Wednesday, June 2, 2010

ORFans and the Theory That (Never) Predicted Them

Because similar species are thought to share a relatively recent common ancestor, they are assumed to have not had much time to evolve differences between them. That explains why they are similar, and it also predicts that such species do not have significant differences. Their genome differences should be minor. This is because evolution is limited by the rate at which genetic variations can appear and subsequently spread throughout the respective lineages. But we now know of significant numbers of unique genes between allied species and even between different variants within the same species.

Evolutionist Ian Musgrave has the explanation for this unexpected finding. Illustrating the bend-but-don’t-break property of evolution, Musgrave explains that those truly unique genes that we find are actually de novo genes.

Of course, I should have thought of that—de novo genes.

But wait, isn’t that the point? Aren’t de novo genes an unexpected finding? Of course they are. They arise entirely too fast, and those de novo genes for whose origin which we have some understanding reveal anything but evolution. Indeed, there is compelling evidence that new genes can be manufactured in response to environmental pressures. You can read more here.

You’ve probably heard that evolution has not been falsified. That’s true—it is the predictions of evolution that have been falsified. Evolution is a fact.

148 comments:

  1. Cornelius,

    Did you notice Peter Borger's comments on Ian's thread?

    I wonder if you could do a follow-up post exploring VIGEs and the RNA virus paradox in more detail.

    I pasted Borger's comment in full below for easy reference.


    Peter Borg: "Ian, What you missed in the literature (and what I did not miss because I am in the medical field) is that there are no real orphan genes. Orphan genes can be often found in RNA viruses and ERVs. Why are they in ERVs? Because an ERV is not an integrated virus. Because ERVS are not remnant of ancient viruses but rather they are (derailed) VIGEs (variation inducing genetic elements). VIGEs were designed to rapidly generate variation. The simplest virus is an three element VIGE plus an oncogene. It wasn’t an oncovirus that integrated in the genome. Of course not. How could an oncovirus evolve without the genome it requires for replication? Darwinians have largely ignored the RNA virus paradox (i.e. all RNA visuses have a common ancestor around 40-50 thousan years ago) because it cannot be solved within the required time frame. Due to their paradigmD arwinians, have failed to recognize VIGEs as important genetic elements to induce variation from the inside. Junk DNA is the other fatal flaw of the darwinian paradigm. Variation inducing genetic elements, my dear, that is what makes up the junk."

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  2. CH: "They arise entirely too fast, and those de novo genes for whose origin which we have some understanding reveal anything but evolution. "

    The implication here is that de novo genes reveal "something else". But what CH? Presumably as a fellow of the DI you must have some belief that ID provides some explanation (if not one would have to wonder why you belong to the DI). So, tell us how? Or is ID so weak and lacking in any explanatory power that you literally have nothing to say?

    Or, are you content to just criticize other people's science without doing any yourself (when was the last time you wrote an actual scientific paper CH?). Let's see YOU make a hypothesis or YOU make a prediction for a change or YOU do some actual research.

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  3. Cornelius: "But we now know of significant numbers of unique genes between allied species and even between different variants within the same species."

    I'm confused. If unique genes can arise in members of the same species, and no one contests the fact that all members of a single species have a common ancestor, why then could they not have arisen in members of different species?

    I'm not being facetious, I genuinely would like to hear an explanation. Two questions:

    1. Did the Designer supernaturally modify/add a gene in one lineage *after* he had already designed the species?

    Or, do intra-species 'unique genes' arise as a result of natural processes like mutations, genetic drift, ERVs, etc.?

    To simplify the question: Do intra-species unique genes arise by natural, or supernatural processes?

    2. *If* the unique genes in animals that we know are related can arise naturally, why can't they arise naturally in more distantly related species who have had much more time to diverge genetically?

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  4. If* the unique genes in animals that we know are related can arise naturally, why can't they arise naturally in more distantly related species who have had much more time to diverge genetically?

    And then wich is the proof of common ancestor?

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  5. "Aren’t de novo genes an unexpected finding?"

    Of course not. What evolutionist would predict we'd have the same genetic content as LUCA? Genomes grew in size and complexity.

    "Of course they are. They arise entirely too fast..."

    Oh. Too fast. How so, and what is the proper rate of new gene formation?

    "and those de novo genes for whose origin which we have some understanding reveal anything but evolution."

    Anything but evolution? How so? The de novo genes I'm aware of have arisen by recombination of and acquisition of mutations by non-coding regions.
    That is, the ORFan is an orphan with respect to ORFs, but not non-coding DNA.

    Did they arise by design? How did you detect the design in the system, and rule out non-design?

    De Novo Origination of a New Protein-Coding Gene in Saccharomyces cerevisiae
    Genetics, Vol. 179, 487-496, May 2008
    "... On the basis of genome comparison among yeast species, we have identified a new de novo protein-coding gene, BSC4 in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. .... Because the corresponding noncoding sequences in S. paradoxus, S. mikatae, and S. bayanus also transcribe, we propose that a new de novo protein-coding gene may have evolved from a previously expressed noncoding sequence."

    A Human-Specific De Novo Protein-Coding Gene Associated with Human Brain Functions
    March 2010 Issue of PLoS Computational Biology

    "Cross-species analysis revealed interesting evolutionary paths of how this gene had originated from noncoding DNA sequences: insertion of repeat elements especially Alu contributed to the formation of the first coding exon and six standard splice junctions on the branch leading to humans and chimpanzees, and two subsequent substitutions in the human lineage escaped two stop codons and created an open reading frame of 194 amino acids."

    So kinda bland-using non-coding bits, rearranged to make new functions. There simply isn't evidence of a gene poofing into existence.

    "Indeed, there is compelling evidence that new genes can be manufactured in response to environmental pressures."

    Existing genes shuffled, or directed de novo gene synthesis that is directed and depends on need? Which do you advocate, and where is the data?

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  6. I'd ask for the ID explanation for the origin of these genes, but I've already been told that ID doesn't concern itself with petty things like mechanisms or explanations for observed phenomena.

    That's what makes ID such a beneficial theory in furthering our scientific understanding.

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  7. Derick: "*If* the unique genes in animals that we know are related can arise naturally, why can't they arise naturally in more distantly related species who have had much more time to diverge genetically?"

    Blas: "And then wich is the proof of common ancestor?"

    Blas, can you rephrase your question? I'm not sure I understand quite what you're asking.

    I suppose I could have asked: "*If* the unique genes in animals that we know are related can arise naturally, why can't they arise naturally in less similar species?"

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  8. In further news, Evolution failed to predict the Gulf oil disaster, the winner of the Celtics-Magic series, and that Sandra Bullock would split up with Jesse.

    What kind of a worthless theory is that! Throw it out and go with ID!

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  9. Speaking of the oil spill, what does evolution predict arising from this new ecological niche? Even further off topic--since this post isn't about ID (allegedly)--what needs to be designed?

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  10. "Blas, can you rephrase your question? I'm not sure I understand quite what you're asking."

    If genes can naturally arise from de novo in any species, why we need a common ancestor? Is there any observation that rules out an orchard diagram of life if we have noturally de novo genes, lateral gene transfer and convergent evolution?

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  11. "Speaking of the oil spill, what does evolution predict arising from this new ecological niche? "
    Just let it keep spilling, in time the animals there will adapt to living with oil all over their bodies? Isn't that right?

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  12. Fil said...

    "Speaking of the oil spill, what does evolution predict arising from this new ecological niche? "
    Just let it keep spilling, in time the animals there will adapt to living with oil all over their bodies? Isn't that right?


    No. Evolution functions as a tracking feedback loop. The loop works to keep the species above the 'good enough to survive' threshold in a changing environment. If the environment changes too rapidly or drastically (as in the oil spill case), the loop can't keep up and the species goes extinct.

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  13. T. Cook: Speaking of the oil spill, what does evolution predict arising from this new ecological niche?
    ---------------------------

    T, your comment here indicates that you misunderstand evolutionary theory on several levels. First of all, the time scales on which evolution works: the oil spill is a very temporary and very localized environmental event, measured in years or decades; unlikely to have any huge measurable impact on evolution in the long run, because any traits that are selected for currently will not have the selection pressure applied for very long. However, if oil spills were a common occurrence in that area for the next few thousand years, then you would see the flora and fauna adapt to it in the same way that different strains of bacteria have adapted to antibiotics; but you still wouldn't be able to predict which adaptations would arise in which life forms, only that they would, if the organisms were above a certain survival threshold in the first place.

    Secondly, you seem to misunderstand what is meant when a theory is said to make 'predictions'. Evolution doesn't predict specifically what features will evolve or how quickly. Selection depends on random variations, which can't necessarily be predicted. When a theory is said to make predictions, what is meant is that within a given theory, certain facts should be a certain way if the theory is true.

    For instance, when a forensic investigator examines the scene of a crime, they try to formulate a theory to explain the evidence. Imagine a detective investigating a massive shootout in a clock store. Let's say his theory is that the shootout happened just after closing, around 9:00. A prediction of this theory is that if any stray bullets from the shootout were to hit some of the clocks and cause them to stop working, then the faces of the analog clocks should be stopped at a time around 9:00. The prediction is for what else will be discovered about the past; not necessarily about what will happen in the future. The detective's theory says nothing about what shootouts will happen in the future or who will buy the remaining working clocks. In that same way, evolution doesn't make predictions about which species will acquire which trait and when, or even if they will survive at all; the building blocks of natural selection are mostly random variations that can't be predicted in advance. For the sake of argument, let's say the gulf oil spill lasted a hundred years. All that evolution it predicts is that if any individual creatures have an inheritable trait that allows them to survive (or even thrive) in the new environment, those traits will win out in the population over traits that are not advantageous or are detrimental. It could be that very few or no individuals posses traits that would allow for survival of such a drastic change; In that case, a large extinction would follow.

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  14. Blas: "If genes can naturally arise from de novo in any species, why we need a common ancestor? Is there any observation that rules out an orchard diagram of life if we have noturally de novo genes, lateral gene transfer and convergent evolution?"

    De novo genes, LGT, and convergent evolution most certainly don't rule out an orchard diagram of life; but that's not what Cornelius is implying. He's implying that these unique genes aren't predicted by evolutionary theory, and that somehow counts as a mark against it. There are lots of things that aren't predicted by evolution. Like Thorton said, the theory didn't predict the gulf oil spill or the winner of the Celtics-Magic series; that doesn't mean the theory has failed in any way. As I have said before, there may be many things that falsify evolution; 'de novo' genes aren't one of them. Even the article that Cornelius links to demonstrates that the more genomes we map, the less 'unique' all these genes become. According Dr. Strauman and other proponents of Cornelian evolution, the fact that different species, and as Cornelius says, members of the same species, have (gasp) differences, is a blow to the whole idea of common ancestry.

    And Cornelius, I am still wondering about my two questions above; are 'de novo' genes in the same species a result of natural, or supernatural causes? And if they are natural, how does finding them in different species falsify common descent?

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  15. Derick:

    =======
    I'm confused. If unique genes can arise in members of the same species, and no one contests the fact that all members of a single species have a common ancestor, why then could they not have arisen in members of different species?
    ========

    I didn't say they could not have.

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  16. Cornelius: "I didn't say they could not have."

    Thank you for the response, but that was only a part my question; I will rephrase:

    1. Are 'de novo' genes in the same species a result of natural, or supernatural causes?

    2. If they are the result of natural causes in related lineages, how does their presence in different species count against common ancestry, or the theory of evolution in general, in any way, shape or form?

    (remember, you tagged this article as false expectation)

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  17. Derick:

    "1. Are 'de novo' genes in the same species a result of natural, or supernatural causes?"

    I don't know. Unlike evolutionists, I don't make undefendable claims about underdetermined problems. If you want a guess, I guess they are a consequence of perfectly law-abiding mechanisms.


    "2. If they are the result of natural causes in related lineages, how does their presence in different species count against common ancestry, or the theory of evolution in general, in any way, shape or form?"

    It is not controversial that de novo genes were not predicted by the new synthesis.

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  18. CH: "I don't know. Unlike evolutionists, I don't make undefendable claims about underdetermined problems. If you want a guess, I guess they are a consequence of perfectly law-abiding mechanisms."

    But it is true though that you believe there is a supernatural agent involved in origins/evolution, right? I belive you have said as much on this blog. Don't you think it is curious then that we are not able to determine in this case whether supernatural activity was involved?

    In fact I suspect you cannot even come up with a hypothesis on how we could tell. Seems the only way we could ever know is for that supernatural agent to directly inform us, but assuming that this agent is the Christian God, he prefers to provide allergorical/mythical origins stories to providing real scientific information.

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  19. Janfeld:

    "But it is true though that you believe there is a supernatural agent involved in origins/evolution, right?"

    Evolutionists and creationists agree god created the world. (aside from the atheists, of course, but their positions are parasitic). The controversy is over *how* god created.

    Evolutionists believe a mostly or strictly law-like origins is mandated, by about a dozen different metaphysical arguments. So evidential problems don't matter.

    Creationists believe a more miracle-like origins is mandated, so evidential problems don't matter.

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  20. CH: "The controversy is over *how* god created."

    Indeed. Again, does it not bother you that the God you believe in has provided an origins "story" that although it may have some spiritual value, seems wildly at odds with what we can observe and infer in nature? Isn't it suggestive that this origins story is in fact more likely to be a man-made story rather than a divinely inspired one?


    Or, does it imply that God really doesn't want us poking about trying to understand this stuff?

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  21. Janfeld -"Don't you think it is curious then that we are not able to determine in this case whether supernatural activity was involved?"

    Wrong question.
    ID doesn't even address the supernatural being involved or not.
    ID posits that the only known source of encoded, prescribed and functional information is intelligence.

    Not going further, who is the designer etc., is not recourse to religion but sane scientific thinking, because we already know science doesn't and possibly cannot determine anything as "supernatural" per se.

    ID stops where the evidence does and that evidence currently points to the necessity of intelligence being involved at least at the very root of life - DNA.

    DNA contains vast quantities of algorithmic information, prescribed information (Abel). All prescribed information is necessarily formal and never arises by random chance. Indeed encoded, functional information can NEVER arise without intelligence because the very term "code" implies it. And DNA is real code, it is not an analogy (Yockey).

    "Genetic cybernetics preceded human consciousness in its algorithmic programming and control. Nucleic acid instructions reside in linear, restorable, digital, and unidirectionally read sign sequences. Prescriptive information instructs and manages even epigenetic factors through the production of diverse regulatory proteins and small RNA’s."
    --
    "Genomic instructions are a form of what Abel (Abel, 2002, Abel and Trevors, 2005) calls prescriptive information. Such a clarifying descriptor of information is necessary to distinguish mere Shannon combinatorial uncertainty and Kolmogorov complexity from functional algorithmic strings. Algorithms steer events and behaviors towards predictable usefulness. Prescriptive information utilizes a sign system to either instruct or direct compute utility.
    -biosemiotic research trends

    Prescriptive sequences are called "instructions" and "programs." They are not merely complex sequences. They are algorithmically complex sequences. They are cybernetic. Random sequences are maximally complex. But they don't do anything useful. Algorithmic instruction is invariably the key to any kind of sophisticated organization such as we observe in any cell. No method yet exists to quantify "prescriptive information" (cybernetic "instructions").

    "Nucleic acid prescription of function cannot be explained by "order out of chaos" or by "order on the edge of chaos" [163]. Physical phase changes cannot write algorithms. Biopolymeric matrices of high information retention are among the most complex entities known to science. They do not and can not arise from low-informational selfordering phenomena. Instead of order from chaos, the genetic code was algorithmically optimized to deliver highly informational, aperiodic, specified complexity [164]. Specified complexity usually lies closer to the noncompressible unordered end of the complexity spectrum than to the highly ordered end (Fig. 4). Patterning usually results from the reuse of programming modules or words. But this is only secondary to choice contingency utilizing better efficiency. Order itself is not the key to prescriptive information.

