of science as you do of the bible.

    Science CAN investigate miracles caused by supernatural entities, because these miracles will have their impact on this, the natural world.

  86. #86 Peter S
    England
    June 28, 2012

    Jon,

    I appreciate the efforts you put in to responding. To be honest my decision to comment was quite impulsive as you remind me of me when I was under the spell. That was a long time ago now. Ordinarily I just read and I’d normally see your views as just another fundamentalist towing the line but, hey, you caught me having a moment.

    If I get time in the next week or two I’ll go through it line by line but that would turn book-length pretty quickly and I’m not sure if it is worth my while. After all I don’t have the same motivation as you as I don’t believe you will go to hell if you don’t believe as I do. And from all you say I suspect you’re in too deep anyway.

    What I will say is that a lot of what you say doesn’t really apply to me as I don’t believe the Bible has any divine authority. I believe it’s the product of an ancient human culture, accumulated and edited for political and theological reasons over centuries much like the Koran or the many other scriptures produced in different times and by different cultures. I just don’t believe people who say it is inspired by a god because they can’t demonstrate this in any convincing way.

    As for evolution and the age of the earth, we just aren’t going to agree. I have recommended books that present the evidence so, yeah – go ahead and read them and see what you think. I regard common ancestry and an ancient earth in the same way I believe the Earth orbits the sun and not vice versa. It may not look that way but the explanation given by modern science and the evidence presented is compelling to me and whenever I read creationist apologetics it turns out after further research it was inaccurate or dishonest. I can only believe what I believe, to do otherwise would go against my sanity and integrity.

    Nothing I say here will change your mind. A person has to want it for themselves before they can open their mind. The information is out there.

    And on a personal note, I return your good wishes for my furute and I feel for you. To believe in a literal hell and know that people you love are destined for eternal torture is a terrible burden to carry. I wish you luck.

  87. #87 Wow
    June 28, 2012

    “I pray the same for you”

    How would you feel if I said I’d put in a good word to Satan for you?

  88. #88 MNb
    June 30, 2012

    “There certainly are deficiencies in evolution that cause people to reject it: namely it can’t be observed”
    It has been observed. Since more than 100 years. Just google on Observed Speciation. My compatriot Hugo de Vries was probably the first.
    According to your Holy Book ignorance is not an excuse for a false testimony. If you take your religion seriously you should repent.

    “If an apelike creature is our ancestor, then provide me with the observable evidence that is both testable and repeatable.”
    Try some fossiles. The National Museum of Kenya has a lot; typically your fellow creationists want to destroy the collection. I refer you to Donald Prothero’s excellent Evolution, What the fossils say and why it matters for more details.
    If your god has created the whole shenanigan, give me the observable evidence that is both testable and repeatable. About the very act of creation. I am curious, but I won’t hold my breath. But I’d love to observe him repeating the trick.
    Not possible? Then your demand of repeatable evidence is hypocrite. And that’s the second reason you should repent.

    “Once indoctrinated into evolution, the believers will attempt to indoctrinate others into their way of thinking.”
    Scientists are not like believers, not like you. Actually they love to prove each other wrong. That’s how they get famous. You want to have eternal fame? Like Archimedes, Newton, Darwin and Einstein? Find me a cat fossil of 80 million years old. Prove radiometry wrong by experiment. Find some particle that travels faster than light. Show that superconductivity is possible above 30 K. Wait, the latter actually happened. That’s why Bednorz and Müller received a Nobelprize within a year – they debunke a theory (BCS) that had to wait 15 years for the same prize.

    “Is man inherently good or bad?”
    False dilemma. Both.

    “Time after time the Bible makes it clear that man is responsible for his actions.”
    Then your almighty god doesn’t make sense. He is supposed to prevent me from making wrong decisions. That’s what heaven is all about, isn’t it? God is almighty, evil doesn’t exist, man still has free will but choses invariably to do good. I tell you what – I am willing to give up my life right now, on the spot – I am not afraid of non-existing anyway; for billions of years (or 6 000 if you prefer) it hasn’t been a big deal – if it allows you to skip the vale of tears called life and go to heaven directly. My utilitarism tells me this is an excellent deal; I lose nothing, you win quite a lot. God already knows you deserve to go to heaven and I don’t, doesn’t he? Omniknowing and all? As long as this doesn’t happen though I call myself an atheist and you an ignorant.

