Monday, 29 August 2011
An American sceptic does not believe that Paul wrote all of Paul’s letters. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
To say that sceptics and atheists are interested in the Bible would be an understatement. Judging by the volume of words they have written, few themes intrigue them as much as Christianity. (Darwinian evolution might be a rare exception.)
Recently, Tim Callahan, the religion editor of Skeptic magazine reviewed – or advertised might be a more apt word - Bart Ehrman’s book Forged. The thesis that Callahan and Ehrman present is typical liberal theology stuff and relies more on basic assumptions than on actual research.
They argue that the evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke and John did not write the gospels traditionally ascribed to them and that the apostle Paul did not author the pastoral letters (1 and 2 Timothy, Titus) or some other letters they assume were written by other early church leaders.
Callahan and Ehrman compare Paul’s letters to non-canonical writings and see forgeries, discrepancies and conspiracies where serious scholars do not. They for instant think that Paul’s teaching on marriage is inconsistent. This flimsy argument obviously allows them to conclude that Paul could not have written the pastoral letters.
Their basic motive seems to be to weaken the authority of the Bible. However, their pseudo scholarly approach fails to do so.
The unbelief of sceptics cannot make the Bible’s truth crumble.
Callahan, Tim. 2011. By Any Other Name. E-Skeptic. (24 August).
Sunday, 28 August 2011
It is not difficult to guess where Daddy Long Legs gets its name. Image courtesy of Mehran Moghtadai, Wikipedia.
The list of animals that have not changed for assumed hundreds of millions of years is getting longer all the time. New 3-D model research of tiny fossilised Opiliones or harvestmen a.k.a daddy long legs reveals that they have scarcely changed in over 300 million years.
The research, conducted by an international team of scientists from Imperial College, London reported their findings recently in the journal Nature Communications.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to say that Darwinian evolution has mostly to do with change within species, from one kind of animal to another. The fossil record speaks primarily of stasis.
Ancient harvestmen revealed in 3-D models. Physorg.com 23 August 2011.
Friday, 26 August 2011
Some atheists /agnostics believe in this book.
Old surveys can reveal interesting details. In an American poll conducted in November 2007, 6 per cent of atheists /agnostics said they believed that the New Testament is the Word of God. 5 per cent regarded the Old Testament as God’s Word. 5 per cent believed the same of the Torah, 4 per cent of the Koran and 3 per cent of the Book of Mormon.
2 455 adult Americans representing various worldviews took part in the HarrisInteractive poll conducted between November 7 and 13 in 2007. They were for instance asked:
To what extent do you believe the following represents the word of God?"
The Old Testament (texts used in the Christian religion)
The New Testament (texts used in the Christian religion)
The Torah (the texts used in the Jewish religion)
The Koran (texts used by Muslims)
The Book of Mormon (texts used by Mormons)
Atheists seem to have some rather interesting views.
The Religious and Other Beliefs of Americans. HarrisInteractive. 29 November 2007.
The cross protects from superstition. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
Superstition can be fatal, at least in the Omo River area in Ethiopia. Although the government has prohibited the killing of little children, the elders of the Kara tribe still drown ”cursed” babies in the river invested with crocodiles since they believe that such children attract evil sprits to the area.
It does not take much to become cursed. If a baby is otherwise healthy but the top teeth come in before the lower ones, the child is mingi or cursed. Slightly deformed babies or those born out of wedlock are also cursed and end up as a crocodile’s dinner.
Government officials cannot prevent the killings because they only become crimes after a child has been sacrificed.
A group of Christians has begun resisting this age old tradition. They believe that the power of Jesus Christ is stronger than the power of mingi and they have set up an orphanage and also taken ”cursed” children into foster homes.
Traditional beliefs die hard since no one has questioned them. The mingi tradition reveals that the once popular idea of noble savage is a figment of the imagination. Only the power of the Gospel can break age-old taboos and set people free.
LaPlante, Matthew D. 2011. Ethiopia's River of Death. Christianity Today (17 August).
Wednesday, 24 August 2011
The eel joins the long list of living fossils. Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.
The list of living fossils is becoming longer with almost every passing month. The newest addition is an eel recently discovered in the Pacific Ocean. Found in an underwater cave, the eel was dubbed Protoanguilla palau.
Its discoverers, a joint US– Japanese team, published their findings in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. They stated:
“In some features it is more primitive than recent eels, and in others, even more primitive than the oldest known fossil eels, suggesting that it represents a living fossil' without a known fossil record.”
Protoanguilla palau looks just like the “early” eel fossils that are assumed to be 200 million years old.
Darwinian evolution is supposed to be about change, but as some evolutionists like the late Dr. Stephen Jay Gould admitted, it has more to do with stasis.
