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Feedback from September 1999
© 2005-2007 T. Wallace. All Rights Reserved.


From: Bonnie Dixon

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God....and love thy neighbor as thyself”

Biblical literalist creationists are doing even more of a disservice to religion than they are to science. They lack a sense of history and need to realize that ideas themselves evolve. Why do Biblical literalists think the people who wrote the Bible intended a literal interpretation in the first place? The people who wrote the Bible were writing with the understanding of their own time. The Bible was written over a long period of time and severely edited in the 4th century by the early Catholic Church as evidenced by the Nag Hammadi material. The Jews practiced midrash, searching prior texts for material they could weave into the stories they wanted to tell. When early Christianity separated from Judaism this understanding, so crucial to Biblical interpretation, was lost. When the Bible is read today, by people who lack this understanding, it is interpreted as prophesy. Actually writers researched existing material for a story as writers do today. Jesus himself spoke in parables and metaphors as any Jew would have done.

The Etruscans who preceeded the Romans and Hebrews foretold the future by examining the guts of sacrificial animals. We don’t do that anymore. Animal sacrifice was still practiced by the Hebrews in the time of Jesus so an interpretation of the crucifixion as a blood sacrifice to end all blood sacrifices was appropriate in it’s time. Has anyone sacrificed a lamb on an alter lately? Surely this interpretation can be placed in historical context and discarded as a useful concept. Perhaps the second coming will actually be a better understanding of the first. I’m looking forward to this and hope to help in bringing it about. We may have to call it something besides Christianity though. That term is becoming exclusive to the Biblical literalist creationists (at least according to them) and, therefore, an embarassment.

When you think about it, worshiping Jesus as a God is a sneaky way to avoid doing what he told us to do, love one another. What a good idea. That really would save the world. The development of the concept of hell in Western theology, from an actual place called the valley of Gehenna to an abstract concept back to an actual place in the afterlife, is another idea alien to the basic teaching of Jesus and should be discarded in our time. How does it serve the doctrine of love to send everyone to hell who doesn’t agree with you? The timeless, peaceful detachment of Buddha (taking the long view) and the concept of karma from Hindu tradition ("what goes around comes around" as the popular saying goes) are two examples of religious ideas of great value from other traditions that are compatible with the doctrine of love. A good idea is a good idea no matter where it originates. How wonderful to live in a time in history when all of this knowledge is available to us.

The definition of God has also undergone evolutionary change. Three hundred years ago Baruch Spinoza provided an elegant proof of the existance of God, essentially that God and nature are one. If you can’t see God in the face of a flower you won’t find God in a book either. The wonder of creation is intrensic to our very existance and pervades it all.

Usually, I don’t proselytize. Each person should have the freedom to develop their own religious understanding at the their own speed in their own way. The men who founded our country understood this and I honor their wisdom. But, ya’all are scaring me. So, instead of waiting for Biblical literalist creationists to bore themselves into insensibility listening to insipid "Christian" rock I decided to give it a try. Please wake up. Don’t be afraid. Just keep an open mind, give the test of reason to all your ideas and experience the wonder of being alive. All you really need is a love of truth and the truth of love as evidenced everywhere.

Bonnie Dixon


Response from Timothy Wallace:

Bonnie Dixon wrote:

>> “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God....and love thy neighbor as thyself”

Biblical literalist creationists are doing even more of a disservice to religion than they are to science. <<

This is an interesting comment to make following God’s command.  While it isn’t clear whether you mean to suggest that it is a “disservice” to “literally” love God and love others, that seems to be the unstated implication.  One is left to conclude that indifference and/or hatred towards God and one’s fellow man would be the preferred response of the anti-biblical pseudo-intellectual (such as yourself?).  But that’s really no surprise:

“Professing to be wise, they became fools... For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator... ...being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, ...unloving...”  (Romans 1:22-32)

(I have to wonder what might be the official “non-literalist interpretation” of that passage!)

>> They lack a sense of history... <<

In making such an arbitrary and uninformed judgment of another’s “sense of history” you betray an unmistakable case of arrogance on your part.  I suggest it is an act of extreme presumptuousness to insist that others must “lack a sense of history” simply because they don’t subscribe to your philosophy of choice.