    In physics, no empirical evidence exists, not even an anecdotal account, of Chaos, Catastrophe, maximum Complexity, order or pattern ever having produced sophisticated algorithmic function or cybernetic organization of any kind. ... In biology, no rational or empirical justification exists for attributing linear, digital, encrypted, genetic recipes to stochastic ensembles OR to physical laws in any amount of time"

    Abel & Trevor http://www.us.net/life/rul_abou.htm

    Until biologists start to understand and get in line with these facts they'll never be free of the Darwinisms deep roots in metaphysical materialism, speculation, conjecture, gratuitous extrapolations and circular reasonings

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  22. Janfeld:

    "Don't you think it is curious then that we are not able to determine in this case whether supernatural activity was involved?"

    Very few people hold this position. Creationists don't. They say it is obvious god created the world. Evolutionists don't. They say it is obvious god created the world (albeit via law-like processes), though their arguments are a bit fuzzy. The Big Bang, fine-tuning, consciousness and aesthetics are sometimes used as evidences. Atheists don't. They say it is obvious god did not (or would not) create the world.

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  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  24. Gary-

    Although your post has multiple falsehoods (e.g. DNA, transcription and translation are physical processes, not metaphysical analogies), I'll highlight the one key point:

    "Indeed encoded, functional information can NEVER arise without intelligence because the very term "code" implies it."

    Is already falsified. Genetic algorithms, directed evolution experiments, and direct observations of gain-of-function mutations, (I suppose we can toss in the de novo genes I mention above) prove functionality can come from selection acting on random variation.

    Now, I suppose you can posit that a designer directly and deliberately intervened in each and every case (including all gain-of-functions in disease-take childhood leukemia, for example). This is beyond science, and what we can falsify.

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  25. CH: "Very few people hold this position."

    I'm kind of curious as to what YOUR position is, particularly as a Fellow of the DI.

    CH: "Atheists don't. They say it is obvious god did not (or would not) create the world."

    Well...if a person holds no belief in gods, then of course they would not believe a god created the world. Would you expect otherwise? Whether god would or wouldn't do something is purely a hypothetical exercise, given that there is no belief that such a god exists.

    But...yes, we could infer from the Bible and the origins story in the Bible that it seems extremely puzzling that this origins story seems so completely out of whack with observed evidence. Certainly there is compelling evidence that the world is more than 6000 years old (or do you think that is also a "metaphyscial" belief?) which completely contradicts the origins account in the Bible. I suppose one could argue that the Genesis account was suitable for ancient people, but why wouldn't this supernatural agent update it for our modern scientific mindset?

    My own view is that it is highly suggestive that this is not a divinely inspired story at all, but a man-made one of primitive and scientifically illterate people trying to make sense of the world around.

    What do you think this origins story means?

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  26. Janfeld:

    =====
    Indeed. Again, does it not bother you that the God you believe in has provided an origins "story" that although it may have some spiritual value, seems wildly at odds with what we can observe and infer in nature?
    ===========

    Actually it isn't wildly at odds. It says you are a sinner doesn't it?

    =======
    Isn't it suggestive that this origins story is in fact more likely to be a man-made story rather than a divinely inspired one?
    =======

    If you want to see a painfully obvious man-made story, read the evolution genre, starting in the 17th c., on up to today. Isn't it obvious to you that there is something man-made about Jerry Coyne declaring to his readers what god would and wouldn't do?

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  27. Janfeld:

    ===
    Whether god would or wouldn't do something is purely a hypothetical exercise, given that there is no belief that such a god exists.
    ===

    No, it is not a hypothetical exercise at all. Atheists draw firm conclusions based on their beliefs about god (what god would and wouldn't do).

    http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/2010/03/sermon-from-pz-myers.html

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  28. CH: "Actually it isn't wildly at odds. It says you are a sinner doesn't it?"

    Don't you think claiming the Universe was created in 6 days and only 6000 years ago just a little wildly at odds with observed, measured reality?

    As to sin and sinners, I expect it does say something like that, no doubt. Do I believe it? Probably as much as I believe the Scientologists stories about Xenu.

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  29. I sense a shift in the advocacy here-

    We started with:

    "They arise entirely too fast, and those de novo genes for whose origin which we have some understanding reveal anything but evolution."

    "That’s true—it is the predictions of evolution that have been falsified."

    Making it sound as though de novo genes were something predicted to be impossible.

    We now step down to:

    "Derick:
    1. Are 'de novo' genes in the same species a result of natural, or supernatural causes?"

    CH:
    "I don't know. Unlike evolutionists, I don't make undefendable claims about underdetermined problems. If you want a guess, I guess they are a consequence of perfectly law-abiding mechanisms."

    So natural mechanisms count as evidence for design?

    And

    CH:"It is not controversial that de novo genes were not predicted by the new synthesis."

    So a non-prediction by the 'New Synthesis' now counts as evidence against evolution?
    And how do you know they were not predicted-have you exhaustively searched the literature?

    BTW, Isn't this a falsification of front-loading? Isn't it some design advocates and not evolution that argues we're pre-loaded with all needed information?

    Regardless, we are very far from "anything but evolution" and "it is the predictions of evolution that have been falsified."

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  30. Janfeld"

    "I'm kind of curious as to what YOUR position is"

    It would be difficult to imagine a popular, well-accepted theory of science which is more silly and absurd than evolution. It is a truly remarkable phenomenon.

    Given the fact of evolution's failure, then a miracle-like origins seems plausible. But on the other hand, silly and absurd ideas might be true, or partially true, and I certainly have no problem with a law-like origins.

    And we have discovered amazingly complex mechanisms that produce change in everything from ecology to biology. Such mechanisms can challenge the miracle vs law distinction. If birds come and give you food, is it natural or a miracle?

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  31. "Certainly there is compelling evidence that the world is more than 6000 years old (or do you think that is also a "metaphyscial" belief?)which completely contradicts the origins account in the Bible."

    Actually the bibles first verse says, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."
    That verse precedes the creative "days" and has no definite time attached.

    ""Indeed encoded, functional information can NEVER arise without intelligence because the very term "code" implies it."

    Is already falsified. Genetic algorithms, directed evolution experiments, and direct observations of gain-of-function mutations, (I suppose we can toss in the de novo genes I mention above) prove functionality can come from selection acting on random variation."

    Please give me some examples to look up. Don;t make them too technical, I have a headache.

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  32. CH:"If you want to see a painfully obvious man-made story, read the evolution genre, starting in the 17th c., on up to today. Isn't it obvious to you that there is something man-made about Jerry Coyne declaring to his readers what god would and wouldn't do?"

    Yes, Jerry Coyne's comment are (thankfully) man-made!! And thankfully too he doesn't want anybody stoned to death either if they don't agree with them.

    You somehow think that your god must be impervious to criticism. But given that the only source of information about this god is the Bible (with unknown provenance in many partst), then why is it somehow forbidden not comment as to whether the information in that book is in accordance with the natural world?

    Given that the Bible is the ONLY revelation that this God has made, it is actually more than fair game to explore it and see whether it matches up to observed reality. You obviously are extremely uncomfortable with this, and would prefer to make your god "untouchable" by declaring that this god can do anything it/he/she likes. It is reminiscent of all the theological hand-waving that goes on to really explain that God really wasn't a genocidal monster, even it's very hard not to get that impression from reading the OT.

    The stark reality is - this God supposedly gave us an origins story. That story is completely contradictory to what we observe in the real world. And you refuse to even address why this is so, or even address what this story really means (other than something about sinners, a concept that has absolutely no meaning to me).

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  33. Thanks answering Derek. My understanding is that evolution depends on population size, genetic variation within the population, and number of generations. Antibiotic resistance is sometimes cited as proof of evolution. Similarly, I wonder if there is any organism in the ocean that may withstand the oil and dissolved gas and even come to metabolize it. Given the amount of free energy, it would be highly beneficial to them.

    It is reasonable to ask if there are any candidate organisms of sufficient population size and short enough reproductive cycle to bloom in such condidtions. If we knew all the variables involved we could give an expected value for the time until we see such a bloom, which would be a powerful proof.

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  34. Janfeld:

    "As to sin and sinners, I expect it does say something like that, no doubt. Do I believe it? Probably as much as I believe the Scientologists stories about Xenu."

    Why do you reject Jesus?

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  35. Fil-

    Here you are:

    Natural gain-of-function mutations:

    http://www.plantcell.org/cgi/content/short/14/12/3149

    http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/cgi/content/full/68/21/8928

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/281/5377/710

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn13673-evolution-myths-mutations-can-only-destroy-information.html

    http://genesdev.cshlp.org/content/20/19/2728.full
    http://atvb.ahajournals.org/cgi/content/full/25/10/2018

    http://www.jstor.org/stable/20205905

    http://atvb.ahajournals.org/cgi/content/full/26/6/1236

    Ok, so those are all natural, but here's a cool directed evolution type experiment-random domain shuffling yields new interesting phenotypes following selection:

    Rapid diversification of cell signaling phenotypes by modular domain recombination.
    Peisajovich SG, Garbarino Science. 2010 Apr 16;328(5976):368-72.JE, Wei P, Lim WA.

    If you are interested, google 'directed evolution' for a ton more along these lines-where human made random variation + selction -> new function.

    "Information" from randomness if you will.

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  36. Janfeld:

    "other than something about sinners, a concept that has absolutely no meaning to me"

    Oh, I see. There's no such thing as right and wrong?

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  37. T. Cook-

    There are known, natural oil-utilizing microbes (not unexpected-oils are plant and algae products--think biodiesel--that under pressure make crude oil) that bloom after oil spills. Some have been used deliberately in clean-up. Downside is they consume oxygen, which deoxygenates the ocean, leading to more kill.

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=scientists-break-down-oil

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  38. Fil: "Please give me some examples to look up. Don;t make them too technical, I have a headache.

    The fairly recent ApoA1-Milano mutation in humans. Provides a completely new function, protection against high cholesterol.

    ApoA1-Milano

    NASA uses genetic algorithms to create new spacecraft antennas.

    NASA Evolvable Systems Group: Antenna design

    There are lots more examples.

    Hope your head feels better.

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  39. "Indeed encoded, functional information can NEVER arise without intelligence because the very term "code" implies it."

    So how does gain of functions falsify this? It isn't necessarily becoming more complex just different. It may remain information neutral(if there is such a term.)

    Robert, I looked at the first twom, but like I said I have a headache...maybe tomorrow.

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  40. CH: "Oh, I see. There's no such thing as right and wrong?"

    I didn't say that. I don't believe in "sin" and being a "sinner" in the sense of having offended some invisible entity in the sky, which I understand is the normal use of the terms in Christian circles. Again, if I don't believe in gods, how could I offend one?

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  41. Sin definition:

    1 a : an offense against religious or moral law b : an action that is or is felt to be highly reprehensible c : an often serious shortcoming : fault
    2 a : transgression of the law of God b : a vitiated state of human nature in which the self is estranged from God

    Which of those do you accept?

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  42. Janfeld:

    "I didn't say that."

    OK, I see. There is a right and wrong, just no god. So I wonder where the right and wrong came from?


    "You obviously are extremely uncomfortable with this, "

    No, but I would recommend that if you want to evaluation the Bible you move beyond what Ken Ham said.



    "It is reminiscent of all the theological hand-waving that goes on to really explain that God really wasn't a genocidal monster, even it's very hard not to get that impression from reading the OT."

    Ah, the metaphysics.

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  43. CH: "OK, I see. There is a right and wrong, just no god. So I wonder where the right and wrong came from?"

    Many hypotheses and theories exist, I'm sure you know that. I just don't happen to think we need a god to explain it (particularly the Christian one whose ideas of "morality" seem rather questionable).


    CH: "No, but I would recommend that if you want to evaluation the Bible you move beyond what Ken Ham said."

    Good, perhaps we agree on something - that what Ken Ham has to say about the Bible is not very useful. But what's YOUR interpration of the origins story? Story, myth, allergory? As a believer you must have some thought on this, surely (or why would you even be a believer?)

    CH: "Ah, the metaphysics"

    Ah, the side-stepping of difficult issues and questions! I know just yell "metaphysics" and avoid answering the question!

    But seriously though, how do you explain than the apparent genocidal actions of your God in the OT? Do tell. Or do you do what most Christians do and ignore it?

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  45. For atheist to speculate about what God would do or wouldn't do is like speculating whether Spiderman would take money to save people or not. It has the same merit and you can make of it what ever you like.

    But is this examples of the ORFans not a topic where one ought to admit that we simply don't know enough to judge if it is evidence in favour or against evolution? I was quite surprised when I read the pandasthumb entry, since it is explaining this very observation.

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  47. Janfeld:


    ===
    Many hypotheses and theories exist, I'm sure you know that. I just don't happen to think we need a god to explain it (particularly the Christian one whose ideas of "morality" seem rather questionable).
    ===

    I am aware that there are many hypotheses which fail to avoid the fact that evolution does not create right and wrong. If you believe in right and wrong, and I've never met an evolutionist who doesn't actively appeal to right and wrong as you do, then you need something capable of creating right and wrong. That thing is not evolution, which can only create the perception of right and wrong (even that is an absurd just-so story). And the mere perception of right and wrong fails to support the moral judgments you love to make. Adolph Hitler is the moral equivalent of your pet dog under the mere perception of right and wrong, because while you perceive Hitler to be wrong, that ultimately is merely your perception, your opinion. There is nothing objectively wrong with Hitler under such ideas.



    =====
    Good, perhaps we agree on something - that what Ken Ham has to say about the Bible is not very useful. But what's YOUR interpration of the origins story? Story, myth, allergory? As a believer you must have some thought on this, surely (or why would you even be a believer?)
    =====

    Yes, I believe in Jesus, and as for the origins, I've already explained many times that there are several interpretations of Genesis and I'm not dogmatic on this. To which you responded with the 18th c. deism metaphysical argument that it would be wrong for god to leave such an important topic ambiguous. Once again, the evolutionist knows best.


    ======
    CH: "Ah, the metaphysics"

    Ah, the side-stepping of difficult issues and questions!
    ======

    Ah, good one. You got me laughing. Unfortunately, ... (more below)



    =====
    But seriously though, how do you explain than the apparent genocidal actions of your God in the OT? Do tell. Or do you do what most Christians do and ignore it?
    =====

    I have an extremely radical position on this which I'll share just with you. This is a secret I tell no one, but here it is ... I am not God. In fact, not only am I not God, but I am not even good. In fact, I am a sinner. Also, another minor issue -- I am unable to create the universe. So you see, I'm rather at a disadvantage. Unlike you, who knows all things and can judge God, I am able merely to judge hypotheses and theories, and rampant metaphysics, like yours.

    My situation is that I can accept or reject evolution. There are Christians on all sides of this issue, with various strengths and weaknesses in their positions. You, on the other hand, must have evolution, in one form or another, because of your metaphysics. Ah, the metaphysics.

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  48. Fil said...

    "Indeed encoded, functional information can NEVER arise without intelligence because the very term "code" implies it."

    So how does gain of functions falsify this? It isn't necessarily becoming more complex just different. It may remain information neutral(if there is such a term.)


    That's one of the huge holes in IDC right there. IDCers will never define what they mean by 'information' in biological organisms, or give a method to quantify it. If it means 'function' then it's trivially easy to show evolutionary processes adding new functionality, like the ApoA1 mutation above. If it means 'length or complexity of the genome' then again it's trivially easy to show an increase - gene duplication plus point mutations, frame shifts, etc.

    Then, when you point out these to IDCers they go "well, it's not new information, it's just different information.

    ((facepalm))

    Keeping things vague and undefined is part of the ID obfuscation policy. If they don't define their terms, they can never be pinned down with real world examples.

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  49. "So how does gain of functions falsify this? It isn't necessarily becoming more complex just different. It may remain information neutral (if there is such a term.)"

    Here, we start to play the infinitely regressive definitions of information game.

    So, is information content coupled to functional output of the genome or just the total number of bases? I thought there was a functional component.

    Take gene duplication and divergence. Twice the bases, two protein outputs instead of one-so, twice as much information? Similarly, how can we get gain of function mutations, de-novo genes, etc., without an increase in information? Totally new functions are informationless?

    What new funny definition of information meets all these, to make the processes we observe 'information neutral?'

    Either information is increasing by natural processes in evolution, or your interpretation of information theory doesn't apply to biology and evolution.