    “I find it sad that intelligent people like you think man is capable of being completely moral and faultless on their own power.”
    Strawman.

    “The Bible tells us that Christ died for sinners.”
    I did not ask him to and I find the very idea disgusting.

    “If you really want to convince me.”
    I don’t want to. I have too much fun with creacrap like yours.

    “Otherwise your whole premise that man can figure out his own morality is bogus.”
    And this possibly is the crappiest argument of all. Fathers and mothers are human. They have received their morality from other humans. Sometimes somebody comes up with a new suggestion; changes a bit here or drops something there. Twentyfirst Century morality has quite changed since your beloved Book was written, as all the stories about genocide show. These days we don’t take that so lightly anymore.

    “I’m glad that there are others that you love, but this is not an evolutionary concept.”
    It is. Parents that love their children have a bigger chance to pass on their genes.
    Learn a few things about chimps and bonobo’s. You might be surprised about their moral concepts. Even consciousness is not typical human or even mammal: do a search for Swarm Theory as applied to ants. National Geographic, July 2007 has an article on it.
    Man, do you have to deny a lot of scientific results to maintain your superstition.

    “I accept true, scientific concepts in biology and cosmology that are testable and repeatable and interpreted correctly.”
    No, you don’t. Every single YEC rejects radiometry, which is testable and repeatable and interpreted correctly. Plus a whole lot more, like the Michelson and Morley experiment.

    “I pray the same for you.”
    Have fun. If it doesn’t help I suggest you to try dancing around the nearest tree, naked in the moon light. Might help as well.

  89. #89 MNb
    June 30, 2012

    Hey, Jon S, I have a suggestion for you. Why don’t you join this club? They get some of their arguments from the same book as you, you know. I promise I will follow your adventures on their forum closely. To warm you up I quote:
    “I fail to understand how godless conventional science be used to prove ….”

    http://www.theflatearthsociety.org/forum/index.php/topic,54166.0.html#.T-9w5XW8Yxo

    For more general info:

    http://theflatearthsociety.org/cms/

  90. #90 Patrice
    NationWide
    July 5, 2012

    Looking for Evolutionist and Creationist to be on Wife Swap…

    If you are an evolutionist or creationist and you and your family have strong views and wan to be on hit ABS’s TV show “WIfe Swap” please contact me now @ patrice.starnes@zodiakusa.com or 424-214-4641..

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  91. #91 benny
    July 5, 2012

    “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.” Job 38,4…-> …

    God said very clearly that nobody (will)know HOW HE MADE UNIVERSE ,not even scientist(sic!).
    If the universe was made with un-natural technology then all hypothesis of science about universe made by some natural laws and processes is just garbage. .

  92. #92 wow
    July 5, 2012

    It’s also impossible to find things out that never happened.

    For example, find out where the bodies of the death eaters are where Harry Potter killed them.

    Can’t, can you.

    Why?

    Because it never happened.

    Just like god didn’t create any foundations of the earth.

    We do know how the earth was created. We’ve seen the stages on other planets too.

    I guess we’re smarter than god expected, eh?

  93. #93 paul hill
    apollo bay vic australia
    July 12, 2012

    Listen you atheist bastards. The Bible is truly beautiful, especially one with thin rice paper that you can use to roll joints from. One day you can smoke Moses, the next day Elijah and so on. No very good in the loo though.

  94. #94 paul hill
    apollo bay vic australia
    July 12, 2012

    Everybody has got this Genesis stuff all screwed up. It’s symbolism about the war between the commos and the capos. Able was a goat herdsman, right. For him all the world belonged to all the people, well ownership didn’t even come into it at this stage. He’d graze his animals along the river flats, moving up into the mountains in the summer to escape the heat moving all of the time. Back down onto the flats and what does he find. His mongrel brother Cain has fenced off a dirty big lump of land right down to the river and has corn growing in it. Able can’t get past this obstacle and yells at Cain ‘What the bloody hell do you think you are doing’ (his precise words).
    Cain says indignantly, ‘This land now belongs to me and I’ve fenced it of to stop your bloody goats eating my corn.’ ‘WHAT THE HELL DO YOU MEAN, BELONGS TO ME’ . How can anyone OWN a lump of the planet. ‘Look, piss off’ says Able, ‘and take your mangy goats with you’.
    So Able blows his stack, rips down a lump of the wall and herds his goats in to pig out on the corn. Able flies into a totally psychotic rage and bludgeons poor able to death. So capitalism triumphs over communism.
    This what God really wanted as he is a Capitalist Republican, although he was a bit cheesed off at Cain for being so forceful and putting him on the spot as he’s said no killing. Would rather Cain had quietly poisoned Able so nobody could twig what had happened.
    Many years later Hitler and Stalin got stuck into each other but the outcome was pretty much a draw although now Cain is looking VERY dodgy. Could plunge through the floor any day now.