Eel-a-saurus: scientists hail new species a ‘living fossil’. Global Post. 17 August 2011.
Monday, 22 August 2011
The birds that lived at the time of these dinos were not necessarily tiny.
According to the Darwinian story, birds are the descendants of dinosaurs. For a long time, researchers have nevertheless known that at least crow-sized birds lived during the time of T. rex.
Some years ago, scientists found an ostrich-sized fossil bird called Gargantuavis philoinos in France. However, palaeontologists were not sure whether it was the only giant bird living during the dino era.
A recent fossil find shows that it was not. Darren Naish, a palaeontologist at the University of Portsmouth, and colleagues found the fossilized lower jaw of a bird in Kazakhstan. It was so big that they estimated the bird’s skull to measure 30 centimetres (12 inches).
Naish and colleagues named the bird Samrukia nessovi. Evolutionists assume that the bird lived some 80-83 million years ago and that it obviously was taller than a grown-up human being.
The researchers published their discovery in the journal Biology Letters.
Seen from the creation perspective, the discovery is interesting. According to Genesis, God created birds on day five and land animals on day six so it would not be a big surprise to hear that birds and dinosaurs were living at the same time.
The discovery has already caused some questions in the evolution camp. Their theory did not predict giant birds living at such an early date, but since (neo) Darwinism is basically a philosophical system, they will probably not let the evidence sink their ship that is already at least half-full with water.
Choi, Charles Q. 2011. Gigantic Birds Trod Earth During Age of Dinosaurs. LifeScience (9 August).
Saturday, 20 August 2011
Creation Ministries International (CMI) hosted a six-day creation conference at Muskoka Bible Centre in Canada. 800 people attended the conference and some 35,000 watched the live recordings on the Internet. The presentations were also broadcast on at least one local radio station.
If you missed the conference or its live recordings, you can still watch the archived presentations on Bible Discovery TV.
The presentations by some of today’s leading creation speakers, including doctors Jonathan Sarfati (chemistry), Emil Silvestru (geology), Robert Carter (marine biology), Jim Mason (nuclear physics), John Sanford (genetics) and Danny Faulkner (astronomy), inspired trust in the authority and reliability of the Bible, from its very first verse.
Friday, 19 August 2011
Marco Palmezzano: Crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth (ca. 1490). Image courtesy of Wikipedia. The cross has been a source of controversy for two thousand years.
An atheistic organisation is suing the National September 11 Memorial and Museum because it displays a cross-shaped beam. To at least four American atheists, the object causes “dyspepsia, symptoms of depression, headaches, anxiety, and mental pain and anguish”.
That’s what they say, anyhow.
Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, says that the lawsuit is “bordering on the absurd.”
But perhaps we could ask why seeing a cross-shaped beam would cause these symptoms.
The cross caused controversies in the first century A.D. and obviously nothing has changed much.
Writing to the Corinthian church, the apostle Paul pointed out:
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor. 1:18, NIV).
Why would something that they think is foolishness cause anxiety?
If we are logical, the cross is an affront to the atheistic worldview. Atheists claim that nothing made everything for no apparent reason and that we are the descendants of re-used pond scum.
In contrast, according to the Christian worldview we are made in God’s image. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, sin and death entered the world – and thus the need for a Redeemer, who had to be like us, although sinless.
The cross speaks of the finished work of Christ. It shows that God is very much interested in humans.
No wonder atheists are offended by the sight of the cross.
Gootman, Elissa. 2011. Atheists Sue to Block Display of Cross-Shaped Beam in 9/11 Museum. The New York Times (28 July).
Wednesday, 17 August 2011
Michael Shermer. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
We all have our favourite expressions. Dr. Michael Shermer, editor of Skeptic magazine, is no exception. In a recent blog post he used the slogan “humans are pattern-seeking animals” twice.
He was writing about complementary and alternative medicine on Skepticblog.
One might ask whether his approach is at all sceptical. Actually, it includes at least two faith statements:
1 We seek patterns.
2 We are animals.
One thing that sceptics will not dare to doubt is Darwinian evolution. Hence, the reference to animals.
Dr. Shermer has previously stated that humans believe in God since we have a tendency to ”find meaningful causal patterns in nature to make sense of the world”. Incidentally, he is not averse to seeking patterns, as long as they support his atheistic worldview.
Since he rules out the possibility of the Creator God, he has to believe that everything came from nothing for no reason. However, as John Lennox, professor of mathematics at the University of Oxford, has put it, “Nonsense remains nonsense, even when talked by world-famous scientists.”
Shermer, Michael. 2011. Folk-Wisdom Medicine versus Science-Based Medicine. Skepticblog (16 August).