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  50. sorry to barge in here....I am having a debate with someone regarding the following:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060930094021.htm

    "When the scientists blocked Ets1/2 activity (either by inhibiting the Ets1/2 gene, itself, or its upstream modulators), Ciona heart specification was likewise blocked. Alternatively, the over-expression of Ets1/2 in caudal cells caused the cells to switch their fate from tail to heart."

    would some informed person (Dr. Hunter?) please tell me if there is a mutation involved in the above? I don't understand the scientific jargon here. thanks in advance!

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  51. CH: "I have an extremely radical position on this which I'll share just with you. This is a secret I tell no one, but here it is ... I am not God. In fact, not only am I not God, but I am not even good. In fact, I am a sinner. Also, another minor issue -- I am unable to create the universe. So you see, I'm rather at a disadvantage. Unlike you, who knows all things and can judge God, I am able merely to judge hypotheses and theories, and rampant metaphysics, like yours."

    Fascinating. So somehow because I assess that the actions of the god in the OT are genocidal, that this is somehow a metaphysical stance? Well, I don't know what to say. The OT is full (and I mean CRAMMED full) of numerous accounts of Israel completley wiping out other nations (including women and children) just because they pissed God off. If that isn't the very definition of genocide I'm not really sure what is. But in your book you say this is a metaphysical argument? If you want to worship a god who is a manical monster is your business, but to pretend otherwise and then cry "metaphysics" to those who disagree with you is not only absurd but frankly, absolutely pathetic.

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  52. I only know of three cases of the Israelites commiting genocide. There's the Canaanites, because they where really bad people. There's the Midianites because they attacked the Israelites first. And only the women who weren't virgins were killed because they seduced the Isralites into sinning. And there's the Amalekites, who started it.

    And what exactly is your basis for saying the Bible is immoral beyod your own moral sense?

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  53. natschuster: "I only know of three cases of the Israelites commiting genocide."

    OK, that makes it alright then doesn't it!

    But I think your count is off. How about this for a start: "And at midnight the LORD killed all the firstborn sons in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn son of the captive in the dungeon. Even the firstborn of their livestock were killed. Pharaoh and his officials and all the people of Egypt woke up during the night, and loud wailing was heard throughout the land of Egypt. There was not a single house where someone had not died. (Exodus 12:29-30 NLT)"

    natschuster: "And what exactly is your basis for saying the Bible is immoral beyod your own moral sense?"

    Well, let me see. I think if a person or entity practiced the above in today's society they would be tried for crimes against humanity

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  54. The firstborn of Egypt were slain by God, not the Israelitss.

    And exactly who would try God for crimes against humanity. The North Korean Government? They don't have a problem with genocide. The Jihadis? Same thing. See, it all comes back to a subjectivemroal sense. But different people and cultures have different moral senses. Who's to say who is right?

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  55. natschuster: "And exactly who would try God for crimes against humanity. The North Korean Government? They don't have a problem with genocide. The Jihadis? Same thing. See, it all comes back to a subjectivemroal sense. But different people and cultures have different moral senses. Who's to say who is right?"

    It's kind of funny to say that Jehovah would be welcome in North Korea and perhaps in some radical Muslim state, but probably not anywhere in the Christian West. You do realize the irony of what you're saying here don't you?

    But, if you want go ahead and defend Jehovah's actions, be my guest. If that's the sort of supernatural agent you want to hang out with, fine, but I wouldn't let my children near such a beast.

    The other irony of course is that in these actions, your beloved god not only killed innocent children, but women who were pregnant too. Now, I do not personally condone abortion, but it does seem that Mr. Jehovah has bit of a double standard problem here, no?

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  56. natschuster: "The firstborn of Egypt were slain by God, not the Israelites".

    Yes, and that makes it even more doubly terrifying!

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  57. atschuster: "I only know of three cases of the Israelites commiting genocide."

    But if you count all of the incidents where God personally intervened, commanded or directed murders and genocides, the list is a staggeringly long one. Try this one out:

    http://dwindlinginunbelief.blogspot.com/2006/08/how-many-has-god-killed.html

    Let's just hope when the Christians all get to heaven God doesn't have a stroke or just gets generally pissed-off and reverts back to his old ways!!!

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  58. Dynamic Determinism draws from diverse sources such as Mendelian genetics, Dynamic Systems theory (Thelen and Smith, 1996), Newtonian physics, and neuropsychology. It can be likened, however, to a children's card game with "crazy eights" or wildcards. Intrinsic genetic perturberators interact both with the environment and with congenital or gestational constraints to produce cohorts that are, on balance, phenotypically responsive to environmental demands. Here we find evidence for the”holy trinity” of the natural order: stability, adaptivity, and elasticity. Adaptivity and elasticity can be observed in the blind cavefish. There is evidence that sightless cavefish have heightened lateral line hair cell receptivity with respect to their sighted relatives (Montgomery, et al., 2004). In other words, they can sense prey, predators, and aquatic disturbances better than many sighted fish. This aligns with the evolutionary principles of biological preparedness or environmental adaptation. Nevertheless, we must part company with evolutionary theorists if we are to understand the principles of elasticity that frequently occur within the natural order. As Borowksy (2008) has shown, it is possible to restore sight to blind cave fish by interbreeding various _sightless_ varieties. Such hybrid vigor is a scientifically observable phenomenon that lies outside the domain of Darwinian evolutionary theory. Another example of elasticity can be seen in the cyclical evolution of Darwin's finches (Levitus, 2010) and the ubiquitous medium-sized pariah dogs which can be found throughout the world. The latter is an example of “Survival of the prototypical” superseding “Survival of the fittest.” Throughout the natural world, genetic mutations must pass the muster of gestational pruning (through spontaneous abortions) and neonatal parental rejection, which are obviously fatal. Other “postzygotic isolating mechanisms” include hybrid inviability, hybrid sterility, (Global Interchange, 2002) and latent inviability. An example of latent inviability can be seen among Shetland sheepdogs that have merle coats. If a merle is crossed with a merle, it can result in pigmentation deprivation which in turn can lead to deafness and blindness in the “double merle” offspring (Wikipedia). This obviously makes the double-merle dog less adaptive. (Perhaps this is the genetic equivalent of rolling three doubles in Monopoly.) Similarly, constrained adaptive elasticity can also be seen in humans who are heterozygous for sickle cells (and thus have heightened resistance to malaria but do not succumb to sickle cell anemia.) Again, the homozygotic progeny are ill-fated and placed at greater risk. In summary, we are witnesses to a balanced and counterbalanced system of perturbations and constraints which contribute to the robust and varied specimens of the natural world. Thus, we are surrounded by flora and fauna formed within the parameters of dynamic determinism. As humans, we, too, are its beneficiaries.

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  59. "natschuster: "I only know of three cases of the Israelites commiting genocide."

    OK, that makes it alright then doesn't it!

    But I think your count is off. How about this for a start: "And at midnight the LORD killed all the firstborn sons in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn son of the captive in the dungeon. Even the firstborn of their livestock were killed. Pharaoh and his officials and all the people of Egypt woke up during the night, and loud wailing was heard throughout the land of Egypt. There was not a single house where someone had not died. (Exodus 12:29-30 NLT)"

    natschuster: "And what exactly is your basis for saying the Bible is immoral beyod your own moral sense?"

    Well, let me see. I think if a person or entity practiced the above in today's society they would be tried for crimes against humanity "

    Actually Janfield, the Israelites were slaves, grossly abused by said Egyptians. God gave them several chances to let them go...there were 9 other plagues before the 10th you know... and they stubbornly refused. They were warned what would happen and therefore brought it upon themselves. I guess God could have not done it and let them keep the Israelites in subjugation but would that have been better?

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  60. Fil: "I guess God could have not done it and let them keep the Israelites in subjugation but would that have been better?"

    WOW is that a false dichotomy. This is the all-powerful God we're talking about, right? So it is well within his abilities to cause the Israelites to instantaneously find themselves outside of Egypt.

    Instead, for inscrutable reasons, God not only took an extremely violent path, but one that involved the murder of firstborn males. That means the murder of infants and young boys, for the crime of being born to slaveholders, or, much more likely in most cases, to people who merely belonged to a slaveholding government. And that's just one of the plagues, which, had they actually happened, would have resulted in much more innocent death than just that.

    That cannot possibly be justice.

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  61. "Fil: "I guess God could have not done it and let them keep the Israelites in subjugation but would that have been better?"

    WOW is that a false dichotomy. This is the all-powerful God we're talking about, right? So it is well within his abilities to cause the Israelites to instantaneously find themselves outside of Egypt."

    So is God responsible for all evil? Does he have to wave his hand and magically fix everything and make it better just because he can? Notice when the Israelites left the Egyptians chased them. If he had teleported them out they would have chased them.

    "Instead, for inscrutable reasons, God not only took an extremely violent path, but one that involved the murder of firstborn males. That means the murder of infants and young boys, for the crime of being born to slaveholders, or, much more likely in most cases, to people who merely belonged to a slaveholding government. And that's just one of the plagues, which, had they actually happened, would have resulted in much more innocent death than just that.

    That cannot possibly be justice."

    Sadly, most nations back then, and even today, understand one thing only. Power. You don't show it you get no respect. He gave them MANY CHANCES to do the right thing and they refused. Even the Israelites had to take steps to protect themselves. If any Egyptian was truly fearful for the life of their firstborn then they could have attached themselves to the Israelites before that angel came. Some did since many left with them later. That shows God was willing to accept ANY who accepted him. As for the rest, their blood was upon their own head. And as for killing babies, keep in mind the Egyptians had given a command to kill all Israelite males prior to this. You think this was a nation of innocents? Think again.

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  62. Hey CH. Sorry for being so off-topic. =)

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  63. Fil: "And as for killing babies, keep in mind the Egyptians had given a command to kill all Israelite males prior to this. You think this was a nation of innocents? Think again."

    You've basically rationalized and persuaded yourself that in certain situations God is wholly justified in killing babies. Doesn't it make you at least the slightest bit queasy? (fortunately I don't believe it actually happened, but had it, trust me nothing would persuade me to worship this "good" god of yours). Do you also think that maybe the Jews deserved what they got in WWII? I mean, what's the difference?

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  64. Fil:

    "Hey CH. Sorry for being so off-topic. =) "

    No, not a problem. People can skip through the comments.

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  65. Cornelius:

    People can skip through the comments

    And miss all the entertainment? Please keep posting, people!

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  66. "You've basically rationalized and persuaded yourself that in certain situations God is wholly justified in killing babies. Doesn't it make you at least the slightest bit queasy?"

    I can see why you don't believe the bible, you do an excellent job of misinterpretation. How would you have handled it in his case? Israel enslaved and Pharaoh refusing to free them? How do you get them out?

    What would you do if a pregnant woman was about to kill your family and you had a gun in your hand? Kill her and her unborn child as a consequence? Try to shoot to disable her, perhaps missing? Or let her kill your family? Sometimes there is NO good answer. Both solutions involve suffering and pain for some and regardless of what you do you will be critized by some. Morality is not always black or white.

    "Do you also think that maybe the Jews deserved what they got in WWII? I mean, what's the difference?"

    ?!?!?!? Where the heck did this come from? Did the Jews enslave and kill Germans before WWII? Is that some part of history I am oblivious about?

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  67. Gotta chip in here...

    It makes me laugh when people say both that 'God is good' and then when God's heinous deeds/orders are pointed out say 'We cannot judge God's actions'.

    We cannot have it both ways. Either we cannot judge God's actions, in which case we cannot know that he is good, or we can judge God's actions, in which case he has a truly huge list of appaling crimes to account for.

    Leading the Isrealites out of Egypt, for example. Egypt was ruled by one man - the Pharaoh. He made all the decisions. Why did God not go to the Pharaoh immediately with the single punishment that would have convinced the Pharaoh to release the Isrealites? Since He is all-knowing he must always have known what it would take, and since he is all-powerful He must have been able to do it. Why did He drag out this punishment into ten devastating plagues which must have decimated Egypt and killed thousands of Egyptians who were totally innocent of the decision of whether or not to release the Isrealites?

    What makes it particularly cruel is that we are told after each plague, God purposefully hardened Pharaoh's heart so that we would not release the slaves (Exodus 9:12, 10:1, 10:20, 10:27, 11:10, 14:4, and 14:8). How is it fair to give someone a command, actively take away their free will and force them not to obey, and then punish them for disobedience?

    There is, of course, considerable archaeological evidence to show the exodus never happened. But let's ignore that here. Assuming it did happen as the Bible says, God seems a pretty vindictive and sadistic character.

    Now I'm not claiming to be perfect, but I do think I'm a reasonably good person. And one of the ways I judge this is that I don't find myself making excuses for genocide. Admittedly this isn't a very high bar, which makes it all the more extraordinary that so many people (Christians) who specifically claim access to great moral insights, do not meet this standard.

    Genocide is not okay. Ever. Not if 'the other person started it' (where would that leave redemption and forgiveness?), not if 'they were really bad people' (are we really to believe there wasn't a SINGLE innocent person who did not deserve slaughter among the Canaanites, Midianites and Amalekites? Not even among the children? Even among the unborn?).

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  68. Fil -

    (sorry to butt in. I know you were addressing Janfeld)


    How would you have handled it in his case? Israel enslaved and Pharaoh refusing to free them? How do you get them out?


    Well if you're God, you would know exactly what it would take to convince Pharaoh to release the slaves with the minimum of suffering. He alone could make the decision to release them.

    Yet we are told God deliberately hardened Pharaoh's heart so we would not be swayed, and then sent plague after plague causing mass suffering and devastation as punishment for this enforced disobedience. It's almost as if what was at the forefront of God's mind was humiliating Egypt, not releasing the slaves with the minimum of fuss and suffering to everybody.


    What would you do if a pregnant woman was about to kill your family and you had a gun in your hand? Kill her and her unborn child as a consequence? Try to shoot to disable her, perhaps missing? Or let her kill your family? Sometimes there is NO good answer.


    I appreciate your last point, but it is simply not comparable. When we are talking about God, He is all-knowing and all-powerful. Which makes Him a pretty able character. He must know the consequences of all His actions well in advance of actually doing them.

    If I was God, I'd make her immediately have an epiphany and see the error of her ways. I would make her suddenly realise the horrors she was about to unleash and let her reflect on the consequences of actions she so narrowly avoided.

    Does God do stuff like this? Rarely. Oh so very, very rarely, according to the Bible. Mostly he throws temper tantrums and demands blood for the slightest insult and on the tiniest provocation. You cannot be familiar with the 'good book' and conclude that God is not a blood-thirsty tyrant.

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  69. "It makes me laugh when people say both that 'God is good' and then when God's heinous deeds/orders are pointed out say 'We cannot judge God's actions'.

    We cannot have it both ways. Either we cannot judge God's actions, in which case we cannot know that he is good, or we can judge God's actions, in which case he has a truly huge list of appaling crimes to account for."

    Of course we can judge Gods actions. We can judge anyones actions. The question is, do we have enough pertinent information to pass judgement accurately? Do we know all factors involved? Look at the court systems of the world where justice is supposed to be carried out, how often is justice REALLY done? Rarely. We think we possess the ability to judge properly but experience over generations shows we do not.

    "Leading the Isrealites out of Egypt, for example. Egypt was ruled by one man - the Pharaoh. He made all the decisions. Why did God not go to the Pharaoh immediately with the single punishment that would have convinced the Pharaoh to release the Isrealites? Since He is all-knowing he must always have known what it would take, and since he is all-powerful He must have been able to do it. Why did He drag out this punishment into ten devastating plagues which must have decimated Egypt and killed thousands of Egyptians who were totally innocent of the decision of whether or not to release the Isrealites?"

    Since God is all-powerful he could have teleported the Israelites out, wiped the Egyptians minds clean of any knowledge of them and everyone would have went about their merry way. Would that have been the best solution?

    Pharoah made the decisions, he was considered a God. Yet what would his people have done if he had simply given up such a huge labor force without a fight? Can you say assasination? Several plagues leading up to the 10th gave them ALL, Pharaoh included, the chance to change their minds. They didn't.

    "What makes it particularly cruel is that we are told after each plague, God purposefully hardened Pharaoh's heart so that we would not release the slaves (Exodus 9:12, 10:1, 10:20, 10:27, 11:10, 14:4, and 14:8). How is it fair to give someone a command, actively take away their free will and force them not to obey, and then punish them for disobedience?"

