Friday, August 31, 2018

The Conflict Between Evolution And Ethics (Evolution Cannot Explain Ethics) – Part 2

            While some atheists believe morality and human freedom are meaningless and illusory, other atheists believe in objective moral values. Atheist neuroscientist, Sam Harris, posited the existence of objective moral values in his book, Moral Landscape.

            Is it plausible to postulate objective moral values in a godless paradigm that atheists subscribe to? If there are objective moral values, there should be a source for these values. Hence we ask, “What is the foundation for objective moral values?”

            Christian apologist, William Lane Craig, disagrees with Sam Harris. Dr. Craig asserts the impossibility of a foundation for objective moral values in the atheistic worldview. Here’s an excerpt from his article, “Navigating Sam Harris' The Moral Landscape”:1

A great merit of Sam Harris' recent book The Moral Landscape is his bold affirmation of the objectivity of moral values and duties. To say that moral values and duties are objective is to say they are valid and binding independent of human opinion. For example, to say that the Holocaust was objectively evil is to say it was evil even though the Nazis who carried it out thought it was good. And it would still have been evil even if the Nazis had won World War II and succeeded in brainwashing or exterminating everyone who disagreed with them, so everybody who was left thought the Holocaust was good…
The question then is, what is the best foundation for the existence of objective moral values and duties? What grounds them? What makes certain actions good or evil, right or wrong? Traditionally, God has been the highest Good (summum bonum) and His commandments constitutive of our moral duties. But if God does not exist, what foundation remains for objective moral values and duties?
Consider first the question of objective moral values. On atheism, what basis is there for affirming objective moral values? In particular, why think that human beings have objective moral worth? On the atheistic view human beings are just accidental byproducts of nature who have evolved relatively recently on an infinitesimal speck of dust called planet Earth — lost somewhere in a hostile and mindless universe — and are doomed to perish individually and collectively in a relatively short time. On atheism it is hard to see any reason to think that human well-being is objectively good, anymore than insect well-being or rat well-being or hyena well-being. This is what Harris calls "The Value Problem." [3]…
The purpose of Harris' The Moral Landscape is to solve the "value problem," to explain the basis, on atheism, for the existence of objective moral values. [4] He explicitly rejects the view that moral values are Platonic objects existing independently of the world. [5] So his only recourse is to try to ground moral values in the natural world. But can he do that, since nature in and of itself is morally neutral?...
On a naturalistic view, moral values are just the behavioral by-products of biological evolution and social conditioning. Just as a troupe of baboons exhibit co-operative and even self-sacrificial behavior because natural selection has determined it to be advantageous in the struggle for survival, so homo sapiens — their primate cousins — exhibit similar behavior for the same reason. As a result of sociobiological pressures there has evolved among homo sapiens a sort of "herd morality" that functions well in the perpetuation of our species. But on the atheistic view there does not seem to be anything that makes this morality objectively true…
So how does Sam Harris propose to solve the "value problem"? The trick he proposes is simply to redefine what he means by "good" and "evil" in nonmoral terms. [9]He says we should "define 'good' as that which supports [the] well-being" of conscious creatures." [10] He states, "Good and evil need only consist in this: misery versus well-being." [11] Or again: "In speaking of 'moral truth,' I am saying that there must be facts regarding human and animal well-being." [12]
So, he says, "Questions about values … are really questions about the well-being of conscious creatures." [13] Therefore, he concludes, "It makes no sense … to ask whether maximizing well-being is 'good'." [14] Why not? Because he's redefined the word "good" to mean the well-being of conscious creatures. So to ask, "Why is maximizing creatures' well-being good?" is on his definition the same as asking, "Why does maximizing creatures' well-being maximize creatures' well-being?" It is simply a tautology — talking in a circle. Thus, Harris has "solved" his problem simply by redefining his terms. It is mere word play.
At the end of the day Harris is not really talking about moral values. He is just talking about what's conducive to the flourishing of sentient life on this planet. Seen in this light, his claim that science can tell us a great deal about what contributes to human flourishing is hardly controversial. Of course, it can — just as it can tell us what is conducive to the flourishing of corn or mosquitoes or bacteria. His so-called "moral landscape" picturing the highs and lows of human flourishing is not really a moral landscape at all.
On the next to last page of his book, Harris more or less admits this. For he makes the telling admission that if people such as rapists, liars, and thieves could be just as happy as good people, then his moral landscape would no longer be a moral landscape; rather it would just be a continuum of well-being, whose peaks are occupied by good and evil people alike. [15] What is interesting about this is that earlier in the book Harris observed that about 3 million Americans are psychopathic, that is to say, they do not care about the mental states of others. On the contrary, they enjoy inflicting pain on other people. [16]…
Thus, Harris has failed to solve the "value problem." He has not provided any justification or explanation of why, on atheism, objective moral values would exist at all. His so-called solution is just a semantic trick of providing an arbitrary and idiosyncratic redefinition of the words "good" and "evil" in nonmoral terms.