>> ...and need to realize that ideas themselves evolve. <<

No one whom I know has denied that the ideas of men tend to evolve.  It is a self-evident principle.  However this fact by itself is no basis for presuming to “know” that truth also evolves, or that because men and their ideas are subject to change, God and His Word are somehow required to conform to the same pattern.  To so project a property of human character onto God or His truth isn’t necessarily reasonable or logical—and is therefore hardly justifiable on the basis that you award yourself the “right” to do so.

“For I, the Lord, do not change...” (Malachi 3:6)

“The counsel of the Lord stands forever, The plans of His heart from generation to generation.” (Psalm 33:11)

“But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” (2 Peter 1:20-21)

The notion that God’s message is comprised of “evolving ideas” is completely foreign to those who have known Him and witnessed and recorded His involvement throughout history.  Those who truly “lack a sense of history” are those who wish to force the historical biblical record into their humanistically defined mold, denying both the historicity and the absolute, immutable, propositional truth preserved and revealed in that record.

>> Why do Biblical literalists think the people who wrote the Bible intended a literal interpretation in the first place? <<

As with most any other form of non-fiction literature, a literal interpretation is the norm, unless otherwise indicated by the context, other internal evidence, or the specific indication of the writer.  Except in certain specific, well-defined cases, those whose hands penned the Scriptures did not suggest anything other than a literal meaning in the message they conveyed.  It is no more appropriate to arbitrarily insist on a non-literal reading of the biblical record than it would be for me to arbitrarily insist on taking the contents of your email message in an exclusively non-literal context (i.e., you didn’t mean what you said, but what I want you to have said).

>> The people who wrote the Bible were writing with the understanding of their own time. <<

We have no reason to doubt that this prevented them from consistently conveying God’s truth under the guidance of His Holy Spirit (even within the context of the times and cultures within which they all wrote), unless we make the willful choice to arbitrarily and subjectively embrace precisely such a doubt.

>> The Bible was written over a long period of time... <<

Yes, over a period of some 1,500 years, as a matter of fact.

>> ...and severely edited in the 4th century by the early Catholic Church as evidenced by the Nag Hammadi material. <<

This is a pretty big claim to make, and one incapable of unambiguous substantiation.  The contents of the Nag Hammadi texts are dated at roughly A.D. 350-400 by most scholars, and they are not corroborated by either older or newer manuscripts.  The contents of the New Testament manuscripts, on the other hand, are surrounded by literally thousands of corroborating copies dating from a few hundred years earlier to several hundred years later than the Nag Hammadi texts.  The authenticity and integrity of the Nag Hammadi texts is thus made suspect, at best, merely by the external textual evidence alone.

No historical record (whether Christian, gnostic, or otherwise) justifies the claim (popular among modern “gnostics”) that “the Church” destroyed the gnostic manuscripts, and the fact that Irenaeus and others wrote knowledgeably against gnostic heresies in the late second century indicates—if anything—a policy of toleration (but with objection), rather than censorship, from within the Christian community towards the gnostic heretics.

The Nag Hammadi texts appear on the scene conspicuously too late in time (and too few in number) to be easily credited with historical authenticity.  Their contents are rife with matters of doctrine and history contrary to (or at least very apparently inconsistent with) the balance of the Christian and Hebrew texts upon which the Christian Scriptural tradition was based from the beginning (i.e., well before the sparse samples of Nag Hammadi text are dated).

To claim, in light of all this, that the Nag Hammadi material somehow serves as evidence that the Scriptures were “severely edited in the 4th century by the early Catholic Church” is to demonstrate a poor grasp of the historical implications of both the internal and external textual evidence which precedes and follows the 4th century in abundance, as well as an ignorance of the documented traditions surrounding the Scriptures during (and preceding) the time period in question.

