Which Set of Standards?

I received an interesting response from a reader about a post I wrote on moral relativity.  The commenter brought up a good point in saying that with all the religions claiming truth, which one really is true?  Because of the number of religious systems available to people, which system is right?  Since there is such relativity in the world, the commenter’s opinion is that atheism is the best answer for developing a system of absolute morals.

First, I applaud this person for being a thinker and not merely parroting something he read from Sam Harris or Richard Dawkins.  Thanks for really turning your brain on, because you are doing better than many atheists just in doing that.  I would hazard a guess, however, that to this person, the relativity in religion is at least in some part due to the lack of desire to judge or be intolerant of another person.

Tolerance has been redefined in today’s society to a level that is no longer tolerance, but the theater of absurdity.  Tolerance today means that everyone’s beliefs are equally valid, and that you and I are both right.  In reality, tolerance is the idea that the holders of the ideas are equal.  We should be egalitarian towards other people, but elitist in our thought and beliefs.  The new tolerance is a weird mixture of cowardice and noncommitment.  We don’t know enough about what we believe to stand for it, and we don’t know enough about another person’s beliefs to prove them wrong even to ourselves.  Therefore, we consider it easier, more tactful and tasteful, to not just agree to disagree, but agree to agree with no basis in agreement.

The problem with religion from the terms of relativity is this:  Religions in and of themselves require the adherent to make a value dcision, and religions in and of themselves are value/truth systems.  No one becomes a Hindu because “they didn’t have anything better to do.”  No one espouses Sufism or Islam because you get a cool turban.  There is a reason that resonates inside of the religion to the adherent.  The reason for that is that the religion is making some kind of truth claim.

With that in mind, one must consider this: if all religions make some kind of truth claim, there are going to be areas where these “truths” become contradictory and instead of harmonizing, compete with one another.  A Muslim and a Hindu by definition cannot agree with one another on the basis of Theism, because while Muslims are staunchly monotheistic, Hindus are polytheistic, and to an extent, pantheistic.  Therefore, it is impossible for these two religions to come to terms with one another.  With that in consideration, there are only two conclusions that are valid:  Either both are wrong, or parts of each one are right, and it requires one to blend some odd syncretism to reconcile the two.  This comparison can logically be drawn between all of the different religions of the world.

When this process is duplicated with Christianity versus any other religious system, a distinct pattern emerges:  Judeo/Christianity time and again proves itself historically verifiable, either by archaeology or historical writings.  The Judeo-Christian theology has proven itself venerable enough to convince men who are staunch skeptics, like Sir William Ramsey, C.S. Lewis, Simon Greenleaf, and Anthony Flew.  Like it or not, there is no skeptic alive who has proven one single statement from the gospel of Luke wrong, no one who has determined beyond a doubt that the bible contains fallacious reporting.  There exists proof of David, Solomon, the temple of Solomon, Omri, Ahab, Jehu, Hezekiah, and many other biblical figures.  Unlike many religious texts, the Bible does lend itself to be tested historically.  The same cannot be said of many scriptures, such as the Book of Mormon, or the Vedas.

It was the fact that Christianity makes truth claims and can be tested that drove me to make a decision to follow Christ.  While other religions contain some truth, Christianity offers a system that time and again has withstood the test of the archaelogist’s spade, the textual critic’s razor sharp brain.  For 2,000 years, Christ continues to be “The Way, the Truth, and the Life.”  As such, my response is that even the search for truth is not a relativistic nightmare, but a simple endeavor of reading the Bible and seeking after the mind of the One Who IS, Who WAS, and Who IS to come.

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14 thoughts on “Which Set of Standards?

Add yours

  1. I would love to add something to your post but I can’t! All I can say is that I completely agree – thank you for you excellent post! Keep up the good work.

  2. Like it or not, there is no skeptic alive who has proven one single statement from the gospel of Luke wrong, no one who has determined beyond a doubt that the bible contains fallacious reporting.

    1. The Bible reports that day and night precede the creation of the Earth.
    2. Day and night are the result of the Earth spinning on its axis relative to Sol.
    From 2; Therefore,
    3. Day and night cannot have preceded the creation of the Earth.
    From 1 and 3;Therefore,
    4. The Bible contains fallacious reporting.