            The second question that needs to be addressed is, “Are we obligated to be morally right?” If so, “Who are we obligated to, from within the atheistic worldview?” Dr. Craig dissects this aspect and provides a conclusion to this subject:2

That takes us to a second question: Does atheism provide a sound foundation for objective moral duties? Duty has to do with moral obligation and prohibition, what I ought or ought not to do…
First: Natural science tells us only what is, not what ought to be, the case. As philosopher Jerry Fodor has written, "Science is about facts, not norms; it might tell us how we are, but it wouldn't tell us what is wrong with how we are." [17] In particular it cannot tell us that we have a moral obligation to take actions that are conducive to human flourishing.
So if there is no God, what foundation remains for objective moral duties? On the naturalistic view, human beings are just animals, and animals have no moral obligations to one another. When a lion kills a zebra, it kills the zebra, but it does not murder the zebra. When a great white shark forcibly copulates with a female, it forcibly copulates with her but it does not rape her — for there is no moral dimension to these actions. They are neither prohibited nor obligatory.
So if God does not exist, why think we have any moral obligations to do anything? Who or what imposes these moral duties on us? Where do they come from? It is hard to see why they would be anything more than a subjective impression ingrained into us by societal and parental conditioning.
On the atheistic view, certain actions such as incest and rape may not be biologically and socially advantageous, and so in the course of human development have become taboo, that is, socially unacceptable behavior. But that does absolutely nothing to show that rape or incest is really wrong. Such behavior goes on all the time in the animal kingdom…If there is no moral lawgiver, then there is no objective moral law; and if there is no objective moral law, then we have no objective moral duties…
Second: "ought" implies "can." A person is not morally responsible for an action he is unable to avoid. For example, if somebody shoves you into another person, you are not to blame for bumping into this person. You had no choice. But Harris believes that all of our actions are causally determined and that there is no free will. [20]… But if there is no free will, no one is morally responsible for anything. In the end, Harris admits this, though it's tucked away in his endnotes. Moral responsibility, he says, "is a social construct," not an objective reality: "in neuroscientific terms no person is more or less responsible than any other" for the actions they perform. [21] His thoroughgoing determinism spells the end of any hope or possibility of objective moral duties on his worldview because we have no control over what we do…
…The fact remains that whether we experience the illusion of free will or not, on Harris' view we are thoroughly determined in all that we think and do and can therefore have no moral responsibilities.
On Harris' view there is both no source of objective moral duties and no possibility of objective moral duty. Therefore, on his view, despite his protestations to the contrary, there is no objective right or wrong.
Thus, Sam Harris' naturalistic view fails to provide a sound foundation for objective moral values and duties. If God does not exist, we are trapped in a morally valueless world in which nothing is prohibited. Harris' atheism thus sits very ill with his ethical objectivism.




Website last accessed on 31st August 2018. 

Monday, August 27, 2018

The Conflict Between Evolution And Ethics (Evolution Cannot Explain Ethics) – Part 1

            With regard to morality, Christians believe that human beings are moral beings with the knowledge of good and evil and with a disposition to conform to the rules of right conduct. In answering the question, “How are human beings moral beings?” the Bible teaches that we, who are created in the image of God, have the moral law written in our hearts by God (cf. Romans 2:15). With regard to the question, “Why are we moral beings?” Christians would assert that we are moral beings to glorify God.

            The atheist, on the other hand, rejects God’s existence. Thus the atheist rejects creation and subscribes to evolution.

            So the atheist should answer these two questions:

            (1) How did human beings become moral beings?

            (2) Why does morality exist in a human being?

            Before the atheist answers the abovementioned questions, an important question that needs to be answered is, “Are human beings moral beings?”

            Infants are not born as “blank moral slates,” says an article in Mail Online, “Professor Paul Bloom, a psychologist at Yale University in Connecticut, whose department has studied morality in babies for years, said: 'A growing body of evidence suggests that humans do have a rudimentary moral sense from the very start of life. 'With the help of well designed experiments, you can see glimmers of moral thought, moral judgment and moral feeling even in the first year of life. 'Some sense of good and evil seems to be bred in the bones.'”1

            Since human beings are moral beings, it is incumbent upon the atheist to answer the question, “How and why are human beings moral beings?”

            Some atheists believe that morality is an illusion, whereas other atheists believe that there are objective moral values. A proper study should consider both positions. Hence, we adopt a two-pronged scheme to understand this subject:

            (1) In the first scheme of study, we consider atheists’ contention that morality is illusory, meaningless, or that it is impossible to explain without positing God. If atheists believe that morality is an illusion (there is no morality), then the question, “How and why are human beings moral beings?” need not be answered. This is addressed in this article.

            (2) The second scheme of study will take into account the book Moral Landscape authored by the New Atheist, Sam Harris, who posits objective moral values. So we should examine the possibility of the existence of objective moral values without any source (because atheists reject God, who is the source of everything that there is) and without any possibility of objective moral duty (if there is no source, there is no need to be dutiful)? This would be addressed in PART 2 of this article.

