Monday, June 30, 2008

The Cons of The Cons of The Cons of Creationism

The irredoubtable Brian Thomas of the Institute for Creation Research comes to us today with a rebuttal! It seems that some meanies at the New York Times have cast (Gasp!) aspersions against creationism!

The Cons of "The Cons of Creationism"

A recent New York Times online editorial titled “The Cons of Creationism”1 is a typical example of the way the secular media routinely mischaracterize creation science.

As opposed to mis-characterizing creationism as "science".

I'm racking my brain on this one, but complaining about someone else mis-characterizing creationism while you blithely mis-characterize creationism is such insane levels of irony that I guessing you took time off of your day job selling iron pyrite encased irons to Iron Man to write this article.

Let us critique the editorial’s claims, one item at a time.

Yes! Lets! * sits down and waits to watch the train wreck coming *

[Creationists] believe that students who are taught a creationist view of biology—or who are taught to disregard the Darwinist view—are not being disadvantaged.
So creationists believe that it is best to teach students to be ignorant about Darwinian biology? Actually, for decades informed creationists have advocated a two-model approach,2 where students are taught the pros and cons of both views

Both views! The view that God created man and the universe in 6 days and the view that God created evolution and let it run it's course. You see, down here in the Bible Belt, we listen to both kinds of theology! Yee-haw!

and then permitted to evaluate the situation for themselves.

This is one of the weirdest parts of the deal. Since when is high school the proper place to decide scientific theories? Shouldn't we be doing that in professional laboratories and then teaching them what the experts have already learned?

Oh wait...I forgot! We already have done exactly that and the support for creationism is exactly zero whereas the support for evolution is decade after decade of scientific analysis, testing, and verification!

[Teaching] the “strengths and weaknesses” of evolution…is code for teaching creationism.
We beg the reader to consider that teaching the strengths and weaknesses of evolution is actually code for “teaching the strengths and weaknesses of evolution.”

Considered...and rejected once we took an actual look at the goals of the people who are saying this garbage.

The idea that creationists are being subversive is without merit, a mere smear. It is likely that the author has not bothered to consider that there actually are weaknesses to evolution.

Wow! So, you've never met an actual scientist before, eh?

The trouble is, a creationist system of science is not science at all. It is faith. All science is “naturalist” to the extent that it tries to understand the laws of nature and the character of the universe on their own terms, without reference to a divine creator.
What is “a creationist system of science”? The author seems to think that creationists invoke God to explain every empirical phenomenon. That may be animism, but it is certainly not creationism.

Here's a nice view of what a creationist system of science is as according to your own institute. Thanks for asking!

Adequate clarity on these important issues requires more precise definitions.

And use of, you know, actual science.

We must distinguish between historical science and empirical science. Both creation scientists and evolutionary scientists practice the same kind of empirical science—observing the repeatable. Just like creation scientists, Darwinists typically use naturalistic interpretations to explain the operation of observable and repeatable phenomena. However, Darwinists mistakenly, and by faith, presume exclusively naturalistic causes to explain the origin of phenomena. There are no “gods” causing light to refract or masses to gravitate, but that does not mean that there was no God responsible for the origin of lights and masses!

Occam's Razor...the New Faith!

The New York Times editorial ends with “The religious faith underlying creationism has a place, in church and social studies courses. Science belongs in science classrooms.” Of course science belongs in science classrooms—that is our point! The religion of evolutionary atheism does not belong, nor does evolutionary history or methodological naturalism philosophy.

"The religion of evolutionary atheism"

These words...I do not think they mean what you think they mean. Because it seems like you think they mean anything at all!

I mean, really..."the religion of evolutionary atheism"?!? Get a dictionary and come back after reading it. It'll help everyone involved. Seriously.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

California dreamin'

On June 16th, California started issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples in accordance with the May 15th State Supreme Court decision on the matter. Protect immediately chimes in with a campaign against people who are doing nothing to them whatsoever.

ProtectMarriage calls for measured response to licensing of same-sex marriages.

Starting Monday at 5:01 pm, several California counties began issuing same-sex “marriage” certificates.

Yay for fairness and equality! Woot!

This follows the order of the four Supreme Court judges striking down Proposition 22, which the voters overwhelming approved just a few years ago to reaffirm marriage as only between a man and a woman.

Yep, judges are odd that way about states passing laws that contradict both the rest of the laws and common sense.

Yet, this debate is not over.

Sadly, this is true.

Thankfully, the Protection of Marriage Amendment will appear on this November’s ballot.

Oh joy, another round of legislating morality.

The campaign of the next few months will be our opportunity to remind Californians why the unique role of traditional marriage in society is worth protecting.

The major media would love to see us engage in fierce protests and hostile demonstrations of outrage against the licensing of same-sex “marriages”.

They love it when you make fools of yourselves. It sells papers.

Of course they will take any opportunity they can find to portray us as unreasonable.

That's pretty easy when you're being this unreasonable.

We must not fall into this trap.

Too late!

So let us keep in mind: Our battle is not against the same-sex couples who are pursuing the opportunity to “marry”

It's against their evil twin, Skippy?!? Really, the level of doublethink required to actually believe this would make Winston Smith turn around and say "You gotta be kidding me!"

granted them by the activist judges on the California Supreme Court.

And fairness, equality, and common sense.

Our battle is against the flawed reasoning of the court’s decision; our purpose is to reaffirm the traditional definition of marriage. Marriage is at the core of family security and is an essential element in our society. The Supreme Court has effectively rendered marriage meaningless at a time when we should be taking steps to strengthen families.

Agreed! Lets strengthen families by allowing more loving, caring, committed couples to enjoy the legal protections granted by our society to them in exchange for the expectations that we have on them!

Fortunately, the Protection of Marriage Amendment will give voters the final say in this debate.

Until overturned again by the courts.

We are confident that voters will reaffirm the traditional definition of marriage, just as they overwhelmingly did in 2000, and overturn the court’s flawed decision.

So the merry-go-round will continue to turn!

To succeed, however, we must raise the funds needed to launch an organized grassroots campaign and purchase statewide TV and radio advertisements urging a “yes” vote on the Marriage Amendment. Please mail a check or donate online today to support our campaign for marriage.

It costs a lot of money to properly demonstrate our bigotism and deny those rights to law abiding citizens, you know!

P.S. Please help us reach even more supporters like you… please forward this email to at least 5 friends or family members who can join this important battle to save traditional marriage. Thank you.

And we don't stop at bigoted efforts - we create chain letters as well!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

More fun from the FAQ!

Continuing this week's series on wacky Johns, here's another installment of the Revving John Hagee's FAQ page!
Today's episode: Healing

Q. Does God really heal diseases today? How can I be healed?

A. Absolutely!

Undoubtedly! Completely! Except that he doesn’t.

God's healing power has never diminished,

Completely true.

and divine health is His desire for us.

Which is why he made all those wonderful diseases for us to get!

One of the descriptive names of God in the Bible is Jehovah Rophe, which means, "The God Who Heals."
Scripture is full of examples of the healing power of Jesus.

So full of them that you’d think that someone else at the time would have mentioned it in passing. Somewhere.

While He walked this earth, He healed the lame, the blind, the sick, and the deaf. He healed one-on-one and He healed en masse. The Bible says that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Heb. 13:8). He is still the Great Physician.

And I hear that he’s an ace at Blackjack, too!

Furthermore, His power resides in us as believers.

Which neuron exactly do I have to fire in order to unlock this mystical power?

The gospels specify that Jesus delegated His healing power to the twelve disciples (Matt. 10:1; Luke 9:1). Luke states that an additional seventy disciples were commissioned to preach the gospel and heal diseases (10:1-9).


And Jesus did not intend for them to stop healing the sick after His resurrection and ascension.

Yeah, that would’ve been rude.

In fact, He told the disciples that after He returned to heaven, they would do even "greater works" than their Master (John 14:12).

Which is true…from a certain point of view

As part of the Great Commission-Jesus' final instructions to the original Twelve as well as disciples throughout the ages-He said that certain "signs will follow those who believe: In My name . . . they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover" (Mark 16: 17-18). This "laying on of hands" in prayer for the sick was practiced by the early church (James 5:14-15), and it has been the custom of believers ever since.

Which explains why faith healing has withstood all of the rigorous observation and testing that has been done on it!

If you need healing, ask the elders of your church to anoint you with oil and pray for you according to the biblical pattern. Or ask other believers in your Sunday School class or home Bible study to pray with you. If you have no Christian support, call our Prayerline at 210-491-5100 or click here to send Prayer Request online and ask for prayer. One of our staff members or trained volunteers will be glad to pray for you and help you have faith for healing. Every month we share testimonies in our magazine and on our website from people who have been healed by a touch from God. You can be healed too!

Or you could go to a doctor. Your call.

Prayer should be a Christian's first response to sickness,

Before seeing a doctor?

but too many believers use prayer as a last resort. Instead of running to the Great Physician, they run to the medicine cabinet in search of pills or vitamins or other remedies.

Given to them by those wacky doctors. What do they know anyway?

I'm a firm believer in medicine and doctors,

Really?!? It doesn’t sound like it.

and I'm thankful for their healing ministry.

Umm, just to let you in on a little secret – it’s called a clinic or a hospital. Ministries are for a different profession entirely.

But when I am sick, my ultimate reliance is on the God who made me.

If only that was true. Sigh.

Faith is the key to divine health and healing.

If you weren’t healed, it’s all your fault.

Remember, your faith should not be placed in the person who prays for you.

Having faith isn’t enough. It has to be put in the right place, after all.

That person is just a vessel used by God, and a frail little gray-headed prayer warrior in your church can be just as effective as some big-name healing evangelist.

And he’s certainly a better bargain!

That's because the proper object of your faith is Jehovah Rophe, the God Who Heals.

And he’s having a special today!

Release your faith and receive your healing today.

No warranty expressed or implied.

Friday, June 27, 2008

A creationist answers our points...well one point...maybe

Our friend - and a saint no less! - Johnny enjoyed the fun we have here at the Rational Reply so much so that he decided to address the critical issue of what Monty Python song went with which movie while utterly glossing over the apparently worthless point of what constitutes a sign from God. Which is odd since it was the fundamental concept of his article in the first place!

So Saint Johnny, my good and noble dead purveyor of at least two miracles, here's your Rational Reply!

Par for the Course: Pot Shots from the Atheist Peanut Gallery

I loved this wacky ‘point by point’ response to a blog entry

Glad to hear it! We do aim to entertain here!