In the interest of developing an informed and balanced perspective on the Nag Hammadi documents, I suggest seeing:

http://www.trueorigin.org/naghammadi1.asp
http://www.trueorigin.org/naghammadi2.asp

>> The Jews practiced midrash, searching prior texts for material they could weave into the stories they wanted to tell. <<

This is a convenient story to tell as a means of casting pseudo-intellectual doubt on the Hebrew tradition of preserving and venerating the Scriptures.  Such fabrications scarcely qualify as legitimate scholarship, however, and amount to nothing more than fanciful—and unsubstantiated—speculation.  (They also render one guilty of “bearing false witness,” which is a violation of God’s Law.)

“But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.  But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.  And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.  For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly thereafter...then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment...” (2 Peter 1:20-2:9)

>> When early Christianity separated from Judaism this understanding, so crucial to Biblical interpretation, was lost... <<

This is more ignorance-based fabrication.  The notion of Christianity “separating from” Judaism is itself based on a poor understanding of the relationship between the two.  The early Christians were all Jews.  They did not see themselves or their obedience to the Lord Jesus as an act of “separating from” Judaism, but as the beginning of a completion/fulfillment of the Jewish hope, as recorded and foretold in the Hebrew Scriptures from the very beginning!

Devout Jews both in Israel and abroad looked eagerly for the literal fulfillment of the promised Messiah, whose life, place of birth, and sacrificial death for the sins of men, were all prophesied in detail hundreds of years in advance in the Scriptures.  The content of those Scriptures was no “woven” hodge podge of “borrowed” story-telling material, as any bonafide Hebrew scholar will confirm.

>> ...When the Bible is read today, by people who lack this understanding, it is interpreted as prophesy... <<

I suggest it is not the modern readers who lack understanding, but persons such as yourself, who consider re-writing history and promulgating ignorance-based fabrications about the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures an acceptable means of discrediting their contents—and advocating a heretical religious agenda.

>> ...Actually writers researched existing material for a story as writers do today... <<

The above claim is an excellent case in point, for which I invite you to produce some unambiguous, credible substantiation.

>> Jesus himself spoke in parables and metaphors as any Jew would have done. <<

The fact that Jesus sometimes spoke in parables doesn’t change anything concerning the reliability of His message, the accuracy with which it was recorded and sovereignly preserved to this day, or the importance and effectiveness of His death, burial, and bodily resurrection as the satisfactory ransom for the sin-burdened souls who have entrusted themselves to their faithful, holy Creator throughout history.  Incidentally, that He would speak in parables and lay down His life for us are both foretold in the Hebrew Scriptures.

>> ...Animal sacrifice was still practiced by the Hebrews in the time of Jesus so an interpretation of the crucifixion as a blood sacrifice to end all blood sacrifices was appropriate in it’s time. <<

The willing submission of Jesus to crucifixion was foretold in the Hebrew Scriptures, as was the specific purpose of it—as well as the usefulness of animal sacrifice chiefly as a picture of that which was to come.  There is no alternative “interpretation” of who Jesus is, or what the purpose of His death and resurrection accomplished, when the content and context of both the Hebrew Scriptures and His own words are allowed to speak for themselves without the re-interpretation required to subject them to the gnostic fabrications to which you ostensibly subscribe.

>> Has anyone sacrificed a lamb on an alter lately? Surely this interpretation can be placed in historical context and discarded as a useful concept. <<

...Only to those so arrogant as to deny their own personal sin, their subsequent need for a Savior, and the love of a holy Creator who took upon Himself in sinless human form the penalty for their being born-and-bred violators His Law.

>> Perhaps the second coming will actually be a better understanding of the first. I’m looking forward to this and hope to help in bringing it about. <<

The Second Coming, ironically, isn’t a topic with much—if any—substantiation in any of the gnostic texts.  The very concept must first be “borrowed” from the words of Christ and the first apostles, before it can be perverted (“interpreted”?) to suit the aims of those too proud to admit their sin before the Living God.  To naively presume one’s self to play a role in “bringing it about” betrays a distinctly misinformed understanding of a subject, about which there is plenty of original and definitive content.

Here’s a sampling of the texts from which the doctrine of the Second Coming originated...