Part 1: Morality Is An Illusion In The Evolutionary Paradigm

            Some atheists believe that any deep meaning to morality, such as the existence of objective moral values, is illusory. Christian apologist, William Lane Craig’s article entitled “Can We Be Good without God?” expounds this position by citing the atheist philosopher Michael Ruse, “Michael Ruse, a philosopher of science, writes, The position of the modern evolutionist . . . is that humans have an awareness of morality . . . because such an awareness is of biological worth. Morality is a biological adaptation no less than are hands and feet and teeth . . . . Considered as a rationally justifiable set of claims about an objective something, ethics is illusory. I appreciate that when somebody says ‘Love they neighbor as thyself,’ they think they are referring above and beyond themselves . . . . Nevertheless, . . . such reference is truly without foundation. Morality is just an aid to survival and reproduction, . . . and any deeper meaning is illusory . . . .”2

            Here’s Craig’s interpretation of Michael Ruse’s rejection of objective moral values, “As a result of socio-biological pressures, there has evolved among homo sapiens a sort of “herd morality” which functions well in the perpetuation of our species in the struggle for survival. But there does not seem to be anything about homo sapiens that makes this morality objectively true.”3

            Then there are atheists who believe that it is not plausible to explain the ‘how’ of morality in human beings without positing the existence of God. Christian apologist, Brett Kunkle of the Christian apologetics ministry Stand to Reason says, “J.L. Mackie, one of the most prominent atheist philosophers of the 20th century, said this: “Moral properties constitute so odd a cluster of qualities and relations that they are most unlikely to have arisen in the ordinary course of events, without an all-powerful god to create them.” 4 (Emphasis Mine).

            Secular philosophers understand that evolution deprives morality of its meaning in the atheistic worldview. Craig cites the eminent American Philosopher and ethicist, Richard Taylor, to emphasize this fact, “The modern age, more or less repudiating the idea of a divine lawgiver, has nevertheless tried to retain the ideas of moral right and wrong, not noticing that, in casting God aside, they have also abolished the conditions of meaningfulness for moral right and wrong as well. Thus, even educated persons sometimes declare that such things are war, or abortion, or the violation of certain human rights, are ‘morally wrong,’ and they imagine that they have said something true and significant. Educated people do not need to be told, however, that questions such as these have never been answered outside of religion. [2]
            He concludes,
            Contemporary writers in ethics, who blithely discourse upon moral right and wrong and moral obligation without any reference to religion, are really just weaving intellectual webs from thin air; which amounts to saying that they discourse without meaning.”5

            Moral obligations are also a meaningless term in the atheistic worldview. Brett Kunkle writes, “If humans are simply more developed animals, why think there are moral duties to which they are obligated? Male great white sharks are under no obligation to refrain from forcibly copulating with female great whites. Male lions are under no obligation to refrain from killing all the young lion cubs in a pride they have just taken over. Notice, we do NOT use moral terms to describe such behavior. We do not call the shark’s behavior “rape” and we do not call the lion’s behavior “infanticide.”

            Natural science is a descriptive enterprise, only telling us what is the case, not what ought to be the case. For example, nature can describe what it is to be healthy, but it cannot generate a moral obligation to be healthy.”6

            Brett Kunkle also cites Richard Taylor, who has understood that evolution cannot explain moral obligations, “The idea of political or legal obligation is clear enough…. Similarly, the idea of an obligation higher than this, referred to as moral obligation, is clear enough, provided reference to some lawgiver higher…than those of the state is understood. In other words, our moral obligations can…be understood as those that are imposed by God…. But what if this higher-than-human lawgiver is no longer taken into account? Does the concept of moral obligation…still make sense? … The concept of moral obligation [is] unintelligible apart from the idea of God. [3] .”7

            Furthermore, evolution deprives human beings of any intrinsic value thereby rendering morality a meaningless term. Kunkle cites Richard Dawkins, who explains this fact, “In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, or any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference…. DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is. [4]”8

            Kunkle goes on to add, “On a naturalistic evolutionary scenario, human beings are nothing special. The universe comes into existence through the Big Bang and, through a blind process of chance and necessity, evolves all the way through to us. The same process that coughed up humans also coughed up bacteria. Thus, there is nothing intrinsically valuable about being human. Indeed, on this view, to think humans beings are special is to be guilty of speciesism, the view that one’s own species is somehow superior to other species…But what other result should we expect from valueless, cause-and-effect physical processes? There is no reason to think that an impersonal, valueless process could produce valuable, rights-bearing persons.”9

            Finally, evolution hits a vital nail in the coffin of morality when it deems freewill or human freedom as non-existent, “If we are the products of evolutionary forces, how did moral freedom and responsibility emerge? There is no reason to think, given our supposed materialistic and deterministic origins, that we have free will. Atheist philosopher Thomas Nagel states that there is “no room for agency in a world of neural impulses, chemical reactions, and bone and muscle movements”; naturalism strongly suggests that we are “helpless” and “not responsible” for our actions. [5]

            Of course, if there is no free will, then no one is morally responsible for anything. Determinism puts an end to objective moral duties because on this worldview, we have no control over what we do. We are nothing more than puppets in a cause-and-effect universe.”10

            In conclusion, since evolution deems morality and human freedom as meaningless and illusory, evolution cannot explain ethics.












Websites last accessed on 27th August 2018. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

How To Answer Difficult Questions From The Bible?

          A few days ago, a prominent personality posted an apparent contradiction from the Bible on his social media page. He had thousands of ‘likes,’ hundreds of ‘comments’ and ‘shares.’

            This person did not discover a new contradiction from the Bible. He did not ask a question that had the potential to destroy Historic Christianity.

            He merely posted an asked and answered question/contradiction! He asked a question that many have asked before.