I wrote like 8 months ago.

There's this little secret about the internet. The stuff that's put onto it never, ever goes away and can be analyzed and built on months and even years later! I know this comes as a shock to anyone who is accustomed to things being built in six days and then never again changing and anyone who thinks that all of the answers that were written by ancient wandering tribes is 100% accurate and no new information is significant, but it's really true!

One already knows that he’s in for sarcastic inside jokes that miss the point when, in the first paragraph, the fellah says:

I've been promoted to "fellah". Sweet!

[Quoting Sntjohnny]I am reminded of the scene in Monty Python’s movie “The Life of Bryan” where a leper is healed and complains about it because it took away his livelihood of begging. Bryan replies “There’s just no pleasing some people!” and the Leper says, “That’s just what Jesus said!”[/end quote]

That’s a great movie! “Every sperm is Sacred” is an awesome song that just gets better and better the more I think about the truths that it hammers home. It rocks!

Of course, everyone knows that “Every sperm is Sacred” is not in the Life of Bryan. It’s in The Meaning of Life, as any true fan of Monty Python would know. Perhaps ‘Jim Rational’ picked up the skeptical reader to the Monty Python corpus. :)

Or went after a song that resonated with the subject at hand while segueing from the comment on Life of Brian. Either one.

And, I hesitate to mention this one, but please spell it Life of Brian, not Life of Bryan. Especially if you're going to question anyone's Python credentials. I'm just saying.

In typical fashion, Mr. Rational’s points resonate only with those who agree with him

No comment. I bow to your expertise in this particular field.

, and unless you can speak atheistese you’d never imagine that there was a point buried in his responses. I am fluent in atheistese, however.

So you'll be addressing these soon, right?

I will not respond in detail to a post

Shocked! Shocked I am that you're not bothering to explain lunacies such as having a Jesus that is not logically consistent, blithely reversing the scientific method, failing to see how atheists have morals, and claiming that someone who has been handed his morals on a platter isn't taking them for granted.

Gasp! Choke! No one saw that coming at all!

that is the epitome of preaching to the choir, but I will speak to one particular point where I think the man, despite crystal clear language on my part, missed the point.

Well, it's not as good as actually responding to the points above, but we'll take what we can get.

[Sntjohnny Quote]For example, I know an atheist who requested a sign from God. He received it. We spoke together on the phone about it. He was freaked out. After a few months he decided it wasn’t enough and that it was all probably a trick of the mind. Surely we can see how if God had done more or does more my friend can still chalk it up to a trick of the mind? Why should God give him what he wants when it won’t make him happy anyway?[/end quote]

Ah. I see your choice would be to write him off instead of trying to figure out what would convince him. Oh well. Too bad for you.

Ah, right. Let’s see. The man REQUESTED A SIGN FROM GOD. It isn’t brain surgery to ‘figure out what would convince him.’ The man himself asked for a sign, and he received it. Seriously, is this so difficult? I do hope that true rational Jims that are out there will pardon me for figuring that if a man asks for and receives a sign from God, but still isn’t convinced by that sign, my role in the matter is pretty limited. Indeed, about the only thing that I can do at that point is say, “Dude. You asked for a sign. You got it. What’s your problem?” Which, by the way, did say- though in kinder terms, as the gent is a friend.

The problem, Pussycat Jonathon, lies in what we believe that a sign from God actually is.

Faith healers, conjurers, ESP claimants, animal telepaths, and others of their ilk understand a particular basic human reality. That reality is that if you put someone in a context where they want to believe the insanity that you feed him, he will believe it. It's just that simple.

One important way to test this is to let the person out of that box, let him examine the realities of what he experienced in his own way without pressure and allow him to rationally review what really happened. Scientists, real ones who actually follow the scientific method, experience this as a matter of course by handing their findings over to other scientists for them to repeat the findings.

The description is far too lacking in detail, but here are just a few problems with your test:

The test subject talked to someone who wanted to convince him that there would be a sign from God. He didn't talk to anyone who would talk sense to him.

The test of "receive a sign from God" is laughably vague. Which one of a trillion coincidences did this prepared subject get freaked out about? I'm thinking it was at a Dairy Queen.

The test subject immediately called the person who prepared him to believe and received reinforcement. He didn't talk to anyone else. Getting prepared by someone to interpret random things in a particular way and then getting reinforced by that same person is what we call "bias". And that's the nice term for it. That's a really bad thing if you're trying to draw conclusions that actually match up to the real world. This test that you speak of belongs on the Lame List.

By the way, if your friend really received an undeniable sign from God that can stand up to actual test protocols, James Randi has a million dollars for him. Even if he doesn't need the money, I'm sure he has a charity that can use the cash. Go for it!

My hats off to you, Rational Jim! More proof that no Christian ever worry that there is any reason to worry about the challenges of the atheistic community! Peace, homeslice.

And peace to you, my good friend! But please, the name is Jim Rational. And thanks for demonstrating that no scientist need ever worry about rational challenges from your quarter!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Minimal Facts Approach

Our good an noble friends over at Apologetics have come up with an interesting whopper - the "Minimal Facts Approach".

Yep, no fooling around here! You have to give them some credit here, when they don't have the facts every once in awhile, they just come right out and say it! Read on for some jaw dropping stuipity!

We have seen that the resurrection of Jesus and Christianity are bound up together

Yep! Can we go back to that and fill in some more detail, though? We need a DNA sample from Mr. Christ, for example.

…but is there good historical evidence that it actually occured?

Good enough for you? No doubt.

Gary Habermas argues there is. In his “minimal facts approach”

* jaw drops *
Minimal facts approach?
Minimal facts approach?!?!?

Would this be the approach where we just get to make stuff up when there aren’t any actual facts for something?
Sorry…I’m just staggered that someone would so bald facedly give his lack of evidence a name that so clearly screams out that he has no evidence…and then publish it! Can I do this in other situations, too?

Police Officer: Do you know how fast you were going?
Me: Yep! But there’s no need for a ticket, I’m using the “doesn’t matter what speed I’m going” approach

Or how about…?

Me: Do you know why my car is making a grinding noise when I step on the brake?
Mechanic: Don’t worry about it. I’m using a “minimal noise noticing” approach

he has come up with 5 facts that virtually all scholars in the field of New Testament studies (liberal, moderate, conservative) affirm. The question before us, is what best explains these facts?
Fact #1 - Jesus died by crucifixion. This fact is recorded in all four gospels as well as being referred to by other NT writers. In addition to these Christian sources, there are several Non-Christian sources that report Jesus’ crucifixion. For example, in AD 115 the Roman historian Tacitus

It took 80 something years for someone to note Mr. Christ’s crucifixion?!? Doesn’t this seem ever so slightly insane? Where were the contemporary accounts? This is like an 80’s hockey writer not knowing Wayne Gretzky.

describes how Christians were blamed for the burning of Rome: “Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus [cf. Matt 27:2].” Due to passages like this from outside of the NT

Passages 80 years out of date.

and the strong witness in the NT,

Be still my beating heart.

there is no doubt that Jesus of Nazareth was executed by Roman crucifixion around AD 30-33.

Yeah. No doubt at all.

The real question is why?

Why you blithely gloss over the lack of any contemporary documentation and cite something as ridiculous as a "minimal facts approach"? Yeah, that’s a real question, all right.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Special guest replier: Professor Richard Lenski!

Professor Richard Lenski, as both of my readers know, is an evolutionary biologist who has achieved what creationists claim is impossible - direct evidence of evolution occurring in his lab.

Faced with this horrible blow to their inane beliefs, creationists such as Andrew Schlafly, the chief moron of Conservapedia, have done what they always do when a scientist achieves a landmark breakthrough to help the human race. They attack him mercilessly and stupidly.

Now normally on the Rational Reply, I take the good time and effort to reply to the idiots and their ridiculous claims. But today, we have a special guest star. Professor Lenski himself has taken the time and trouble to reply to the ignorant, impolite, and insane demands of the Schlafly crew. So to see to it that we help the good professor "make sure that [his reply] is made publicly available through other channels", I yield the floor to him to give The Rational Reply.

Take it away Professor!

Dear Mr. Schlafly:

I tried to be polite, civil and respectful in my reply to your first email, despite its rude tone and uninformed content. Given the continued rudeness of your second email, and the willfully ignorant and slanderous content on your website, my second response will be less polite. I expect you to post my response in its entirety; if not, I will make sure that is made publicly available through other channels.

I offer this lengthy reply because I am an educator as well as a scientist. It is my sincere hope that some readers might learn something from this exchange, even if you do not.

First, it seems that reading might not be your strongest suit given your initial letter, which showed that you had not read our paper, and given subsequent conversations with your followers, in which you wrote that you still had not bothered to read our paper. You wrote: “I did skim Lenski’s paper …” If you have not even read the original paper, how do you have any basis of understanding from which to question, much less criticize, the data that are presented therein?

Second, your capacity to misinterpret and/or misrepresent facts is plain in the third request in your first letter, where you said: “In addition, there is skepticism that 3 new and useful proteins appeared in the colony around generation 20,000.” That statement was followed by a link to a news article from NewScientist that briefly reported on our work. I assumed you had simply misunderstood that article, because there is not even a mention of proteins anywhere in the news article. As I replied, “We make no such claim anywhere in our paper, nor do I think it is correct. Proteins do not ‘appear out of the blue’, in any case.” So where did your confused assertion come from? It appears to have come from one of your earlier discussions, in which an acoltye [sic] (Able806, who to his credit at least seems to have attempted to read our paper) wrote:

"I think it might be best to clarify some of Richard's work. He started his E.Coli project in 1988 and has been running the project for 20 years now; his protocols are available to the general public. The New Scientist article is not very technical but the paper at PNAS is. The change was based on one of his colonies developing the ability to absorb citrate, something not found in wild E.Coli. This occurred around 31,500 generations and is based on the development of 3 proteins in the E.Coli genome. What his future work will be is to look at what caused the development of these 3 proteins around generation 20,000 of that particular colony."

As further evidence of your inability to keep even a few simple facts straight, you later wrote the following: “It [my reply] did clarify that his claims are not as strong as some evolutionists have insisted.” But no competent biologist would, after reading our paper with any care, insist (or even suggest) that “3 new and useful proteins appeared in the colony around generation 20,000” or any similar nonsense. It is only in your letter, and in your acolyte’s confused interpretation of our paper, that I have ever seen such a claim. Am I or the reporter for NewScientist somehow responsible for the confusion that reflects your own laziness and apparent inability to distinguish between a scientific paper, a news article, and a confused summary posted by an acolyte on your own website?

