strange post to return with, I know

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t even want to look at how it has been since I last posted here.  In my half-hearted defense, I have posted somewhat more frequently at the Creativiti Project.

 

I do want to keep writing here and I have some big changes in my life coming up; changes which definitely fit with the title of this blog. Further, I need to plan for 2013 and set some goals and what better place to such a personal activity then on a blog read by …some.

 

First though, a short post today with some humourous photos.

My son and I were rollerblading in the apartment’s parking lot and we found a sign that I read at “Ee ba to hae 2000″.  If you have the Hangeul character set, it was “이바토해2000″.  My son says that doesn’t mean anything, but I have photographic evidence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

funny1

 

 

Just before Christmas, I found this sign.

funny2I read it as “Boo Santa Ol” or in English, “Boo, Santa’s coming.”

In other language humour, I texted a friend and offered to pick up his sons and bring them here to play with my son.  He offered to drive them himself.  Quote: “I will pick them down…”  If we assign real value to the phrase “Pick up” I think we have to accept “Pick down”.

 

About these ads

36 Responses to “strange post to return with, I know”

  1. Patrick Says:

    일방통행 means ‘One way’. You might at least have recognised the script, if you had endeavoured to take even a beginner’s course in Korean, during the decade or so you have been there. On a par with Dawkins’ wilful ignorance of the Bible he so loves to deride.

  2. surprisesaplenty Says:

    Wow. Wake up a little cranky? I admit that my Korean skills are not what they should be but I think I explained that this was a joke and set it up properly.

  3. surprisesaplenty Says:

    Well, I gave you a day to comment on my polite response to your troll-like attack. I guess you want to talk about evolution again. I’m game.

    First, let’s note that you have made a claim with no supporting evidence. Show me where and how Dawkins was ignorant or wrong in his attacks on the bible. Here is an example of what I expect.

    Way back in 2008 we discussed evolution and many of the Pastors attempting to discredit evolution showed terrible ignorance on the subject. Indeed, even you changed your position (from YEC to OEC, as I recall).
    http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=6965884&postID=1712426941771919461

    You thought there was a widely accepted theory of gravity and that it was proven. You wrote on the subject as if it were obvious only to be shown to be completely wrong. Arrogantly ignorant is the best phrase to describe your claims, I think.

    There. Now show me what claim Dawkins made that was obviously ignorant.

  4. Patrick Says:

    You can download a free pdf book on Dawkins:

    http://thedawkinsproof.com/

  5. surprisesaplenty Says:

    I hope it gets better quickly. The first few pages are poorly reasoned and describe opinion as if it were fact.

    Remember, you don’t merely have to defend God but also your particular version of God. Many Christians accept evolution, after all.

  6. Patrick Says:

    Hi Brian,

    According to biblical thinking I don’t have to defend but proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In any case, I wasn’t really looking for a evolution/creationism debate, in which we are both already entrenched in our fundamental positions.

    The original point, after all, was about the misinterpretation of a Korean sign, as if it were meaningless and silly. This reminded me of the way in which secular philosophers/atheistic apologetics (which is essentially what Dawkins is all about), so often misunderstand and ridicule biblical excerpts, in order to prop up their own points of view.

    Other than that, I hope it works out for you and your son in Canada. I’m sure you’ve spent a long time thinking of the possibilities. I guess there are 2 other options: 1. taking longer vacations in Canada, in which your son can pick up the language (my daughter came back from Korea almost fluent after only 6 weeks!) 2. becoming more proficient in Korean and therefore more fully immersing yourself in its linguistic and cultural DNA, so to speak.

    Sincere regards,

    Patrick.

  7. surprisesaplenty Says:

    I don’t know what to do here, Patrick. You seriously owe me an apology for your attack in your first post and the way you continue it in your last one. The original point was not at all that the sign were meaningless and silly but that it could be read in a silly fashion. The lead up to the sign clearly indicates that is meant to be a joke. Seriously, if you are too stupid see that, stop posting here.

    After your apology, you might want to explain what you see in The Dawkins Proof. What do you think I will learn? Or is this a example of Christian laziness: “According to biblical thinking I don’t have to defend but proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”? Many Christians do accept evolution so Barnes attack on the subject shows he is not defending Christianity in whole but only his blinkered, medieval version of it.

  8. Patrick Says:

    Brian,

    I think that If you think the korean sign for ‘One way’ = the meaningless phrase ‘Ee ba to hae 2000′ then this simply shows an ignorance of the korean language, or at least an unwillingness to find out what the sign means.

    [content removed by surprises aplenty] Sorry Patrick, if you can’t apologize, or even see why you need to, you are unwelcome here. Did you not see the other silly examples, including the one in English that I complimented? Have you heard of “word play”?

    Nothing more here from you until I receive an apology.

  9. surprisesaplenty Says:

    Patrick, I am trying to help you understand what word play is. Here are some examples (admittedly funnier than mine) of people taking humorous advantage of misinterpretations of English. Do you feel the makers of these jokes “show an ignorance of the [English] language, or at least an unwillingness to find out what [words and phrase] mean.”?

    An excerpt from an SNL skit (the real Trebek and Connery were not in it):
    Alex Trebek: …For the last time, that is not a category. Sean Connery, why don’t you pick?
    Sean Connery: Well, the game is afoot. I’ll take anal bum cover for 7,000.
    Alex Trebek: That’s An album cover, not anal bum cover.
    —–
    Why didn’t the melons get married?
    Because they cantaloupe!
    —-
    A hunter calls 911. “Help. I think my friend is dead.”
    the 911 dispatcher responds, “First, make sure he is dead.”
    The hunter is in shock and wants to help. “Okay.”
    A shot is heard over the phone line.
    The hunter says, “Okay, what’s next?”
    —-
    When I take advantage of the Korean homonyms for “no ears” and “Cute” to make a joke, am I showing ignorance or some level of understanding? The joke clearly (to whatever small extent) only because I exploit the possibility of confusion and to exploit that confusion, I must have at least some knowledge of the language.
    —-
    Patrick, you went out of your way to call me ignorant and imply that I am lazy. Apologize or find somewhere else to be rude. Ah, actually, apologize and find somewhere else to be rude. Only after you do that can we discuss The Dawkins Proof.

  10. Patrick Says:

    Brian,

    I am not judging the sum total of your intellect or capacity to make humorous remarks. If this is how you see it, then I apologise. The other examples you cite, though, show the clear crafting of humour through specific word-play and deliberate misunderstanding. The way I read your ‘joke’ was that it was based on not being aware of a ‘Hangul’ phrase.

    Now, as we are (metaphorically) about to jump out of the plane, let’s stop criticising each other’s attire!

    - P

  11. surprisesaplenty Says:

    Thank you, Patrick.

    We can continue here, but I will also post my review of the book at:

    http://tinyurl.com/c9oupdm

    March break, a week-long school holiday, has just begun. I have the book, and The God Delusion – from the local library – but have not finished The Dawkins Proof yet. I can’t promise when I will get to it. Well, I guess I can promise to finish it before Easter, probably before the 23rd and maybe earlier.

    Would you prefer to discuss the book here or at the dedicated site linked above? I can – and almost definitely will – leave a link or note here when my review is complete.

    • Patrick Says:

      I COULDN’T POST THIS AT YOUR CREATIONIST BLOG, SO POST IT HERE INSTEAD:

      Hi Brian,

      I appreciate your willingness to take the time to read, consider and evaluate. I look forward to your thoughts on Barnes’ critique of Dawkins’ work, respect your academic credentials, and regard you as a friend, someone whose life I care about and do not in any way disdain. Of course, we have radically different worldviews but that doesn’t mean we can’t communicate in a respectful, friendly manner. I also don’t trust in my own abilities to convince you of anything, and believe that if anything changes in your life it will be God’s activity in your heart.

      Having read ‘The Blind Watchmakers’, ‘The Selfish Gene’, and about 80% of ‘The God Delusion’ (before I had to return it), I am equally appalled by Dawkins’ own ignorance of religion (in particular the Bible), not to mention his reliance upon philosophical/rhetorical chicanery.