  3. U Che,

    Is it night everywhere on Earth, at the same time? How about day?

    You claim that night and day are the RESULT of the Earth rotating on its axis, relative to the sun. But that’s just our perception, based upon where we are at any point on Earth. It’s dark in space, except for the light of the stars and sun (which is faint, depending on where you are in space).

    So if I’m standing on Jupiter, and it’s dark, is that the RESULT of the Earth spinning on its axis, relative to the sun? Or is it a result of where I’m standing in space? If you answer the former, you have to explain how the Earth spinning causes darkness on Jupiter (or elsewhere in the galaxy OTHER than Earth, for that matter). If you answer the latter, you’ve just disproven what you quoted above.

    Have a great day.

  4. Of course. Allow me to amend the argument above to be more inclusive.

    1. The Bible reports that day and night precede the creation of planetary bodies.
    2. Day and night on a planetary body are the result of a planetary body spinning on its axis relative to the star that planet is orbiting.
    From 2; Therefore,
    3. Day and night cannot have preceded the creation of planetary bodies.
    From 1 and 3;Therefore,
    4. The Bible contains fallacious reporting.

    Additionally:

    1. The Bible reports that the existence of birds preceded the existence of reptiles.
    2. The evidence of the world reveals that the existence of reptiles precedes the existence of birds.
    From 1 and 2; Therefore,
    3. The Bible contains fallacious reporting.

    And:

    1. The Bible reports that the existence of water preceded the existence of stars.
    2. Water contains oxygen.
    3. Oxygen is an element heavier than helium.
    4. All elements heavier than helium had to have formed within a star that subsequently died.
    From 3 and 4; Therefore,
    5. The existence of oxygen cannot have preceded the existence of stars.
    From 2 and 5; Therefore,
    6. The existence of water cannot have preceded the existence of stars.
    From 1 and 6; Therefore,
    7. The Bible contains fallacious reporting.

    And:

    1. The Bible states that at some point in the past six thousand years, the Sun stopped in the sky.
    2. The Sun moving in the sky is due to the rotation of the earth.
    From 2; Therefore,
    3. In order for the Sun not to move in the sky, the Earth must stop rotating.
    4. If the Earth had ever stopped rotating in the last six thousand years, there would be significant and noticeable geological evidence of this fact.
    5. There is no geological evidence that the Earth stopped rotating, ever.
    From 4 and 5; Therefore,
    6. The Earth has not stopped rotating at any point in the last six thousand years.
    From 2, 3 and 6; Therefore,
    7. The Sun cannot have stopped moving in the sky.
    From 1 and 7; Therefore,
    The Bible contains fallacious reporting.

  5. U Che,

    1. The Bible says there will be those who simply will refuse to believe, and that there is nothing we can do about that, as they’re given that choice.
    2. You appear to be one of those; therefore,
    3. I pray you are right about what you believe, and bid you good day.

  6. U Che,

    I have read your blog, and your writing skills are very nice. You have a great way of explaining details and describing things about you. That is a really nice talent and deserves some credit.

    I think you should, however, be clear about a few things.
    1. The Bible does not report that day and night came before the development of the heavenly bodies. The reason why is the verb used in Genesis 1:16. It is not bara’, which means to create, but asa’, which can mean to make, but also to bring forth. If a planet (say, earth), is in the midst of cooling down from it’s formation, and has just been provided with water in whatever mechanism God provides (I’m not a scientist, so I am pleading the same plea that a naturalist makes when you ask them to explain the evolution of the butterfly), tons of water vapor has to be created. Therefore, God did not create the heavenly bodies, but “brought them forth” into the sky, by clearing the newly created cloud cover away so that the lights created on day 1 could be seen.

    2. It does not say that God made birds first and then reptiles. The reptiles could rightly be considered to be grouped in with the animals of the waters, since many species of reptiles (crocodiles, alligators, turtles, snakes to name a few) spend a large portion of their lives in the water. The next day God creates the larger beasts of the earth, such as cattle, then finally, man.