Third, it is apparent to me, and many others who have followed this exchange and your on-line discussions of how to proceed, that you are not acting in good faith in requests for data. From the posted discussion on your web site, it is obvious that you lack any expertise in the relevant fields. Several of your acolytes have pointed this out to you, and that your motives are unclear or questionable at best, but you and your cronies dismissed their concerns as rants and even expelled some of them from posting on your website. [] Several also pointed out that I had very quickly and straightforwardly responded that the methods and data supporting the evolution of the citrate-utilization capacity are already provided in our paper. One poster in your discussions, Aaronp, wrote:

“I read Lenski's paper, and as a trained microbiologist, I thought that it was both thorough and well done. His claims are backed by good data, namely that which was presented in the figures. I went through each of the figures after Aschlafly said that they were uninformative. Actually, they are basic figures that show the population explosion of the bacterial cultures after the Cit+ mutation occurred. These figures show that the cultures increased in size and mass at a given timepoint, being able to do so because they had evolved a mechanism to utilize a new nutrient, without the assistance of helper plasmids. … Lenksi’s paper, while not the most definite I’ve seen, is still a very well-researched paper that supports its claims nicely.”

(As far as I saw, Aaronp is the only poster who asserted any expertise in microbiology.) As further evidence of the absence of good-faith discussion about our research, in the discussion thread that began even before you sent your first email to me, I counted the words “fraud” or “fraudulent” being used more than 10 times, including one acolyte, TonyT, who says bluntly that I am “clearly a fraudulent hack.” In the discussion thread that also includes comments after my first reply, the number of times those same words are used has increased to 20, with the word “hoax” also now entering the discussion. A few posters wisely counseled against such slander but that did not deter you. I must say, it is surprising that someone with a law degree would make, and allow on his website, so many nasty comments that implicitly and even explicitly impugn my integrity, and by extension that of my collaborators, without any grounds whatsoever and reflecting only your dogmatic adherence to certain beliefs.

Finally, let me now turn to our data. As I said before, the relevant methods and data about the evolution of the citrate-using bacteria are in our paper. In three places in our paper, we did say “data not shown”, which is common in scientific papers owing to limitations in page length, especially for secondary or minor points. None of the places where we made such references concern the existence of the citrate-using bacteria; they concern only certain secondary properties of those bacteria. We will gladly post those additional data on my website.

It is my impression that you seem to think we have only paper and electronic records of having seen some unusual E. coli. If we made serious errors or misrepresentations, you would surely like to find them in those records. If we did not, then – as some of your acolytes have suggested – you might assert that our records are themselves untrustworthy because, well, because you said so, I guess. But perhaps because you did not bother even to read our paper, or perhaps because you aren’t very bright, you seem not to understand that we have the actual, living bacteria that exhibit the properties reported in our paper, including both the ancestral strain used to start this long-term experiment and its evolved citrate-using descendants. In other words, it’s not that we claim to have glimpsed “a unicorn in the garden” – we have a whole population of them living in my lab! [] And lest you accuse me further of fraud, I do not literally mean that we have unicorns in the lab. Rather, I am making a literary allusion. []

One of your acolytes, Dr. Richard Paley, actually grasped this point. He does not appear to understand the practice and limitations of science, but at least he realizes that we have the bacteria, and that they provide “the real data that we [that’s you and your gang] need”. Here’s what this Dr. Paley had to say:

“I think there’s a great deal of misunderstanding here from the critics of Mr. Schlafly and obfuscation on the part of Prof. Lenski and his supporters. The real data that we need are not in the paper. Rather they are in the bacteria used in the experiments themselves. Prof. Lenski claims that these bacteria ‘evolved’ novel traits and that these were preceded by the evolution of ‘potentiated genotypes’, from which the traits could be ‘reevolved’ using preserved colonies from those generations. But how are we to know if these traits weren’t ‘potentiated’ by the Creator when He designed the bacteria thousands of years ago, such that they would eventually reveal themselves when the time was right? The only way this can be settled is if we have access to the genetic sequences of the bacteria colonies so that we can apply CSI techniques and determine if these ‘potentiated genotypes’ originated through blind chance or intelligence. But with the physical specimens in the hands of Darwinists, who claim they will get around to the sequencing at some unspecifed future time, how can we trust that this data will be forthcoming and forthright? Thus, Prof. Lenski et al. should supply Conservapedia, as stewards, with samples of the preserved E. coli colonies so that the data can be accessible to unbiased researchers outside of the hegemony of the Darwinian academia, even if it won’t be put to immediate examination by Mr. Schlafly. This is simply about keeping tax-payer-funded scientists honest.”

So, will we share the bacteria? Of course we will, with competent scientists. Now, if I was really mean, I might only share the ancestral strain, and let the scientists undertake the 20 years of our experiment. Or if I was only a little bit mean, maybe I’d also send the potentiated bacteria, and let the recipients then repeat the several years of incredibly pain-staking work that my superb doctoral student, Zachary Blount, performed to test some 40 trillion (40,000,000,000,000) cells, which generated 19 additional citrate-using mutants. But I’m a nice guy, at least when treated with some common courtesy, so if a competent scientist asks for them, I would even send a sample of the evolved E. coli that now grows vigorously on citrate. A competent microbiologist, perhaps requiring the assistance of a competent molecular geneticist, would readily confirm the following properties reported in our paper: (i) The ancestral strain does not grow in DM0 (zero glucose, but containing citrate), the recipe for which can be found on my web site, except leaving the glucose out of the standard recipe as stated in our paper. (ii) The evolved citrate-using strain, by contrast, grows well in that exact same medium. (iii) To confirm that the evolved strain is not some contaminating species but is, in fact, derived from the ancestral strain in our study, one could check a number of traits and genes that identify the ancestor as E. coli, and the evolved strains as a descendant thereof, as reported in our paper. (iv) One could also sequence the pykF and nadR genes in the ancestor and evolved citrate-using strains. One would find that the evolved bacteria have mutations in each of these genes. These mutations precisely match those that we reported in our previous work, and they identify the evolved citrate-using mutants as having evolved in the population designated Ara-3 of the long-term evolution experiment, as opposed to any of the other 11 populations in that experiment. And one could go on and on from there to confirm the findings in our paper, and perhaps obtain additional data of the sort that we are currently pursuing.

Before I could send anyone any bacterial strains, in order to comply with good scientific practices I would require evidence of the requesting scientist’s credentials including: (i) affiliation with an appropriate unit in some university or research center with appropriate facilities for storing (-80ºC freezer), handling (incubators, etc.), and disposing of bacteria (autoclave); and (ii) some evidence, such as peer-reviewed publications, that indicate that the receiving scientist knows how to work with bacteria, so that I and my university can be sure we are sending biological materials to someone that knows how to handle them. By the way, our strains are not derived from one of the pathogenic varieties of E. coli that are a frequent cause of food-borne illnesses. However, even non-pathogenic strains may cause problems for those who are immune-compromised or otherwise more vulnerable to infection. Also, my university requires that a Material Transfer Agreement be executed before we can ship any strains. That agreement would not constrain a receiving scientist from publishing his or her results. However, if an incompetent or fraudulent hack (note that I make no reference to any person, as this is strictly a hypothetical scenario, one that I doubt would occur) were to make false or misleading claims about our strains, then I’m confident that some highly qualified scientists would join the fray, examine the strains, and sort out who was right and who was wrong. That’s the way science works.

I would also generally ask what the requesting scientist intends to do with our strains. Why? It helps me to gauge the requester’s expertise. I might be able to point out useful references, for example. Moreover, as I’ve said, we are continuing our work with these strains, on multiple fronts, as explained in considerable detail in the Discussion section of our paper. I would not be happy to see our work “scooped” by another team – especially for the sake of the outstanding students and postdocs in my group who are hard at work on these fronts. However, that request to allow us to proceed, without risk of being scooped on work in which we have made a substantial investment of time and effort, would be just that: a request. In other words, we would respect PNAS policy to share those strains with any competent scientist who complied with my university’s requirements for the MTA and any other relevant legal restrictions. If any such request requires substantial time or resources (we have thousands of samples from this and many other experiments), then of course I would expect the recipient to bear those costs.

So there you have it. I know that I’ve been a bit less polite in this response than in my previous one, but I’m still behaving far more politely than you deserve given your rude, willfully ignorant, and slanderous behavior. And I’ve spent far more time responding than you deserve. However, as I said at the outset, I take education seriously, and I know some of your acolytes still have the ability and desire to think, as do many others who will read this exchange.


Richard Lenski

P.S. Did you know that your own bowels harbor something like a billion (1,000,000,000) E. coli at this very moment? So remember to wash your hands after going to the toilet, as I hope your mother taught you. Simple calculations imply that there are something like 10^20 = 100,000,000,000,000,000,000 E. coli alive on our planet at any moment. Even if they divide just once per day, and given a typical mutation rate of 10^-9 or 10^-10 per base-pair per generation, then pretty much every possible double mutation would occur every day or so. That’s a lot of opportunity for evolution.

P.P.S. I hope that some readers might get a chuckle out of this story. The same Sunday (15 June 2008) that you and some of your acolytes were posting and promoting scurrilous attacks on me and our research (wasn’t that a bit disrespectful of the Sabbath?), I was in a church attending a wedding. And do you know what Old Testament lesson was read? It was Genesis 1:27-28[2], in which God created Man and Woman. It’s a very simple and lovely story, and I did not ask any questions, storm out, or demand the evidence that it happened as written at a time when science did not yet exist. I was there in the realm of spirituality and mutual respect, not confusing a house of religion for a science class or laboratory. And it was a beautiful wedding, too.

P.P.P.S. You may be unable to understand, or unwilling to accept, that evolution occurs. And yet, life evolves! [] From the content on your website, it is clear that you, like many others, view God as the Creator of the Universe. I respect that view. I find it baffling, however, that someone can worship God as the all-mighty Creator while, at the same time, denying even the possibility (not to mention the overwhelming evidence) that God’s Creation involved evolution. It is as though a person thinks that God must have the same limitations when it comes to creation as a person who is unable to understand, or even attempt to understand, the world in which we live. Isn’t that view insulting to God?