      There seems to be very little scientific explanation (for a layman like me) in the above-mentioned works. Indeed, an IDist like Michael Behe has produced ample amounts of scientific diagrams and data in his book ‘Darwin’s Black Box’, some of which goes over my head. At least in that book he offers coherent scientific explanation for the average reader. For me, his views on microbiology and discoveries in genetic complexity are a powerful argument against the whole thesis of Darwinism, and I view Barnes’ work as mainly being a critique on the whole Dawkins-atheist project.

      That said, I believe that science is only man’s understanding of the world on his own terms. I believe that we need God to ‘reveal’ something of Himself to us, for we in our finite, limited capacity can never penetrate into that which is outside our material dimension.

      Of course, someone like Dawkins and perhaps yourself would not assume that anything exists outside of this material sphere. I would argue that this is an assumption, one which you would bring to your science. Another man who has a different assumption, ie. that there IS something which transcends our dimension and affects it, would approach science from a different ideological starting-point.

      I would be the first to admit that, if it weren’t for my conversion to Christianity I would probably approach science from that default materialist, ‘humanist’ starting-point. In any case, I have always been more interested in philosophy and literature than science, so this isn’t something I claim any great expertise in.

      Sincerely,

      Patrick.

  12. surprisesaplenty Says:

    Comments are now possible at the other site. I have turned off the Identification requirement and the word verification but may need to turn one or both back on if I get too much spam.

  13. surprisesaplenty Says:

    Patrick, I have finished The Dawkins Proof and written about general feelings and a more thorough review of the first chapter.

    http://creationevolutionbusan.blogspot.ca/2013/04/the-dawkins-proof-delusion.html

    I have changed the comment controls at creationevolutionbusan so I think you should be able to post comments easily. If you choose to write long comments here, I would like your permission to copy them to that blog.

    • Patrick Gray Says:

      Hi Brian,   You are welcome to copy and paste into creationevolutionbusan, but I failed to be able to do so, because it was over 4000 characters.  I’ve pasted it into surprisesaplenty, instead.   regards,   Patrick.

      ________________________________

  14. Patrick Says:

    [[[ Patrick's replies are in brackets ]]]

    The Dawkins Proof Delusion

    I think Dawkins’ views on evolution are, as my limited understanding allows, correct. While I generally agree with his views and talking points for atheism, I am not in nearly as complete agreement and I do see that he is not always consistent. For example, h
    e once suggested that fantasy books might lead children into irrational thinking but also, I think, wrote a glowing forward to Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass.

    Barns’ The Dawkins Proof is an attempt at rebutting The God Delusion. One major problem he has is that he is one the types of people that Dawkins chides mainstream Christians for accepting. That is, Barns is a creationist, and so at least one of his foundational claims is already torn away. I would have significant trouble attacking the views of a Roman Catholic or member of the United Church of Canada as their views, in many respects, match mine -and, as far as evolution is concerned, Dawkins’ as well.

    [[[ Well, the word ‘mainstream’ is a slippery word. The momentous Reformation of the 1500s put a spoke in the wheel of the concept of ‘mainstream’, as it was at that time. Since then, Christians generally align themselves with either the church of Rome or the church of ‘protest’ against Rome, ie. ‘Protestants’. Until fairly recently, the mainstream protestant view has always been that God created the world in six days. Thus, the idea that mainstream Christians have always treated the Old Testament as a fairytale, apart from a few old cranks, is a distortion of the truth. ]]]

    Below you will find my general complaints about and thoughts about the book and a more specific review of Chapter one (Nothing Beyond the Natural Physical World). I will post my comments on later chapters as I prepare on them. I hope to better organize these thoughts but I was concerned the friend who suggested I read the book might get tired of waiting. If you really want further introduction, look at a previous post.

    Barns has a number of recurring problems:
    1) He is a lumper: He counts all Christianity as having the same views -including, apparently Creationism. I am not sure if he is a YE or OE Creationist.
    He discusses “The Christian Viewpoint” but there is no “The Christian Viewpoint”. My particular interest is in evolution and there are Christians who are Evolutionists, Old Earth Creationists, Young Earth Creationists and even Old Universe- Young Earth Creationists. There are Christians who feel Saturday is the Sabbath and those who do not keep it holy are breaking a Commandment….

    [[[ A valid point. Perhaps a better phrase would have been ‘biblical viewpoint’, but then again, to be a Christian, thus accepting the words of Christ as being of ultimate authority, would mean believing that such people as Adam, Eve, Abraham, Moses actually lived, as Jesus speaks of real people, recorded in the first two books of the Bible; Genesis and Exodus. ]]]

    2) He has a good definition of evolution but doesn’t understand what it means. Only a few pages after he gives a definition he seems to have forgotten it.

    3) He doesn’t define things. I am specifically referring to ‘Mind’ and ‘rational thought’ or maybe ‘logical thought’
    Regarding “Rational Thought” and “logic”: He thinks that because the concepts of logic or rational thinking are immaterial, atheists cannot believe or use them and still be consistent in their atheism.

    Are imaginary numbers “immaterial”? Their name alone suggest they are not real, yet they have real usefulness in mathematics.

    4) He thinks ‘physics’ explains all phenomena – or that atheists do or think it should.
    SMBC’s take on physics, chemistry, and biology :
    Three Body Problem at Wikipedia

    5) His evidence and claims for God come exclusively from the Bible. That can be a valid source but it needs both internal and external confirmation. In other texts, internal confirmation requires two parts. First a quote from a character, “I am strong”. and second, a described instance of the character being strong. In the Bible, God is described as perfect and merciful but also as driving Adam and Eve out of Eden in a rage and destroying most of humanity. Considering that he made Adam and Eve, the fact that he became angry with their actions is a logical as me being angry with a wood carving I made and found wanting.

    [[[ I will let the Bible speak, here. The apostle Paul, (in Romans 9:20-23) deals with this difficult issue of predestination vs. free will. As you can see, it’s more about our desire to see God from our own understanding and perspective, which is the problem:

    20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
    21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
    22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
    23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory. ]]]

    External confirmation relates to finding supporting evidence for the Bible’s claims in other sources. This kind of confirmation can be challenging. Yes, Egypt is mentioned in the Bible and in other sources, but London is mentioned in Harry Potter and in other sources. No, it is the extraordinary claims that need support and in many cases such support does not exist.

    These two forms of confirmation are entirely absent from The Dawkins Proof.

    [[[ I understand this way of thinking, since it is the scientific method to test things and require consistent evidence during controlled conditions. But to adopt a worldview which attempts to place God in these conditions seems unhelpful, a bit like trying to measure the cranium of a person in order to discover what love is.

    The thing about evidence is that it’s not the real issue. Take the account of Pharaoh in Exodus, for example. Perhaps no man of the world has ever had such evidence of God’s material, active existence, and yet he still could not submit his will to the will of God. The Bible is in many ways more about the human condition, and the strength and foolishness of our own wills.

    Someone such as Dawkins believes that his main concern is with evidence, but I would argue that the real issue is with his own will. Even if he was somehow transported up to heaven and could somehow be in the presence of God (biblically this is an impossibility since God cannot dwell with even one sin, he would still hate God and not want Him. ]]]

    6) Three levels of defense: I don’t think Barns successfully meets the first level much less the next two. These levels are (weak): show atheism is wrong, (middle) show religion is right, and (strong) show (my form of) Christianity is right. As we can see from my final parenthesis, there may be four levels here.