From the apostle Paul:

“For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.  While they are saying, ‘Peace and safety!’ then destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.”   (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3)

“...the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.  And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed...”   (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10)

From the apostle Peter:

“...But the present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.  But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.  The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.  But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.”   (2 Peter 3:3-10)

From Jesus Himself:

“...the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the son of man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other...”

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away. But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so shall the coming of the Son of Man be. Then there shall be two men in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left.”    (Matthew 24:30-41)

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.”
(Matthew 7:21)

>> We may have to call it something besides Christianity though... <<

If you think worrying about “what to call it” will even be a matter of any concern, then you have not merely “misinterpreted” the event in the context of its original source, but you are sadly ignorant of the authentic prophetic record of it, and the nature and magnitude of the event itself.

>> That term is becoming exclusive to the Biblical literalist creationists (at least according to them) and, therefore, an embarassment. <<

“That term” finds its roots only in the Bible, in passages for which critics like yourself have yet to produce credible non-literal (re)interpretations.  You would find more credibility vis--vis the Bible in saying nothing about the Second Coming than in pretending to “know” something about it.  Jesus said:

“For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”   (Luke 9:26)

“And why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”    (Luke 6:46)

>> When you think about it, worshiping Jesus as a God is a sneaky way to avoid doing what he told us to do, love one another... <<

When you think about it, your personal refusal to worship Jesus as the Son of the Living God is both blasphemy, and a disregard for the balance of His teaching.  He certainly did instruct His disciples to love one another, but that’s not all.  In fact, He plainly indicated that foremost is our love for God, which you seem eager to avoid!

He said:

“He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9)

“I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30)

There’s nothing “sneaky” about obeying and worshipping the Lord Jesus for who He is—and there is nothing about it that prevents us from loving our neighbors.  No logical basis justifies pretending that obediently loving and worshipping the Savior prevents or excuses one from loving his fellow man.  What is truly “sneaky” is pretending to honor Him with a contrived, arbitrary, and feigned “authenticity” while simultaneously ignoring—nay, denying—His very words!

>> The development of the concept of hell in Western theology, from an actual place called the valley of Gehenna to an abstract concept back to an actual place in the afterlife, is another idea alien to the basic teaching of Jesus and should be discarded in our time. <<

“...alien to the basic teaching of Jesus”??  I suggest that you spend some time studying subjects like this before spouting such nonsense.  Jesus spoke of hell more than any other individual in Scripture.  Some examples (in none of which is found the term “Gehenna” in the source [Greek] text):

“The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”   (Matthew 13:40-42)

“So it will be at the end of the age; the angels shall come forth, and take out the wicked from among the righteous, and will cast them into the furnace of fire; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”   (Matthew 13:50)

“And if your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the eternal fire.”   (Matthew 18:8)

“Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.’”   (Matthew 25:41)

>> How does it serve the doctrine of love to send everyone to hell who doesn’t agree with you? <<

The Living God revealed in Scripture is the embodiment not only of love, but also of holiness and justice.  If you had read the Scriptures you would know this, but you seem to be operating primarily on second- and third-hand, new-age-agenda-based (re)interpretations, rather than going to the original source yourself.

He has made it clear that we are all guilty of sin (breaking His Law, falling short of His standard).  We are, by nature, fallen and prone to love anything but Him and what is right.  We all deserve destruction.  However, He has sovereignly chosen to save for Himself those from among us to whom He gives the will to obey and acknowledge the rightness of His standards.  This is what the Scriptures teach.  If it doesn’t meet with your approval, you might want to reconsider who you really think is really “god” in your life(!).

It is a popular practice to cry “foul” and attempt to impose a twisted human standard of “fairness” or “love” upon the Creator, fully missing the abject arrogance of such an act...

“On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God?...”   (Romans 9:20)

>> The timeless, peaceful detachment of Buddha... <<

Detachment is right:  Buddha died and was buried, remains so, and did nothing to save men from bondage to (or punishment for) sin.  He sure said some fine things, but he did nothing to reconcile men with their Creator/God.  Jesus, on the other hand, specifically stated that this was His purpose—and He executed that purpose flawlessly, in order to both accomplish the justice of God and commit the supreme act of divine love.