P.P.P.P.S. I noticed that you say that one of your favorite articles on your website is the one on “Deceit.” That article begins as follows: “Deceit is the deliberate distortion or denial of the truth with an intent to trick or fool another. Christianity and Judaism teach that deceit is wrong. For example, the Old Testament says, ‘Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.’” You really should think more carefully about what that commandment means before you go around bearing false witness against others.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Hagee on abortion

The Rev. John Hagee gives us his insights on abortion from his FAQ section. Yes, this is not an off the cuff answer, but rather the standard response he gives to everyone.

Q. Abortion is legal, but is it morally wrong? What about abortion in cases of rape or incest?

A. That no one should have the right to take the life of the unborn has been a principle of medicine from ancient times.

Really?!? I seem to have missed the great debates on this one in the Roman senate. And I’m missing the part where – and this might be some small bit of importance – we could actually abort a pregnancy in ancient times without insane risk to the woman.

If you want to make stuff up out of whole cloth, you really need to do better than this.

The Hippocratic Oath, first formulated as a sworn rule of conduct for doctors and physicians in ancient Greece some 2,400 years ago,

So you’re swearing to Apollo, Asclepius, Hygieia, and Panacea now? You might want to stick with your religion. I hear that your god is a jealous god.

says, "I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest such counsel; and in a like manner I will not give a woman a pessary to induce an abortion."

Good council! We have much better, safer, and easier ways to have abortions now. It’s all about that march of scientific progress.

Even then, four hundred years before the birth of Christ, people were clamoring for euthanasia and wanting to kill their unborn babies.

Yep, especially women who were raped.

If Hippocrates-a pagan physician who believed in all sorts of mythological gods and goddesses

Which is, of course, much worse than simply believing in one mythological god

-knew that it was wrong to take a life, what defense do we have today after the intervening two millennia of research and learning?

Is this a trick question? As stated, we have 2,000 years of understanding, progress, and abilities that Hippocrates did not have, a far better understanding of what life actually is, and far, far better ways to make choices about childbirth than a young girl failing to be able to run away from a marauding barbarian rapist.

When it comes to abortion, I believe God is pro-life.

Tell that to all the people who weren’t on Noah’s Ark.

Let me demonstrate that in Scripture.

Please do! It won’t mean a thing since that’s a made up book of stories, but it’s fun to watch you thrash about in it!

Speaking through Moses, God told his people: "I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live" (Deut. 30:19).

A clear quote directly talking about unborn children, obviously.

God created us as free moral agents, with the capacity to choose our course of action.

So God is Pro-Choice then!

But He certainly gave us explicit direction for making wise choices: "Choose life."

Again…he wants us to be able to choose!

The Bible places great value on children. They are the "heritage" of the Lord, His "reward" (Ps. 127:3).

Absolutely. It’s tough to brainwash other people’s kids, so it’s better to have your own.

The Bible also makes it clear that a child's life is to be protected, even while the child is in the mother's womb. Among the ancient Hebrews, penalties were prescribed against a person who injured a pregnant woman and thereby caused her to miscarry (Ex. 21:22-23).

Just like the abortion laws today.

God's Word says that if you hurt a pregnant woman and she loses the baby, you have to pay a penalty-not because it was a "blob of tissue," as abortion proponents would have us believe, but because it was a living human being.

Either that or the ancient goat herders who wrote the bible had never heard of genetics, modern abortion techniques, and accepted massive infant mortality rates as common.

Furthermore, God knows us, and even speaks to us, while we are in the womb. God called both Isaiah and Jeremiah to be prophets while they were still in the womb (Isa. 49:1, 5; Jer. 1:4-5). Would God name and ordain a meaningless blob? That unborn child in the womb is not a blob of flesh but a life sophisticated enough to have a relationship with God Almighty!

Judging from the sophistication of this argument, I’d say that you’ve set the bar way, way too low.

It is tempting to rationalize abortion in dire circumstances, such as pregnancy resulting from rape or incest. Statistically, such pregnancies are very rare.

True. But when rape or incest actually happen, rape or incest is 100% common.

If pregnancy does occur, the woman's trauma and guilt

Guilt?!? For being raped?!?

should not be compounded by the taking of innocent human life.

Rather we should torture a poor girl for her entire life by forcing her to raise a rapists’ child.

Abortion does not solve the problem of violence or abuse-it increases the problem.

Removing a woman’s decisions does not help her life, it destroys it.

We should punish the criminal, not the victim.

Agreed! Please start by not punishing the victim. That might help!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Ken Ham - Wackaloon!

Ken Ham, the president of Answers in Genesis and religious nutter, objects to PZ Myers calling him a "wackaloon". Amusingly enough, PZ detailed a few more comments for Hammy and, of course, the Rational Reply!

Biology Professor Calls Me “Wackaloon”

PZ Myers, a biologist and associate professor at the University of Minnesota–Morris, ranted in a blog item (which is apparently quite popular among anti-creationists)

Woot! Anti-creationists! Would that be the same thing as evolutionists? If so, why the bizarre negative term? If not, what is it exactly? How much creationism do you have to believe in order to no longer be an anti-creationist? Do Old Earth creationists qualify or only Young Earth creationists?

Inquiring minds want to know!

Okay, I'm sorry, Ken. You're not used to dealing with any inquiring minds, so I'll take it slower. Forgive me, please.

about my speaking at a prayer breakfast at the Pentagon. The arrogance and intolerance of some of these people is remarkable

Almost as arrogant as someone saying that they have all the answers in this little book and only their interpretation is correct? And almost a intolarant as a group of people going to war against lots of other groups because they have the wrong book? That arrogant and intolerant? Wow!

Considering this person is supposed to be an academic teaching good research skills to students at a university, I would not want to trust any of his lectures considering the logic he used in his recent blog.

He stated:

Ken Ham, chief wackaloon at Answers in Genesis, was invited to speak…at a Pentagon prayer breakfast.

Just let that sink in.There are people at the Pentagon who are in charge of planning where your sons and daughter and nephews and nieces and other beloved family members and friends will be sent to put their lives at risk. There are military personnel there who can send missiles and bombers anywhere in the world. There are people there who control nuclear weapons.

And they think Ken Ham is a fine-and-dandy, clever feller.

It’s almost enough to make me wish I could pray. It’s not just Ham, either—it’s that the people with the big guns have prayer breakfasts.

Now consider this:

1. Over 23,000 people work at the Pentagon. I spoke to 100 Christians at a prayer breakfast—less than 0.5% of the Pentagon workforce (good response from those present by the way).

I don't think he's worried about the percentages of employees that you talked to. I think he's worried because you're a wack job and anyone is listening to you. And especially worried if those people actually have influence on important things.

2. The military is now one of the most “politically correct” places in the USA. Not only do Christians have the freedom to meet—but so do Muslims, Hindus, and almost any other group you could name. Of course, if I had been a Muslim and went to the Pentagon to address a Muslim prayer breakfast, I’m sure PZ Myers would not have ranted against that—it is only Christians one is allowed to be intolerant of nowadays, it seems.

That makes sense! Anyone who opposes a religious nut job having influence would...not oppose a different religious nut job having influence...

Um, Ken, buddy...I'm just not following you on this one. Can you help me out here?

3. What’s he so worked up about anyway? If he’s right, God doesn’t exist—so prayer can’t do anything and, therefore, can’t harm anything. But, then, who cares about harm in a world without moral absolutes?

Every rational person

It’s the survival of the fittest; so, evolution will inexorably eliminate these weak-minded “idiots” at the Pentagon.

That would be a bad thing, Ken. Really.

If they nuke some people along the way, so what?

Dude, you're losing it here. Stay with me, Ken.

That’s just the death of the weakest in this purposeless accidental existence of ours; sooner or later the more fit will triumph, and the world will be more evolved.

Dude, there's no such thing as "more evolved", there's just "evolution" which is to say "change".

So, what’s Myers concerned about?

That would be all that nuking and killing and knocking off of people that you were talking about. The fact that nature kills off weak things doesn't mean that's a good idea or that we want to. I'm just saying.

This is all just time and chance and the laws of nature at work

No, that would be us at work, actually.

What is, is. There are and can be no “oughts.”

4. Notice how these evolutionists use such emotive language and name calling (e.g., “wackaloon”)—very academic, scientific arguments!

Ken, relax and take a chill pill or something. You're starting to foam at the mouth a little.

Don't worry about us. We have time.

Come on back after you calm down a little and start talking English again.

We'll wait.

People like PZ Myers are those who call for tolerance—but their intolerance for Christians illustrates clearly the spiritual nature of this battle—otherwise, why would they care?

Oh good! You've calmed down a little bit. That's great to see!

Back to your questions, though, it's not intolerance of Christians, it's intolerance of wack jobs. There's a difference, although it might take some effort to explain it to you. Lots of Christians have it down pat, though!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

You can't always get what you want

Our good and noble friends over here have penned a complaint about atheists not being decisive about Mr. Christ. Enjoy!

One of the things that really irks me is when a person can’t be pleased no matter what you give them. I am reminded of the scene in Monty Python’s movie “The Life of Bryan” where a leper is healed and complains about it because it took away his livelihood of begging. Bryan replies “There’s just no pleasing some people!” and the Leper says, “That’s just what Jesus said!”

That’s a great movie! “Every sperm is Sacred” is an awesome song that just gets better and better the more I think about the truths that it hammers home. It rocks!

If you can’t please someone no matter what you give them, for my own part I tend to stop trying to please them at all. At the very least, when confronted with such behavior, I tend to view it as marked irrationality. I do not feel threatened by people’s arguments if they can’t say what will satisfy them.

I agree! When my son says he wants a Tool CD and I get it for him and he’s not happy about it, I really don’t feel like getting him the next thing that he says he wants. Of course, when he says that he wants a “good CD” and I get him Tito Pointe’s Greatest Hits and he’s not happy, it’s probably because there was some confusion on what makes for a “good CD”.

So I could just write him off as never being happy or try to figure out what a “good CD” is. I know what my choice would be!

For example, I know an atheist who requested a sign from God. He received it. We spoke together on the phone about it. He was freaked out. After a few months he decided it wasn’t enough and that it was all probably a trick of the mind. Surely we can see how if God had done more or does more my friend can still chalk it up to a trick of the mind? Why should God give him what he wants when it won’t make him happy anyway?

Ah. I see your choice would be to write him off instead of trying to figure out what would convince him. Oh well. Too bad for you.