    Barns is a creationist and writes as if he is describing the Christian view when a large number of Christians, possibly a majority, accept evolution. Indeed, the most famous Christians-who-are-also-respected-scientists seem to be Catholics. I am referring to Kenneth Brown (possibly least famous of the group but notably an expert witness as the Dover Trial), Guy Consolmagno (Vatican astronomer, an interview with him is at the bottom of the link) and Francis Collins (Genome Project leader) and their views of the natural world are practically those of atheists. Here is my example:

    When we look at the phenomena of lightning strikes, we cannot say that all lightning is always unguided and always controlled by local meteorology. All lightning that has been artificially created or that has occurred in locations with observational equipment has appeared to follow rules. Two views that have no practical difference are 1) Atheistic – lightning is an entirely natural event and entirely explainable within materialistic viewpoints and 2) God made the universe so lightning can happen and can choose- but might not- to influence when and where it strikes and if He has done so, has done so within the expectations of modern meteorology. God is not necessarily absent but neither is he necessarily required.

    1) Nothing beyond the natural, physical world
    “Non-material things such as God, spirit, mind, Laws, justice do not exist…”
    This is a recurring theme for Barns. Somehow he equates the existence of laws or mind with the existence for God. Laws are immaterial, sure, but no-one claims that legal-type laws (not scientific laws) have real existence. They are agreements between groups of people but are not the same around the world or even viewed the same way by people even inside of one country.
    Scientific Laws do exist but seen as descriptions of reality, not controls that existed before reality.
    A huge problem for Barns here is “mind”. He offers no definition for the concept I am ucertain what exactly I need to argue. I do understand the idea of mind/body dualism but think it is known to be flawed. We, Barns and I, need to read Wikipedia and Mirriam-Webster on the subject, but although I am not an expert, and perhaps nobody really is, it is clear that brain damage or various drugs affect mind. I loved “sleights of mind” a book about stage magic and directing consciousness -this is not mind exactly, but most people don’t understand their own consciousness either.

    [[[ I think what Barns is doing is critiquing Dawkins’ obsession with material evidence, based on his philosophy of materalism. The reducing of ‘mind’ to ‘brain’ necessarily degrades human experience, and makes it seem as if the answer to everything worth knowing can only be done by identifying such chemical reactions.

    Indeed, in terms of a fully comprehensive, in- depth understanding, we know virtually nothing about the ‘brain’ anyway, even from a scientific point of view, and even after many years of mapping and identifying parts of it, it won’t help us with ethical issues and questions of beauty, love and existentialism. For someone who has such a reductive view of the human condition, ie. we’re just the sum total of chemical reactions and blind, ruthless survival, Dawkins seems very sure of his own views and ability of judge rightly. ]]]

    He states: “…nothing special about human life.”
    Yes, I agree with this scientifically but as a human would protect the life of a human over that of my cat, for instance.

    [[[ That’s not something with which Dawkins would agree. I think it is in the Selfish Gene where he says he’d save a horse over a human being, if they were both drowning and the human was slightly further off. He is, after all, trying to live consistently with his understanding of the scientific reality of the universe, and so logically has to have a low regard for human life ]]]

    He states “…no concept of “ought”. “
    Why not? I may get into this more when discussing Barns’ misunderstanding of evolution, so briefly:
    Game theory shows how various strategies, often tested in game playing, can improve success. It seems obvious that selfish people or cheaters will succeed over altruistic, honest people, but many iterations of game theory show this is not so or not always so. Behavior can be built into genes. The best way to live a long, healthy life is to be honest and altruistic.

    [[[ I think what Barns is doing is showing the absurdity of having a philosophical value system which is totally contradicted by scientific reality, as Dawkins sees it. For example, the concept of ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ is quite simply irrelevant for the blind, pitiless, desperate march of evolution. Why does one’s conscience burn and seem to feel guilty, even when not a single living soul will ever now about it?

    Dawkins’ view of merciless, ruthless survival isn’t borne out in actual, human lived experience, and I would argue shows a lack of humility, since he gets to be the one making huge claims and statements based on science, whereas other areas of life (the arts, philosophy, politics, religion) are relegated to being of virtually no ultimate importance. Why is his judgement so ‘right’ about this?

    Surely scientific discoveries are just one part of the human experience, and they cannot penetrate into other areas of equal if not greater significance (to my mind, philosophy and religion, which deal with things which are of fundamental importance to why we are here and how we are to live). ]]]

    He states “there is no such thing as “mind”.”
    See above.

    “What is God like?”
    Barnes offers quotes from the Bible, which are clearly evidence of nothing.

    [[[ This is another problem that Dawkins has. He delights in submitting God to laboratory conditions, in which God becomes the object, man the judge or subject. He then gleefully debunks God’s existence, but only in terms of relegating God to the same level as material phenomenon such as fossils, blood vessels, or molecules.

    As I have said above, Dawkins’ obsession with evidence is a red herring, since his real issue is with his refusal to even contemplate the existence of God, let alone submit himself to the will of God.

    Furthermore, he is not willing to look at the Bible or the conscience as evidence in its own right. Does everything have to be measured and tested in a test-tube before it is granted legitimacy? How would the music of Bach or the writings of Shakespeare be treated in laboratory conditions? Surely the concept is ludicrous. Why, then, does Dawkins want to treat philosophical, religious, moral areas of life in the same way as you would dissect a butterfly or do a blood test?

    As a school English teacher, I don’t disrespect and dismiss all subjects other than my own. I can see the merit and value of languages, sciences, arts, sports. Ultimately, though, the issue is one of judgment. If there are many areas of study and interest, how am I to assign importance and ullimate value? I would have to say that it is in philosophy and religion, since these are the subjects which deal with purpose, practical morality and thus they underpin how we ‘do’ all other subjects.

    An example. Science can tell you how to perform an abortion, but only philosophical/religious discourse can explore whether doing one is morally ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. This simply a question of judgement. I value philosophical foundations and religion more highly because they necessarilty inform all my other decision making processes. In short, philosophy underpins science, and that is why there is never a purely neutral, open, honest way to do science, as Dawkins would have us believe, because we already approach the lab not just with our lab coat on but with our philosophical worldview on, too. ]]]

    From my introduction:
    His evidence and claims for God come exclusively from the Bible. That can be a valid source but it needs both internal and external confirmation. In other texts, internal confirmation requires two parts. First a quote from a character, “I am strong”. and second, a described instance of the character being strong. In the Bible, God is described as perfect and merciful but also as driving Adam and Eve out of Eden in a rage and destroying most of humanity. Considering that he made Adam and Eve, the fact that he became angry with their actions is a logical as me being angry with a wood carving I made and found wanting.

    External confirmation relates to finding supporting evidence for the Bible’s claims in other sources. This kind of confirmation can be challenging. Yes, Egypt is mentioned in the Bible and in other sources, but London is mentioned in Harry Potter and in other sources. No, it is the extraordinary claims that need support and in many cases such support does not exist.

    These two forms of confirmation are entirely absent from The Dawkins Proof.

    “It is not surprising, then, that all cultures are theistic in some way.”
    It is not clear where this assertion comes from. Here is a valid idea of why cultures start with some degree of theism: Some few hundred years ago, there was no explanation for disease and afflictions like Bell’s Palsy, rainbows, rainfall and weather patterns, or lightning. Many gods from many different cultures have been given the power to use lightning. Now, we cannot say that God does not personally control all lightning bolts but we can say He is unnecessary. See also: “I still say a church steeple with a lightning rod on top shows a lack of confidence.”- Doug MacLeod
    Indeed, it is not at all surprising that cultures start with a theistic bent, but that is evidence of nothing.

    [[[ Again, this concept of evidence is a problem. If we’re going to treat all areas of life as if they’re non existent and irrelevant until they can satisfactoriy be tested in a lab, then we are doing an injustice to the human experience, and the many testimonies of conversion to Christ that intelligent, rational human beings have had over the centuries.

    For example, if there was somehow a way of going back in time and getting CCTV footage of the Flood in Noah’s time, how would that change the way you read the Bible? It might make you read it with more respect. However, it wouldn’t change your heart or open your understanding to spiritual truth.