    Try reading:
    Exodus 8:15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.

    Exodus 8:32 And Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also, neither would he let the people go.

    So was God making his heart hard or was he simply letting Pharaoh harden his heart?

    Before any plagues this exchange took place.

    Exodus 5:1,2 And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness. 2) And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go.

    He was determined from the start to be obstinate.
    In fact, right after this request he made things harder on the Israelite slaves.

    "There is, of course, considerable archaeological evidence to show the exodus never happened. But let's ignore that here. Assuming it did happen as the Bible says, God seems a pretty vindictive and sadistic character."

    Of course people doubt the exodus. It's a bible account. That's enough for most. Many other bible places and people were critized as never having existed and yet archaelogy has proven the bible right time and again. As to this, time will tell. Also, if someone was messing with your family to the extent the Egyptians were, you'd be unhappy with that too.

    (cont)

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  70. "Now I'm not claiming to be perfect, but I do think I'm a reasonably good person. And one of the ways I judge this is that I don't find myself making excuses for genocide. Admittedly this isn't a very high bar, which makes it all the more extraordinary that so many people (Christians) who specifically claim access to great moral insights, do not meet this standard.

    Genocide is not okay. Ever. Not if 'the other person started it' (where would that leave redemption and forgiveness?), not if 'they were really bad people' (are we really to believe there wasn't a SINGLE innocent person who did not deserve slaughter among the Canaanites, Midianites and Amalekites? Not even among the children? Even among the unborn?). "

    What were they like?

    According to Merrill F. Unger: “Excavations in Palestine have uncovered piles of ashes and remains of infant skeletons in cemeteries around heathen altars, pointing to the widespread practice of this cruel abomination.” (Archaeology and the Old Testament, 1964, p. 279) Halley’s Bible Handbook (1964, p. 161) says: “Canaanites worshipped, by immoral indulgence, as a religious rite, in the presence of their gods; and then, by murdering their first-born children, as a sacrifice to these same gods. It seems that, in large measure, the land of Canaan had become a sort of Sodom and Gomorrah on a national scale. . . . Did a civilization of such abominable filth and brutality have any right longer to exist? . . . Archaeologists who dig in the ruins of Canaanite cities wonder that God did not destroy them sooner than he did.”—PICTURE, Vol. 1, p. 739.

    And yet people in that land that was taken over by Israel could attached themselves to Israel and live. Thousands did.

    Also read Genesis 18:20-33 If even 10 good people were found in those 2 cities he would have spared them, but there weren't.

    That will be my last post today, takes way too long to write.

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  71. Ritchie.

    What you are saying is God should control us.

    Ok, really last comment.

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  72. Fil -


    Of course we can judge Gods actions. We can judge anyones actions. The question is, do we have enough pertinent information to pass judgement accurately?


    A fair point. But it's really just re-stating mine rather than answering it. Do we have enough pertinent information to accurately judge God's actions? If not, then we cannot judge Him to be good. If so, there is an awful lot of evidence which might lead us to call him bad.


    Since God is all-powerful he could have teleported the Israelites out, wiped the Egyptians minds clean of any knowledge of them and everyone would have went about their merry way. Would that have been the best solution?


    Well, just going by the standard of suffering (the less suffering an action causes, the better), yes. What would the problem be with that?


    Yet what would his people have done if he had simply given up such a huge labor force without a fight? Can you say assasination?


    We could speculate all day. But the truth is we will never know. However, considering the vast amount of suffering God caused via the ten plagues, it beggars beliefs there was not a way that caused less.


    So was God making his heart hard or was he simply letting Pharaoh harden his heart?


    The Bible says both. So surely we should conclude both?


    He was determined from the start to be obstinate.
    In fact, right after this request he made things harder on the Israelite slaves.


    Okay. But that does not let God off the hook. Why did He then reinforce Pharaoh's stubborness?


    Of course people doubt the exodus. It's a bible account. That's enough for most.


    I do not mean that. Consider the plagues in detail. What must have happened next? The crops in the field and orchards were destroyed, the livestock was all dead, the Nile was polluted killing all the fish and destroying Egypt's main source of water, people were suffering from painful illnesses, the eldest child in every family was dead as was the Pharaoh and the entire standing army, and the slave workforce upon which the country's economy depending had upped and left overnight, looting all the treasures as they went. What kind of state would Egypt have been in?

    What we are talking about must surely have been total societal collapse. Anarchy, mass poverty and chaos. And in all likelihood immediate invasion from a powerful neighbour. It surely must have taken Egypt centuries to build itself back into a thriving society, if it ever did.

    But Egypt has always been a major political power in the Mediterranean, and we have a very long and rich archaeological record for it. And nowhere is such a sudden and devastating collapse evidenced. Worse, though there is wriggle room with the dates since the Exodus is not dated, most scholars put the Exodus at the very height of Egypt's power.

    Let me be clear, it is not simply that there is a lack of evidence of this collapse waiting to be uncovered. It is that there is a continuous record of artifacts representing a thriving and powerful society in all the places it is possible to put the Exodus. There is not even the slightest sign that the Egyptians ever kept Israeli slaves. No mention of it in the hieroglyphs, no sign of a mergance in style of Isreali and Egyptian artifacts. No reason, in short, to suspect Isrealis were ever kept as slaves, let alone for four hundred years.

    And then there is the Exodus itself - fourty years in the desert and several battles/key sites. None of which display the evidence we would expect if the Exodus story were true.

    We cannot consider this a flaw in archaeology. We cannot believe that the evidence is there and we just haven't found it yet. At this stage that beggars belief beyond breaking point. What we actually see is that the Exodus story consistently fails to be supported whenever we get the chance to validate it. The conclusion that the story is simply fiction is practically unavoidable.

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  73. (cont)


    What were they like?


    Again, you are justifying genocide.


    Canaanites worshipped, by immoral indulgence, as a religious rite, in the presence of their gods; and then, by murdering their first-born children, as a sacrifice to these same gods. It seems that, in large measure, the land of Canaan had become a sort of Sodom and Gomorrah on a national scale. . . . Did a civilization of such abominable filth and brutality have any right longer to exist?


    They sound monstrous and filthy! Thank goodness they were destroyed by the wonderful and magnificent Yahweh and the peace-loving Isrealites who would not dream of inflicting barbaric punishments for minor crimes, smite their enemies or commit such heinous crimes as, say, genocide!

    The only difference between the Isrealites and other cultures with Pagan Gods is that the Isrealites believe their God was the REAL one, so his HIS massacres and atrocities were prefectly justified and even praiseworthy. Whereas those of other cultures done in the name of other Gods were obvious signs of depravity of the most abhorrant nature.


    What you are saying is God should control us.


    No. What I am saying is that if we are to believe there is a God and the Bible is an accurate depiction of Him, then He must indeed be a thoroughly malevolent bully and a tyrant. We humans can simply do better than Him. I see no reason to take Him as any kind of font of goodness. He so rarely displays any that we would recognise.

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  74. RobertC said...
    "Although your post has multiple falsehoods (e.g. DNA, transcription and translation are physical processes, not metaphysical analogies)"

    Sorry but you do not understand at all what I'm even talking about. You have no understanding of information or information theory at all so why should I even attempt to inform you? The falsehoods are ALL in your own lack of insight on information processes.

    GH - "Indeed encoded, functional information can NEVER arise without intelligence because the very term "code" implies it."

    You - "Is already falsified."

    This has already been verified by many mathematicians yet here you are saying the fact has been falsified!?! What world are you living in?

    Code is symbolic. There are no symbols in nature! Code is a sign system.
    DNA code is not a mere chemical alignment but instructions with semantics, syntax and purpose.
    It is mathematically identical to human devised coding systems and language.

    "Information, transcription, translation, code, redundancy, synonymous, messenger, editing, and proofreading are all appropriate terms in biology. They take their meaning from information theory (Shannon, 1948) and are not synonyms, metaphors, or analogies." (Hubert P. Yockey, Information Theory, Evolution, and the Origin of Life, Cambridge University Press, 2005)

    "The information content of amino acid sequences cannot increase until a genetic code with an adapter function has appeared. Nothing which even vaguely resembles a code exists in the physio-chemical world. One must conclude that no valid scientific explanation of the origin of life exists at present."
    - Hubert Yockey, “Self Organization Origin of Life Scenarios and Information Theory,” Journal of Theoretical Biology 91 (1981)

    Yet here you go basically claiming that language can arise without intelligence?

    Would you at least stop and think about that for more than the time it takes to run off seeking pseudo-intellectual explanations of this on your fave scientism worship sites?!

    Your materialist world is fundamentally flawed at the very root, and I suppose thats why you cannot see it.
    May God enlightened your mind!

    Complex specified information (prescribed information) -even in the form of genetic instructions- is ALWAYS formal and cannot arise without a symbolic coding system -symbols are not the stuff of the laws of physics and chemistry but of mind!

    "Genetic algorithms,"
    Already explained this error of yours here on a different post.
    Briefly : you're not thinking.
    Genetic algorithms only show that intelligently designed programs based on vastly complex designed hardware and software can accomplish some things similar to what happens in nature.

    But entirely new programs do not arise by random code mutations any more than UNIX did!

    Operating systems do not and never will arise by mere mutation + selection - the very idea is utterly self-contradictory.

    Only minds create symbolic codes by which to transfer knowledge via structured information.

    Coded information obeys fundamental laws of nature which, in summarized form, can be expressed as follows:
    Laws of Information

    -It is impossible to set up, store, or transmit information without using a code.
    -It is impossible to have a code apart from a free and deliberate convention.
    -It is impossible to have information without a sender.
    -It is impossible that information can exist without having had a mental source.
    -It is impossible for information to exist without having been established voluntarily by a free will.
    -It is impossible for information to exist without all five hierarchical levels: statistics, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, and apobetics.
    -It is impossible that information can originate in statistical processes


    See?

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  75. Gary said...

    Sorry but you do not understand at all what I'm even talking about. You have no understanding of information or information theory at all so why should I even attempt to inform you? The falsehoods are ALL in your own lack of insight on information processes.


    Sorry Gary but the simple fact is you do not understand biology, or genetics, or anything remotely pertinent to the subject at hand. You take your limited computer science training and try to force fit the analogies onto the real biological world. Won't work.

    No matter how much you bluster and bellow, physical DNA molecules are NOT symbolic code. The only symbolic code present is the human-designed one to describe the functions of DNA. You apparently are still too dense to grasp the difference.

    Before you go quote-mining any more Yockey, have you ever read Yockey's blog? Here's what his daughter has to say

    "This post is written by Cynthia Yockey. The first thing I want noted about my father is that he is not in any way, shape or form a Creationist. He does not support Intelligent Design. He supports Darwin’s theory of evolution and points out that it is one of the best-supported theories in science."

    Hubert Yockey Blog

    As far as your ID 'complex specified information' BS, where is the before the fact specification for any genome? All you've done is examine something after the fact, then declare it to be highly specified. Exactly the same as examining the winning lottery numbers after the drawing and declaring them to be too improbable to happen by chance.

    That kind of muddled circular thinking is pretty popular with the dim-witted ID crowd, which is probably why they are the ID crowd.

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  76. Gary-

    Nice rant, but you haven't answered my point. We have directly observed novel functions and new genes arising from natural processes. If you choose to call these information then we have observed more information created by selection acting on random processes.

    So, this causes an immediate conflict with information theory-where information is not supposed to arise de novo.

    Reading the information theory textbook to me doesn't settle this problem. Theory doesn't refute the observation.

    The simplest explanation for the conflict is that information theory is simply not applicable to RNA, DNA and evolution. The premise that DNA is an abstract code that is 'transmitted' through transcription and translation ignores that it, and the process, is solely physical and chemical. I agree with your statement "symbols are not the stuff of the laws of physics and chemistry but of mind!" DNA and biology are the stuff of physics and chemistry. Symbols are used in the naming of DNA bases and amino acids, but they have physical and chemical existence without a person ascribing those symbols to them.

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  77. Thorton-
    Always one step ahead of me!

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  78. Gary said..

    Code is symbolic. There are no symbols in nature! Code is a sign system.
    DNA code is not a mere chemical alignment but instructions with semantics, syntax and purpose.


    I should point out here that either through ignorance or dishonesty, you are equivocation over the definition of code.

    The word code doesn't always mean a process for sending information via abstract symbols. Code can also mean a process that maps a given input to a given output. That second definition is what applies to DNA, not the first.

    "genetic code n.
    The sequence of nucleotides in DNA or RNA that determines the specific amino acid sequence in the synthesis of proteins. It is the biochemical basis of heredity and nearly universal in all organisms."

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  79. Gary,

    The word "code" in "genetic code" is used metaphorically. There is no symbolism involved in replication, transcription, or translation. Symbolism is the essence of a code—the part that involves intelligence.

    If you disagree, simply point me to the symbolic step, not what anyone says.

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  80. Derick said:"De novo genes, LGT, and convergent evolution most certainly don't rule out an orchard diagram of life"

    So, common ancestor is just an hipotesis.

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  81. "If you disagree, simply point me to the symbolic step"

    An aminoacid rapresented by a sequence of three nucleotides. Is not simbolic that?

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  82. Ritchie:

    You honestly believe humans can do a better job? Have you read a newspaper lately?

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  83. Ritchie.

    I will address most of your points again tomorrow, since I already said I wouldn't post again today lol, but I have 2 questions.

    "We humans can simply do better than Him."

    1) Why? Provide evidence.

    2) Do believe there would be any circumstances under which God would be justified in killing a person/people?

    I await your reply.

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  84. Blas wrote:

    "An aminoacid rapresented by a sequence of three nucleotides. Is not simbolic that?"

    When we talk about it yes. In life, absolutely not. A tRNA hydrogen bonds with the codon, allowing peptidyl transferase to add the bound aa residue to a polypeptide. No symbolism anywhere.

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  86. FIl: "?!?!?!? Where the heck did this come from? Did the Jews enslave and kill Germans before WWII? Is that some part of history I am oblivious about?"

    My point was that it seems you can justify genocide in one situation and I was curious as to whether you could justify it in another

    But what is quite clear is that you do apparently think there are circumstances in which genocide is acceptable. I find that disturbing.

    Imagine that the passover had occurred 2 years ago and had been televised and clips were available on YouTube. First hand everybody could see the horrific and senseless slaughter of innocent children.

    What would the world's reaction be. Do you think we'll see Pat Robertson and the like showing on the 700 Club saying that God was perfectly justified in this slaughter?

    Or would there be an outcry to demand the God be shipped off to Rotterdam to go on trail for crimes against humanity?

    It's easy to treat these events as things that happened in the far distant past (if they even happened at all of course). But if you do a quick thought experiment and put them in the present, it's easy to see how absolutely horrific and disgusting these kinds of things would appear to our modern sensibilities. I think if this happened today everybody would be just as outraged as they were with the events on 9/11. After all what's the difference - they are both senseless killings in the name of religion, right?

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  87. natschuster -


    You honestly believe humans can do a better job? Have you read a newspaper lately?


    Please. You think we are all going to Hell in a handcart? Here's a newsflash - newspapers sensationalize stories! They pick the most dramatic news and spin it to make it sell. Often it is the bad news that makes the headlines because that is the most dramatic. It's the same reason soap opera plots are usually so bleak - happy stories don't make for good drama.

    I am not saying the world is a perfect place. Tragedies still happen, of course they do. But if God was a human being with personality traits as depicted in the Bible, then I would judge practically everyone I know as a nicer, more ethical person.

    Fil -


    "We humans can simply do better than Him."

    1) Why? Provide evidence.


    Okay, well let's start off with a few of God's more detestable character traits. Obviously this is a weird one for me because I do not believe He exists, but assuming the Bible is accurate...

    God's lust for blood is plain for all to see. He positively revels in bloodshed throughout the Old Testament (Isaiah 63:3, Isaiah 34:7, Deuteronomy 28:63). One particular story which I find especially repulsive is when God punishes King David by killing his infant son (Samuel 11:2 - 12:18). Imagine the spite that motivates such an act.