Monday, 15 August 2011
Christ Pantocrator mosaic from Daphni, Greece, ca. 1080-1100. Image courtesy of Wikipedia. Jesus did not see discrepancies in Genesis.
Old myths don’t die off easily. A glaring case is that of the two “contradictory” creation accounts, one in Genesis chapter 1 and the other in chapter 2.
A few years ago, New Scientist magazine used this argument. More recently, Austin Cline at About.com re-discovered the same faulty approach.
The idea of contradictions stems from a lack of knowledge. The Bible often first gives an overview and then presents the details. This can be seen throughout Scripture. For instance, Genesis 1-11 describes mankind in general, whereas from chapter 12 onwards, the author follows the history of one nation – Abraham and his descendants.
In Genesis 1, the focus is on the entire creation, whereas in chapter 2, the emphasis is on the creation of man. Genesis 2 gives more details about what happened at the time God created Adam and Eve. It describes the environment God prepared for the first humans.
Actually, when Jesus taught about marriage and divorce in Mark 10:6-7, He quoted from both chapters, first from Gen. 1:27 and then from Gen. 2:24 in saying, “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh.”(NIV).
Jesus did not see any discrepancies in the Genesis creation accounts and neither should we.
Cline, Austin. 2011. Contradiction: When Did God Create Animals? About.com.
Sunday, 14 August 2011
Creation Ministries International (CMI) is holding a six-day creation apologetics conference at Muskoka Bible Centre near Toronto, Canada.
The Conference starts today at 9.00 AM Eastern Daylight Savings Time (UTC -4). The speakers include doctors Jonathan Sarfati (chemistry), Emil Silvestru (geology), Robert Carter (marine biology), Jim Mason (nuclear physics), John Sanford (genetics) and Danny Faulkner (astronomy) as well as other well-known speakers on apologetics, for instance Joe Boot and UFO expert Gary Bates. See the full schedule here.
If you’re unable to attend the conference, you can watch the sessions live via the Internet. You'll need a Windows Media Player.
Saturday, 13 August 2011
Thorns and thistles are consequences of the Fall.
If one has a basically uniformitarian view of the past, i.e., if one assumes that the present is the key to understanding the past, one might easily reach incorrect conclusions and fail to notice it.
At About.com, Austin Cline has written a series of posts on supposed errors in Genesis. In his latest instalment he argues that Genesis has to include errors since God gave all plants as food for humans and animals and since some present-day plants are poisonous, Genesis has to be wrong.
However, we would not expect to find poisonous plants in the very good world of Genesis. Death, suffering, thorns and thistles are consequences of the Fall. Adam and Eve’s disobedience had severe repercussions on creation that until then had been perfect.
This is not the first time Mr. Cline uses highly questionable arguments in trying to persuade his readers that his atheistic worldview is consistent. He has, for instance, suggested that Darwinian evolution is as much fact as gravity or plate tectonics and that Jesus probably never existed.
Many experts would definitely disagree with him.
As I have said before, some people will not let facts spoil their pet theory.
Cline, Austin. 2011. Errors in Genesis About the Safety of Eating Plants. About.com.
Wednesday, 10 August 2011
In the perfect world of Eden, the earliest humans saw flowers.
Dinosaurs were not supposed to have seen flowering plants or angiosperms, at least not according to the evolution-based worldview.
Charles Darwin thought that the origin of flowers was an abominable mystery, i.e., it did not support his view of evolution at all. The fossil record does not have much to say about them, but they appear suddenly and fully formed – just like the animals do.
Recently, Else Marie Friis at the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm found a 3 centimetre (just over an inch) long fossilised flower at Åsen, Sweden. It is assumed to be 84 million years old, which in the evolution timetable means that T. rex would have seen it.
Not so many years ago, evolutionists believed that there were no grasses during the dinosaur era. This changed when they discovered that dino coprolites (fossilised dung) showed traces of grass.
Dinos had been eating grass.
In other words, the “facts” of the evolution model keep on changing all the time.
In the model based on Genesis, flowers and grasses appeared at the beginning of creation. Adam and Eve were able to enjoy their sight and fragrance in a perfect world.
Zuckerman, Wendy. 2011. Picking flowers in dinosaur-aged mud. New Scientist 2824, 14.
Monday, 8 August 2011
We often have different interpretations of the same fossil.
Some time ago, an evolutionist tried to discredit Darwin doubters by claiming that he and other neo-Darwinists had all the fossils. His assertion is somewhat odd, because as Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis has said, we all have the same fossils.
The creation-evolution debate is not about who has the fossils but rather about what we infer about them.