    3. I’m sorry, but the argument posed in your final argument is, to say the least, arguing from a left foot on a banana peel. Considering the subject of the argument (namely, a creator that was greater than His creation), do you really find it that impossible for Him to figure out a way to make the sky stay light. After all, in Revelation (It’s the last book, where God wins), it says there will be no sun, because God Himself will be our light. I guess if we are dumb enough to believe that an omnipotent being who can create an entire universe out of nothing, then we should be dumb enough to also believe that since He came up with light, He could figure out how to keep a battlefield light for a few extra hours. And of course, the Sun staying up would preclude in the minds of an ancient person that “the moon stopped,” so I don’t see a problem with that entire verse.

    I am not going to argue the case for the existence of a creator, because quite frankly, there is nothing that evolution can show that definitively says “this is how it all happened.” I have seen scientists produce a bone that was maybe a cheek bone off of some animal, a toe on its left foot, and draw some half-baked hair-brained semi animal and hail it as the next missing link. Half the time, on further investigation, it turns out to be a cow’s skull or some pork rind Billy Joe Bob Paleontologist left behind at a dig (that least part was totally random, I realize that paleontologists are usually really careful with their digs). I just think that more often than not the evidence leads people wherever they want to go, not where they should go.

    That’s why I don’t have a problem with believing in Christianity. Why should I want to believe in some weird concept of some guy dying and rising again, when I know that I won’t have any proof of whether or not I am right until I am pushing up daisies? There is no benefit to me, because if I happen to be wrong about this, I miss out on a lot of what atheists and naturalists consider true freedom. Now why would I do that, unless I found compelling evidence to do so? I wouldn’t. Fact is, I did not WANT to find Christianity. It found me. I didn’t want this to make sense, but when I looked at the real evidence, I couldn’t deny it anymore.

    I know Christianity is true for two reasons. First, there is reasonable evidence to support the claims of the Bible. Second, I know by my own acceptance of Christianity over my previous bizarre agnostic/syncretistic beliefs that Christianity is true, because in the short term, it actually would be considered a downgrade in my freedom and abilities.

    You are a pretty smart person, Che. You reason very well, you are a logical and rational person. I hope that you follow your logic and rationale to where the evidence leads, not where you want to lead the evidence.

  7. As a former skeptic, I must add to this argument, birds. I read many discussions about energy and matter, evolutionary timelines and the like but no one has been able to explain to me birds. These magnificent creatures learn to fly by falling out of the nest. They quickly master navigation that would take us mere humans massive computing power to even calculate. They can start and stop in an instant, all without the benefit of a college education. My point is this, the world we live in is awesome and majestic. It is clearly ordered in ways that cannot be merely random sequence. I can only speculate that there has to be a greater design at work here. John 1:1 says “In the beginning was the Word.”
    This Word is the Logos or the very thought and essence of God. The verse goes on to say that the Word was God and became flesh. That is Jesus. There is a greater work here than our mere scientific process can explain, that is why we need faith. And if you ask me, I would have to say that it actually takes more faith to not believe that it does to believe.
    Just a Thought, Glenn Smith Jr

  8. Last one first:

    kingdomkeysbooks:

    … but no one has been able to explain to me [the evolution of] birds.

    The evolution of birds (class Aves) and the evolution of birdlke flight is really interesting – largely because the exact question of how birdlike flight evolved is still unanswered.

    Basically, there are two ways bird-flight could have evolved – from the ground up, or from the trees down.

    In the ground-up hypothesis, small predatory therapods evolve progressively more aerodynamic bodies to increase speed (fitness), then these bodies can jump further (increased fitness). Progressively, this leads to gliding (increased fitness). Add in the shoulder muscles to allow upstrokes and you get true flight (increased fitness). Only once their Aves descendants stumble on the evolutionary niche of living and breeding in trees do they evolve the behavior of pushing developed young from nests (optimum balance of parental investment vs. probability of genetic success = increased genetic fitness). The instincts for flight are already hard-wired into their baby avian brains by evolution – in much the same way that the instincts for visual recognition of emotion via perception of facial cues seems to be hard-wired into human babies.

    In the tree-down hypothesis, small therapods stumble on the niche of living in trees first, then become gliders and fliers afterwards.