  95. #95 paul hill
    apollo bay vic australia
    July 12, 2012

    GNOSTIC GARDEN OF EDEN.
    The God of Gnosticism was an Hermaphrodite. Male was dishonest, violent, domineering, corrupt etc. whilst female was gentle, honest, kind, considerate etc. OBVIOUSLY feminist. Male created the Universe and Adam and Eve as playthings to torment by keeping them ignorant and thus confused. Female was so outraged at this she separated from Male and hid in the seventh heaven. Male forgot that there was another half it. So Female disguised herself as a snake so that Male didn’t recognize her, entered the Garden and crept up to Eve, not Adam as he was just like Male. She told Eve to eat of the ‘tree of the knowledge of good and evil’ and her eyes would by opened, then give some to Adam to eat. The tree is obviously a hallucinogenic mushroom, allegedly the amanita muscaria.

    Thus the SNAKE is the figure of enlightenment or good and male, probably Yahweh later God is evil. Hence the antipathy by the Vatican toward Gnosticism.
    Barbara Theiring reckons that Jesus’ closest friends Lazarus (John in Greek) and his companion Helena were Gnostics and that Jesus was more attracted to it’s basic concept of democratic non-structure than anything else. This would NOT endear him to the status quo. She also reckons that after Jesus death, Mary Magdalene, pregnant with Jesus child, and Lazarus fled to Southern France to join the Gnostics, thus beginning the ‘holy blood’ line that the Church would pull out every stop to destroy.

  96. #96 paul hill
    apollo bay vic australia
    July 12, 2012

    God spoke directly to many prophets who were paranoid schizophrenics that suffered auditory hallucinations. Had the antipsychotics been around then history might have been a bit less blood stained. Then there was other weird stuff where God proved to be schizophrenic himself, well more so than usual For instance when he told Abraham to take his kid Isaac up into the hills and carve him up, just like when he told Charlie Manson to carve up Sharon Tate. Then when Abraham got up into the hills with Isaac, God starts singing “Ah fooled you, ah fooled you. You don’t have to carve up little Isaac after all” , thereby proving that God is completely unhinged and NEVER to be trusted no matter what. Well I don’t. Here endeth the tenth Epistle of Paul the Blasphemer.

  97. #97 NJ
    July 12, 2012

    paul hill @ 6:39 am, 7:13 am, 7:33 am, 7:49 am:

    God spoke directly to many prophets who were paranoid schizophrenics

    QED.

  98. #99 paul hill
    apollo bay vic australia
    July 14, 2012

    When God created the Devil he had to give him free will so that he could think for himself and thus be entertaining company for God right, but not too much free will because after all God was God. Some free will otherwise the Devil would be a boring dodo. But then the Devil got pissed off with getting pushed around by God and tried to foment a coup d’etat among the cherubims, seruphims, angels and archangels etc. But God, being omniescent and omnipitent, just like the Pope, knew that this was going to happen before he even created the poor bastard.

    Then God throws a mainspring and creates Hell and banishes the Devil into Hell as punishment for behaving precisely as he was predetermined to do whilst knowing it was gonna happen. God’s looking a tad irrational even at this early stage.

    Then he creates man and does precisely the same thing as with the Devil, gives man free will to choose, good or evil. the difference being very poorly defined. What FREE BLOODY WILL. He gives a bloke a pecker, pours gallons of pecker juice into him then says DON”T TOUCH IT, DON”T THINK ABOUT, LEAVE IT ALONE. But the only way one can do that is to be unconscious from the piss, too drunk to even have a nocturnal emission, which is also a no no. But by wiping himself out on the piss he is defiling the frigging temple of God and will burn in Hell for that as well.