            Christian theologians and apologists have answered this apparent contradiction. Hence, there is no need for anyone to lose their faith in Historic Christianity because of this question or similar questions.

            The question he asked was answered decades ago:1

PROBLEM: The sun was not created until the fourth day, yet there was light on the first day (1:3).
SOLUTION: The sun is not the only source of light in the universe. Further, the sun may have existed from the first day, but only appeared or became visible (as the mist cleared) on the fourth day. We see light on a cloudy day, even when we can’t see the sun.
This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe.

            Now, this is what we need to understand.

            Had he genuinely sought an answer to this question as an honest seeker, a simple search on the internet would have yielded him the answer. But no! The actual reason that motivated him to ask this question was to plant seeds of doubts in the minds of naïve Christians.

            How do we respond to such tirades against Historic Christianity? When we encounter such rants against Historic Christianity, do remember that all these questions have been asked and answered reasonably well. So instead of being perplexed, all we need to do is to understand the dynamics of solving an apparent contradiction from the Bible.

            First, what is a Bible difficulty? “A Bible difficulty is an apparent problem posed by the biblical record. It might be called an error, a mistake, a difficulty, a challenge, a contradiction, or any number of other terms. Critics of the Bible are sometimes hostile in their claims that the Bible is "full of contradictions" or "difficulties," but these apparent problems are also brought up by committed Christians wanting to make sense of God's Word,”2 says an article posted on the website of the ‘Focus on the Family’ ministry.  

            Second, how do we solve Bible difficulties? The same article says, “Essentially, handling Bible difficulties is a matter of hermeneutics or interpretation (specifically, biblical interpretation). But other factors also come into play when interpreting, such as looking for a reasonable explanation, carefully making comparisons to other passages when necessary, and in general puzzling through possible answers and satisfactory resolutions to apparent problems.

            Theologically liberal approaches to the Bible, on the other hand, often simply accept contradictions as part of a flawed record. But if the Bible is God's Word, and if God is all knowing and all powerful, it stands to reason we should be able to trust the Bible.”3

            This article offers useful tips to handle Bible difficulties:4

Here are some tips gleaned from the late Gleason Archer's fine book Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties 1
"Be fully persuaded in your own mind that an adequate explanation exists, even though you have not found it yet." In other words, Archer is accepting the Bible as an accurate, authoritative collection of documents – God's inspired Word. Once a case has been made for this fact, then it stands to reason that the Bible should not contain any serious discrepancies in the manuscript copies. If you come across a Bible difficulty, there should be one or more reasonable explanations for it.
"Carefully study the context and framework of the verse in which the problem arises until you gain some idea of what the verse is intended to mean within its own setting." This is a key point of biblical hermeneutics – the science and art of interpreting the Bible. Context matters significantly. Keep in mind the context of a particular verse in a book, as well as the context given the broader teachings on the subject throughout the entire Bible.
"In the case of parallel passages, the only method that can be justified is harmonization." This helpful tip applies more to the four New Testament Gospels than anywhere else, though there certainly are parallel accounts of historical events in the Old Testament as well. There's no doubt that the Gospels contain various accounts from different perspectives, but these accounts should be able to be reconciled. Critics would not be happy if the four Gospels were identical in their reports of certain events, accusing the authors of collusion. Ironically, however, they aren't happy with the differences either. The best approach is to study the passages and find a way to harmonize them without compromising the essence of the text.
"Consult the best commentaries available, especially those written by Evangelical scholars who believe in the integrity of Scripture." A good commentary is a valuable resource. Many alleged Bible difficulties are addressed in such books. One helpful series is the Expositor's Bible Commentary(Zondervan). With the rise of Bible software, many commentaries are now included in these packages as well.
"Many Bible difficulties result from a minor error on the part of a copyist in the transmission of the text." This is an important point, especially when it comes to apparent numerical discrepancies. While Christians who adhere to inerrancy believe the original Bible manuscripts contained no errors whatsoever, they do grant that copies may contain a small number of errors. These errors or variants, however, do not change any key Christian doctrines.
"Whenever historical accounts of the Bible are called in question on the basis of alleged disagreement with the findings of archaeology or the testimony of ancient non-Hebrew documents, always remember that the Bible is itself an archaeological document of the highest caliber." Again and again throughout history, the archaeological evidence has supported the biblical record, not contradicted it. The evidence is clearly on the side of the Bible. Be wary of the latest news story claiming to debunk some key aspect of Christianity on the basis of recent findings that have yet to be studied in detail by qualified scholars. For more on the archeological evidence for the Bible see The Archaeological Study Bible (Zondervan).

In addition to Archer's helpful tips for handling Bible difficulties, When Critics Ask also offers its share of useful insights. Here's a selection of the advice: 2
"Mistake 1: Assuming that the Unexplained Is Not Explainable." This ties into Archer's advice "that an adequate explanation exists." Be confident that if you encounter a Bible difficulty, there is a reasonable explanation.
"Mistake 2: Presuming the Bible Guilty Until Proven Innocent." This is not treating the biblical text fairly. As with other historical documents, let's grant it the benefit of the doubt unless clear evidence says otherwise.
"Mistake 3: Confusing Our Fallible Interpretations with God's Infallible Revelation." Usually the problem with alleged Bible contradictions and difficulties is with our interpretation, theology, or approach to the text, not with the actual text itself. We make mistakes, but God doesn't.
"Mistake 4: Failing to Understand the Context of the Passage." Again, context is supremely important when handling Bible difficulties. In most cases, a careful reading of the passage(s) in question, in their proper contexts, will resolve apparent difficulties.
"Mistake 5: Neglecting to Interpret Difficult Passages in the Light of Clear Ones." This is a key concept to keep in mind when approaching Bible difficulties that fall into the category of an obscure or particularly challenging passage. We may not be able to completely understand or explain the isolated passage in question, but given the broader context of the Bible and clear teachings on the subject elsewhere, we should be able to come to a good consensus on the matter at hand. A concept known as the perspicuity of Scripture is relevant in such cases. This means that the Bible is clear in essential matters.