    There’s another hypothesis out there that argues that many of the flightless dinosaurs we find in the fossil record may have actually evolved into flightlessness from a flighted ancestor – so we may have ordered the clades incorrectly, and some of the base assumptions of both the ‘ground up’ and ‘trees down’ hypotheses could be mistaken.

    However, regardless of which of these hypotheses about the evolution of birds is true (and there’s always the possibility that the answer could be something we haven’t thought of), it doesn’t change the fact that there is significant evidence that birds did in fact descend from reptiles – which means that humans are closer to lizards than birds.

    Also, I agree with Pythagoras: Screw Logos. Kairos wins. ^_^

    donaldsullivan:

    I have read your blog, and your writing skills are very nice. You have a great way of explaining details and describing things about you. That is a really nice talent and deserves some credit.

    Thanks for the kind words. ^_^ I’m experimenting with formal deductive argumentation in these replies, so I hope you’ll bear with me.

    Objection the First:

    1. The Bible does not report that day and night came before the development of the heavenly bodies… Therefore, God did not create the heavenly bodies, but “brought them forth” into the sky, by clearing the newly created cloud cover away so that the lights created on day 1 could be seen.

    First of all: The Bible does not report anything created in the heavens until Genesis 1:14. It definitely doesn’t report any lights created in the sky on the first day. You made that up yourself.

    Admittedly, Genesis 1:1 reads that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” However, it should be noted that here, ‘heavens’ clearly does not mean the same thing as ‘sky’, given that the sky is directly referenced in Genesis 1:8.

    Second of all:

    14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so.

    Genesis 1:14-15, courtesy of the good folk at BibleGateway.com

    We can see that throughout Genesis, the following pattern emerges:

    1. God said, “Let there be X”.
    2. And it was so.

    It is clear from the context of Genesis that this pattern denotes the act of the Divine Creation of X (is caps appropriate for Divine Creation?).

    The stars are clearly the “signs to mark seasons and days and years” of which God is speaking. Taken in the context of Genesis 1, this clearly represents God’s act of creation of the stars, and very specifically points out that this creation took place on the fourth day.

    So the entire basis of your objection to my argument – the concept that God created the stars on the first day and not the fourth – could in fact be true. However, this is not how the events of creation are reported in the Bible. Thus, if you are correct, then it would follow from this that the Bible does in fact contain fallacious reporting.

    Objection the Second:

    2. It does not say that God made birds first and then reptiles. The reptiles could rightly be considered to be grouped in with the animals of the waters, since many species of reptiles (crocodiles, alligators, turtles, snakes to name a few) spend a large portion of their lives in the water. The next day God creates the larger beasts of the earth, such as cattle, then finally, man.

    God clearly creates everything that swims or flies on the fifth day. Birds fly. They’re on the fifth. Therapods (as just a single example) are not a moving thing with which the water has ever teemed – as such, they are not included on the fifth.

    20 And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” 23 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.

    Genesis 1:20-23

    Secondly, the dinosaurs from which birds are descended (Therapodia) are very clearly land-dwelling animals. They are animals that exclusively move along the ground and are most definitely not winged birds. For thus it is written:

    24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so.

    Genesis 1:24

    And even if you were to reject the evolutionary evidence we have that links birds to Therapods, this would not change the fact that there are entire lineages of primarily land-dwelling animals that cannot fly and also predate birds. The Bible reports that every single one of these animals actually post-dates birds. Evolution doesn’t even need to come into it at this point. Even if I were to grant, for the purpose of argument, that evolution was untrue – the Bible’s reporting would still be fallacious on the grounds of the dating of the fossil evidence alone.

    Objection the Third:

    3. I’m sorry, but the argument posed in your final argument is, to say the least, arguing from a left foot on a banana peel. Considering the subject of the argument (namely, a creator that was greater than His creation), do you really find it that impossible for Him to figure out a way to make the sky stay light. After all, in Revelation (It’s the last book, where God wins), it says there will be no sun, because God Himself will be our light. I guess if we are dumb enough to believe that an omnipotent being who can create an entire universe out of nothing, then we should be dumb enough to also believe that since He came up with light, He could figure out how to keep a battlefield light for a few extra hours. And of course, the Sun staying up would preclude in the minds of an ancient person that “the moon stopped,” so I don’t see a problem with that entire verse.