    The story of Job is another which astonishes me. God and Satan completely ruin the life of a perfectly good man - including killing his servants and family - simply for a bet! How is this defencible? God knows everything, so He must have known the outcome of the bet before He accepted it. So why do it? To prove a point? Is God so vain that He cares what others think of Him? What sort of god ruins the life of an innocent man just to be proved correct?

    Even in the New Testament where God seems rather less psychotic, He still has his only son brutally tortured and killed for our sins. Why? Why does there have to be blood? Why not just forgive our sins? He is God after all - He can do anything. And it is here that the threat of Hell is first introduced, setting up a threat to coerse humanity for the rest of time - love me or burn in Hell.

    This particularly insideous threat should make our jaws drop. Do as I say or be tortured for all eternity. How is it that we have failed to register the glaring immorality in this?

    How would we judge other people who exhibited behaviour like this? What sort of humans revel in blood? What would we do with a man who kills the infant child of a man just to teach him a lesson, no matter what the reason? What sort of man would ruin the life of an innocent and loyal friend just for a bet? What sort of man threatens others with torture if they do not obey him?

    Clearly we would judge such a man to be extremely disturbed, dangerous, and quite probably insane. I don't know about you, but I personally know a great number of people who would far surpass such a man in ethical probity.

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  88. (cont)


    2) Do believe there would be any circumstances under which God would be justified in killing a person/people?


    Ummm, well you could always argue that by making us mortal, God has doomed us all to die.

    But if we are to simply accept life and death as facts, and a God who may or may not intervene as He sees fit, then yes, I suppose so. Euthenasia, for example.

    If you mean capital punishment, then I'm not sure. I like to think it is at least theoretically possible to rehabilitate people. It may not be possible for us mere humans to do this, but for an all-knowing, all-powerful being? And if there really are dangerous criminals beyond rehabilitation, then why would such a being let such a person be born in the first place, knowing they will be irrevocably evil?

    But if you are talking more about genocide, then no, I don't. To exterminate all members of a race/tribe/ethnicity simply because they happen to belong to that group is to totally ignore their innocence or guilt and punish them for things that may well be out of their control. From the several genocides sanctioned or directly ordered by God, are we really to believe the decimated people did not harbour a single person who did not deserve slaughter, despite the fact that their numbers must have included children and babies?

    Killing babies must be one of the worst atrocities. And yet God either commits or orders many babies killed, often apparently through no reason other than they belong to a particular tribe/race. I truly find this appaling, and I am only thankful that I do not happen to believe such a being actually exists. What a monster He must be if He did.

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  89. Ritchie

    "We humans can simply do better than Him."
    "I asked "Why? Provide evidence."

    You did not. You went on a rant about killings God did and included teachings that are not scriptural, like hellfire. Not a single shred of evidence qualifying humans to do a better job. Exactly what ID people get bashed for, provide evidence FOR your belief, not againt mine. I'll address this more tomorrow.

    "2) Do believe there would be any circumstances under which God would be justified in killing a person/people?


    Ummm, well you could always argue that by making us mortal, God has doomed us all to die."

    God did not make us to die. According to the bible humans were to live forever, in paradise-like conditions with no sickness, pain or death. That was and is the purpose of God according to the Bible. When the first pair chose to want the right to decide right and wrong for themselves they brought death into the world. Once they turned their back on him what obligation did he have to help them any further? None. Yet he stills holds out a positive hope for any who choose to take it.

    And Janfeld...you cannot seem to get the point that he gave them MULTIPLE, MULTIPLE options to do the right thing and free Israel. They did not, even though he warned them of the consequences and provided proof that it would happen. Are you saying parents have no responsibility to act in the best interests of their children? If I was an Egyptian back then and saw eveything going on then Pharaoh be damned, I'd run and take my children into the house of an Israelite and keep them safe. Then leave with them when they went.

    Humans have no moral high ground. More than 100 million people were killed in wars in the 20th century. 50 million babies are aborted every year worldwide. Is it wrong to kill to prevent further killing? Humans make those decisions all the time. I'm glad I never have to but God does. Some will condemn him for it and if that's what you choose to do go ahead.However, the hope he offers all is greater than not only the suffering inflicted directly from him, but also all suffering that's ever happened. If you want to bash then you must also give due credit.

    And once again, there is NO hellfire.

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  90. Fil: "And Janfeld...you cannot seem to get the point that he gave them MULTIPLE, MULTIPLE options to do the right thing and free Israel."

    You don't get the point that you think that there are occasions where you think genocide is a legitimate option. So presumably then, although you probably thought it was wrong, you have some sympathy to the 9/11 attackers because after all the USA has also received many, many warnings, and after all the radicals were only following their's god's commands?

    It's just fascinating that Christians will get all in a huff about Muslim violence, but cannot see the plank in their own eye with their own god. Muslims attacked the USA because they saw us as "infidels" - what's the difference between what they did and the genocide practiced in the BIble.

    Let me spell it out again. Genocide should never ever be an option, in any circumstance. If you think it is justified, that is a very disturbing place to be. If that doesn't make you question your whole faith and what you believe, I don't know what will.

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  91. "Fil: "And Janfeld...you cannot seem to get the point that he gave them MULTIPLE, MULTIPLE options to do the right thing and free Israel."

    You don't get the point that you think that there are occasions where you think genocide is a legitimate option. So presumably then, although you probably thought it was wrong, you have some sympathy to the 9/11 attackers because after all the USA has also received many, many warnings, and after all the radicals were only following their's god's commands?

    It's just fascinating that Christians will get all in a huff about Muslim violence, but cannot see the plank in their own eye with their own god. Muslims attacked the USA because they saw us as "infidels" - what's the difference between what they did and the genocide practiced in the BIble.

    Let me spell it out again. Genocide should never ever be an option, in any circumstance. If you think it is justified, that is a very disturbing place to be. If that doesn't make you question your whole faith and what you believe, I don't know what will."

    Muslims have committed genocide. Christians have committed genocide. Atheists have committed genocide. Which of those are you? Are you better than the average citizen in Germany during WWII who supported the war effort? Hitler would have been unable to commit his atrocities without the support of the people beneath him. Same with Stalin in Russia. Same with the Crusades in the middle ages.

    Let me repeat one last time.

    Humans have ZERO moral high ground when it comes to critizing God.

    God is the only one with the right to take life if he sees fit. IF the bible is correct he gave us life and we live on his planet AND at his pleasure. We owe him everything and he blesses obedience. Those who do obey him have nothing to fear whatsoever and actually enjoy a higher standard of life. IF the bible is wrong and there is no God then you are hating him for nothing since he is nonexistant.

    Also let me make clear that humans no longer have any scriptural authorization to kill. For any reason. None. If I had to chose between killing and being killed I would die. I could defend myself but I would not intentionally take that to the point of killing my attacker.

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  92. Fil -


    You did not. You went on a rant about killings God did and included teachings that are not scriptural, like hellfire. Not a single shred of evidence qualifying humans to do a better job.


    Then I don't understand what you are asking of me.

    I am an atheist, and I do not believe God exists, so the only way I can assess God's character is to turn to the Bible and act as though it was an accurate depiction of a real being. That is all I can do. That is the best evidence we have as to His nature. And the sort of person the Bible makes him out to be is a thoroughly destestable, blood-thirsty tyrant and bully, quite obviously the moral inferior of any reasonable human being around us. We do not go around slaughtering the children of people we dislike, or threatening people with torture if they don't obey us. Well okay, some people do, but those people are mercifully few and quite rightly shunned by the right-thinking majority precisely for being so morally bankrupt.

    You said I ranted on about teachings which were not scriptural, like Hellfire. That's just plain wrong. Everything I said was in the Bible is indeed in the Bible, including Hellfire:

    - Everyone will exist eternally either in heaven or hell (Daniel 12:2,3; Matthew 25:46; John 5:28; Revelation 20:14,15).

    - Heaven or hell is determined by whether a person believes (puts their trust) in Christ alone to save them (John 3:16, 36, etc.).

    “furnace of fire…weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:50)

    “where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:48)

    “he will be tormented with fire and brimstone” (Revelation 14:10)

    “the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever and they have no rest day and night” (Revelation 14:11)

    “This is the second death, the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:14)

    “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15)

    How can you say the teachings of Hellfire are not scriputral? And what kind of evidence do you want if you unsatisfied with what I have presented? It seems pretty straight-forward to me - God perpetually and unashamedly commits truly horrendous deeds we would not tolerate in human beings. Ergo He is our moral inferior. What is the problem there (besides 'you don't WANT this to be true')?

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  93. (cont)


    God did not make us to die. According to the bible humans were to live forever, in paradise-like conditions with no sickness, pain or death. That was and is the purpose of God according to the Bible. When the first pair chose to want the right to decide right and wrong for themselves they brought death into the world.


    Well there's a little more to the story, isn't there? First of all, this was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. So how were Adam and Eve to know eating the apple was wrong before they had a sense of right or wrong? Fair enough God had told them not to do it, but that is no answer. If they didn't have a sense of right or wrong how were they supposed to know they should obey? Adam and Eve were simply punished for committing a crime they could not have understood not to commit.

    As a second point, why are the descendants of Adam and Eve to share in their punishment? Is it not a fundamental point of justice that the innocent should not be punished for crimes they did not commit? Should I go to prison if my father commits a crime? If I am not to be held accountable for his actions, why should I be held accountable for the actions of an ancestor so much further removed?

    Finally, what is wrong with wanting to be able to decide right and wrong for ourselves anyway? Why is that a bad thing? Without this ability Adam and Eve could only rely on the instructions of God for their moral judgements. Effectively they had no free will - they were just to unquestioningly obey. Is that the sort of people God wants us to be? If not, what did God find so objectionable about humans being able to make their own moral choices?

    The Adam and Eve story is yet another Biblical fable littered with absurdities and twisted morality.

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  94. Smokey said: "When we talk about it yes. In life, absolutely not. A tRNA hydrogen bonds with the codon, allowing peptidyl transferase to add the bound aa residue to a polypeptide. No symbolism anywhere."

    So this post is only information when we talk about it, in the real life are only positive and negative charges on a hard disk.
    Can explain where is the information when we talk about information?

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  95. Humans have ZERO moral high ground when it comes to critizing God.


    What is burden it must be to take the sins of the whole of humanity on your shoulders. For myself, I reject this logic. I have not committed a murder, let alone genocide, so I do not feel I should share in the blame and guilt of those who have simply because I belong to the same species.

    But if you are deterimed to share in the blame of the sins of humanity, I hope for your sake you also take a share of the credit for the achievements of humanity too? We have much to be proud of - exquiste works of art, incredible advances in technology and scientific understanding, and many acts of love, generosity, charity and loyalty which must not go ignored. The sum of human morality contains as much good as bad and, I believe, more. It is folly to just take the worse excesses of human depravity and act as though these were demonstrative of the average human moral standard.


    God is the only one with the right to take life if he sees fit.


    What gives him that right? The fact (if it is one) that He made us? Do parents have the right to kill their own children?


    Those who do obey him have nothing to fear whatsoever and actually enjoy a higher standard of life.


    On what are you basing that? When we look at the countries in the world with the lowest crime rates, they are generally the secular countries, not the fundamentally religious ones.

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article571206.ece

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  96. Blas, you're moving the goalposts.

    We were talking about symbolism, not information.

    I conclude from your moving of the goalposts that you can't find any symbolism.

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  97. Smokey if you don´t want/can answer it is OK, but the concept is the same, or there is information that is not simbolic? you can refrase my question as:
    So this post is simbolic only when we talk about it, in the real life are only positive and negative charges on a hard disk.
    Can explain where is the simbols when we talk about the genetic code?

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  99. Fil: "Muslims have committed genocide. Christians have committed genocide. Atheists have committed genocide. Which of those are you? Are you better than the average citizen in Germany during WWII who supported the war effort? Hitler would have been unable to commit his atrocities without the support of the people beneath him. Same with Stalin in Russia. Same with the Crusades in the middle ages.

    Let me repeat one last time.

    Humans have ZERO moral high ground when it comes to critizing God.

    God is the only one with the right to take life if he sees fit."

    The issue here of course is that it is GOD who is committing the genocide. Actually we do have a moral ground - according to Christians God gave us laws and commandments to follow - including, "Thou Shalt not Kill". But apparently these do not apply to the law-giver. So this law-giver can arbitrarily change its mind, do what it wants all in the name of "God's mysterious ways".

    So yes, we can judge this God, but the very moral standards it has given us. And it comes up completely short and utterly guilty!

    How then can you trust such a deity? How can you be 100% sure that your redemption may be nothing more than a cosmic joke? Perhaps God might get all pissed-off and decide that EVERYBODY's going to hell. I certainly would not put my trust in such a monster who does not follow its own laws, and can change its mind on a whim.

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  100. "Those who do obey him have nothing to fear whatsoever and actually enjoy a higher standard of life. "

    How do innocent children disobey God?

    Dave Wisker

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  105. I messed up the formatting for those posts. Let's try it again.

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  106. This will be my last series of posts on this matter.

    I get the fact you think God is cruel because he killed people. I do not deny he did kill people. However, that is what you focus on without considering, 1) God’s original purpose for mankind, 2) how mankind have almost completely turned their back on him, 3) how God purposes to fulfill his original purpose again, which as revelation 21:4 says will involve no more pain, tears or death. If you do not take into account the entire picture then you will continue to hate God…or the concept of the God of the Bible, whichever belief you hold.

    When it comes to hellfire, if it were truly a bible teaching then I would be forced to agree with you regarding his cruelty. Imagine, even Hitler, whom all of us agree was evil, doesn’t deserve to burn forever. If you inflicted on him all the suffering he caused on millions of other people, even doubled it or tripled it, it still would not go on forever. It would have to reach a finishing point or then the balance would tip the other way.

    First of all, what is hell.

    Collier’s Encyclopedia (1986, Vol. 12, p. 28) says concerning “Hell”: “First it stands for the Hebrew Sheol of the Old Testament and the Greek Hades of the Septuagint and New Testament. Since Sheol in Old Testament times referred simply to the abode of the dead and suggested no moral distinctions, the word ‘hell,’ as understood today, is not a happy translation.”

    Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, unabridged, under “Hell” says: “fr[om] . . . helan to conceal.” The word “hell” thus originally conveyed no thought of heat or torment but simply of a ‘covered over or concealed place.’ In the old English dialect the expression “helling potatoes” meant, not to roast them, but simply to place the potatoes in the ground or in a cellar.

    Why the confusion?
    The Encyclopedia Americana (1956, Vol. XIV, p. 81) said: “Much confusion and misunderstanding has been caused through the early translators of the Bible persistently rendering the Hebrew Sheol and the Greek Hades and Gehenna by the word hell.

    So for clarity Sheol and Hades are the common grave of mankind, the ‘condition’ of death if you will. Gehenna equals eternal destruction with no hope of a resurrection. It will we cleared up below.

    Now, some of the passages Ritchie quoted/cited.

    1) Daniel 12 2And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.

    No mention of hellfire.

    2)Matthew 25:46 “46And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.”

    Everlasting punishment….no mention of hellfire. We’ll clear this up.

    John 5:28,29 28Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
    29And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

    Resurrection of damnation… no mention of hellfire. Once again, we’ll clear this up.

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  107. “- Heaven or hell is determined by whether a person believes (puts their trust) in Christ alone to save them (John 3:16, 36, etc.).”

    No argument…except some will live on earth.

    The rest of the scriptures do mention fire. I will rebut them now.

    Evolutionist use analogies to explain things. Smokey mentioned in another post that even Jesus Christ used parables and illustrations. The references to everlasting fire in the bible are symbolic and refer to everlasting destruction. Here is some proof why. I will refer to some of the passages Ritchie quoted and then some additional ones.

    Revelation 14:10
    10The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb.

    Is Hell in Heaven? It would seem so according to this verse. Torment in the presence of holy angels and the Lamb, Jesus. Contrast this verse with Isaiah 34:9,10. with the judgment passed on Edom.

    9And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch. 10It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever: from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever.

    Is that old land of Edom still burning pitch lasting forever and ever? No. But the (now) figurative smoking that is coming up from it serves as a warning example from it.