            Finally, remember that every difficult question from the Bible has been reasonably answered, “Does the Bible contain some difficult passages? Yes. Are they unresolvable? No. Whenever a critic or sincere believer comes across an alleged Bible difficulty, it has always been answered. "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness …" (1 Timothy 3:16, NIV)”5







Websites last accessed on August 21, 2018.

Friday, August 17, 2018

How To Communicate Our Belief In Jesus Christ’s Existence?

            Was Jesus Christ a mythical figure? Did HE not exist in flesh and blood in the form of a human being?

            We could be certain of Christ’s existence for many reasons. One such reason could be our belief in the teachings of our parents and our church. Alternatively, we may have explored and studied the evidence for Christ’s life that credible scholars have examined and affirmed to be trustworthy.

            But how could we be reasonably certain of Christ’s existence?

            Historians affirm the existence of the “Historical Jesus.” New Testament scholar and historian, Mike Licona, defines the historical Jesus as, “When the data has been sifted, sorted, and assessed, the historical Jesus is the Jesus historians can prove with reasonable certainty and apart from faith.”1

            However, many people are of the firm belief that Jesus Christ never existed. “Jesus Mythers” are a group of people who believe that the church fabricated the life of Jesus Christ, that HE never existed.

            These Jesus Mythers are quite dogmatic and vocal about their belief, so much so that they will go to any extent of twisting data, providing false claims and appealing to sources who are not scholars, in order to claim that Christ did not exist.2

            How do "Jesus Mythers" fool people? Christian apologist, J. Warner Wallace, explains how Jesus mythers employ the similarities between Jesus and the mythological gods before Jesus to deem Christ as a mythological figure, “Movies like Zeitgeist: The Movie and The God Who Wasn’t There attempted to convince a generation of skeptics Jesus was simply a mythological creation of the past, shaped and modeled after the mythological gods who preceded Him…In an effort to make the case that Jesus is simply a re-creation of prior deities, many “Jesus Mythers” have referenced similarities between the real Christ and His imaginary predecessors. While these similarities are always dramatically overstated (more on that in tomorrow’s post), I think it is fair to first address why there might be any similarities at all between Jesus and the ancient mythologies to which He is often compared.”3

            Another ploy used by Jesus Mythers is to discredit the writings of the early historians, Josephus and Tacitus (these historians mentioned Jesus in their writings). Furthermore, they claim paucity or a total lack of credible sources outside the Bible (New Testament) that corroborates Christ’s existence. They also claim much of geography during Christ’s time was mythical e.g. they believe that the towns of Bethany, Bethphage, Capernaum, and Nazareth did not exist in the 1st century AD.

            There is no end to their deception.

            So if we believe in the existence of Jesus Christ, how could we communicate our belief to honest seekers? 

            Referencing the testimonies of hostile witnesses would be very valuable. The testimony of a hostile witness is very powerful (cf. Criterion of Unsympathetic Sources). Dr. Bart Ehrman is one such hostile witness. He is a much acclaimed and widely respected scholar.

            Bart Ehrman is a hostile witness since he does not believe in the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. A hostile witness (in this context) has no bias or no need, whatsoever, to affirm in the existence of the Historical Jesus.

            Bart Ehrman believes in the existence of the Historical Jesus. Significantly, Ehrman emphasizes that scholars who have genuinely studied the evidence pertaining to the existence of Historical Jesus believe that HE existed, “Mythicists have often gotten upset with me for pointing out that almost no one with any qualifications in the requisite fields of scholarship agrees with them.  I can see why that would be upsetting.  My sense is that some of them think that I’ve been rubbing their noses in it.  But that isn’t really my intent.  My intent is to point out to anyone who is interested – for example, someone who just doesn’t know what to think – that those who are qualified to speak knowledgeably on such subjects are virtually unified on one view (there was a historical Jesus of Nazareth) and opposed to the other (he is a complete myth).”4

            This should do it!

            If every serious scholar believes in the existence of the Historical Jesus, every claim that attempts to disregard the Historical Jesus are insincere and hypocritical. Therefore, these hypocritical claims ought to be disregarded.