    There were countless people, after all, who walked and talked with Jesus Christ Himself, and never thought anything of him, other than that he was a literal human being who had flesh and blood. Surely what the Bible shows us is that something else is going on here, something more than the satisftying of man’s curiosity about origins, or fulfilling our desire to have materialistic, empirical proof of everything. ]]]

  15. surprisesaplenty Says:

    Patrick, thanks for taking the time to reply in such detail. I have scribbled off my response below. Perhaps we would both be better served if we took a week or at least a few days before responding – I know that I got carried away below. Barns discusses evolution in Chapter three so I maybe I should have held back until then.

    Your main point seems to be about the value of evidence. I agree with you that not everything can be tested, but Creationist claims, for example, can be. Some Biblical claims can be. Some origins of moral behavior can be.

    If we were using Blogspot, the notations around your name would make it bolded. I don’t know if that will work here.

    Patrick: The thing about evidence is that it’s not the real issue. Take the account of Pharaoh in Exodus, for example. Perhaps no man of the world has ever had such evidence of God’s material, active existence, and yet he still could not submit his will to the will of God. The Bible is in many ways more about the human condition, and the strength and foolishness of our own wills. …

    Brian: Stephen J Gould argued that there were “Non-overlapping magisteria” – that science worked in some areas and religion in others. Well, there ARE places where the two do not overlap, but there ARE places where they do. Things for which there will never be evidence might include miracles of healing -we will never find a skeleton that somehow has evidence of blindness being healed – the absence proves nothing- or Jesus’s miracle of Loaves and Fishes -for similar reasons. Still, there are areas where evidence should be found. The Bible makes measurable claims about the real world. Take your example: there is no evidence that ancient Egypt enslaved Jews, nor suffered a series of plagues including the deaths of firstborn sons, nor or a slave revolt, nor of tens of thousands of people roaming the desert for forty years… The Bible is not supported by outside evidence in the places it should be.

    Patrick: For example, the concept of ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ is quite simply irrelevant for the blind, pitiless, desperate march of evolution. Why does one’s conscience burn and seem to feel guilty, even when not a single living soul will ever now about it?…

    Brian: You’ve read The Selfish Gene and you’ve read my descriptions of human (and animal) behavior and altruism. Evolution, as a force of nature, is blind, but strategies to succeed can still work and Game Theory does show that cooperation and kindness do win out.

    Patrick: As I have said above, Dawkins’ obsession with evidence is a red herring, since his real issue is with his refusal to even contemplate the existence of God, let alone submit himself to the will of God.
    Furthermore, he is not willing to look at the Bible or the conscience as evidence in its own right. Does everything have to be measured and tested in a test-tube before it is granted legitimacy? How would the music of Bach or the writings of Shakespeare be treated in laboratory conditions? Surely the concept is ludicrous. Why, then, does Dawkins want to treat philosophical, religious, moral areas of life in the same way as you would dissect a butterfly or do a blood test?…

    Brian: The Bible, on its own, is not evidence. You make a false comparison here. We can study the Bible – as literature and as history. I can’t say if it is valuable as literature, but I can say: well, let’s have a few examples: Do you believe there was a tower of Babel? Do you really believe that people were getting too close to Heaven? Modern space probes have reached the edge of the Solar System -well past “the lesser light” of the moon.
    Bach’s or Shakespeare’s work can be studied in labs. Look, people studying Shakespeare’s writing: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=skeptics-take-on-the-life
    I don’t want to get philosophical, but I think religious or moral teachings, after testing, become philosophy. You use the example of abortion: We probably agree that it shouldn’t be used as ‘just another form of birth control’. On the other hand, some religious people believe that no abortion is ever justified. This is off-topic, but:
    “In 2009, Archbishop José Cardoso Sobrinho excommunicated, or rather declared excommunicated (since the canon law invoked imposes the excommunication automatically), the mother and doctors of a 9-year-old girl for carrying out an abortion on the girl’s twin fetuses, after she was raped by her own stepfather, something that had been happening since she was six years old and in which the twin children who were aborted had no participation. Nor did the twin abortions alter the tragedy of the abuse to the 9 year old. [25] The affair shocked the Brazilian government[25] and provoked disgust from President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minors_and_abortion
    I think the Archbishop was wrong and his religious views needed to be tested – and dismissed. I am not accusing you or your religious group of anything here, but, clearly, this is why Dawkins wants to treat religious areas of life in a scientific manner.

    Patrick: An example. Science can tell you how to perform an abortion, but only philosophical/religious discourse can explore whether doing one is morally ‘right’ or ‘wrong’….

    Brian: See counter-example above: Your claim is not unreservedly true. Above, I wanted to be clear that I did not hold your sect responsible for what happened in Brazil, but I do want to point out that your group and the Roman Catholics are both Christians so there is good evidence that religion does not guarantee moral results. Science might not be able to make tests to recommend moral results but religion does not have a perfect track record either.
    Patrick: Again, this concept of evidence is a problem. If we’re going to treat all areas of life as if they’re non existent and irrelevant until they can satisfactorily be tested in a lab, then we are doing an injustice to the human experience, and the many testimonies of conversion to Christ that intelligent, rational human beings have had over the centuries….

    Brian: Let us recall all the many testimonies of conversion to Islam that rational human beings have had over the centuries. If you do not feel that Islam is correct, then you must see your argument for Christianity is weak. Ironically, as I’ve written before, if Barns – and yourself- had not chosen to defend Creationism -a set of claims tested and founded ludicrous- the issue of evidence would not be a problem. There are many Christians who do not accept Creation, or the Flood, or the Tower of Babel or Jews escaping slavery in Egypt as literal, real-world events. The efforts I seem to recall Dawkins going to in TGD to discredit those Christians seemed a little forced. I think he specifically blamed them for not cracking down on people and sects with your beliefs.

    Patrick: There were countless people, after all, who walked and talked with Jesus Christ Himself, and never thought anything of him, other than that he was a literal human being who had flesh and blood. Surely what the Bible shows us is that something else is going on here, something more than the satisfying of man’s curiosity about origins, or fulfilling our desire to have materialistic, empirical proof of everything.

    Brian: You have made an assertion here. One that might be testable. “There were countless people, after all, who walked and talked with Jesus Christ… ” Really? Give me some evidence of that. If you can’t, you should say, “I feel ‘There were countless people who walked and talked with Jesus Christ ‘.” To be crude for a moment : I know there is no way to determine if Mary was a virgin when she gave birth. Probably, even if gynecologists went back in time …No, I’ll stop here. Still, there are events claimed as miracles that can never be tested. Other ones can be. Voyager 1 is at the edge of our Solar System: I can tell you that there is no Crystal Dome (http://www.berenddeboer.net/sab/subjects/biblical_cosmology.html#firmament)
    and I can tell you that despite the claims of the Bible, the Earth is not flat. http://sensuouscurmudgeon.wordpress.com/2011/02/01/creationist-wisdom-168-flat-earth/
    These are claims that darn well can be tested and the Bible is shown to be wrong.

  16. surprisesaplenty Says:

    Before we go further, Patrick, we need to cut down on the length of our comments. I know I repeated myself a lot and I think you did, too.

    This blog is my home so I’m comfortable with how it works. One way to make our posting easier to write and read would be to learn some basic html. Above, I put our names in bold. It is an annoying thing to do, but I think it helps. I have to break up the parts so ignore the quotes below:
    “” Brian “/” “b” “>” gives us: Brian
    This is less than sign, b, greater than sign, my name, less than sign, slash, b, greater than sign.
    Instead of bold, we can use italics. “” Brian “” Brian

    When I get to chapter two, I will try to break it into smaller pieces so our discussion might be more manageable.