>> A good idea is a good idea no matter where it originates. <<

On the other hand, genuine truth is not subject to opinion or part of a cafeteria line of options—not in any other aspect of human experience, and nor is there a logical, objective reason why it should be assumed to be so in matters of origin, destiny, or spiritual condition.

>> The definition of God has also undergone evolutionary change. <<

Only among those who wish to define for themselves a God, rather than humbly submit to the only real one...

“You shall have no other gods before Me.  You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them...” (Exodus 20:3-5)

>> Three hundred years ago Baruch Spinoza provided an elegant proof of the existance of God, essentially that God and nature are one... <<

A “proof”?  I seriously doubt it (and you surely have not substantiated it).  Do not confuse the marvel of God’s handiwork with God Himself.  That’s idolatry.  God is not the same thing as His creation any more than a painter is the same thing as one of his paintings...

“For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator...”   (Romans 1:25)

“You shall have no other gods before Me.  You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.  You shall not worship them or serve them...”   (Exodus 20:3-5)

>> Usually, I don’t proselytize. <<

Good.  Going by your phony doctrines, you’ll incur less judgment on yourself that way.

“It is inevitable that stumbling blocks should come, but woe to him through whom they come!  It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to stumble.”   (Luke 17:1-2)

>> Each person should have the freedom to develop their own religious understanding at the their own speed in their own way. <<

Says who?  When did truth become a matter of personal choice?  Recall, for a reality check, that what was “true” spiritual fare for the Nazis permitted them to rape, enslave, and slaughter at will.  On what basis would you justifiably deny a modern Hitler “the freedom to develop” such an understanding, as long as you elect to make truth so meaningless and subjective?  Do you still fail to see the schizophrenia of your delusions-called-spirituality?

>> Please wake up. <<

I did, 18 years ago.  After trying Edgar Cayce, gnosticism, mysticism, rosicrucianism, and dabbling in whatever seemed handy on the “new age” platter, it eventually became obvious that it was all nothing but me trying to better myself through this or that philosophy—one brand of “truth” or another (mix & match, as necessary).  It was all up to me to get it right.

Then I discovered that the Jesus of the Bible taught something wholly different.  Not only was it not up to me to get it right, He said it was impossible for me to get it right.  God gives grace and compassion to the humble and obedient, but resists (stands against) the proud, who think they can do without Him.  I had scoffed for most of my life at the idea of needing Jesus to die for my sins, and I had enjoyed the pseudo-intellectual “new age” environment in which I could toss Him a nod of approval through the darkened and perverted veil woven by all the phony “knowledge” bandied about among the self-styled spiritual “insiders” (of which I was one).

>> Don’t be afraid... <<

I can assure you, I’m not.

>> ...give the test of reason to all your ideas and experience the wonder of being alive. <<

Man’s reasoning abilities are limited—and influenced by his fallen (sinful) nature.  Reason alone is inadequate to guarantee arrival at the truth.  Men have reasoned their way to every imaginable conclusion, demonstrating that it’s a man-worshipper’s delusion to think that a “test of reason” will suffice in assuring one of possessing the truth.

As for the wonder of being alive, whereas I used to think I had experienced it at its best, I now know the same wonder in the light of an unspeakable freedom that comes only from gratefully loving and serving my Master and Creator.

>> All you really need is a love of truth and the truth of love as evidenced everywhere. <<

Sounds real sweet (and appropriately “new agey”).  I’m hard pressed to believe you know what it means to “love truth” when “truth” (by your schizophrenic definition) can be anything from Nazism to Jim Jones.  As for “truth of love evidenced everywhere,” try telling that to the victims of Nazi Germany, the Sudanese government, Chinese communism, the school and church shootings that are becoming commonplace in the U.S... That’s some “evidence” you’ve got there, lady.  It sounds a whole lot more like further substantiation of the Bible’s accuracy in articulating the human condition.  What is “evidenced everywhere” is that, although we do recognize and esteem love, we’re all sinners in a fallen world...