    Next. Revelation 20:13-15
    13And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
    14And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
    15And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

    Hmmm. People were in hell and then came out. People are judged. Then where do they go? Hell? Nope. It says the lake of fire…what is it? A literal lake of fire ? If the answer is yes then why does verse 14 say “Death and Hell were cast into the lake of fire. This means the second death.” Can you burn death? Can you burn hell? No. But death and hell will be done away will. Gone. Ditto with people thrown in along with them. They will be gone. Dead. Non-existing. That 2nd death there is no coming back from.

    Mark 9:47,48 47And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire:
    48Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

    Good verse. Shows the importance of placing God first. Anyway, notice the verse Jesus alluded to when he said this. Isaiah 66:24
    24And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.

    He was referring to a place called the Hinnom Valley or Gehenna. It used to be a place where child sacrifice used to exist. A thing detestable to God, so he said in Jeremiah 7:31 31And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my heart.” See also Jeremiah 32:35.(detestable)

    Now that location was Jerusalem’s garbage heap. Garbage, including dead carcasses would be thrown there and burned to get rid of them. Maggots and other creatures would of course be there as well. But it wouldn’t be live bodies thrown there and any dead bodies would be burned up once and for all. No eternal burning and suffering.

    A few last scriptures.

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  108. Romans 6:3 23For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    Wages for sin are death. Once death happens wages are paid, transaction is done. No eternal suffering.

    Eclesiastes 9 5For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.

    Dead know nothing, including pain.

    Eclesiastes 9 10Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

    No knowledge or wisdom in the grave. You’d think that if hellfire were true they’d have knowledge that they screwed up and were being punished. No knowledge = no awareness. All references to everlasting punishment and everlasting fire mean complete destruction. Eternal life or eternal unconsciousness.

    We are all entitled to our own opinions and I respect your views even though I disagree with them. And sorry for being soooooooo long-winded but, like you, I’m passionate about it. And I had to reformat this so as not to mess up any eyes.

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  109. I may actually post one more tonight or tomorrow. I think there's a couple of things I missed.

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  110. For a much better explanation on killing in the bible go to http://www.christian-thinktank.com/rbutcher1.html

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  111. Fil: "When it comes to hellfire, if it were truly a bible teaching then I would be forced to agree with you regarding his cruelty. "

    Well I suppose it's good to hear that you don't believe in hellfire; but of course that is very much a minority view. Odd though that you have no issue with God performing vicious, violent genocidal acts on innocent people (which utterly violate his OWN laws - I think the word for this is, what, hypocrisy?), but do not accept hellfire. Sounds like it would be right up your street.

    A good number of born-again/fundamentalist Christians do in fact believe in hellfire. And I think they could argue from scripture just as eloquently for their case as you do for yours. Which of course is the real crux of the problem, that you can pretty much make the Bible sing and dance to any tune you like.

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  112. Fil -


    I get the fact you think God is cruel because he killed people. I do not deny he did kill people.


    Yup, pretty much.


    However, that is what you focus on without considering, 1) God’s original purpose for mankind,


    What was God's purpose for mankind?


    2) how mankind have almost completely turned their back on him,


    Why should we not turn our backs on such a vindictive, cruel tyrant?


    3) how God purposes to fulfill his original purpose again, which as revelation 21:4 says will involve no more pain, tears or death.


    How does He intend to achieve this?


    If you do not take into account the entire picture then you will continue to hate God…or the concept of the God of the Bible, whichever belief you hold.


    I accept that even if the Bible really is a bunch of myths and fairy stories, there might still be a God who is totally unlike the one described in the Bible. However, I see no evidence for the existence of such a being - either the God depicted in the Bible, or one not depicted there.


    Imagine, even Hitler, whom all of us agree was evil, doesn’t deserve to burn forever. If you inflicted on him all the suffering he caused on millions of other people, even doubled it or tripled it, it still would not go on forever.


    Show me a verse in the Bible where it says people ever LEAVE Hell once the suffering they have inflicted on others has been repaid (or ever) and I will bow down to you. This idea is simply not Biblical. People go to either Heaven or Hell, and they stay there, in everlasting agony or everlasting paradise.

    Now, I do agree that everlasting agony is unjust. However much suffering you could possibly inflict in life, it must be a finite amount. But the idea that you go to Hell to be repaid that suffering, and then go to Heaven is simply found nowhere in the Bible. The fact that people are apparently condemned to an eternity being tortured is indeed another point against the Bible's supposed morality.

    If I am wrong, I would welcome being corrected on this point.


    Now, some of the passages Ritchie quoted/cited.

    2)Matthew 25:46 - Everlasting punishment


    Everlasting punishment. Hmmm. Everlasting... See above.


    John 5:28,29 28 - Resurrection of damnation… no mention of hellfire.


    Okay, it doesn't specifically use the word 'fire', but the resurrection of damnation doesn't exactly sound very jolly, does it? What on Earth else do you expect it to mean?

    Actually, I shall cut the rest short and simply echo the words of Janfeld. It is surely beyond question that the concept of Heaven and Hell is a Christian one. The idea that bad people burn forever in Hell is unquestionable part of established CHristian doctrine.

    I understand that you've decided to interpret the Bible to mean what you want it to mean - and you've decided you don't want to believe in a Hell. Well, good for you. But what do you have to say to the VAST (and I do mean vast) majority of Christians who do in fact believe in a literal Hell? That they've got it wrong? That they've interpreted the Bible incorrectly?

    This is not only the chief argument of ALL religious denominations (everyone thinks the other branches of their religion is not interpreting their religion 'correctly'...) but it is a good example of how basing your morality on a PARTICULAR INTRPRETATION of a holy text can lead to disaster. Why is one interpretation of a text more valid than another? How is a person, say, Fred Phelps, who basically believes everyone is going to Hell except his little family-cult and that God will rejoice in burning them, more valid that your own interpretation? Don't get me wrong, I find your interpretation far more palatable, but you have no objective reason to claim your version is more accurate.

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  115. Ritchie.

    "But the idea that you go to Hell to be repaid that suffering, and then go to Heaven is simply found nowhere in the Bible."

    You are correct. People do not die, go to suffer for their sins then go to heaven once their sins are paid for. Refer again to Romans 6:23 "The wages of sin is death" NOT what comes after death. The confusion lies in accepting that Hell is a place of fiery torment. Hell is simply the death state that everyone who dies goes to. Think of it as a permanent sleep. Refer to Jesus calling Lazarus asleep, not to being in heaven or a place of torment.(I assume Lazarus was a good man since Jesus had affection for him... but if Lazarus was in heaven when Jesus called him back I think he'd be pissed he had to leave.)

    Next. Please interpret these scriptures according to what you think. Please read carefully and ask yourself if they show that the dead do not stay in hell forever.

    Revelation 20:13-15
    And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

    John 5:28,29
    "Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.

    Job 14:13,14
    "If only you would hide me in the grave and conceal me till your anger has passed!
    If only you would set me a time and then remember me!


    I will address those 3 points tomorrow along with why hell is misunderstood today by the vast mojority of Christians. Thank you and Janfeld for being polite in your debates. Goodnight.

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  117. Fil: "I will address those 3 points tomorrow along with why hell is misunderstood today by the vast mojority of Christians. Thank you and Janfeld for being polite in your debates. Goodnight."

    Fil, I appreciate you being polite too, but I'm not sure I'm always as polite as you make me out to be!

    It's interesting that you think hell is misunderstood. Again though, your view is actually the minority view and not at all mainstream. Now I can understand that Christians may not always agree on certain matters - e.g., whether women should wear head coverings in church, or procedures on how to baptize people. All minor stuff really.

    But whether there is everlasting hellfire is MAJOR, MAJOR stuff. It's not a trivial small doctrine, but an important aspect of Christian theology. Yet there is apparently confusion as to what the Bible is really trying to say. And yes, I think the Bible is quite ambiguous on this (and many other topics). Through cherry picking it is possible to make quite a convincing case from many different viewpoints. In fact if this was a communications class I would give God a big fat "F" for doing such a terrible job in communicating.

    We're told over and over that God is not a God of confusion - but it certainly seems that way! Now I understand that the Bible has been placed into the hands of mere mortal men, and has been subject to copying, editing, revision, translation etc. So inevitably a lot has been lost. But this? But of course it doesn't just apply to hell - one can easily make a case for many different and opposing theological stances (and of course Christians do - which is partly why we have 30,000 different denominations/sects in Christendom!).

    To me it just reinforces what other lines of evidence show - that the Bible truly is a man-made document - or rather a very loose conglomeration of documents that have been shoved together into the "Bible" - but when they are interpreted as theology can be surprisingly conflicting. I mean - I could probably invent my own form of Christianity (e.g., a gay-friendly, don't need to be saved, no hell variety) and could quite convincingly make an argument for it (wait a minute - I think the Unitarians already beat me to it!).

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  118. Fil -


    Refer again to Romans 6:23 "The wages of sin is death" NOT what comes after death. The confusion lies in accepting that Hell is a place of fiery torment. Hell is simply the death state that everyone who dies goes to.


    This is a good example of putting an interpretation on a passage. All it says is 'The wages of sin is death'. What exactly does that mean? Literal death? Spiritual death? Death of an individual? Death of the whole world? You could legitimately make a case of any of these interpretations. If I understand you correctly, you have taken it to mean that there is no punishment beyond death. But that is not what it actually says. That is just an interpretation imposed onto a really rather vague sentence.


    Please interpret these scriptures according to what you think:

    Job 14:13,14
    "If only you would hide me in the grave and conceal me till your anger has passed!
    If only you would set me a time and then remember me!


    Firstly this passage occurs in the middle of a long speech by Job who was, after all, only a man. The idea that he could be mistaken about what happens after death just like any of us is important to bear in mind.

    But be that as it may, it sounds to me on the face of it like Job just wants somewhere to hide until God calms down. That's what it sounds like. Why hide in a grave? Well, perhaps to emphasise there is not any physical hiding place on Earth where God could not find him.

    I think the interpretation that this suggests people leave Hell after being condemned is rather more than a small stretch.


    Revelation 20:13-15
    And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.


    I find this to be the most persuasive of the passages you cited. It does indeed describe 'death and Hell' delivering up their dead. However, they are being delivered up for judgement. So surely they haven't been condmened yet? Do people go to Hell before being judged? Is there a waiting room in Hell for unjudged souls?

    I also notice this verse coming just before this one: "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." Rev, 20:15. The rather more conventional view of damnation.


    John 5:28,29
    "Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.


    Again, this rather echoes the previous passage in that the dead rise - but they rise to be judged. It does not say that their judgement is at all temporary.

    Now let me ask you to interpret two Biblical passages in light of your assertion that there is no Hell/it is temporary:

    "So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth."
    -- Matthew 13:40-50 (KJV)

    "The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night..."
    -- Revelation 14:10-11 (KJV)

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  119. (cont)

    As a final point, I would like to echo Janfeld's words. If, as I for one honestly believe, the Bible is merely a collection of books detailing the myths and beliefs of a superstitious culture in a scientifically ignorant age, then IT DOESN'T HAVE TO MAKE SENSE. The authors are not detailing facts, they are writing down their beliefs, so there is no expectation that the Bible will be at all consistent, logical, or free from error or contradictions. Only if the Bible in it's entirety was correct would we expect these things.

    And yet doesn't our discussion demonstrate that such is not the case? The Bible, as Janfeld says, is actually extremely vague on the matter of the afterlife. For example certain passages contradict each other on what one must do to be saved - Ephesians 2:8-9, Titus 3:5 and Acts 16:30-31 say faith alone is enough. John 3:5 seems to say baptism too is necessary. 2 Corinthians 5:10, Matthew 16:27, John 5:29 and Romans 2:6,7 say salvation is earned through good deeds, whilst Romans 9:14-24 seems to say salvation is simply predestined.

    Other questions are insufficiently answered too. Is death final? What are Heaven and Hell actually like? These are questions which never recieve direct answers, yet people try to answer them by interpreting seemingly related passages. Isn't this hugely suspicious in and of itself? If the Bible is indeed a manual for salvation, it is certainly an extremely poor one. Historically inaccurate, self-contradictory and flawed in many places, it is not even clear and consistent on what one would assume would be the most important issues - salvation and the afterlife.

    Again, this is hugely problematic for those taking the Bible to be inerrant or at all accurate, but it is perfectly consistent with the view that the Bbile is just a collection of myths and beliefs from religious people who were no more in the know about such matters than anyone else.


    Thank you and Janfeld for being polite in your debates.


    The same to you. No matter what two people may believe, they can always have a constructive, positive debate if they are respectful of, and civil to, each other. Man, I sound so bloody popmpous! But it's true all the same...

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  120. Romans 6:23,23For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    Notice the contrast between life and death. Literal death versus literal life. Would eternal life in hell be a gift?

    Job 14:10-15
    10"But man dies and lies prostrate
    Man expires, and where is he?
    11"As water evaporates from the sea,
    And a river becomes parched and dried up,
    12So man lies down and does not rise.
    Until the heavens are no longer,
    He will not awake nor be aroused out of his sleep.
    13"Oh that You would hide me in Sheol,
    That You would conceal me until Your wrath returns to You,
    That You would set a limit for me and remember me!
    14"If a man dies, will he live again?
    All the days of my struggle I will wait
    Until my change comes.
    15"You will call, and I will answer You;
    You will long for the work of Your hands.

    Notice the context. He is talking about death. His trials were agonizing and he felt that to be dead would be better than to continue suffering terribly as he currently was. He was not afraid of God. Job 2:9,10 “Then his wife said to him, "Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!" But he said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips. “ He felt if God was punishing him then so be it. He was unaware it was Satan.
    As to being just a man a Christian would accept that these words were written under inspiration. Why?
    2 Tim 3:16 in part says, ‘All Scripture is inspired by God’

    Revelation 20:13-15
    13And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.
    14Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire This is the second death, the lake of fire.
    15And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

    You didn’t comment on verse 14 where ‘death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.”

    Also Revelation 20:10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

    The Devil, not having a physical body, would not be affected by literal fire, would he?

    “John 5:28,29
    "Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.


    Again, this rather echoes the previous passage in that the dead rise - but they rise to be judged. It does not say that their judgement is at all temporary.’

    Isn’t the conventional view that judgment happens at death? Yet here these that were resurrected were judged at some point after death. Since Jesus said “the time is coming” that means it had not happened yet. So some that had died were still in their graves.

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  121. Now. To Matthew 13:40-50
    40 "The weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire. That is how it will be on judgment day.
    50 They will throw the evil people into the blazing furnace. There the evil ones will sob and grind their teeth.

    It does compare throwing weeds/people in a fire/furnace and say there will be sobbing and gnashing of teeth. But, like many of Jesus parables this is symbolic. When you throw weeds into a fire what happens? They burn up and are gone. The same with evil people. They are gone forever, never to return and cause evil again. They sob and grind their teeth in frustration that they cannot continue their wicked way, in a symbolic sense.

    Revelation 14:10-11

    I believe I covered that above. Reference the destruction of Edom in Isaiah 34:9,10 and also that it would mean that Hell is inside Heaven, which is nonsensical to any Christian person.

    I noticed you also didn’t comment on :

    Eclesiastes 9:5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.


    Eclesiastes 9:10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

    The preponderance of evidence shows there is no hellfire.

    For scriptures that show there is no hellfire.
    Ecclesiastes 9:5 no knowledge in the grave
    Ecclesiastes 9:10 no knowledge in the grave
    Ecclesiastes 3:19 look this one up…animals and man have the same eventuality
    John 3:16 perish vs life (life in hell is still life, so who perishes?)
    Matthew 10:28 body and soul can be destroyed in Gehenna
    Revelation 20:14 hell thrown into the lake of fire? Only if fire is symbolic
    Psalm 146:4 in that day his thoughts do perish(no knowledge again)
    John 11:11-14 Lazarus, a good man, died, Jesus referred to it as sleep

    And one of the most important groups of scriptures…
    Prophecy:
    Psalm 16:10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
    Quoted by Peter:
    Acts 2:27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
    Fulfillment:
    Acts 2:31,32 31He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. 32This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.

    ‘will not leave my soul in hell’ “his soul was not left in hell”

    Jesus was in hell, but he was not left there. Would Jesus, the perfect, sinless, innocent man be placed in a burning hell for the parts of 3 days he was dead? (Notice Ritchie that someone was there, then left hell).