  17. Patrick Says:

    Patrick: Brian, I appreciate your openness and willingness to discuss. I have an unhidden agenda. I want you to be converted to Christ, and pray that your soul would be resurrected from spiritual deadness. I have no confidence in my own scholarly, rhetorical wisdom (or lack thereof), and hope that our conversations will lead to you read the Bible in an open and seeking way.
    Brian: Stephen J Gould argued that there were “Non-overlapping magisteria” – that science worked in some areas and religion in others. Well, there ARE places where the two do not overlap, but there ARE places where they do. Things for which there will never be evidence might include miracles of healing -we will never find a skeleton that somehow has evidence of blindness being healed – the absence proves nothing- or Jesus’s miracle of Loaves and Fishes -for similar reasons. Still, there are areas where evidence should be found. The Bible makes measurable claims about the real world. Take your example: there is no evidence that ancient Egypt enslaved Jews, nor suffered a series of plagues including the deaths of firstborn sons, nor or a slave revolt, nor of tens of thousands of people roaming the desert for forty years… The Bible is not supported by outside evidence in the places it should be.
    Patrick: You seem to think that there should be a collection of comprehensive evidence in libraries and laboratories around the world. Even then, if you did have such evidence, what would you do with it? Your assumption is that existence has always been there, in a material sense, apart from the claims of a few miracles by some person. The Bible claims that the very existence of existence was of supernatural origin. In other words, the whole fabric of material existence is miraculous. The miracles of Jesus were mainly teaching miracles. Each one was intended to instruct us about spiritual things. For example, the healing of deafness is supposed to teach us about our own spiritual ‘deafness’, and so on: ‘He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.’ (Matthew 11:15)
    Regarding the authenticity of history, we of course depend upon written sources which come after the event. Take Julius Caesar, for example. Everything we know about him comes from sources which date from about a millenunium after he lived! With regards to a minority ethnic group who escaped slavery in Egypt, this is hardly likely to go down in their historical records of victories and achievements, which we largely have in the form of archaeologically disovered Stele or hieroglyphics on stone. Indeed, the plagues and horrors of the moments leading up to the Jewish flight from Egypt would have been of a most shameful and embarrassing nature to the Egyptians. Morever, it is wrong to assume there was no Semitic presence in Egypt, since the Hyksos were comprised of a lot of them. Equally, they were much hated by the Egyptians.
    There are plenty of archaeological finds – outside evidence – which confirm the veracity of the biblical account, from the 19th century discovery of Ninevah (which sceptics sneered was complete fantasy until it was discovered) to the amazing 20th century discovery of the ‘Dead Sea Scrolls’ which contain a complete Old Testament manuscript dating from 4 centuries before Christ (again, cynics said it was a all a Jewish fairytale made up rather more recently). The British museum contains very many more discoveries and external ‘evidence’ in various forms.
    Overall, though, it is the spiritual power of the Bible which draws people to believe in it, and in its author, God. One most powerful outside ‘evidence’ of the Bible’s truth is its power to change ‘inner’ lives, in which people can give a ‘before and after’ account of God’s dealings with them, through their prayerful study and understanding of the Scriptures. The Bible’s true power lies not in its external versacity, but the internal way it speaks to the soul, which of course, baffles the unconverted.
    Brian: You’ve read The Selfish Gene and you’ve read my descriptions of human (and animal) behavior and altruism. Evolution, as a force of nature, is blind, but strategies to succeed can still work and Game Theory does show that cooperation and kindness do win out.
    Patrick: And we’re seeing that Game Theory being played out in North Korea, as we speak, I suppose! The logical outcome of a bleak, blind, merciless scientific ideology does not bode well for humanity. The fact that this world is allowed to continue with any ‘goodness’ in it at all is entirely due to the grace of God. He restrains evil, and delays the final day of earth’s history, in order to call many, many sinners to faith and repentance in Christ:
    The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
    The ‘all’ here is an all inclusive call to every person to turn to God, and turn from their ‘genes’ of sin and selfishness. The Bible is the record of God’s goodness to mankind, and mankind’s rebellion against God.
    Brian: The Bible, on its own, is not evidence. You make a false comparison here. We can study the Bible – as literature and as history. I can’t say if it is valuable as literature, but I can say: well, let’s have a few examples: Do you believe there was a tower of Babel? Do you really believe that people were getting too close to Heaven? Modern space probes have reached the edge of the Solar System -well past “the lesser light” of the moon.
    Bach’s or Shakespeare’s work can be studied in labs. Look, people studying Shakespeare’s writing: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=skeptics-take-on-the-life
    I don’t want to get philosophical, but I think religious or moral teachings, after testing, become philosophy. You use the example of abortion: We probably agree that it shouldn’t be used as ‘just another form of birth control’. On the other hand, some religious people believe that no abortion is ever justified. This is off-topic, but:
    “In 2009, Archbishop José Cardoso Sobrinho excommunicated, or rather declared excommunicated (since the canon law invoked imposes the excommunication automatically), the mother and doctors of a 9-year-old girl for carrying out an abortion on the girl’s twin fetuses, after she was raped by her own stepfather, something that had been happening since she was six years old and in which the twin children who were aborted had no participation. Nor did the twin abortions alter the tragedy of the abuse to the 9 year old. [25] The affair shocked the Brazilian government[25] and provoked disgust from President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minors_and_abortion
    I think the Archbishop was wrong and his religious views needed to be tested – and dismissed. I am not accusing you or your religious group of anything here, but, clearly, this is why Dawkins wants to treat religious areas of life in a scientific manner.
    Patrick:
    Well, I’m going to say that the Bible IS evidence. Not only is it archaeologically, historical authentic but even more important for us here and now, it speaks to the soul in a way that no other text or artifact can. The numerous testimonies of conversion you can see and hear, from people of all races, classes, ages, IQs testifies powerfully to this.
    Yes, the Tower of Babel is clearly taught as another example of mankind’s rebellion against God. After the global Flood of Noah’s time, God’s command was as follows:
    And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. (Genesis 9:1)
    Man was to procreate, spread out as the generations went on, and glorify God in the way He had demonstrated in Genesis 3 (a way that glorifies God and humbles man). What we see though, some time later, is mankind rebelling against this command and wanting to stay grouped in one place, erect a structure which would, as it were, shake its fist in the face of God and glorify man’s abilities and talents:
    And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. (Genesis 11:4)
    Whether it means they foolishly believed they could literally puncture existence and break into the eternal realm of heaven, since the word ‘Heaven’ (Heb. Shamayim) is used interchangeably for ‘sky’ and ‘God’s dwelling place’, or that they wanted to see how far their abilities would take them, the point is more about the strength and ambition of man’s pride and ego reaching epic proportions, much as we see with Kim Jun Un and his nuclear program, a man who is worshipped as a god, as other dictators thourhgout history have been.
    The point about Bach/Shakespeare is not whether or not it is scientifically proven to have originated from William’s or Johann’s brain, but more to point to the fact that its power and beauty speak to our souls. No matter how many evidences or proofs you can come up with, the real evidence is IN the writing or music. We are dealing with an area in which science is limited, and a realm of human consciousness is brought into play, an area which can’t be accessed by merely identifying neurons and chemical reactions. You might argue it can. I would argue it can’t.
    Rather than saying that abortion is a scientific area, or religious area (I dispute Gould’s theory of two spheres, by the way, since I believe that the philosophical/religious underpinning informs scientific aims and experiments, Nasa being a great example, in which billions are spent whilst billions starve), let’s just say that, for 99.9% of cases, it’s quite clear that abortion = the killing of an unborn human life. Clearly, ‘pure’ science has nothing to say on this. It can show you how to do an abortion, but it can express no judgement about whether this is right or wrong. If one would save a horse over a human being (like Dawkins) then quite clearly human life is expendable and contingent. If one believes that human life is sacred and that God has commanded that ‘Thou shalt not kill’ (criminal justice and just wars aside), then abortion is quite clearly wrong. However, I agree that there are perhaps 0.1% of cases which are problematic, such as the 9 year old case you cite, or indeed if not performing an abortion would lead to the death of mother and child. However, I would argue that the process of science could not express judgement and wisdom in the 0.1%, any more than it could in the 99.9%.
    Brian: See counter-example above: Your claim is not unreservedly true. Above, I wanted to be clear that I did not hold your sect responsible for what happened in Brazil, but I do want to point out that your group and the Roman Catholics are both Christians so there is good evidence that religion does not guarantee moral results. Science might not be able to make tests to recommend moral results but religion does not have a perfect track record either.
    Patrick: I quite agree that religion does not have a perfect track record. Then again, I would class the ideology of ‘evolution’ to be a religion, ie. something that goes beyond science’s usual remit, and which people believe in and use to live their lives. As far as I’m concerned, it is the Bible versus atheist/secular humanist ideologies which we are discussing here. I don’t want to be one to defend religion, whether we’re talking about the Romanism that you (and I) might abhor, or the Darwinism which I certainly abhor, for the way it naturally demeans human life and leads into things like abortion/euthanasia, which are logical outpouring of its philosophical underpinning.
    Brian: Let us recall all the many testimonies of conversion to Islam that rational human beings have had over the centuries. If you do not feel that Islam is correct, then you must see your argument for Christianity is weak. Ironically, as I’ve written before, if Barns – and yourself- had not chosen to defend Creationism -a set of claims tested and founded ludicrous- the issue of evidence would not be a problem. There are many Christians who do not accept Creation, or the Flood, or the Tower of Babel or Jews escaping slavery in Egypt as literal, real-world events. The efforts I seem to recall Dawkins going to in TGD to discredit those Christians seemed a little forced. I think he specifically blamed them for not cracking down on people and sects with your beliefs.
    Patrick: In Islam, if you declare yourself to be a Muslim and keep its varios rules and regulations, then you are a Muslim. Christianity, in the biblical sense (the sense I believe is the only one), is totally different. It is when an individual reads the Bible or hears it being preached, goes through a time of mental/spiritual wrestling, begins to turn away from sinful thoughts/words/actions, but realises that it is impossible, and only then sees their need of Jesus Christ, as the Spirit of God works in their heart. Unlike every other religion, it depends upon who Christ is and what He has done. Every other religion depends upon what you do/don’t do, and to what extent you’ve managed to achieve this.
    Creationism is not the issue; Christianity is. In general, people are not converted by studying Genesis and comparing it with ‘On the origin of the species’. The vast majority of testimonies of conversion are to do with the human condition, and how the New Testament in particular addresses this. Of course, the identity and work of Jesus Christ is of paramount importance, because even people closest to Jesus, many of the Jews of Jesus’ time, saw this as a stumbling block, as it says in Romans 9:33
    As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
    With regard to Christians who do not believe Christ, there is the following warning from Christ in Matthew 7:22-23:
    Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
    The biggest religion in the world is false Chrisianity. I certainly don’t want to be part of that, and I pray that I’m not.
    Brian: You have made an assertion here. One that might be testable. “There were countless people, after all, who walked and talked with Jesus Christ… ” Really? Give me some evidence of that. If you can’t, you should say, “I feel ‘There were countless people who walked and talked with Jesus Christ ‘.” To be crude for a moment : I know there is no way to determine if Mary was a virgin when she gave birth. Probably, even if gynecologists went back in time …No, I’ll stop here. Still, there are events claimed as miracles that can never be tested. Other ones can be. Voyager 1 is at the edge of our Solar System: I can tell you that there is no Crystal Dome (http://www.berenddeboer.net/sab/subjects/biblical_cosmology.html#firmament)
    and I can tell you that despite the claims of the Bible, the Earth is not flat. http://sensuouscurmudgeon.wordpress.com/2011/02/01/creationist-wisdom-168-flat-earth/
    These are claims that darn well can be tested and the Bible is shown to be wrong.
    Patrick: In terms of evidence, I think I’ve already mentioned that the evidence we have of Julius Caesar depends on manuscripts which post-date him by a millenium. With regard to Jesus Christ, the Bible IS external evidence which dates to very much closer to His time. Moreover, there is mention of him by historians such as Tacitus and Josephus. However, the real issue is not whether or not a person called Jesus lived at that time. The issue is, whether or not He is who He claimed to be. The ‘natural’ human condition CANNOT understand these things, because they are not spiritually converted:
    But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14)
    Therefore, if you had all the external evidence in the world regarding Jesus Christ, you would still see Him and the Bible as being of no ultimate truth or value, since your mind is darkened by the power of unbelief. Sadly,
    But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. (2 Corinthians 4:4)
    In terms of saying the earth is flat, perhaps the oldest book in the Bible says about God that ‘He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.’ (Job 26:7).
    The circularity of earth and vast stretching out of the fabric of space is alluded to is Isaiah: ‘It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in’ (Isaiah 40:22)
    Of course, the figurative language of ‘as grasshoppers’ is a simile, not a statement of literal truth. If we don’t know the Bible, and pick out isolated verses in order to say that ‘Here the Bible says this’ or ‘There the Bible says that’ then that doesn’t seem like a very honest, constructive way to argue and discuss. The trouble with Dawkins’ TGD, in fact, is that it’s so clearly coming from someone who isn’t acquainted with the Bible, and who doesn’t feel the need to consult anyone who is!