    Err… You missed the point.

    I’m not arguing that the Bible reports that God ‘made the battlefield light for a few extra hours’. That’s wrong on two counts. Firstly, I’m arguing that God stopped the sun in the sky. Secondly, I’m arguing that God stopped it for twenty-four hours.

    Consider:

    13 So the sun stood still,
    and the moon stopped,
    till the nation avenged itself on its enemies,
    as it is written in the Book of Jashar.
    The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day.

    Joshua 10:13

    To be clear: I wasn’t arguing that God couldn’t do this. If you grant omnipotence, of course He could. I was saying that if God did do this, there would be significant geological evidence that such an event took place – particularly if it happened as recently as the past six thousand years.

    Unless, of course, God magicked all the evidence away. You could make that objection – but just in case you’re thinking about it, I should point out that this would be an instance of the self-sealing fallacy, and as such is not a logically valid objection in the first place.

    Secondly, I suspect you misspoke:

    And of course, the Sun staying up would preclude in the minds of an ancient person that “the moon stopped,” so I don’t see a problem with that entire verse.

    Are you suggesting that the report of the moon stopping in the Bible that the moon stop is just precluded (?) in the mind of the ancient people, and may not actually have happened? That could very well be true. If it is true, that would mean that the Bible contains fallacious reporting, because it clearly reports that the moon stopped.

    I’m not so crass as to jump up and down and declare victory on this point. I’m chalking it up as either your own miscommunication or my own misinterpretation as to what you actually meant.

    ———————————-

    Okay. That’s the objections to my actual arguments out of the way. Now to field-dress the rest of your response:

    I am not going to argue the case for the existence of a creator…

    Yes, I am an atheist. Yes, I do believe in the non-existence of any intelligent creator. However, am not making an argument for that belief here.

    Every single argument I have addressed in my responses to your blog post have been aimed at one conclusion and one conclusion only: That the Bible contains fallacious reporting. I flat out gave you the formal conclusions of my arguments. The existence of God was not mentioned once – indeed, His existence is presumed in the language of several of my premises.

    The reason I opted for deductive reasoning in my responses is because in your original post you specifically cited for ‘proof’. A proof can only exist within the realm of mathematics. The realm of mathematics that deals with argumentation is formal logic – in this case, I have made my arguments in a form that could be represented symbolically in second-order logic. This is the only possible form that a ‘proof’ that the bible contains fallacious reasoning could possibly take.

    But again – the proof sought is that the Bible contains some fallacious reasoning. This is not a proof that the entire Bible is fallacious. So there is absolutely no need for you to make a case for the existence of a creator. I have not challenged you to provide one!

    … because quite frankly, there is nothing that evolution can show that definitively says “this is how it all happened.”

    Evolution can show evidence. The caricature of science that follows the quoted sentence above – particularly regarding paleontology – is unrepresentative of both the painstaking work that goes into the discipline, as well as the overwhelming weight of the evidence in support of the validity of evolution. As a blatant misrepresentation, I’m dismissing it as unworthy of further attention.

    Finally, my arguments above do not require evolution as a background assumption – they remain valid even if bunnies show up in the Cambrian tomorrow. This is why I specifically said that:

    2. The evidence of the world reveals that the existence of reptiles precedes the existence of birds.

    With malice aforethought, I specifically didn’t say that the evidence of the world reveals that birds evolved from reptiles. All I said was that reptiles predate birds. And not just reptiles. Avialae (bird-like dinosaurs and birds) only show up in the geological record in the Late Jurassic. That leaves every land-dwelling creature in the early Jurassic, as well as every land-dwelling creature dated in earlier periods of the geological time-line than the Jurassic, as clear evidence that land-dwelling creatures predate birds.

    Evolution is irrelevant to this argument – we clearly have land-dwelling reptiles that are older than birds. The Bible reports the opposite. Therefore, the Bible contains fallacious reporting. The argument stands in the absence of evolution.