            Bart Ehrman is not the only secular scholar who believes in the existence of Historical Jesus. Here’s more from the website of Answers In Genesis:5

Here is what some scholars have written about the Jesus Myth (these statements are not just from conservative Christians—the first four are critical scholars who have rejected the miraculous elements of Christ’s life).
Of course the doubt as to whether Jesus really existed is unfounded and not worth refutation. No sane person can doubt that Jesus stands as founder behind the historical movement whose first distinct stage is represented by the oldest Palestinian community. (Rudolf Bultmann)1
To doubt the historical existence of Jesus at all … was reserved for an unrestrained, tendentious criticism of modern times into which it is not worthwhile to enter here. (Günther Bornkamm)2
I am of the opinion (and it is an opinion shared by every serious historian) that the theory [“that Jesus never lived, that he was a purely mythical figure”] is historically untenable. (Willi Marxsen)3
To sum up, modern critical methods fail to support the Christ-myth theory. It has “again and again been answered and annihilated by first-rank scholars.” In recent years “no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non-historicity of Jesus”—or at any rate very few, and they have not succeeded in disposing of the much stronger, indeed very abundant, evidence to the contrary. (Michael Grant)4
Contemporary New Testament scholars have typically viewed their [i.e., Jesus mythers] arguments as so weak or bizarre that they relegate them to footnotes, or often ignore them completely. (Robert Van Voorst)5
The total evidence is so overpowering, so absolute that only the shallowest of intellects would dare to deny Jesus’ existence. (Paul L. Maier)6
            On a side note, do remember that every claim of Jesus Mythers can be rejected by proving them to be incorrect. There’s an abundance of resources [on the internet] to help us achieve this.

            Here’s an example: Jesus Mythers contend that Nazareth did not exist, hence Christ did not exist. But Bart Ehrman debunks this contention by ascertaining that [Palestinian] archaeologists believe that Nazareth existed because they have discovered evidence for its existence. He goes on to add that the existence of Nazareth is not even a point of debate among Palestinian archaeologists.6

            Finally, while communicating our belief to our unbelieving friends, please remember Mike Licona’s words of wisdom:7

With the advent of the Internet in the nineties, an explosion of information became available to the public. Christians are far more likely to hear arguments from their skeptical family members, colleagues at work, and neighbors that are more sophisticated than what they may have heard before the Internet. Moreover, our culture has changed. People are easily offended and many regard truth as relative. Everyone has their own truth and thinks it is morally wrong to offend others by telling them you think they are mistaken.
The apostle Paul adjusted his approach to relate better to his particular audience.??3 We should do no less. We must be more careful than ever to be winsome in our interactions with nonbelievers. We can be respectful of those we disagree with and make an effort to listen to them while they present their views in the same manner we would like for them to listen to us while we present ours. We should not overstate our case but temper it. Instead of saying “The historical evidence proves that Jesus rose from the dead,” say “The historical evidence strongly suggests Jesus rose from the dead.” Instead of saying, “I know that I know Christianity is true,” say “In view of the evidence I’ve examined as well as the answers to prayer I have personally witnessed, I’m convinced Christianity is true.”
…It is important to recognize that presenting good arguments to a skeptic will not ensure he or she will be convinced by them. Their objections to following Christ may be intellectual (e.g., they are not persuaded by the evidence), emotional (e.g., their Muslim or Jewish family would disown them or they had a poor experience with one or more Christians or their father), or volitional (e.g., they do not want to believe because of pride or it may require them to alter their behavior).
It is their responsibility to make a proper decision. It is our responsibility to share the message of hope through Christ “with gentleness and respect” and “with grace,” as Peter and Paul taught. The gospel message is already offensive to some. We need not make it more offensive by presenting it in a manner that lacks gentleness, respect, and grace. When we combine more knowledge with a heart that deeply cares for our nonbelieving friends, we will be pleasantly surprised to find ourselves engaged in dialogues that are far more enjoyable and effective than we may ever have imagined (Emphasis Mine).



(It is important to observe that the historical Jesus is not the real Jesus who walked and taught in Judea and Galilee, but is the Jesus known through the results of historical investigation. The real Jesus was much more than the historical Jesus, just as a corpse in a grave was once much more than the minimal information described on the tombstone. And then there is the Jesus in the Gospels. This third Jesus is also a partial representative of the real Jesus who had many more elements to his personality and many more things that he said and did than could ever be reported in a Gospel with a length of less than twenty-five thousand words.)





6 (watch at the 7.04 mark)


Websites last accessed on August 17, 2018.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Why Do Scientists Reject Darwinian Evolution?

            Darwinian evolution is marketed as if it is absolutely right and that the contending claims of the Creation and Intelligent Design community are absolutely wrong.  But the fact remains that the Darwinian evolution and Neo-Darwinism are light years away from adequately and reasonably explaining the origin of life.

            You are wrong if you think that all scientists believe in Darwinian evolution. Not all scientists believe in evolution (macroevolution). Quite a few reputed and credible scientists reject evolution.