Such themes have come to my mind again as I read the Phillip Pullman trilogy for an eventual review. I am through book 2 beginning book 3 and I am curious as all get out to see if ‘Jesus’ enters the scene, but already I have seen him describe- with approval- behavior that in other places I have heard atheists despise. There is no way I can go deep into it right now. As a brief example, consider Pullman’s approval of bravery, courage, and even the use of lethal force under certain conditions.
Now compare that with an exchange I had recently with an atheist who, because I granted him superhero status and the title “Hyperbole Boy”

Oh boy! *sits down with a big smile*

I can’t wait to hear the story of how you faced off against someone else on the internet who was just WRONG and showed him the error of his ways!

These stories are so much fun!

has concluded that there is no better example of a Christian being unloving, for, after all (and he cites passages), Jesus was so nice. This sort of disproportionate response to what I said is exactly why I gave him the name “Hyperbole Boy.”

As disproportionate as dubbing someone “Hyperbole Boy” and coming to your own site and crowing about it?

But perhaps my atheistic friend is unaware of instances where Jesus went well beyond such playful jabs. For example, he calls the Pharisees Sons of Satan and Whitewashed Tombs. In Matt 23 he calls them snakes and a brood of vipers. And of course, we all remember his ‘cleansing’ of the temple- probably twice. My atheistic friend acts as though if I had played it completely straight he would have considered Christianity more credible. Is it his view that Jesus was a panzy? Do people find Christianity attractive because its founder was a wuss?

At the same time, we often hear complaints about conduct in the Bible where people are wiped out and killed wholesale. We aren’t usually given the reasons, but we are told that it is just. This is considered a perfect example of how religion is evil. But it is, in fact, the same sort of argumentation we see in Pullman’s books, where so long as the cause is just, the violence is justified under certain conditions.

Zzzzzzzzz…huh? Oh I’m sorry, I fell asleep there. Where were we?

The fact is, the reason why Jesus is compelling is not that he was a sissy pacifist, but rather that he was overwhelmingly mighty, but, to accomplish a particular deed, he set aside his aggressiveness and took whatever was thrown at him. He could have overthrown the gates of Hades by force, but only by laying down his arms did he not only defeat Hades but also freed its prisoners.

Which Hades were we talking about? Did the writers of Christian and Greek mythology have a crossover issue where Jesus wooed Persephone and had a battle royal against Hades for control of the underworld and the hand of the fair maiden?

I’m bummed that I missed that issue. It sounds good!

When a soldier throws himself on a grenade to save his fellows, all except a handful of Ayn Randian objectivists applaud his valor. Here, to save his fellows it would have done no good to charge out of the trench when the grenade tumbled in and kill those who tossed the grenade. Here, only self-sacrifice could achieve the goal, but it did not follow that the soldier was soft and tender in spirit. You see, it depends a great deal on the circumstances and what one wants to achieve. There is a time for aggressiveness but there is also a time for meekness. The problem is knowing exactly which time it is. (Ecc. 3)

Yep, knowing when the right time to do the right thing is hard. Thank you for writing an article about that!…

Or did you write an article about people who aren’t happy no matter what you do for them? Why are we here again?

I think most of us agree that there is a time for negotiation and a time for action.

Controversial to the core, you are!

The time to have persuaded Hitler was years before WW2,

I don’t think Hitler could have been persuaded, but I get your point here.

and when it was clear that the time for persuasion was over, the pacifist Dietrich Bonhoeffer realized that to pursue justice and mercy it would mean trying to kill Hitler. Do we really think Roosevelt was being ‘unchristian’ because he went to war against Hitler? Should he have endlessly spoken in soft terms? Would we think of FDR as a great war time president if he had?

Odd question since if FDR had done so then he wouldn’t have been a wartime president. How does this fit with people not being happy again?

Atheists are going to have to make up their minds. Do they want a Jesus meek and mild? Or do they want a Jesus that administers justice? But they complain when we hear about justice being administered and likewise they complain that it was sadism for God to punish his own son.

That’s an even odder question since its Christians who want a Jesus in the first place. He’s your savior after all. All atheists want is some truth from the Christians that is self consistent, fits with what we see in the real world, and doesn’t just mean whatever someone else wants it to mean ip post facto.

But Pullman gives it all away: The truth is that there is a balance. The problem is how do we discover that balance.

That would be to make a theory, check that theory against reality, and then adjust that theory in accordance with the observations. That’s pretty much the way we discover everything.

The argument is over what world view best explains the fact that there is a balance at all.

So your idea is to start with a “world view” and explain how that view is a good idea? Okay, but you’re not going to discover much that way.

I see no reason at all to expect atheism to explain why such moral realities exist.

That’s fine. Atheism does explain why moral realities exist, but you’re free not to expect it.

I expect them only to take them for granted and use them when it suits them to judge God, Jesus, and yes, of course, Christians.

Ding! Ding!

In the red corner, we have a person who has been simply handed a set of rules and told to follow them without evidence. He does so.

In the blue corner, we have a person who spends years looking at himself and his society, deriving the reasons why people should behave in a good and decent way and why that personally works for him.

Which one is taking something for granted?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Reason is on the rise in Europe

...Or so it would seem according to the complaints here.

Last november I spent a week in Germany courtesy of the Konrad Adenauer Institute, a foundation named after the first chancellor of West Germany. Adenauer had the unenviable job of restoring government to a demoralized land in which every large city had been bombed to rubble. He founded the Christian Democratic Union political party and, with the help of U.S. largesse in the Marshall Plan, led Germany into a new era.

Oh well. No one's perfect.

This party's very name shows a major difference in European and American approaches to religion and politics.

Clearly! The US wisely stays clear of religious entanglements in government by keeping them separate.

Whereas the U.S. insists on a strict separation of church and state, the monarch of Britain holds the title "Supreme Governor of the Church of England," Polish priests openly campaign for like-minded politicians, and many European governments subsidize church activities, including the teaching of religion in public schools.

Yep. The US saw the effects of these horribly misguided ideas and chose a better path to follow. Good job, USA!

On the day Nicolae Ceausescu was executed in Romania, ending 45 years of Communist rule, the state television station led with the pronouncement, "Today the Antichrist died and Jesus Christ was reborn in Romania!" To European eyes, our controversies over Christmas crèches and the Ten Commandments in public places seem strange indeed.

Too bad for them. Not having the government dictate our religious beliefs is a really good idea.

Yet in the last 50 years, almost all European countries have seen a precipitous decline in church attendance and religious belief. When Harris pollsters asked, "Do you believe in any form of God or supreme being?" only 27 percent of French and 35 percent of British respondents said yes; the others counted themselves atheist, agnostic, or unsure.

Yay! Reason is on the rise in Europe!

Germany offers an interesting case study. Although only 41 percent of adults claim to believe in God, a majority of Germans still formally belong to a church, though few attend. Church affiliation in Germany matters, if for no other reason than it adds an extra 8 percent or so to your income tax bill. In other words, if you declare yourself an unbeliever, you save significant money. The government distributes the "church tax," more than $10 billion annually, to approved denominations for their work in schools, hospitals, and general church upkeep.

So what are you arguing for exactly, again? That the US government should ask its citizens what religion they adhere to and then charge them money for answering it? That sounds like an Abbott and Costello skit:

Abbott: So what religion are you, Lou?
Costello: Um...Christian?
Abbott: That'll cost you $3000.
Costello: $3000?!?
Abbott: Yep
Costello: How much to become a Mormon?
Abbott: Oh that'll be $4000
Costello: Rats. Protestant?
Abbott: Special this week. $2500
Costello: Buddhist?
Abbott: We're still meditating on that price
Costello: Muslim?
Abbott: You can't afford it
Costello: Doh!

Now churches are seeing an alarming decline in their income stream.

Which should concern them...not in the slightest. They're in the business of saving all those souls, right?

Every year some 300,000 Germans remove their names from church rolls, with the number of Protestants declining by half since World War II. In one meeting I attended, the bishop of Saxony—the region where Martin Luther posted his 95 theses and Bach wrote his cantatas—calmly reported that of 4.5 million citizens, only 850,000 had affiliated with a church. He expected that number to decline to 350,000 by 2015 and perhaps dip as low as 30,000 by 2030. After four decades under Communist rule, citizens of the East feel no civic pressure to keep traditional ties with a church.

That those citizens feel no civic pressure to do something they don't want to do is a good thing! That they feel no pressure whatsoever to keep ties to a church says lots and lots about what the church is actually offering them.

The bishop faces a discouraging task: cutting pastors' salaries, eliminating hospital chaplains, and shuttering churches and schools.

It is a nasty job of getting rid of services that people are freely choosing not to support, isn’t it?

In the same meeting, a lively pastor showed a far more upbeat spirit. First he recounted personal stories of the difficulties that Christians faced under Communist rule. His children had limited educational opportunities, and he had to work as a plumber to supplement his meager pastor's salary. Everything changed "after the wall came down" (a phrase I often heard).

I’m confused. Was there a point we were getting to here?

Although less than 20 percent of Saxony's citizens may belong to a church, he estimated that 70 percent of those in Parliament are active, practicing Christians.

Having 20% of the people occupying 70% of Parliament is a really, really bad thing to anyone who believes in a representative government.

Having lived under Communism, Christians quickly volunteered to step into a cultural vacuum of meaning and help the newly free society lay a foundation for moral and legal structure. They realized all too personally what can happen when Christians are excluded from the public square.

I’m sure all the Atheists, Protestants, Muslims, and Jews are grateful to them for it.

In my writing, I sometimes caution Christians in the U.S. against confusing our mission with political causes; the close association of evangelicals with particular political causes can easily derail our mission.

Good plan. Lets keep religion and government separate. Sounds like we’re on the same page here!

The East Germans have a different perspective, for understandable reasons. They believe that Christians have an important role to play in society. As one of the German politicians expressed it, "A liberal democratic state requires conditions that it cannot create."

Oh. Nevermind.

In this election year, Americans are once again vigorously debating the precarious balance between religion and politics. Europe offers a cautionary tale in both directions. In many places, the historic coziness between church and state has soiled the church's reputation. The church in Spain, for example, is still trying to recover from the damage done by its close ties with the dictator Francisco Franco. Yet as the Saxon pastor pointed out, Christians remove themselves from the public square only at their peril. Finding the proper balance has profound implications for both church and state.

Yep. The cautionary tale is that if you force people to have a particular religion that they don’t want, it’s a bad thing. And if you force people not to have religion when they want one, it’s a bad thing.