    Next:

    That’s why I don’t have a problem with believing in Christianity. Why should I want to believe in some weird concept of some guy dying and rising again, when I know that I won’t have any proof of whether or not I am right until I am pushing up daisies? There is no benefit to me, because if I happen to be wrong about this, I miss out on a lot of what atheists and naturalists consider true freedom. Now why would I do that, unless I found compelling evidence to do so? I wouldn’t. Fact is, I did not WANT to find Christianity. It found me. I didn’t want this to make sense, but when I looked at the real evidence, I couldn’t deny it anymore.

    Interesting – I could ask you to present the evidence you’ve cited for critical review – but I shan’t. This is a digression from the argument I was actually making. I’m not arguing (here) that Christianity is mistaken. I am arguing only that the Bible contains fallacious reporting.

    Next paragraph:

    I know Christianity is true for two reasons. First, there is reasonable evidence to support the claims of the Bible. Second, I know by my own acceptance of Christianity over my previous bizarre agnostic/syncretistic beliefs that Christianity is true, because in the short term, it actually would be considered a downgrade in my freedom and abilities.

    Once again – this is a digression from the arguments I was actually making.

    Next paragraph:

    You are a pretty smart person, Che. You reason very well, you are a logical and rational person. I hope that you follow your logic and rationale to where the evidence leads, not where you want to lead the evidence.

    I thank you once again for your kind words.

    I have presented four logically valid arguments that the Bible contains fallacious reasoning. As of yet, the evidence has supported every premise from which those arguments are formed.

    Are you going to follow the logic and rationale where the evidence leads (that the Bible contains fallacious reasoning), or are you not?

    If you do have evidence that any of my premises are incorrect, please do present it. If you do have a logical objection to the structure of any of my arguments, please do present it.

    But if you accept my arguments and my premises, then logically you must also accept my conclusions. You don’t have to accept my conclusions, of course. However, to do otherwise would be illogical. This would lay your (unsubstantiated) claims of supporting Christianity and the Bible as the result of logical, evidence-based reasoning under justified skepticism.

    Note again that even if the Bible did contain fallacious reasoning, this would in no way consist of a direct disproof of Christianity. Admittedly, it would make doubting Christianity more reasonable – but this would not automatically prove it untrue. Neither would it prove the nonexistence of God.

    However, if you reject even the simple arguments above without either a valid Material Objection (a given premise is untrue) or a valid Logical Objection (an argument’s structure is non sequitur), then it does call into question your motivations for this act of rejection in the first place.

  9. Oops.

    I just noticed – there are five instances of the words ‘fallacious reasoning’ in my response above. These are all typos. They should read ‘fallacious reporting’.

    My kingdom for an edit function.

  10. Actually, I mis-spoke earlier. I re-examined my arguments above. They’re far more basic than second-order logic. They’re propositional logic. That’s even simpler.

    Just as an exercise, I gave this a go:

    Argument 1:

    Let a = The Bible reports that day and night precede the creation of planetary bodies.
    Let b = Day and night on a planetary body are the result of a planetary body spinning on its axis relative to the star that planet is orbiting.
    Let c = Day and night cannot have preceded the creation of planetary bodies.
    Let d = The Bible contains fallacious reporting.

    1. a ∧ (bc) → d

    Argument 2:

    Let a = The Bible reports that the existence of birds preceded the existence of reptiles.
    Let b = The evidence of the world reveals that the existence of reptiles precedes the existence of birds.
    Let c = The Bible contains fallacious reporting.

    2. abc

    Rest assured I could do this for the others as well. I’m just feeling lazy.

  11. Sorry it has taken me so long to comment. Four children, end of grade testing, and the like tend to take away your time. Now Che, let’s look at your arguments.

    First Objection
    Che, the word used in verse 14 does not mean make in a narrow sense. It can mean, among other things, reveal, bring forth, show, make come to pass, finish, etc. The word in Hebrew that specifically means to create is bara’. Again, not the same word used, which is asa’. I am not “making this up myself.” I am reading the text from a reasonable standpoint given the Hebrew text: God created the heavenly bodies over day one, and revealed the source of the light to the face of the earth on the fourth day. No contradiction. No fallacious reporting.