    The mere idea should be ludicrous to any Christian.

    So while you can gain agreement in the bible for a hell which is unconsciousness, sleep, a state of non-existence, you cannot gain agreement in the bible for a state of eternal torture in a fiery hell.

    I know I am in the minority in this. Many who call themselves Christians would continue to believe in hellfire despite this proof. I’m ok with that. We all decide what to believe. This is one confirmation for me though that the bible is not contradictory or written by mere superstitious men as you claim.

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  122. What is the origin of hellfire, however?

    In ancient Babylonian and Assyrian beliefs the “nether world . . . is pictured as a place full of horrors, and is presided over by gods and demons of great strength and fierceness.” (The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, Boston, 1898, Morris Jastrow, Jr., p. 581) Early evidence of the fiery aspect of Christendom’s hell is found in the religion of ancient Egypt. (The Book of the Dead, New Hyde Park, N.Y., 1960, with introduction by E. A. Wallis Budge, pp. 144, 149, 151, 153, 161) Buddhism, which dates back to the 6th century B.C.E., in time came to feature both hot and cold hells. (The Encyclopedia Americana, 1977, Vol. 14, p. 68) Depictions of hell portrayed in Catholic churches in Italy have been traced to Etruscan roots.—La civiltà etrusca (Milan, 1979), Werner Keller, p. 389.

    Not Christian. But so-called Christians used this to control the masses for centuries.

    But the real roots of this God-dishonoring doctrine go much deeper. The fiendish concepts associated with a hell of torment slander God and originate with the chief slanderer of God (the Devil, which name means “Slanderer”), the one whom Jesus Christ called “the father of the lie.”—John 8:44.

    That is another post however and will tie it in to question number 1 I mentioned earlier. I will get to that another day.

    Couple of quick notes:

    The Jews were in Israel only 215 years not 400. Slaves for only part of those 215 not the entire time.

    My comment:
    “Those who do obey him have nothing to fear whatsoever and actually enjoy a higher standard of life.


    On what are you basing that? When we look at the countries in the world with the lowest crime rates, they are generally the secular countries, not the fundamentally religious ones.”

    I should rephrase that. It’s not a standard of living per se, that is more the country you are in, your economic class, etc. I guess more accurate to say “Those who obey him enjoy the highest standards of human relationships and inner peace.”

    Galatians 5:22,23 22 On the other hand, the fruitage of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 mildness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.

    If a Christian applies those principles there is no better way of life.

    I do not make the claim that only Christians have these qualities. I have met many people of various religions who practice these. I have met many atheists who have as well. You do not need to be a Christian to be a ‘good’ person or exhibit the qualities mentioned above, even excelling in them.. I have also met many Christians who bear no resemblance to Christ and if you showed them the list above they would say ‘whatever’, yet still call themselves Christians. Ghandi put it well when he said, “I know of no one who has done more for humanity than Jesus. In fact, there is nothing wrong with Christianity.” He added: “The trouble is with you Christians. You do not begin to live up to your own teachings.” ( I agree.)

    He also reportedly told a British official: “When your country and mine shall get together on the teachings laid down by Christ in this Sermon on the Mount, we shall have solved the problems not only of our countries but those of the whole world.” (Christians will never do this).

    I believe false Christianity has done as much to turn people away from God as any thing else in history…maybe more. It’s quite sad.

    “Man, I sound so bloody pompous!”

    Lmao.

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  123. Fil: "I know I am in the minority in this. Many who call themselves Christians would continue to believe in hellfire despite this proof. I’m ok with that. We all decide what to believe. This is one confirmation for me though that the bible is not contradictory or written by mere superstitious men as you claim."

    I don't think I would say it is a "proof" Fil. You've missed the point that other Christians (and again, the MAJORITY of Christians) interpret the scriptures differently from you and can make just as plausible case for their view point as yours. You haven't addressed this - your God is basically a God of Miscommunication and you don't seem to see this.

    If two people can interpret the scripture in two very different ways and are both very sincere and honest about it, what does that tell you?

    Of course if we were discussing the Koran you would get this immediately!

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  124. "your God is basically a God of Miscommunication"

    I believe the fault is our own, not his. When you look at original bible manuscripts the variations are minor and non-doctrinal. When you look at the way people have translated them you can get all sorts of ideas. We humans are experts at miscommunication sadly.... just ask my wife sometimes lol.

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  125. Also, would you say the majority of Christians live as Christ did and follow what he taught?

    Ghandi's quotes are interesting and he wasn't a Christian.

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  126. Fil: "I believe the fault is our own, not his. When you look at original bible manuscripts the variations are minor and non-doctrinal. When you look at the way people have translated them you can get all sorts of ideas. We humans are experts at miscommunication sadly.... just ask my wife sometimes lol."

    Of course you believe this. You cannot contemplate what to those of us "outside" of your faith, that your holy book is simply a rather random collection of man-made, inconsistent, and contradictory writings. You will do anything, believe anything to preserve your faith - because, yikes, losing your faith is probably the worse thing that could happen to you! (actually it's not, it happened to me and was the very thing that enabled to truly start living!).

    But seriously when it comes to heaven and hell, live and death, don't you think God has at least some responsibility to reliably communicate these things to us? Can't you see what a bloody mess He's made of it. Instead of the "glorious church" going forth into the world preaching the gospel, you spend most of your time arguing over what the Bible means; if you were really, really honest with yourself, you'd admit that it really doesn't make much sense. Take a step back, pretend you're not a Christian for a moment, and approach your holy book for the first time (pretend it's a Hindu or a Muslim book) - you're going to have a very different perspective which might shock the heck out of you...

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  127. Replace the sentence above with " When you look at original bible manuscripts the variations are GENERALLY minor and non-doctrinal"

    There are some manuscripts that showed changes but these have been shown to be changed after the fact or have had things added in.

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  128. Fil: "Ghandi's quotes are interesting and he wasn't a Christian."

    Yes, and more than interesting. Ghandi's insights and quotes, IMHO, are as profound (if not more so) than Jesus's. Same with Buddha and any number of spiritual techers. Jesus most certainly did not have the monopoly on spirituality, and some would say his teachings are quite shallow compared to many religious disciplines. I would agree.

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  129. Fil: "When you look at original bible manuscripts the variations are GENERALLY minor and non-doctrinal"

    Except for: hellfire, how to be saved, the nature of heaven and hell, the role of women in the church, celibacy, whether a person can lose their salvation, what happens to people who are not saved, what happens to people who were born before Christ. Sure...yes, all the differences and unanswered questions are really quite minor..

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  130. "Instead of the "glorious church" going forth into the world preaching the gospel."

    Actually I do this more than I argue over the Bible. This is my first time online in this kind of forum/debate.

    "(actually it's not, it happened to me and was the very thing that enabled to truly start living!)"

    What happened? If it's private and you don;t want to mention it here or to a stranger no worries, I'd understand.

    "You cannot contemplate what to those of us "outside" of your faith, that your holy book is simply a rather random collection of man-made, inconsistent, and contradictory writings."

    I know of many who were 'outside' our faith and now accept the bible. It works both ways. As for me I didn't take it seriously until I was 19.

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  131. "Except for: hellfire, how to be saved, the nature of heaven and hell, the role of women in the church, celibacy, whether a person can lose their salvation, what happens to people who are not saved, what happens to people who were born before Christ. Sure...yes, all the differences and unanswered questions are really quite minor.. "

    Nope, that's due to the translation. But really is there any value in yes,no,yes,no?

    I'm sure we'd both agree there isn't.

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  132. Fil: "What happened?"

    I read the Bible with an open mind as if for the first time. I studied the origins of the Bible (e.g., who wrote it - and guess what, we don't even know most of the time). I studied how it was put together (the formation of the canon - a most decidedly unholy event driven by power and politics). I studied the early Church (their Christianity would probably be heretical today - because Christianity is ALWAYS reinventing itself). I studied the historical contemporary evidence for Jesus (there is none). I honestly reviewed whether Christianity truly change peoples lives other than what can be expected by any belief system (it does no better than other religions - and the honest truth is many Christians are pretty miserable creatures if they are really honest). I looked at prayer - and nothing fails like prayer! I realized science contradicts the Bible. I realized that much of the OT is really myth and has no basis in history. I realized that the BIble has copied myths and legends from other sources. I could go on...etc.

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  133. Fil: "Nope, that's due to the translation. But really is there any value in yes,no,yes,no?"

    So basically you're telling me that Almighty God, who created the entire Universe, the Earth and all that we see - could not engineer it so that an accurate and true copy of His word could be passed down to us? So instead...Christians and others spend countless hours bickering and arguing over what God's word means? Is God really that powerless and inept? Again, if this was Communications 101, I would give God a Big Fat "F". Or perhaps He enjoys all of his people squabbling over His word - disagreeing, splintering, forming new churches because they disagree on some arcane piece of theology that God could have straightened out in a nano-second. The Bible looks 100% man-made to me - can you even consider the possibility that it really just might be that?

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  134. I respectfully disagree. I will address some of what you said tommorrow but my wife is complaning im not in bed yet lol. One quote from an unknown writer to leave you with, speaking about Jesus.

    "All the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that ever were built, and all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully."

    How astonishing for a man who never lived.

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  135. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  136. il: ""All the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that ever were built, and all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully."

    That's a rather subjective saying and not exactly much of a rebuttal, albeit a poetic and pretty quote, but it is of course purely subjective. And of course it has absolutely no meaning to two-thirds of the people on the planet today (unless of course you are talking about Buddha, or Muhammed perhaps). But Muhammed has also affected the lives of billions of people and so has Buddha (and many say that the philosophy of Buddhism is deeper and more life-changing than Christianity, and I think there is something to that). Do you think Buddha and Muhammed lived too? Do you not think they have had a profound impact on peoples lives. You may not agree with the impact, but then Muslims don't think Jesus is all that special either (so much for Jesus's profound teaching here). But you either think they are false prophets or did not live. The truth is several billion of the world have got it wrong, why should I believe your faith over any other?

    As CH likes to say, in the end we have to follow the evidence. Sadly, for you, the evidence is just not that good. But I suspect you're not really interested in evidence all that much - if you're like my Christian friends, you like being a believer. You like thinking you are especially chosen in the Universe, that you have been singled out for a purpose. It makes you feel like you are here for a reason - and you're going to do your best to keep that illusion alive. The question is do you value faith over knowledge and truth

    Of course we could also argue that Christianity and the church has also brought profound misery to the world too, but of course Christianity is not alone among religions in that aspect.

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  137. Fil -

    Crikey, that's a lot of quotes. But you're still not really addressing the issue of interpretation in general. All you are doing is backing up the particular interpretation you have arbitrarily chosen to believe - a feat which practically anyone could do. Every denomination of Christianity from the Catholics to the Protestants to the Baptists to the Pentecostals to the Seventh Day Advantists to the Mornons to the Quakers to the Jehovah's Witnesses to the Methodists, etc, all have a slightly different slant on the Bible and they all can back up their interpretations with a selection of Bible quotes. All that really means is that they are subjectively interpreting the book - just as you are.


    I know I am in the minority in this. Many who call themselves Christians would continue to believe in hellfire despite this proof. I’m ok with that. We all decide what to believe. This is one confirmation for me though that the bible is not contradictory or written by mere superstitious men as you claim.


    We may get to decide what we believe. But we do not get to decide what is true. When you are discussing matters of fact, you are either right or wrong (okay, there is a LITTLE grey area, but my point is the truth is not a matter of personal belief).

    As for evidence that the Bible is contradictory, there is more than I can shake a stick at. Again with the issue of salvation:

    Ephesians 2:8-9, Titus 3:5 and Acts 16:30-31 say faith alone is enough. John 3:5 seems to say baptism too is necessary. 2 Corinthians 5:10, Matthew 16:27, John 5:29 and Romans 2:6,7 say salvation is earned through good deeds, whilst Romans 9:14-24 seems to say salvation is simply predestined.

    Others contentious questions include - have there ever been any perfectly, sinless people? Common Christian thought says no, backed up by such verses as Romans 3:10, Romans 3:23, Ecclesiastes 7:20, and Psalms 14:3. But Job 1:1, Genesis 7:1 and Peter 2:7-8 describe Job, Noah and Lot as being just that. What will happen to the Jews on Judgement Day? Matthew 8:12 says they will be damned, whilst Romans 11:26 says they will be saved. Does God's anger last forever? Jeremiah 3:12 says no whilst Jeremiah 17:4 says yes. The contrast is all the more marked for appearing in the same book!

    There are even passages where the Bible gets the Bible wrong. Mark 1:2 quotes a passage and attributes it to the book of Isiah. But the passage is not found in Isiah. An extremely similar passage is found in the book of Malachi (Malachi 3:1), inferring that the author of Mark simply mixed up his prophets. Also, Mark 2:26, quotes Jesus as asserting David broke the Sabbath traditions by eating shewbread in the days of Abiathar the high priest. But, according to 1 Samuel 21:1-6, it was Abiathar's father, Ahimelech, who was high priest at the time. Whose mistake is this? Jesus'? Matthew also messes up in 27:9, when he cites a verse he claims comes from Jeremiah. But it actually comes from Zachariah (11:13).

    Again, this is just a small sample. The contradictions in the Bible are legion. It is unclear and inconsistent - or sometimes even silent - on what would appear to be vital matters of salvation, and in other places cannot even quote itself correctly. Again, this is understandable if the Bible is the flawed product of fallible humans, but not if it is the inerrant and perfect work of God.

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  138. (cont)


    When you look at original bible manuscripts the variations are GENERALLY minor and non-doctrinal


    We do not have the original manuscripts for the books of the Bible. Not one. We have early copies, but no way of knowing how far removed they are from the originals (are they direct copies of the originals, or are they copies of copies of copies of copies - and so on - of the originals?) and they are often fragmentary.


    "All the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that ever were built, and all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully."

    How astonishing for a man who never lived.


    Perhaps we could say the same about Santa Claus? There is a mythical figure who has inspired and been a figure of magic and fascination to billions of children worldwide. That doesn't mean he is real.

    As evidence that Jesus existed, it seems flimsy to say the least. No-one is arguing that the Christianity has not had a massive affect on humanity. But that does not make the stories on which it is based more likely to be true. Jesus really lived or he didn't. The fact is not altered by the number of people who believe it/find his story inspiring. The question of his actual existence can only be sensibly addressed by studying the evidence for it, which is unaccountably and bizarrely rare, and wafter-thin at best.

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  139. Janfeld:

    “That's a rather subjective saying and not exactly much of a rebuttal”

    It wasn’t a rebuttal, just an interesting quote I read once. The author is unknown so it’s not even attributed to any important historical figure.

    “Do you think Buddha and Muhammed lived too?”

    Of course I do. Jesus too.

    “Muslims don't think Jesus is all that special either”

    Actually muslims view Jesus as a prophet, just not the Son of God. That’s still special.

    “Ghandi's insights and quotes, IMHO, are as profound (if not more so) than Jesus's.

    Did Ghandi think his teachings were more profound than Jesus’? Funny that he would say that about the Sermon on the Mount then.

    “why should I believe your faith over any other?”

    I don’t expect you to. Just telling you what I believe.

    “But I suspect you're not really interested in evidence all that much”

    Now you are moving away from being polite into personal attacks.

    “The question is do you value faith over knowledge and truth.”

    Those are not mutually exclusive.

    “All that really means is that they are subjectively interpreting the book - just as you are.”

    Like I said, I’m ok with that. Some people still think smoking is ok for your health and junk food is fine. I’m not on a campaign to save the world. I hold my beliefs based on what I read. So do they.

    “But we do not get to decide what is true.”

    I agree with that. Me believing in God or not has no bearing on whether he actually exists. If he doesn’t my belief won’t make it so. Either there is a hellfire or there isn’t. Either we have an immortal soul or we don’t. That doesn’t mean I believe in something to MAKE it true. I belief it because I think it’s true.