“There is none righteous, not even one...”   (Romans 3:10)

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”    (Romans 3:23)

Kind Regards,
TW
 

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From Mark Talbott:

Mr. Wallace,
I think there is a logical point which you must admit, inherent in your belief.  That is, that not amount of evidence will ever suffice to make you accept evolution. You will always be forced to say, “there is no evidence”, so an overwhelming amount is the same as nothing to you. Here is how it works:

  1. You start with the belief that the bible is literally true (in every respect) and as such, and as the Word of God, it is inerrant.
  2. Anything that appears to contradict the Word of God therefore must be false.
  3. Therefore, any facts supporting evolution must be logically dismissed no matter how much validity they might appear to have. They must be passed through the filter of the Scripture and will ALWAYS fail.

Understanding this, you simply can not propose yourself to be open minded and tolerant of the data available on the subject.  You can only accept what appears to support your view.  Those of us who accept evolution, though certainly not without bias of some sort, have no comparable logical flaw.  Our world view would not be obliterated by acceptance of evidence contrary to evolution.  It would be a change to be sure, but not a devastating one.  Again, this can not be said of the world view which is so central and critical for you to live a fulfilling life.

Don’t you think that if evidence for literal Biblical creationism was so overwhelming, there would be at least a handful of intellectually honest non-fundamentalist Christians who accepted it?  As you well know, that is simply not the case.  By contrast, evolution is supported by scientists with a ride range of philosophical and religious backgrounds.  To me, this is another indication of the validity of the concept.

Finally, in regards to ethics, your use of selective, out of context quotes by evolutionists such as SJ Gould is questionable at best.  You know the beliefs of such men and must also know that their comments are only supportive to your cause when edited and taken totally out of context.  Many of these scientists will debate and argue about aspects of evolution but not that the process has occurred.  You should be ashamed to use such misleading information. On a positive note, I did enjoy reading your site and the effort you have made is commendable.  However, in the end, it is the same old arguments trying to poke holes in evolution , without really putting forth a valid theory in support of your beliefs.  The reason is that logically, this can not be done.

Thanks,
Mark Talbott


Response from Timothy Wallace:

To assume that “no amount of evidence will ever suffice” is to wholly misunderstand the relationships between evidence, interpretation, and corroboration.  There is plenty of empirical evidence available.  It can be interpreted in support of evolution, and (contrary to popular belief) it can be interpreted in support of creation.  At issue isn’t the amount of evidence (as you claim), but the erroneous assumption made by most evolutionists that just because an evolutionary interpretation is possible, therefore it must be both exclusive, necessary and unequivocal.  This is not science.  It’s intellectual bigotry.  To subscribe to such a narrow-minded bias—refusing to acknowledge that alternate interpretations of the empirical data do in fact exist—is an act of willful ignorance, which is simply not a proper approach to science.

>> Here is how it works:
  1. You start with the belief that the bible is literally true...
  2. Anything that appears to contradict the Word of God therefore must be false.
  3. Therefore, any facts supporting evolution must be logically dismissed... <<

The double standard (and faulty logic) of your accusation is evidenced by the fact that the very process of logic which you describe is followed by the proponents of naturalism:

  1. You start with the belief that only the natural world exists.
  2. Anything that appears to contradict that belief (e.g., supports an historical record that unambiguously indicates the reality of the supernatural) therefore must be false.
  3. Therefore, any facts supporting creation (especially biblical creation) must logically be dismissed.

Your one-sided accusation falls flat on its face when the same logic is plugged into the presuppositions of the typical evolutionist.

>> Don’t you think that if evidence for literal Biblical creationism was so overwhelming, there would be at least a handful of intellectually honest non-fundamentalist Christians who accepted it?  As you well know, that is simply not the case... <<

Frankly, you can only be speaking from ignorance here.  First, I don’t recall making a claim that the evidence for biblical creation is “overwhelming.”  The (unsubstantiated) claim to have “overwhelming evidence” on his side typically comes from the evolutionist.