The only reasonable idea, therefore, is to not have the government interfere at all and remain neutral. Doesn’t that make perfect sense? Of course it does. That’s what you’re getting at, I’m sure.

Friday, June 20, 2008

God performing supernatural powers? Don't be silly!

Another day, another bizarre set of claims from John Hagee's FAQ section!

Q. Why is Bible prophecy so important? And what do you mean when you talk about the "rapture" of the church?

A. Prophecy

The art of making religious predictions that fail scientific analysis

is important because such a significant amount of Scripture is devoted to it: about one-quarter of the Bible was prophetic when it was written.

I’m dying to know what the definition of prophecy is now

Bible prophecy proves beyond any reasonable doubt that God knows and controls the future,

And writes fortune cookies, too!

and the fact that He included so much prophecy in His Word shows that He wants us to understand the things to come.

There’s an easier way for an all-knowing god to do that – make unambiguous statements like “automobiles will replace horses as the primary means of transportation in the 20th century” or “John Wooden will lead UCLA to seven straight NCAA basketball championships”. Please provide these from the bible!

Most of the events prophesied in Scripture have already come to pass, but some remain to be fulfilled at a later date, including the Rapture of the Church.

Including such specific claims as “Israel will ultimately prevail over its enemies" and "God will never forget the children of Israel"

While the term rapture is not used in the New Testament, the concept of a "catching away" is vividly described. It refers to a future event when the church-all members of the body of Christ, past and present-will be reunited with Jesus.

The door is that-a-way folks! Feel free to mosey on to Jesus. It’s been a slice!

First Thessalonians says, "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ [Christians who have died] will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord" (4:16-18; see also 1 Cor. 15:51-52).

Pretty stirring stuff coming out of those ancient goat herders! Bravo!

When will this take place? Although no one knows the day or the hour,

Which makes it one of the all time worst predictions ever. Seriously, what bookie would take that kind of bet?

“I’d like to bet $50 that Duke will win”

“Okay! I’ve got you down for $50 that Duke will win today”

“No! Not necessarily today. They’ll win…someday. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow. But they’ll win! I’m sure of it.”

the Bible describes the time period immediately preceding. I have written extensively about why I believe that the generation that is alive today will see the mass ingathering of believers commonly called the Rapture.

That might have something to do with whipping them into a religious frenzy whereupon they’ll hand you large chunks of money. I’m just saying.

The Bible says that as they did when Noah was building the ark, people on earth will be conducting their daily affairs, eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, buying and selling, right up to the moment of His return.

Just like they’re doing….right now! Wow! I’m convinced!

And just as God set apart His chosen ones by placing Noah and his family into the ark for safe-keeping, He will remove his Church from the seven years of tribulation that will follow the Rapture.

That’s it? The big key to know that the rapture is coming is that people are conducting their normal daily affairs?

The Rapture will also protect the church from Satan's ultimate delusion. (See 2 Thess. 2:9-12.) Jesus prophesied that before His return there would be many false messiahs and false christs (Matt. 24:23). Think about it. Anyone can stand up and say, "I am Jesus."

Too bad no one did 2000 years ago.

Anyone can wear a white robe and claim to be the descendant of King David.

And look mah-velous!

Anyone can place surgical scars in his hands and feet.

As opposed to wrists and ankles where people who are actually crucified are nailed.

How can you tell the real from the false Jesus?

Dilemmas! Dilemmas!

Not by dramatic displays of supernatural power.

Exactly. Don’t require our supernatural deities to perform supernatural acts. That would be silly!

Remember this: a man with supernatural power is not necessarily from God; the devil has supernatural power too, as do his demons.

* Begin Monty Python skit *
Run away! Run away!

So how will you know when the real Jesus comes to earth? I'll know Jesus has reappeared when my glorified body sails through the heavens past the Milky Way into the presence of God.

How about this afternoon? Does that work for you?

I'll know I'm with the real Jesus

That you can’t identify from the fake ones

when I stand in His glorious presence

When he’s, of course, showing no supernatural powers

with my brand new

And under warranty!


Or your money back!


Because you’re already dead. Tricksies!

fatigue-free body!

You go, girl!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Yominator Strikes Back!

Our good friend and gold mine, The Yominator, is at it again! He was so much fun last time that I just can't help myself. Lets see which set of 100 year old, time obliterated, pre-debunked, completely discredited arguments he wants to come forward with this time!

Logical and philosophical case for the Divine: Follow Up to Logical Proof of the Existence of a Divine Creator, Why Atheism is Not Logically Sound

*pulls up a chair*

Oh boy! It's like finding the last Wii in town! Sweet!

As many readers know, I recently wrote a column titled “Logical Proof of the Existence of a Divine Creator, Why Atheism is Not Logically Sound,”

We've been briefed.

which explored the logical and philosophical case for the Divine.

"explored" meaning that you looked for some good arguments and, finding none, wrote a piece of worthy of Tweety's cage.

As I painstakingly pointed out in the column, all of the arguments hold true whether one believes in evolution or not.

Oddly, the spirit of this statement is true. His previous argument's truth value does not depend on evolution. They are worth less than a Louisiana Governor's scholastic opinion regardless of if you believe that evolution is true or not.

In fact, for that very reason I chose not to get involved in the debate on evolution,

That and you'd have to do actual research to talk on that subject. Best to stick to something else that you don't know!

as I felt it to be a distraction from the main point,

There's a point to this?!? Woot!

that a universe so complex in design, and a world that would not sustain life if any one of a trillion necessary ingredients for life were missing, does not come into being in and of itself.

Zzzzz....Sorry, man, but you're repeating yourself here. Let me dig out the archives...

Okay! Here it is!

"1 - I don’t understand the universe, therefore God exists"

Whew! I was worried that I'd have to write new material in response to your recycled stuff. Lucky call there!

Although I had recently concluded a debate with atheists on evolution,

Was that the one where you threatened to tell the world how evil they all were? I get so confused trying to keep up with all your wanderings across the net.

a roughly written

No way! I'd have never guessed that with you, my good and dear friend!

but highly detailed transcript of which can be found at,

Would that be "On the Lies and Harassment Tactics of Martin Wagner and Russell Glasser", the former of which so traumatized you that you were forced - forced I say! - to vandalize his Wikipedia page with accusations of pedophilia?

That Martin! Stalking you night and day by - *shudder* - looking up your name on Google!

I felt that delving into the scientific reasons against evolution would detract from the main theme of the column,

And require all that irritating time, effort, and thought. Who needs that?!? You've got several new blogs to write!

that no matter how you believe the universe was designed, it had to have been done so intelligently. (As a side note, the above referenced debate touches on a number of pertinent issues and should be of value to the reader).

Once you buy that the universe was designed, it makes perfect sense that it had to be designed intelligently. Now just provide the proof that the universe was designed and we're good to go!

Nonetheless, many chose to attack the column from a scientific standpoint, not by bringing specific examples, but because of the lack thereof. While they entirely missed the meaning of the column, I would still like to address their issues.

Please do! That sounds like fun!

To begin with,

Dude, we're a long way into this article for the phrase "To begin with". I'm just saying.

not only is evolution far from proven science, in fact there are gaping holes in its theory.

Do tell! There is an entire world full of scientists who would be happy to hear about any actual, real, sound problems with the theory.

One central problem with the theory of evolution is that it dictates that life formed from non-life. This is not plausible.

Okay! There's a good thesis statement: It's not plausible that life formed from non-life. I presume that you're about to talk about those experiments with the creation of ammino acids and abiogenesis, right? Blast holes in those experiments! Batten down those hatches, mateys! Yomin's coming through with a full head of steam!

Furthermore, for there to be a rich enough variance in DNA/RNA this would have had to happen millions of times, separately. DNA and RNA are also both needed to reproduce a single cell.

Um...dude? You were talking about had a full head of steam...our ship was blasting through their defenses like the walls of Jericho!

What happened?

A much larger problem with evolution is the lack of transitional fossils, fossils that show a gradual change from one form of species to the next. This isn’t an arbitrary problem. It is inconceivable that if man transitioned from ape, over time, that on the one hand we’d find a plethora of human fossils as well as a plethora of ape ones, but none in between that document such a slow and gradual change.

No one believes that such a transformation could have been sudden. If it had happened we’d have as many transitional fossils as there are human and as there are ape fossils. It also isn’t logical to suppose that reptiles formed into mammals when we have a plethora of both reptilian and mammalian fossils, but none that show a clear transition between one form and the next.

Oh, didn't go there? *sigh*

Okay, so much for the momentum. Okay, hold up a minute and check this one out. Then come on back.

No rush, man.

We'll wait.

No really, take your time. Your readers will thank you for it.

Darwin was aware of this and thought that future fossils would be discovered.

Another win for Chucky!

But in the past 150 years, thousands of fossils were excavated and no conclusively transitional ones were found.

You understand that a transitional form, to the animal in question, would simply be a form, right? That we're all actually transitional and if we die and actually become fossils - something of a rarity really - that we're all transitional fossils. And so every fossil we've ever found is a transitional fossil. Is this getting past Yomin's Demon?

I didn't think so.

He recognized that it isn’t logical that we’d have a plethora of human and of ape fossils but no transitional ones. The late Harvard Professor Steven J. Gould also had to admit that, quote, “the extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology.”

Ouch! Wrong choice of guy to quote. Here's another from Professor Gould: "Transitional forms are generally lacking at the species level, but are abundant between larger groups. The evolution from reptiles to well documented."

Given the amount of fossils excavated and the utter lack conclusively transitional ones (and the scarceness of any that scientists can even claim to be possibly transition), it’s entirely possible that Darwin himself would reject the theory of evolution today.

"Yomin! This is your demon just keep on writing! What you're saying fits with all of the facts that you've ever seen come through that gate that I've been helping you by guarding for your entire life! Aren't I a good demon? Helping you filter out all the useless, pedantic, time wasting information such as what evolution actually means, what the scientific process is and can do, what transitional fossils are, and countless other pieces of garbage that would just distract you from the meaning of your message. Keep it up!"

Proponents of evolution incorrectly cite the Archaeopteryx, a fossil that had feathers and scales, as a transitional form. In fact, it has fully developed feathers and fully developed scales. This doesn’t prove transition at all as nothing points to any transformation from scale to feather, like a half-scale for example.

The same is true of the oft-miscited duck-billed platypus. It has features that are reptilian and some mammalian, but none that show a transition from one to the other. Its reptilian, mammalian and other characteristics are each fully formed and do not show any transition of one to the other. In fact, all of its characteristics are perfectly suited to its unique climate. Furthermore, there’s no difference between modern day platypuses and those found in fossils.