    Now let’s take a gander at Hell. I read a book once written by a Catholic Preist. He says, “Remember what it was like when you burned yourself on the stove as a kid. Ah, eee, ahhh, AAAAHHHGH AAAAAAAHHHHHGGGGGHHHHH!!!!!
    Right now imagine that all over your entire body. Then multiply it a thousand times and it’s FOREEEEVER and EVER AND EVER AND EVER. Not good. By the usual standard this was a SANE priest.

    After 4,000 years, using bishop Usher’s highly scientific calculations, God get’s around to thinking he might have overdone it a tad. So he sends the Spook down to Earth (don’t know when he arrived) to impregnate a girl, a virgin just to keep things nice and clean and holy like. Enter Jesus to save man, from what? The wrath of God stupid. Eh? What? You see God cannot look upon sin but apparently Jesus has been configured by God to be able to. All the kid has to do is allow himself to be bashed and butchered and everything will be honkey dory and man has an escape route. God’s own kid!!! WHAAAAAT? Give it a break. Is God rational and reasonable. Of course not. You are using man’s concepts. It’s all about FAITH and faith is incompatible with reason. God is PROUD to be counter-intuitive. For by Faith are ye saved through grace. Ohhhh!

    God, it’s time for your ECT and medication. Come on don’t obfuscate.

    Shit, I’m gonna be in strife if there IS something up there.

    Paul the totally reformed ex Blasphemer.

  99. #100 paul hill
    apollo bay vic australia
    July 15, 2012

    Shit, I think I might have even scared off the atheists. Maybe they’re all in foxholes trembling. Come out of there you bastards and laugh at my jokes. Christians, condemn me. Tell me that God is not mocked. Both of you have a punch up over my vile vomit. I wonder if atheists have got a Hell too. I could go to both if I was schizophrenic.

  100. #101 NJ
    July 15, 2012

    Paul Hill @ 9:54 am:

    I could go to both if I was schizophrenic.

    If?

  101. #102 paul hill
    apollo bay vic australia
    July 16, 2012

    I’ve got a really virulent form of schizophrenia, the worst in the Multiverse, called MENS (Messianic Egomaniacal Narcissistic Syndrome). There is a treatment called Thallium (rat poison) but I refuse to take it. As I am also the most brilliant shrink in the entire Multiverse, then I think you’d have to agree that only I am qualified to treat me. However I cannot coerce me into taking my medication.

  102. #103 Jon S
    July 20, 2012

    Wow: Supernatural events are NOT forbidden in science. Seems you have as little knowledge of science as you do of the bible. Science CAN investigate miracles caused by supernatural entities, because these miracles will have their impact on this, the natural world.

    Technically you are correct that supernatural events aren’t forbidden in science, and that science can investigate the impact of miracles. In practice, however, you cannot suggest in science class that God created the universe six to ten thousand years ago, or provide scientific evidence to support it, or even offer criticism of evolution. Judge Jones ruling in the Dover trial has in fact forbidden ID and Creationism in any form, which, in essence, means that miracles and supernatural events cannot be investigated in public schools. He misinterpreted the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and the supposed ‘separation of church and state’. This ruling was an attack against science and the censorship of truth and academic freedom.

    MNb: It has been observed. Since more than 100 years. Just google on Observed Speciation. My compatriot Hugo de Vries was probably the first.

    No, what we observe is not evolution. What we observe are organisms changing over time, which may be called speciation or natural selection. Creationists believe in observed speciation, but not evolution. They’re two different things (although evolutionists have trouble differentiating the two). You will find that none of the organism kinds became different organisms (as in the case of bird-to-dinosaur ‘evolution’), and they didn’t obtain genetic information allowing them to develop fully functioning organs that didn’t previously exist in that organism (such as feathers from a featherless ancestor). Examples of hybridization or polyploidy are not examples of evolution. Observed changes in genes doesn’t demonstrate evolution. This is consistent with what the Bible teaches about the original created kinds of animals.

    According to your Holy Book ignorance is not an excuse for a false testimony. If you take your religion seriously you should repent.

    You’ll first have to demonstrate that I’ve committed such a sin, which you haven’t. Secondly, I’m educating you.