  18. Patrick Says:

    Sorry, I did attempt to embolden the names. I don’t mind if you want to do this, since it will make it much easier to read

  19. surprisesaplenty Says:

    Patrick,

    I see now that I have access to a full-featured comment editor. The way you wrote above was easy for me to add bolding. I did not use it before but now that I know I have it, we are set.

    Patrick: Brian, I appreciate your openness and willingness to discuss. I have an unhidden agenda. I want you to be converted to Christ, and pray that your soul would be resurrected from spiritual deadness. I have no confidence in my own scholarly, rhetorical wisdom (or lack thereof), and hope that our conversations will lead to you read the Bible in an open and seeking way.”

    Brian : You might be giving me too much credit. If there were evidence of God, I would convert immediately, as would Dawkins. I want to think I am open but I expected to be less-than-impressed by Barns’ book. I think I am writing more because irrational or ignorant claims anger me.

    There is much in your comment I want to argue against…so very much and so passionately… but, we are moving far from the book. I want to give an example right now, I want to give ten examples of where I feel you are wrong and I fear that if I wait, my passion will ebb and I won’t care enough to do it. I intend to take notes and write a few things down on my computer and let them sit so we can focus more on chapter one of The Dawkins Proof. Then, we can jointly look at chapter two…

    I note that my first post -describing my general concerns with the book and details about chapter one – has a lot of repetition and poorly formed ideas. You disagree with me but seem to understand what I meant, so thanks for that. This kind of writing happens when I write passionately but then wait until I lose that excitement to edit – the editing sucks. Still, I have to try and we will never finish the book if we argue about abortion -we don’t have much difference of opinion there, anyway,

    Let’s save our discussion of Jesus -who isn’t mentioned much in Chapter one that I recall, or of Julius Caesar, or Stephen Gould, who aren’t mentioned at all.

    I think we will need to use the other blog for this discussion. As I add commentary on later chapters, it will help to separate and organize what is being discussed. I think you will need to tighten and shorten your quotes of my writing or post two comments…Or, and I don’t like the idea because it seems too involved, I can copy and paste your comments from here. I think it will be weird if your comments end up here but all my responses are there.

  20. surprisesaplenty Says:

    Fudge….I wrote comments about evolution, North Korea and Biblical quotes but closed the window by accident. I might have the energy to do so again tomorrow…we’ll see.

  21. surprisesaplenty Says:

    Here, I will write about two points of disagreement between Patrick and I that fit into our discussion of The Dawkins Proof. The two points are 1) “The concept of ought” and 2) his Biblical quotes as legitimate descriptions of God.