The same is true of the hominids, the supposed ape to human transitional forms. Of the 12 hominids cited by evolutionists, 9 have been documented to be extinct species of ape/monkey with no human characteristics at all. The other 3 are modern day humans with no animal characteristics. A true half human half ape fossil has never been found.

Those wacky evolutionists! Pointing to different species that have "traits" "in common" and trying to deceive us into thinking that this might show that these "traits" can be "passed down" to "other generations". What kind of rubbish is that?!?

But none of this was the point of the original column. Its central point was that no matter how the universe was formed, no one can plausibly argue that it happened by itself.

No one! No one at all! Well, except for maybe one or two guys who have actually studied it.

How one can argue that both RNA and DNA came into existence, by chance, at the exact same time (because if not, no cell would reproduce, and it’s unfeasible that they developed separately and then joined together, as they are not found outside of the cellular form) is also unattainable. And we can go on and on about the trillions of coincidences needed for the evolutionist to deny a conscious Creator.

We covered this twice already. Something about the universe being to complex, therefore God exists or something like that. I'm sure I've got it around here somewhere...

I would encourage those who disagree to give these columns fair consideration.

Oh, they have. Much more than fair given the content, really.

The fact that some chose to misread the last column to the extent that they did seems ingenuous,

Or "informed". Either one.

just as those who chose to mistake the meaning of “spontaneous” as it was featured (the point there being that even the theory of evolution necessitates far too many and too complex random coincidences, trillions of them, for it to plausibly have occurred without a conscious designer) did so by reading the column in a way that differed from its obvious and intended meaning. Some even mistook “elements of life” to refer to the Periodic Table of Elements, which was an absurd interpretation and showed a lack of ability to openly think over the points of the column. Please treat the matter with fair consideration. I believe that you will gain from the experience.

I definitely have! It's been a blast...again!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Gov. Bobby Jindal doesn't understand that we teach art in art class

Hey look! The current sitting governor of Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal - and considered by Newt Gingrich to be “far and away the best candidate” to be McCain's running mate - wants Intelligent Design taught in science class. Here's the piece from his interview on Meet the Press:

I don’t think students learn by us withholding information from them. … I want them to see the best data. I personally think human life and the world we live in wasn’t created accidentally. I do think that there’s a creator. … Now the way that he did it, I’d certainly want my kids to be exposed to the very best science. I don’t want any facts or theories or explanations to be withheld from them because of political correctness.

Lets break this one down a bit, shall we?

I don’t think students learn by us withholding information from them

It's facinating how a professional politician can lie by ommission, isn't it? Lets take a moment to make a quick list of information that we "withhold from them" in science class:

The Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
How to properly spot someone who is lifting weights
The Queen's Gambit defense
How to hit a fastball
Which of Henry the Eighth's wives outlived him
The uses of oil based paints in modern artwork
How to play the clarinet
The book of Genesis

Do you see something in common here, Mr. Governor? I'll clue you in - none of these things are taught in science class because they - stay with me here - are not science.

All of them have a perfectly valid place to be taught to students. All of them are useful pieces of information that students will help themselves by learning. But they're still not science. And that - exactly - is why ID should not be taught in science class - it's not science either. It's a religious subject as per the United States courts. Including non-science in a science class is ridiculous.

I want them to see the best data.

Good! Then you support teaching only science in a science class. Right on!

I personally think human life and the world we live in wasn’t created accidentally.

Agreed! It nice that religious people and non-religious people can agree on this point. Although it's odd that religious people don't seem to understand that we're all in agreement on this one.

I do think that there’s a creator. … Now the way that he did it, I’d certainly want my kids to be exposed to the very best science.

There is nothing scientific about saying "Godidit"

I don’t want any facts or theories or explanations to be withheld from them because of political correctness.

Agreed! Science should be taught in science class's science class. Shockingly enough, art should be taught in art class and music should be taught in music class and so on and so forth. Political correctness has nothing to do with this. Teaching the actual subject in a given class is the issue.

You know, after giving it full consideration...what am I thinking?!? Lets teach Intelligent Design in art class. After all, God is the source of all beauty, right? And it's an alternative view of art. And lets teach ID in music class since music is just a call out to God anyway!

So why are you stopping at science class, Gov Jindal? You're withholding ID from the poor students of every other subject!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

God doesn't know the future

John Hagee has important tips on prayer in his FAQ section

Q. How important is prayer? Doesn't God already know what we need?

A. As powerful as God is, He cannot answer prayers until they are prayed.

That seems like an odd limitation on an omniscient being!

Prayer is the key that unlocks the storehouses of God's grace and power.

Without it, God is powerless!!! Muahahahahahaha!

Prayer is not a matter of overcoming God's reluctance,

Of course not. You’ll never overcome that!

and it is not a means of sending God to run your errands.

God, this latte is cold! Fetch me another one!

Many people consider prayer a form of divine insurance or a game of chance-heaven's version of Let's Make a Deal.

“Would you like what’s behind Door #1, Door #2, or Door #3?”

“Door #3, Jesus! Please give me Door #3!”

“Oh, I’m sorry. That’s the damned to eternal torment door. Step right this way.”

…Yeah, I see your point. That would be a bummer.

It's not that at all.

Whew! That’s good. I never figured that Jesus looked like Monty Hall.

Prayer is submitting to the purposes of God. Find out what God wants and pray for that.

And supposing to know the purpose of God is arrogance! So prayer is arrogance! Got it!

When you meet God's conditions

Which will become clear to you after eating these brownies

in prayer, you get an answer every time.

Which explains why all the controlled studies on the subject agree whole-heartedly with this claim!

Realize that there are three possible answers: yes, no, and wait.

Vegas calls this “hedging your bet”.

Of course, we don't want to hear two of those answers, because we hate to wait on anything.

Especially on that terminal illness. We’re picky that way.

America is the land of fast cars and fast food, instant potatoes and instant coffee. But Isaiah said, "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength" (40:31).

Except when he doesn’t.

Through prayer, you can tap into the supernatural world,

And feel like you’re doing something when you’re not!

and you can pray with intelligence that goes beyond the knowledge of man.


Romans 8:26 says that when we don't know how to pray, the Holy Spirit helps us and makes intercession for us.

Yay! And here I was worried that there’d be a test.

I have learned to pray with a legal pad close by. When I finish telling God what's on my mind, I listen to see what's on His mind-and I write it down.

God obviously needs a secretary

What He tells me when I shut up and listen is what gives birth to every sermon I preach and every book I write.

In addition to those brownies!

If you want to hear from God-and He does want to talk to you-then don't just bombard heaven with a laundry list of requests. Pour your heart out to God, then take time to listen. It will revolutionize your life.

You too could become an obese, adulterous, million dollar a year televangelist! Yay!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Ignorance by the truckload

Sometimes I run into someone who is so far out there, so determined to be ignorant that I have to question whether or not this is just a parody article. I decided to run with this one since it seemed like fun anyway.

I turns out that it's not a parody. In fact, last night the author came onto the Dawkins forums and complained about being attacked because of his article. That little drama has a couple of directions to it that I'll leave to you all to follow up on if you want. But if you do follow up on it, don't miss out on him being eviscerated by his own people as well!

Without further ado, here's his article!

Logical Proof of the Existence of a Divine Creator, Why Atheism is Not Logically Sound

Great hypothesis! “That God exists can be logically proved”. Do that one and I’ll even give you a free pass on the second part namely that “Atheism is not logically sound”.

One of the beautiful aspects of self evident truths is that they can be proven on both the simplest and the most complex of levels.

Not an auspicious beginning but lets move past that to the proof.

By contrast, to make an argument for what is in fact an illogical fallacy, one must use plenty of skill, sophistry and remain beholden to a dogmatic protection of what is really an illogical position.

Yes…and someone else’s bad proofs have what to do with your soon to be stated, logically sound, undeniable proof of God’s existence?

Yet even after a detailed case is made for the illogical side of the argument, it can instantly be deflated like a balloon with the simplest poke of clear logic. It can also be attacked piece by piece with even greater skill and logic, stemming from a steadfast pursuit of the truth.

Zzzzzzz…oh sorry! I fell asleep there waiting to hear something connected to an actual proof.

Nowhere does the above hold more true than with regard to the existence of a Divine Creator. Proof of a conscious Creator is readily available.

Great! Lets hear it, then.

The simplest proof (yet one that no atheist has ever been able to counter effectively) is that a universe of this size and magnitude does not somehow build itself, just as a set of encyclopedias doesn't write itself or form randomly from the spill of a massive inkblot.

“Take that, Mr. Atheist Guy! You can’t counter logic like that. I know you can’t because I don’t believe that you ever have and I can’t believe that anything can come about without someone creating it. My logic is good enough for Brady and it’s good enough for me! So there!”

The atheist, on the other hand, needs to build a plausible case for this irrational scenario. But first, let's examine how irrational it is:

* sits down in front of the old fireplace with a cup of hot cocoa and listens in raptured silence *

No one in their right mind would claim that 10,000 hundred story buildings built themselves from randomness, even over time.

True! We’ve seen people build buildings, watched architects work and studied their plans, taken pictures of buildings being built, and so on. We’re pretty sure how they come to exist.

Yet those who doubt the existence of a Creator believe that an entire universe, containing all of the billions of elements necessary for life to form, may have come about without a builder.

Yeah. You see we’ve never met this builder you’re talking about. He hasn’t given us his blueprints, we didn’t watch him making the universe, and we don’t have pictures of the universe being built.

I’m awfully sorry, but that kind of leaves a pretty large gap in the analogy.

If you have some blueprints or videotape of the building process, we’d love to see them! That would make a big difference.

As such, they give credence to billions of times more coincidences to having come about.

As opposed to the far more likely scenario of a mythical, supernatural being who never shows up for dinner parties no matter how many invitations we send. Got it! I’m convinced!

They believe that not only did whole planets appear spontaneously, but also believe that the fact that these planets do not collide as meteors do,

Really?!? I’ve heard whole theories based on collisions in the cosmos. You might want to read up on the subject.

that they have gravity, that they contain the proper atmospheric conditions for life to take hold and contain sustenance to sustain this life all happened by mere fluke.
Yet the same people would (rightly) denounce as preposterous the notion that the Egyptian pyramids built themselves.