    Salvation. I read all the scriptures. There is no contradiction. Faith follows knowledge. Works follow faith. Both are essential. Works do not save. And if someone sits on their butt all day saying they have faith but never show it then where is their faith? It’s like a man telling his wife he loves her but never showing it. In fact, despite anything we do we can not earn eternal life. We can’t pay for it with anything. Really, how much dollar-wise would 1000 years be worth to you? That’s why it’s Gods gift. Those who believe, and prove their belief with actions will gain Gods favor and he will gift them with it. No contradiction.

    Perfect, absolutely sinless men? Only Adam before he chose to sin and Jesus. But there are blameless, righteous and holy people mentioned. You don’t need to be literally perfect. For example, I put you next to Hitler and I’m sure I would call you perfect! You may have flaws but are so far better than him morally that saying that would be reasonable. Those men you mentioned we so far above their contemporaries in morality and obedience to God that they were described that way.

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  140. Mark 1:2,3 says 2It is written in Isaiah the prophet:
    "I will send my messenger ahead of you,
    who will prepare your way"—
    3"a voice of one calling in the desert,
    'Prepare the way for the Lord,
    make straight paths for him.' "

    He actually quotes from Malachi 3:1 AND Isaiah 40:3. Very weak Ritchie.

    Next. At Mark 2:26 most translations have Jesus saying that David went into the house of God and ate the showbread “when Abiathar was high priest.” Since Abiathar’s father, Ahimelech, was the high priest when that event took place, such translation would result in a historical error. It is noteworthy that a number of early manuscripts omit the above phrase, and it is not found in the corresponding passages at Matthew 12:4 and Luke 6:4. However, a similar Greek structure occurs at Mark 12:26 and Luke 20:37, and here many translations use the phrase “in the passage about.” (RS; AT; JB) So, it appears that Mark 2:26 properly allows for the translation given in the New World Translation, which reads: “How he entered into the house of God, in the account about Abiathar the chief priest.” Since the account of the first exploits of Abiathar begins immediately following the record of David’s entering the house of God to eat the showbread, and since Abiathar did later become Israel’s high priest in David’s reign, this translation maintains the historical accuracy of the record.

    The others are the same and can be reconciled. You will say it’s just my interpretation and that’s your prerogative.

    “We do not have the original manuscripts for the books of the Bible. Not one. We have early copies, but no way of knowing how far removed they are from the originals (are they direct copies of the originals, or are they copies of copies of copies of copies - and so on - of the originals?) and they are often fragmentary.”

    That is correct of course. I don’t know why I said originals. That was stupid.
    However, about 6,000 handwritten Hebrew manuscripts attest to the contents of the Hebrew Scriptures. A few of these date back to the pre-Christian era. At least 19 extant manuscripts of the complete Hebrew Scriptures date to the period before the invention of printing from movable type. In addition, from that same period, there exist translations that were made into 28 other languages.
    For the Christian Greek Scriptures, about 5,000 manuscripts in Greek have been cataloged. One of these has been dated as before 125 C.E., thus just a few years after the time of original writing. And some fragments are thought to date considerably earlier. For 22 of the 27 inspired books, there are from 10 to 19 complete uncial manuscripts. The smallest number of complete uncial manuscripts for any of the books in this part of the Bible is three—for Revelation. One manuscript of the complete Christian Greek Scriptures dates back to the fourth century C.E.
    No other ancient literature is confirmed by such a flood of ancient documentary evidence.

    “Perhaps we could say the same about Santa Claus?”

    Yes, of course we can. He is the motivating factor in so many peoples lives. And everyone believes he exists. Ritchie, I know you can do better than that.

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  141. Lastly. A point you ignored Ritchie.

    Ritchie said, “Show me a verse in the Bible where it says people ever LEAVE Hell once the suffering they have inflicted on others has been repaid (or ever) and I will bow down to you. This idea is simply not Biblical. People go to either Heaven or Hell, and they stay there, in everlasting agony or everlasting paradise.”

    I wrote, “And one of the most important groups of scriptures…
    Prophecy:
    Psalm 16:10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
    Quoted by Peter:
    Acts 2:27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
    Fulfillment:
    Acts 2:31,32 31He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. 32This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. “

    ‘will not leave my soul in hell’
    “his soul was not left in hell”

    You said SHOW ME A VERSE in the bible…..will 3 suffice? I’m not even saying this to convince you hellfire doesn’t exist, it shows you were obviously unaware of these scriptures or you would not have said the above. It just shows Ritchie you do not know as much about the Bible as you think you do. Sorry if that sounded harsh.

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  142. Fil: "Salvation. I read all the scriptures. There is no contradiction. Faith follows knowledge."

    I think you are obviously very sincere, and obviously very intelligent too. You read the scriptures and as best you can you interpret them the best way you can. Another group of people comes along, also equally sincere and equally intelligent and they come to an entirely different conclusion.

    And again we are not talking about minor inconsistencies here, but differences in major doctrines. You don't believe in hellfire. I don't blame you - who wants to worship a God that condemns people to an eternity of needless suffering? But in the churches I used to attend (all mainstream denominational churches) your views would have been considered quite heretical. Some churches would have had you leave, because your views violated their statement of belief. Others would have at least not let you teach.

    So you see - there's a problem. Some people read the Bible and invent Seventh Day Adventism, some read it and invent Jehovah Witnesses, some read it and come up with Mormonism.

    Some Christians believe in the Trinity, some Christians believe that Jesus was half-man, half-god, some fully divine, some fully human. In fact in the first few centuries of Christ, people fought each other these things and some people even died! And remember too your modern ideas of Christianity owe much more to culture than scripture...many early Christians did not believe in the Trinity, and most certainly did not allow women the role that many now enjoy in the church. But on the other hand we are supposed to believe that God and truth are constant. Not so...Christianity blows with the wind, influencing and being influenced by culture as it goes. It's never the same from one era to another.

    You can blame us, you can blame bad translations, bad copying, bad editing. But in the end whatever you say, you must say that God has seemingly allowed this to happen. He could have quite easily prevented it. He could have given us a book (and it didn't have to be "perfect") with clearly laid out consistent doctrines. As I've said before, the reason why not, is that the Bible is a man-made set of books, and trying to derive watertight doctrine from it is as futile an effort as building doctrine from the American IRS Tax laws. It clearly wasn't designed for that purpose.

    So I have to admit that when you quote scripture verses to me, my eyes rather glaze over. Unless I can be convinced that the Bible is the authoritative word of God, I don't put much weight into what one verse says over another. I know from experience that for every verse you quote making your case, another believer can just as easily quote another contradicting yours (a good example of this is the issue as to whether believers can or cannot lose their faith - the Bible is hopelessly muddled on this critical issue (as it is of course on many modern ethical and moral issues).

    So in the end, your argument is basically a circular one. The Bible is the word of God because it says so!

    As to your other comment about faith following knowledge, I think that's a rarity. Maybe that happened in your case, but I've known literally hundreds of Christians and read many testimonies. It's rare for somebody to intellectually approach the Bible and conclude that this is truly the word of God. I think the more usual process is that somebody comes to Christ through a spiritual crisis, or an emotional need. It's only afterwards do most Christians then really learn about their faith, the history of their religion. It's also at that point too that they embark on post-hoc explanations for the "difficult" bits such as the extreme violence and genocide in the OT (and this is partly why theological explanations for OT genocide make so little sense to outsiders, because they are so obviously post-hoc rationalizations). I'm not saying that was your case, but I think it's common.

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  143. Fil -


    Salvation. I read all the scriptures. There is no contradiction. Faith follows knowledge. Works follow faith. Both are essential.


    If you'll forgive me, there is a contradiction. You conclude that faith AND good works are both essential. That is simply not what the passages I quoted say. In fact, the one from Titus specifically says salvation is not to be found through good deeds: "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost." Ephesians 2:8-9 and Acts 16:30-31 simply back up this claim. What brings us to salvation? Faith in Jesus. This cannot be considered as anything other than a direct contradiction to Matthew 16:27, John 5:29 and Romans 2:6,7 which state that we shall be judged according to our deeds. You are simply trying to reconcile contradictory verses by claiming that they all are correct. But this will not wash since it is not what either groups are saying.

    And that is ignoring the baptism and predestination options entirely.


    Perfect, absolutely sinless men? Only Adam before he chose to sin and Jesus.


    The Bible says otherwise. Job 1:1 describes Job as 'perfect and upright'. Also Genesis 7:1 calls Noah righteous, and Peter 2:7-8 calls Lot righteous too. Yet Romans 3:10 says clearly: "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one." As plain a contradiction as you can find.


    (on Mark 1:2) He actually quotes from Malachi 3:1 AND Isaiah 40:3. Very weak Ritchie.


    You think so? The verse that comes from Isiah (40:3) is Mark 1:3, not Mark 1:2. This may explain the author's confusion and the reason he mixed up his prophets. Again, not a problem if you do not consider the Bible inerrant. If you do, however, then Mark 1:2 is not a quote from Isiah, even though it claims to be. That, then, is a mistake. If he deliberately quoted from two prophets, why does he only mention one?

    I find your logic regarding Mark 2:26 bizarre too. Which versions use the phrase 'in the account about Abiathar the chief priest.'? And why does it refer to him as the chief priest in referring to days when he was not? Isn't that like referring to the First World War as being 'in the days of President Theodore Roosevelt'? The First World War may have occurred in his lifetime, but not in the time when he was President. If you meant the former, surely you would remove the word 'President'?

    Also, on the issue of copying Biblical manuscripts, Bart Erhman is very eloquent about the problems there. Firstly, when there is a discrepancy between various copies of a verse, we cannot simply look to the most common. Say, for example, one copy says 'Jesus loved him' and another says 'Jesus hated him' (I'm making these up), we cannot simply assume the more common version is the original one. The changed version could well have simply been copied more times. Worse still, (and this is, I feel, the more important point here) copists sometimes 'corrected' books (or did what they considered correcting) as they copied them. So when we are faced with a discrepancy, it is the more difficult passage which is more likely to be the original. It is easy to imagine a scribe changing a problematic verse to make it more palatable, but hard to imagine why they would make a palatable verse problematic. It is easy to imagine someone noticing the error and changing it to say 'in the account about Abiathar' so that it makes sense. But less easy to imagine why it would be changed the other way around. This is speculative, I grant you, but it does follow, and it is apparently standard practice to favour the more difficult verse as more likely to be the original, all other things being equal.

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  144. (cont)

    But if you find these unsatifactory, let me also supply you with what I think are two even more blatant contradictions in the Bible. Firstly, the circumstances of Judas Iscariot's death? Matthew 27:5-7 says Judas cast his thirty pieces of silver into a temple and went and hanged himself. Whereupon the priests took the silver and bought the potter's field. Whereas Acts 1:18 says Judas himself purchased a field and then went and fell headlong and burst his guts out. Nice. Again, as clear a contradiction as you could hope to find.

    Secondly, how did David kill Goliath? This is a particularly interesting one since the contradictions appear only a single verse apart. 1 Samuel 17:49-50 says David 'slew' him with a sling and 'there was no sword in the hand of David'. Then in the very next verse it says David then 'took his sword, and drew it out of the sheath thereof, and slew him'. So David killed Goliath twice? And before you ask, the same word for 'slew - muwth is used in both verses, and it has no meaning other than to kill/slay.


    (On Santa Claus) Yes, of course we can. He is the motivating factor in so many peoples lives. And everyone believes he exists. Ritchie, I know you can do better than that.


    Many children believe in him. You made the point that you apparently find it incredulous that Jesus could have such an influence if he did not really exist. I made this point to demonstrate that other fictional characters also have a great deal of influence. It seems to me my point is indeed valid.


    You said SHOW ME A VERSE in the bible…..will 3 suffice? I’m not even saying this to convince you hellfire doesn’t exist, it shows you were obviously unaware of these scriptures or you would not have said the above. It just shows Ritchie you do not know as much about the Bible as you think you do. Sorry if that sounded harsh.


    I found this frank (of which I apporve) rather than rude (of which I do not) and took no offence. Nevertheless, I will admit I do seem to have boxed myself in, here. I don't think you've made a strong case for your interpretation of damnation, but you do at least seem to have met my ill-worded challenge.

    But if your point is to discredit me as a Biblical authority, then that is simply a flawed tactic. Do you believe in Hinduism? If not, I could simply claim you do not understand it enough. And I can ALWAYS make that claim, no matter what your level of expertise is. Are my objections invalid until a pass a certain extremely high standard of familiarity with the Bible? Are the contradictions I point out somehow NOT contradictions simply because I am not inerrant on my Biblical criticisms? Surely not? Surely that is a ridiculous position? Though it seems it would serve well as a useful tactic for those trying to defend a subjective and vague document - does someone disagree with your interpretation? No problem. They just don't UNDERSTAND it properly (perhaps evidenced by the fact that they don't agree with you). Surely no-one who understood it PROPERLY could hold any interpretation other than yours...?

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  145. Some interesting info.

    Dr. A. Edersheim pointed out: “It was not lawful to take into the Temple-treasury, for the purchase of sacred things, money that had been unlawfully gained. In such cases the Jewish Law provided that the money was to be restored to the donor, and, if he insisted on giving it, that he should be induced to spend it for something for the public weal [well-being]. . . . By a fiction of law the money was still considered to be Judas’, and to have been applied by him in the purchase of the well-known ‘potter’s field.’” (The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, 1906, Vol. II, p. 575)

    1 Samuel 17:50,51
    " 50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.

    51 David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine's sword and drew it from the scabbard. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword.
    When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran.

    The armies were watching from a distance. The stone from Davids sling definitely killed him. All the armies would see is Goliath falling down. However, when he ran up and took Goliaths sword then cut off his head, that would be pretty conclusive even from a distance. Then the Philistines ran, realizing Goliath was dead.

    "you do at least seem to have met my ill-worded challenge."

    Oh well, I mispoke(miswrote?) a few times too. But I wonder what you think about Jesus being in hell, however briefly.

    Well it's been fun debating you two but it's time to move on. You can keep on showing me apparent contradictions and I'd just keep explaining them. Then you would say I was interpreting it that way. And I'd say yes, but I believe it's the correct interpretation, etc etc etc.

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  146. Fil: "Well it's been fun debating you two but it's time to move on. You can keep on showing me apparent contradictions and I'd just keep explaining them."

    It was fun...and interesting to think you think you've explained the contradictions. But I'm guessing you didn't become a Christian through reason, so it's unlikely you will stop being one through reason either. I would encourage you to read some of the books and articles by Hector Avalos...he knows more about the BIble than any of us here, and has some interesting things to say (particularly about the whole issue of OT atrocities). Good luck!

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  147. By a fiction of law the money was still considered to be Judas'...


    Interesting indeed. But irrelevant. It is simply not what the Bible passages say. One says Judas bought the field, the other says the priests bought it. Also, you have not explained the discrepancy between Judas hanging himself in one version and splattering on the ground from a fall in the other.


    The armies were watching from a distance...


    I do wonder which version of the Bible you are using. Because it does sound to have shaved the edges off some of these Biblical contradictions. I am using the King James Version, in which, 1 Samuel 17:51 says David 'took his sword out of the sheath thereof, and slew him.' Blatantly contradicting the preceeding verse and your interpretation.


    You keep on showing me my apparent contradictions and I'd just keep explainaing them...


    But your explanations are all paper thin! No offence, but your attempts to explain away these Biblical contradictions really do not stand up to scrutiny at all. They don't really explain anything, they just cover up the problem, like putting wallpaper over enormous cracks in the walls. They make it easy for you to pretend the problem has gone away, but it hasn't. I am not at all surprised you said you saw no flaws or contradictions of consequence in the Bible - you simply refuse to acknowledge them as such.


    But I wonder what you think about Jesus being in Hell


    Well frankly I think it was said for purposes of dramatic tension. It is just a story, after all. And if Jesus had spent three days (or however long, since he died late afternoon on the Friday and had risen by the Sunday morning, but whatever) in Heaven chilling with his dad and the angels, the resurrection probably would have sounded like a downer (literally) from Jesus' point of view. But to overcome the Great Adversary and defeat Hell itself? That sounds nice and triumphant. A worthy victory for the Son of God, perhaps...?


    Well it's been fun debating you two but it's time to move on.


    As you wish. Odd, I get the feeling many threads don't end so civily. But yes, I'm sure I'll be seeing you around. But consider my invitation to email me privately and continue our conversation there indefinitely open.

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