    Second Objection
    I agree that the earliest known bird fossils we have are from Archaeopteryx, early in the Jurassic period. However, the lack of fossils is not necessarily evidence for the conclusions jumped to by evolutionists. While I realize you are simply saying that reptiles predate birds, that may not entirely be the case, and as many Darwinists have no problem saying, the fossil record is incomplete. It’s a fallback, yes, but one often used by evolutionists when they have nothing to fall back on. The idea that reptiles definitely predated birds only holds as indisputable fact if you believe in evolution.

    Third Objection
    Che, you are a writer. Give me a break. You are going to tell me that you never use decorative language. The Bible is not just a reporting of events, but also literature. If you want to consider that fallacious reporting, then feel free, but I think this is going too far in the area of criticism. It’s also misunderstanding the idea of textual inerrancy. I also don’t believe God laid out the heavens with a nine inch span (incidentally, just big enough to palm a basketball) because I don’t think God has hands. I do, however, understand the imagery being applied there, and I feel that to say the sun and moon stopped are adequate to introduce the idea to me that the LORD made it light for a full day.

    Che, you are a very bright person. I see where you are coming from. I just think you are reading this Bible from an extreme literalist perspective. Inerrancy as doctrine is this: The Bible does not contain factual errors. However, this should be interpreted in light of the fact that the Bible is also literature that was inspired by God. Therefore, there will be expressive languages used in some areas that may not be woodenly literal, but serve to get the point across. I don’t know what to say beyond that.

  12. Che, the word used in verse 14 does not mean make in a narrow sense. It can mean, among other things, reveal, bring forth, show, make come to pass, finish, etc. The word in Hebrew that specifically means to create is bara’. Again, not the same word used, which is asa’. I am not “making this up myself.” I am reading the text from a reasonable standpoint given the Hebrew text: God created the heavenly bodies over day one, and revealed the source of the light to the face of the earth on the fourth day. No contradiction. No fallacious reporting.

    ‘Heaven’ as depicted in the Bible is not not a place in the sky – that is a concept passed to us from the Ancient Greek pantheon. So when Genesis 1:1 speaks of the Heavens it is referring to the realm of the afterlife in God’s presence. It is not referencing sparkly things in the sky. The sky doesn’t exist until day 2.

    1. You have asserted that the Bible reports that God created the stars and planets on day one.
    2. The Bible does not contain any such report.
    Therefore,
    3. Your assertion from point 1. was incorrect.

    Additionally, as I described above, the pattern in Genesis 1 – which you have not addressed – is very clear.

    1. God said let there be X.
    2. And it was so.

    This pattern is repeated in Genesis nine times.

    From the overall context of each of those nine cases, it is very clear that this pattern denotes the act of the Divine Creation of X.

    When taking Genesis 1:14 as a part of it’s full context, it is clear that this verse is describing the Divine Creation of the stars.

    The distinction between ‘created’ and ‘revealed’ is entirely irrelevant when the terms are substituted for one another within this over-arching context. The creation/revelation of the stars only takes place immediately after god declares: “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years.”

    Once again: It is clear from the Bible that a speech act of God that follows the pattern “Let there be X” is the act of Creation. This isn’t an account of God describing His act of creation as he’s creating it. The speech of God is itself the creative act. Genesis depicts God speaking the world into being.

    This interpretation is clear from the repetitious nature of the overall structure of Genesis 1 – as such, it’s meaning is preserved across language barriers.

    I agree that the earliest known bird fossils we have are from Archaeopteryx, early in the Jurassic period. However, the lack of fossils is not necessarily evidence for the conclusions jumped to by evolutionists. While I realize you are simply saying that reptiles predate birds, that may not entirely be the case, and as many Darwinists have no problem saying, the fossil record is incomplete. It’s a fallback, yes, but one often used by evolutionists when they have nothing to fall back on. The idea that reptiles definitely predated birds only holds as indisputable fact if you believe in evolution.

    First off, there’s no such thing as an ‘evolutionist’. The term ‘evolutionist’ implies a person who subscribed to ‘evolutionism’, which is describing evolution as if it were an ideology. It isn’t.

    Evolution is a scientific theory. It isn’t a matter for believers or deniers – it is a matter of proponents and skeptics. As such, it would be correct to substitute the term ‘proponents of evolution’ for the term ‘evolutionist’ in your comment above.