    Try some fossiles. The National Museum of Kenya has a lot; typically your fellow creationists want to destroy the collection. I refer you to Donald Prothero’s excellent Evolution, What the fossils say and why it matters for more details. If your god has created the whole shenanigan, give me the observable evidence that is both testable and repeatable. About the very act of creation. I am curious, but I won’t hold my breath. But I’d love to observe him repeating the trick. Not possible? Then your demand of repeatable evidence is hypocrite. And that’s the second reason you should repent.

    I’d bet there’s more evidence of evolutionists trying to destroy evidence for Creation than the other way around. I love fossils, and the ones you speak of don’t demonstrate that an apelike creature evolved into humans. People who study such fossil evidence must interpret the evidence, and they are free to make incorrect conclusions based on faulty science and politics. Other scientists study the same evidence and conclude that the creatures (australopithecines) are simply an extinct type of ape and an evolutionary dead end. I refer you to Professor Martin Lubenow’s book, “Bones of Contention”, or other articles and DVD’s by him and Dr. David Menton. So now you ask me to provide observable and repeatable evidence for Creation, and I’m glad you asked, because Creationists, just like evolutionists, can’t do this magic trick; the difference between us is that Creationists tend to understand this concept better than evolutionists and openly admit it. All either side can do is interpret the evidence based on their worldviews and offer conclusions. If you believe that God created the universe in six literal days, then you’ll see the evidence much differently than someone who denies it. So my demand for repeatable evidence is not hypocritical because I contend that it can’t be done no matter which side you’re on.

    Scientists are not like believers, not like you. Actually they love to prove each other wrong. That’s how they get famous. You want to have eternal fame? Like Archimedes, Newton, Darwin and Einstein?

    Of course scientists love to prove each other wrong, which is how politics comes into play in science. They want fame and fortune, and many commit bad science in order to prove others wrong and win support for their theory. That’s how we get hoaxes like Piltdown Man, Archaeoraptor, Haeckel’s fraudulent embryo drawings, etc. Oh, and Newton was a Creationist.

    Find me a cat fossil of 80 million years old.

    Trick question? I don’t believe any fossil is 80 million years old. But I’ll play your game… how about a shrew-like mammal 195 million years old found in china called Hadrocodium wui?

    Prove radiometry wrong by experiment.

    Bingo! Radiometric dating has been proven wrong by experiment (RATE group).

    Find some particle that travels faster than light. Show that superconductivity is possible above 30 K. Wait, the latter actually happened. That’s why Bednorz and Müller received a Nobelprize within a year – they debunke a theory (BCS) that had to wait 15 years for the same prize.

    Looks like Bednorz and Muller proved that other scientists were wrong. So if we know scientists can get things wrong, then why so surprised that they could be wrong about apes turning into humans based on scant fossil evidence? Or do you suppose that those scientists are omniscient and infallible?

    “Is man inherently good or bad?”
    False dilemma. Both.

    Agreed! Except I believe that man is bad due to his sinful nature, but was created “very good” and in the image of God, which gives man true meaning and worth.

    Then your almighty god doesn’t make sense. He is supposed to prevent me from making wrong decisions. That’s what heaven is all about, isn’t it? God is almighty, evil doesn’t exist, man still has free will but choses invariably to do good. I tell you what – I am willing to give up my life right now, on the spot – I am not afraid of non-existing anyway; for billions of years (or 6 000 if you prefer) it hasn’t been a big deal – if it allows you to skip the vale of tears called life and go to heaven directly. My utilitarism tells me this is an excellent deal; I lose nothing, you win quite a lot. God already knows you deserve to go to heaven and I don’t, doesn’t he? Omniknowing and all? As long as this doesn’t happen though I call myself an atheist and you an ignorant.

    No, God’s job isn’t to ‘prevent’ anyone from doing wrong. He allows us to do wrong and make mistakes, but expects us to repent. Heaven is all about providing a paradise for those who love God with all their heart, mind and soul (Luke 23:39-43). The Bible makes it clear that evil does exist, and that Satan is the one responsible for causing man to sin. Your arguments are nonsensical. I wouldn’t want you to give up your life except for the sake of Christ. If, however, you don’t know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you do have your soul to lose. But I don’t encourage you to become a Christian only to avoid hell, but to know the joy of salvation.