    1) “ought”
    I need to note that both Barns and Dawkins, in this one instance, look at the same thing, and see different causes. Both appear to believe that people are generally good. Barns attributes this to God. God made us mostly good. Dawkins attributes this to the slow but unceasing action of evolution working through strategies for greatest success. Dawkins has the math of Game Theory and an evolutionary explanation involving genetics but he has not disproved God because nothing can. At the same time, there is no requirement that God be involved. All of which is to say that goodly nature cannot be used as persuasive evidence for Godly existence, and Barns gets this wrong.
    Note that Barns feels Dawkins has a goodly nature because God created him with one. Dawkins is good because of God and despite his disbelief in God. I don’t know how either would explain the actions in North Korea’s leadership but I think it would be more difficult for Barns. Again, I cannot speak for either, but I think Dawkins might say something like:

    In gulls, we see the altruistic behavior of warning others of danger. It is altruistic because yelling the equivelent of “Look Out!” draws attention to yourself so in helping others, you put yourself at slightly higher risk. However, some gulls abuse the warning call. When two gulls approach a morsel of food, the one further away sometimes gives a warning call causing the closer to veer up and away so the false alarmer can get the food. The thing is, if this happens one time in a hundred, no one is harmed and one is well-rewarded. If it happens ten times in a hundred, there is slight harm to the whole population but a few are well-rewarded. If it happens fifty times, gulls start ignoring the alarms, all are harmed and the rewards drop in value. The whole thing will reach an equilibrium somewhere. North Korea has found a balance point of high risk but at least mid-term success similar to that of cheating gulls.

    Barns finishes this part of the chapter by claiming that Dawkins is contradicting himself every time he discusses good and evil, but I think I have shown that Dawkins may not be and such discussion is not persuasive evidence for God.

    I will look at this more when I discuss Barns’ quotation of crime rates in the UK as caused by atheism.

    2) Biblical quotes…
    Again, my problem with the claim in Chapter one, is that his description of God and His nature seems overly simple and posed as if it is a given that God exists. In a book meant to convert people, this is not a given.
    In one comment, you discussed a Pharaoh of Egypt: ” Perhaps no man of the world has ever had such evidence of God’s material, active existence, and yet he still could not submit his will to the will of God.”
    Later, you say: “Therefore, if you had all the external evidence in the world regarding Jesus Christ, you would still see Him and the Bible as being of no ultimate truth or value, since your mind is darkened by the power of unbelief. ” and “Well, I’m going to say that the Bible IS evidence. Not only is it archaeologically, historical authentic…”

    I disagree. I think we can agree that there are grounds at least for argument over evolution vs. creationism and you did change your mind from Young Earth to Old Earth Creationist so I think we agree that the Biblical record might not be perfect. Further, for diverse reasons, we agree there is no evidence of the Jews being slaves, a series of plagues, Jewish tribes wandering in the desert for forty years, etc. Finally, although you feel the Muslim process of converting and sincere devotion to Allah is different than the Christian one, there is a similar, strong belief being shown.
    If God exists, the evidence will be outside the Bible as well as inside. There being thousands or milions who sincerely believe is not enough as that is true for other religions and so could be used as evidence of a human desire for a god. You feel Dawkins’ and the Pharaoh’s were darkened to the existence of God, but the only evidence is in the Bible so it is evidence of nothing. Let me quote from a blog I read:

    Self-Proving Truth Certificate
    Everything written by the Curmudgeon in this blog is true. The presence of this Certificate is your proof. Our logic is undeniable.

    Yes, this is a (gentle) mockery of Biblical claims but Barns’ book has the word proof in it so he needs to go beyond the Bible to make his point. The Bible, on its own, is proof of nothing. To say that the Pharaoh chose not to see God is defended only by the Bible. You need outside evidence. I cannot say the plagues did not happen but you cannot say Vishnu did not appear in my room and defend Hinduism. It would be reasonable to not believe that though, even if I wrote a book with a Self-Proving Truth Certificate in it that backed up my claims.

  22. Patrick Says:

    Hi Brian,
    I do intend to reply. Please let me know if you’d rather I replied on one of the other blogs.
    - Patrick.

  23. surprisesaplenty Says:

    Ah, I think we should keep this thread here and make the jump to that blog with the next chapter. If you have a preference, let me know. Just to save endless-thread aggravation, do you want to make a limit on each thread length? Three responses each? Four? More or less?…I think that if and when we end up talking past each other, I will try to post the next chapter’s review.

    • Patrick Says:

      Yes, that’s fine. I don’t think we need to restrict ourselves to Barns’ book, because this is really a discussion of ideological viewpoints, rather than a discussion of Barns per se.

      • surprisesaplenty Says:

        Well, you suggested I read the book and I really had to force myself to read, and reread for reviewing purposes, the book, so we are darn well going to discuss the book. You went out of your way to recommend it.

        The book has nine chapters and I am willing to make ten or eleven posts or locations to discuss it and tangents related to it.

        Really, the book is not well done and I need you to try to defend it as you strongly encouraged me to read it. I admit I deleted the post, but early in this discussion you used the word “masterful” in describing his writing.

        Perhaps a post each on the first three chapters, then a “tangents” post where I will take up the issues of Julius Caesar and the like. This followed by three chapters posts and a ‘tangents post, and the final three chapters posts and a tangent post.

        Also, recall that our discussion of morality, for example, might fit best in Barns’ chapter on crime rates in the UK.

      • Patrick Says:

        I’m happy to stick mainly to Barns’ arguments, but of course he’s not writing in a vacuum, and we’re bound to touch on other things. Also, I don’t really have time to re-read his book. I have read it within the last few months, so it’s still pretty fresh in my mind.

    • Patrick Says:

      BRIAN: Barns finishes this part of the chapter by claiming that Dawkins is contradicting himself every time he discusses good and evil, but I think I have shown that Dawkins may not be and such discussion is not persuasive evidence for God.

      PATRICK: In terms of ultimate ‘goodness’ the Bible proclaims that, ‘As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one’ (Romans 3:10) and that is precisely why Christ came and why we need Him. However, I don’t think Barns is talking about biblical goodness, so much as Dawkins’ contradictory status as a moral judge. Dawkins is quite happy to talk about values such as good and evil when it suits him, ie. when criticising the God of the Bible, in particular Old Testament. However, this seems to radically depart from his own scientific understanding of random mutation and natural selection, which by its very nature is capricious, selfish, pitiless etc. and will do anything to survive. In this sense, ‘goodness’ or ‘evil’ is irrelevant; survival is all that matters, and what’s ‘good’ for you, ie. launching a nuclear bomb on the USA, might be ‘evil’ for me, as a resident of the USA, so it will always be a relative concept.

      Fundamentally, though, Barns is questioning why someone who believes in existence being ex nihilo ad nihilo would need to dabble with terms which are to do with moral absolutes, which can only speak of the conscience and a Creator. I don’t want to keep going on about the ‘horse being saved before the man’ confession from Dawkins’ ‘Selfish Gene’, but this low view of humanity, one in which goodness is merely relative and random surely has more in keeping with his view of survivalism.

      BRIAN: I disagree. I think we can agree that there are grounds at least for argument over evolution vs. creationism and you did change your mind from Young Earth to Old Earth Creationist so I think we agree that the Biblical record might not be perfect. Further, for diverse reasons, we agree there is no evidence of the Jews being slaves, a series of plagues, Jewish tribes wandering in the desert for forty years, etc.

      PATRICK: The fact that my knowledge of and trust in the Bible has developed and deepened changes nothing abou the biblical record per se. What we have is a small ethnic group descended from Abraham, who would have gone under the name of ‘Apiru’ (in Babylonian ‘Khabiro’) who we know from various Egyptian texts formed gangs of labourers who had to meet certain quotas of mud-bricks. There is abundant evidence for slave labour in ancient Egypt, and the narrative of being in Egypt is entirely credible. No Hindu elephant gods or weird, mystical adventures here.

      There is also the circumstantial evidence of the military campaigns of the most probable pharaoh of the Exodus, Amenhotep II, who conducted military operations “on a smaller scale” in year 9, compared with year 7, which scholars have suggested might be due to a fallout from the exodus experience (1446 BC). Of course, historical records, particularly in the ancient world would always be highly in support of the regime, and it was very much about developing a cult of personality, much as with Kim Jung Un today, so anything embarrassing is to be ignored, in favour of conquests and acts of great glory… much like the British empire would not record atrocities done in the 19th century AD. We also have an inscription of the Egyptian Pharaoh Merneptah circa 1236-1223 BC, the words of which clearly refer to Israel as a distinct group of people dwelling in Western Palestine at the time when Merneptah was conducting military operations there.