    That aside: You’ve raised a valid material objection, actually. The absence of bird fossils earlier than the Jurassic doesn’t exclude the potential for the discovery of any earlier bird fossils in the future. This changes the shape of my essential argument:

    1. The Bible reports that the existence of birds preceded the existence of reptiles.
    2. The evidence of the world reveals that the existence of reptiles very probably precedes the existence of birds.
    From 1 and 2; Therefore, very probably,
    3. The Bible contains fallacious reporting.

    The reason item 2. is valid for ‘very probably’ is that it it unreasonable to presume that a bird would fossilize in the late Jurassic but not in any of the monstrously long geological ages that came before. However, if we’re to leave evolution to the side then I can’t rule it out. I don’t want to make this an argument about evolution vs. creation – I’ve done that enough that it’s as thoroughly boring as it is fruitless – so I have to conceed that in this context, the above argument must be downgraded from certainty to a very strong probabilistic certainty.

    If you’re setting the bar at reasonable doubt, this argument is valid beyond reasonable doubt. If you’re setting the bar at utter certainty, this argument does fall short.

    it’s up to you where you set that bar. Either way is fine with me.

    Che, you are a writer. Give me a break. You are going to tell me that you never use decorative language. The Bible is not just a reporting of events, but also literature. If you want to consider that fallacious reporting, then feel free, but I think this is going too far in the area of criticism. It’s also misunderstanding the idea of textual inerrancy. I also don’t believe God laid out the heavens with a nine inch span (incidentally, just big enough to palm a basketball) because I don’t think God has hands. I do, however, understand the imagery being applied there, and I feel that to say the sun and moon stopped are adequate to introduce the idea to me that the LORD made it light for a full day.

    Then how do we tell the difference between a part of the bible that is ‘reporting’ and a part of the bible that is ‘decorative’?

    It feels to me that now you’re getting into special pleading.

    First you’ve claimed that no skeptic has ever provided proof that the Bible contains fallacious reporting.

    I provided such a proof (sun and moon, in this case).

    How you’re telling me that, yes, that part would be considered fallacious if we interpret it as a report. But in this case, it is allegedly clear that this section is to be interpreted as decoration only.

    However, I have to object. Why is it clear that this particular section of the bible is decoration and not a literal report?

    It seems to me that the way you are distinguishing between the two is that, for any section X of the Bible, if that section is clearly fallacious if interpreted as a report, then that section is, by definition, not a report – it is ‘decorative’.

    This is special pleading – and I’m finding it hard not to interpret this as a concession of the argument:

    I do, however, understand the imagery being applied there, and I feel that to say the sun and moon stopped are adequate to introduce the idea to me that the LORD made it light for a full day.

    The Bible clearly and unambiguously reports the sun and moon remaining still for the whole day. We both agree that this didn’t happen.

    I have asserted that this counts as a clear case of fallacious reporting.

    You’ve side-stepped the issue by pleading that this special piece isn’t actually a report.

    Should I gather from your insistence that this is not a report that you consider that this piece would have been fallacious if it were a report?

    Should I likewise gather from your comments that the section describing God laying out the heavens on a nine inch span would likewise have been fallacious if it were a report?

    Finally:

    Che, you are a very bright person. I see where you are coming from. I just think you are reading this Bible from an extreme literalist perspective. Inerrancy as doctrine is this: The Bible does not contain factual errors. However, this should be interpreted in light of the fact that the Bible is also literature that was inspired by God. Therefore, there will be expressive languages used in some areas that may not be woodenly literal, but serve to get the point across. I don’t know what to say beyond that.

    Actually, you’re missing where I’m coming from altogether.

    You made a very specific claim – that no skeptic has shown that the Bible contains fallacious reporting. I object to that claim. The Bible – if interpreted as an historic report – is riddled with untruths. However, to make my point that your claim is false I only need find one provable instance of fallacious reporting in the Bible. The real sticker seemed to be the Sun and Moon one, although I still consider my others to be equally valid.

    However, now you’ve gone and made a slightly different claim: That the Bible does not contain any factual errors.

    Leviticus 11:6: Hares (or rabbits) do not chew cud. End of story.

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