            You are very wrong if you think that scientists who believe in God and Creation are the ones to reject evolution. Although Christian Research Journal mentions a few nonreligious scientists who reject evolution, I present two nonreligious scientists for your consideration:1

…Another nonreligious scholar who is both a skeptic of Darwinian evolution and an ID sympathizer is David Berlinski. Trained in philosophy at Princeton, and later a postdoctoral fellow in molecular biology and mathematics at Columbia University, he is also a senior fellow at Discovery Institute. In 2009, Berlinski published a volume titled, The Deniable Darwin and Other Essays, offering critiques of biological and chemical evolution…
…Berlinski elegantly and comprehensively critiques Darwinian theory. First, he tackles the fossil record:
The facts in favor of evolution are often held to be incontrovertible: prominent biologists shake their heads at the obduracy of those who would dispute them. Those facts, however, have been rather less forthcoming than evolutionary biologists might have hoped. If life progressed by an accumulation of small changes, as they say it has, the fossil record should reflect its flow, the dead stacked up in barely separated strata. But for well over 150 years, the dead have been remarkably diffident about confirming Darwin’s theory….there are gaps in the graveyard, places where there should be intermediate forms but where there is nothing whatsoever instead.45
Berlinski observes that the complexity of the cell is “insignificant in comparison with the mammalian nervous system; and that far impossibly ahead, there is the human mind, an instrument like no other in the biological world, conscious, flexible, penetrating, inscrutable, and profound.”46 In his view, these complex features imply design: “We never attribute the existence of a complex artifact to chance. And for obvious reasons: complex objects are useful islands, isolated amid an archipelago of useless possibilities….An artifact is the overflow in matter of the mental motions of intention, deliberate design, planning, and coordination. The inferential spool runs backwards, and it runs irresistibly from a complex object to the contrived, the artificial, circumstances that brought it into being.”47
According to Berlinski, “Darwin’s theory of evolution rejects this counsel of experience and intuition,” and instead relies on “sheer dumb luck.”48 After quoting scientists who doubt Darwinism, he notes that evolutionary theory is “in the doubly damned position of having compromised the concepts needed to make sense of life—complexity, adaptation, design—while simultaneously conceding that the theory does little to explain them.”49
...Another famous atheist who supported ID was Fred Hoyle (1915–2001), a theoretical physicist at Cambridge University. His 1983 book The Intelligent Universe maintained, “Darwinian theory is wrong because random variations tend to worsen performance, as indeed common sense suggests they must do.”52 Elsewhere Hoyle famously stated, “If one proceeds directly and straightforwardly in this matter, without being deflected by a fear of incurring the wrath of scientific opinion, one arrives at the conclusion that biomaterials with their amazing measure of order must be the outcome of intelligent design.”53 (Emphasis Mine).
            Furthermore, lists reasons that compel scientists to reject Darwinian evolution:2

Genetics — Mutations Cause Harm and Do Not Build Complexity: Darwinian evolution relies on random mutations that are selected by a blind, unguided process of natural selection. This undirected process has no goals. Being random, it tends to harm organisms and does not improve them or build complexity. As biologist Lynn Margulis, a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences until her death in 2011, said: “New mutations don’t create new species; they create offspring that are impaired.”1 Similarly, the past president of the French Academy of Sciences, Pierre-Paul Grasse, contended that “[m]utations have a very limited ‘constructive capacity’” because “[n]o matter how numerous they may be, mutations do not produce any kind of evolution.”2
Biochemistry — Unguided and Random Processes Cannot Produce Cellular Complexity: Our cells are like miniature factories using machine technology but dwarfing the complexity and efficiency of anything produced by humans. Cells use miniature circuits, motors, feedback loops, encoded language, and even error-checking machinery to decode and repair our DNA. As Bruce Alberts, former president of the U.S. National Academy of Science, observed: “[t]he entire cell can be viewed as a factory that contains an elaborate network of interlocking assembly lines, each of which is composed of a set of large protein machines.”3 Darwinian evolution struggles to explain the origin of this type of integrated complexity. Biochemist Franklin Harold admits in a book published by Oxford University Press: “There are presently no detailed Darwinian accounts of the evolution of any biochemical or cellular system, only a variety of wishful speculations.”4
Paleontology — The Fossil Record Lacks Intermediate Fossils: The fossil record’s overall pattern is one of abrupt explosions of new biological forms, and generally lacks plausible candidates for transitional fossils, contradicting the pattern of gradual evolution predicted by Darwinian theory. This non-Darwinian pattern has been recognized by many paleontologists. University of Pittsburgh anthropologist Jeffrey Schwartz states: “We are still in the dark about the origin of most major groups of organisms. They appear in the fossil record as Athena did from the head of Zeus — full-blown and raring to go, in contradiction to Darwin’s depiction of evolution as resulting from the gradual accumulation of countless infinitesimally minute variations.”5 Likewise the great evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr explained that “[n]ew species usually appear in the fossil record suddenly, not connected with their ancestors by a series of intermediates.”6 Similarly, a zoology textbook observes: “Many species remain virtually unchanged for millions of years, then suddenly disappear to be replaced by a quite different, but related, form. Moreover, most major groups of animals appear abruptly in the fossil record, fully formed, and with no fossils yet discovered that form a transition from their parent group.”7
Neo-Darwinian Evolution Has Been and Continues to Be Critiqued by Mainstream Scientists: Everyone agrees that microevolution occurs. But mainstream scientific and academic literature is saturated with skepticism about the neo-Darwinian claim that microevolution offers an adequate basis for justifying macroevolutionary claims. Günter Theißen of the Department of Genetics at Friedrich Schiller University in Germany wrote in the journal Theory in Biosciences that “while we already have a quite good understanding of how organisms adapt to the environment, much less is known about the mechanisms behind the origin of evolutionary novelties, a process that is arguably different from adaptation. Despite Darwin’s undeniable merits, explaining how the enormous complexity and diversity of living beings on our planet originated remains one of the greatest challenges of biology.”8 A 2011 paper in Biological Theory stated, “Darwinism in its current scientific incarnation has pretty much reached the end of its rope,”9 and in 2012, the noted atheist philosopher Thomas Nagel argued in an Oxford University Press book that “the materialist neo-Darwinian conception of nature is almost certainly false.”10
Evolutionary biologist Stanley Salthe likewise describes himself as “a critic of Darwinian evolutionary theory,”11 which he insists “cannot explain origins, or the actual presence of forms and behaviors”12 in organisms. Biologist Scott Gilbert has stated in a report in Nature that “[t]he modern synthesis is remarkably good at modeling the survival of the fittest, but not good at modeling the arrival of the fittest,” and evolutionary paleobiologist Graham Budd admits: “When the public thinks about evolution, they think about the origin of wings and the invasion of the land, . . . [b]ut these are things that evolutionary theory has told us little about.”13 Eugene Koonin writes in Trends in Genetics about the increasingly undeniable reasons to doubt core neo-Darwinian tenets, such as view that “natural selection is the main driving force of evolution,” indicating that “the modern synthesis has crumbled, apparently, beyond repair” and “all major tenets of the modern synthesis have been, if not outright overturned, replaced by a new and incomparably more complex vision of the key aspects of evolution.” He concludes: “Not to mince words, the modern synthesis is gone.”14 Because of such criticisms, Cornell evolutionary biologist William Provine believes the Darwinian claim that “Macroevolution was a simple extension of microevolution” is “false.”15
            In all of this, I have not even mentioned the refutations of Dr. James M. Tour. He is one of the most acclaimed and established scientific minds in existence today.