    “I find it sad that intelligent people like you think man is capable of being completely moral and faultless on their own power.”
    Strawman.

    No, that’s how Peter was describing his own qualities regarding man’s capacity for self-improvement based on observation and empathy.

    “The Bible tells us that Christ died for sinners.”
    I did not ask him to and I find the very idea disgusting.

    Fortunately for the rest of us he didn’t put it up for a vote. And fortunately for you and I he demonstrated his love by this amazing act of selflessness and humility.

    And this possibly is the crappiest argument of all. Fathers and mothers are human. They have received their morality from other humans. Sometimes somebody comes up with a new suggestion; changes a bit here or drops something there. Twentyfirst Century morality has quite changed since your beloved Book was written, as all the stories about genocide show. These days we don’t take that so lightly anymore.

    That’s because you have such a perverted view of God’s righteousness, holiness and justice.

    Parents that love their children have a bigger chance to pass on their genes. Learn a few things about chimps and bonobo’s. You might be surprised about their moral concepts. Even consciousness is not typical human or even mammal: do a search for Swarm Theory as applied to ants. National Geographic, July 2007 has an article on it. Man, do you have to deny a lot of scientific results to maintain your superstition.

    Circular reasoning never predicted by evolution. You’re just describing what the case may be, independent of the validity of evolution. I have read up on bonobos, but this is a different type of love. Phileo love means to have or show affection, while agape love is about how we act towards others and is how the Bible refers to love. Bonobos don’t practice the type of love that God commands us to (John 13:34-35). The problem with bonobo or other types of animal morality is that they can’t be interviewed in order to find out what is truly motivating their behavior. Is it true love, instinct, impulse, greed, compassion, benevolence, or something else? I just pulled up an article about bonobos killing monkeys, and cannibalism, and one of the researchers says this doesn’t tell us anything about empathy or morality. Yet you seem to imply that there’s something about bonobos’ behavior that does tell us about our empathy and morality. Interesting. I read the Swarm Theory, and it tells us nothing of human consciousness. All this you’ve cited can be quite easily understood without any reference to evolution. In fact I don’t think either article mentioned evolution (perhaps I missed it from skimming over it). So it looks like it’s you who is denying scientific results to prop up your superstitions.

    Every single YEC rejects radiometry, which is testable and repeatable and interpreted correctly. Plus a whole lot more, like the Michelson and Morley experiment.

    That’s because radiometric dating is faulty and can’t be relied upon. Scientific research has demonstrated such.

    Hey, Jon S, I have a suggestion for you. Why don’t you join this club? They get some of their arguments from the same book as you, you know. I promise I will follow your adventures on their forum closely.

    The flat earth society is mostly made up of atheists.

  103. #104 wow
    July 20, 2012

    Good. You admit you were wrong, jon.

    And the reason you can’t claim all those god thins is because you have neither the evidence of those events happening that way, evidence explaining why they look completely different from that scenario, nor for the force you claim did it.

    The big bang uses the forces we already know about. They haveevidence for them and they explain the universe fine.

    Meanwhile, we have artifacts from cultures older than you 6000 age of the universe.

    If god made the universe, why did he make pretend it was much older?

    Surely he’s trying to tell you that book is a false account.

  104. #105 wow
    July 20, 2012

    PS do you have any proof of your naturalistic statement that most of the flat earth society are atheists?

    This is something you MUST have researched, right? And it’s defiitely within the realms of rationalist evidence-based proof, right?

    So where is your evidence for that claim.

  105. #106 NJ
    July 20, 2012

    Jon S @ 12:12 am

    Radiometric dating has been proven wrong by experiment (RATE group).

    False. Austin and Snelling deliberately mangled the experiments to try to support their preferred interpretation of their preferred translation of their preferred ancient religious writings.

    Deliberate. With malice of forethought.

    This is why their “groundbreaking research” could not be published in real, peer-reviewed journals and they had to (effectively) self-publish it.

    That’s because radiometric dating is faulty and can’t be relied upon. Scientific research has demonstrated such.

    Considering that I am one of the scientists who works in this general area and has published research specifically on this I can state with considerable authority that you have it 100% backwards. The dates are highly reliable and reproducible, match well between unrelated isotope systems, with unrelated means of measuring time and with the relative methods of dating that not even creationists find fault with.