Second, to the contrary of your false claim, it so happens that I “well know” of some intellectually honest men of science who are not “fundamentalists” (or even creationists—and in some cases not even Christians), but who have been intellectually honest enough to point out significant amounts of evidence that find little or no satisfactory interpretation in favor of evolution, but more than adequate interpretation in favor of creation.  Among them are Michael Behe, PhD (molecular biology), Michael Denton, PhD (molecular biology), and Lee Spetner, PhD (physics).  There are surely others as well.

>> ...By contrast, evolution is supported by scientists with a ride range of philosophical and religious backgrounds. To me, this is another indication of the validity of the concept. <<

It is a logic error to assume that “range of philosophical and religious backgrounds” is a valid basis for judging the scientific plausibility of an idea.  The idea—the hypothesis—stands or falls on its own merit vis--vis the scientific method, not the range of philosophical beliefs held by those who favor it.

>> Finally, in regards to ethics, your use of selective, out of context quotes by evolutionists such as SJ Gould is questionable at best... You should be ashamed to use such misleading information. <<

Kindly cite the specific so-called “totally out of context quotes” to which you refer, and explain exactly what makes them “totally out of context.”  Otherwise you are making a general (and false) accusation, which you aren’t bothering to substantiate—a practice of which you should be ashamed—known as “bearing false witness” (otherwise known as lying), a violation of the 9th Commandment.  Sadly, this is a popular tactic among proponents of evolutionism, the hypocricy of which is laid bare when it is invoked in the name of “ethics.”

I invite you to shift away from sophomoric, philosophical criticisms, and towards science itself, for a change.  Why not present what you think are some of the the more unambiguous, unequivocal, and compelling empirical data that support evolution and do not support creation?

Kind Regards,
TW
 

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From Thomas Beasley:

What a fool you are.  I have read your responses to writers in your archives and think you are a FOOL!  Stick to your bible and don’t try to prove the bible by science.  It isn’t there.  Never will be either.  Know why?  Myths and science don’t go together.  Don’t try to pass the creationist crap on to the public schools.  They have a hard enough time as it is.

Look ahead in time, fool, to 2025.  Science and technology have made the world a better place to live, except in the United States.  In the US, science study was stopped by fundamentalist bible believers in 2001.  All research has been limited because the fundies are afraid the truth will be known about their god.  The US is now a second tier country and falling fast.  No fool, science has to stand by it’s self and it can’t be subservient to a book of mythology.

Tom

This splendid articulation of keen logic and scientific knowledge left me speechless and unwilling to spoil the moment by offering Mr. Beasley a response.  —TW

 

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From: Kyle T. Witten

To start with, I am an old-earth creationist.  I have begun frequenting the T.O. newsgroup because it is the only forum for open discussionon the net that I have found.  Your True.Orgins site, I feel, fails the meet its stated objective of being an alternitive to talk.orgins because of your statemnts that posts may be edited for .... Talk.Orgins is a ROBO-moterated forum.  The only thing that it prevents you from doing is cross-posting the same message to more than 4 newsgroups.  Other than that simple restriction, it is lliteraly anything goes.  All views are welcome (you had better be ready to defend them, but they are welcome) that includes evolutionists, old-earth creationists, young-earth creationists, theistic evolutionists, Hindus, athiests, Christians, etc.

When True.Orgins becomes a true open-forum discussion group, I think you will see a boom in participation as opposed to meger number of messages posted currently (Talk.Orgins has 1,500 messages for me to puruse and respond to at any given time).

In Christ,
Kyle Witten


Response from Timothy Wallace:

TrueOrigin was never intended to be a newsgroup or a bulletin board.  It was not established to—and never will—be an alternative to TalkOrigins in that respect, and nor do I mean it to be perceived that way.  There is no need for one more newsgroup or bulletin board for this purpose, as there are already plenty of them around.

The TrueOrigin Archive (that’s the name) is an alternative to the TalkOrigins Archive—not the TalkOrigins newsgroup.  The material published on the site is the site’s focus, not the inevitably endless “anything goes” chatter common so many newsgroups and bulletin boards (and which you apparently prefer).

Kind Regards,
TW
 


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