Most fossils displayed in museums are actually not fossils at all but reconstructions made on the basis of a few bones. An artist has often given a Darwinian bias to a reconstruction, as seen in the case of Lucy (Australopithecus afarensis).
Most fossils remind us of the global flood of Noah’s day.
Sunday, 7 August 2011
A new Hollywood film turns apes like this into superapes. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
Evolution has given rise to many Hollywood stories, which is not surprising as the Darwinian worldview is full of just-so stories that have a tendency to change and occasionally contradict each other.
The Rise of the Planet of the Apes is no exception. The film never attempts to question evolution but considers it to be fact. It shows how a chimpanzee called Caesar (Andy Serkis) learns to read and write, and becomes increasingly like a human being.
In reality, the gap between humans and chimpanzees is enormous. The often quoted 1 per cent genetic difference is a myth as the real difference is much bigger, perhaps 23 per cent.
But Hollywood seldom lets facts spoil an intriguing story.
Saturday, 6 August 2011
Archaeopteryx looks like a bird but some researchers think it might not be.
When a fossil bird has wings and feathers, looks like a bird, and has a bird’s beak and a wishbone, one might think that it is a bird.
For decades, Archaeopteryx has nevertheless been a source of controversy because it also has some traits that reptiles usually have, such as a long bony tail, teeth and claws on its wings (well, few reptiles actually have wings but claws are so reptilian) and it suits neo-Darwinian thinking as a link between birds and reptiles.
Writing in the March 2003 issue of Scientific American, Richard Prum and Alan Brush acknowledged: “Archaeopteryx offers no new insights on how feathers evolved, because its own feathers are nearly indistinguishable from those of today's birds."
However, the journal Nature recently published a paper on the discovery of Xiaotingia zhengi, which threatens to topple Archaeopteryx from its perch.
The fossil was purchased from a dealer, so one cannot be absolutely certain of where it hails from. Xing Xu, a palaeontologist at the Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology in Beijing, the main author of the paper, nonetheless believes that Xiaotingia hails from western Liaoning in China and that it was found in Late Jurassic rocks dated at 161–145 million years ago.
Xing Xu and colleagues believe that Xiaotingia zhengi is a dinosaur. While there is no explicit evidence that it had feathers, its measurements resemble that of Archaeopteryx. And since it might be a bit older than the 150 million-year old “Archie”, they believe that while still a dinosaur, it is the great uncle of all birds.
The feathers and other avian features of Archaeopteryx do not weigh much in the quest to provide proof for the dino to bird connection. Neither does other contrary evidence.
Kaplan, Matt. 2011. Archaeopteryx no longer first bird. Nature news (27 July).
Prum, Richard O. and Alan H. Brush. 2003. Which Came First, the Feather or the Bird? Scientific American 288 (3): 60 –69.
Wednesday, 3 August 2011
Peter Paul Rubens: St. Philip (ca 1611), at the Museo del Prado, Madrid. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
Italian archaeologists say they have found the tomb of Philip, who was one of Jesus’ twelve apostles, in Hierapolis in south western Turkey.
Francesco D’Andria and his excavation team found the tomb under 50 metres (150 feet) from a Byzantine church traditionally dedicated to Philip. Professor D’ Andria is publishing their discovery in the July/August 2011 issue of Biblical Archeology Review.
While they cannot be absolutely sure that the tomb is Philip’s, the discovery nonetheless supports the view that the Bible describes real details, real people and real history.
Apostle Philip’s Tomb Found in Turkey. Biblical Archaeology Society. 28 July 2011.
Monday, 1 August 2011
The red planet has been a source of speculation for ages. Image courtesy of NASA/ESA.
Last year Gliese 581g made headlines around the world. It was hailed as the first habitable exoplanet. However, soon news broke out that the planet most probably did not even exist.
And before that there were theories of canals on Mars.
Some time ago Michael Carr reviewed Maria Lane’s book Geographies of Mars: Seeing and Knowing the Red Planet (University of Chicago Press, 2010) in the journal Nature and brought up past speculations about Mars, including the assumed canals that US astronomer Percival Lowell (1855-1916) promoted a hundred years ago and the “Face on Mars” formation that was supposedly seen in a low-resolution photo taken by Viking 1 in 1976.
“The Mars canal controversy is a reminder to be cautious when interpreting alien worlds”, Carr concludes.
It seems that the basic problem behind the lack of critical evaluation in discoveries – both real and assumed – is a reliance on the Darwinian worldview. Since many people believe life on Earth originated and evolved through natural processes, they assume that it has also evolved elsewhere.
However, life is so complicated that it cannot have come about by purely natural means.The best and most logical explanation begins with the words “in the beginning God created”.
Carr, Michael. 2011. Martian illusions. Nature 470 (7333), 172-173.