    What you have demonstrated is that you are only capable of parroting the words of proven liars. The commenter Paul Hill seems to have an actual, diagnosable problem that causes him to write those comments. You, on the other hand, just can’t bring yourself to face reality.

    In PZ land, you’d be referred to as a ‘godbot’. Pretty apt description.

  106. #107 Xuuths
    July 20, 2012

    I love the part where Jon S claims to be “educating” us. What a laugh!! So Dunning-Kruger.

    The deluded have said in their hearts there IS a god. (I know, more humor!)

    It is such a sad waste of a life.

    Jon S, put down your cross and follow us.

  107. #108 paul hill
    apollo bay vic australia
    July 22, 2012

    It really amazes me how both sides in this never ending debate actually believe they can get anywhere at all in converting the other side. All you are doing is make a major contribution to global warming. Maybe verbal diarrhea is a good fertilizer to grow crops whose carbon uptake might offset the global warming effect of the hot air. I know that God is suffering debilitating migraines from all of the grovelling and sniveling prayers coming from the religious lobby. I just had to leave you both with this brilliant flash of vomit.

  108. #109 Wow
    July 22, 2012

    Paul, you realise the sides reside on a circle, right? And you remember that you’re peddling the religion woo, right?

    False moderation is the recourse of charlatans and bigots.

  109. #110 paul hill
    apollo bay vic australia
    July 23, 2012

    And what the hell is wrong with being a charlatan and bigot and a false moderator. Are you some sort of rationalist. I’m trying to be as deranged and confused and hypocritical as humanly possible, if you don’t or do mind. Eh?

  110. #111 Jon S
    July 28, 2012

    Wow: Good. You admit you were wrong, jon.

    I’ll admit when I’m wrong, but I’m not sure where I admitted that I was wrong.

    And the reason you can’t claim all those god thins is because you have neither the evidence of those events happening that way, evidence explaining why they look completely different from that scenario, nor for the force you claim did it.

    I have no idea what you’re talking about, but I’m sure I can provide evidence if I haven’t already.

    The big bang uses the forces we already know about. They haveevidence for them and they explain the universe fine.

    Not according to an open letter to the scientific community signed by mostly secular scientists: “The big bang today relies on a growing number of hypothetical entities, things that we have never observed—inflation, dark matter and dark energy are the most prominent examples. Without them, there would be a fatal contradiction between the observations made by astronomers and the predictions of the big bang theory. In no other field of physics would this continual recourse to new hypothetical objects be accepted as a way of bridging the gap between theory and observation. It would, at the least, raise serious questions about the validity of the underlying theory.”

    Meanwhile, we have artifacts from cultures older than you 6000 age of the universe.

    I’m sure we could demonstrate that those artifacts are not that old based on alternative dating methods.

    If god made the universe, why did he make pretend it was much older?

    He didn’t make pretend; you just choose not to see the universe for the age it is. The universe looks quite young to me. An analogy would be the old “Is the glass half-full or half-empty?” I see the glass as half full, while you see it as half empty. No one is doing any pretending; you just see what you choose to see. I see it as half full because I’m an optimist and know what to look for, while you’re the pessimist, refusing to see what’s plainly there.

    PS do you have any proof of your naturalistic statement that most of the flat earth society are atheists?

    Daniel Shenton, the leader of the flat earth society is a fundamentalist atheist and believes in evolution. But the bottom line is that Christianity doesn’t hold to this teaching, and it’s dishonest to maintain this myth in order to mock those you disagree with; it’s a sad attempt to silence any debate.

    NJ: False. Austin and Snelling deliberately mangled the experiments to try to support their preferred interpretation of their preferred translation of their preferred ancient religious writings.

    Not true; they’ve justified their experiments and stand by them. On the other hand, what you’re accusing them of is exactly what evolutionists do to prop up their beliefs; deliberately discarding counter evidence and embracing the evidence that gives you the dates you want. If you don’t like the date, the sample is obviously contaminated- keep going until you get the date you want.

    This is why their “groundbreaking research” could not be published in real, peer-reviewed journals and they had to (effectively) self-publish it.

    No, their work was published in peer-reviewed journals and not self-published. You’ve just demonstrated yourself to be deliberately dishonest with malice and forethought.