Again, we’ve seen the blueprints, so to speak, and have really good theories on how those things were built that don’t involve breaking of the laws of the universe or inventing a god.

They would point to the structure and detailed design of these impressive inanimate objects. Yet they outrageously chalk up to coincidence billions upon billions of times more detail and design in all parts of life found in this universe.

To be sure, someone can build sandcastles in the sky on how the spontaneous coming together of molecules, then turning into bricks, changing further into buildings, culminating in 10,000 perfectly aligned skyscrapers all built with no builder is a plausible scenario. They can form intricate arguments to support this theory. But in the end, the entire proposition remains offensive to logic itself.

Wow! I guess that it’s a good thing that no one actually makes that claim, isn’t it?

While there are complex proofs of the Divine, some dating back to the philosophical writings of Plato and others using modern science, the most clearly logical concepts are all readily apparent and simple. An entire world does not create itself.

QED! Zing! Scorch! Pow! Take that all you godless heathens!

Furthermore, proof of a Divine creator can be seen more readily in the small and intricate details of the universe than by considering the enormity of the universe as a whole.

You’ve got more?!? Sweet!

Consider the following:

Even if all the planets somehow formed themselves, all somehow staying in perfect orbit and possessing gravity, even take for granted that all the chemicals needed for life were so how there as well, by sheer happenstance, would it then be possible for billions of species to spontaneously come about, each with a male and female of each kind so that they could exist in the long run?

Lets break this one down a bit:

somehow staying in perfect orbit

Orbits are important. Of course we haven’t found life in very many places other than Earth. Zero so far, to be exact.

and possessing gravity,

Possessing gravity…you mean like every piece of matter in the universe? I think we can safely get away with one.

even take for granted that all the chemicals needed for life were so how there as well,

Which has been shown to be possible in laboratory experiments

by sheer happenstance,

But not by sheer happenstance, actually

would it then be possible for billions of species to spontaneously come about, each with a male and female

Lots of species don’t have sexual reproduction at all. That development is an evolutionary benefit to a species that gets it.

of each kind so that they could exist in the long run?

Lots of them didn’t. Extinction is kind of brutal that way.

Even if this were possible, would the simplest of animals have been able to survive were it missing even one essential organ?

Yep. Name an “essential” organ, I’ll show you a creature that does without it.

Would human beings survive if one organ or cavity was missing or displaced, even after somehow being otherwise perfectly formed with no designer?

You mean like an appendix?

The simple fact is that even if humans were so perfectly formed, if food, water, sunlight or any one of a host of details necessary for life to exist were somehow missing, human life would have lasted on this planet for a maximum of a few days.

Or more correctly, would never have evolved. Good point!

The contention of atheists, that life simply adapted to the conditions it found itself in is also irrational,

Completely irrational. We never see this happen anywhere. Pay no attention to that giraffe eating leaves from that tall tree over there.

as were this to be the case we'd have animals that could solely subsist on snow and ice in some regions.

Huh? I’m trying here man, but this gap is too far for me to jump. I’d try pole vaulting, but you know all about that bum hip of mine…

By contrast, the ability to adapt to small conditional changes is also a fascinating aspect of the body, one that shows that much detail was put into its design.

Ooh! This sounds good! Do go on and tell us more about this part!

The central point of the atheist,

Hey! You were about to actually talk about some designs, blueprints, construction diagrams, or something. Okay, I’m not really sure what exactly, but it sounded like you had something good!

that all somehow came about randomly through evolution, does not help them either.

You’re absolutely right! It doesn’t help them in the slightest! Of course they figured that out a long time ago, rejected the random hypothesis, and replaced it with a far better one. Joe Bob says check it out sometime!

While a separate column will deal with the scientific arguments for creationism and evolution, the topic is not germane here.

I’m not holding my breath.

Going back to the example of a set of encyclopedias,

Oh man! We already covered that! Boring!

a set of Britannicas does not write itself, not from one massive ink blot and not starting out as dots, which form letters, which align into perfect phrases, paragraphs, books and sets. In fact, it's even more incredulous to say that they aligned so perfectly, step by step and dot by dot than it is to say that all appeared at once. Yet that's what the atheist contends when he chalks up life's existence to gradual and detailed formation with no Creator at the helm.


However, despite the fact that even after much debate on the issue I have yet to meet an atheist who can make even a feeble argument to counter any of these points,

Hi! My name’s Jim and I just did so.

You might want to meet actual atheists who have done actual research into the actual subjects that you’re talking about. They really do have lots of arguments that rise above “feeble”. It’s really neat!

they often feel that such grounded proofs aren't complicated enough. Just as a man who spends years coming up with a thousand reasons why an elephant is really a duck will not be persuaded of his error without first addressing all of his complicated fallacies, so too the atheist's contentions must be addressed in detail. For this reason, we will also address some of the more detailed proofs of the existence of the Divine.

Yay! Back to the topic!

Of the many philosophic and scientific arguments brought forth for the existence of the Divine, three stand out.

Oh boy! Oh boy! Oh boy!

The anthropic argument contends that the universe is too complex to have no Creator. This is in effect the central point of this column, although explained in a more common manner. The cosmological argument maintains that finite matter (original matter, which was clearly finite) cannot create a universe that is greater than itself. Especially compelling is the teleological argument, that the existence of a Creator can be seen from the fact that the universe works in perfect harmony, as would a giant machine. Gravity, orbits, chemical atmospheres and all other ingredients needed for life to exist come together in unison to allow such existence to happen. An enormous machine that works like clockwork needs to have a Creator.

In other words:

1 - I don’t understand the universe, therefore God exists
2 – I’ll ignore the equivalence between matter and energy, therefore God exists
3 – I get a warm fuzzy feeling when looking at the cosmos, therefore God exists.

Okay! I’m all sorts of convinced!


But all of these reasons, in reality, are unnecessary. The youngest school child can tell you that a building does not build itself and that, by extension, neither does a universe.

It still makes no sense, but coming from a young schoolchild it’s really cute!

And this is the beauty of self evident truths.

No need to actually prove them?

After all the proofs and reasoning in the world, they remain just as self evident, just as they are also, on the deepest levels, thoroughly profound. Here too, all that is needed to demonstrate proof of a Creator is that the world doesn't create itself, not instantly and not over time. All other issues can then be examined in that light.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what you do.

However, we must realize that while the sophistry it takes to purport a falsehood can be easily countered, the person who has upheld such notions for decades must have each of his or her counterpoints addressed. This is able to be done smoothly, in light of the inherent logic that necessitates the existence of a conscious Creator, but it must be done thoroughly.

Encouraging atheists to open their minds to pure logic and to possibilities that they hitherto only sought to counter or to avoid on any pretext also involves an emotional challenge for them, as they must open themselves to the possibility of having to shed preconceived notions that they've held firm for decades. And that, rather than facts, is the primary challenge to exposing them to insightful logic. However, if they are willing to address the issue honestly, a search for the truth should be of paramount importance and enough reason for them to take an open look.

”Captain! The irony meter can’t take any more o this!”

“Hold it together, Mr. Scott! He can’t keep a straight face through all of this. He’ll crack soon! I’m sure of it!”


Scientists as a whole are increasingly open to the idea of a conscious Creator.

Yes. That’s what scientists do. They evaluate positions with an open mind.

They realize that science points to the complexity of the universe, a complexity that dictates the inevitability of a Creator.

No, that’s what religious idiots do. They believe that the facts they will find down the line will inevitably lead to a particular conclusion.

However, some stick to old ways and old dogmas. A question that arises is why these seemingly logical people possess such illogical beliefs. This fact alone has prevented many from considering the existence of a Creator. But when we understand the reason for their animus to belief, their bias comes to the forefront as opposed to any reasoned argument.

This is one of those moments where I really enjoy this. Here's a devout believer claiming that believing in an invisible, mythological super being is more logical than actually going around the world and looking at the universe itself, collecting evidence, making theories and putting those theories to the harsh test of the real world. And this is more logical to him because some middle eastern tribes made wild claims about a couple of thousand years ago - claims that have crumbled like a house of cards under the hash light of actually checking evidence and building theories that have to work in the real world.

This really isn't that complex. Mapping claims to reality and throwing out claims that don't fit is more logical than making claims and refusing to change them when reality doesn't work the way your claims say it should.

Okay, back to our regularly scheduled snarkiness!

Throughout the 20th century, many scientists were enthralled with the progress that science had made. They mistakenly believed that the physical universe, instead of being a creation, contained all answers in and of itself. Any questions would be resolved by science. To look beyond that was viewed in disdain.

Because it isn’t supported by actual, you know, evidence.

The fact that logic necessitates that physical matter must have originated at some point and that a formed universe cannot emerge without a designer was overlooked in the hope that physical science would prove the impossible. Other scientists, today a greater number than the more dogmatic former group, conceded that there may well be a Creator.

Just about all of them do. And then they get persnickety and ask for some evidence. Those fiends!

But they were wholly disinterested in the subject. They too did not realize that our physical universe points to the fact that it was consciously designed. And many of them had the same rigid disdain for religion as the former.

What's true of both groups is that they refused to consider the subject. As such, their rejection of a Creator does not stem from some well reasoned research or thought, but rather from the absence of such reasoning. Their knowledge of religion and philosophy was on par with their knowledge of economics or any other subject that they had never studied. They knew as much about religion as they knew how to paint a house, the only difference between the two being that had they delved into the former instead of reflexively dismissing it, they would have found it to be of profound logic and give depth to their other areas of study.

But these scientists did not give religious or philosophical questions a moment's notice. And what becomes abundantly clear from their statements on the issue is that they have grave misconceptions about religion, misconceptions that stem from their lack of interest. And while it is their right to do so, reflexively and often emotionally dismissing a belief without giving it a moment's thought isn't logic, but rather the opposite of logic.

To be sure, these scientists are indeed very logical and analytical within their main doctrine. It's just that they refuse to examine that which transcends it. As such, anyone who gives credence their views on this issue should beware, as their opinions do not stem from logic. Scientists who have thought over the issue are generally in agreement on this as well.

In the immortal words of Inigo Montoya: These words….they do not mean what you think they mean.

Seriously, man. Guys like Stenger really have studied your God hypothesis. They didn’t reject it because they weren’t aware of it. A billion religious TV shows remind us of that failed theory all the time.

They rejected it because they did actual research on actual evidence and found out that none of it points to the universe being consciously designed. Claiming that they never studied it is prima facie stupidity.

But please keep on writing! You're a gem!