            I’ll just mention his remarkable credentials, in case you are not familiar with his name:

Professor James M. Tour is Rice University Chao Professor of Chemistry, computer science, mechanical engineering, and materials science. A renowned leader in his field, he is the premier scientist at Rice University, and his work is often cited in leading scientific journals.1 After Nobel Laureate Rick Smalley’s untimely death, the prolific Tour has successfully carried on Smalley’s groundbreaking nanotechnology research. This ‘world-class scientist’ has revolutionized one of the most challenging fields of science.2
Of the more than 720,000 scientists who published chemistry papers in academic journals during the last decade, Tour was among the ten most-cited authors in the world. He authored 135 papers during this time, and the Thomson-Reuters list of research most referenced by other scientists in their scientific work ranked him in the top ten. Tour’s scientific achievement “spans an incredible breadth, from building tiny cars and trucks out of molecules, to making computer memory from graphite, building tiny missiles that carry drugs to tumors and trying to cure radiation sickness.”1 Wade Adams, director of Rice’s Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology, noted that Tour is an “incredibly creative … chemist. He makes molecules dance.”1
One of his most recent achievements to add to his already long list was to convert shortbread into graphene, a high-tech carbon form that is a promising material for high-speed circuits. A single thick layer of graphene is strong enough to hold the weight of an elephant.3”3
            If you wish to read a quick overview of Dr. Tour’s refutation of evolution, please read his article entitled “Origin of Life, Intelligent Design, Evolution, Creation and Faith (Updated June 2018).”4

            Scientists are under pressure to not question or debunk evolution, “…they face pushback from peers who feel they are betraying science: “We’ve been told by more than one of our colleagues that, even if Darwin was substantially wrong to claim that natural selection is the mechanism of evolution, nonetheless we shouldn’t say so. Not, anyhow, in public. To do that is, however inadvertently, to align oneself with the Forces of Darkness, whose goal is to bring Science into disrepute.”13 They observe that in the ivory tower, “neo-Darwinism is taken as axiomatic,” “literally goes unquestioned,” and contrary views are “ipso facto rejected.”14… Significantly, many of these scholars and scientists share an acute awareness of the hostility faced by critics of the evolutionary consensus. Their stories suggest that neo-Darwinism retains its academic prestige not so much by the power of reason, but by the power of intimidation. One cannot help but wonder how many other Jerry Fodors or Thomas Nagels exist, waiting silently until they have academic freedom to publicly join the ranks of Darwin-skeptics.”5

            Finally, here are David Berlinski’s witty yet thoughtful and factual words to conclude this short essay:6

…Look — Tens of thousands of fruit flies have come and gone in laboratory experiments, and every last one of them has remained a fruit fly to the end, all efforts to see the miracle of speciation unavailing.
Look — The remarkable similarity in the genome of a great many organisms suggests that there is at bottom only one living system; but how then to account for the astonishing differences between human beings and their near relatives — differences that remain obvious to anyone who has visited a zoo?
But look again — If the differences between organisms are scientifically more interesting than their genomic similarities, of what use is Darwin's theory since its otherwise mysterious operations take place by genetic variations?
These are hardly trivial questions. Each suggests a dozen others. These are hardly circumstances that do much to support the view that there are "no valid criticisms of Darwin's theory," as so many recent editorials have suggested.
Serious biologists quite understand all this. They rather regard Darwin's theory as an elderly uncle invited to a family dinner. The old boy has no hair, he has no teeth, he is hard of hearing, and he often drools. Addressing even senior members at table as Sonny, he is inordinately eager to tell the same story over and over again.
But he's family. What can you do?







Websites last accessed on 11th August 2018.