    Considering that I am one of the scientists who works in this general area and has published research specifically on this I can state with considerable authority that you have it 100% backwards. The dates are highly reliable and reproducible, match well between unrelated isotope systems, with unrelated means of measuring time and with the relative methods of dating that not even creationists find fault with.

    Sorry, but according to the RATE group, it’s you who has it wrong. If, however, you’re so confident, then I suggest you put your credentials to the test and challenge them to an honest, public debate. I, for one, would be delighted to see such a showdown.

    What you have demonstrated is that you are only capable of parroting the words of proven liars. The commenter Paul Hill seems to have an actual, diagnosable problem that causes him to write those comments. You, on the other hand, just can’t bring yourself to face reality. In PZ land, you’d be referred to as a ‘godbot’. Pretty apt description.

    Charming; I’m sure in PZ land there’s a lot of name-calling for those they disagree with. I suppose if I wanted to stoop to the level of name-calling I could come up with some pretty clever descriptions. But, as a Christian, I try to avoid derogatory name-calling as I don’t need to resort to such efforts in order to feel better about myself.

    Here are some findings from the RATE group. Just curious, but do you agree with any of these?
    1. There are uncertainties as to the absence or presence of daughter atoms (atoms left after decay) when the rocks formed, because there is much evidence of the rocks having inherited daughter atoms that were not formed by radioactive decay in those rocks.
    2. There is abundant evidence of widespread “open-system” behavior of parent and daughter atoms. Rocks are often contaminated with extra parent and daughter atoms produced apart from radioactive decay. Parent and daughter atoms are also removed by various geologic processes (for example, leaching by fluids) subsequent to the rocks forming.
    3. Nuclear decay rates have now been demonstrated to have not always been constant.

    We also know that rocks of known ages yield wrong dates, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that rocks of “unknown” ages would also yield erroneous dates.

    Xuuths: I love the part where Jon S claims to be “educating” us. What a laugh!! So Dunning-Kruger. The deluded have said in their hearts there IS a god. (I know, more humor!) It is such a sad waste of a life. Jon S, put down your cross and follow us.

    Hahaha, nice try, but I will take up my cross daily and follow Christ all of my days, and then spend eternity with him in heaven. I hope you may come to know Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior as well and that we will see each other in heaven.

  111. #112 Wow
    July 28, 2012

    According to science, the big bang uses forces we already knowabout.

    And 6000 years doesn’t work AT ALL.

    Neither does the earth coming first, light before stars, or the entire cosmythology in the bibble.

  112. #113 Jon S
    July 29, 2012

    Wow: According to science, the big bang uses forces we already knowabout.

    Science is a method for understanding and explaining the world around us. It involves experimentation and observation. Science is not a god that tells us anything. Scientists must interpret their findings and draw conclusions. Some scientists may believe that the Big Bang uses forces we already know about, but many scientists who signed the open letter have made it clear that the Big Bang relies on hypothetical entities- in other words they were made up. You can do some homework and look it up. This is the type of thing you’re not going to learn about in a public school system.

    And 6000 years doesn’t work AT ALL.

    Sure it does. If you care to learn about dating techniques you’ll find that 6,000 years (approximately) works just fine. In fact 6,000 years is a very, very long time.

    Neither does the earth coming first, light before stars, or the entire cosmythology in the bibble.

    Sure it does; if you decided to put your mind to it I’m sure you could learn and understand why it’s all quite logical and reasonable. God was the source of light prior to stars (Revelation 21:23-24 and Revelation 22:5). Of course the earth coming first doesn’t work at all for the Big Bang cosmology, but it works perfectly well if you’re interested in the truth and accept the Bible as the ultimate source for truth and authority.

  113. #114 Wow
    July 29, 2012

    Ah, it’s goog that jon gives there lectures of blinding obvious.

    Yes, jon, science isn’t a god. Tell me, are you having a nice conversation with your imaginary friend, there? You know, the one who says science is a god?

    Nope, if you look at the evidence, 6000 years doesn’t fit.

    Snd obviousy YOU gan get to thinking that the SELF CONTRADICTORY bible could be telling the truth, but that’s because you have no brain.

    Simple answers are all you can manage. Doesn’t matter that they’re wrong. Just that they are answers.

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