      However, as with my previous reference to Caesar only being ‘evidenced’ through texts which postdate him by 1000 years, we shouldn’t assume that historical data is fallacious simply because you can’t see it with your own two eyes. That would rule out 99.9% of recorded history, apart from the stuff you see going on outside your window. Apart from a few statues, and a bunch of manuscripts dating from circa 1000 AD, who’s to say that Julius Caesar isn’t just ‘made up’? I don’t think it’s a profitable road for us to go down.

      In any case, if we had a whole raft of external ‘evidence’ for the existence of the plagues leading up to the Exodus, I would argue that there would be a million other questions, stemming from your unbelief. As it says in 1 Corinthians 1:27 ‘But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty’ It is not God’s duty to justify His existence to us. It is our duty to seek God. The history of God’s people, from Genesis to Revelation, is one of a believing people trusting in God, and embarking on a pilgrimage to heaven, trusting in God’s providence.

      The false empires of the world are dazzling and powerful, but all ultimately come to nothing. If you read Daniel’s interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Daniel 2, it is stunning how the whole rise and decline of all the main empires was prophesied (Persian, Greek, Roman etc). When he talks about the kingdom of God (fulfilled through Christ), it is really interesting how the most humble, insignificant part of the statue is the part which endures and conquers all the swagger and bravado the word has to offer:

      And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. (Daniel 2:44)

  24. surprisesaplenty Says:

    PATRICK: …. However, this seems to radically depart from his own scientific understanding of random mutation and natural selection, which by its very nature is capricious, selfish, pitiless etc. and will do anything to survive. In this sense, ‘goodness’ or ‘evil’ is irrelevant; survival is all that matters, and what’s ‘good’ for you, ie. launching a nuclear bomb on the USA, might be ‘evil’ for me, as a resident of the USA, so it will always be a relative concept.

    Brian: We are talking past each other. Ihave pointed out that natural selection is entirely capable of producing altruistic behavior so your “capricious, selfish, pitiless” bit is obviously wrong. This reminds me of you earlier dismissal of Game Theory before even learning about it and your belief that there is a widely accepted theory of gravity when there isn’t (You said something like, “When I let go of a ball, it falls” as is that explained the action) You claim to have read The Selfish Gene (of did you write another book? You did claim to have read many of Dawkins’ books) but don’t recall this. If you are going to flat out ignore what I write, we may as well be done.

    Patrick: Fundamentally, though, Barns is questioning why someone who believes in existence being ex nihilo ad nihilo would need to dabble with terms which are to do with moral absolutes, which can only speak of the conscience and a Creator. I don’t want to keep going on about the ‘horse being saved before the man’ confession from Dawkins’ ‘Selfish Gene’…

    BRIAN: I don’t think there are moral absolutes nor that Dawkins is describing them. Good and Evil can easily be relative terms and definable. Again, Dawkins does provide an explanation for good or altruistic behavior. You have not once shown any reason why the math of game theory is wrong, but only seem to ignore it exists. (link to a google search for Game Theory and Altruism): http://tinyurl.com/c4td7sz All that needs to be done to rebut Barns is to show such that there is a possible explanation – I think it is correct, but that isn’t even necessary. Clearly,”only speak of the conscience and a Creator” is incorrect. All I need to say here is that there is another explanation.

    Regarding horses and ‘Selfish Gene’, you’re going to have to research that quote. It may be in another book. Google Books cannot find it. There are two instances of the word ‘horse’ in Selfish Gene (Link to a Google Books search): http://tinyurl.com/cqb6c2a

    PATRICK
    However, as with my previous reference to Caesar only being ‘evidenced’ through texts which postdate him by 1000 years, we shouldn’t assume that historical data is fallacious simply because you can’t see it with your own two eyes. That would rule out 99.9% of recorded history, apart from the stuff you see going on outside your window. Apart from a few statues, and a bunch of manuscripts dating from circa 1000 AD, who’s to say that Julius Caesar isn’t just ‘made up’? I don’t think it’s a profitable road for us to go down.

    Brian: My point here is that you have no evidence. You can’t defend the Bible, and Barns never even tries to defend his claims, with that circumstantial evidence. Now, Caesar was emperor of Rome and so naturally cast a bigger shadow (I’m fine with the caveat “at that time”) than a poor preacher from an Imperial backwater. Obama, Harper, Lee Myungbak, will all be better remembered than you or I in the future so this comparison doesn’t prove anything more than demonstrate you are wrong about your claim.
    http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/exist.html
    http://www.debunkingskeptics.com/DebunkingChristians/Page10.htm
    ” Not only is there his own writings (The Conquest of Gaul and The Civil War), but those of his contemporaries, Cicero and Sallust, and later ancient writers such as Suetonius, Plutarch, Appian and Velleius Paterculus. ” http://tinyurl.com/csl5dgg Note that Plutarch, for example, died in 120AD so his writing is not “1000 years after the events”.

    Patrick: In any case, if we had a whole raft of external ‘evidence’ for the existence of the plagues leading up to the Exodus, I would argue that there would be a million other questions, stemming from your unbelief.

    Brian: You are safe in saying that as there is no evidence. You have no reason to believe I would not be swayed by real evidence.

    Patrick: As it says in 1 Corinthians 1:27 ‘But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty’ It is not God’s duty to justify His existence to us. It is our duty to seek God. The history of God’s people, from Genesis to Revelation, is one of a believing people trusting in God, and embarking on a pilgrimage to heaven, trusting in God’s providence.

    Brian: See my “Self-Proving Truth certificate” – you can’t use the Bible to defend the Bible unless you have outside evidence.
    Next post will be about chapter two.

    • Patrick Says:

      Brian, I appreciate your reply and will endeavour to reply in due course. I’ll try to retrieve that Dawkins quote for you. Getting a bit busy now; preparing to go back to school on Monday. – Patrick.

    • Patrick Says:

      Hi Brian,

      I’ve been giving it a lot of thought, and I agree with you that we’re ‘talking past each other’. I don’t think our positions can have meaningful momentum, so long as you hold to a materialistic, existential view of life, and I hold to a theistic view.

      I believe that ‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth’, something which I believed after being converted, at the age of 28. You believe that matter just exists and that the human mind is the ultimate arbiter over all things. I don’t think we’re going to get beyond this. What we’re ultimately debating is starting-points, not middles or ends.

      Although you may see it as evidence-less nonsense, I believe that God has drawn us together to have these series of conversations, and I hope that they will lead you to read the Bible for yourself, and that you will pray to God to open your eyes and redeem your soul, through Jesus Christ.

      Yours prayerfully,

      Patrick.

      • surprisesaplenty Says:

        I think another thing we need to do is slow down our posting. This current pause is good. You wrote about a Pharaoh possibly involved in the Moses story around 1446 BC and I simply ignored it and ran on with other subjects. I will discuss it at some point but I do feel bad for skipping it.

        Although I am willing, sometimes eager, to digress from the subject, I really am trying to be focused on dissecting the book first.

        Although I do not pray, I do hope you will open your eyes and see reality as it really is.

      • Patrick Says:

        Rather than dissecting the book, point by point, perhaps a large, overall ‘review’ might serve our purposes better? That way, we won’t lose the wood for the trees. It is, after all, just one book in a vast field of work in which a battle of worldviews is the real issue.

      • surprisesaplenty Says:

        Yes, I will stop trying to go point-by-point on the book. But I did take the effort to read it twice and take notes and consider what Barns was trying to say. I also asked why you chose this book and you stated that you felt the book was ‘masterful’.

        As an unemployed person with time on my hands, I have put too much effort into writing about the book. I will finish my discussion on chapter two and move onto the other chapters quickly.

      • Patrick Says:

        I appreciate your thoughtful insights, and hope they will be used to lead you to the truth. – P

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 62 other followers

%d bloggers like this: